Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Kislev 5759, December 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Opinion & Comment
They Have No Benefit from the Damage they Cause Us

"Write on the horn of an ox that you have no part in the G-d of Israel." This was one of the demands that the Syrian Greeks made of the Jewish people in the period that led up to the Chanukah miracle, over 2,000 years ago.

Why write on the horn of an ox? Why specifically the horn?

From our perspective, we know that the horn is one of the major categories of damage. It is the symbol of a destructive agent who "intends to damage and has no pleasure or benefit from the damage." This contrasts with, for example, the tooth, which refers to an animal that eats for its own benefit, or where the animal tramples something in which case it has no real intention to destroy what it walks over. When an animal gores something or someone it fully intends to harm him, and it gains nothing from doing so.

It is hard to confront that sort of threat. One constantly seeks to find the rationale for the demands that are being made; to understand what motivates them. The most natural thing is to look for the self-interest angle.

But sometimes it just is not there. Think about the turbine part that the Prime Minister ordered to transport on Shabbos, refusing to consider seriously the proposals that were advanced for compromise nor to even fully honor the promises he had made only a day earlier to avoid Shabbos desecration, not to mention his commitment in the coalition agreement to preserve the status quo. In fact, he offered no post facto explanation or justification for his order to go ahead with the transfer. This leaves us with little alternative but to conclude that the whole "point" was to put us and our Shabbos in what he regards as their rightful place: incidental and inconsequential in his larger scheme of larger things.

This is a pattern that has, unfortunately, repeated itself in other incidents, such as the time mechanics were summoned from Israel on Shabbos to England to repair the prime ministerial jet, even though Barak had already clearly missed the only pressing appointment he had (to speak at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Charities).

This approach is amplified in the behavior of Barak's Minister of Justice (Yossi Beilin) and Minister of Education (Yossi Sarid). Both are quite open about their antipathy to everything holy and share the desire to shatter the status quo in order to establish new, more liberal lines that are more in line with modern Western ideas of hefkeirus and abandon.

We must stop this -- and Chanukah provides an important lesson about our primary means of doing so.

Preceding the final events of Chanukah was a long and bitter war in which the Jewish armies saw many miracles. Yet the focus of the commemoration is the miracle of the cruse of oil that was important for the service in the Beis Hamikdash. Chazal directed us to celebrate the renewal of pure worship in the Beis Hamikdash, and not the just and essential war that led up to it.

Our job is to light and spread the fire of mitzvos and the light of Torah. Though the forces arrayed against this goal are strong, it cannot be denied that we are making headway. The steady increase in the chareidi community in Israel and throughout the world -- as was so wonderfully evident in the recent Agudath Yisroel Convention in the United States -- is powerful encouragement to pray for miracles in our times as in days gone by.

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