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haaros

Haaros

Parshas Naso 5758 - '98

Outline Vol. 2, # 31

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein


Haaros Parshas Naso 5758: Outline Vol. 2 # 31 12 Sivan 5758 -- JN 5 - 6, '98

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Our thanks to the anonymous reader who has dedicated his issue.

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Mirror Image

The mass media has an overwhelming influence on our lives. However, media spokesmen say that it is the reverse: the media merely reflects society. I once read how a pop-musician compared the situation to someone who sees a blemish in the mirror. Can you blame the mirror for the blemish? Obviously, the mirror is only informing the person about the existence of the blemish, but is not responsible for its existence. Famous child-star-turned-politician Shirley Temple Black used the same argument a generation ago, testifying as a young woman before the U. S. Senate.

Perhaps we are so used to looking in the mirror that we don't see the foolishness of such statements. The mirror is not responsible for the existence of the blemish, but one who stares at the blemish in the mirror is likely becoming concerned, or perhaps obsessed, with the existence of the blemish. When he unduly focuses on the blemish, it will permeate his thoughts, affect his self-perception, influence his behavior.

When the media focuses on violence, sensationalism and one-sided arguments, millions of consumers focus their attention on these "blemishes." What was supposed to be a "mirror," becomes a device of manipulation.


Mirror Image II

Sota -- the section of the Torah dealing with the suspected adulteress -- is followed by the laws of the Nazir, who vows not to drink wine. Rashi explained the relationship of these two sections: "One who sees the suspected adulteress in her ruination, should vow not to drink wine -- which brings about adultery." Apparently, the sight of the ruination of the Sota, in itself, has a devastating effect.

The Baal Shem Tov explained another point from this Rashi. The Baal Shem Tov did not author any books, but was quoted extensively by his students. One of the major themes in his quoted words, is that incidents which occur to us come to reveal areas that require personal reflection. Being a witness to an unfortunate occurrence necessarily meant that the witness must correct the same weakness in himself, to some degree.

Rav Yerucham Lebovitz also mentioned this theme. A Jew should never say, "What a foolish person -- such a thing could never happen to me!" Rather, recognize human nature, and realize that all people have the same basic nature. If wine could affect a person in such a foolish manner, then surely the same could happen to me, G-d forbid. Alcohol often serves to release a base side of human nature, which should be held in check.

Speaking a generation ago, Rav Lebovitz's words couldn't be more timely: There are many types of intoxication, many addictions -- there are many alcohols! Rashi's comments regarding the relationship of the suspected adulteress and the vow not to drink wine are not isolated to wine and adultery. There is an intrinsic link between the various intoxications and addictions, and all sorts of illicit behavior.

On the contrary, the intention of the Torah's commands is to elevate us to a state of sanctity. Such sanctity, however, requires many unstated preconditions. We will discuss this further next week, G-d willing.


Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Kollel of Kiryas Radin
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156
E-mail: yaakovb@torah.org

Good Shabbos!


Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



 


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