Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Emor

The Torah reading of this week concludes with a discussion of the sin of blaspheming the name of God. The Torah places this prohibition within an anecdotal context, describing an event that occurred in the camp of the Jewish people in the desert of Sinai. Two Jews had a quarrel that rapidly disintegrated into a public fight. The quarrel originally had to do with the ancestry of one of the Jews. When the quarrel between the two Jews finally went out of control, the act of blasphemy of God's name took place. There is, in my opinion, a strong connection and lesson involved in the juxtaposition of these events.

Anti-God utterances and events, so to speak, are rarely if ever, occasioned in a vacuum. It is usually the behavior or speech of a human that evokes a response that eventually refers to God. There are events in life, tragedies or inexplicable events, that may trigger such a response as well. But, overwhelmingly, blasphemy of God's name occurs when human behavior towards other humans is involved. And this is especially true when the subject matter of the dispute between the people involved is connected to matters of religion, ritual, faith and belief. This was the case in the dispute recorded in the Torah reading of this week and it was the insulting of one Jew by another that became the direct cause of the blasphemy of God's name that followed. Bad and false ideas, distortion of laws and tradition, improper behavior, are all entitled to direct and forceful criticism. However, personal demonization and venomous insults, even if allegedly made in the name of a just cause, lead eventually to a desecration and blasphemy of God's name.

There is much shouting and quarrelling in the Jewish world today. The noise is so great that we can no longer hear each other, let alone attempt to understand the other person. And each side feels justified in its pursuit of the quarrel, for there are major and fundamental life issues involved. But when the matter gets out of hand, when it is personalized and is no longer a matter of issues but of people, the blasphemy of God's name is never far distant. Much of our present quarrelling has become institutionalized. It is organizational. There are political parties and social and religious groups within the Jewish people today whose sole apparent purpose is to oppose and personally demonize other Jewish groups and people. That is not much of a raison d'etre to exist. Negativism breeds negativism, hatred breeds hatred, and all of it leads to the cardinal sin in Judaism - the desecration and blasphemy of God's name. We should attempt at all costs to avoid falling into this failing and communal trap. It can, as it did in the case of the original blasphemer recorded in Emor, lead to, God forbid, death and destruction.

Shabat Shalom.

Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2000 Rabbi Berel Wein and Project Genesis, Inc.



 


ARTICLES ON MIKETZ AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Today's Chanuka Miracle
Rabbi David Begoun - 5766

A Double Loss!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Everyday Miracles
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

ArtScroll

Conversations
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Behind the Gray Blur
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Help From Heaven - To Forget
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

> Yosef Recognizes His Brothers
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

The Miracle of the Oil
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

Horns and Hedonism
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

How Yosef Got His Job
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

Sharing The Pain
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5775

To Fergin or Forget
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Waning or Waxing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

"Your Servant, Our Father"
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

Thanks for What?
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Don't Be Jealous!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information