There are two words in this weekâ€™s parsha that are expounded, analyzed and dissected as if our lives were dependent on them - and they are: â€œverapo yerapei - heal he shall heal.â€
The Torah tells us: â€œIf men quarrel and one strikes his fellow with a stone or a fist, and he does not die but falls into bed. If he gets up and goes about outside under his own power, the one who struck is absolved. Only for his lost time shall he pay, and heal he shall healâ€ (Shemos 21:18-19).
Ever since they shot Kennedy, the words â€œconspiracy theoryâ€ attach themselves to every major historical incident. Even â€œThey shot Kennedyâ€ epitomizes that very essence, the proverbial â€œtheyâ€ you know, the guys who are responsible for everything that does not get done or is moved out of place.
Even in the grocery store, when something is not on the shelf and the clerk tells me, â€œThey must have moved it to another part of the store,â€ I feel like asking, â€œWho is â€˜theyâ€™? The guy who shot Kennedy?â€™
I canâ€™t imagine it and I assume that unless you lived through it, you canâ€™t imagine it either: the daily barrages of rockets, not only interrupting your daily life, but threatening your very existence.
It is very hard for those who live in the relative calm of America to have the slightest inkling of the fear that hovers over the heads of so many toshvei Eretz Yisroel during these last weeks and those who live in the southern sections of the land over the past number of years.
It happened nearly thirty years ago and no one has learned anything since then.
He was not a teenager. In fact, he was 69 years old. He was not nimble. In fact, he was in a wheelchair. And he was not hitching a ride near a settlement on the West Bank of the Jordan River. No. He was on a boat, an Italian cruise ship named the Achille Lauro. But they shot him just the same.
I should have started this column earlier in the day. It would have been much easier to write something about the president appointing the former CEO of Proctor and Gamble, the maker of both TideÂ® laundry detergent and PampersÂ®, to clean up the mess at the Veteran Administrationâ€™s healthcare system.
I saw the headlines last week, and for the funny way my mind works, a scene, one that I had only imagined, flashed through my mind. I had heard the story from a friend, and I wished I could have been there to share in the moment. Alas, it is only a fantastical memory, one that I always embellished through the power of imagination.
I was always fascinated by the opening Rashi in Parshas Shelach which castigates the meraglim for seeing the tragic episode of Miriamâ€™s tzoraas and not gleaning a lesson from it. After all, arenâ€™t there 31 commandments, positive and negative, associated with slander? Yet, it seems that learning from episodes that seem to scream mussar at you may be just as imperative. And like my rebbi of old, Rav Mendel Kaplan ztâ€l, was wont to do, you can turn on the radio and hear a shmuess.
They are at it again. They are trying to figure us out. First it was the Pew Crew and now itâ€™s the HaMercaz Lâ€™Mechkar Vâ€™Tikshoret Yehudit (The Center for Jewish Research and Communication), who commissioned a study. I always wondered why the simple name Pew in America has to be so long in Israel, but I guess they get paid by the letter. The poll was done by Israeli pollster Dr. Mina Tzemach and it analyzed the attitudes of secular Israelis toward chareidim. What they found is something that I thought I had known for years. Just because we are paranoid does not mean everyone hates us.