By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz
In this week’s parsha, we learn about the parah adumah, identified as a chok, a mitzvah without a reason we can understand. Rashi explains that the Torah clearly states that the mitzvah is a chok so that the Jewish people will not seek explanations for the commandment when the nations of the world mock the mitzvah.
Don’t seek to explain it to them, for neither you nor they will ever understand the reason. Apparently, all through the ages, gentiles have been mocking Jewish service and mitzvos, and Jews have bothered answering them, mistakenly assuming that by doing so they would temper anti-Jewish feeling.
The Torah is the basis for laws of jurisprudence in civilized countries, yet we are constantly vilified by citizens of those very countries and characterized by old anti-Semitic stereotypes as dishonest shylocks. Wherever we have been, we have been mistreated and held to a double standard. Dialogue and debates never succeeded in winning over the hearts and minds of haters.
Yet, we persist in trying to prove the justice of our cause, hiring public relations experts and attempting to explain our way of life to those motivated by age-old bias. We need to have enough self-confidence to be able to ignore the senseless cries and know that there is not much to be gained in articulating who we are when dealing with irrational, ingrained, hatred.
In fact, the Torah quotes Moshe Rabbeinu as stating, “Behold, I have taught you chukim and mishpotim as Hashem commanded me, you shall observe and follow them, for they are your wisdom and knowledge in the eyes of the nations, when they will hear of these chukim, and they will say, ‘This is a wise nation’” (Devorim 4:5-6).
Our laws and mitzvos, whether understood or not, are the bedrock of our lives, culture and religion, and we have nothing to be embarrassed of when we are faithful to Torah. Take a look at current events and see where true justice lies.
Americans who have always believed in the country’s justice system were dumbfounded, disheartened and disappointed when they were briefed on a long delayed Investigator General’s report on the investigation of the FBI and Justice Department into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for classified information.
The report is over 500 pages, in which then-FBI head James Comey is accused of being insubordinate. Other FBI officials are quoted making strong anti-Trump statements. A long list of mistakes and poor judgments are cited. In the end, the IG concludes that there is no proof of any bias in the handling of the investigation.
Comey arrived at a similar conclusion in his investigation as FBI director in the Clinton case. He laid out a thorough and provable criminal case, only to conclude that there were no grounds on which to press charges against Mrs. Clinton.
Trump supporters read the IG report and conclude that once again, the Deep State won. Just as Clinton was freed with no charges, Donald Trump has been hung out to twist in the swamp for the past two years.
As soon as Comey and his associates covered for Hillary, they set out to create the Trump charges in order to destroy the person who was democratically elected by the American people to lead the country.
Comey doctored the Hillary report to make sure that her actions were not labeled as criminal. He did this by substituting the word “careless” for “grossly negligent.”
To us, it makes no difference, but to lawyers, those words represent the difference between innocence and guilt. Hillary’s emails had a big C on them, marking them classified. She said she thought it was just a letter of the alphabet with no meaning, and the tough guy head of the FBI charged with investigating crimes and treating everyone equally in the face of the law believed her.
She was acquitted by Comey; the exoneration was written many weeks before she was interviewed. Her aides were given immunity without testifying. Comey then proceeded to put together the investigation into the supposed Russian collusion case.
FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were involved in the exoneration of Clinton, were placed on the new investigation into candidate Trump. The same group that concluded that Hillary was innocent decided that Trump must be stopped.
The Justice Department held back from Congress the text messages that Peter Strzok sent, assuring his friend and co-agent Lisa Page that he would do everything he could to stop Trump from getting elected. He also wrote that he was acting in that way to take out an insurance policy in the unlikely event that Trump would be elected, but since he didn’t say straight out that he hates Trump, there is no bias.
All of the text messages from August 8, 2016 were released to Congress, except this one exchange: Page was worried: “Trump’s not ever going to be president, right?” Strzok reassured her, “No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
One of the FBI agents involved in the Clinton investigation wrote this the day after the election: “Trump’s supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy… that think he will magically grant them jobs for doing nothing. They probably didn’t watch the debates, aren’t fully educated on his policies, and are stupidly wrapped up in his unmerited enthusiasm.”
Agents mocked Trump supporters, but that doesn’t show bias. You don’t have to be a forensic scientist to know that when an FBI lawyer investigating the president writes, “Viva la resistance,” and when Page writes that Trump is a loathsome human, that they are anti-Trump and want to do him in.
Strzok said that the election results should show 100 million votes for Clinton versus zero for Trump. He said that he would stop him from becoming president, and that if somehow Trump won, he would be impeached.
Trump supporters see the report as a whitewash by the Deep State which President Trump was elected to sweep out, but the swamp creatures are proving much more entrenched than anyone thought.
Democrats stand by and cheer, and the people’s confidence in the justice system is at an all-time low. Many Republican beneficiaries of the system cheer on the corrupt swamp, some quietly and others more proudly, and hope it will prevail.
We need people who believe in truth, justice and consequences. We need people who care enough about truth and justice to join the battle against corruption and fiction. Perhaps it was always this way. Let’s hope it wasn’t.
Ten years ago, we first became acquainted with the justice system when we dug into the Rubashkin case and followed the indictments, court proceedings, conviction and jailing of a fine person. Others castigated us – some still do – for doubting the judicial system.
The time has come for us to rise and say, “We have had enough. We want real justice.”
A couple of months ago, James Comey published a book on leadership, morality and loyalty. He was treated like a conquering hero by the media, as they helped him hype the book and himself. Marketed as a paragon of virtue, he has shown himself to be a farce and a lie.
This goes beyond politics, beyond Republicans and Democrats. It goes to the heart of this country.
Meanwhile, special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation into the president’s firing of Comey continues. Was the president obstructing justice when he fired Comey? The Deep State says he was. Though Comey was found to have acted stupidly, was insubordinate, and had poor judgment, the mainstream press and politicians believe that he should have been allowed to continue in his position as America’s top lawman.
In the end, what becomes obvious is that Hillary violated the Espionage Act and Comey protected her from an indictment so that the Democrats would not have their shoo-in for election replaced and the campaign upended. At that time, and all through the period covered by the report, everyone involved believed Clinton would win the election. None of them gave Trump any chance. In fact, the IG did not find even one email praising Trump, though there was one mocking Clinton. He did find that there appeared to be a “willingness to take official action to impact Trump’s prospects,” something he says is “antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.”
Irrespective of whether the laws of the land are properly enforced, we are to abide by them and observe them faithfully as loyal citizens of this country, which provides for us a welcome home.
We must always conduct ourselves in a fashion that promotes kiddush Hashem and never cause a chillul Hashem.
In this week’s parsha (Bamidbar 20:7-13), we confront the sorrowful occurrence of mei meriva, where Moshe and Aharon were commanded by Hashem to speak to the rock and ask it to give forth water. Instead of speaking to it, Moshe hit it with his staff. Hashem told Moshe and Aharon that because they weren’t mekadeish Him in the eyes of the Bnei Yisroel, they shall not merit bringing the Jews into the Promised Land.
A careful examination of the posuk and Rashi’s explanation, says Rav Elazar Menachem Shach, shows that Moshe and Aharon were faulted not for causing a chillul Hashem, but for not bringing about as great a kiddush Hashem as was possible. The fact that an inert stone was able to give forth water for the nation and their animals in the desert was in itself a miracle (see Ramban, ibid.). They were faulted because speaking to the stone would have brought about a greater kiddush Hashem.
Rashi explains that the Jews would have been able to make a kal vachomer. They could have realized that if a stone that neither speaks nor hears, and has no need to earn a living, follows the word of Hashem, certainly we should.
Thus, the punishment of Moshe and Aharon was brought about because they didn’t cause as great a kiddush Hashem as was possible.
Rav Yitzchok Eizik Chover, famed disciple of the Vilna Gaon, writes in Ohr Torah (27, 29, 81, 145) that because Moshe hit the stone, it became difficult to study and understand Torah. Forgetfulness in Torah study set in and Moshe Rabbeinu died early, causing the wells of Torah to dry up. From then on, there was machlokes in understanding Torah and arriving at the halacha.
He says that if Moshe had spoken to the rock, the Torah would have been revealed in totality. It would not be as difficult to understand, there would have been no golus, the Bais Hamikdosh would not have been destroyed, and Hashem would not lead us through hester ponim.
We note that all this came about because Moshe and Aharon failed to use the opportunity to be fully mekadeish Hashem.
In our lives, as well, we must use every opportunity to be mekadeish Hashem as much as possible. Sometimes, people defend their actions and say that they acted properly and did not cause a chillul Hashem. That doesn’t suffice. We must dedicate ourselves to kiddush Hashem to the max in ways that leave no doubt about our commitment to the Torah’s chukim and mishpotim, to each other, to the public welfare, to the laws of the land, and to what is right and just.
Zos chukas haTorah. That is our mandate.