Parshat Bo 5779: Credibility vs Nitpicking and Faultfinding

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua — Parshat Bo is being sponsored by Ayton and Ayelet Lefkowitz of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated Lilui Nishmas Ayton’s Grandmothers: Chana Michla bas Zeev Yitzchak and Miriam bas Avraham and his Grandfather Klonimus Yechezkel ben Yehuda. To Mishpochat Lefkowitz, many thanks for your sponsorship and your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3


Parshat Bo 5779: Credibility vs Nitpicking and Faultfinding

by Moshe Burt

Parshat Bo is the one which, for ths author, annually relates to that nutty parody, composed by Guess Who, of a crazy tune which played back “in the Old Country” a few decades ago, “Does Your Korbon Pesach Lose It’s Flavor Tied to the Bedpost Overnight?” (Actually, the real title to the song was “Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It’s Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?”) Here’s hoping that readers of this Parshat HaShevua will click on the above YouTube link for a bit of levity.

Just a note here for historical perspective: from the point where Moshe experienced the revelation of the Burning Bush on the 15th of Nissan in the year 2447, to Moshe’s first approach to Pharaoh, through the ten plagues (the asseret makot), to the Jews’ liberation from the Egyptian slavery and oppression: there spanned exactly one year.

Over the years, this author’s nutty parody has cut right to the chase, to the very heart of our Parshat. The lamb was seen by the Mitzriyim as one of their myriads of “gods”. Therefore, Hashem mandated the Mitzvot of taking the Korbon Pesach, publicly, tying it to a bedpost, slaughtering it and applying the da’am on Jewish doorposts. The going up from Mitzrayim (Egypt) to “…a land flowing with milk and honey …” — the Yetziyat Mitzrayim is as relevant to the National entity (B’nei Yisrael) today, as it was then, as it relates to emunah (belief in) and yirat (fear of) Hashem.

Last year, this author discussed a different aspect of the Yetziyot Mitzriyim — the Jews’ liberation from the Egyptian slavery and oppression; the tendency to find the smallest excuse to nitpick against, thereby find fault with, those who one, or a group disagree. In light of current events and news, this author deems it appropriate to revisit and expand on the topic of faultfinding and credibility.

An idea, procedure, strategy or material item may have been conceived and work flawlessly, but someone, out of jealousy or opposition could come along and poke holes in the item, idea or concept over inconsequential minutia.

Torah records Moshe’s words to Pharaoh regarding the Plague of the Newborn (Mako HaBechorot):

“Moshe said, ‘So said Hashem, At about midnight I shall go out in the midst of Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die from the firstborn of Pharaoh… to the firstborn of the maidservant…'” (Sefer Shemot, Perek 11, posukim 4-5, as rendered to English both in the Artscroll Stone Chumash and in Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, pages 162-163)

The Artscroll Stone Chumash provides a Rashi on Sefer Shemot, Perek 11, posuk 4 explaining Moshe’s words to Pharaoh “At about midnight” in this way:

Moshe did not say that the plague would occur exactly at midnight, because Pharaoh’s astrologers might miscalculate the time and think that the moment of the plague was somewhat before or after midnight. If so, they would claim that Moshe was a charlatan for predicting the wrong time.

R’ Bachya adds that since the third plague [the plague of lice], when the magicians were forced to admit that Hashem was at work in Egypt, their belief in Moshe’s veracity had been reinforced as the plagues progressed. Now, if Moshe were to “err” in predicting the exact time of the last plague, the Egyptian wise men would retroactively lose faith in Moshe.

The above Midrashic comment gives an insight into a less than savory aspect of human nature. Even though the firstborn were dying around them, the astrologers would snatch at the most miniscule straw to discredit Moshe.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s adds in his Sefer “Growth Through Torah”, page 163):

There are people who take pleasure in finding fault with others. They are experts in finding inconsistencies in what people say and do. It is impossible to meet their standards….. Faultfinders use strong language to condemn and belittle their victims. They do this either because they are [or perceive themselves as] perfectionists or as a means of gaining power…. If a person does something that is basically right and proper, acknowledge this even if you do point out errors that still remain. Realize there is always the possibility that you are making a mistake.

The fallacy of faultfinding is that often the individual projects his own shortcomings onto another, particularly in atmospheres of polarization, where there is, or seems to be, no ability by parties for peaceable dialogue.

We, in Israel, observe this atmosphere of factional, divisive, often picayune faultfinding prevalent in the United States where the two major parties have evolved into hating and disrespecting each other and where one political party and parts of another look to disrespect, discredit and seek to rid themselves of the current sitting President by any and all means, no matter how low and dishonest, i.e. “He gets two scoops of ice cream while everyone else gets one,” “The First Lady wore high heels when the President came to hurricane-devastated Texas,” fake dossiers paid for by one party against the President in order to justify wiretap, appointment of a “special prosecutor,” a two year witch-hunt without corroborating evidence accusing the sitting president of (alleged) collusion with an adversary nation in winning the presidency, because certain groups of politicians and media types can’t own-up to their election loss and move on for the greater national good.

Among Israel’s top governmental leaders, we often hear bellicose rhetoric regarding military capability and threats of potential retaliatory actions against our adversaries, against murderous terrorist organizations. Strong words, yet weak, if any actions at all, with resultant harm to Israel’s military, diplomatic credibility.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th US president, was quoted from a speech he gave in 1903 saying, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” And a certain athlete would often say, “If you’re gonna talk the talk, you better walk the walk.”

Israel’s governmental leaders need to learn and internalize the lesson of Moshe’s last words to Pharaoh: “At about midnight…” as well as the words of the two abovementioned more contemporary personalities, in our political, bureaucratic, military, academic and media spheres. And we Jews need to learn and internalize this lesson and minimize, if not eradicate the often splitting-hairs of polarizing divisiveness among ourselves — among our observant sectors.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of four plus years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.