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Friday, 16 January, 2015 - 11:53 am

A boy asked his father to explain the differences between irritation, aggravation, and misery. Dad picked up the phone and dialed a number at random. When the phone was answered he asked, "Can I speak to Alf, please?" "No! There's no one called Alf here." The person hung up. "That's irritation," said Dad.

He picked up the phone again, redialed the same number and asked for Alf a second time. "No--there's no one here called Alf. Go away. If you call again I shall telephone the police." End of conversation.

"That's aggravation." "Then what's ‘misery’?" asksedhis son.

The father picked up the phone and dialed a third time:

"Hello, this is Alf. Have I received any phone calls??"

"We have avenged the Prophet!" is what the gunmen shouted as they stormed the office of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine attacked on last Wednesday, and gunned down 12 people.

The danger is immense. France has tolerated the growth of the terror in its midst. When 30,000 demonstrated in the streets of France, “Death to Israel,” nothing was done. With the incessant terror in France, including four Jews killed last Friday in a Paris kosher supermarket, it is clear that the enemy is determined to change Europe, and ultimately the world. Our world is awakening to a new reality—that we are facing a global confrontation. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Assuming even that 90 percent of them are peace loving citizens, and only 10 percent support the violence, we are still dealing with 150 million people who are prepared to die just to kill us. These are titanic, insane numbers.

How deep is their radical indoctrination? How profound is their hate and thirst for blood? Is there hope for peace and reconciliation? What are we to do at such a time?

One answer is found in this week’s portion, Vaeira. G-d sent Moses on a mission to liberate his people from oppression. Moses refused and gave four excuses why he can’t go. G-d pleads, explains, promises, but to no avail. Moses refuses again. . At last, “G-d’s wrath is kindled in Moses,” and he agrees to go.

This is strange. What finally influenced Moses to take the job? Was he so afraid of G-d's fury? Did G-d “lack” the tools to inspire Moses for his mission, and the only resort was anger? This leads us to the larger question: What value can there ultimately be in doing a job you don’t want to—only because of your employer's or your parent's rage? Can you really live your life based on someone’s anger? Can rage inspire change?

You ask your son to begin preparing for his bar mitzvah. He’s a good kid. Clever. Fast. Great student. But he refuses. First he says, he can’t do it. When you assure him, he says his friends and all of the guests will mock him. When you show him he’s wrong, he says he does not have a good voice for the job. When you prove him wrong, he says: it’s not for him. It is a job for his brother.

Eventually you are frustrated. You get angry. You scream at him. You threaten him. You penalize him. Out of fear, he accepts the task and prepares for his bar mitzvah.

What’s wrong with this situation? Do I really want the entire bar-mitzvah experience motivated by fear of his dad? Do I truly lack the tools to inspire my children toward a great future that my only last hope is dread, anger and fear?

Well, that—it seems—is exactly what happened between G-d and Moses and it is disturbing. When you rebuke your wife or husband out of anger, how effective is it? How helpful is it for the relationship? Communication must come from a place of wholesomeness, not rage.

Why, then, is G-d so wrathful? The Kotzker Rebbe suggests that we are mistranslating the words and hence creating a false premise. If you read the words in the Torah, it actually says this: “G-d made His wrath burn in Moses.” It does not say that G-d’s wrath burnt against Moses, but rather burnt IN Moses.

G-d did not get angry with Moses. Rather, His wrath began to burn within Moses. G-d was pained, indignant and horrified by the Egyptian exile. He was angry and perturbed by it. G-d could only convince Moses to accept the dangerous and life transforming mission if He would instill some of this wrath and passion into Moses. Moses needed to experience some of the pain G-d was feeling from the Egyptian exile

Rationally, Moses excuses were legitimate. He was humble, and thought of himself unworthy of serving as G-d’s personal agent. In addition, Pharaoh was a super power, and Moses did not know how that will change. What did G-d do at the end? He realized that rationally, Moses would not budge. Moses cared deeply for his people. Moses had previously stood up for the plight of the slaves and even killed an Egyptian beating a Jew to death. But it did not make sense for Moses to take such a job of confronting the Pharaoh and becoming the leader of the Hebrews. Moses wanted them redeemed, but He knew that G-d can do it without Moses. G-d was resourceful enough.

So what did G-d do? “He made his wrath burn in Moses,” inside of Moses’ heart and soul. G-d allowed Moses to experience in his gut something of the heart wrenching pain, agony and misery G-d was feeling from the Jewish people’s suffering in exile. Moses started to feel the wrath about the Egyptian situation just like G-d felt it. Once Moses felt the exile in every fiber of his being he was in.

I can be the greatest teacher in the world, but the information I impart does not necessarily influence and inspire others to become ambassadors of my vision and ready to create change. If I can affect them with my passion, then everything changes.

G-d inspired Moses with His passion! He allowed His passion to burn in Moses’ heart—and that changed the entire picture. Because when you are really passionate about something, when there is a fire burning in your gut toward a particular idea, nothing will stop you. You will “turn over the world” to bring redemption!

Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagen, the saintly Chafatz Chaim (1838-1933), once dispatched a delegation of Jewish representatives to the Polish prime minister in an attempt to nullify a new decree against Jewish ritual slaughtering.

Upon their return, they reported to the great rabbi that their mission was a failure. "The minister did not understand us, and the translator did not do a good job conveying our message," the delegation reported.

"Yes, yes," cried the Chafatz Chaim. "But why did none of you faint?” “Had one of you been genuinely affected by the decree against Judaism as to faint, the prime minister would have understood you very well," he concluded. The Chafetz Chaim was searching for the passion!

One thing is clear: If we will not fight back with the same passion, commitment, and unwavering clarity as our enemies, we cannot triumph.

They have a fire of hate and calculated barbarity in their eyes; they are indoctrinated to believe that the most sacred thing one can do is murder cartoonists or hold hostage Jewish women and Children. If we do not discover a fire in our bones to defend our world and our civilization with equal intense passion and commitment, how can we prevail?

May we have passion and purpose in every act that we do !

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky



Peter Kurton wrote...

I appreciate your concern but my estimate of the number of aggressive Muslims is a lot less than your figure. We only hear about the active ones so their numbers might seem overwhelming.

My guess would be that it is a tiny fraction of 1% of them who wish us harm.
It's no different to any other pressure group whether it's the IRA, union activists or whoever.
They are often a very tiny but very vocal and active minority.

But positively, there is always a silent majority.

There is not much to fear from whatever they say because they don't appear to be rational, but there is a lot to worry about in what they do in that they are quite prepared to die.
That kind of ethic, not immediately apparent by looking at them, is hard to combat.

I'm interested to know where this irrational hatred comes from. It's almost beyond the comprehension of normal people.

I believe those good people, the silent majority who wish us no harm, should speak out more.
Evil prevails when good men do nothing.