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June 28, 1985 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-06-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

For some
people,

TORAH PORTION



Privilege, Responsibility
Go Hand-In-Hand

great dream, for which he had la-
bored long and selflessly, and this
was to be denied. He struck the
rock instead of speaking to it.
Was the miraculous power of God
thereby diminished? Was it fair
that Moses should be thereby so
utterly condemned?
Commentators ancient,
medieval, and modern struggle
with this question. Many and in-
genious are the answers that
have been offered. I suggest the
following approach.
Moses' offense was not that he
struck the rock instead of speak-
ing to it. His sin lay elsewhere.
The serious transgression was his
motivation and attitude demon-
strated by his impatience, exasp-
eration, and lack of faith in God
and in the people. When he
exclaimed "Listen to me, you re-
bels," he evinced his disdain of
those whom he was to elevate and
guide. When he ,said "Shall we
draw water for you from this
rock," he expressed skepticism of
God's power.
Granted this was a display of
impatience and anger, but it was
a momentary episode. Should
this lapse of Moses from his usual
standards of patience and faith
and inner strength be so harshly
punished? Other men sinned
more, and other men suffered
less.
But in asking the question
again, we have essentially an-
swered it, because anger and im-
patience could be forgiven in
other men, but not Moses. Com-
mon faults can be forgiven corn-
mon persons, but Moses was a
most uncommon man. Speaking
in the name of God, he was a Di-
vine mesenger; within him were
embodied Divine truths.
He who enjoys a privilege has a
commensurate responsibility.
The greater the privilege and the
larger the power, the more far-
reaching the responsibility, the
larger the obligation. It matters
not whether the privilege is lead-
ership, wealth, education, or ta-
lent. The Talmud says that with

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HANDBAGS

BY RABBI IRWIN GRONER

Chukat: Numbers
19 : 1-22 : 1 . Judges
11: 1-33 .

39

CLEARING OUT

Special to The Jewish News

This week's Sidrah describes
that episode which sealed the fate
of Moses. God tells Moses to
gather the people around a great
rock, commanding him to speak
to it and bring forth water. As the
people assemble, Moses addresses
them with anger and impatience,
saying "Listen to me, you rebelli-
ous folk. Shall we then bring
forth for you water from this
stone?" Whereupon he lifts his
staff, strikes the rock twice, and
immediately hears the Divine de-
cree: "Since you didn't believe in
Me, to sanctify Me in the sight of
the Children of Israel, you will
not bring this people to the land
which I have given them."
Why so grievous a punishment
for so minor an offense? Entering
the Promised Land was Moses'

Friday, June 28, 1985

the righteous God is more exact-
ing and more demanding than
with the rest of humanity.
We tend to view with alarm the
lawlessness of the under-
privileged, but we should be no
less disturbed by wrong doing
committed by- the powerful and
the privileged.
Americans are outraged by the
Shiite Moslem terrorists who
hold Americans hostage, but
Americans have not adequately
responded to or understood, dur-
ing recent decades, the increas-
ing danger of international ter-
rorism directed first against Is-
rael and now against the Western
democracies aided and abeited by
a United Nations that declared
"Zionism is a form of racism."
The UN declaration on Zionism is
as great a perversion of justice
and truth, since it was adopted by
the representatives of the inter-
national community, as the acts
of fanatic Arab hijackers.
I direct this principle to our
Jewish existence. Being a Jew is
a great privilege. Our religious,
moral, and cultural heritage is a
precious legacy bequeathed to us
by generations of loyalty and
faithfulness.
Therefore, Jews should set
high standards of integrity in
business practices. Jews should
aspire to compassion and under-
standing in their relationships
with others. We should express to
our children by word and deed, a
love and devotion for our way of
life. Our collective conduct some-
times falls short of these ideals.
Our allegiance to Judaism some-
times does not reflect these au-
thentic values. The great
privilege of a Jew should be
matched by the equivalent sense
of responsibility.

tying them
takes more
than a few
minutes.

Tying a shoe is a task most
of us take for granted.
But for America's mentally
retarded citizens, it's much
more. It's an achievement.
The ARC—the Association
for Retarded Citizens—is
helping. Not to tie their
shoes for them but to help
them learn to be more
self-sufficient through
education, job training,
residential opportunities.
ARC helps America's retard-
ed citizens to lead produc-
tive lives. It's a big job.
But a rewarding one.
You can help, too. Sup-
port the ARC however you
can—through your time,
money, friendship,
understanding.

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