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March 12, 1993 - Image 44

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-03-12

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

The Cultural Commission of Congregation Shaarey Zedek
cordially invites you to attend a program in celebration of .

JEWISH MUSIC MONTH

Tuesday Evening, March 16th, 1993 7:30 p.m.

featuring
three renowned musicians

Fedora Horowitz

Eli Eban

pianist

clarinetist

Properly Channeled
`Vices' Can Do Good

RABBI MORTON F. YOLKUT SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

W

Yehuda Hanani

cellist

in a program of music by Israeli and classical composers

admission is free and open to the entire community

Linda Zalla, Dr. Alden Leib
Chairpersons
Cultural Commission

brah P011111

Dr. Harold and Cynthia Daitch
Chairpersons
Music Division

Walter Field
Founding Chairman
Cultural Commission

e

are often told
that it is not nice
to become angry.
Civilized society
has always frowned upon any
display of anger. It is con-
sidered impolite to lose your
temper. And yet nothing was
ever accomplished, no evil
was ever eradicated, no great
reform was ever carried out
except by people who had the
ability to become angry.
This week's Torah portion
presents us with a profound
example of such "creative
anger." It was only a few
weeks since Israel had mirac-
ulously been redeemed from
the Egyptian slavery and had
witnessed the miracle at the
Red Sea. Not even six weeks
had passed since the Israel-
ites stood at the foot of Mt.
Sinai and proclaimed: naaseh
ve'nishma, "We will do and
we will hear" (Exodus 24:7).
They had just heard the voice
of God proclaiming the Ten
Commandments. Suddenly,
the people forgot those
wonderous experiences, as
well as their solemn promise,
and made for themselves a
golden calf to worship, deny-
ing the very existence of the
God they "saw" at the Red
Sea and "heard" at Sinai.
Moses came down from the
mountain with the tablets of
the covenant in his hand, and
when he saw the people bow-
ing down to the golden calf,
he became very upset. In
anger, he cast the tablets to
the ground, shattering them.
The rabbis of the Talmud tell
us that when God saw what
Moses had done, He con-
gratulated him and said:
t-_,

"Y'yasher Kochaka shesha-
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that you have broken them"
(B.T. Shabbat 87a). The tab-
lets would be useless to a peo-
ple worshiping a golden calf.
God was, therefore, pleased
with Moses' angry response.
What the sages are teach-
ing us here is that anger,
expressed at the proper time
and constructively channeled,
can often be a force for good.
And Moses certainly was not
the only Jewish leader who
exploded with righteous
anger. When we think of the
prophets of Israel we think of
angry men, of men who were
able to respond with right-
eous indignation when con-
fronted with evil,

Morton Yolkut is rabbi of

Congregation. B'nai David.

The prophet Amos saw the
palaces of the rich people of
Samaria and realized how
much was taken from the
poor in order to build them,
and he was angry. He called
out to them in the name of
God — "I hate the pride of
Jacob, and I abhor his pal-
aces." Many similar angry
responses are found through-
out the writings of the pro-
phets of ancient Israel.
Perhaps the tragedy of our
times is that we do not get
angry enough. We accept
crime, corruption and scan-
dal; we shrug our shoulders in
apathy or despair, and we are
no longer able to muster any

Shabbat Ki Tissa:
Exodus
30:11-34:35
Numbers 19:1-22
Ezekiel 36:16-38.

righteous wrath. Judaism re-
minds us that there is a time
when anger is not a vice; in
the face of evil it can indeed
be a virtue.
What is true of anger is
true of most other apparent
sins or vices. There are few
actions that are good or bad
in themselves. They should
rather be judged by the pur-
poses to which we put them.
So it is, for example, with ly-
ing. Our rabbis teach for the
sake of promoting peace, it is
sometimes a mitzvah, and not
a sin to lie.
And so it is with atheism. A
Chasid once asked his rebbe:
Why did God create atheism?
It is such a terrible curse. It
plagues us, it destroys our
faith, why did God create it?
The rebbe answered: There is
a time when it is altogether
proper to be an atheist. When
a poor man comes to you for
a donation, you should tell
him that God will help. You
should feel and act at that
moment as if there is no God,
as if there was no one else in
the world but you who could
help him.
Anger, lying, even atheism
— each of these so-called vices
can be used for good as well
as for evil. We can use every
human quality to become bet-
ter people and more exemp-
lary representatives of His

image. El

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