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Judaism: The Mercy of Fools

It began with King Saul.
Published: Thursday, August 28, 2014 4:52 AM


The Torah tells us in this week's parsha: "If a corpse will be found on the land that Hashem, your G-d gives you to possess it, fallen in the field and it was not known who killed him, your elders and judges shall go out and measure toward the cities that are around the corpse.  It shall be that the city nearest the corpse, the elders of that city shall take a heifer with which no work has been done, which has not pulled a yoke. The elders of that city should bring the heifer down into the valley which cannot be worked and they shall axe the back of its neck in the valley and they shall say, our hands have not spilled this blood".

The Torah here is teaching us about accountability. Certainly, no one suspects the elders of the village of spilling blood, but still, perhaps they saw something which could have been prevented. Or maybe they didn't do all in their power to stop this murderous act from happening. And so they must take this calf and kill it. Just as this person was found killed, they must go to a valley full of stones that cannot bear fruit, and just like this person will never bear fruit anymore, they have to say that their hands have not spilled this innocent blood. 

We find the first king of Israel, King Saul, taking part in the ceremony of the 'Egla Arufa" The Talmud  teaches us that King Saul lay in wait by the stream. Rabbi Mani said he was preoccupied with the ritual held at the stream, following an unsolved murder, when G-d said to him: "Go and kill Amalek". Saul replied: If the Torah demands accountability for an unsolved murder, how much more so must we answer for all of the lives of the people of Amalek?  For if the people have sinned and are worthy of death, what about the animals?  What about the children? Should I kill them all? Is that right? 

A heavenly voice emerged and said to him: Do not be overly pious; do not be more pious than your Creator!

But King Saul was a merciful man. He so loved the little children of Amalek, those cute little boys and girls, that his big Jewish heart just broke in two when he set his eyes upon them and their childhood innocence.  And in spite of being commanded to wipe out every sign of Amalek, he just could not get himself to do it. Saul left behind the king of Amalek, Agag, and their beautiful cattle.

For this reason he was removed from being king over Israel.  

Today, as the dust settles over Israel and Gaza in this latest war, we find that Israel has once again lacked the courage to finish off its enemies and get the job done. Israel instead continues in the path of King Saul, displaying the 'mercy of fools' and allowing its enemies to live and fight another day.  

They will never give up their dream of destroying the Jewish people and the ceasefire will give them time to regroup and to strengthen themselves for the next round, which will surely come.  

Instead of wiping out the evil among us and paving the way for the  nations to know how to handle the ugly rise of Islam, we continue to sweep the problem under the rug - until the rug is unable to hide the cancer that grows in its midst. 

The mercy of fools of its leaders has plagued the Jewish people from time immemorial, causing us much bloodshed. We must raise a new generation of fearless leaders who will go the full mile and who will not stop until we have annihilated the evil arrayed against us.