Assimilation, the Jewish people's worst nightmare

This week's Torah portion: An interaction with the worst enemy of the Jews, not long after the Torah was given.

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Dr. Joseph Frager‏,

(Illustration)
(Illustration)
Rachael Cerrotti/Flash 90

The Jewish People have many enemies but the one that might be the worst of them all is Assimilation.

With rates of intermarriage in the United States over 50% the future of American Jewry is highly problematic. Parshat Emor touches upon the subject in a very mysterious way. There is no doubt that G-d, Almighty is raging against Assimilation in hidden messages.

"The son of an Israelite woman went out-and he was the son of an Egyptian man-among the Children of Israel; they fought in the camp, the son of the Israelite woman and an Israelite man."(24:10) "The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name of G-d and blasphemed-so they brought him to Moshe; the name of his mother was Shelomit daughter of Divri of the Tribe of Dan."(24:11) This event is one of the more difficult to understand in the Torah. It seems disconnected in time and space. There are many messages that this story is trying to convey.

There is no unfinished business in the Torah. Although it may on occasion escape the human mind, G-d made everything connected. The Torah is indeed a living universe. It is up to us to decipher and drill down as deeply as possible. The story of the Mekalel (Blasphemer) may seem at first glance to be disparate but when examined carefully it weaves together 40 years of the life of Moshe in an elegant tapestry.

The Ramban makes it clear that the Mekalel was a one man wrecking crew. He "went out from his place or from his tent and came into the midst of the people (into the public area) and they fought there. The explanation of "in the camp" is to tell us that the quarrel was conducted in the camp and thus many heard when the Blasphemer uttered his Blasphemy. " He was sowing the seeds of rebellion and hence the last Posuk regarding the Mekalel makes it clear that the "Children of Israel did as Hashem had commanded Moshe."(24:23) The Midrash Rabbah claims that that the father of the Mekalel was none other than the Egyptian Taskmaster that Moshe killed (Shmot 2:12).

The Medrash goes on further to say that Moshe killed the Egyptian because the Egyptian was trying to kill none other than Datan. Although there is some debate about Shelomit (Rashi says she was a harlot) according to the Medrash it appears she was married to Datan and was raped by the Egyptian Taskmaster. The taskmaster was trying to kill Datan to cover up his (the Taskmaster's) crime and take his wife. The fact that Datan acted as a provocateur and nemesis throughout the Life of Moshe despite Moshe's having saved his life just testifies to the greatness and Tzidkut of Moshe. Now in Parshat Emor the story comes full circle. The product of Shelomit and the Egyptian Taskmaster is the Mekalel. There is much more that could be written about the actual events but there are many lessons to be learned.

The Ramban discusses the Mekalel's family backround and explains that despite the fact that affiliation of the Jewish People is dependent upon the mother (Jewishness goes after the mother), the child of a mixed relationship such as the one described in Parshat Emor was viewed as somewhat deficient and according to the Ramban not allowed to marry a Kohen. The Shulchan Aruch says that we Poskin that a woman conceived of such a relationship (Jewish Mother and Non-Jewish Father) cannot marry a Kohen. (Please consult your Rabbi for a final Psak).

Essentially despite the fact the child is Jewish if the mother is Jewish, Parshat Emor is inveighing and railing against Intermarriage and Assimilation. Despite the fact that Moshe while alive had a profound influence on all of Bnei Yisrael and probably Shelomit and her son who he must have felt a special attachment to (them) since he was personally involved and invested in the case, the product of this Egyptian Man and the Jewess turned out to be this rebel who blasphemed G-d. One does not have to look too far to find similar situations in our generation.

The latest culprit who comes to mind is Ben Rhodes who is the product of a Jewish woman from New York and a Non-Jewish Texan lawyer. Ben Rhodes, who is President Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication may well be responsible for one of History's worst and most catastrophic Deals-the Iranian Nuclear Deal. Assimilation is indeed the Jewish People's worst nightmare.








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