Shelach: Slow Down, Take a Breath

When I lived in America, I was well aware of the systemic racism that has flowered in American culture.  It’s something that people would simply try to hide under the carpet or simply yell you down if you dared admit to such a thing.  More than 150 years after slavery and many decades of hard-fought battles by the civil rights movement, I knew and saw firsthand how racism was alive and well.


For example, when I was in the University of Illinois (Chicago) from 1996-2000, shortly before the beginning of the semester, each student needed to sign up for the courses and time slot that they wished to make.  Naturally, those who were in sports, got to pick first, so they can schedule their classes around practice and games.  Then the “minorities” (who might have been the majority on campus) were allowed, and finally the white students were allowed to pick.  A state-funded school practicing racism.


Also, the school was located on the west side of Chicago.  And I knew that if I went into the wrong neighborhood, I would be practically inviting some criminal, simply because I was white.  I knew, if I were to be walking down the streets, the police would be watching me a little more carefully, wondering what a “white boy” was doing there.  Same thing a few years later, when I was working further in on the west side.


Now, fast forward 20 years or so, and I receive an email from a company that does the billing for the company I work for.  In it, the author claims that whites are racist, even if we don’t know it.  And not only that, all black-owned businesses will receive a discount for the next year, simply because they are black.  So, if a black man who went to the same school as I, and had all the same opportunities, owns a business, he will get a discount, because of their skin color.


And what caused all this (besides decades of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton)?  One crooked cop who killed one crooked man.  The crooked man, with a history of violence, is now a saint, because he is black.  The crooked cop (who is/was married to an Asian woman) is called a racist, simply because he’s white.


So now, you are automatically a racist for having the wrong skin color.


I really thought America would move on from racism, but I see that I was wrong.


Okay, on to more important things.

“They arose early in the morning and ascended to the mountain top, saying, ‘We are ready to go up to the place of which the Lord spoke, for we have sinned.’ Moses said, ‘Why do you transgress the word of the Lord? It will not succeed. Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, [so that] you will not be beaten by your enemies.  For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword. For you have turned away from the Lord, and the Lord will not be with you’” (Bamidbar 14:40-43).


Rav Shimshon Pinkus was once speaking of depression and the dangers to which it could lead a person.  He begged that a person who was suffering from some temporary depression (being a normal depression, not a long-term medical issue)should not do anything.  Being, that if you can’t learn gemara, learn mishnayos.  If you can’t learn mishnayos, learn chumash.  If you can’t learn chumash, say Tehillim.  And if you can’t say Tehillim, don’t do anything!  Go to sleep!  Count the holes in the ceiling!  But don’t go out and do something that will temporarily ease your pain and hurt your soul at the same time.  Just sleep it off, but don’t hurt yourself spiritually.


This rule is true regarding depression or anger or any other strong emotion that a person feels.  Don’t act on anything yet.  Sleep on it, think about it.  Let the emotions wear off before you do anything.


When the nation believed the negative report they received regarding Eretz Yisroel, they fell into a depression.  They did not believe in Hashem, and they were punished for it.  The next day, some had their "emotional high" and decided that they were, afterall, ready to enter, with or without Hashem’s approval.  And for that, they were all killed.


Perhaps, had they taken a bit more time before acting off of their emotional ups and downs, they would not have made the same mistakes that they did.


How many times could we have used that lesson over our lives?  For me?  Countless.


Have a great Shabbos!