Va'eira: It's Just Not Proper

Once again we’re in lockdown. Sigh.


So, basically, small businesses will continue to go out of business. Schools are closed. And kids are home.   I understand why: the hospitals are filling up and straining the system.  Unfortunately, most of it is caused by people who just prefer to follow their rules and if they get others sick … well … that’s their problem.


The vaccination of the country is going quickly, as Israel is the world's first guinea pig to see what happens.  Personally, I’m not pro- or anti- taking the vaccination.  I believe something like this, everybody should be able to choose for themselves.  I’m leaning more towards taking it, my wife, the opposite.  I see why or why not and understand both sides.


Unfortunately though, the Israeli government is coming out with a Green Passport plan, where you get a "passport" that’s good for six months if you recently had Corona or have received the vaccination.  You can get a 72-hour passport if you take a test and come out negative, but with all the wait and planning, that’s practically … not practical. And in six months you might have to take the vaccine again.


This passport will allow you entrance into certain public places; I’m not sure exactly which ones.  But I am certainly not happy with a government forcing an entire population to take a newly created vaccine.  Even the socialist Canada, threw the idea out for ethical reasons.  Here, it wasn’t even debated.  That, and the fact that Israel is giving the drug companies ALL of our medical data, without permission … well … yeah.


So, you in the States have wackos charging into Congress.  Perhaps here in Israel we need a few of those.


“It is improper to do that, for we will sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to God our Lord. Will we sacrifice the deity of the Egyptians before their eyes, and they will not stone us?” (Shemos 8:22).


I was always bothered by this line.  Moshe spoke with Hashem one on one.  He started to perform miracles.  The national leadership recognized him.  And yet, he is worried that the Egyptians will kill him?


Rav Yiztchok Zilberstein delivered an answer for me from the Chasam Sofer, “From an ethical standpoint, it is not befitting for us to do something that we know the Egyptians will not be able to tolerate and for which they will want to stone us.  Even if we would know that we were in a position of power over them, with Hashem’s help, and they would be unable to harm us, we still would not be able to do so.  This is the meaning of the words, ‘It is not proper to do so.’”


The Mishna Berurah (1:5) writes: “The trait of brazenness is extremely loathsome, and it is inappropriate to utilize this trait at all, even in the service of Hashem, for it will cause a person to acquire the trait of brazenness and to utilize this trait even when not in the service of Hashem.”


Unfortunately, this trait is something that we tend to pick up when we become a little too comfortable in our host countries.  We see ourselves more as Americans or Israelis than we do as Jews. This past election, and the aftermath that followed, showed how some in the religious world have taken this characteristic that Trump has personified, and made it part of their own: taking on his behavior and brazenness, and making it part of their personalities.  Even outside of politics, there are some who do things on the fringe of the law, and while might technically be legal, certainly does not give a good impression to the neighboring non-Jews.  Had these Jews lived in Europe, where they could have been killed, they probably would have never done such things.  But now they feel comfortable, and don’t feel so bad about hurting or disappointing the non-Jewish world.


Israel too is no stranger to this.  I remember reading an article many years ago by a secular writer, writing about some in the religious world saying (not a direct quote), “All the while that you are fighting to be Jewish and not Israeli, your behavior is more Israeli than it is Jewish.”


We have an obligation to not only live according to Torah law, but to also make sure not to instigate our host countries. Whether you live in the United States, Great Britain, or Israel, we are still in exile, and behavior that instigates problems with the non-Jewish world is “not proper.”