Parshas Chukas - The Need To Combat Evil

By BJLife/Reb Dovid Fink
Posted on 06/21/18

As Bnei Yisroel continue through the midbar on their way to Eretz Yisroel, we are shown in vivid clarity, the face of evil.  Moshe requests permission from Edom to pass through their land (Chukas, 20:14)  He pleads, recalling how they had just come out from the suffering of Mitzrayim, but the king of Edom refuses them passage. (20:18)  Moshe then promises to be paying customers for any water or vines they would consume along the way.  The King reiterates his contempt by responding to this pledge with a threat to wage war if Bnei Yisroel dare tread on his land.  Such hatred that they would not even sell us food and water nor let us traverse the boundary highway.  Not only do we not want you in our land, we don’t want your commerce, we don’t want your trade.  Eisav Soneh es Yaakov.

In January of 2015, dozens of World leaders gathered in Paris for a March of Solidarity in the face of a terrorist attack carried out by Muslim extremists.  The march was very effective in that it was a whole year later when the same group claimed credit for blowing up the airport in Brussels and then the airport in Turkey.  Within a few more months, Muslim extremists mowed down people in Germany and carried out repeated deadly attacks in England.  How did these democracies find themselves at the mercy of evil?

Consider before, during and after these attacks, the State of Israel was subjugated to multiple attacks of terrorism.  Cars being driven into bus stops, a little girl butchered in her bed while she slept, teenage boys kidnapped and executed.  The list goes on and on.  The reaction – silence.  Indeed, the world was silent for 50 years while Israel suffered regular attacks on its civilian population with nary a word from the “civilized” world.  Airplane highjacking was instituted by the PLO and targeted Israel. The response - the installation of metal detectors at airports to protect us, with little protest about the highjacking of Israel’s planes.  Instead, the head of this terrorist organization was invited to speak to the United Nations and did so with a firearm in his belt.  The world would not identify, let alone confront this evil, because it principally targeted Jews.  The world could tolerate evil against Jews. 

Dozens of Isareli’s are hurt in missile attacks from Gaza and the media cannot be less concerned.  Christians in Syria are targeted by ISIS and the world cries outrage!!  The world brought this evil upon itself by not calling it evil when it was only targeting Jews.  Evil does not discriminate.  Today it may target your enemy, but its existence is not only a threat to all of Earth’s inhabitance, it is incumbent on us to recognize it for what it is and do everything to combat it – even if for a time it is only targeting Jews.  Most mepharshim agree that is what is behind the Mitzvah of wiping out Amalek.   For whatever reason, Amelek came to personify evil in our world. Evil is supposed to be eradicated.  Period.

Evil and Eisav Soneh es Yaakov.  In 2015, the bastion of morality known as the European Union, voted to label Israeli products which were grown in Judea and Samaria.  Not only won’t we sell you food, we won’t buy yours either.  The State of Israel is always the first country on the scene with mobile hospitals and relief for Sunami’s, earthquakes and other disasters. Well almost always.  In 2003 when Iran was rocked by a devastating earthquake, Iran’s leaders said unequivocally that “the Zionist regime is not welcome to assist”.  Not only do we want to kill you, we will not allow your filth to save us.

For the past 75 years, the world had a moral conscience who routinely called upon leaders, the media and anyone who would listen to confront evil.  With the passing of Elie Wiesel, who stands in his place?  Typically, when an icon passes, there is another to carry the torch.  Martin Luther King was followed by Jesse Jackson, Lenin was followed by Stalin, Bach was followed by Beethoven.  Who follows Elie Wiesel? Imagine in 75 years, no one was the “up and coming or junior” Elie Wiesel.  There simply is no one else on the world stage who has devoted every breath to combatting evil. 

The FBI has documented that numerous senior and elected officials lied repeatedly to everyone regarding the IRS and email investigations, including multiple times under oath to Congress.  And no one cares.  Sure, there will be some colorful hearings, but little in the way of repercussions or accountability. Fully 60% of the population disapproved of the candidate they voted for in the last election, - from both parties!! Richard Nixon was forced from office for being involved in a cover up.  Today, that would probably be considered a prerequisite for running for office.  As Rashi stated in Mesechta Sanhedrin, the 2nd time we do an Aveira, Naaseh Lo Keheter and the 3rd, Naaseh K’Mitzvah.[1]

There is a cost for not calling evil out when we see it.  There is a cost when we see deceitfulness and excuse it.  There is a cost for not standing up for what’s right.  After World War I, for the first time in world history, the world’s strongest nation and power stood for morality and freedom.  Our first 5,000 years included despots such as Ginghas Khan, Atilla the Hun, Pol Pot, Ivan the Terrible, Idi Amin, Eichman, Hitler, Stalin and others.  For millennia, the most powerful rulers used their might to brutalize humanity, until the United States.  For the very first time, the world’s superpower was not in the business of brutalization.  Consider, most veterans who enlisted to fight in World War II were 30 years old or more.  They left their families and jobs to confront evil.  Thousands gave up their lives to stand up for freedom and morality.  No wonder they were called “the greatest generation”.  Without their willingness to confront evil and destroy it, in all likelihood we would all be speaking German today or we would be dead.[2]

After Vietnam, the United States lost its willingness to police the world.  Indeed, the idea that “we could not be the world’s policeman”, became a very catchy political phrase and military motto.  In fact, though, we could.  And we did for 60 years.  Those 60 years were so peaceful and prosperous by comparison to the 5000 previous years that most do gooders turned their attention away from feeding the hungry and curing disease to saving the animals and the environment.  Good causes for sure, but until the United States acted as the world’s policeman, humanity did not have the luxury of crusading on behalf of any causes other than survival.

As our nation began the systematic eradication of morals and the deletion of G-d from its lexicon, the affects are there for everyone to see.  With no one to police the world, we have reverted back to the days when leaders like Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad and Kim Jong-un are left unchecked to brutalize and butcher people.  Without a moral superpower there is no one to keep these people in check.  Without a moral voice, there is no one to spur on the mantle of a moral United States. Without a moral society, we produce no moral voices.

The world is getting a sneak preview of what they have allowed to happen over the last 50 years.  By not calling out evil, they allowed it to grow.  By not caring when evil only targeted Jews, they legitimized terrorist tactics for any cause.  And here we are.  Today, the poisoned distorted “morality” of the left questions whether we should profile the type of people who are responsible for 99.7% of world terrorism.  Some are even equating it to the discrimination against Jews during World War II.  Were the Jews in 1940 blowing up buses? Were the Jews in 1940 targeting civilians with guns and bombs?  Were the Jews in 1940 calling for the destruction of any other nation? Were the Jews in 1940 beheading people who did not share their ideology?  Such comparisons show how the flower mentality of the 60’s destroyed our moral compass.  It’s not that hard to identify evil.  We must identify it and call it what it is.  It is not “workplace violence”, extremists, radicals, lone wolves or crazed people. And it’s not due the accessibility of guns.[3] It is evil.  And we must slam the door on it, fight it and crush it with everything at our disposal.

At the end of our parsha when Sichon duplicated the evil of Edom and refused passage to Bnei Yisroel, even with the promise of consuming no goods, Bnei Yisroel waged war and defeated the evil.  And later when Og Melech Habashan waged war against them, Hashem commanded them to “not be afraid, you will do to him what you did to Sichon”. (21:34) 

Evil must be identified and confronted.  Doing so requires morality and clarity of thought.  Is there any left?   `                                        

[1] Sanhedrin 103b

[2] Even then there were the “peaceniks’” who did not want the United States to get into World War II.  Fortunately, the decay of American morality had not begun to rob us of our ability to see evil until 20 years later.

[3] Those who advocate gun control as a method of combating evil are strangely silent when an airport, bus or café is blown up by bombs or a vehicle is used to mow down dozens of people  Evil has many weapons at its disposal and won’t be stopped even if there are no guns at all.  Prior to the 1800’s, millions were killed without a single gun.