web analytics
August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Danger Of Machlokes

The-Shmuz

Korach, carried away by jealousy, led two hundred fifty men in rebellion against Moshe and Hashem. These were all great individuals; they had all witnessed Moshe going up to Har Sinai to accept the Torah, and they all heard Hashem speak through Moshe. Yet they willfully and intentionally set out to depose Moshe – to prove he had veered off from that which Hashem had told him. Moshe, recognizing the danger they were placing themselves in, did everything he could to get them to back down. Nevertheless, they remained steadfast in their revolt, and marched to their destruction. In the end the entire congregation – man, woman, infant and child – died a terrible death.

Rashi explains that this teaches us how terrible machlokes (conflict) is. “Beis din (a Jewish court) doesn’t punish a person until he is thirteen years old. The heavenly tribunal doesn’t punish a person until he is twenty years old. Yet here, even the nursing infants were punished.”

This Rashi is very difficult to understand: Clearly, he is saying that the nursing babies were punished. Yet an infant doesn’t have premeditated thought. The infants were completely unaware of what was going on. How could they be punished?

The answer to this question requires a deeper understanding of some of the systems that Hashem uses to run the world.

Immutable Laws of Nature

Hashem created this world with immutable laws of nature. Gases tend to expand. Heat tends to rise. Heavy objects tend to fall. These laws are the bedrock foundation of this world that govern all of physicality throughout the cosmos. These laws, however, are neither cruel nor kind. For instance, if a baby is left unattended on a changing table and falls, he will be injured. The result may be tragic, but we wouldn’t accuse gravity of being heartless. Gravity doesn’t judge and it doesn’t decide. It is a fact – a part of reality.

Just as Hashem created laws that govern the physical world, so too He created laws that govern the spiritual world. These as well are specific and exact, and have real consequences.

One of these laws is din (justice). The basic tenet of din is accountability – simple and unadulterated. You are responsible for what you do.

However, while din loosely translates as justice, it is quite different from man’s understanding of what is just and proper. Din is very exacting. It makes no room for mitigating circumstances. If something comes about through an action of yours, you are responsible whether you intended it or not or whether you recognized the consequences or not.

Din is just. Din is appropriate. If you are to be rewarded for what you have done right, you should be punished for what you have done wrong. Before Hashem created the world, He considered (if it could be) creating it with the middas ha’din (strict justice) in operation. However, if this system were in place, no man could survive.

Mesillos Yesharim (Perek 4) explains that if din were in force, any sin a man might commit would bring about one result – his immediate death. The Kings of Kings said not to do X, and you violated His wishes! The consequence of any transgression would be death, immediate and irrevocable. And so the world couldn’t exist.

Therefore, Hashem created the world using the middas harachamim – the system of mercy. Rachamim introduces mitigating factors into the equation – you have to take into account who the person is, where he is coming from, what he was going through at the time, etc. When taken in context, what the person did isn’t as egregious. Keeping in mind everything else that was going on at the time, what he did is more understandable. And now a person is given leeway. He’s given time to understand the gravity of his actions, and the concept of teshuvah is possible.

The result is that the operating principle in our world is compassion. Justice, however, cannot be ignored. So both rachamim and din are in existence, and both have their say. The balance between them, however, can change. Envision a slide rule, with din on one side and rachamim on the other. The slide can be moved so that more of one or the other is introduced into the equation. If an average day might be 50/50, there are some days with more mercy, like Yom Kippur, which is a day of forgiveness. The person doesn’t change, and the act doesn’t change, but the system of judgment changes, and that change makes all the difference in the world.

There are other things that can influence the balance. Chazal tell us that the middah with which you judge others determines the way you are judged. The amount of strictness or compassion you exude becomes the standard by which you are then measured. And extremes in attitude or behavior can bring extremes in the system of judgment.

Machlokes has the power to bring about extremes. When people cleave to hostile groups, their opinions and attitudes become severe. There is no tolerance, no understanding. You are on our side or theirs – you are a tzaddik or a rasha. Because the divide is sharp and acceptance non-existent, the middah of din flares, and when that happens, judgment is at its strictest.

This seems to be the answer to Rashi. Korach launched a rebellion, bringing about a complete divide in the nation. Because of this, complete din was brought into operation. Now there were no mitigating circumstances. No considerations. If something comes about through you, you are responsible. And so, the nursing infants were judged. Not for their intentions, not for their plan, but for the outcome. Through them the rebellion was larger. It was no longer two hundred fifty men against Hashem. It was now two hundred fifty men and their wives and children. Each person added to the group. Whether they recognized what they were doing or not, whether they realized it or not, the revolution was larger, and the price had to be paid.

This is a powerful lesson for us on two levels. First, in terms of understanding the extent of responsibility and the remarkable advantage of being judged with mercy. And second, in practical terms, while no one wants to be involved in a machlokes, it is all too easy to get pulled in. Often, without meaning or intending to, we find ourselves on one side or the other, and before we know it we are deep into the thick and thin of it. The Chofetz Chaim writes that machlokes is like a raging fire – anyone nearby gets burned. By recognizing the effect of such disputes and the mortal danger we place ourselves and our families in when we get drawn into machlokes, it wise for us to heed the advice of our sages and run from it like we would run from a fire.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Danger Of Machlokes

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
MK Hanin Zoabi, under the protection of the Israeli flag, speaks against Israel.
Zoabi Sings Palestinian Authority Anthem at Hamas ‘Victory’ Rally
Latest Judaism Stories
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.

Daf-Yomi-logo

Untimely News
‘A Mourner Is Forbidden To Wear Shoes…’
(Mo’ed Katan 20b)

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

Needless to say, it was done and they formed a great relationship as his friend and mentor. He started attending services and volunteered his time all along putting on tefillin.

He took me to a room filled with computer equipment and said, “You pray here for as long as you want.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

On Friday afternoon, Dov called Kalman. “Please make sure to return the keys for the car on Motzaei Shabbos,” he said. “We have a bris on Sunday morning and we’re all going. We also need the roof luggage bag.”

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

If there is a mitzvas minuy dayanim in the Diaspora, then why is there a difference between Israel and the Diaspora in the number of judges and their distribution?

Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

Eisenhower understood that motivated men will fight much harder and longer than unmotivated men.

Who does not want to get close to Hashem? Yet, how do we do that?

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

The-Shmuz

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

One of the manifestations of the immature person is a sense of entitlement.

When Hashem first thought (if it could be) about creating the world, the middah of din was in operation.

We may not recognize the adverse affect of eating forbidden foods, but they leave an indelible imprint.

There are often two distinct perspectives of an event: the perspective from living in the moment, and the perspective of history.

The rock doesn’t have needs, yet it listens to Hashem. How much more so should we, who have so many needs?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-danger-of-machlokes/2013/06/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: