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Ami Kaufman

Ami Kaufman

Posted: April 22, 2010 11:48 AM

Mitzvahs 101: Crash Course for Good Deeds in Israel

What's Your Reaction:

I have a few questions on Judaism and mitzvahs for my friends on the right. Maybe they can help me out, because I just don't get how this whole thing is supposed to work. For example, is one supposed to actually DO mitzvahs? Or are they those basic guidelines you don't really pay much attention to? Are they kind of like all those warnings on an aspirin bottle?

Any help would be much appreciated, specifically with some of the more famous ones I've listed below. As you can tell, I'm not much of an expert on Judaism, but I'm pretty sure that G-d isn't pleased with some of the things the members of his "Chosen People" are doing down here on earth. But then again, maybe I'm wrong. So please, I'd be happy if you set me straight and cleared this up for me.

Lev. 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people

I though about this one when I heard what Im Tirzu did - of all days - on Memorial Day for Israel's soldiers. They went to synagogues while services were being held for the fallen, where families were crying for their dead, and gave out over 15,000 leaflets with an altered version of the memorial prayer (Yizkor), that took aim at leftists and conscientious objectors. Here's some of the text:

"Let the people of Israel remember those from within it, flesh from their flesh, who participated in claims against its officers and soldiers. Those who during the time of the battle to defend Israel stood at protests and called their soldiers war criminals. Remember those in deep darkness befriended the worst enemies of Israel in order to harm the holy ones delivered their souls for the sake of the nation".

Forget about that fact that you're spreading lies. I don't think you could have found a worse time and place to do it. It's as if you all sat down and voted, after brainstorming, on the worst, most offensive thing one could do, and the option to harrass mourners during their prayers came out on top. Is this what the mitzvah is asking for? If so, I don't get it -

So, could someone tell me how this mitzvah thing is supposed to work?

Lev 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart

This one came to mind when I heard of settlers attacking IDF soldiers. Yup. That's what I said: Settlers attacking IDF soldiers. Not that settlers attacking anyone should be allowed, at any time, at any place - don't get me wrong. But I was wondering what logic was behind injuring the people who save your buttocks every day. Maybe I don't understand the term "brother" correctly? I'm not sure...

So, could someone tell me how this mitzvah thing is supposed to work?

Lev 19:18 Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people

I thought about this one when I saw all the talkbacks on the news sites calling for the execution of Anat Kamm. Funny, I don't really understand why anyone would want to kill someone who blows the whistle on the IDF ignoring their own Supreme Court. But let's say she's wrong - do we really need to take her life? And if we're going to kill whistleblowers, we should probably kill the state witness who's blowing the whistle all over HolyLand (no pun intended. Well, maybe there is actually). Apparently this guy is going to get rich from our tax shekels for ratting out some top politicians. But yes, let's kill Anat Kamm first. Let's get even... Is that how it works? If not, then -

Could someone please tell me how this mitzvah thing is supposed to work?

The second part of this mitzvah came to mind when I heard one of the most outrageous ones of all: Judge Goldstone has decided not to attend his grandson's bar mitzvah in South Africa because local organizations planned on demonstrating outside the synagogue during the ceremony. Forget about not holding a grudge - how about a certain amount of basic respect for a man and his family? Can we start there? If not -

Could someone tell me how this mitzvah thing is supposed to work?

Lev. 19:18 Love your fellow as yourself (Rabbi Akiva labeled this rule as one of the most important in the Torah)

I thought about this one when a group of settlers from Kiryat Arba charged into an Arab woman's house in Yaffo (actually, maybe I should say they attacked an Arab woman's house in Tel Aviv-Yaffo, but that wouldn't get me too far, would it?) and told her "Get out of here, this is not your house, you Arabs are only here temporarily." People, if you're going to be ignoramuses, can you at least do it outside a person's property? And can someone tell me how this works with Rabbi Akiva's (fairly clear, if I may add) request to be nice to others? Maybe I misunderstood him. Did I? If so -

Could someone tell me how this mitzvah thing is supposed to work?

And then I read that a group of settlers vandalized a mosque in the West Bank town of Hawara. They uprooted 300 olive trees nearby and sprayed blue Stars of David on the mosque and set two cars on fire. So, I wonder what Rabbi Akiva would have said to that... I wonder how those settlers would have felt if the same was done to their synagogue in Yitzhar. Do they honestly think it makes them any better than a Neo-Nazi spraying swastikas on graves somewhere in Europe? Can someone please explain to me if this behaviour is actually what Rabbi Akiva was promoting? Or is it some sort of reverse psychology, meaning I should do exactly the opposite?

Could someone tell me how this mitzvah thing is supposed to work?

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You can be a left winger, you can be a right winger. Both are legitimate. But why not keep it decent?

This behaviour is just downright ugly.

Look at yourself in the mirror.

Look at what you've turned into.

This is no longer behaviour of the Chosen People.

This is something much more primal, much more backward.

Your hatred knows no limits.

You've been blinded by the occupation.

Wake up!

 

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