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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You've Got to be Cruel to be Kind (Sometimes)

After breaking the Two Tablets upon which HaShem had engraved the 10 Commandments, Moses destroyed the Golden Calf on this day in Jewish History (18 Tammuz 1313BCE) and went back up to Mt. Sinai to plead G-d's forgiveness for the sin of the Jewish People.

The breaking of the Tablets has been likened to a King who marries a woman and hands her ketubah to a trusted servant for safekeeping. Later, grave charges are brought against the woman, and the servant tears up the ketubah in hopes that she will be judged less harshly as an unmarried woman than as a married woman. That is to say, the Children of Israel had not yet been given the 10 Commandments and Moses, seeing them commit spiritual adultery with the Golden Calf, destroyed the two tablets so that they would not have had the responsibility of receiving them and therefore the judgement against their idolatry would have been all that much more severe.

Perhaps one of the earliest instances of the principle "You have to be cruel to be kind" in action. Moses was so closely bonded with the Jewish People he was willing to destroy the Two Tablets to save them from themselves.

How do we behave when we need to be cruel to be kind? Do we sometimes have to withhold good from someone we love in order to ensure they receive an even greater good? Do we have the strength that Moses exhibited, to do what he could to minimize the damage his beloved ones were doing to themselves? Does more Gevurah lead to more Chessed, and where is the line and how is it crossed and how do we bear the pain of the in-between?

From Moses we learn love is devotion to the truth, and we also learn that truth is both absolute and relative. The absolute truth of G*d's intention that Israel should be His Bride was tempered by the relative truth that they were not yet worthy to be so, and Moses' smashing of the Tablets and destruction of the Golden Calf were acts of mercy although they looked like acts of judgement.

So if you have to be cruel to be kind today, do it like Moshe Rabbanu did - with anguish that it had to be done at all, with fear of Heaven and a heart to interceed and an eye that sees the "Nikudah Tovah" (good point) even within what looks like a bad situation.

Today's Torah Schedule:
  • 1pm, 11:20pm: Rabbi Chaim Richman's Parsha Shavua "Pinchas"
  • 2pm: "Completing the Choshen" Rabbi Chaim Richman
  • 4pm: Halacha of the 17th of Tammuz and the Three Weeks - Rabbi Yosef Shusteman
  • 4:30pm: History of the Hatred that Destroyed the Holy Temple - Rabbi Shmuel Irons

Today's Music Schedule:
  • 8am - 12:30: Lorelai's "Morning Dew for the Morning Jew" Show - live from her undisclosed location deep inside Nachlaot!
  • 12:30pm: Ben Bresky's "The Beat" featuring his interview with Israeli band "Terra Rosa"
  • 1pm - 6pm: "Israeli Soul" Afternoon starts with music from Sasha Rose and at 2:30pm we'll play Rav Kook poetry performed by Itzchak Evan Shays & Greg Wall & the Latter Prophets.
  • 6pm: Dan Licks and His Hot Licks - "Beatin' The Heat" 
  • 7pm: The Rolling Stones "Exile on Main Street"
  • 8pm: Bob Dylan "Blood on the Tracks"
  • 9pm: Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood (Live 2008)
  • 11:30pm: Linda Rondstat & Emmylou Harris "The Western Wall