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Perashat Ki Tesse

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Perashat Ki Tesse

Friday, August 28, 2015 Author: Rabbi Elie Abadie

It has been centuries and millennia that the respect of private property has been a concept accepted by all, legislated and protected. Of course, economic and social philosophies of the last century have eroded such respect and protection; where private property has become the property of the government or the masses. 

In Perashat Ki Tesse, we read a passage that exhorts the Israelites not only to respect private property but also to protect someone else from financial loss of his property. The verse says: “You shall not see the ox of your brother or his sheep or goat wandering, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely return them to your brother…and so you shall do for any lost article of your brother that may become lost from him and you find it; you shall not hide yourself.”

This commandment extends the prohibition of keeping something that does not belong to us, and imposes on us the additional responsibility to return that object if it was lost, to our fellow. 

Our Sages explain that this principle applies to many things that are the property of a person; namely, his safety, his life, his health, his dignity and many other things. We have the responsibility to help someone recover his dignity, his health, his life etc.

How far has the civilization of today come in achieving and fulfilling this dictum? The Jewish People for two millennia have been stripped of their dignity, their safety, their health, their life, their land and their rights as members of the human civilization. The nations of the world have violated again and again, their responsibility to help the Jewish people recover all that they have lost. 

This started over 3300 years ago, as the end of Perashat Ki Tesse recounts, when Amalek, ambushed the Israelites as they were wandering in the dessert.  Instead of helping them, assisting them and directing them to return to their homeland, Amalek was the first who rose against the Israelites as a nation and, thus paved the way for the rest of nations to assault us. 

The word used in the Torah when telling of the encounter with Amalek, is “קרך”, meaning, “that he happened upon you”. Our Sages explain the word as “cold”, to mean, “he cooled you off”. They use the example of a hot tub where no one dares to jump in; however, once one person jumps in, he cools it off and the rest of the people see that it is not that hot, so they also jump in. 

Amalek did just that; they cooled off the Israelites. Where no nation dared to attack them and to oppose them, Amalek was the first one to come, thereby paving the way for the rest of the nations to do so. It is for that reason that the Torah commands us to obliterate the memory of Amalek. 

A similar thing is happening in our time. The Jews and the State of Israel are being “cooled off” by the leaders of the nations of the world. They are being maligned, attacked, ambushed and denigrated by these same leaders. I don’t recall in recent times, where Israel did not enjoy total support here in America and in the rest of the Western World. However, in the last few years, the leaders of the Western World have had the audacity to humiliate Israel and its leaders, to ambush them politically, to compromise their security, and indeed, as Amalek, to “cool them off" in the eyes of the rest of the world, so they would be the target of many other nations and people.

Indeed, Israel and the Jews have become an easy target. Now, it is fashionable to attack the Jews and Israel; people and politicians have no more shame in coming out against Israel and the Jews. Outright, anti-Israel and anti-Semitism has become the trend of our time and the main dish of the menu. Only 70 years after the Holocaust, Europe is on its way back to those dark days, and the U.S. leadership is abetting that trend, if not leading it. 

As the commandment tells us, “Remember…you shall not forget”. Remember, we shall, as we remember everything that the previous Nations, Empires and Kingdoms did to our People in the past. They have all disappeared and have been part of the dustbin of history for a long time; we are still alive, well and growing strong. So too, our present enemies- the Amalekites of today, shall face the same destiny as the previous ones, and we shall prevail, for G-d is on our side!

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