Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Table Talk -- Shemot 5768

On average, each and every day three shells, mortars or Katyusha rockets land somewhere in Israel, lobbed from Gaza by some faction affiliated with Hamas. In response, Israel has placed a virtual economic stranglehold on Gaza, causing a great deal of suffering for the average Gaza resident. Why doesn’t the controlling Hamas leadership put an end to the shooting, and alleviate the suffering of its people? Because it’s better politically for Hamas to continue to resist, no matter the consequence.

In putting the suffering of their enemies ahead of their own citizens’ well-being, the leaders of Hamas follow a long pattern of this type of behavior, beginning with Par’oh in Egypt.

As we all know, Par’oh initially attempts to force the Jewish midwives to murder Jewish infants during childbirth. When the midwives refuse, Par’oh issues an all-encompassing decree: ויצו פרעה לכל עמו לאמר כל הבן היאורה תשליכהו וכל הבת תחיון – “And Par’oh commanded his entire nation saying, every male shall be thrown in the Nile and every female may shall be left alive.” Rashi notes that Par’oh never distinguishes between Jewish and Egyptian babies. Rather, אף עליהם גזר – “he even decreed on [their own children].” Par’oh, warned by his astrologers of the impending birth of a child that would ultimately cause his downfall, doesn’t care whether he’s throwing Jewish or Egyptian babies into the river. As long as he remains in power, that’s all that matters to him. If a few – or thousands -- of his own people suffer in the process, that’s of no concern to him.

It’s amazing how often history repeats itself.