Parshas Matos tells of Hashem’s command to Moshe to recruit troops in order to take revenge on Midian. The passuk states נקמת ה’ “Revenge for Hashem’s Sake”. Rashi explains that the reason this act of Revenge is considered to be for Hashem’ sake is because (even though Midian wasn’t trying to do anything against Hashem) their meddling with Klal-Yisroel in the way they did was tantamount to going against Hashem directly. There is a difficulty with Rashi. Rashi seems to imply that they acted against Am-Yisroel more so than they did against Hashem. However Midian wasn’t hostile to Am-Yisroel. If anything, they were all too welcoming – welcoming to the point of intimacy.
In last week’s Sedra (Pinchas) Rashi comments that the Torah emphasizes that Cozbi was a Midianite princess in order to show us how great Midian’s contempt for Am-Yisroel was – they hated us so much they were willing to send their own daughters to be intimate with Jewish men. It would seem that the real irony in Rashi starts here. What kind of hatred is it to give one’s own daughter to be ravished by them?
Bilam at the end of Parshas Balak suggests to Ammon and Moav that they should get Klal-Yisroel to act illicitly, because such behavior by Klal-Yisroel would arouse Hashem’s Wrath against it.
Rashi is zeroing in on a crucial element of Am-Yisroel’ history. Many times it appears to us that the Goyim LOVE us; that they WANT their daughters to marry Jewish men. Even if we hold on fervently to Judaism and we aren’t willing to fall prey to intermarriage, the element of a kinship to the Umos HaOlam is still present. Rashi is pointing out to us that what often appears to us as a loving kinship is really the venom of hate. The dictum ofהלכה לעולם עשו שונא את יעקב is always true. Anti-Semitism is always there: it is either latent or blatant.
We are convinced daily that there is many of the Umos HaOlam who love us, and are nice to us. We must realize that what we want to see as affection and sympathy is really at best masked hatred (sometimes, it is true, very well disguised). We must always make sure to be mechazek ourselves, our communities, Jews veering from the path, and those who were unfortunately never on it.
A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski