Sing a Song of Vengeance

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Sing a Song of Vengeance (A Pocket Full of Knives)

Adapted from an article in Hebrew by Rabbi Moshe Tzuriel

It was incredible to see. God struck Sharon down with a stroke, and rabbis across the board, from the Zionist Camp to the Haredi Camp, were praying for his welfare. Yeshivas were learning Torah for his "refua shleima"; tehilim were being recited for his quick recovery; "mikubalim", mystic rabbis were doing a "tikun nefesh" for him, as the head rabbis of Israel were calling for a day of prayer, to open the holy arc and bequeath the Lord for mercy…

Where did they get this from? The prime source they quoted to justify the festivities, was the saying of our sages: "in the fall of your enemy, do not rejoice." They added the Talmud, in Sanhedrin 39, where it says that the Almighty isn't happy with the fall of the wicked. Some said that the honor of the state of Israel was at stake, and we must always pray for the health of its leaders. Even Jews with normal instincts were starting to get confused regarding how one should react when this "moser" (a Jew who turns over Jews or Jewish property over to the goyim), who destroyed 22 Jewish educational institutions and wiped out another 16 shuls, was abruptly tossed out of the political arena. How can we be sorry about what happened to him? The man himself proclaimed, just two hours before his stroke, that he planned to continue his program of unilateral withdrawal, which means forfeiting 90% of Yesha! Are we supposed to pray for the welfare of a man who, if he recovers, is going to cause irreparable Chillul Hashem and personal damage to 200,000 Jews?

The fact is, that Jewish sources teach that one should ask God to punish the wicked. This concept is all over the book of Psalms, as David curses his tormentors – those who slandered and incited against him. David is referring to Jews, such as Doeg and Achitopel! Here are but a few samples: "His mischief will return upon his own head, and upon his own skull will his violence come down" (7:17); "Let them be as chaff before the wind; and may the angel of the Lord cast them forth" (35:5); "For yet but for a little while, and the wicked shall be no more" (37:10); "Behold, those that hate you, I ever hate, Oh Lord! And those that rise up against you, I feel loathing. With the utmost hatred do I hate them" (139:21-22) This is but a tiny sample of David asking God to punish the wicked. Again, according to almost all the commentators, like the Radak, the Mezudat David, and Sforno, David is talking about Jewish enemies.

So what about the widely quoted Sanhedrin 39, where upon the drowning of the Egyptians, God tells the angels, "The creation of My Hands are drowning in the sea, and you sing a song?" Unfortunately, the falsifiers didn't finish reading the text. The very next line says: "He is not happy, but He commands others to be happy". That is, God is not happy that the evil people died without doing "tsheuva", but those who have been rescued certainly must give praise and thanks.

All this bring us to Passover, where many quote the very rare midrash ("Harneinu") which says that we do not say a full Hallel on Passover, because of the Egyptians who drowned, thereby putting a damper on our happiness. But the Talmud, the source for Jewish halacha, gives us another reason: Unlike Succot, where the musaf sacrifice is different each day, the number of animals sacrificed each day for the musaf of Passover remains a constant. This is the only reason mentioned for our saying a half-hallel on Passover!

But we haven't yet explained what is brought in Pirke Avot "in the fall of your enemy, do not rejoice." This is also brought in Mishle, (24:17). How does this reconcile with what is brought in Sanhedrin 39: "When your enemy perishes, be joyful." No problem. The "enemy" spoken of in Pirke Avot is a personal enemy, who causes you trouble regarding personal issues. It is not referring to an enemy of God. On such an enemy, the verse "When your enemy perishes, be joyful" applies. Rabbi Yaakov Emden in his commentary on Avot, says similarly: "This is referring to an enemy who is not rebelling against his Maker. An enemy who rebels against his Maker – the righteous person should be happy when he perishes. About him it is said: "happy is the man who saw vengeance".

No doubt, Ariel Sharon enters this category of a national enemy, an enemy of God. If we learn in the Talmud that there was joy amongst Jews when King Ahab was killed even when fighting the enemies of the Jewish People, all the more so we should not shed a tear for Sharon, who committed irreversible Chillul Hashem and caused personal grief for thousands. And so, all those rabbis who expressed their grief for his downfall and called for massive prayer to restore his health – must do some seriously thinking. If they are saying that they are praying he does "tsheuva", does it not say that "Everything is in the hands of Heaven, except for the fear of Heaven?" (Brachot 33) God doesn't get involved in Sharon's tsheuva, for that is entirely up to Sharon. Indeed, any expectation of Sharon doing "tsheuva" is dubious. But the damage he had in store for us is certain.

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