Ki Tisa – Thoughts on the Perasha: Lies and Fake News

This week’s Perasha is host to the infamous story of Hett HaE’gel – the sin of the Golden Calf.  As readers of the Perasha we are always disappointed at the conduct of Bene Yisrael.  This generation of Jews was privy to the most illustrious miracles of Hashem.  They witnessed the 10 plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea, and now they had received the word of Hashem on Mount Sinai.  How much proof do human beings need to follow the word of Hashem with complete faith?

Not only were Bene Yisrael disobedient, they engaged in the one act which negates the oneness of Hashem and they succumbed to idol worship.  Why so shocked? This actually describes the imperfect human nature!.  When we are witness to either tragedy or something awe inspiring for that moment we see things so clearly.  I think about the unity of Bene Yisrael when they crossed Yam Suf – the See of Reeds, and sang about their redemption and the Omnipotence of Hashem. Yet as time passes, human nature is to forget and the clarity of the event is often replaced by skepticism. Convenience and self-interest takes over reality and truth.

The unfortunate reality is that as people and leaders repeat their lies, then they end up believing them and eventually making others also believe their lies. With this turn of events, truth and reality becomes veiled. In our own era we have seen leaders spew their lies against Israel at the highest fora of international organizations, again and again, convincing people of their lies as the absolute truth! Twisting history and revising it to suit their lies and agenda, and yet the people believe them even against documented historical proofs. Also, in our very recent times we are hearing more and mote about “fake news”. Although, the concept is as ancient as history of the world, where emperors and kings spread false narratives about their war victories, yet the term is a more recent one. There is now, even, a “Fake News Award”, and an entire Hollywood production about a ‘World without Lies‘. But, then again, Hollywood and its entire industry is a fabrication of lies and pretending!!

If only we could capture the moments when we see the “real truth” and re-play them in our minds so that we do not question their certainty.  In a sense that is one of the purposes of our Torah and Tradition. In our daily prayers – Tefillot, we re-affirm what we know to be true in order to strengthen our beliefs.

In this episode of the Golden Calf, Hashem is described with the human characteristics of anger and disappointment. Of course, G-d is not swayed by feelings or moods; these are only human characteristics. As humans, we need to interpret G-d’s reaction in a human way to understand our own feelings and moods; so we could relate to it and understand our own shortcomings.  We should remember for future moments to refrain from acting in such ways so we wouldn’t ascribe to G-d those same feelings.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.

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