The events currently unfolding are critical today and will shape world history. At the same time, the fame rewarded to “bad guys” is troubling and self defeating.
How many times after a mass casualty event is the shooter given a name and the victims relegated to a number? What does it mean for a society when its most famous podcasts are about serial killers?
King Solomon teaches “The mention of a righteous man is for a blessing, but the name of the wicked shall rot.” The Talmud explains, “What is the meaning of “the name of the wicked shall rot? We do not call others by their names“.
By mentioning the likes of Avrohom, Moshe, Rachel and Esther we fill our homes and environments with blessing. When we tell their stories, we pass on values and create sacred spaces. Through talking about these heroic men and women, they live with us and inspire us.
Of course we speak of Pharaoh, Haman and Amalek too. We use them to help accelerate and ensure the decay of evil.
Pharaoh represents what happens to one with a stubborn ego and Haman symbolizes the end those who attempt to annihilate us meet. Our villains not only bring us holidays, they become teachers of morality. We bring them up to further the demise of what they stand for. In this week’s Parsha of Balak, Ba’alam in an attempt to curse the Jews becomes the very source of our blessing.
Google “most popular podcasts” and in the top 10 you will get My Favorite Murder, Crime Junkie and Morbid. Try “most popular Jewish podcast” and Meaningful People and Inspiration for the Nation are right up there. That’s how it ought to be.
“Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are” goes the famous saying. Let’s allow our enemies’ failures to be a source of positive motivation and let’s intentionally fill our spaces with the names and stories of heroes we wish to exalt.