“Even if he [Moses] tells us to build ladders and go up to the heavens we would succeed in all that he orders!!” Caleb in part of his response to the spies (Rashi on Numbers 13:30)
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.” Abraham Lincoln
What happened today, Wednesday morning, as I write this message, brought home to me these words uttered by one of our greatest and most written about presidents. It hit me immediately. True, we’re not fighting a civil war. We’re not officially divided –as of yet. But, undoubtedly the flames of division are being fanned by politicians and media-types contributing to a combustible situation and perhaps explosion. I’ve never seen such enmity among people and fissures of division being expanded beyond all societal norms of security and tranquility.
Daily we’re bombarded with accusations by some who describe those and their right to political debate in denigrating and demeaning even dangerous terms. If they don’t agree with you they try to shut you up and then make you out to be a monster. These personal and apocalyptic accusations have personalized what is intended to be idea and opinion driven dialogue, obviating hate and loathing.
What led to the Civil War was open and unalterable chasms. It didn’t begin that way but it reached a boiling point. Rightly or wrongly, it led to a war. A war that resulted in over 50,000 deaths. Blood soaked our soil and led to many years of hard work for reconciliation to take hold. A reconciliation put in place by the very same president who led us into war once the Union was secured and united.
Whatever you think of Lincoln and whatever historical chronicles you’ve read about that time it was ultimately visceral differences and incessant hate that brought to the split of South and North and the subsequent Civil War. If civilization then would’ve kept the “battlefield” in Congress and taken to verbal jousting and “warring” vocal verbiage who knows if such a tragic outcome and horrible destruction could have been averted.
Folks it can happen again! As a matter of fact if left to the devices of our establishment politicians and even worse the media I maintain it will!! I won’t even get into the reasons. Not important. If/when such a terrible thing happens none of us will be wondering why, where and when. All we’ll see and hear is death and destruction.
The time has come to hold these provocateurs and agitators to account. To call them out. To publicize their names! I do not advocate governmental policing and curbing free speech. That’s too valuable a Right and too long fought for, even if sullied and taken advantage of by rabble-rousers and anarchists. However, as in Lincoln’s day we need responsible men and women of all walks of life, regardless of political persuasion, to be courageous and rise up against the prevailing tide. To make their voices heard! They must speak out and demand these dangerous influences be removed and excised once and for all by civil society. It shouldn’t matter if they lose votes or seats in Congress.
We need some legitimate political heroes! We need some Abe Lincolns!!
Yet, Lincoln was not the first! If you read this week’s Torah-portion, rabble-rousers return from their mission in Canaan and sowed anarchy and rebellion against Moses and G-d’s intention to lead them into the Holy Land. They, too, initially began merely with tacit dissonance and implicit denigration. Their words began to form a fissure and it, in turn, led to the chasm between the Jewish Congregation and its leaders, Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb.
I always wondered why were they able to turn the nation as a whole against these eminent individuals. What enticed the Israelites away from G-d and His stated goal? How were they lured into the insurrection by 10 men against these four men and ignored all the miracles they witnessed and experienced heretofore?
Human nature being what it is however makes it easy to understand. Seeing what is happening today and of recent makes it pretty clear. When you’re being constantly inundated with scare tactics, darkness, horror pictures and apocalyptic warnings one is swayed quite easily:
Then: “BUT, the people that dwell in the land are powerful…its cities are greatly fortified…and the children of the giants were seen there.!”
Now: “The radicals and fanatics that dwell among us are too powerful…they’re too difficult to deal with and overcome…they’re only children of their despotic forebears.”
Uh oh, that “but“… an understated way to veer from the legitimate, calm and serene prologue: “We did arrive in the Land…that flows with milk and honey…and here are its [huge and delectable] fruit.”
The “but” ultimately led to more strident and slanderous accusations which led to scare tactics and threats. Be scared folks! This is where Moses is trying to lead us. Down a rabbit hole which will ultimately bring us to death and destruction by a much more powerful enemy.
But it didn’t stop there. Lest some still remained loyal to Moses and harbored illusions of success, they conjured up a past horror,
Then: “Amalek dwells in the area…”
Now: “We can’t fight! Don’t you remember Iraq? Do you not see what’s happening in Syria? Let’s leave these radicals alone. Perhaps the danger will evaporate and go away.”
That should just about scare me to pieces. Who can forget our hateful cousins who engaged us for no reason other than their innate hate, almost immediately after the Exodus from Egypt just to show the world that there’s nothing to fear from this people and their G-d. This is what you’ll be encountering again. They hate you now even more and have regrouped. They’re just waiting to engage you again.
Lest that still not be enough and lest there still be a few last stragglers willing to defend Moses and Aaron, they warned them,
Then: “The Hittite, the Jebusite…Emorite…and [worst of all] Canaanite are…on the banks of the Jordan.”
Now: “The Russians, the Mexicans and its cartels lurk behind the scenes and are waiting to overwhelm us at the banks of the Rio Grande we just might as well turn back and cede our sovereignty to them, we can’t win.”
Then: That was it. We had no chance. All the leaders, princes, noblemen, judges and legislators were convinced of the veracity of these scouts, appointed by Moses, which led the nation as a whole to despise and mourn the impending entry into the Land of Canaan. They wanted no part of G-d’s gift.
Now: Our political leaders and media commentators, so readily accepted and followed like lemming herds, who have never and still do not give America a chance, lead this nation into surrender and loss of independence.
One courageous man then stood up and loudly proclaimed the falsity of these reports. Caleb, alone, took his life into his hands and loudly defended Moses and his leadership. He begged the people to cease and desist this open rebellion as logical as it sounded and as welcoming as it felt. He knew cacophony, hate, insults, threats and rebellion will lead to nowhere good and it didn’t.
Caleb remains a reflection and quintessence of courage. In his day it was about following Moses and G-d into our homeland even though the majority believed it was okay to keep wandering. As long as we bother no one, no one will bother us! He knew better because Moses said so. G-d wanted his children to be free to be free to worship him. To be independent of other people and their human designs.
Caleb admonished the Jews to remain united in purpose and goal. Not to be subverted by conspiracy theories and attempts to deny and chip away at Moses’ faithfulness and veracity. If we remain united, he exhorted, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of greatness and victory. Don’t allow the establishment to fracture you. Stay the course!
Today it’s about ensuring the safety, security and peace of our nation. The right to worship as we see fit. The right to speak out and the right to elect leaders we want. The right to defend the very bedrock of this nation, that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness!” It takes unity of purpose and solidarity of intent.
Now all we need is a Caleb! Perhaps even a Lincoln! Who will it be?