|Djerba: Island of the Lotus Eaters?|
Now the priest of Midyan had seven daughters.
They came, they drew water, and filled the troughs
to water their father’s flock;
Shepherds came and drove them away.
But Moshe rose up,
he delivered them
and gave drink to their sheep.
וּלְכֹהֵן מִדְיָן שֶׁבַע בָּנוֹת
וַתָּבֹאנָה וַתִּדְלֶנָה וַתְּמַלֶּאנָה אֶת הָרְהָטִים לְהַשְׁקוֹת צֹאן אֲבִיהֶן.
וַיָּבֹאוּ הָרֹעִים – וַיְגָרֲשׁוּם,
וַיָּקָם משֶׁה וַיּוֹשִׁעָן
וַיַּשְׁקְ אֶת צֹאנָם.
|Tennyson's Lotos-eaters by W. E. F. Britten|
|The El Ghriba synagogue,
Djerba, Tunisia, 1940's. |
Rabbi Moshe Halfon, center.
The four actions of Moshe inform us of Moshe’s greatness of spirit:… (1) While in the royal palace he left, to see with his own eyes the situation of our brothers the house of Israel. (2) Beating the Egyptian who beat one of our fellow Hebrews. (3) Rebuking the evil Hebrew who beat his fellow man, and (4) saving the seven daughters of the Medianite priest, Yitro, from the hand of shepherds and robbers.
Now, all people of open heart and righteous spirit must learn from Moses. Take a stand and deliver your brethren from the hand of those who exploit them. This is especially true in those places where our brothers are oppressed and tormented by those of “no covenant”. However, even if one of our fellow Jews is exploiting others– one cannot turn a blind eye. Action must be taken to help and rescue the oppressed. Even when the oppressed person is not of our faith, it is proper that even in such a situation one stand in support of those that are being persecuted, because “any oppressor is repulsive to God” (Deut 25:16).
|Refugees off Lampedusa, Oct 2013|
And from [Moses’ actions] we must learn that even when a person is in serenity and security, in peace and comfort in his home, wealth and honor surround him, and his requests are heard by the local government – even then he must not think "Here, I have peace in my home, and what do I care about my brothers or my sisters or indeed the whole world…"In truth, many of our fellow Jews are good hearted, holy spirits, that will rescue an exploited person from his abuser – but due to our sins we also have no lack of people that only see themselves and their own profit, completely ignoring that which happens to others – as long as they themselves are in peace, while if the issue related to their own personal interests even by a hairbreadth, they would turn worlds...
A person must also not think to himself: "Perhaps by attending to someone else’s issues I will suffer some physical harm or monetary loss, or my status will fall in the eyes of the local government", even quoting the Rabbinical rule that "Your lost object and your peer's lost object – your lost object takes precedence" etc.
Only someone who is of an unclean spirit would say such things! Firstly because if he does not act to help and save the poor and impoverished – tomorrow or the day after the persecution will arrive at his door – and then it will indeed be his own affliction.
Moreover, in issues that regard the rule of the land – it is an obligation and a commandment for every person to protest, thus fulfilling the verse: "And you shall purge the evil from your midst" (Deut. 13:6). And whoever turns away from such situations is a despicable lost wretch.