When The Playing Field is not Level!
We would all like to play on a level playing field, when the opportunity and rules apply equally to all players. This is what all decent people expect in life.
As we know, unfortunately, reality does not align with fairness, which is most sad. It is something we all try to come to terms with at various stages in our lives.
No one knows this better than Jews. No people have been treated with the degree of unfairness to which we have been subjected. Consistently, throughout the ages, by so many.
By this, I refer not to the perpetrators of all the heinous violent acts in degree and kind that our people have consistently endured. I'm referring to the 'spectators' who are not actively involved, but who in varying degrees create the conditions that allow the perpetrators to act.
How does a Jew survive in such an environment?
If there was ever a man experiencing this degree of loneliness, it was Jacob, our forefather, as we find him at the beginning of our weekly Torah portion.
As the saying goes, Jacob was “caught between a rock and a hard place”. Behind him, his family home, from which he had fled after a conflict with his brother over the inheritance of the family legacy. Before him lay a world dominated by the likes of his uncle Laban, where cunning and deceit were the rules of the game.
The verse describes the scene as follows: “He came across (and prayed at) the place (Mount Mariah) and spent the night there because the sun had set (suddenly). He took some of the stones of the place and placed them around his head (for protection from wild animals), and he laid down (to sleep) in that place”.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe asks, if the stones served as protection from wild animals, why did Jacob only place the stones around his head?
The Rebbe's response to this question reveals the deeper meaning of Jacob's placement of the stones.
Jacob placed stones around his head to teach us that before engaging with the world, it is paramount that we protect our heads from the hostile and destructive forces to which we no doubt will be subjected.
Deceit is characterized by the fact that the rules of the game are applied to one party and not to the other. One side is expected to comply fully, with full honesty and total transparency. While the other side can operate without subjugation to those same rules, rather, at whim, as it sees fit, so that it can successfully achieve its desired end game.
Put simply, a complete antithesis to the most important golden rule in Judaism, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow”.
Jacob is teaching us a timeless and invaluable lesson as we continue to engage in the most hostile world.
Don’t fall into the trap of deceitful and wicked people. Know who you are dealing with. They are not your friends, and they don't have your best interest at heart. They are profoundly cunning. The most crucial thing is to avoid showing weakness. Avoid attempting to persuade them, as they will use this as a weapon against you!
What is needed is conviction in our cause and courage in its implementation. We have timeless values which by definition ensures our eternity.
“A little bit of light dispels, much darkness”.
Society is in a state of disarray. It has lost all sense of value. Any sense of identity has been eroded.
The Jewish people have a unique opportunity to challenge the chaos that is engulfing our world by introducing our timeless values to all mankind.
It is our historic responsibility. The time is now!