20 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
 
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The Demonstration    

The Demonstration



They burned the national flag right in front of the riot police; what type of totalitarian power would tolerate such civil disobedience? A Shabbat HaGadol parable...

 



The demonstrators appeared to be fearless, reckless, insane or all three. They marched in the Presidential Square right in front of the Presidential Palace, ignoring the brown-shirted riot police who menacingly wavered steel-tipped truncheons. The President was a tyrant of the worst order. His iron hand ruled ruthlessly over the entire population and spread terror in the hearts of neighboring countries as well. The demonstrators wanted to put an end to the unspeakable oppression.

 

Acting like they were enveloped in some invisible protective bubble, the demonstrators paid no attention to the police or to the national guard. They carried signs that condemned the President and his criminal actions. They burned the national flag, which bore the face of a fierce ram – the national symbol – on a red background. They chanted slogans in a sing-song manner that called for freedom, personal liberty and democratic elections.

 

Previously, in the country's history, any similar demonstration would have been nipped in the bud. Any demonstrators who didn't end up laying in the gutter in a pool of their own blood would have been dragged away to some far-off inquisition-type prison and never heard from again. Yet, in today's demonstration, the policemen and soldiers were inexplicably powerless. They watched the demonstrators from a stone's-throw distance and only gritted their teeth, as if some unknown cosmic force had glued them in their places. Other than shaking their truncheons – all of which had fractured many a skull in the past – they were immobilized.

 

Seeing that they had the upper hand, the demonstrators came dangerously close to the front gate of the Presidential Palace. With 600,000 cheering demonstrators looking on and thousands of defiant police and national guardsman clenching their fists in rage, a group of the demonstration organizers took a live mature ram – the regime's revered symbol – and slaughtered it. The clamoring crowd of demonstrators roared in approval. Chanting “Freedom! Freedom!”,  they were in a frenzied ecstasy as the organizers smeared the ram's blood on a white sheet, raising it like a flag on a high staff for all to see. Still, the outraged security forces remained powerless – as much as wanted to, they couldn't react...

 

* * *

 

What does the above scenario sound like? There wasn't any violence or a single casualty; not even a hair of a demonstrator's head fell to the ground that day. Could it be real? What type of totalitarian power would tolerate such civil disobedience?

 

If you're saying that such a scenario can only be a fantasy or a miracle, you're right. It did happen – it was no fantasy, but a huge miracle.

 

The demonstration took place on Saturday, the Tenth day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, in the year 2448 of the Jewish calendar. This was the Shabbat before the exodus of the Jewish People from slavery in Egypt, Wednesday night, the eve of the Fifteenth of Nissan, 2448.

 

The voice of the accusing angels in the Heavenly Court voiced the complaint that the Jews did not merit their redemption from slavery in Egypt. Hashem gave the Jews a chance to perform a mitzva that would require total dedication and trust in Hashem, a mitzva so prodigious that all their spiritual adversaries would be silenced. Hashem commanded that each family take a ram lamb – Egypt's prime deity – and tie it to their bedposts in preparation for slaughter. Such an affront to the all-powerful Egypt, to Pharaoh and to their national beliefs was unheard of. Yet, the courageous Jews implemented Hashem's commandment to the letter. Not only did they all tie up the lambs right in the faces of the humiliated and angry Egyptians, but they slaughtered the lambs and spread the blood on their doorposts. The merit of this mitzva tipped the scales in their favor and they were saved from bondage in Egypt.

 

That famous Shabbat of 10 Nissan, 2448 is known as Shabbat Hagadol, the Great Shabbat, in commemoration of the unheard of miracle where the Egyptians were rendered powerless to protest or do anything to prevent the slaughter of the idol. To this day, the Sabbath before Passover is called  Shabbat Hagadol, to commemorate the miracle. May we see many more miracles soon, amen!

 

 

* * *

We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams.





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