Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Hester Pannim" and the Saul - Aaron Connection

At the Shiur Nashim today, the concept of "Hester Pannim" came up. The term, translated, means "hidden face," and it refers to times when we don't actively see G-d. It's one of the great philosophical issues in Judaism. Where's G-d? The story of Purim is an example. G-d's name, the word G-d, does not appear in Megillat Ester at all.

Of course there are commentators who say that "Hamelech," The King, actually refers to G-d and not the Persian King Achashverosh. That could be, but I do like to describe "Hester Pannim" as the sun on a stormy, or even cloudy, day. The son is always where it's supposed to be, even if the sky is black and it's stormy outside.

The Saul-Aaron Connection is from the previous week's Torah Portion, Ki Tisa. I hear Aaron's excuse for not trying to stop the "building/creation" of the Golden Calf--blame the people-- as very similar to King Saul's excuse for not destroying all of Amalek's cattle and executing Amalek as similar. Aaron stood on the sidelines and avoided getting into a fight with them. In the end, he even cooperated. People didn't have watches, clocks, etc. it should have been easy for him to have bargained for another couple of days before taking any steps.

King Saul just lied. There is nothing in the pshat, text, that says that there was any pressure from the people for what Saul did. He told Samuel that "the people made" him do it.

My question for all of us is:

Is it permissible for us to stand on the sidelines when something terrible is happening, or should we do everything in our power to stop it?

Even if "powerful foreign leaders" or the majority of people want us to do something dangerous, must we really do it?

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