Who is Evil?

Mar 31st, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays
Peter Godwin has been described as “The Dante in Mugabe’s Hell,” for his book, “The Fear – Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe.” He describes Mugabe as a, ‘musty anti-colonialist in Saville Row suits. Mugabe likes to wrap his cudgel in a veneer of bureaucratic normality. Lawyers defend torture victims in the courts, but judges are arrested when they rule against the government.” A policeman berates Godwin for blocking traffic, then goes back to cracking women’s and children’s skulls with his stave.   (Think of Moshe’s reaction to the Egyptian striking the slave.) And two Anglican bishops, one legitimate, the other a pro-Mugabe usurper – duel, prissily, with their ceremonial crosiers inside a sedate Harare cathedral. (Think of Pharaoh sending his “bishops,” the magicians, to duel with Moshe.)

We are all too familiar with evil in the veneer of normality. We are the Dantes of countless hells all over the world, throughout history: “In very generation they stand against us to destroy us.”

We describe our encounter with the Mugabe of Egypt, Pharaoh: “And the Egyptians did evil to us,” as it says, “Come, let us outsmart him, lest they increase…” I read this as, “The Egyptians portrayed us as evil,” to themselves and to us. They created a reality in which we had to prove our loyalty to their land.

The Egyptians were not the first Mugabes: “Pharaoh decreed only against the males, and Laban wanted to uproot everything.” Laban used his propaganda to portray Jacob as a thief who could not control his urges. “Why do you sneak away as a thief in the night?” “Why did you steal my gods?”

Laban was the first Mugabe. He wrapped himself in his own Saville Row suits of righteousness, “I am the patriarch of this family. The girls are my daughters. The boys are my sons. I am the Zaidy of this family.”

Laban wanted to flip the whole picture upside down: He, not Abraham, was the patriarch of the family. He wanted to discombobulate our identity as a family with a grand mission.

The story continues in a world that challenges the most moral nation on the planet for being immoral. They speak with the same intention as did Laban and Pharaoh; they want to deprive us of our identity as a unique and holy nation.

Pesach night is our celebration of identity and our ability to hold on tight to that identity despite the unceasing attacks of the Labans, Pharaohs, and all the Mugabes in history.

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