Kinah 15-The Poison Squad

Jul 14th, 2013 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer, Spiritual Growth
The menu for the 1902 holiday dinner had a healthy serving of Borax, yes, the poison, after the apple sauce, after the soup, again, after the turkey, vegetables, and a final serving after dessert and coffee.

Harvey Washington Wiley, a chemist from the US Department of Agriculture, assembled Poison Squads, to test preservatives and additives to processed foods. He suspected that the country was suffering from coast-to-coast poisoning, strictly due to commercial food production (Deborah Blum, Death In The Pot).

Wiley even had a son about his experiments: The Song of the Poison Squad:

For we are the Pizen Squad

On Prussic acid we break our fast;

We lunch on morphine stew;

We dine with a match-head consommé

drink carbolic acid (Borax) brew


This Kinah describes how we continue to drink a Poison Stew, the Golden Calf Consommé, in two different ways:

“He remembers my circling the Golden Calf in the desert heat. He insists that He will never forget even as the shadows of evening grow long, “I will bring a sword against you.”

Rav Oshaia said: Until Jeroboam, Israel imbibed a sinful disposition from one calf; but from him onwards, from two or three calves.

Rav Isaac said: No retribution whatsoever comes upon the world which does not contain a slight fraction of the first calf, as it is written, “Nevertheless in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them (Exodus 32:34.” [Sanhedrin 102a]

We drink from the negative power of the sin: “Israel imbibed a sinful disposition from one calf.”

We sip at its consequences: “No retribution whatsoever comes upon the world which does not contain a slight fraction of the first calf.”

The author even finds a hint to the Golden Calf in the story of Revelation: “I will bring a sword against you.” One of the primary laws of the Altar is, And if you make for Me an altar of stone, you shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if you wave your sword upon it, you will have profaned it (Exodus 20:21).” This, of course, brings us back to the expulsion from Eden, “So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24).”

“East of the garden of Eden,” takes us back to the penultimate verse in Lamentations, “Bring us back to You, God, and we shall return, renew our days as of old,” “Days of old,” kiKedem, can also mean, “as is East of Eden.”

After Adam was expelled, he had only to battle the sword to regain access to the Garden, eat of the Tree of Knowledge, and become immortal – but he never did. We want an opportunity to have the same access to the boundaries of Eden, “On the East,” so that we can demonstrate our willingness to overcome the first sword, empowering us to overcome the sword that, “I will bring a sword against you.”

The poison we are drinking, predates the Golden Calf, and goes all the way back to Adam; it is the poison of fear that blocks us from achieving our potential.

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