|Cooking Kosher dinner,|
vegetables and veggie
burgers on a sandwich maker
at the Aly home.
It is wrong to look at Muslims in general through the lens of ISIS and terrorism. Hoblos was certainly talking about issues that are very real to people he actually knows. A generous approach would be to look at the merit of what he was saying, at an open grave no less, rather than seeking faults in what he didn’t say. In fact, many of my Facebook friends of Jewish and other backgrounds did make positive
The crime that Midyan was to be punished for, according to our oral tradition, was that the Midyanites and Moabites used sex as a weapon of war. Not by raping the enemies’ women, as still happens today, but as a way to spiritually destroy the Jews by having their own daughters seduce Jewish men and then pressure them to worship the gods of their enemies.
In this context, spiritual strength or weakness was everything. The Moabites and Midyanites had sought to destroy the Jews through the curses of the sorcerer Balaam. Balaam had let them down by blessing the Jews instead of cursing them, yet he also provided a clue to their vulnerability (iii). He asserted that God “did not look at evil in Jacob (iv)”. Balaam went on to advise his clients that if the Jews could be led to sin this will result in their destruction (v). This plan was implemented although the Torah places responsibility (vi), at least initially, on the Jewish men who we are told “began to commit harlotry with the daughters of the Moabites. They (the Moabite daughters) invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and prostrated themselves to their gods (vii)”.
Despite the Moabites participation in this bizarre sin, they are not included in Gods planned vengeance, which is restricted to Midyan. This is for two reasons involving generous thinking. One is the fact that the Moabites legitimately feared attack by the Jews (viii). A second is that although, technically speaking the Jews had done nothing against the Moabites, they had possession of land that had been traditionally Moabite. The Jews had conquered that land in a war with the Emorites who had themselves taken the land from the Moabites. This legitimate grievance is seen as a significant mitigating factor (ix).
My thoughts and prayers are with the Hedi Ayoub, his family, friends and community. Just as, when I was grieving over the violent loss of my brothers’ friend, the late Gabi Holzberg, in the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008, many of my Muslim friends sent me messages of condolence. Let us respond to each other, in good times and bad, with cross-cultural compassion and generosity.
i. https://www.facebook.com/theaustralianmuslim?ref=ts&fref=ts, also available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fGEwzptQew in full, or edited version at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ROpW9ygp5Y
ii. Numbers 25:18
iv. Numbers 23:21
v. Talmud Sanhedrin 105, also see allusion to Balaam in Number 31:16
vi. Lebovitz, N, New Studies in Bamidbar
vii. Numbers 25:1-2