Parsha Mitzvot: Re’ei: The Missionary
“A knight of the Templar who kills an evil man should not be condemned for killing the man but praised for killing the evil.” St Bernard of Clairvaux, – Liber Ad Milities Templi
Who is the most hated person in the Bible? Pharaoh, Balaam, Korach, Goliath, Nebuchadnezzar and Haman are viable candidates, but don’t win the prize. It is not the murderer or adulterer. It is not the heretic or thief. The winner is the person who missionizes for idol worship.
There are six Mitzvot/Concepts about this one person:
“One may not missionize an individual to idol worship.” (Deuteronomy 13:12)
“One may not love the missionary.” (13:9)
“One may not cease hating the missionary.” (13:9)
“One may not save the life of a missionary.” (13:9)
“One may not say anything in defense of the missionary.” (13:9)
“One may not refrain from incriminating the missionary.” (13:9)
(Maimonides: Laws of Idolatry & Paganism Mitzvot #36 – 41)
A delegation from the ACLU came to speak with me , actually they came to speak TO me, after I took a very public stance against them for supporting the rights of Nazi supporters to march in a Skokie IL neighborhood of Holocaust survivors. They felt that I was taking a public stance against free speech. I assured them that they were correct: I am against absolutely unlimited free speech. I do not believe that we should allow free expression of a desire to destroy the country that allows free speech.
I predicted that the ACLU would eventually desire to censor the free expression of anyone who disagrees with them. I was right. They are the people who battle those who speak out against Islamic fundamentalism. They are the ones who compare the people who are speaking out against Obamacare as “brown shirts” and Nazis. I guess they do not really believe in free expression of all speech – just some.
The Torah does not simply prohibit us from listening to a missionary for idol worship. It prohibits us from hesitating to fight and even destroy him. We cannot just ignore. We must fight. The Torah doesn’t focus on the fight, but on warning us that our tendency will be to hesitate before entering the battle. We can’t afford to even hesitate.
This is a dangerous idea. There are people who consider me a “missionary” for corrupting Orthodox Judaism, and would love to apply all those commandments to me. People will manipulate and use these Mitzvot to wage war against anyone with whom they disagree.
The only message that I feel safe deriving and applying from these laws is that we should never hesitate to stand up and battle against those who corrupt and damage other people. We cannot feel that we are helpless and that it is not worthwhile to enter the battle. We cannot wait for someone else to fight. The Torah’s emphasis is to remind us of our natural hesitation and to warn us against allowing it to stop us from fighting for what is precious to us.