We Are the Enemy of Evil
Yael Eckstein | April 28, 2022
“You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.” —Leviticus 18:3
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Acharei Mot, which means “after the death,” from Leviticus 16:1—18:30.
A Christian friend of mine recently asked me a question that I wasn’t sure how to answer. I had just finished speaking to a group of people about the work of The Fellowship. I spoke about the Holocaust survivors who we take care of, the bomb shelters that we build in Israeli border towns, and how we continue to respond to the enemies of Israel who disparage us with lies.
After I finished my talk, my friend came up to me and asked, “What’s it like going through life knowing that there are always people who hate you just because you are a Jew?”
The question stopped me in my tracks. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to say. After all, I’ve been a Jew all my life. Anti-Semitism is a reality that I live with today just as my parents, grandparents, and ancestors always have.
I thought for a minute and answered: “To tell you the truth, anti-Semitism reminds me that the battle between good and evil isn’t over yet. And judging by who our enemies are, I know which side I’m on in that battle.”
We Are the Enemy of Evil
In this week’s Torah portion, God warns the people of Israel against falling into immorality. But instead of simply listing all the sins to be avoided, God first singled out two nations whose behavior the Israelites were not to emulate: “You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices.”
The great Jewish commentator of the 11th century, known as Rashi, made the following observation about that command: “This teaches us that the deeds of the Egyptians and Canaanites were more corrupt than any other nation. And wherever Israel lived were the most corrupt of all.”
The Egyptians who brutally enslaved millions and the Canaanites who sacrificed their children to pagan gods were both enemies of Israel. Rashi’s point is that in every generation, the most evil regimes always seem to be enemies of the Jews. The Romans, the Nazis, the Soviet Union, and radical Islamist fundamentalists. The list goes on. So, while we pray for the end of hatred and anti-Semitism, we also take heart in knowing that we are the enemy of evil.
We are on the right side!