Make Mine A Screwdriver, Please!
"Harass the Midianites and smite them" (25:17).
Imagine yourself sitting on an airplane.
The person next to you smiles at you and then pulls out a screwdriver, places the sharp end into his ear and leisurely starts to turn the screwdriver into his brain.
You’d try and stop him, wouldn’t you? You’d knock the screwdriver out of his hand and kick it away from him.
How about if you found yourself sitting on a plane next to someone who is Jewish? They serve the food and you see him starting to eat a pork cutlet. Would you suggest that there was enough food for both of you, and that he join you and eat your kosher food? How about if he refuses? Would you knock his plastic tray to the ground and kick the food away from him?
Ideas don’t frighten us.
We are only frightened by what we see.
The greatest proof is that we don’t fear G-d.
We may know and believe that there is a G‑d, but how many of us walk around feeling that He is in front of us at every moment, watching us and listening to our every thought?
If we saw G-d, we would never sin. We don’t see Him, and that’s why we are able to pretend He's not really there. In Hebrew, the word for fear and the world for sight are almost identical - “yirah”. We are only frightened by what we see.
When we see someone murdering, it evokes in us a horror and a revulsion that is beyond words. But when we see someone encouraging a Jew to break Shabbat or eat non-kosher food, we don’t have anything like the same reaction. And yet, logically, our reaction to the latter should be far greater than the former.
If someone tries to murder you, he's trying to take away your life in a world where everyone eventually dies. Someone who encourages you to transgress the Torah, however, is trying to take away your life in a world that you could live in forever.
As far as our eyes can see, this world is but a brief walk between two darknesses. However, we know that this world is no more than an antechamber before the great palace of light. We don’t see the light, but we know it’s there.
The Midianites incited the Jewish People to sin. It is for this reason that G-d commanded us to take such harsh measures against them. It was not enough for us to attack them; rather we must maintain a constant enmity against them, a constant mindset to remind ourselves that they tried to implant in us a lust for immorality.
They tried to remove us not just from this world but also from the next as well.