Parshas Beha'aloscha
Numbers 8:1 - 12:16

Humiliation! ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Channah Sakash Belk, my mother, may she rest in peace.

Story: Humiliation at the Deli
One day an individual was in a local deli making purchases for himself and another Jew. Each of the Yidden had phoned their orders in. All that was necessary was to pick up the orders and to pay for them. The individual was standing in line at the counter preparing to pay for his and the other Jew's orders. Upon reaching the register the individual making the purchase requested the two orders by name. A rabbi who overheard the requests came rushing to the front of the line. The rabbi made quite a scene as he shouted out the name of the Jew who was not present saying, "I want to pay for -------'- s order." Unfortunately, the implication of the rabbi was crystal clear. The Jew who was not present was poor and he was going to pay for his order. The individual making the purchase was embarrassed.

This rabbi was making a statement. Just a few weeks before he had once again miserably embarrassed the Jew not mentioned in this story. That Jew was employed by this rabbi. On the day he terminated his employment with this rabbi, he was embarrassed and humiliated twice. Prior to his resignation he experienced humiliation and belittling from this rabbi. This Jew was in the front office conducting his daily responsibilities. The phone rang. A secretary answered. It was for the rabbi. It was an important call. The Jew left the office and searched for the rabbi. He could not find him anywhere. Upon returning he explained to the individual on the phone that he was sorry to make him wait, that the rabbi was in the building, that the rabbi was expecting his call and that if he would continue to hold a little longer they would find the rabbi. The man chose not to wait any longer. Five minutes later the rabbi entered the office. He was informed the call came in. At that instant without any further explanation he flew into a tirade in front of other Yidden and office staff. The rabbi screamed at this Jew. He called him names. He embarrassed him. He humiliated him in public.

Later that day the Jew quit. The rabbi flew into another tirade. One could hear the rabbi screaming at the Jew from fifty feet down the hall and from the sanctuary almost a hundred feet away. He shouted horrible things at this Jew and falsely accused him as he left the rabbi's office, the front office and the hallway, heading for his vehicle in the parking lot. Students, educators and rabbium watched as this rabbi followed him into the parking lot, screaming and shouting angrily. No one did anything. Everyone was shocked.

Later we learned that the rabbi was angry because this Jew quit. That's it, he quit! The rabbi went into this tirade because he humiliated the Jew and a few hours later that Jew quit which brought on an even greater tirade!!

We are back at the deli... This rabbi is making another scene. Many of the people present in the deli had already learned of how he had humiliated this Jew a few weeks earlier. Now the rabbi was again humiliating the Jew by making a scene in the deli. This is a most unfortunate story. The intention of the rabbi was clear. He was interested in looking good in the eyes of the people in the deli. He wanted to appear compassionate to the Jew he had humiliated. His actions only intensified the problem. The Jew moved from the community!

If the rabbi had wanted to genuinely assist the poor Jew he could have caught the individual making the purchase and quietly, discreetly offered to pay for the order without making a scene as he did.

Holy readers, in this week's parsha we are informed by our sages that Aharon the Kohein was humiliated. We are informed that he was humiliated because in the previous parsha, Naso, the other tribal leaders brought dedication offerings before Hashem in behalf of their tribe. Aharon was not permitted to join them. The tribe of Levy was excluded from bringing an offering with the other tribes. Aharon was humiliated because he and his tribe were not permitted to bring an offering. They felt hurt!

We are told Hashem responded to Aharon saying that, 'By your life, yours is greater than theirs! Why? Because you will light and cleanse the lamps of the Mishkon.' This is the intended meaning of Numbers 8:2, where we read, "Speak to Aharon saying to him, 'When you light the lamps face in front of the Menorah where the seven lamps shine off of you.'"

Chassidim, remember when you experience humiliation that this may be the opening for an opportunity to allow the light of Torah to shine off of you in the near future. The Jew who was so greatly humiliated in the story above joined with a few dedicated friends to found and direct a sucessful non profit corporation which now reaches over 750,000 Jews annually with the reflection of Torah! May hashem bless us in reaching out to other Jews and may Hashem help us transform our times of embarrassment and humiliation into Torah reflection like Aharon Ha Kohen Godal.

Good Shabbos!

Dr. Akiva G. belk

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