Torah For Today: This week… Inciting violence

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Torah For Today: This week… Inciting violence

, Rabbi Zvi Solomons gives the orthodox view on the Capitol riot and Joe Biden's inauguration

Rabbi Zvi Solomons
Protestors, some of whom were QAnon believers, storm Capitol Hill
Protestors, some of whom were QAnon believers, storm Capitol Hill

At Joe Biden’s inauguration, an unprecedented security operation was in place due to the outlandish incitement of insurrection by then-US President Trump two weeks ago.

The concept of the inciter is present at the start of the human story, in the book of Genesis, with the primordial snake inciting Eve to break the commandment against eating from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The snake’s punishment is greater than that of the humans because he destroyed their innocence. Similarly, Korach used the gifts of the demagogue to imply Moses was a usurper in his leadership, despite God obviously having chosen for the job. He was swallowed alive by the earth, along with his followers.

In Halachah, we are warned not to listen to people who try to divert us from God’s worship. Whether it be to listen to a false prophet, or to worship other gods, these very clear examples of incitement are considered to be the most serious of crimes.

In other capital cases, we are allowed to show sympathy, but here we are not, nor are we to listen to them. Indeed they are most grievous, because if they are successful they bring down not only themselves, but the whole city or region that listened to them, condemned to destruction by the Torah.

The reason for this is clear. When a person incites disregard for the most basic of rules, they are willing to do it despite all dangers, like Korach for their own narcissistic reasons.

They will try to portray it as something good and wholesome. They could be someone dear to or respected by you, who uses this relationship to incite and entice you into a serious crime. By the use of lies or half-truths they convince themselves, and often their victim, that they are doing something right and honest. 

This is why what Trump has done is so serious and he now stands in a limbo of jeopardy, having created a dangerous riot eclipsing his achievements. 

  • Rabbi Zvi Solomons serves JCoB, the Jewish Community of Berkshire in Reading


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