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Stolen generations

בס׳ד
ד' אדר א' ה' אלפים תשס"ח

Kids are fantastic!

Indeed they are also very topical. In our Jewish way of life, a tradition has emerged where we are supremely child focussed.

In the eyes of the Yiddishe Mama or Yiddishe Papa Everything is far die Kinder! This has been going on for a multitude of generations, which leads to the question a person once asked: He would like to meet that kid for whom all those generations in succession have been sacrificing.

This Jewish trait reached its zenith in Israel in the years after the World war 2 when, because 1½ million children had been murdered by the Nazis, children were placed on a pedestal, were cosseted and spoiled because they were so precious.

Here in Australia the advent of the new government has highlighted the issue of an apology to the Aboriginal peoples of our country for the Stolen Generations - for the manner in which children were forcibly separated from their parents and raised and educated in a western culture -

The plight of children was also highlighted in June last year when the former government mobilised a coordinated effort to intervene in the Northern territory in an attempt to rescue indigenous children who were exposed to abuse.

The preciousness of children, their vulnerability and the responsibility society has for their safety and innate preciousness is a supreme value of most societies and cultures, although sadly, not all.

From last week's Parasha (Mishpatim) with reference to Shmot 21,15:

stolen_generations

One who strikes his father or mother shall surely be put to death.
One who kidnaps a man and sells him, and he was found to have been in his power, shall surely be put to death.
One who curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death.

Why is the law about a kidnapping inserted between two laws about people who wrong their parents? Says the Ramban:

ramban

"The Gaon Rav Saadya said that the matter of the kidnapper is inserted between them because mostly kidnappings are of children, who will later grow up in a foreign place and won't recognise their parents; it will turn out that they will strike them and they will curse them. Therefore it is appropriate to punish the kidnapper with capital punishment like the other two because the punishment is upon him."

R Saadya Gaon's understanding brings home to all of us the seriousness of taking children away from their parents, and the disruption it causes to societal continuity.

Hopefully when parliament reconvenes this week a consensus will emerge with the minimum of equivocation so that the issue of an apology which is sincere, meaningful and appropriate can be made so that the many years of unseemly debate and prevarication will not further devalue the genuineness of the healing this act so sorely needs to achieve.

“V'asita shnayim keruvim, miksha ta'aseh otam mi'sh'ney k'tzot hakaporet”
Hashem commanded Moshe to make two Keruvim on top of the Holy Ark in the Mishkan, one on each end. Rashi explains that they had the faces of precious small children.

But earlier in Parshat Bereishit, after the sin of eating from the forbidden fruit, G-d exiled Adam and Chava from the Garden of Eden. To prevent their re-entry, the Torah tells (Bereishis 3:24) that Hashem placed Cherubim wielding fiery rotating swords at the gate.Rashi here says these Cherubim were angels of destruction. 

How could Rashi simultaneously maintain that the Cherubim mentioned in our parsha had the appearance of lovable children, paragons of innocence and purity while in Bereshit they were fierce and destructive?

The Aruch Hashulchan  (Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein) sees the resolution of the apparent contradiction in the fact that in Bereishit we are dealing with children who are separated from Torah.

The moment that we separate our children from the Torah, they can become sword-wielding forces of devastation!

However, in our parasha, the Torah is discussing the Cherubim in the Mishkan that were placed on top of the Aron. By fashioning them out of a single solid piece of the purest gold, by placing them over the Ark, with the Luchot Ha'edut - Tablets of Testimony , the 'Master' Torah scroll written by Moses contained therein as their foundation, and by keeping them in the Holiest place on earth, they remained wholesome cherubs resembling innocent babies with all their charm, beauty, purity and innocence.


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I’m sorry (pardon the pun) but there is no evidence of a policy of attempted ethnic cleansing of Aborginals. Each example trotted before the public has proven that the children placed in foster care for their own good. It is disappointing that the COSV and RCV are falling into the ‘light unto the world’ mythology that the Left are using as a means of transforming Judaism into a social justice movement.

Posted on 2008-02-10 23:40:29 GMT