Ki Sisa: Mess of the Masses
The true motivation of the erev rav is to give a free reign to their base urges and appetites; not only that, but to legitimize them with legislation...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
The people saw that Moses had delayed in descending the mountain... (Exodus 32:1)
Rashi explains the above passage and says, “The Satan came and confused the world; he showed an image of darkness and fog and chaos to convey the message that Moses has certainly died.” The Satan went crazy, but he only succeeded in confusing the riffraff tagalongs that followed the Jewish People out of Egypt and outnumbered them as well. Less than one-half of one percent (0.005) of the Jewish People were tricked by the Stan's antics. Yet, not a single Levite was fooled. What protected them?
The Torah is precise in every letter and every word. The entire Golden Calf fiasco began with three words - “the people saw.” The Zohar notes that whenever the Torah refers to “the people” - am, rather than saying specifically “the Jewish People” or Am Yisrael, it is referring to the erev rav, the riffraff tagalongs who were a mixture of foreign peoples who tried to cling to, influence and ultimately overtake the Jewish People. Two characteristics exemplify these ignorant masses: first, they disregard daat Torah, the directives of our spiritual leadership; and second, they are far from truth and emuna. The Gemara says that they are the reason that troubles come to the world. What's wrong with the masses? They are easily swayed and they don't understand what they are seeing. As opposed to the scholars and spiritual leaders, whom the Satan couldn't fool with his sound-and-light show, the masses were easily swayed. On the spot, that decided that Moses died. They wouldn't listen otherwise and the result was tragic.
Hur the son of Miriam and the Seventy Elders knew full well that Moses was still alive and that he would soon return from the top of Mount Sinai. He couldn't prevail over the masses, and because they didn't like we had he had to say, they killed him. Afterward, they intimidated Aaron and did as they pleased. Consequently, “The people saw” led to the worst, most shameful disaster of all time.
The Torah is a timeless template for posterity. Whenever the masses seize power, the result is horrifying. Here in Israel, the rule of the ignorant masses – even those who have kippot on their heads – has led to a statutory and legislative uprooting of Torah values, Heaven forbid. These are the erev rav and those who partner with them. They are easily recognized by their readiness to trample the sanctity of the Sabbath, the institution of marriage, the conversion laws and Torah learning in the Land of Israel. They scoff at our people's spiritual leadership. Their true motivation is to give a free reign to their base urges and appetites; not only that, but to legitimize them with legislation. As in the time of the Golden Calf, even decent people are afraid of speaking up against what's “politically correct”. “Political correctness” is none other than muscling of the ignorant masses by way of the erev rav's control of media, legislative and judicial organs. It's not truth – Torah is.
May Hashem save us from them and give us the courage to resist them and to do what is right.
The Levites had nothing to do with the Golden Calf fiasco. The Levites were also free men in Egypt – they were never enslaved for three reasons:
1. They clung steadfastly to Aaron and Moses;
2. They refused to be tempted by the Egyptians, who trapped and enslaved their brethren;
3. They spent their time in Goshen learning Torah.
With the above in mind, it's not surprising that the Satan didn't succeed in fooling a single Levite.
Rebbe `Nachman of Breslev said, “Don't let this world fool you.” When we cast aside the illusions of this world and cling to the teachings and to the directives of our spiritual leadership, we never go wrong. Let's not allow the masses to mess up our lives.
 - Bava Batra 8a
 - Bamidbar Raba 16:21
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.