Newsletter            June 24, 2010 - 12 Tammuz 5770


 Holy Chutzpah!
The 1973 Jerusalem Post perfume ad was for "Chutzpah," by Aviva Dayan, the daughter of the celebrated hero: "Arrogant! Direct! Provoking! But at the same time refreshingly natural like the Sabras in whose image it was created!". Directly underneath the ad another perfume was touted: Mazaltov - The Perfume That Brings Luck!

I never smelled either fragrance, but I do know that there is some truth to the claims about Chutzpah and Mazal and their connection.

The UN imposes sanctions on Iran because of its project to develop a nuclear bomb, and Iran responds by stepping up its efforts. That's Chutzpah!

Israel defends itself, is criticized by the world, and responds by weakening its blockade of Gaza. Israel seems to want the world's approval, but it has no mazal in that area. No chutzpah; no mazal.

The world is concerned with North Korea's sinking of a South Korean submarine, so North Korea warns the world that they are willing to go to war. That's Chutzpah! And it works!

Israel went into Gaza to stop Hamas from firing thousands of missiles into Israel, and the world cries for Israel to stop. They do: No chutzpah; no mazal.

God made it clear to Billam that He did not want the prophet to curse the Children of Israel. Billam negotiates with God, does whatever he wants, and God allows him to go! Chutzpah works!

There are different types of Chutzpah, shall we say the holy and the unholy? There are people who use chutzpah only when they know that their adversaries are spineless and will back down. It's the chutzpah that takes advantage of the weaknesses of others. Iran and North Korea are perfect examples. It's the chutzpah of bullies. Neither would stand up to the world with chutzpah unless they knew beforehand that everyone would back down from a confrontation.

Holocaust survivors who were willing to begin a new life also had chutzpah, but it was holy chutzpah. It was the chutzpah of courage. Their's was the chutzpah of belief in a value that could not be compromised. They fought for life. They fought with Chutzpah.

The State of Israel was built with chutzpah, insane, but holy chutzpah, crazy and courageous, chutzpah. As long as we felt that we were fighting for our existence we could call on our holy chutzpah just as we do every time we pray and present our extensive lists of requests. We even demand "Meheira!" - "Do it quickly!" of God.

Billam, the prophet of Chutzpah, our dangerous enemy, praises Israel's ability to rise up with Chutzpah: "He crouched and lay down like a lion, and, like a lion cub - who can stand him up?" (Numbers 24:9) Rashi explains that this verse describes the Children of Israel who are willing to fight for the land with strength and vigor. The Talmud considers this verse so fundamental that it wants to add it to the Shema. (Berachot 12b) We are at our best only when we live with Holy Chutzpah.

Our enemies know it. Do we?

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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