Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Sin that Dare Not Speak its Name

By the semi-refrocked Bray of Fundie

On 17 Tamuz I posed this question (among others): Why do we mourn the wages of the sin (busted tablets) rather than the sin itself (golden calf)? No one in the comment thread cared to address it. Here are my=2 own theories:

1. While all fast days are T’shuva days, Yom Kippur being the archetype, the bookend fasts of 17 Tamuz and 9 Av are first and foremost mourning days. The tears we shed now are tears of loss whereas on Yom Kippur they are tears of remorse. We are licking our wounds and as such focus more on what are sins lost for us than the evil of the sins themselves.

2. The Golden Calf is just too awful to confront directly. When we say “broken tablets” we MEAN Golden Calf, just as when the cowed witches and wizards say “Dark Lord” or “He who must not be named” they MEAN Voldermort. As Yiras Shamayim compels us not to enunciate G-d’s name so too Yiras Khet compels us not to enunciate certain sins names.

3. Poskim argue about whether or not one should ask mekhila from a person for speaking lashon hara about them that they are unaware o f. The logic of those that opine you should not is that “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” and what they do know will. I.e. the inuy d’varim arising from the person realizing that their reputation has been sullied is itself, a sin and an offense. One is not allowed to give offense bein adam l’khaveiro, in order to fill a personal need for absolution. Hence no interpersonal confession aka asking forgiveness.

The Golden Calf was more than idolatry it was an act of national marital infidelity “Woe to the bride that was unfaithful while still beneath the Marriage Canopy” is the Midrashic metaphor for this sin. Jewish Idolatry is the sin that arouses Divine jealousy and revenge. As such, despite G-d being omniscient and fully aware of our sin it may be we don’t confess it as this would be like a faithless wife explicitly reminding her husband of her infidelities. As in the case above one is not allowed to give offense bein adam l’makom, in order to fill a personal need for absolution.

Hence no confession or even a mention of the Golden Calf on 17 Tamuz.

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