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  • Writer's pictureRav Uriel Aviges

Vaera 5776


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Exode 5

Puis, Moïse et Aaron vinrent trouver Pharaon et lui dirent: "Ainsi a parlé l'Éternel, Dieu d'Israël: Laisse partir mon peuple, pour qu'il célèbre mon culte dans le désert." 2 Pharaon répondit: "Quel est cet Éternel dont je dois écouter la parole en laissant partir Israël? Je ne connais point l'Éternel et certes je ne renverrai point Israël." 3 Ils reprirent: "Le Dieu des Hébreux s'est manifesté à nous. Nous voudrions donc aller à trois journées de chemin dans le désert et sacrifier à l'Éternel notre Dieu, de peur qu'il ne sévisse sur nous par la peste ou par le glaive." 4 Le roi d'Égypte leur dit: "Pourquoi, Moïse et Aaron, débauchez-vous le peuple de ses travaux? Allez à vos affaires!"

Baba kama 113

'Where a suit arises between an Israelite and a heathen, if you can justify the former according to the laws of Israel, justify him and say: 'This is our law'; so also if you can justify him by the laws of the heathens justify him and say [to the other party:] 'This is your law'; but if this can not be done, we use subterfuges to circumvent him.34  This is the view of R. Ishmael, but R. Akiba said that we should not attempt to circumvent him on account of the sanctification of the Name. Now according to R. Akiba the whole reason [appears to be,] because of the sanctification of the Name, but were there no infringement of the sanctification of the Name, we could circumvent him! Is then the robbery of a heathen permissible?35

Has it not been taught36  that R. Simeon stated that the following matter was expounded by R. Akiba when he arrived from Zifirin:37  'Whence can we learn that the robbery of a heathen is forbidden? From the significant words: After that he is sold38  he may be redeemed again,39

which implies that he could not withdraw and leave him [without paying the redemption money]. You might then say that he1  may demand an exorbitant sum for him? No, since it says: And he shall reckon with him that bought him2  to emphasise that he must be very precise in making the valuation with him who had bought him.'

Raba therefore said: There is no difficulty, as regarding robbery there is indeed no exception, whereas regarding the cancellation of debts [a heathen might not have been included].

Raba adheres to his own view as [elsewhere] stated by Raba, that a Hebrew slave is actually owned in his body by the master.13

R. Hama b. Guria said that Rab stated: Whence can we learn that the lost article of a heathen is permissible?17  Because it says: And with all lost thing of thy brother's:18  it is to your brother that you make restoration, but you need not make restoration to a heathen. But why not say that this applies only where the lost article has not yet come into the possession of the finder, in which case he is under no obligation to look round for it, whereas if it had already entered his possession, why not say that he should return it. — Said Rabina:19  And thou hast found it18  surely implies that the lost article has already come into his20  possession.

It was taught: R. phinehas b. Yair said that where there was a danger of causing a profanation of the Name,21  even the retaining of a lost article of a heathen is a crime. Samuel said: It is permissible, however, to benefit by his mistake as in the case when Samuel once bought of a heathen a golden bowl under the assumption of it being of copper22  for four zuz, and also left him minus one zuz. R. Kahana once bought of a heathen a hundred and twenty barrels which were  supposed to be a hundred while he similarly left him minus one zuz23  and said to him: 'See that I am relying upon you.'24  Rabina together with a heathen bought a palm-tree to chop up [and divide]. He thereupon said to his attendant: Quick, bring to me the parts near to the roots, for the heathen is interested only in the number [but not in the quality].25  R. Ashi was once walking on the road when he noticed branches of vines outside26  a vineyard upon which ripe clusters of grapes were hanging. He said to his attendant: 'Go and see, if they belong to a heathen bring them to me,27  but if to an Israelite do not bring them to me.' The heathen happened to be then sitting in the vineyard and thus overheard this conversation, so he said to him: 'If of a heathen would they be permitted?' — He replied: 'A heathen is usually prepared to [dispose of his grapes and] accept payment, whereas an Israelite is generally not prepared to [do so and] accept payment. 

Sanhedrin 97

Raba said: I used to think at first that there is no truth in the world.21  Whereupon one of the Rabbis, by name of R. Tabuth — others say, by name of R. Tabyomi — who, even if he were given all the treasures of the world, would not lie, told me that he once came to a place called Kushta,22  in which no one ever told lies, and where no man ever died before his time. Now, he married one of their women, by whom he had two sons. One day his wife was sitting and washing her hair, when a neighbour came and knocked at the door. Thinking to himself that it would not be etiquette [to tell her that his wife was washing herself], he called out, 'She is not here.' [As a punishment for this] his two sons died. Then people of that town came to him and questioned him, 'What is the cause of this?' So he related to them what had happened. 'We pray thee,' they answered, 'quit this town, and do not incite Death against us’

Eclesiaste 12

 La vérité est éternelle; le mensonge dure un clin d'œil.

Shabat 104

SHin [stands for] SHeker [falsehood]; Taw [for] emeTH [truth]: why are the letters of SheKeR close together, whilst those of 'eMeTH are far apart?27  Falsehood is frequent, truth is rare.28  And why does falsehood [stand] on one foot, whilst truth has a brick-like foundation?29  Truth can stand, falsehood cannot stand.

1. Denial. You can consider this the "generic" defense mechanism because it underlies many of the others. When you use denial, you simply refuse to accept the truth or reality of a fact or experience. "No, I'm just a social smoker," is a good example; similarly people can apply this to any bad habit they wish to distance themselves from including excessive alcohol or substance use, compulsive shopping or gambling, and the like. "Just say no," in this case means that you protect your self-esteem by failing to acknowledge your own behavior. Denial may also be used by victims of trauma or disasters and may even be a beneficial initial protective response. In the long run, however, denial can prevent you from incorporating unpleasant information about yourself and your life and have potentially destructive consequences.

2. Repression. One step above denial in the generic classification scheme, repression involves simply forgetting something bad. You might forget an unpleasant experience, in the past, such as a car accident at which you were found to be at fault. You might also use repression when you "forget" to do something unpleasant such as seeing the dentist or meeting with an acquaintance you don't really like. Repression, like denial, can be temporarily beneficial, particularly if you've forgotten something bad that happened to you, but as with denial, if you don't come to grips with the experience it may come back to haunt you.

3. Regression. From repression to regression—one little "g" makes all the difference. In regression, you revert back to a childlike emotional state in which your unconscious fears, anxieties, and general "angst" reappear. In Freud's theory of "psychosexual" development, people develop through stages such as the oral, anal, and phallic so that by the time they're five or six, the basic structures of personality are laid down. However, every once in a while, a person either reverts back to a childlike state of development. particularly under conditions of stress. That road rage you see when drivers are stuck in traffic is a great example of regression. People may also show regression when they return to a child-like state of dependency. Retreating under the blankets when you've had a bad day is one possible instance. The problem with regression is that you may regret letting your childish self show in a self-destructive way. Driving badly or refusing to talk to people who've made you feel bad, mad, or sad can eventually get you in worse trouble than what you had when you began.

4. Displacement. In displacement you transfer your original feelings that would get you in trouble (usually anger) away from the person who is the target of your rage to a more hapless and harmless victim. Here's the classic example: You've had a very unpleasant interaction with your boss or teacher, but you can't show your anger toward him or her. Instead, you come home and, so to speak, "kick the cat" (or dog). That's not very nice imagery, but you get the picture. Any time you shift your true feelings from their original, anxiety-provoking, source to one you perceive as less likely to cause you harm, you're quite possibly using displacement. Unfortunately, displacement may protect you from being fired or failing a class, but it won't protect your hand if you decide to displace your anger from the true target to a window or wall.

5. Projection. The first four defense mechanisms were relatively easy to understand. I think. Projection is more challenging. First, you have to start with the assumption that to recognize a particular quality in yourself would cause you psychic pain. Let's take a kind of silly example. For instance, you feel that an outfit you spent too much on looks really bad on you. Wearing this outfit, you walk into the room where your friends stare at you perhaps for a moment too long (in your opinion). They say nothing and do nothing that in reality could be construed as critical. However, your insecurity about the outfit (and distress at having paid too much for it) leads you to "project" your feelings onto your friends, and you blurt out "Why are you looking at me like that? Don't you like this outfit?" See how silly that was? In a less silly case, you might project your more general feelings of guilt or insecurity onto friends—or worse—people who don't know and love you with all your projected flaws.  Let's say you're worried that you're not really very smart. You make a dumb mistake that no one says anything about at all, and accuse others of saying that you're dumb, inferior, or just plain stupid. The point is that no one said anything that in reality could be construed as critical. You are "projecting" your insecurities onto others and in the process, alienating them (and probably looking somewhat foolish as well).

6.Reaction formation. Now we're getting into advanced defense mechanism territory. Most people have difficulty understanding reaction formation, but it's really quite straightforward. Let's say that you secretly harbor lustful feelings toward someone you should probably stay away from. You don't want to admit to these feelings, so you instead express the very opposite of those feelings. This object of your lust now becomes the object of your bitter hatred. This defense mechanism could be subtitled the "lady doth protest too much," that wonderful quote from Hamlet. A less highbrow example is "Church Lady," the old Dana Carvey character from Saturday Night Live. Her secret obsession with pornography became reversed into her extreme scorn for all things sexual. In short, reaction formation means expressing the opposite of your inner feelings in your outward behavior.

7. Intellectualization. You might also neutralize your feelings of anxiety, anger, or insecurity in a way that is less likely to lead to embarrassing moments than some of the above defense mechanisms. In intellectualization, you think away an emotion or reaction that you don't enjoy feeling. For instance, rather than confront the intense distress and rejection you feel after your roommate suddenly decides to move out, you conduct a detailed financial analysis of how much you can afford to spend now that you're on your own. Although you aren't denying that the event occurred, you're not thinking about its emotional consequences. 

8. Rationalization. When you rationalize something, you try to explain it away. As a defense mechanism, rationalization is somewhat like intellectualization, but it involves dealing with a piece of bad behavior on your part rather than converting a painful or negative emotion into a more neutral set of thoughts. People often use rationalization to shore up their insecurities or remorse after doing something they regret such as an "oops" moment. It's easier to blame someone else than to take the heat yourself, particularly if you would otherwise feel shame or embarrassment. For example, let's say you lose your temper in front of people you want to like and respect you. Now, to help make yourself feel better, you mentally attribute your outburst to a situation outside your control, and twist things so that you can blame someone else for provoking you.

9. Sublimation. We've just seen that people can use their emotions to fire up a cognitively-oriented response. Intellectualization tends to occur over the short run, but sublimation develops over a long period of time, perhaps even throughout the course of a person's career. A classic example is that of a surgeon who takes hostile impulses and converts them into "cutting" other people in a way that is perfectly acceptable in society. This is perhaps putting things in terms that are too extreme. More realistically, sublimation occurs when people transform their conflicted emotions into productive outlets. They do say that psychologists are inherently nosy In short, defense mechanisms are one of our commonest ways to cope with unpleasant emotions. Although Freud and many of his followers believed that we use them to combat sexual or aggressive feelings, defense mechanisms apply to a wide range of reactions from anxiety to insecurity.

שמות רבה (וילנא) פרשה א...היה עמרם ראש סנהדרין באותה שעה כיון שגזר פרעה ואמר כל הבן הילוד, אמר עמרםולריק ישראל מולידים, מיד הוציא את יוכבד ופירש עצמו מתשמיש המטה, וגרש את אשתוכשהיא מעוברת מג' חדשים, עמדו כל ישראל וגרשו את נשותיהן, אמרה לו בתו גזרתך קשהמשל פרעה, שפרעה לא גזר אלא על הזכרים, ואתה על הזכרים ונקבות, פרעה רשע הואוגזירתו ספק מתקיימת ספק אינה מתקיימת, אבל אתה צדיק וגזירתך מתקיימת, עמד הואוהחזיר את אשתו עמדו כל ישראל והחזירו נשותיהם, הוי פועה שהופיעה פנים כנגד אביה. Exode Rabba (Ed. Vilna) chapitre 1 […] Amram était le chef du tribunal en ce temps-là et lorsque la pharaon décréta "tout mâle sera jeté dans le Nil", Amram pensa "c'est donc en vain que les Israélites vont enfanter", immédiatement il se sépara de Jokéved et il la répudia alors qu'elle était enceinte de trois mois. Les enfants d'Israël firent de même. Sa fille (Myriam) lui dit: "ton décret est plus dur que celui de pharaon, car pharaon n'a décrété que sur les garçons et toi sur les garçons et les filles. Pharaon est un méchant et rien ne dit que son décret se maintiendra, alors que toi tu es juste et ton décret se maintiendra. Alors Amram reprit sa femme et tout Israël fit de même. C'est elle qu'on nomme Poua (têtue), car elle tint tête à son père.


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