`101 Biblical Gotcha
Chananya Weissman
May 27, 2021

His sister was ill and needed his prayers. “Please, God, heal her now.” That was it. He had to pray for her, but he couldn't say more.

Of course not. The miscreants would play gotcha.

That was a day in the life of Moshe Rabbeinu. If he prayed at length for Miriam, some Jews would have criticized him: “His sister is in trouble, and he's just standing there praying.” Others would have accused Moshe of favoritism: “Look how much he prays for his sister, but he doesn't pray so much for us.” (Bamidar 12:13, Rashi from Sifrei)

Never mind that these accusations would be ridiculous and utterly false. Moshe's prayers, short or long, were the best way he could help her, no comparison. Time and again Moshe saved the Jews from destruction by interceding on their behalf, but now they would criticize him for doing the same for Miriam. In favor of what? Putting his arm around her and telling her it would be okay?

It didn't matter. The rotten people who like to invent terms and redefine right and wrong as it suits them would have called it “bad optics”. They would have claimed he was giving a little extra for his sister (so what if he did?) while not doing enough for them (even though they owed their lives to him many times over).

A little while later Korach waged a rebellion against Moshe, and many Jews were swayed by his smooth propaganda. They ridiculed Moshe and accused him of distorting the Torah to suit his personal agenda. Of course, they were the ones doing that very thing.

They accused Moshe of taking too much power for himself and his closest relatives. Never mind that Moshe had to be forced by Hashem to take the job in the first place and was the most humble man who ever lived. Corrupt, power-hungry people accused Moshe of being a corrupt, power-hungry person who needed to be replaced – by them, of course.

If Moshe left his home early in the day, the apikorsim suggested that he had marital issues and needed to get out of the house. If he left late, they accused him of sitting and making evil plots against them (Devarim 1:12, Rashi).

What time was he supposed to leave? It didn't matter. The naysayers would catch him no matter what.

The Torah is not simply relating the challenges Moshe faced from the people he gave everything for. As always, the Torah is teaching us timeless lessons. If it weren't relevant to us today and always, it wouldn't be in the Torah.

We are supposed to recognize the difference between people who have sincere concerns, and those who are trying to undermine us by any means possible. The question they ask or concern they present might be exactly the same, but the intention behind it makes all the difference in how we should relate to them.

We don't need to be mind readers to recognize the intentions. Insincere people cannot fake it for very long, just as the snake cannot hide its forked tongue. Beneath their veneer of politeness and mechanical pleasantries is a burning hatred ready to explode like a volcano. Tweak them ever so slightly and it will come bursting out.

There are so many examples of this all around us. A decent person who sincerely believes that masks and crapcines are the healthiest choice would be respectful of other people who have come to different conclusions. He would be genuinely interested in learning more about the reasons behind these alternate conclusions, all of which are based on science, not blind faith. Perhaps he would modify his own conclusion in light of this new information, perhaps not, but his mission would not be to undermine those who have drawn differing conclusions. A decent, sincere person doesn't resort to such tactics, certainly not as his modus operandi of choice.

The mask monsters and poison pushers insist we harm ourselves and our children, only because they care so much about us. Their first demand might come in the guise of a concerned request for compliance. If denied, their true colors will show: unbridled rage, vulgarity, bullying, defamation, threats, and a desire for those who won't submit to die. Such pious concern for others is truly touching.

Another example is those who express “concerns” about “disproportionate” responses to those who attack Israel. There is no reason to politely engage these people with hopes of explaining your side. It doesn't matter how ridiculous are their accusations, if they are ignorant of historical facts, if they completely make things up, if they defend the indefensible, if they have double standard after double standard. The truth does not matter to these people. They are playing a game of biblical gotcha, and you cannot win. Don't play the game. Don't politely engage them; call them out for what they are – snakes and demons.

The best possible outcome for any attack on Jews is for all the attackers to be destroyed, without the smallest iota of damage to the Jews. It should be a completely disproportionate rout. Tell that to the forked-tongue snakes who stand with the enemy, and tell them you want them to be destroyed along with the attackers.

Then disengage from them. Don't allow them to drain your time and your energy, attempting to prove something to those who hate truth. Debating liars, fools, and sociopaths is a poor investment. Use your time and energy to build yourself and strengthen others.

Moshe did not get sucked into an argument with every small-minded, large-egoed critic playing gotcha. He spent his life learning, teaching, leading, and interceding on behalf of others. His critics made no positive impact on the world and left no legacy. They fell away like the worthless dust they were, while failing in their lifelong pursuit to drag Moshe into the gutter with them.

Indeed, it is precisely because Moshe was so humble that he prevailed over all the miscreants who spent their lives looking to catch him on something. He didn't waste his days debating them, nor allow their snarky personalities to control his behavior.

No doubt they ate their hearts out that they couldn't catch him. No doubt Moshe didn't care either way. He ignored their howls and kept moving forward.

Let's do the same.