Parashat Masei

In our parashah, masaei, with which we end the fourth book of Bamidvar, God commands Am Yisrael that before entering the Promised Land they must expel their enemies and destroy their idols, otherwise, as time goes by, they will plot to annihilate them or incite them to Idolatry. But wasn’t it a better idea to integrate them into society in order to live in peace and harmony with Bnei Yisrael? Once upon a time there was a king who threw a big party for his birthday. To the people he gave bags of fresh bread, to those close to him, fine silk fabrics; and to his children, to show his affection, he invited them to a great banquet in the palace. But when the king entered the vault, he found them eating and drinking with their worst enemy! How is it possible that Am Israel, being the beloved children of God, forget Him in His own palace and try to crown false idols? The Sages say “Woe to the wicked, and woe to his neighbor”, to teach us that, no matter how great our faith in God, how many miracles we have experienced, or how close we feel to God, we are all vulnerable to the evil influences of those around us. That is why we must constantly nurture our faith, and surround ourselves with people who share our ideals and are a good influence on us.