The Reasonable Bad Guy

October 12, 2018 at 1:42 AM , , ,
“….And the fugitive came and told Avram the Hebrew….”  (Bereishit 14:13)

 ״….ויבא הפליט ויגד לאברם העברי…״ – בראשית יד, יג

The fugitive was Og. Why was he called Og? Because when he came, he found Avram busy with the mitzvah of ugos, cakes [as matzah is called in Shemos 12:39. – ed.] Og’s intentions were not for the sake of Heaven. Rather, he thought, “This Avram is a zealot. I’ll tell him, ‘your nephew has been taken captive’ and he will go out to war and get killed. Then I will take Sarai, his wife.” — Beraishis Rabba 42

Og was a rationalist and a cynic (see Beraishis Rabba 53), but he could still respect humanitarian causes based on rhyme and reason. So it wasn’t surprising that he’d encourage Avram to save his own flesh and blood from captivity.

Yet, at their root, Og’s motives were entirely impure. For though the cause was justified and logical, Og knew that it was unreasonable to think that Avram could be victorious over the mighty kings who had taken Lot captive. Og played on Avram’s zealous nature, encouraging him to take on a veritably suicidal mission, trusting that Avram would never return and Sarai would then be his for the taking.

From Og we learn that human reason is naturally selfish and dangerous. One who is guided and motivated only by human logic can justify having another person killed in order to take that person’s wife, and all the while fool himself into thinking that he’s doing the right and reasonable thing.


—Reshimos 17

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