Sunday, December 06, 2015

Marsha Levine, Free Will, and Redemption

I think that almost everyone that has an internet connection and is concerned about Israel and the Jewish People is aware of the scandalous behavior of a Jewish lady named Marsha Levine:
An ex-Cambridge academic has refused to answer an inquisitive 13-year-old Israeli girl's questions on horses 'until there is peace and justice for Palestinians'.

Teenager Shachar Rabinovitch emailed Dr Marsha Levine to ask her some basic questions about horses for a school assignment. But Dr Levine - a former Cambridge academic considered an expert on the history of domestication of horses - responded with a link to the homepage of lobby group Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

Here is what she wrote:
Dear Shachar Rabinovich:

I'll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians in Palestine.

I am a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians ( I support Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people. Maybe your family has the same views as I do, but I doubt it. So, I suggest that you look at this link:

yours sincerely

Dr Marsha Levine

Shachar's mother, upset with Ms. Levine's disgusting snub, published it on his Facebook profile. The post went viral and was picked up by popular bloggers and even some major media outlets. Ms. Levine gained notoriety overnight.

Now, let us imagine that this happened 30 years ago, in the age of snail mail. Chances are that Marsha Levine's reply would have been thrown into the garbage along with the potato peels, never to see the light of day. But in our age of cut and paste and screen captures, her gauche reply became known to myriads in a matter of hours. In no time at all, Ms. Levine became the poster child for small-mindedness, meanness and other unpleasent qualities. (I won't even comment on her ignorance and arrogance with regard to what is happening here in Israel.)

After all of this negative exposure, Marsha Levine had two options: She could have apologized, or she could have doubled-down. She chose the latter. She had a chance to make amends, to do Teshuvah, and she foolishly passed it up, deepening the hole of infamy that she dug for herself.

This makes me wonder: Has she descended to such a depth that her free choice has been taken away? Maimonides tells us that such a possibility exists:

A person may commit a great sin or many sins causing the judgment rendered before the True Judge to be that the retribution [administered to] this transgressor for these sins which he willfully and consciously committed is that his Teshuvah will be held back. He will not be allowed the chance to repent from his wickedness so that he will die and be wiped out because of the sin he committed.
This, he says, is what happened to Pharaoh:
For these reasons, it is written in the Torah [Exodus 14:4], "I will harden Pharaoh's heart." Since, he began to sin on his own initiative and caused hardships to the Israelites who dwelled in his land as [Exodus 1:10] states: "Come, let us deal wisely with them," judgment obligated that he be prevented from repenting so that he would suffer retribution. Therefore, The Holy One, blessed be He, hardened his heart.
Is this what happened to Ms. Levine? Only God knows.

In any case, I have some good news for Marsha: There is no despair in the world! It is easy to fall, the trick is to know how to get up. As the full redemption progresses God will replace our hardened hearts with ones of flesh as it is written,

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep Mine ordinances, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.
The People of Israel, in the land of Israel, keeping the Torah of Israel! It's happening Marsha. Hope to see you here soon!

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