Shelach Lecha – High Handedness

High Handedness  – Shelach Lecha

And the person who acts with a high hand from the residents or from the strangers, he has acted pompous towards G-d, That person will be cut off from his nation. Because he has scoffed at the word of G-d and has broken his commandment, utterly cut off that person his sin with him.

Here we have the words dealing with a high hand. These words and others like it occur in two completely different categories. On the one hand you have G-d taking the Jews out of Egypt with his high hand and outstretched arms. On the other hand you have Pesukim like ours which have a man dealing with a high hand.

When G-d uses a high hand it demonstrates his power over everything in the universe. When a man uses a high hand he is demonstrating that he believes he has powers to get away with an immoral act. There is no coincidence that the usage is the same for a mighty act of G-d and of a malicious act of man.

Some of our rabbis of blessed memory have said that our Pasuk refers to a person who has denied the existence of G-d. This certainly is what it means. Believing you can get away with something is tantamount to denying the power of G-d. It is not G-d who has the High hand but you. This is illustrated in Devarim.

Lest they say our hand is high and G-d has not done all this.

This is a case wear the Jews believed that they conquered the land, not G-d.

The portion of our Perasha which deals with a person sinning with Yad Ramah – A high hand is immediately followed by the story of the first person who scoffed at the laws of Shabat. This is also no coincidence. The reason why this follows is that it is an example of a person who acted With a high hand.

An example of High Handedness is openly desecrating Shabbat
An example of High Handedness is openly desecrating Shabbat

It is really a great example of that. This is because one of the reasons we celebrate Shabat every week is to remeber that G-d took us out of Egypt. When G-d took us out of Egypt it was with a Yad Ramah. When a person intentionally goes and breaks Shabat and says that he does not care what is written in the Torah and does not care what penalty will be incurred, he is acting with a high hand. He believes that he is more powerful than G-d. Even if he does not believe in G-d.

Some have said that the the “person who acts with a high hand” refers only to ritualistic transgressions like performing a sacrificial ceremony in the wrong way. This is certainly far from the truth.

Malicious acts against G-d certainly include those which are – between man and his fellow. Examples of acting with a high hand are lying, stealing, and rape. I will give you an example from the book of Mishle.

As a mad man who shoots fire, arrows and death. So is the man who is high (handed) with his peers, and says but I was only playing.

Here we have the word Ramah refering to how terrible it is to be high handed against your friends. In our Pasuk this word includes both ceremonial and between man and his peers. Taking advantage of a peer is the same exact thing as other deadly games. It is a deadly game to rebel against G-d both in ceremony and in business. Our Pasuk comes to tell us that even the malicious acts which we are never caught for, G-d considers it rebellious and high handed and such a person who thinks he has godly powers like thinking you can get away with stealing or desecrating Shabat will be taken care of by G-d himself.