To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
On a recent flight to Israel I sat next to a chassid who kept looking out the window and humming the most beautiful melody, “Shabbos Kodesh…Shabbos Kodesh” – and when he first saw the lights of Israel he started singing, “Eretz Yisrael…Eretz Yisrael!”
Who else but a Jew could thrill to these words?
We have been learning about the Mishkan in recent Torah portions. The first vessel discussed is the holy Ark. “Rav Yosef taught in a beraisa, ‘… [both] the [second] tablets and the first tablets are placed into the ark’ ” (Menachos 99a).
The Ark is the center of the universe and the source of our unity with Hashem. Its contents must therefore be incredibly significant. So why should it contain the broken tablets? Of what significance are they?
There are many possible explanations, but I would suggest that our entire relationship with Hashem depends on something being broken. Like walking through that dark cloud surrounding Har Sinai, we apparently have to break something to get close to Hashem.
We all know that Moshe Rabbeinu broke the luchos when the Children of Israel were dancing before the Golden Calf. So they remind us of our strong attachment to that which is false and impure. Even when Moshe took us out of Egypt, only one-fifth of our ancestors wanted to leave with him. Four-fifths were so attached to idolatrous Egypt – the nation that had killed our babies! – that they preferred to remain behind in that hell rather than follow Moshe Rabbeinu and meet Hashem at Har Sinai. (See Rashi on Shemos 13:18 and 10:22.)
The yetzer hara is incredibly strong, and this is the source of all our troubles, for our sages tell us that “there is not a single punishment that comes to the world that does not contain [a small amount of punishment derived from the worship of the Golden] calf…” (Sanhedrin 102a).
* * * * *
Let us return to Achashveirosh’s banquet.
Kosher food was available. What was the problem?
The problem is exactly our problem today.
The Megillah is describing our own world. We live in Shushan. We are eating at the banquet. It is glatt kosher, but it is their banquet. And this, apparently, is very dangerous.
It would seem that this is the reason Megillas Esther is the Torah’s “parting word” as the Children of Israel head into Exile. Hashem is warning His children about the chief danger that lies ahead for us, down this long and dangerous road.
Jews over the centuries had been able to resist the most terrifying decrees. When it came to being killed al Kiddush Hashem, God forbid, they accepted death rather than abandoning our holy heritage. But when the nations of the world invited us to become “equal citizens,” that is when we failed. When social acceptance, wealth, comfort and fulfillment of material desires were presented to us, they became our stumbling blocks. After centuries of heroic resistance, we could not resist the “friendly hand” extended by our enemies.
My wife, Leah, and I were privileged recently to speak in the former Soviet Union. We spent Shabbos Parshas Yisro in the famous Yeshiva Toras Chaim in the village of Hripan, some forty miles outside Moscow. We left the capital several hours before Shabbos and arrived at the village where, we had been told, “anyone can direct you to the yeshiva.” In fact, no one in the village seemed to know where the yeshiva was. Finally, our driver inquired at a small store. A young man emerged and told him he could direct us.
The young man entered our van and began acting in a very strange manner. He was all smiles and wanted to shake hands with all of us. Then he offered us ice cream he had brought out of the store. It all was just too friendly. He directed us down a village street and then he got out of the van and pointed farther down the road, telling the driver he should just continue on and we would arrive at the yeshiva.
So we drove down that road, and it led…nowhere. Into a snowbank, actually. It was a trick. The young man had intentionally put us on a road to nowhere. It was a few hours before Shabbos, and we were barely able to extricate ourselves from the snowbank. Finally, after several attempts, we located someone who was able to direct us accurately and we pulled up to the yeshiva with a sense of relief and gratitude to Hashem.
About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, “2020 Vision” (Feldheim) is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Russian, and Georgian. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul” (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, and Georgian) and “Worldstorm.” Roy and Leah Neuberger speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.
Abbas has been adding new layers of rhetoric to his tactical campaign to de-Judaize Jerusalem
Israel recognizes the fabrication called a Palestinian nation; So what do we want from the Swedes?
Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.
Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.
Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.
It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”
Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.
Unfortunately, at present, the rabbinate does not play a positive role in preventing abuse.
Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.
Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.
In the recent Gaza war and its aftermath, we saw a totally illogical reaction from the world.
The unwarranted hatred among us that caused the destruction of the Second Temple clearly still plagues us.
At the end of the harvest, winter begins. The earth becomes cold and hard, nights are long, and the sun seems far away in the southern sky. The sap ceases to flow in the trees. But in this season of temporary “death” Hashem sends down harbingers of coming life in the form of tal u’matar livrachah – dew and rain for a blessing – upon the earth.
“Logically” speaking, after the millennia of hatred and destruction directed against us, there should not be one Jew in the world today who still keeps the Torah.
They were lining up for gas masks in Israel.
Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.
At the mikveh they were discussing Egypt.
So many things seem to be unraveling. It’s not just Egypt but the entire Middle East. No, it’s not just the Middle East; it’s the entire world.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/road-to-nowhere/2013/02/20/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: