web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Tapping Into Our Meritorious Past

(L-R) The Rambam, The Chofetz Chaim, Rashi.

(L-R) The Rambam, The Chofetz Chaim, Rashi.

Throughout our nation’s long history we have resided in countless countries and lived under numerous governmental regimes. For the most part, our existence in the diaspora has been difficult at best, intolerable at worst.

During better times, Jewish populations were allowed to exist within their host societies with limited rights. They were permitted to pursue a livelihood and seek shelter and protection so long as they understood their place and accepted their second-class status.

During times of persecution, our people were forced to endure financial limitations and extortion, social isolation and humiliation, religious-based allegations and mistrials, inquisitions, pogroms, expulsions and cruel death at the hands of their oppressors, to the tune of millions of innocent victims.

Of course, our people have also experienced periods of tranquility and hospitality within their host nations. Ancient Persia, the Golden Age of Spain, Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire and post-Napoleonic Western Europe all come readily to mind.

And God saved the very best for last. It is pretty safe to suggest that no host nation has been kinder and more welcoming to its Jewish citizens than the United States – certainly not for an extensive duration equal to the three hundred and fifty year-period we have called this country home.

America has really lived up to its moniker as a “medinah shel chesed,” providing sustained respite and opportunity to Jews who sought refuge, peace and prosperity here after enduring atrocities in their respective homelands.

Despite the general positivity of our experience as American Jews, there have been some challenging moments, times where indigenous bigotry and prejudice brought fear and concern to our people. The first wave occurred in the 17th century, when Peter Stuyvesant governed the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Only a pointed directive from his supervisors back home stymied the governor’s wish to prevent Jews from joining the colony.

Subsequent anti-Semitism came in the form of General Ulysses S. Grant’s infamous Order No. 11 in 1862, which temporarily expelled all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi based on unsubstantiated and clearly prejudicial allegations of marketeering.

But there was no more trying time for Jews in this country than during the first few decades of the 20th century, when racist, eugenicist theories abounded throughout the land, much as they did across the Atlantic.

Hate groups targeted Jews as well as other minorities. In 1922, Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell instituted a quota limiting the number of Jews who could attend the university (a precedent soon followed by many other Ivy League schools). Two years later, the Reed-Johnson Act put into law legislation that sought to restore an “American” ethnic character by setting immigration quotas designed to maintain a predominantly white, western European composition similar to what had existed at the time of the 1890 census. This greatly limited Jewish immigration to the United States during the interwar period and well into the time of the Second World War, when refuge was desperately needed by those seeking to escape the Nazis.

In the early 1930s, Father Charles E. Coughlin, leader of the Christian Front, became an influential radio voice and used his platform to spew hateful venom against the Jewish people. And we are all aware of the anti-Semitism that raged within FDR’s State Department. The president’s unwillingness to do more to save the Jews of Europe is also well documented.

The collective suffering that our nation has endured at the hands of our enemies, even here in this benevolent country, should naturally instill within us a particular sensitivity regarding how we view other peoples.

In fact, the Torah is replete with admonitions to be sensitive to converts and others because we were “strangers in the land of Egypt.” Certainly we recognize and take pride in our special character and destiny. We relish our role as a “light unto the nations” that was chosen to lead by example and teach the nations of the world a better way. Still, it seems at the least to be a bit out of character that we would ask for special divine clemency due to our distinct lineage and heritage, even when our actions over the past year would indicate we don’t particularly deserve it.

Yet that is exactly what we seem to do when we stand before God during this auspicious time.

About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive coach and president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting (www.ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at President@ImpactfulCoaching.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Tapping Into Our Meritorious Past”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Some of the missile fire comes from launchers planted in cemeteries, mosques, schools and hospitals. This is an aerial photo of one such launch in Beit Lahiya earlier this week.
Sleepless in Rishon Lezion, IDF Attacks in Gaza Continue
Latest Indepth Stories
Young children 'recruited' by the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) terrorist group for a Shari'a jihadist army in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
Hamas as Pharoah

It’s as if Hamas has pulled a page out of Pharaoh’s handbook.

Front-Page-060614

As a guide to others and a foremost member of the Great Assembly, Ezra provided strong leadership and a moral conscience to a people that had lost its way.

For our children, technology is not just another activity that is forbidden on Shabbos.

I can testify from experience, however, that despite such experience and/or training, top-tier leaders often begin their tasks unprepared for the rigors of their new position, particularly when the experience and training focused on instructional leadership (such as classroom observation and curriculum) rather than organizational stewardship and management.

Humility is perhaps the least understood quality a person may possess. Often it is perceived as a form of meekness, a reticence that stems from a lack of self-confidence or an unwillingness to stand up and assert oneself. But that is far from what true humility is.

Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.

The exchange was brief and simple in its content, yet profound in its implications.

One morning this past summer, I davened at a shul in Passaic, New Jersey. Passaic was our new home as of mid-July, following nearly a decade of school leadership in other communities. After tefillah, I opened a conversation with someone who had also just concluded his tenure as a principal out of state. He informed me he had left the field of education entirely and had moved to the tri-state area to go into business with a relative. In the course of our talk, he mentioned that another colleague, also young by comparative standards, was not returning to the school he had helped found out west.

Throughout our nation’s long history we have resided in countless countries and lived under numerous governmental regimes. For the most part, our existence in the diaspora has been difficult at best, intolerable at worst.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/tapping-into-our-meritorious-past/2013/09/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: