“There is a parallel between Joseph’s life, the life of Nelson Mandela, and that of Bibi Netanyahu and Abu Mazen,” writes Reform Rabbi (nebech) John L. Rosove, Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood. It’s a good premise that would grab anyone’s attention, since, as far as I’m concerned, the only thing all these four men have in common is that they’re biodegradable.
Rosove touts Nelson Mandela’s transformation from freedom fighter to politician, and he is absolutely correct. Despite everything that is wrong with Black-ruled South Africa today, the lives of black South Africans have improved considerably, both physically and spiritually since 1994. White South Africans not so much. Whites live in daily fear for their lives in South Africa, surrounded by fences and security guards. From speaking to South African Jews over the years, it’s obvious that the only thing keeping them from joining the masses that have already fled is the fact that their property, vast though it is, has no resale value. So they’re stuck with a wealth that cannot be transferred elsewhere.
So Mandela may have ushered in a time of reconciliation and forgiveness, as Rosove claims, but the result has been mass epidemics, broad daylight robbery, rape and murder, and continued poverty for many. Nevertheless, for Blacks, despite all of these ills, life today is still better than under the Nazi inspired Apartheid system.
Ignoring all of it, Rosove now tries to massage the Genesis story of Joseph and his brothers.
“Joseph too could have acted with vengeance against his brothers when they appeared before him, but he did not do so. Rather, he forgave them and said: ‘Ani Yosef achicha [the good rabbi’s Hebrew fails him, as the text says ‘achichem’ in the plural, but even knowing where to look is no small thing for a Reform rabbi] – I am your brother Joseph…do not be distressed or reproach yourselves because you sold me here; it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you.'(Genesis 45:4-5)”
I beg to differ. This is not forgiveness but acceptance. Nowhere in the Torah does Joseph actually say “I forgive you.” He justifies the transgression committed against him by saying it was the will of God, but never forgave his brothers.
Indeed, after Jacob dies, the Torah says:
“And when the brothers of Joseph saw that their father was dead, they said, What if Joseph will hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.” (Genesis 50:15)
If he forgave them – why be afraid?
“And they sent word unto Joseph, saying, your father did command before he died, saying, So shall you say to Joseph, Forgive, now, the crime of your brothers, and their sin; for they did to you evil; and now, forgive the crime of the slaves of your father’s God.” (Genesis 50:16-17)
Again, if Joseph had already forgiven them, why ask for his forgiveness, and in such an elaborate manner?
And yet, despite the fact that Joseph calms their fears, he still would not forgive his brothers, and goes to his grave without forgiving them.
I’m making a big deal out of it because it irks me to see a clergyman using the Torah to promote the destruction of Jewish life in the land of Israel. Now, he could find plenty of verses to use with which to do this evil deed, but to use his misunderstanding of the essential Torah narrative in order to support a move resulting in the uprooting and exiling of as many as half a million Jews – that’s exceptionally irksome.
If you’re going to execute me – at least check the order for typos…
“Joseph’s and his brothers’ reconciliation was a turning point in Jewish history,” writes this man of modest knowledge, ignoring the centuries of strife between the children of Joseph and the children of Juda, resulting in a string of border clashes and wars, brother coalescing with outside kingdoms against brother, and much bloodshed, until the demise of the kingdom of the children of Joseph and their exile. What Bible is he reading from? Certainly, there are interpreters who say the fact that Joseph wept afterwards represents his implicit forgiveness, but there is no black on white mention of forgiveness in the text.
The big Torah scholar now brings in the much anticipated payoff for his entire presentation:
“A similar challenge confronts the Palestinians and Israelis. Will the two peoples’ representatives acknowledge the wrongs that each has committed against the other, forgive those wrongs and resolve to end this tragic and bloody conflict in a just and secure peace with two states for two peoples, or will they descend into more war, bloodshed and suffering?”
I don’t need to tell our readers about the fact that this deal actually calls for three (if not four) states for the Palestinians: Jordan (80% Palestinian), the PA, Israel (20% Palestinian) and Gaza. And I don’t need to tell our readers what happened the last time Jews were removed from their homes forcibly to make room for a Jew-free Palestinian state in Gaza – resulting in two wars and many hundreds dead. And I don’t have to tell our readers that this “2 state solution,” like that other “solution” conceived in Wannsee, Berlin, in 1942, bodes death and destruction for Jews. So I won’t.
“I would love nothing more than for Bibi and Abu Mazen to become the next Nobel Peace Prize Winners, along with Secretary of State John Kerry,” writes Rosove.
It appears Rosove’s appetite for Jewish destruction is bottomless. All I can do is bless Reform Rabbi Rosove that his own life in Hollywood will be as safe as that of the Jews of South Africa after the Mandela forgiveness, and as prosperous as that of the Jews of Gush Katif after the Hamas forgiveness.