It is the month of Tammuz, and in a matter of days, we will inaugurate the month of Av. This is a period that from the very genesis of our history has been marked by tragedy.
This year, 5770, the clouds above us are dark and stormy. True, the entire world is affected – the tribulations are not limited to us, but that which befalls the world impacts upon us. People throughout the globe are struggling with unprecedented natural disasters: volcanoes, earthquakes, and the latest – oil spills. Economic disaster doesn’t seem to be going away, but we, the Jewish people, have to contend with much more.
It is not only our comfort level that is at risk – our very existence as a nation is on the line. Israel is being demonized throughout the world, even here in the USA. Those of us in the know are aware that in every generation, anti-Semites find a new way to package their venomous hatred and make it palatable for mass consumption. Today, it is “Israel and Zionism” that legitimizes Jew-baiting.
We are one body, and when one part of us is injured, the entire body is affected. Despite 2,000 years of history that substantiates this, the majority of our people have yet to accept it. When Israel is demonized throughout the world, it is not only Israel, but every Jew as well. Sadly, we see evidence of this even on these shores. And I’m not only referring to the despicable remarks of Helen Thomas, the elderly White House reporter who occupied a most venerable chair, but more significantly, the shift in U.S. policy vis-à-vis Israel.
I wonder how many of us saw the article in the New York Times on Sunday, July 3. I will quote just two brief paragraphs from that column entitled “Nudge On Arms Further Divides the U.S. and Israel.” It reads as follows: “It was only one paragraph buried deep in the most plain-vanilla kind of diplomatic document, 40 pages of dry language committing 189 nations to a world free of nuclear weapons. But it has become the latest source of friction between Israel and the United States in a relationship that has lurched from crisis to crisis over the last few months.
“At a meeting to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in May, the United States yielded to demands by Arab nations that the final document urge Israel to sign a treaty – a way of spotlighting its historically undeclared nuclear weapons.”
There has always been a sacrosanct, silent agreement that the Jewish people, survivors of the most savage Holocaust, presently living in a sea of hostile nations dedicated to inflict a new Holocaust upon her, are in need of every defense system that they can have.
Therefore, American policy has always been to close its eyes to the nuclear capacity of Israel. For the very first time, that is changing. The repercussions to such a shift in American policy are inestimable, and I’m not even referring to the conflicts that have torn apart the traditional friendship and support that has marked the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem.
Nor am I referring to the Flotilla fiasco, in which Israel was censured and ostracized for trying to prevent deadly weapons, meant to maim, kill and annihilate her citizens, from reaching her shores. No matter which way we turn, Israel is the villain and our killers are the innocent victims.
We also have to struggle with internal spiritual bankruptcy as well, which was highlighted by the Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan. When asked about her activities on December 25, when a terrorist tried to attack our shores, she responded that she did what every Jew does; she went a Chinese restaurant. The remark brought down the house and the media praised her as “charming and funny.”
The average Jew found nothing objectionable in that remark. But that is a tragic commentary on the spiritual bankruptcy prevailing among so many of our people. We, who received our Commandments from G-d Himself, make a mockery of His laws and invite the nations to ridicule them as well. How does all this register in front of G-d? I shudder to think of the answer.
To be sure, we are Hashem’s children and He will never give up on us, but consider how a father feels when his son ridicules his teachings and shows him no respect. Long ago, the Prophet Isaiah cried out, ” I raised and exalted children, but they have rebelled against Me. An ox knows its owner, a donkey its master’s trough, but Israel does not know, My people does not perceive.”
So where do we go from here? What hope is there? Today we are witnessing the fulfillment of a prophecy. We are living in Ikvesa D’Moshicha – a time when, if you know how to listen, the footsteps of Moshiach are audible. In midst of all this darkness, there is a shining light beckoning us all. We need only open our Holy Books to discover incredible prophecies unfolding before our very eyes.
In last week’s parshah, Balak (Numbers 24:24), TargumYonasan ben Uziel teaches that just before the coming of Moshiach, ships from Constantinople (Turkey) will come and cause pain to our people. They will be joined by other nations as well, but will ultimately be destroyed.
The Talmud state that during this period, oil will fill the waters and the fish will die. And then, just consider what is written in Yalkut Shimoni – that in the period that ushers in Moshiach, the King of Persia (Iran) will develop a weapon that will threaten the world and create panic in Israel. But the passage tells us to be strong and to remember that all this is unfolding to make way for our final redemption – the coming of Moshiach.
The Klausenberger Rebbe, zt”l, said that these passages should be well remembered, for while they may not be understood now (at the time that he spoke) they will be a source of strength to our people in the very near future.
Unfortunately, the average Jew suffers from Torah illiteracy and has no way of understanding that which he witnesses with his own eyes. It’s time for us to wake up, open our holy books, call out to our Heavenly Father in prayer and ask Him to take our hand and lead us through the darkness.
I think it only fair to call attention to the fact that there are some righteous gentiles who do understand and see the light, and who have the courage to raise their voices on behalf of Israel. Below are excerpts from an article written by Former Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar in The Times of London.
“It is easy to blame Israel for all the evils in the Middle East. Some even act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish State on the altar. This would be folly. If Israel goes down, we all go down. To defend Israel’s right to exist in peace within secure borders requires a degree of moral and strategic clarity that too often seems to have disappeared in Europe. The United States shows worrying signs of heading in the same direction.
The West is going through a period of confusion over the shape of the world’s future. To a great extent this confusion is caused by a kind of masochistic self-doubt over our own identity, by the rule of political correctness, by a multiculturalism that forces us to our knees before others, and by a secularism which, irony of ironies, blinds us even when we are confronted by jihadists promoting the most fanatical incarnation of their faith. To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how inexorable our decline now appears.
Israel is a fundamental part of the West. The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.
Sixty-two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north ands south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.
For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. The real threats to regional stability however, are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism, which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfillment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large…”
I would like to invite all of our female readers to a special presentation of my documentary film, “Triumph of the Spirit” which depicts my experiences during the years of the Holocaust and in Bergen-Belsen. The film will be shown at the Lawrence Country Club on Wednesday evening, July 14 at 8:00 p.m. It will be my privilege to address the audience following the film. I look forward to greeting you.