The Torah teaches us that we are a people destined to dwell alone –a nation not counted among the nations of the world. From the very genesis of our nationhood, our destiny has been to be the lamb surrounded by seventy wolves.
This has been true throughout the centuries, in every generation and in every country of our sojourn. I personally experienced it as a young woman in Europe during the Holocaust.
Many of our secular brethren have difficulty dealing with this prophecy. Surely it cannot be, they insist; and if it is, it must be our own fault. We have, they say, focused on our exceptionalism rather than on our universal responsibility, our oneness with all mankind.
In every generation we’ve had Jews who feel we must dive into that universal melting pot and take caution not to be distinct – not to be different from the nations of the world. If we only did that, according to this way of thinking, all anti-Semitism would cease.
That is precisely why so many of our people have come to resent a Jew who looks identifiably Jewish: beard, yarmulke, hat, visible tzitzit, etc.
Such universalists look at Orthodox Jews and say to themselves – and to others: “Why do they call attention to how they’re dressed? Why can’t they be like everyone else? They’re an embarrassment!”
This was the outlook of many of our people prior to the Holocaust, especially in Germany where the Reform movement was born. But despite all their efforts, the nations of the world still would not accept us. And when Hitler’s fury descended on the Jews, few people cared.
We begged. We wept. We pleaded for the enlightened 20th century nations to hear us and extended a helping hand. It was all in vain. We stood alone once more. The nations of the world abetted the Nazi savages by closing their eyes and gates as we were consumed in the ovens and the gas chambers.
But the Jewish universalists who believe in the goodness of man will not accept such a reality. Basically, they say, all men are compassionate; basically, all nations have goodness in them and if we don’t see it or experience it, it must be our fault.
But despite the tireless efforts of our people to assimilate in pre-Holocaust Europe – and no matter how much we excelled in the finest universities and gave of our talent in medicine, in science, in art – the hatred and resentment remained.
Here we are in the 21st century and has anything changed? Look at what has just transpired in the Middle East. The response to the continuous barrage of missiles from Gaza into Israel was relatively muted. Yes, some countries voiced disapproval, but it seemed so formulaic, so perfunctory. Yet as soon as Israel hit back, demonstrators clogged the streets of Europe to denounce Israel in the vilest of terms and world leaders called for an immediate cease-fire.
Once again we find ourselves alone – a little lamb among wolves. Can it be that Hashem wants us to realize that we indeed are a nation destined to live alone? Can it be that Hashem wants us to turn to Him to acknowledge that He and only He is our shepherd who can protect and save us?
The moment we forget our Guardian above, G-d forbid, we will be rendered easy prey once again. Iron Domes are wonderful but they are only as strong as Hashem allows them to be. Nothing in this universe is invincible except He who is above us.
I vividly recall the days after the Six-Day War. Israel became like David, achieving the impossible and defeating the malevolent giant Goliath. The world had never witnessed such triumph – a war that lasted six days and yielded such one-sided results.
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