There’s a legendary story about a kingdom, which was hit by tragedy one year. The entire harvest was poisoned and everyone who ate of it went crazy. The good citizens were at a loss, not knowing what to do. If they were to eat, they would become mad. On the other hand, if they refrained from eating, they would starve to death. What to do?
The wise men of the kingdom convened, but after much deliberation, could not come up with a solution. The matter was brought before the king for adjudication. After much thought, the king made his decision. “We must eat,” he declared, “otherwise we will die, but we cannot forget that the food that we will ingest will make us mad. To resolve this dilemma, it is my decision that each and every person place a sign upon his forehead stating ‘Let’s not forget, we are all crazy.’ That way,” the king concluded, “we will all be aware that all which we are thinking, planning, doing, stems from madness, so that we may protect ourselves and strive for the day when we become normal again.”
It’s a legend, so what relevance can it possibly have to us, you might ask?
Everything. Our culture, our world too has gone mad, the only difference being that no one is wearing a sign on his/her forehead. We can see this madness evidenced in every aspect of our lives. Take, for example, the seemingly insignificant incident of the Jet Blue flight attendant who cursed out a passenger on his flight and then slid down the emergency chute. Overnight, he became a sensation on popular Internet sites. T-shirts were manufactured with “Quit your job with style. I’m with Slater.”
It seems that people just identified with him because they, too, have issues and they, too, are ready to curse everyone out. Manners, discipline, courtesy and respect are all things of the past. Ours has become an “entitlement society,” in which we are constantly making demands and snapping at each other. To be sure, as things go, this was a silly, minor incident, easy to dismiss with a laugh, but still, it is indicative of our of our angry, entitlement mindset, and that should be cause for concern.
But then there are more critical situations that threaten the very fabric of our society, our very lives as Americans and as Jews. Take, for example, the mosque fiasco.
Do you remember 9/11? Come with me and let’s try to remember. It now seems like it happened eons ago, but it’s important that we trace our way back and recall that day. Do you remember when we first heard the horrific, ominous news? Do you remember the terrorist, Mohamed Atta and his cohorts shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they crashed their planes into the twin towers bringing catastrophic flames and carnage to thousands of innocent people?
In the wake of that calamity, do you remember the profound national grief, the endless tears? Do you remember the pitiful cries of relatives desperately holding up photographs of family members, pleading, “Did you see him? Did you see her?” Do you remember the multitudes of ordinary men and women who transcended their human limits, exhibited incredible valor in an effort to help save lives and give hope to others? Do you remember the people who came from every part of our land to offer a helping hand? Do you remember the unprecedented gestures of solidarity?
Yes, we all stood as one. There was no political divide. There were no democrats or republicans, no conservatives or liberals, no left or right…. we were Americans, forged into one through love of our country and everything, which that symbolized. Do you remember the American flags waving unfurled from buildings throughout our country? Do you remember the red, white and blue lapel ribbons? Do you remember our determination never to forget those thousands of pure innocent souls who were so savagely murdered? Do you remember our commitment to remember them for all posterity and to erect an appropriate memorial on that hallowed site so that future generations might know and remember?
If at that time someone would have suggested to you that a mosque would be built on that site, you would have said, “You’re crazy. You’re mad.” And yet, that debate is tearing our country apart.
This dilemma is an American dilemma, but as always, whatever happens in the world affects us Jews, but more so. Throughout the long millennia, throughout all the catastrophes that have befallen mankind, we Jews have suffered most and have been hit the hardest. If not for the pogroms, persecutions, slaughter and Holocaust that were inflicted on us throughout the centuries, we would number in the hundreds of millions. But Jewish blood has always been cheap and we have endured that which no people has ever been called upon to endure, so our numbers today have been reduced to less than 13,000,000 world wide, and our life as a nation is once again on the line.
How does this mosque controversy affect us Jews? And there is a still larger question that menacingly looms before us – a question that touches upon the very existence of our people in Eretz Yisrael. There is a new madman on the world scene, who publicly proclaims that he will wipe Israel off the map, and the world in its madness, listens in silence.
(To Be Continued)