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August 29, 2015 / 14 Elul, 5775
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And We Are Sleeping


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

With every passing day our world becomes more menacing. Events are unfolding so rapidly that we can’t absorb them. The news is mostly ominous, be it local or international, situations are occurring that could not possibly have been anticipated.

We witnessed the collapse of the great financial institutions, the giants of Wall Street and industry and we thought we had seen the worst, but the financial crisis continues, and the homeless and jobless abound. We see many yeshivot and Torah institutions teetering on the brink of insolvency – parents are unable to meet the costs of tuition and the yeshivot cannot pay their bills.

As if this were not enough, add to that the scandalous stories that have hit us during these nine days – stories that sadly fuel the escalating anti-Semitism that we see worldwide – stories that have caused terrible sorrow and embarrassment to the Jewish community B Hashem Yerachem. And then there is Israel. Consider for a moment the nightmarish dilemma confronting our brethren. Ahmadinejad is proceeding with his nuclear proliferation program, but instead of America and other nations clamping down on him, they pressure Israel to halt all building in Judea, Samaria, and parts of Jerusalem.

Even if one has no special attachment to Torah and Eretz Yisrael, and even if one is alien to Jewish values, nevertheless, one must feel repelled at this gross perversion of justice being perpetrated against Israel. The only democracy in the Middle East, the only true friend of America, is being squeezed and pressured, while Ahmadinejad and his cohorts are being courted. Incredibly, putting a freeze on all building in Jerusalem is deemed more urgent than calling a halt to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

There are those who assure us that there is nothing to worry about, that Ahmadinejad is a madman…I have no doubt that he is, but a long time ago, in Bergen-Belsen I learned to take madmen at their word. Precisely because they are mad, they are capable of that which is totally satanic.

The Secretary of State has assured Jerusalem that Washington would provide her with a defense umbrella, but once Ahmadinejad attacks, such an umbrella would be of no avail. He has to push that button just once.

The experts say that the chances of Iran launching a nuclear attack on Israel are one in five. But for us, the Jewish people, that “one” is unacceptable. The very life of our nation is on the line. We are not interested in America or any other nation expressing condolences, erecting memorials or sanctimoniously declaring ANever again!” We, the Jewish people do not need another museum B Our Torah is ATorat Chaim B a living Torah, a living legacy.”

We remember those who were murdered Al Kiddush Hashem by living for them B the people of Israel as well as Jews throughout the world, have been charged with that awesome mandate. So no, we cannot afford to take chances.

We are an ancient nation that has lived through too many conflagrations…we saw too many fires. We witnessed too many of our people mercilessly slaughtered to take such threats lightly. Even without the threat of a nuclear Iran, we have seen what Islamic terrorists are capable of. They are people who believe that it is a righteous act, the will of their god, to kill Jews, so they glory in shedding our blood and indoctrinating their children with this obsession. Time and again we extended an olive branch to them only to see them respond with barbaric cruelty.

No sovereign nation would accept the demands that are being made of Israel…. no sovereign nation would allow itself to be bullied into committing suicide. Yet, that is exactly what the United States and the nations of the world expect of Israel.

And what are we doing? How are we reacting?

We are sleeping. Did you ever try to wake someone who is asleep?

Usually, they are resentful and incoherent. AWhat? What?” they mutter, and they turn over and go back to sleep. Should you set an alarm clock, they will reach out, shut it off, and pull the covers over their heads.

Thousands of years ago, the prophet Amos declared, AIf the lion roars, who shall not fear?” The lion is roaring and we are sleeping. Time is passing quickly and with very day, our situation becomes more precarious. So what can we possibly do?

First and foremost, we have to wake up and become serious Jews. Perhaps you are now smiling indulgently, and saying to yourself, AThere goes the Rebbetzin again, with her simplistic solutions.”

Well, let me tell you that there is nothing simplistic about our faith in Hashem, about acknowledging that our help can only come from Him. Every Jew, even if he has only superficial knowledge of our history, has to concede that we are a nation that has always stood alone, and the odds have always been stacked against us. Yet as hopeless as our lot may appear, in the end, we have always triumphed.

We have seen great empires and tyrants disappear in the sands of time, but with the help of G-d, we are here. There is nothing simplistic about being a serious Jew who understands that our strength, our life, our very survival depends upon the One, the only One B the Almighty G-d. But still, what exactly does it mean to be a serious Jew? How do we translate that into practical terms?

A long time ago, I shared with you the following analogy: Consider, I said, a sports team that, with the passage of time loses its players and has only fans remaining. Obviously, such a team has no future…. it will simply fade away.

Similarly, the vast majority of our people are no longer players; at best, they are fans. But even as a sports team cannot exist without players, so too, our people cannot prevail without players. For a Jew to be a good player is to live by Torah and mitzvot, chesed, tzedakah and prayers B tefillot that have the power to pierce the Heavenly Gates. If we are to be protected from the menacing clouds hovering over us, we need to be good players B we have to take the ball, and carry it over the finish line. And if we do that, we will merit seeing the coming of Messiah.

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