Last week’s Torah portion details the blessings and curses Hashem will bring upon the Jewish people depending upon our behavior. Reading through these blessings and curses, it is remarkable to note that each one of the curses has unfortunately come true. Thankfully, nearly all the blessings have come true as well.
A notable exception is that we’re still waiting to see the fulfillment of G-d’s promise of peace in the Land of Israel. We will never give up on the promise that peace will be achieved.
As Jews, we are commanded to emulate G-d. This means that just as G-d keeps His promises, so must we. In fact, we’re so careful in this area that when we make promises, we traditionally add the words “G-d-willing” in English or the Hebrew words “bli neder,” which literally means “without taking a vow.”
In a world where promises are uttered with no intention of ever being kept, and thrown out without a second thought, seeing promises implemented nowadays is a breath of fresh air. Witnessing them maintained by a politician is even cause for celebration.
Throughout the last American presidential election campaign, candidate Donald Trump issued promise after promise to Jewish leaders. He said he would end the international delegitimization of Israel, abandon the terrible Iran deal, and move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
He kept the first promise by sending Nikki Haley to the United Nations to fight that institution’s disproportionate Israel-bashing while it ignores the obvious abuses committed by some of the neighbors of the Jewish state. President Trump’s administration stopped the long-running policy of accusing Israel of occupying its own land.
The second promise was kept two weeks ago, when President Trump officially nixed the Iran deal. In doing so, he cited the evidence provided by Israeli intelligence agencies, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had elucidated to the world just days earlier. In his speech, President Trump said he wanted to send Iran a critical message that the United States would no longer make empty promises, and he fully intended to keep his promises.
President Trump kept his third promise this week, when he moved our embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital of Jerusalem. In doing so, he set himself apart from all previous American presidents who made the same exact promise to Israel but failed to keep it.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the embassy sits near the path that Abraham took to Jerusalem when he was on his way to sacrifice Isaac. Since he took office, President Trump has been showing the kind of commitment and faith that Abraham demonstrated.
Rewarding Abraham for that commitment, G-d blessed him that his seed would be multiplied like the stars and the sand, and that his descendants would inherit the cities of their enemies – similar blessings to those the Jews would later be promised in last week’s Torah portion.
President Trump likewise deserves to be blessed for his commitment, which has been reinforced by American ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a proud religious Zionist and vocal Israel supporter, whose positive influence on the president must not be taken for granted.
Deputy Minister Michael Oren said following the president’s Iran speech that the announcement represented a chance for renewed Jewish unity after past rifts on the issue. The Jerusalem embassy move is an even greater unifying force for the people of Israel and Diaspora Jewry.
Regardless of one’s feelings about the president’s past behavior or his domestic policies, one can hope that even the most liberal American Jews can show appreciation for his decisive commitment to Israel and the Jewish people.
The Hebrew term for appreciation is “hakarat hatov,” meaning recognizing the good. If we show appreciation for the good that President Trump has done for us by keeping his promises, hopefully Israel will merit a continuation of the many blessings from the Torah that have already come true, and also the ultimate blessing of peace.