Menorah, Show Bread Table; Marble Relief
Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at email@example.com
Menorah, Show Bread Table; Marble Relief
Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Noted genealogist Dr. Neil Rosenstein has written an interesting book (with sources and genealogy charts) on this subject. The book, Saul Wahl: Polish King For A Night Or Lithuanian Knight For A Lifetime, is published by The Computer Center For Jewish Genealogy. The ISBN is 0-9610578-8-2.
Much has changed during this period. Today, in our beautiful holy city, we live in constant fear. Every day, I send my children off to school with the prayer that HaShem watch them and grant them a safe return. I worry, each and every moment, for the life of my husband, who has no choice but to go to work every day by bus. With it all, however, I don’t for a single moment regret our decision to make aliyah, and I thank G-d every day for having granted us the privilege of living here – this, despite the fact that my sister was the victim of a terrorist attack which left her handicapped and with constant headaches. But she, too, will tell you that she would never consider leaving Jerusalem. Life has not been easy, but we love it here, and as much as we live with fear, we have faith that HaShem will protect us.
I am writing to you, at this time, in reference to a story which appeared in the 10/05/03 issue of The Jerusalem Post, which disturbed me no end. I am referring to the impending International Gay Festival and World Parade, with its hundred of thousands of revelers, that is scheduled to be held in Jerusalem two years hence. That such a parade could be planned for
Jerusalem is a colossal desecration of HaShem’s Holy Name, and it is outrageous that not one of our elected officials has seen fit to speak up. The newspapers reported that when questioned, the spokesperson for Mayor Lupolianski (who is our city’s first Haredi mayor) stated that “this is a police matter and not a municipal decision”. The Jerusalem police
spokeswoman also skirted the issue, saying that ” the police only provide the security permits for such events and that it is way too early to even discuss the planned parade. The last such international parade, which took place in Rome in the year 2000, saw about half a million participants, so you can imagine the Chilul HaShem that something like this could entail.
I cannot believe that such a desecration of G-d’s Name, would be even considered for our holy city. As menacing as the constant threats from the Arabs are, the possibility of a gay parade is even more frightening. Surely the mayor realizes that according to our Torah, homosexuality is one of those sinful abominations which can lead to disgorging the inhabitants from the land” (Leviticus 18). How then can he remain silent?
Whoever I have tried to discuss this subject with has told me that we residents of Jerusalem have enough on our plates right now and shouldn’t waste time worrying about things that may or may not happen two years down the road.
While this argument is not without merit, I am also a firm believer in preventive medicine. A battle waged at the 11th hour, when the event is imminent, can become very ugly and fierce. The time to act is now, before things get out of control. Since no one here seems to be alarmed, I thought that I would write to you. If you would comment on this subject, your
readers would be inspired to write to the mayor and to the various elected officials of the Municipality of Jerusalem, as well as to the elected officials of the Knesset, it might just make an impact and avert disaster.
My dear friend:
I am in full accord – there is nothing like preventive medicine, and while two years is a long
period of time - especially nowadays when there is so much volatility in the world and you never know what will happen from one moment to another - we nevertheless have an obligation to raise our voices in protest. The very possibility of such a desecration taking place in Jerusalem if left unchallenged, places a blight on all of us.
To be sure, in our 21st century liberal climate, to speak out against such an event would, in many circles be regarded as politically incorrect. Many who have raised their voices have been vilified, and accused of bigotry and archaism. Our Torah laws however, are not subject to majority consensus or that which is in vogue. “Like the doings of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, you shall not do; like the doings of the land of Canaan, wither I bring you, you
shall not do. Neither shall you walk in their statutes…” - meaning that we are not to emulate the lifestyles of the nations among whom we live. It’s one thing when such aberational behavior is celebrated in Rome, New York, or Paris, but it’s something else again when the holy city of Jerusalem becomes the setting.
Even if the entire world regards homosexuality as a viable life option, we Jews live by a different code of rules. Our standards of morality emanate from our Torah, and not from that which is in vogue. Phrases such as “meaningful relationships”, “moral relativism”, “majority consensus” or “consensual relationships between adults” cannot suspend our laws. The Word of G-d stands eternally and calls upon man to temper his passions and live in sanctity.
There is nothing new about our society’s endorsement of homosexuality. Such endorsements were prevalent throughout history. It was rampant among the generation which preceded the flood. It was the accepted way of life in Sodom (hence the word “sodomy”); it was rife among the Canaanite pagans as well as in many ancient civilizations including Rome and Greece, but throughout, we clung to our Torah even when we were mocked and persecuted for doing so.
In time, much of our Torah’s moral code became the guiding light of Western civilization and served as a moral compass to distinguish between right and wrong. Thus, if an individual deviated from that code, he was aware that he was in violation of G-d’s commandments and there was hope that, one day, he would summon the spiritual stamina to return.
All this altered in the 60s when laws regulating moral conduct collapsed and everything became permissible. This “new morality” was accepted by all segments of society and became so all-pervasive that people feared voicing their protests. To free themselves from feelings of guilt, they enlisted clergy to endorse that which G-d forbade. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Jerusalem represents such an attractive venue for organizers of a gay parade. But
even as no amount of blessing can render pork kosher, so too, no matter how many gay people gather in Jerusalem, Torah Laws cannot be altered. It is we who must bend our will to that of our Creator and not the reverse, and even if we regard G-d’s Laws as repressive, we must nevertheless learn to master our impulses.
We live in a chaotic, morally turbulent world – each and every one of us is in need of G-d’s compassion and forgiveness – and that is how we must relate to one another if we are to resolve this issue and invoke G-d’s mercy. But it is one thing when an individual succumbs to the weakness of his flesh and something else again when he pronounces G-d’s commandments
obsolete and publically celebrates and parades his transgressions in G-d’s holy city of Jerusalem.
May I suggest that we all unite in preparing for the real celebration - the real parade, and that is that long awaited day when we will behold the fulfillment of the prophecy: “Out of Zion shall go forth the Torah and the Word of G-d from Jerusalem.” That will be a parade worthy of G-d’s Holy City and G-d’s Holy flock.
In my last column I wrote of the anguish and sorrow that fills the hearts of our brethren in Israel nowadays, and I wrote of the all-too-real curses that are enumerated in Parashat Ki Tavo. There is one curse however, that at first glance, may be difficult to understand, but if you take a moment to think about it, you will realize how poignantly it speaks to us: “And it shall be, if you will not hearken to the voice of the L-rd your G-d to observe and perform all His commandments and all His decrees that I command you today, then all His curses will come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28:58).
The word “overtake” is puzzling, but upon closer scrutiny, we have to conclude how prophetic these words have proven to be. We have a long history of trying to second guess G-d’s word. There are always those who rationalize that the tragedies that befall us are totally unrelated to our abandonment of Torah and mitzvos. They reason that these curses are just so much superstition, and if we would just do “such and such”, then all our problems would be resolved. But throughout our long and torturous history, no matter how clever a formula was concocted, no matter how confident we were that this time, we would find a way to neutralize the irrational hatred that surrounds us, the curses always overtook us. Just consider some of the events of the last century and you will see for yourself the sad reality of this prophecy.
A Jew by the name of Karl Marx convinced his followers that hatred in the world stemmed from jealousy between the haves and the have-nots, and that it was these economic disparities that rendered the Jews scapegoats. And so, he founded communism, a system that would guarantee the perfect distribution of wealth, a system in which everyone would have an equal share. Many Jews sacrificed and died for this cause. They truly believed that communism would usher in a new era of fraternity and brotherhood. Who would have believed that this very same communism would not only fail, but would give birth to the most vile and brutal persecution of the Jewish people. “Alas, the curses shall overtake you…”
Theodore Hertzl, a secular Jew from Austro-Hungary, the founder of political Zionism, was convinced that the cause for anti-Semitism was the lack of a Jewish homeland. He was so assimilated that he even expressed willingness to accept Uganda as a substitute, but since Uganda was not to be had, he settled on Palestine. Who would have believed that 51 years after the founding of the Jewish homeland, that homeland would become the butt of hatred. “We have nothing against Jews, it is the Israelis and Zionists that we despise,” is the politically correct mantra of the new anti-Semites.” “And the curses shall overtake you…”
The Reform movement in Germany was founded on the belief that anti-Semitism was provoked by the special Jewish way of life that distinguishes Jews from Gentiles. If only Jews would shed their traditions, their mannerisms, their distinct garb, their myriad archaic commandments and enter the enlightened world – if only they would be like all other people, anti-Semitism would cease to exist. Jews gave up their faith, their Torah, and proudly swore their allegiance to “Fattersland uber alles” – “Germany, the Fatherland - above all”. Who would have believed that it would be from that very same enlightened, civilized Germany that the most satanic evil ever to be visited upon our people would emerge. “And the curses shall overtake you.”
The events that I described are not from our distant past - rather, they are of today, and we are all familiar with them, but there are still those among us who believe that they can relinquish Torah and mitzvos without consequences – that the curses that we encounter in life are totally unrelated to our lack of observance and our abandonment of the Covenant. They truly believe that all our problems would be resolved if we would just adopt “yet another formula”.
While the embers of the flames of Auschwitz were still glowing, the advocates of this philosophy found yet another prescription to once and for all eradicate the scourge of anti-Semitism. They scurried to Rome and prostrated themselves before the Pope to inaugurate the dawn of a new era - “Dialogue.” The rationale behind this was quite logical. The silence of the Church and its support of the Nazis in Catholic Europe was due to a lack of communication. But now, bridges of understanding would be built. “Dialogue” would be the new antidote for the deadly virus of anti-Semitism. But then came 1967 – the Six Day War, and once again, the balloon burst. As Israel was threatened by annihilation, her leaders appealed to the world community and to the Church, but the nations remained silent as did Rome. The proponents of dialogue tried to call in their cards, but their investment had failed. Rome not only remained indifferent to the plight of the fledgling Jewish state, but lent its sympathy and support to those who were bent upon her destruction.
Recently, the age-old blood libels have re-surfaced in contemporary garb. A prince of the Church, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga, who is the Archbishop of Honduras and who, according to Boston Globe reporter James Carrol, is one of a small number of likely candidates to succeed Pope John Paul II, reportedly stated that the accusations of sexual abuse in the Church are a Jewish fabrication!
You might wonder how he arrived at such a brilliant conclusion, but then again, how did his predecessors throughout the centuries conclude that Jews slaughtered Christians children and used their blood to make wine and matzoh for Passover? Nothing changes – just the names and the places. Still, you may insist that we are living in the 21st century. People cannot just make outlandish irrational accusations built upon a pack of lies. But obviously, they can, and there are myriad people out there willing to embrace them and declare them to be truth. The Archbishop propounds that the Jews were seeking revenge on the Church for its pro-Palestinian/anti Israel stance and most importantly, also wanted to divert attention from the atrocities that they are perpetrating against the Palestinians, so they fabricated this story, and proof of its Jewish origin is that The Boston Globe, owned by the Jewish Sulzberger New York Times family, was the first to break the story. Therefore, it stands to reason that this is a Jewish conspiracy.
Now, it’s one thing for the Cardinal to make such preposterous and virulent accusations, but it is something else again for Rome to remain silent and not call the Cardinal to task. Once again, despite years of dialogue, despite good-will gestures and kow-towing to Rome, the curses have overtaken us.
Let us now consider the tragedies that are befalling us in Eretz Yisrael – the constant barrage of terrorist attacks that result in almost daily carnage. Why do the Arabs hate us so? Why are they bent upon killing us? Why are they obsessed with shedding Jewish blood? Why do they wish to see us dead? Why do they want to eradicate the Jewish State? Once again, our secularists, who deny G-d’s Hand in our history have convinced themselves and others that there are valid reasons for all this hatred, reasons that can be overcome: The Arabs suffer from poverty, they live under abysmal conditions, they lack educational and job opportunities, the Palestinians have become refugees, and they need their own state. Who, if not we, should empathize with that? Let’s give them what they need, let’s give them the land, let’s give them financial aid, let’s give them the arms to create their own police force.
It was this thinking that prompted Israeli leadership to legitimize Arafat and put white gloves on his bloody hands. It was with this thinking that Israel convinced Washington to no longer regard Arafat as persona non-grata, but to accord him all the honor of a diplomat. It was this Israeli thinking that enabled Arafat to win the Nobel Peace prize, and it was this thinking that prompted Israel to sign the Oslo Accords. Oslo would herald a new dawn in Jewish-Arab relations. Israel and her neighbors would enjoy open borders and together build a model state.
Israel gave up chunks of her G-d given land, supplied Arafat and his cohorts with funds and weapons, and taught them how to prepare for the establishment of their own state.
Who would have believed that that Oslo pact would open the doors to the most brutal and bloody period in the history of the young State, that the arms that Israel gave would be turned against her own sons and daughters? And today, 10 years down the road, we are further from peace than ever before. Not only are our borders not open, but now we have to build “fences” to protect ourselves from the killers who live next door. What will it take to awaken those who are still asleep, those who after thousands of years of history still cling to the illusion that we Jews can be like all other nations - that the laws that apply to them can apply to us as well?
What will it take to make our assimilated brethren understand that our destiny, our very breath is ordained by Hashem, that we are Mamlechet Kohanim, a priestly kingdom, Goy Kadosh, a holy nation, destined to be a light unto the world, and because of that, there is only one formula, one road map for us and that’s the road map that was charted at Sinai. All else is doomed to fail, for otherwise, “the curses will overtake us.”
May Hashem grant that this year of 5764 will usher in a new era of teshuva ? return to G-d and His Torah, for that is our only power, our only means of survival, our only antidote to the curses. “If only My people would heed Me, if Israel would walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes and against their tormentors turn My hand” (Psalm 81).
May I take this opportunity to wish all our readers and K’lal Yisrael a gemar chasima tova.
Almost 30 years ago, at Hineni’s first t’shuva gathering at Madison Square Garden, I spoke out against the ominous silence of the Princes of the Church during the Holocaust. A letter arrived soon afterward from a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York assailing my remarks and demanding that I apologize. In response, I wrote an in-depth documentation (later published as a booklet entitled ‘The Church and the Jew’ by our Hineni organization) of the vicious anti-Semitic stance of the Church throughout our long and painful history. Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, courageously published that article and printed thousands upon thousands of additional copies for distribution to the general public. But that was more than a quarter of a century ago, and since then, we have been assured that changes have occurred in Church Doctrine. Pope John Paul II was reputed to be different. Indeed, he made gestures of apology to the Jewish people for the centuries of oppression, forced baptism, and slaughter that the Church has inflicted upon us.
But this past week in Syria, in one fell swoop, he disabused us of all such illusions. The ‘new’ policy enacted by Rome remains the same as it has ever been. Unfortunately, that which I so carefully documented 30 years ago is as valid today as it was then. Alas, nothing has changed.
Not too long ago, it was Hillary who fell into the Arab trap. It was she who sat by in silence while Suha Arafat accused Israel of poisoning the drinking water of innocent Palestinian children. We were enraged, but Hillary is a politician, and what Suha said cannot compare in evil to the venom that spewed forth from Assad – but most importantly, the silence of the Pope, a man of G-d, from whom we have the right to expect more.
Some people might argue that the Pope was a guest in a foreign land and couldn’t very well have objected to the hateful diatribe of his host. Such arguments don’t hold water. If, in face if evil man must speak out, who, if not the Pope should do so’
Thousands of years ago, Pharaoh had three principal advisors – Bilaam, Jethro, and Job. When the ‘Jewish problem’ came up for discussion, Bilaam recommended the murder of all Jewish male infants. Jethro (the future father-in-law of Moses) protested and had to run for his life. Job, upon witnessing all this, concluded that it would be futile for him to speak out and remained silent. And it was for this silence that he was later condemned.
It’s natural for people who experience pain, even from a minor injury, to cry ‘Ouch!’ Such a reaction is an involuntary reflex. The one who is hurting does not calculate, ‘What’s the point of my crying ‘Ouch” It won’t help anyway.’ His reaction is automatic, beyond his control. If he remains silent, if he does not cry out, we can assume that he did not feel the pain with any degree of intensity. Job remained silent when Jewish blood was shed, and the Pope remained silent when the Jewish people were so viciously attacked by Assad. Obviously, he did not feel any outrage, nor was he pained by these heinous calumnies that were once again flung at us.
When I was a little girl growing up in Hungary, I remember how on Sundays and Christian holidays, our good neighbors would shout odious epithets at us, calling us ‘Christ killers.’ It was this climate that made it possible for Hitler’s henchmen go about their gory task. No on protested, no one cried out,, and today, 53 years after the Holocaust, after myriad interfaith dialogues and visits to Rome by Jewish leaders, we are back where we started from. Syrian President Bashir Assad called upon ‘all good Christians and Moslems to unite against the Jews – the enemies of G-d – who betrayed and tortured Jesus,’ and the Pope listens to it all and remains silent.
To be sure, this silence does not impact upon us. We have survived silence before. In face of every blood bath – inquisitions expulsions, gas chambers, crematorium – we survived, but this silence is tragic for all those who place their trust in the leader of the Church. He let them down…
How differently events could have unfolded had the Pope borrowed a page from our Torah and raised his voice on behalf of truth and justice… He could have said, ‘Mr. President, I, as the Prince of the Church of Rome, cannot sit by silently while you vilify the Jewish people who endowed humanity with the Word of G-d. I cannot be a party to these lies that gave rise to 2000 years of persecution, suffering and martyrdom. I cannot allow this moment to pass. The world is waiting for us to usher in a new dawn for humanity.’ But the Pope remained silent, and an opportunity was lost.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/an-opportunity-lost-in-silence/2001/06/13/
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