Photo Credit: David Cohen/Flash90
‘Extremist’ Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh, in the ‘settlement’ of Bnei Brak, February 14, 2023.

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, 100, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh who is widely considered to be the religious authority of the Lithuanian Haredi community in Israel, on Thursday, said during his weekly shiur (source: B’Hadrei Haredim):

“Even in the Land of Israel, we are surrounded by enemies, from all sides, on one side of the sea, and here, and here, and here, all around, all the nations hate us, Egypt surely not (אמנם)… But they hate us, so, how do we exist? A miracle, providence, life through a miracle! And for the miracle to continue we need merits, we need merits, we need rights.”


Folks, I kid you not, this is what he said, and then he proceeded to teach that merits can be earned by learning Torah, by loving one another, and by praying. The standard-issue Jewish code for a good life.

Except, what did Rabbi Edelstein really mean with the interrupted phrase: “all the nations hate us, Egypt surely not (אמנם)…?”

This evoked a barrage of fake news, which was initiated by the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Egyptian newspaper Rassd which reported that Rabbi Edelstein said, “All the nations hate us, especially Egypt. The Israeli sage Edelstein fiercely attacks the Arabs and the Egyptians and demands an end to all the enemies of Israel.”

How did pinning Jewish survival on learning Torah, loving one another, and praying become demanding an end to all the enemies of Israel? The way every antisemitic trope begins: projection. Gentiles for millennia have been imagining what they would do to someone they hate and then assigned those desires to their Jewish neighbors, followed by murdering those same neighbors. Lather, rinse, repeat.

By the way, Rassd, and then Russia Today in Arabic, and then every Tum Dik Wahari on Arab social media referred to the item in B’Hadrei Haredim I translated above, except they turned it into: “He said, ‘The duty of those who learn the Torah is to save all of Israel. Those who practice the Torah have a duty to Israel and everyone must engage in it, which is to end all enemies of Israel.’”

The Egyptians turned to the Presidential residence for clarification, and the Rabbi’s circle issued such a clarification in Arabic and English: “In the last few hours, Rabbi Edelstein’s words were circulated on Arab media, as if Egypt is behind the terrorism against Israel and we must pray to eliminate it. These words distorted the Rabbi’s original words, which indicated that Egypt is in peaceful relations with Israel. It is a shame that there are those who use the words of the rabbi for incitement and lies.”

And this is what Rabbi Edelstein meant with his interrupted phrase, “all the nations hate us, Egypt surely not (אמנם)…” He meant to say Egypt is not an enemy or something to that effect, but as is typical of the speech of fast-thinking individuals, he raced on to the next idea, and then someone over in the Muslim Brotherhood discovered this pot of gold, botched the translation to fit their antisemitic message, and voila: Elders of Zion II.

Check out the Rabbi’s lesson with Hebrew subtitles (courtesy of Arutz 7):

By the way, most of the attacks in Arabic called Rabbi Edelstein “extremist,” and located his residence in a “settlement.” So, for the record, I don’t believe Rabbi Edelstein has an extremist bone in his body, and if Bnei Brak were a settlement, I would be concerned for the wellbeing of its PA Arab neighbors.


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