Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “G-d’s Redemption Is A Promise.”
The Jewish people’s exile was only temporary and that is what G-d promised us. But the anti-Semites of the world somehow want to make us believe that G-d has forsaken the Jew permanently, and thus they chant “Free, Free Palestine!” and call the Jews occupiers.
In short, the worst punishment is not just being hurt, but also feeling exiled, abandoned, and hopeless. This is where we must look up to the Heavens for G-d’s salvation, and work to merit His bringing us back towards His divine presence. As with anyone who has experienced personal “exile” and suffering in life, we know those are the darkest of days when G-d’s face is hidden from us, and we may feel alone and abandoned. But G-d is always there, waiting for us to seek Him out and return to Him, and that is when we can finally not only see the light at the end of the darkest of tunnels, but also when we can feel G-d reach out to us and bring us back home again to Him. (Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
In summary, with regards to Israel, we must follow two important commandments that guide our relationships with the outside world. First, there is the imperative to love our neighbor and the stranger. Second is the dictum to wholly defend ourselves from our enemies who seek our destruction. While on the surface these may pose a contradiction, in reality, they do not, because if our neighbors and the strangers among us are willing to live in genuine peace with us then we gladly and actively will extend the olive branch in peace and brotherhood. But if unfortunately, our neighbors are bent on our genocide then we must fight them.
Love and peace is always what we want from the bottom of our hearts, but war is a necessity that is sometimes thrust upon us by our enemies and that we must absolutely, with G-d’s help, win.
It is the mere fact of our Jewish existence that irks our Anti-Semitic, terrorist enemies. This is why the world does not care, and may actually even cheer while Palestinian terror rockets fly overhead, hundreds at a time, into major population centers in Israel. From 5-year old, Ido Avigal, killed by shrapnel in Sderot to an 87-year old woman killed near Ashdod while running from rocket fire, nowhere seems safe, including in cars, homes, walking down the street, and even “safe rooms.”
Like it or not, every rocket, every suicide bomber, every attacker will be met and defeated—from north to south and east to west—because the Jewish people will not be driven out; this is our last stand and we will survive.
When we choose to keep the Sabbath, we mark a day of the week in time, where we reject all the worldly pursuits of space and materialism in lieu of recognizing that there is a higher power, G-d Almighty, and that as Ahmari says ‘everything else is ephemeral and passes away with time.’
What we do to make things holy in time rules over what we do purely physically in space, that nothing but G-d is timeless, and everything material reverts back to its origins and is gone from time as if it never even was. In the end, we need to live our lives with the forethought that the spirit goes to the everlasting afterlife, but the body goes to the physical grave.
We are all reeling from the devastating deaths of 45 Jews on Lag B’Omer at Mount Meron (and many others critically injured) from a stampede during the bonfire celebration near the grave of the holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Last night, we were glued to the new as the body count kept going up. I couldn’t help thinking to myself that this is something that happens in the masses of people that gather in India or Saudi Arabia, not in the tiny State of Israel. But lo’ and behold, tragedy can strike anywhere, anytime. Life is completely tenuous!
So can we draw conclusions that in those days there was baseless hate and so too in our times. I think, while we don’t know G-d’s ways, certainly from experience and observation, we do know that there is not only baseless hate, but also plenty of “hate the baseless”. And what I mean by that is that one type of Jew thinks they are better than another whose beliefs, faith, and observance we denigrate and deem baseless, without support and they without real merit…We are forever driven towards a “Better than thou” attitude and lifestyle. To the religious catcalls of “get out of our neighborhood slut” or the throwing of Shabbat rocks at passing cars. This all has got to stop! (Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
From Passover, we learn the Egyptians didn’t earn the riches, but built their wealth on the backs of the starving people of the world and of course that includes their Israelite slaves. As the Egyptians gloated on their arrogance, power and wealth, eventually the Master of the World showed them who is really boss. All the money, materialism, fancy titles, and honors are all just fleeting. In Hashem resides the glory and He has the say over who gets what and when.
G-d can redeem 600,000 men, women and children, and a large mixed multitude of people with them and very many flocks and cattle in the Exodus and to Him, it’s just another day on the throne of Heaven. In our own times, we have experienced a miraculous redemption from the death camps of Europe, and have returned like the Israelites to the Promised Land of Israel. G-d decides then and now what the plan is and how it unfolds, and everything we have is by G-d’s grace, and these are Seder lessons worthy of celebrating.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, Sheep No More.
In thinking about sacrifices as animal substitution for consequences to man, we can also reverse this logic to explore what sacrifices can teach us about consequences to man in their relationship to the Jewish people. In this particular case, I am thinking about Jewish responses to those who desire to be our friends and want to build kind and productive relationships with us or the opposite, to our enemies, who seek to persecute, attack us, and make the Jews their korban, victims.
In short, traditional korbanot in the Temple can teach us not only about how animals can substitute for people in our sacrifices to G-d for thanksgiving, communion, and acknowledging of consequences and teshuva (repentance) for our wrongdoing, but also how the Jewish people can relate to the nations of the world in everything from full peace, positive engagement, acts of guilt and sin against us, and even full-fledged war. Sacrifices teach us that while peace is always the desired state and fiery war a last resort in our self-defense and preservation, we know that after thousands of years of anti-Semitism, persecution, and Holocaust, we are no longer the sacrificial lamb on anyone’s Temple altar. (Source Photo: Pixabay Free Image)