Monday, February 16, 2009

Anti Semitism and Israel

Since our birth as a nation, we have been subject to Anti-Semitism. Being Hashem's children, He uses the nations of the world as a stick to hit us with. Sometimes, when we stray from the path of Emet - Truth or when we lose sight of what we're really here for, sanctifying G-d's name. When our dedication His Mitzvot and Torah are lacking, or when our trust and faith waivers, He reminds us WHO is really running the show.

Last week, in Perashat Beshalach, we read about Amalek attacking us immediately after we came out of Egypt. Our Rabbis teach us that this was due to lack of faith in Hashem. ' a father who put his child on his shoulders as they traveled down the road. The father protected the child and would fulfill his needs. Until the child (forgot his father and) asked the passerby 'have you seen my father?' The father then put the child down and the dog came and bit him.' So too, Am Yisrael asked "Is G-d with us or not" and Hashem sent Amalek to wake them up.

As Mashiach nears, we are noticing an unbelievable phenomenon. While anti-semitism quickly combusts worldwide, I take note of a interesting point. Historically, we have never been subject to the intense, global anti-semitism concurrently as today. Even hitler y"s, and his campaign was in a concentrated area and Hashem did not allow it to spread worldwide. What we see today has NEVER happened before. Even during the story of the Megillah, where the entire world was under the rule of Achashverosh, we did not find (besides for haman), mention of anti-semitism or violence against Jews, even in face of a decree of annihilation.

Now that we miraculously have the land of Israel officially in Jewish hands; precisely that is being used to fan the flames of violence and hatred against us worldwide. How ironic. While in Europe 60 years ago, our ancestors had no place to call home, today we do. We can all go home, to our Holy Land, yet precisely that home is inciting the Jew-hatred worldwide.

Let the world talk of the question of rights to the land. We know the truth. As Rashi points out the Rabbinical discussion on the Torah's first word - Beresheet (in the beginning). 'Why did the Torah not start with the first Mitzvah? Why all the history from BeResheet? To show that the world was created for Yisrael, who were called "Resheet" (first). Lest someone come to call the Jews robbers for taking the land from the 7 nations; let them know that Hashem created the world and chooses to do with it as HE sees fit. He chose to give the Land of Israel to the Jewish people.' With all that, we still see a phenomenon as Jews are being persecuted worldwide - nobody really feels the heat under their feet to do something about it. The comfort in foreign lands is unbelievable - its as if they were the promised land, Chas Veshalom.

The anti-semitism of yesteryear has come back, with a new "excuse" - Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Yet it's really the same face as always, pure hatred for the Nation of Israel, the children of G-d. That is the halacha after all - Esav sonei Yaakov (Esav hates Yaakov).

The parallels we see in the protests and the media of Jews to lehavdil nazis, is disgraceful. Yet it carries with it a message from Hashem to remind us of the Holocaust. Hashem wants us to recall what happens when anti-semitism begins to sprout and flourish. Why? Because this time we do have a place to call home - OUR home. He wants to remind us of the people who didn't realize the danger they were in, and did not escape (even though they had no home to go to).

If Hashem wanted us to live in the America, France, the UK, or Venezuela forever, our Prophets would have spoken about those places. Yet they precisely spoke about Hashem "gathering" us from the four corners of the earth to the Land of Israel, at the end of times. As Rabbi Pinchas Winston points out - as Jews, we need to be active in this process. Sitting idly by, has never fared well for us. The Holocaust that we are being reminded of daily, is recent proof of what happens when we are not proactive. And what's more worrisome is that while it took several years to sprout, today anti-semitism has begun to explode in less than 2 months; and it's getting exponentially worse.

Hashem wants us to remember that HE is causing it all. I am a strong believer in reading Hashem's messages. And I believe that these messages are hidden in plain sight. Just listen to some of the words out there (especially the ones that hurt the most) and try to get the message. Those words are on the forefront of our mind to make us think. The parallel to nazis, to remind us that the world is very serious in its threats against us; the constant discussions of Israel and especially the recent Gaza war being used as a springboard to violent anti-Semitism worldwide, to remind us about our home. Why? so that we quickly get back to the home we have so miraculously been given.

There are some who absolutely cannot do this. While I hope and pray for them, they need to do the same for themselves and at least yearn (R' Winston) to come home. The ones who got the message and are packing up, will surely see Hashem's guiding hand miraculously with them at all times. I worry about the ones who are unaware or just living in a bubble of bliss, thinking that it will all blow over and there is nothing to worry about. They are in the most danger, for the one who does not realize that he is in a lion's den, is much worse off than the one who does.

Rabbi Meir Kahane writes in his book "Uncomfortable Questions for Comfortable Jews" (p. 269). "The commandment to live in the Land of Israel brings with it the threat of mass tragedy for those Jews who refuse to leave the Exile. The Jewish State is a sanctification of G-d, and to remain in the Exile, the personification of desecration, at a time when it is possible to return home, is to consciously choose to reinforce the desecration. The Almighty will never allow it, and the Exile is being ended whether the Jew agrees to it or not. The signs are already plentiful as Jew-hatred and world political conditions combine to shake the ground under the feet of the Jew in continent after continent. The Exile will end, either in glory, through mass, voluntary Jewish emigration to Israel, or through terrible tragedy, G-d forbit. There cannot be coexistence between sanctification and desecration, and so, the Exile is doomed." That was 22 years ago. What about today?

The common excuse - "when the Rabbis tell us it's time to make Aliyah, then we will. Otherwise, if they are quiet why should we panic?" This is not an excuse! Most of the Rabbis did NOT tell the people to escape the threat of nazism. Why should we expect anything different today. If anything, the fact that the Holocaust was so recent, should serve to strengthen our realization that it's each man for himself. The Rabbis are purposely blinded by Hashem when He so wishes, in order to facilitate Hashem's plan. As we see when Pinchas slayed Zimri and Cozbi, even though Moshe Rabenu was there as well as the rest of the giants of the generation. They did nothing, even as people were being killed by Hashem's plague! Only Pinchas, alone! Why? In order to give Pinchas a reward, Hashem made Moshe forget the halacha temporarily. Pinchas seized the opportunity and received a reward forever and so must we.

Hashem has a way of telling us when it's time to get to Eretz Yisrael. There's a specific formula. It's called anti-semitism. As Rabbi Winston points out, when Yaakov Avinu had the famous dream on his way to Lavan's house, he told Hashem that he was afraid to leave the Holy Land. His father, Yitzhak had never left it and he was worried that Hashem would leave him unprotected outside of the Holy Land. Hashem promised him that He would be with him. And so it was, for 20 years - after which Yaakov suddenly upped and ran away. Why? He heard Lavan's children saying - "everything Yaakov has, he stole from our father" - anti-Semitism - Hashem's protection of 20 years was no longer surrounding him - Hashem had already left. Yaakov understood immediately that it's time to go. And Hashem confirmed with him, saying "go to the land of your fathers and I will be with you". There, not here. And Yaakov went back towards Eretz Yisrael - back home.

The Malbi"m on the Prophet Yoel (3:5) states: "And it will be: The second miracle will be through the salvation of the righteous; for all those who call in the name of Hashem will be saved and the evil will not have power over them. This will be in two ways - For on Mt. Tzion and Yerushalayim, there, will be safety, for there everyone will be saved as it says "...and the ones left in Zion...everyone written for life in Yerushalayim"; and in other places, where not everyone will be saved, there will be safety for the left overs that Hashem calls, for they are the righteous - all who calls out to Hashem and prays to Him". Does anyone want to rely on being considered "righteous" enough to be saved out of the Land of Israel?

It is therefore clear, that the place to be is Eretz Yisrael. The physical danger not to be there, is increasing rapidly, constantly and tremendously. Hashem is seemingly showing us that His protection may not be there for us in the foreign host nations any longer. Are we going to really get the message? There really does not seem to be that much time left....

See Rabbi Pinchas Winston - "Where are all the Gedolim?" for more thoughts on waiting for instructions to leave. Also, his book "Talking About Eretz Yisrael", regarding the necessity of making Aliyah (even without the rabid anti-semitism). And the Geulah Berachamim website about facilitating the Redemption through our actions.

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