Purim is almost upon us and then its one month to Passover. And what a build up! In the last few days we have witnessed the horror of the spectacle of mans’ inhumanity to man in Libya. Twenty one Coptic Christians, who were captured in December and January from the coastal town of Sirte, in Libya, forced to the ground before being beheaded. But we must not make a fuss! One needs to learn a lesson from President Obama’s comments after the killing in FortHood (by a military doctor who ‘found’ Islam) and other murder scenes committed by killers shouting the name of Allah. “We are not sure,” commented the President. “..we shouldn’t jump to conclusions…we need to investigate and make sure.” Now remember to apologize, bow deeply and show respect to Islam and Muslims. Just as Obama did, just as Obama does and then remember you yourself to always apologize, bow deeply and show respect!
After all what use does it serve to keep harping on about these atrocities, after all there has been so many at any point in history. Is it not better to just ignore for the sake of peace and instead lead by example by putting aside principles and morals learned from the past for the sake of unity? Focus on what is common to us and not what divides us? What is the big deal, what can be wrong if two folks of the same gender love each other?
A cursory reading of a typical ‘lets get it over as quick as we can’ Haggadah does not do justice to tell the horrors we experienced as a nation all those years ago in Egypt. As a people locked into a cycle of doing the same thing over and over again every year, dare we admit that our history is just part of the relentless background noise of all other similar tragedies and sufferings?
The annual challenge over the ages is to try to view and feel Peasch as if we had personally gone out of Egypt. In fact reading deeper into the Midrashic stories we see a fuller picture which resonates very loudly with events across Jewish history and the holocaust in particular. But what of life with the circumstances we are living with now?
May I suggest that with the above teachings of the politically correct, something new is creeping into the historical mix. The historical mix as pointed out by our sages has three watches:
The night is divided into three watches, and at every watch G-d sits and roars like a lion…. The signal (for the commencement of each watch is as follows): At the first watch, a donkey brays; at the second watch, dogs bark; at the third watch [near dawn], an infant suckles from its mother and a wife chats with her husband. (Berachos 3a)
The Artscroll overview of Tishah Ba’av on page 16, cites the Maharal (Rabbi Yehuda Loewe 1526-1609), the famous rabbi of Prague, who explains in his book Netzach Yisrael that the allegory of night represents the bleak, gloomy exile, foreshadowing the great darkness and despair in which Israel will sink. Says the Maharal, just as the night proceeds to get darker, so our exile gets progressively worse. The beginning of the exile is portrayed as a donkey braying in the night, symbolizing that our oppressors will initially treat us like beasts of burden, confining us in ghettos and assessing discriminatory taxes upon us.
The second stage of exile is symbolized by barking dogs, since dogs bark madly at the sight of death, as our enemies seek to kill us through pogroms, blood libels, inquisitions, genocides and holocausts .
In the context and backdrop of the above two stages we can understand the words and actions of our forefathers more clearly. Yitzchak in his dealings with Avimelech king of the Philistines shows us how Yitzchak learned from the ‘mistakes’ of his father Abraham’s own dealings with Avimelech by contracting a semi permanent contract of non-belligerence with Avimelech. The contracting unlike the actions of Avraham’s previous dealings with Avimelech, abruptly ends with a quick celebratory party and quick parting of the ways in ‘peace’.
From this quick encounter between Yitzchak and Avimelech our Rabbis learn that the Philistines understanding of peace is fundamentally different than Avraham and Yitzchak’s understanding of peace. Yitzchak understood from the previous encounter with the Philistines that the Philistine’s version of peace meant the absence of violence. In contrast, Avraham and Yitzchak’s understanding of peace included not only the absence of violence but also cooperation, support and mutual understanding. Our present day situation with the so called ‘Palestinians’ peace process is no different. Little wonder then in view of the ongoing onslaught against the Jewish people we can understand that as a Torah Nation we are located here in Israel as:
a people who dwells apart, and will not be reckoned among the nations. Num 23:9
The Holocaust of Hate
The points above may be included in what may be termed a holocaust of hate which would see the physical destruction of the Jewish people. There is however a modern day development in contrast to Islam, the modern day development sees Christianity all grown up from its barbaric past and is now blended with the liberal principles of political correctness! The liberal principles of political correctness now finds pressure being applied to Jews especially in Israel to sacrifice principles for the sake of peace. Principles which are fundamental to Judaism, Jewish identity and Jewish continuity and all in the name of “democracy”, “tolerance” or” freedom of religion” and “expression of observance”!
The soft whisper of the principles of political correctness utilized by our enemies has the agenda which says it’s OK to have an opinion and express your opinion as long as it’s the right opinion. As long as you learn not to question gay marriage and missionary activity in Israel for example, you are holding to the right opinion, keeping the peace, maintaining mutual respect and promoting communal cohesion. Which is what everyone wants is it not, why do you Jews keep insisting for a a false vision called conscience and morality, and from the demands of a freedom and independence which only a very few can bear?
To insist on implimenting the false vision called conscience and morality according to our Torah is in the end deemed uncaring and unloving by the liberal politically correct!
The need for love and peace leads us into the time of the third stage expressed in Berachos 3a above. The third stage and the most terrible stage is represented by the wife who chats with her husband. It predicts that when our enemies fail to destroy us physically, they will attempt to destroy us spiritually. The attempt to destroy us spiritually is know as a silent “Holocaust of Love”.
The silent “Holocaust of Love” is far more pernicious than the “Holocaust of Hate” since assimilation and intermarriage will decimate the ranks of the Jewish nation like no other scourge. Well meaning individuals, even Rabbis who should know better, fall prey to the soft whisper of the principles of political correctness and the lure of lucrative deals with those who are allowed into our midst with the aim of converting us to their particular brand(s) of love and peace…. After all if we are just all loving and peaceful all the violenc and inhumanity will just go away! Now is not the time to be divided amongst ourselves!
The diversionary smokescreen of the holocaust of hate causes us to choose the ‘apparently‘ better deal of the holocaust of love. The price to pay for this deal is that the basic principles of Judaism become as if they never existed or that the Jewish people never existed. Slowly but surely, after compromise after compromise, we reach a level where we have been before and history repeats itself:
“The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the surrounding peoples whose detestable practices are like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. Indeed, the Israelite men have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed has become mixed with the surrounding peoples. The leaders and officials have taken the lead in this unfaithfulness!” Neh 9:1-2
But while the wife chats with her husband and intermarriage becomes rampant and Jewish life hemorrhages as a result of assimilation aided and abetted by the gods of liberal political correctness, an infant suckles from its mother. Just when it seems that all hope for a Jewish future has faded, a faint glimmer of light appears, and a small number of Jews, even the most assimilated and alienated Jews, will be touched by Torah, and will be drawn back to traditional Jewish life. This return movement will bring an end to the darkness of exile and herald the dawn of redemption.
Will you choose to be touched by Torah and be drawn back to traditional Jewish life this Pesach?
1. Bava Kamma 60b teaches that when the Angel of death is in the city, dogs begin to bark madly.