And There Came a New King Who Knew Not Joseph

Photographed from a piece of art at the Yad La-Shiryon museum. (Andy Blumenthal)
Photographed from a piece of art at the Yad La-Shiryon museum. (Andy Blumenthal)

It is the holiday of Passover: a time when we celebrate our exodus from slavery in Egypt to redemption in Israel. And yet, as we commemorate the Exodus in the Passover seder every year, we know that the story in the Torah is not a one time event in history, but one that has occurred over and over again.

The Torah is a blueprint for the Jewish people and everything that happens to us.  Just like 3,000 years ago, when the Jews fled Egypt persecution to go to the Promised Land, a little more than 70 years ago, we witnessed the remnants of Jewish people fleeing from the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust to go to Israel and America.

In Egypt, the Jews rose to the highest ranks, with Joseph being second only to the Pharaoh, and “Israel settled in the land of Egypt in the region of Goshen; they acquired property in it and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly.” (Genesis 47:27) But then: “A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” (Exodus 1:8)

Similarly, in Europe, the Jews had risen to the highest ranks of society, they were free and prospered.  They prospered and thrived religiously, and built synagogues and yeshivas to worship and learn in.  Moreover, the Jews thought they were Germans (and other European nationalities), like everyone else, and that they were fundamentally safe.  That is, until there arose a “new king,” Adolf Hitler (may his name be cursed forever), “who knew not Joseph.”

We all know what happened in the slavery and affliction in Egypt as well as to the six million–our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters–that perished in the gas chambers and crematoria in Europe. Like the dreams of Pharaoh of the seven fat cows and seven lean cows and the seven healthy stalks and seven emaciated ones–the stories are one.  The bad times swallowed up the good ones.

With historical pain and sorrow for the Jewish people, it has happened again and again as history repeats itself until we learn from it: Whether with the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem  and the subsequent long and painful exile (in 586 BCE and again in 70 CE) to the “golden age” of the Renaissance, when the Jews prospered in Spain and Portugal, and the Abarbanel even served as minister to the King of Spain himself, yet the Jews ended up being tortured in the Inquisition, many forced to convert, and then expelled in 1492.

Wherever Hashem has brought the Jews, we have worked hard, contributed to society, and done our best to settle-in,  be good citizens, and live in peace, but eventually, no matter whether the Jews feel that they are good Egyptian, Spanish, Germans citizens, or whatever, there comes a time, when there comes a new king that knows not Joseph.

In America, the Jews have once again been able to thrive, have contributed in every way, and have served at the highest echelons of industry and government, and we all deeply appreciate and love America (it’s freedom, opportunity, culture, and values)!

Today, despite many liberal Jews personal dislike, President Trump is the most Pro-Israel President this country has ever had, and his daughter, Ivanka and her husband Jared (both beautiful Jewish people) serve admirably in his White House.  From financial support, military and intelligence cooperation, standing up to a hostile United Nations, the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition of the Golan Heights, the acceptance of Israel’s settlements necessary for national security, and even a forthcoming proposal for peace, this has been a incredible period for support for the Jewish people from this President.

The problem is that history repeats itself, and when the pendulum swings one way, it invariably swings the other, and unfortunately, we are at the threshold of what could very well be the most monumental turning point against American Jews and Israel.

I know many of you are saying that they are dead sure that it can never happen here in America!  But I would rather see what is happening, and prepare to face the worst of those that hate us for what they consider good reason, bad reason, or even no reason at all, and so that we live to ensure what happened in the Holocaust, “Never [happens] again!”

Already, the pendulum is swinging dangerously: On campuses across this great nation, Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Israel rhetoric has replaced balanced discourse; the shrill criticism of Zionism is taking root with the help of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and  activists like Linda Sarsour; calling Jews satanic and termites who control everything (from the media to finance and government) by Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam; and new “representatives” of America, such as Ilhan Omar (“it’s all about the Benjamins baby!”), Rashida Tlaib (with a map of Israel marked as Palestine in her Capital Hill office), and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (of the Democratic Socialists that have voted to adapt BDS) now roam the halls of Congress spewing their hatred for Israel and the Jewish people.

As we contemplate this Passover and recount the Exodus from Egypt and the journey to the land of Israel, let us also recall the great prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah of the ingathering of the exiles from all the four corners of the Earth: “Thus says the L-rd G-d: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 11:17).

Lest we get too settled and comfortable in America or in any place on earth, remember and do not forget, “And a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”  President Trump has been most gracious to Israel, but think very carefully, who will be the next President of the United States and what will it mean for Israel, the Jews, and the ingathering of the exiles from all four corners of the Earth?

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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