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Richard Kronenfeld
Richard Kronenfeld
Adult Ba'al Teshuvah Ph.D. Physicist

Desperate Times call for Transcendent Measures Part III

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With all the conflicting views expressed in part II in circulation, my view is that it’s time to start thinking “outside the box,” which means considering transcendent action. Let me begin with a disclaimer: the following analysis is undoubtedly not original with me, but rather than engaging in interminable online research, I shall relate my limited human understanding of the current situation and leave it to the reader to develop a bibliography.

We start from the premise that the anti-Semitic attacks are physical manifestations of an ongoing spiritual war. In my view, the nations of the world, or more precisely, the current forces of darkness that dominate them, have declared war on G-d. Since they are too sophisticated to think that they can build another Tower of Babel and launch a physical attack on Heaven, they have instead launched a spiritual offensive. Traditional morality is under assault on all sides. Even the Biblical verse[16] “So God created Man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” is being attacked by a movement that denies the binary nature of gender and instead asserts there are as many as 83 genders, with all manner of artificially generated pronouns to match. Teachers and librarians invite drag queens to speak to kindergarteners. Coming next, if activists have their way, is the legitimization of pedophilia.

Parental authority is shrinking, as school boards and teachers shut down parents who object to the woke curriculum, while unscrupulous psychologists and plastic surgeons insist that young teenagers be able to transgender, take puberty blocking drugs, and undergo gender reassignment surgery without parental permission or even notification. The abnormal is proclaimed as normal and the normal is proclaimed as abnormal. Put another way, the world is reverting to the level of violence and immorality associated with the generation of the Flood. Moreover, collectivism and critical race theory reject the uniqueness of every individual: our race completely defines us. We might add that radio talk-show host and commentator Dennis Prager, among others, regards increasing dependence on government for our needs, which is the basis of socialism, as a form of slavery.

As the earthly representatives of the Torah, we Jews have always been a target of the secularists, never more so than now. B’nei Eisav and B’nei Yishmael have united against us, which appears to parallel chapters 38-39 of the Book of Ezekiel; those chapters, as the Art Scroll commentary states, “…foretell the climactic war of Gog and Magog, which will introduce the End of Days and the Messianic era. In it, Gog, from the land of Magog – allied with a multitude of nations – will advance to attack Israel in its own land. The war will end with the destruction of Israel’s enemies and the promised Messianic era of bliss. Rambam cautions against attempting to pinpoint the time and identity of the kingdoms discussed in this prophecy.”[17] Metaphorically, the war has already begun, as the United Nations continually adopts resolutions by a huge margin that declare Jews have no right to Jerusalem or any other part of the Land of Israel.

Regarding timing, an intriguing article in The Jewish Press points out that the 17-year cycle of the cicadas, an insect that somewhat resembles the locust, corresponds to 210 lunar months, which correlates exactly with the 210 years that the Jews were enslaved in Egypt. The author, Dr. Janet Sunness, concludes, “So the cicadas are like a partial plague with a telescoped year represented by months, indicating that we are still in slavery. In other words, we have 210 months to redeem ourselves and improve our world, and if we do this, we will be redeemed. But if we have not accomplished this, then the cicadas will come back 210 months later, indicating that we are still in slavery and will have another 210-month cycle to perfect and redeem ourselves.”[18]

A major principle in Jewish history asserts that what happens to the fathers happens to the descendants, which holds true today. The greatest existential threat to Israel comes from Iran, the modern-day successor state to Persia, which reminds us of Purim. We recall from Megillas Esther that when Haman hatched his plot to massacre all the Jews in the Persian Empire because Mordechai wouldn’t bow down to him, our response didn’t begin with pleading our case to King Achashverosh. First, Queen Esther and her maidens and all the Jews in the Kingdom fasted for three days in preparation for her risking her life by coming to the King uninvited. In other words, before taking political action, let’s first beseech Hashem to grant us guidance and salvation, as the forces arrayed against us are too powerful for us to overcome on our own.

The following proposals are strictly those of a layman, and are advanced to stimulate discussion. Since people today aren’t as robust as 2500 years ago, rather than a three-day consecutive fast, may I suggest following the format of Behab, namely Monday-Thursday-Monday. Also, we could make it water-only rather than a total fast, with exemptions for those who cannot safely fast. Those who are exempt could instead give tzedakah, consistent with Orchos Chaim of the Rosh for the Sabbath #22: “One should fast one day each month on a day when the Torah is read; and if he cannot fast, he should give two coins to charity.”[19]

There is ample precedent over the centuries for communal fasting in times of drought, external threats, etc. Would it hurt to acknowledge the ultimate Source of our deliverance?

Notes
16. Genesis 1:27, The Stone Edition Art Scroll Chumash, p.9
17. The Art Scroll English Tanach, Stone Edition, footnote p. 835.
18. Janet S. Sunness, MD, “The Religious Symbolism of the Cicadas,” The Jewish Press, June 11, 2021, p. 36.
19. Art Scroll Orchos Chaim, p.54.

About the Author
I'm a native New Yorker (Brooklyn, to be precise) transplanted to the desert as a teen-ager. I hold a Ph.D in Physics from Stanford and have taught mathematics and physics at the high school, community college, and university level. This year I was called out of semi-retirement to teach math at a charter high school. I'm an adult ba'al teshuvah and label myself as centrist Orthodox and a Religious Zionist along the lines of OU, Yeshiva University, and Mizrachi.
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