Ariella Cohen

Stick With Us

Artwork on the streets of Ramat Beit Shemesh. (courtesy))
Artwork on the streets of Ramat Beit Shemesh. (courtesy))

Once again, the weekly parshiot are eerily in sync with current events. Last week in Parshat Vayeshev, Joseph was given the Coat of Many Colors by Jacob. On the surface level, (without digging deeper into the story,) Joseph’s brothers hated him because he was Jacob’s favorite. They were jealous. Joseph was, you might say, Jacob’s favorite child. His chosen one. We, the collective Jewish people, are also the chosen one. God’s chosen one. And some of our “brothers” (i.e. non Jews) hate us because we are Gods’ favorite. And they are jealous. We are seeing that hate come out now more than ever.

Joseph didn’t choose to be chosen by Jacob. That wouldn’t really make sense. So it’s a bit silly for his brothers to hate him for something he didn’t do. Of course there is the added factor that they didn’t like his dreams which predicted him ruling over them, but I personally think that just added salt to the wound rather than being the main cause for their hatred toward him. We too didn’t choose to be God’s chosen people. God chose us. And people are jealous of us for it. And that is causing them to do some pretty drastic things in attempt to get rid of us. Perhaps so that they can suddenly become God’s chosen people? I’m not sure what they think would theoretically happen in the completely unrealistic case in which we are utterly destroyed. Suddenly God will start loving them more? It doesn’t work like that.

Whether or not our enemies want to believe it, it is in their best interest to be our allies. Because shouldn’t allying up with God’s chosen people get you on God’s good side? Wouldn’t going against God’s chosen people be akin to going against God Himself? That doesn’t seem like the best way to get on God’s good side. But then again I don’t think our enemies have very much foresight. They live in the here and now. Which is maybe why the world seems to have forgotten about what occurred in our homeland just over two months ago (even though it is still ongoing.) The here and now that the world sees is that the Gazans are suffering, so that seems to be all that matters. The very reason Gaza is in the state that it is now doesn’t seem to factor into the story. We Jews are a people that care about our past, present, and future. Tomorrow and yesterday matter too- not just today.

The brothers’ negative treatment of Joseph didn’t turn out so well for them as we see in this week’s Parshat Mikeitz. It got them into some trouble when they encountered Joseph as viceroy of Egypt. I’m really not sure how much they thought about the potential repercussions of their actions. They certainly regretted it after what Joseph put them through when they came to get food. Maybe in the moment their jealousy got the better of them, and they felt so strongly about getting rid of Joseph that nothing else mattered.

Jealousy along with lust and glory, according to Pirkei Avot (4:28), “removes man from the world.” Jealousy destroys. It can really hijack people and cause them to do things that they shouldn’t do. And that they may (or may not) later regret. In certain situations it’s been so deeply ingrained that it’s transformed from jealousy to utter hate. And it doesn’t ever lead to anything good. Hamas definitely runs off of all of these three things, and we are slowly getting closer and closer to the day that they will be quite literally completely removed from the world.

Among all the crazy ones, there are certainly some chasidei umot haolam out there who know what’s what. I once had a middle aged Christian colleague who told me that he strongly supports Israel and really respects the Jews because he knows that we are God’s chosen people. When we are doing well as the nation, the world does well. No animosity. No jealously. No hatred. Just love and respect.

International current events highlight the idea that we (and our God) are the ones people should want to stick with and support. Just this week, a Turkish lawmaker had a heart attack immediately after declaring that Israel will not be able to escape god’s wrath. I believe he was referring to Allah. Certainly not Israel’s God. The God. He was in fact the one who could not escape God’s wrath. How ironic. Maybe that was our God showing his who’s Boss. This story reminds me of the time that Elijah went up against the prophets of the Baal (I Kings 18:20-39) in order to prove whose God was the real one. It’s ours. Some still haven’t gotten the memo even all of these thousands of years later, so God sent the world another quick reminder this week.

Will it take until we win this war for people to realize that we are the ones they want to stick with? Or will the world realize sooner? It’s certainly taking some people a while. I don’t think anyone is going to want to be a Hamas supporter when this is over. At least I hope not. Surely not publicly since they will probably be embarrassed to admit such a thing. God is our shield and always has been. We may falter, but we’ll never be destroyed. Psalms eludes to this idea. I never cease to be amazed by the relevance of some of the psalms from the Book of Psalms to our lives. David may have written them a very long time ago, but sometimes it feels like they were written today.

Psalm 5 is not one of the popular ones from the Book of Psalms. But I discovered a few days ago that it is extremely relevant to our times right now. The Metsudah Tehillim introduces it with the following sentence: “David voices his prayer for deliverance and for the downfall of those who resort to bloodshed and deceit to gain their end.” This struck me, so I continued to read through the Psalm in English to make sure that I could properly understand it. Now I want to say it every day. It feels powerful. (And as a wind musician, I feel even more connected since it starts off with the words “To the Chief Musician, with wind instruments, a Psalm of David.”)

Hamas terrorists certainly “resort to bloodshed and deceit to gain their end.” Or in their case, to attempt to gain their end. And we very surely need to be delivered from them and for them to experience their downfall. God does not stand for evil and deceit; our pain is His pain. After all, we are His chosen ones. We pray for the time when God will condemn those who perpetrate this evil and deceit against us because we know He will. And the whole world will see it too.

About the Author
Ariella Cohen grew up in Far Rockaway, NY and made Aliyah from Bala Cynwyd, PA in August 2023. She is an engineer and amateur musician with lots of other hobbies on the side.
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