It was the last day of the life of Moses. He probably started off the way he did every other morning — washed his hands, put on phylacteries, prayed and then ate a light breakfast with Tzippora. Then, he left his tent to address his waiting flock — millions of men, women and children, many of whom had survived nearly 40 years in the desert amid plagues, rebellions and putsches.
Moses did not mince words. The Jewish people could have sped through the Sinai desert in no more than three days. Their lack of faith consistently delayed progress toward their new home in the Land of Canaan, to be named the Land of Israel. They and particularly their parents dismissed G-d’s miracles, embraced foreign divinities and couldn’t help being driven by the gold.
But smack in the middle of his rebuke, Moses makes a sharp right: The greatest prophet of Israel urges his people to gather courage — regardless of the circumstances.
“Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged.”
If Jewish history can be compared to math, then there is one equation that remains axiomatic: The more believing a Jew, the more he fears G-d, and the less he fears man. The less believing a Jew, the greater his dismissal of G-d and the greater his terror of man.
The heroes of the Jews were not politicians, lawyers, scientists or even rabbis. They were simply those who in their love for Jews stared death in the face and did not blink. Three-year-old Abraham refused to accept Nimrod as a god; a 20-year-old Moses slew the Egyptian tormentor and braved execution. While his elders cowered in fear, a teenage David volunteered to stop Goliath. All of them were little people.
The heroes of today are no different. Menachem Begin led a revolt against the British and their huge network of Jewish quislings — whether the Jewish Agency, Haganah and Mapai. Natan Sharansky spent nine years in the Gulag and refused to bow to his Soviet oppressors. He made no deals.
On his first day in the federal penitentiary, Jonathan Pollard was met by the deputy warden. His words left little to the imagination: “The only way you’ll get out of here is in a box.” Uncle Sam had plenty of tricks to kill this little Jew, whose crime was similar to the other Jewish heroes. The federal prison system has been more segregated than South Africa ever was: the whites have been ruled by Hitler’s disciples; and the blacks bow to the Nation of Islam.
Soon, it was Pollard’s turn. The head of the neo-Nazis, a big swastika tattooed on his forehead, came with some 30 of his buddies, all of them convicted of murder, and demanded a showdown with Pollard. Against the advice of his friends, Pollard came alone and unarmed.
“I’ve got 30 or 40 men with me now and hundreds in this prison,” the chief skinhead said. “Who do you have?”
Pollard pointed to the sky. “I have the biggest general of them all and the largest army that you could ever imagine…I fear no one but G-d.”
The neo-Nazi hesitated and then extended his hand to Pollard and shook it. The skinheads left Pollard alone for the next 20 years. He had carried out Moses’ edict.
Rivka Ravitz was waiting outside the Oval Office while her boss, President Rivlin, was inside with the most powerful man on earth. Ravitz as well as Rivlin’s daughter were then ushered in to meet President Joseph Biden. A proud Rivlin told the American: “She has 12 children.”
The 78-year-old Biden got on his right knee to Ravitz. It was the repeat of Alexander the Great bowing to Shimon Hatzadik 2,400 years earlier. What was more amazing was that the White House allowed the release of a photograph of Biden in front of the 45-year-old haredi chief of staff.
For Ravitz, this was no big deal. In 2015, Pope Francis bowed to her as well. Ravitz, married since age 18 and mindful of the prohibition against touching strange men, had refused to extend her hand to the pontiff.
In contrast, it would be hard to exaggerate the fear of the Israeli elite and their wannabees of Washington. They cringe to the warnings of the State Department, the dictates of the White House and, most of all, the threats in Congress to end military aid. Their anxiety has superseded the miracles that G-d has given us over the last decade, including energy independence, internal stability, conciliation with most Arab states and unprecedented foreign investment.
The message we receive on state radio and television is that without America we are doomed. We need America like the sunshine. When they say jump, we ask how high. Nothing else matters. There have been no miracles; there is no G-d, at least one that is relevant. We are slaves, albeit some of us with fat bank accounts in London and New York.
There were few Israelis more prominent than Teddy Kollek. Most of us know Kollek as the fabled mayor of Jerusalem. But his power stemmed from being the chief aide of David Ben-Gurion in the 1940s and 1950s. His job during the British Mandate was to hunt down the Jews who wanted freedom from the empire. Two months after his death in 2007, a prominent Israeli journalist gained access to British government files on Kollek. They showed that he had supplied intelligence to the British that led to the arrest of some 1,000 Jews, almost all of them suspected of being members of Mapai’s rivals. Directed by Ben-Gurion, Kollek wooed the British with intelligence and cooperation until virtually the last day of the mandate.
But in a moment of anger, Kollek told the British that things could have been different. In 1946, he resigned from the Jewish Agency, disgusted by its appeasement of London. He said Ben-Gurion could have used the Haganah along with Irgun and Lehi to drive out the British — certainly from the time the White Paper was issued in 1939. That would have given the Jews of Europe a refuge from Hitler. Kollek maintained that the Jewish Agency had done little other than restrain the dissident Jewish militias. He did not tell this to the agency, rather to Britain’s Defence Security Office, which he had long served.
“…The worst thing that the Jewish Agency ever did was to impose ‘restraint’ on its forces during the last disturbances. He [Kollek] seemed to feel that if an all-out aggressive policy had been adopted, the Jews would have achieved their end long ago.”
G-d has forgiven us for many sins. But there is only one sin, Moses tells us, that we must correct ourselves even before asking for repentance: The sin of cowardice.