In writing a vort on Purim, this author keeps thinking back to a theme addressed in an earlier Siyum on Mesechta Megillah from a few years ago as well as another recurring theme on this blog.
The Jew separates and distinguishes himself from the rest of the nations through the Mitzvah of Bris Milah, even though many of our contemporary Jewish brothers would distance themselves from, or stand in denial of their Yiddishkeit. In short, many among our Jewish brethren would deny Hashem’s control of the world and seek to tailor Torah and their Jewishness to fit the ways of the nations rather than accepting Hashem’s reishut (command) over the world.
After centuries of persecution, of pogroms, of ghettos, there evolved among our Jewish brethren the so-called “new Jews” , the Zionists who first created the macho image of the Jew fighting back when bullied, oppressed or brutalized by Arabs or other anti-Semites. However, in truth, they evolved and came to disdain and deny their roots, their Yiddishkeit, their Jewishness and thus came to accept the distorted, hypocritical sense of selective Western “morality”: taking care for the lives of your enemy while that very enemy draws your blood endlessly.
One must, of course, take care to distinguish those “new Jews” from the phenomenon which arose with Rav Meir Kahane z”l: the JDL, Kach and the like. Those who followed Rav Kahane were both observant and secular Jews, but they identified as Jews and thus fought to protect and defend their fellow religious Jews against gentile attacks as they travelled to and from Shul, as well as to protect Jews and Jewish property against attack in large urban areas with mixed populations.
The “new Jew” evolved from being a fighter for Jewish settlement on Jewish land, to one who reviles the dress and the ways of both his Eastern European predecessors and his brethren who maintain aspects of the Eastern European derech today in Eretz Yisrael. Yet these very “new Jews” themselves act despicably, based on their sinat chinom for the religious, and anything religious.
In his mindless hate of the religious, the “new Jew”, the emancipated He-Man Jew evolved into the liberalized Jew who is kind to the cruel (for it’s not the fault of the Arabs that they are poor, that they live in the refugee camps of Gaza, Judea and Samaria) and discredits his own right to live in Eretz Yisrael. By the Chillul Hashem he performs before the altar of foreign powers, he emboldens the eyes and perceptions of the very enemy he is kind to. The “new Jew” psychologically projects his own deficiencies onto the religious who he reviles, as the gentile world derisively laughs at Jewish hypocrisy.
The earlier generation “new Jew” who at least fought back when bullied, in subsequent generations through lack of rooting and footing in Torah and belief in Hashem, has no idea why there is an Israel and no idea why he is here. And so, there is the mindset, philosophy, or “morality” within the “enlightened ‘new Jew’”, “the proud Hebrew” who would void his Jewishness, his heritage, his land.
So we watch the ongoing spectacles, desecrations to Hashem’s name including; expulsions of Jews from Jewish land, fighting winable conflicts under the handicap and shackles which go along with application of Western “morality
And we watch other desecrations to Hashem’s name, such as actual or defacto building freezes against Jewish construction on Jewish lands, renewal of government trial balloons and proposals for further unilateral hand-overs of broader, 10-plus-fold magnitude (over the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif) of Jewish land to the Islamic enemy. We see the anti-Torah regime foist its police on Jewish residents of “outposts” in the dead of night cruelly evicting residents, including mothers and infants and bulldozing their homes. We watched the spectacle of the secular Israeli cabinet and government handing over hundreds of terrorists with Jewish blood-stained hands to the murderous Islamic enemy in exchange for a single Jewish soldier kidnapped by Islamics in an organized attack upon Jewish soldiers on Jewish land. These terrrorists who, once freed, will inevitably perpetrate more such attacks killing and maiming yet more Jews. There have already been reports of such cases.
The self-inflicted degradation its own credibility by this generation’s secular Israeli governance emboldens the Abbas’, the Achmadinejads, the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah and more — Israel’s murderous Islamic enemies to perceive Israel’s demise as at hand, to smuggle, right under our noses, to further build up its arsenal of weapons with rockets and more aimed not just at South Israel’s urban centers, but aimed at Beersheva, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Yerushalayim, and yes Ramat Beit Shemesh. Apologies to the complacent — to the comfortable and to those in denial, but the truth MUST be told and retold, the facts repeated until internalized, let the chips fall where they may!
For those Jews in denial, for the complacent; historical parallels necessitate an imperative to revisit the Mitzri memory (or lack thereof) of Yosef and to contrast the dialogue between Haman and Achashveirosh — Haman’s top 10 reasons for seeking the annihilation of the Jews as found in Daf (page)13, amud(side)Bet [page 4] in the Artscroll Schottenstein Edition gemora with the contemporary Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany and then to view the Haman/Achashveirosh dialogue next to their own hateful psychological projection of deficiencies onto the religious. One must doubt, even amongst the so-called “religious” political parties, whether there is a true recognition and internalization of what Purim is and means amidst their varied agendas and cheshbonot.
Shem Mishuel cites a Midrash on Bris Milah in the context of the posuk “Avraham took Yismael his son and all of the males born in his household”. (Breish’t 47:7) He then cites a Rashi which explains:
A hidden meaning of the Ketores (the incense) is that it represents all of the Mitzvot of the Torah. The Torah’s numerical value is 613 — the Total number of Torah Mitzvot — 248 positive Mitzvot and 365 prohibitions — encompassing the entire gamut of good and bad in life. And so we learn that the Ketores included the foul-smelling spice called Chelbenah (galbanum) whose absence invalidates the entire compound. This represents the symbolic, all-encompassing purpose of the compound, that Ketores demanded that all elements of Klal Yisrael be represented, even the bad ones. Therefore, the Ketores rose above the mundane, it took both the Tzaddikim and everyone else, including the most wicked person, into Hashem’s spiritual domain. (Shem Mishmuel on Lech Lecha Pg.26)
Shem Mishmuel then quotes Rabbi Ayvu as saying:
“When Avraham circumcised the males of his household, they made a pile of foreskins. The sun shone upon them and they putrified. Their odor went up to G’d just like the incense and the burnt offering, which is totally consumed by fire. G’d said, ‘When their children sin and perform wicked acts, I will recall this smell for them, and I will be filled with mercy for them, and I will act mercifully.’” (ibid, page 26)
Thus, there seems a spiritual similarity between the foreskins of Bris Milah shed by Avraham Aveinu and the Ketores component of burnt offering which Aaron HaKohen and his sons were taught by Moshe Rabbeinu in Parsha Tzav.
But there also seems a correlation between appeasement and Jewish/Israeli self-hatred and disdain for the Torah ways of Hashem. Are we, of our generations, so polarized that when the chips are down and we find ourselves collectively in ultimate, dire peril, that the lessons of the past will be lost upon us?
Our brethren in the generation of Mordechai HaYehudi and Esther HaMalka came together, prayed and fasted in unity against an enemy bent on bringing the end of Am Yehudi — the Jewish people. By their unity, they merited Hashem’s annulment of Haman’s evil earthly decree.
Are we still capable of standing united against our murderous enemies, as the generation of Mordechai HaYehudi and Esther HaMalka were and as our previous generations in modern-day Israel did? Are we in our times capable of kindness, in all ways, beyond Mishlo’ach Manot on Purim day? Can we feel for each other as one — as one body — V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Komocha? Or is our generation the ultimate end manifestation of the “new Jew” — Israelis vs Chareidim, Ashkenzim vs S’fardim, Dati Leumim vs Chareidim vs Datim and Chilonim, etc., etc.?? Do we still merit Divine intervention and protection? Can we detect the Yad Hashem (the Hand of Hashem) and the coming of the Ge’ula Shlaima in the “natural” disasters in recent years, such as the huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the annual flooding due to heavy rains in America’s mid-west, or the twister — or the viscious storms and twisters which have hit in the state of Alabama — do we simply rack them up to “natural” causes, as natural catastrophies? Or is Hashem telling us something?
May our Ketores — the good, the bad, etc. of our generation, our sanctity, our learning, chessed, midos, etc., with all of the imperfections, be acceptable to Hashem. May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the backbone, moral courage and fortitude to prevent both the eviction of Jews from their homes in all of Eretz Yisrael and the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima — the Ultimate Redemption bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim” — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.