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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Some personal thoughts

Shana Tova - a good year to everyone.

I managed to arrange a few thoughts in my head over the holiday and I wanted to share them with you.

We live in highly turbulent times, and I don't just mean in the financial markets. Over the past few weeks, I've been trying to understand these times, and how I am meant to function in them.

I spent two weeks in Boston this past month, where I was astounded that people with strong Jewish identification could support a Presidential candidate who has given every indication that he would sell Israel down the river. This added to my amazement at how the world is able to spin what Iran is doing as something other than attempting to develop nuclear weapons with which to attack Israel. This past Saturday, a rabbi put it all together for me and I wanted to share that with you.

The occasion was a 'pep talk' for the upcoming Jewish New Year, which we celebrated for the past two days. He said that you have to imagine that you're sitting in the sixth row of the synagogue and God forbid, someone in the first row suffers a heart attack. And then, God forbid, someone in the second row. And then in the third. Do you think you would catch the pattern? Do you think you might start to panic?

But that's really what's going on during the Jewish New Year, because it's a time of judgment. The Jewish New Year is called "Yom HaDin" - the day of judgment. And Rosh HaShanna and Yom Kippur are referred to as the Yamim HaNoraim - the days of awe. You don't see the judgment quite as starkly as the rabbi described it, because the sentence is carried out over the course of the entire year. But each of us, individually, is being judged for our actions and each of us must try to improve ourselves and pray to God that He should forgive us for our sins and inscribe us for a year of life, health, prosperity and happiness.

Then the rabbi added, "and how do we pray?" That's symbolized by the shofar, the ram's horn. Imagine that you are angry at two of your children. One child tries to come up with all kinds of excuses for what the two of them did wrong, but the other child is so upset that s/he can do nothing but cry. The child has no words - just tears. Might you not be appeased by that child?

When we blow the shofar, we are crying to God, because we have no words with which to address Him. We have no excuse for our actions. But like children, we throw ourselves on His mercy.

And then the rabbi dropped a remark about how no one but God is going to save us from Iran. And when I thought about that, everything became abundantly clear.

God has promised the Jewish people that we will never be completely wiped out. But God has not promised that we will not be wiped out in a particular place. Much of European Jewry was wiped out sixty-five years ago. But those Jews who were in America and Israel survived. Some Jews from Europe even escaped. But many were wiped out. Does the fate of European Jewry await the Jews of Israel?

It might. It's up to us to pray to God to save us. Everything else - from this blog to the deployment of x-band radar (which no one can be sure will really work - has anyone ever really shot down a nuclear missile?) and everything else in between is what we call 'hishtadlus' - our human efforts to fight off the impending disaster. But really it's all in God's hands and we're just trying to show Him that we're making an effort to help ourselves. What God is really waiting for is to hear our cries (especially those of us in Israel) for Him to save us. Are we crying out to Him?

There's another week to find out.

Gmar Hatima Tova - may you all be sealed in the books of life, health, happiness and prosperity for the coming year.


At 10:46 PM, Blogger Pastorius said...

I would like to see this at IBA. However, if you don't think it belongs there, I would understand.

At the very least, it is a time capsule shot of our era.

At 10:54 PM, Blogger Butchie! said...

For us to be safe next year, we need a miracle.

I am not a religious person, but where else can I look and hope but to G-d - wherever G-d is?

Shana Tova Carl,

I feel the same way as you this new year.

At 8:53 AM, Blogger marineparkimma said...

Shalom Aleichem, Gemar Chatimah Tovah, and how are you...? I came across your blog through the NBN blog and I was very surprised by your statement regarding "Does the fate of European Jewry await the Jews of Israel?" Firstly, may I clarify a famous midrash that is noted in regards to the construction of the mishkan in the midbar; namely that something that was built by Jews for Jews to serve Hashem will never be destroyed. This is self-evident as the mishkan was never destroyed. Conversely, both Batei Mikdash were destroyed because gentile hands were used in its construction. The current State of Israel was created by Jews for Jews with a split of Agudah, Mizrachi, and Zionist factions banding together to form the hishtadlus that necessitated its moledet. Two out of three majority attests to its religious intents and ultimate yad Hashem in the past 60 years of overt nissim in the blooming of the country and our people on all social, political, economic, and religious levels. Thus, it is very safe to assume that the fate of European Jewry will not repeat itself in Israel. Furthermore, the success of NBN under the guidance of Rabbi YEHOSHUA Fass is no coincidence in parallel to YEHOSHUA ben Nun who originally brought our people back into our Land; similarly EZRA (other NBN staff names etc.)... Thus, it is safe to assume that European Jewry will not repeat itself in Israel as Hashem would not be gathering us all back just to kill us all off. Rather, history always "has the last hand" (Rabbi Berel Wein) and we know all too well the pattern; Jews become successful, comfortable, and assimilated in their host countries and then the tides turn and we are spit out. Thus we can safely assume that the fate of European Jewry more than likely awaits the Jews of America. The lunacy of the presidential and vice presidential races are proof of the unpredictable and unstable future in store for all Americans. May Hashem continue to bless the efforts of NBN and may they succeed in bringing home all of our brothers and sisters before it is too late...


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