When the ‘I’ is Silent

by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

This week’s parsha relates a powerful, primal vision of prayer: Jacob, alone and far from home, lies down for the night, with only stones for a pillow, and dreams of a ladder, with angels ascending and descending. This is the initial encounter with the “house of God” that would one day become the synagogue, the first dream of a “gate of heaven” that would allow access to a God that stands above, letting us know finally that “God is truly in this place.”

There is, though, one nuance in the text that is lost in translation, and it took the Hassidic masters to remind us of it. Hebrew verbs carry with them, in their declensions, an indication of their subject. Thus the word yadati means “I knew,” and lo yadati, “I did not know.” When Jacob wakes from his sleep, however, he says, “Surely the Lord is in this place ve’anokhi lo yadati.” Anokhi means “I,” which in this sentence is superfluous. To translate it literally we would have to say, “And I, I knew it not.” Why the double “I”?

To this, Rabbi Pinchas Horowitz (Panim Yafot) gave a magnificent answer. How, he asks, do we come to know that “God is in this place”? “By ve’anokhi lo yadati – not knowing the I.” We know God when we forget the self. We sense the “Thou” of the Divine Presence when we move beyond the “I” of egocentricity. Only when we stop thinking about ourselves do we become truly open to the world and the Creator. In this insight lies an answer to some of the great questions about prayer: What difference does it make? Does it really change God? Surely God does not change. Besides which, does not prayer contradict the most fundamental principle of faith, which is that we are called on to do God’s will rather than ask God to do ours? What really happens when we pray?

Prayer has two dimensions, one mysterious, the other not. There are simply too many cases of prayers being answered for us to deny that it makes a difference to our fate. It does. I once heard the following story. A man in a Nazi concentration camp lost the will to live – and in the death camps, if you lost the will to live, you died. That night he poured out his heart in prayer. The next morning, he was transferred to work in the camp kitchen. There he was able, when the guards were not looking, to steal some potato peelings. It was these peelings that kept him alive. I heard this story from his son.

Perhaps each of us has some such story. In times of crisis we cry out from the depths of our soul, and something happens. Sometimes we only realise it later, looking back. Prayer makes a difference to the world – but how it does so is mysterious.

There is, however, a second dimension which is non-mysterious. Less than prayer changes the world, it changes us. The Hebrew verb lehitpalel, meaning “to pray,” is reflexive, implying an action done to one- self. Literally, it means “to judge oneself.” It means, to escape from the prison of the self and see the world, including ourselves, from the outside. Prayer is where the relentless first person singular, the “I,” falls silent for a moment and we become aware that we are not the centre of the universe. There is a reality outside. That is a moment of transformation.

If we could only stop asking the question, “How does this affect me?” we would see that we are surrounded by miracles. There is the almost infinite complexity and beauty of the natural world. There is the divine word, our greatest legacy as Jews, the library of books we call the Bible. And there is the unparalleled drama, spreading over forty centuries, of the tragedies and triumphs that have befallen the Jewish people. Respectively, these represent the three dimensions of our knowledge of God: creation (God in nature), revelation (God in holy words) and redemption (God in history).

Sometimes it takes a great crisis to make us realise how self- centred we have been. The only question strong enough to endow existence with meaning is not, “What do I need from life?” but “What does life need from me?” That is the question we hear when we truly pray. More than an act of speaking, prayer is an act of listening – to what God wants from us, here, now. What we discover – if we are able to create that silence in the soul – is that we are not alone. We are here because someone, the One, wanted us to be, and He has set us a task only we can do. We emerge strengthened, transformed.

More than prayer changes God, it changes us. It lets us see, feel, know that “God is in this place.” How do we reach that awareness? By moving beyond the first person singular, so that for a moment, like Jacob, we can say, “I know not the I.” In the silence of the “I,” we meet the “Thou” of God.

Shabbat shalom

As taken from, http://rabbisacks.org/i-silent-vayetse-5779/

Advertisements

The dramatic new finds at Tel Beit Shemesh

Tel Beit Shemesh. (Wikipedia)

Tel Beit Shemesh. (Wikipedia)

The impressive discoveries shed light on a core biblical concept: brit, or covenant

It is a highway through time. Route 38, just before the southern entrance to Beit Shemesh, cuts right through what is currently the largest archaeology dig in the country. To the right and the left of the road, literally hundreds of laborers have been moving earth for more than six months. And what they have uncovered teaches us more than just archaeology and history. It gives us insight into the ways in which the prophets of Israel spoke about a core theological concept: brit — covenant.

Let’s start with the archaeology and history. Standing over the site, you look out at an expanse of hundreds of buildings. Look more carefully, and you see that many of the structures have interlinking pipes carved into the ground. On a display table are some of the 44 handles of massive jugs with the inscription la-melekh, to the king. Recently, Dr. Yehuda Guvrin, one of the lead archaeologists at the site explained the significance of the finds to a group of Beit Shemesh residents. The finds are all from the seventh century BCE, from the reigns of Hezekiah, Menasseh and Amun, kings of Judah. The piping is evidence of olive oil production on an industrial scale, the likes of which are without parallel in Israel in ancient times. The total picture is that at no time in biblical history was Beit Shemesh larger or more prosperous than it was at this time.

But here’s the catch — all this prosperity flourished at a time when Judah was subjugated to the Neo-Assyrian empire, in Mesopotamia — a fact attested by both the Bible and by Neo-Assyrian writings. Prosperity had come to Beit Shemesh only because Judah had forged a vassal treaty with that superpower to the East. The region of the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers is known as the Fertile Crescent, but the essential staple of olive oil cannot be grown and produced there. To get their oil, Neo-Assyrian kings needed to colonize regions like ours. In Beit Shemesh, great jugs would be filled with olive oil and sent to la-melekh, the king. But that ultimately meant tribute tax to the king of Assyria. The king of Assyria offered Judah a deal it could not refuse: you keep the oil flowing, and we will safeguard your security from any local threat. Under these terms, vassalage was downright cushy.

All this sheds light on how the prophets of Israel understood and spoke of the concept of brit — covenant. The covenant that God establishes with Israel at Sinai is patterned after the ancient Near Eastern concept of vassal treaty. The idea was simple: when a weaker king fell into distress — such as siege, or famine — he would call out to a greater king to provide salvation. When the greater king did so, both kings understood that they would enter an alliance of unequals — sovereign and vassal. The vassal would pledge loyalty and tribute to the sovereign, and in turn the sovereign would vouchsafe the vassal’s security. The idea is carried over into the Torah, where the political is transformed into theology. Israel cries out from Egypt. God delivers them, and establishes with them a treaty: if Israel is loyal to God, and offers tribute — observance of the commandments — God will vouchsafe her security and prosperity. Scholars have identified many aspects of the Sinai treaty with God as theological reapplications of political terms and ideas from these vassal treaties (For more, see here).

The central most component of the ancient Near Eastern vassal treaty was that the vassal had to pledge loyalty to the sovereign king alone. He could not simultaneously strike another pact with a different power. Here, too, we see how the prophets of Israel converted a political idea into a theological one. Prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel insisted that when Israel and Judah established treaties with foreign powers, they were, in fact, betraying God. They preached that Israel had to know that her security and prosperity depended upon one source alone — her faithful commitment as a vassal to the sovereign, the King of Kings.

The new finds at Tel Beit Shemesh vividly show us why these prophets were so dead-set against the establishment of vassalage with foreign powers. Just imagine all those residents of Beit Shemesh in the seventh century BCE, filling up those oil jugs with the word “melekh” (king) on them. Every time they saw the word “melekh” they would be reminded that their security and prosperity were safeguarded by the Assyrian king.  When your day-to-day reality is that you are dependent on the King of Assyria, what hope is there that you will really feel dependent on God?  And so for the prophets of Israel, vassalage to a foreign power was a “cushy” spiritual trap, for dependence on a foreign sovereign clouds over dependence on the true sovereign, the King of Kings.

As taken from, https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-dramatic-new-finds-at-tel-beit-shemesh/

How to explain the ‘timid’ reaction of American Jewish leaders to Kristallnacht?

  • Amid the worst pogrom to take place in Germany since the Middle Ages, most US Jewish communal leaders told their constituents to keep quiet
Synagogue in Hanover, Germany, set ablaze during the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, 1938 (public domain)

Synagogue in Hanover, Germany, set ablaze during the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, 1938 (public domain)

When American Jews learned of Nazi Germany’s Kristallnacht pogrom 80 years ago, the community’s leaders were determined to keep a lid on people’s emotions.

During the night of November 9-10, Nazi-led “demonstrators” murdered 100 German Jews in a nationwide orgy of violence. Thirty thousand Jews were rounded up for concentration camps, and more than 200 synagogues became smoldering ruins. Although the pogrom was described as Germany’s most bloody assault on Jews since the Middle Ages, few Jewish leaders in the US were prepared to agitate.

Most notably, the influential General Jewish Council insisted on maintaining radio silence following Kristallnacht. Comprised of leaders from the so-called “defense” organizations, the council issued these instructions in the pogrom’s aftermath:

“There should be no parades, public demonstrations, or protests by Jews,” according to the directives. The council also reminded American Jews that it was in their interest not to advocate for admitting more Jewish refugees into the country.

According to historians, most prominent American Jews were afraid of how their fellow citizens would react to “demands” from the Jewish community. Few Americans supported going to war with Hitler, and anti-Semitism was more widespread than at any other point in US history.

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the most prominent rabbi in the United States during the Roosevelt administration (public domain)

“When FDR asked his closest Jewish adviser, Samuel Rosenman — a prominent member of the American Jewish Committee — if more Jewish refugees should be allowed to enter the U.S. in the wake of Kristallnacht, Rosenman opposed such a move because ‘it would create a Jewish problem in the US,’” wrote Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Immediately after Kristallnacht, American media outlets were unambiguous about the future of Germany’s Jews:

“Nazi Germany Threatens to Exterminate Jews,” blared a large headline in The Houston Post on November 23, 1938, two weeks after Kristallnacht. In Boston, The Daily Record of November 18 led with the headline, “Nazis Prevent Jewish Exodus.” Underneath the massive “picture newspaper” headline was a photo of shattered Jewish storefronts after the pogrom.

The New York Times following the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 9-10, 1938 (public domain)

There was no ambiguity about the fate of Jews under Nazi rule, but very few American leaders — Jewish or otherwise — were willing to advocate for increased refugee resettlement. There were, however, thousands of Americans willing to take in another kind of refugee from Europe: those who walked on four legs.

“Ironically, when ‘Pets’ magazine the following year launched a campaign to have Americans take in purebred British puppies so they would not be harmed by German bombing raids, the magazine was flooded with several thousand offers of haven for the dogs,” wrote Medoff.

‘Excessive Jewish timidity’

The most prominent American Jewish leader to petition President Roosevelt was Rabbi Stephen S. Wise. With FDR reluctant to condemn the Nazi regime in public, the venerable Wise pleaded with the president to issue — at least — a statement against the violence.

In his  four-sentence “condemnation,” the president did not mention the Nazis or Hitler by name. With few Americans in favor of going to war, FDR was keen to prevent anti-Nazi rhetoric emanating from his bully pulpit, even after Hitler began to carve up central Europe.

President Franklin Roosevelt (seated, left) and advisers including Samuel Rosenman (seated, right) (public domain)

According to historians, President Roosevelt’s Jewish advisers pressured him to make some gestures after Kristallnacht. FDR recalled his ambassador to Berlin for “consultations,” and he helped solidify the status of some Jewish refugees already in the US. The president refused, however, to support legislation that would have permitted an additional 20,000 German Jewish children into the country.

Among those close to President Roosevelt, a leading voice was Samuel Rosenman of the American Jewish Committee. When news of the Holocaust started to appear on the pages of American newspapers, Rosenman ensured that FDR did not meet with what Rosenman referred to as “the medieval horde” of 400 rabbis gathered outside the White House. During the final phase of the Holocaust, Rosenman attempted to prevent the creation of the War Refugee Board, intended to save Jewish refugees from genocide.

According to historians, Rosenman was one of several “accommodationist” Jewish advisers to President Roosevelt. Some of them “placed excessive trust in princes,” as the saying goes.

“[Jewish leaders were] engaging in an unrequited love affair with a president who was, at best, indifferent, and at worst cynical about the pleas of the Jews,” wrote historian Steven Bayme.

German Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis, June 29, 1939 (public domain)

“Jews today — even Jewish leaders — recall the 1930’s as a period of excessive Jewish timidity,” wrote Bayme in an analysis of books about American Jewish leaders’ responses to the Holocaust. “Elie Wiesel, for one, has argued that Jews ought to have chained themselves to the White House until such time as Roosevelt was willing to act.”

‘The terrible silence’

It would be inaccurate to claim that American Jews did nothing following Kristallnacht, or during the early years of Nazi rule.

Two weeks after Kristallnacht, a coalition called the Joint Boycott Committee held a three-day protest. Comprised of members of the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Labor Committee, the group burned swastika flags and called for rescue. Since the early years of Nazi rule, some US Jewish organizations had advocated for boycotting German goods, a stance that was seen as far less extreme than advocating to admit refugees.

Despite widespread awareness of Kristallnacht and Hitler’s well-reported plans to “annihilate” Europe’s Jews, American citizens heard few pleas for help from Jewish leaders. The representative Jewish bodies acknowledged that “silence” was the strategy of choice, as expressed by the American Jewish Committee in a position paper after Kristallnacht:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt meets with the National Jewish Welfare Board — (left to right) Walter Rothschild, Chaplain Aryeh Lev, Barnett Brickner and Louis Kraft — at the White House on November 8, 1943 (public domain)

“[Refugee resettlement] is helping to intensify the Jewish problem here,” read the position paper. “Giving work to Jewish refugees while so many Americans are out of work has naturally made bad feelings. As heartless as it may seem, future efforts should be directed toward sending Jewish refugees to other countries instead of bringing them here.”

In recent years, this statement has been used by researchers to explain the “timid” response of American Jewish leaders during five years of escalating Nazi persecution that culminated in Kristallnacht. Six months after the pogrom, FDR again signaled his feelings by refusing to permit 900 German Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis entry into the US, and most of them fell under Nazi rule again.

According to historians, the president’s Jewish advisers — and most of the country’s Jewish leaders — made it easy for FDR to ignore the plight of German Jews, of whom 400,000 did not escape Germany before the pogrom of 1938.

“[After Kristallnacht] there were many verbal condemnations, but no economic sanctions against Nazi Germany, no severing of diplomatic relations, no easing of immigration quotas, not even a complete opening of the gates to the Jews’ own ancient homeland,” wrote Rafael Medoff. “The Free World’s muted reaction to the Kristallnacht pogrom foreshadowed the terrible silence with which it would greet the Nazis’ Final Solution.”

As taken from, https://www.timesofisrael.com/how-to-explain-the-timid-reaction-of-american-jewish-leaders-to-kristallnacht/?utm_source=The+Weekend+Edition&utm_campaign=weekend-edition-2018-11-11&utm_medium=email

El cisma político palestino intensifica los malos tratos a los disidentes

Human Rights Watch constata detenciones arbitrarias y torturas en Gaza y Cisjordania

Foto: Policías palestinos en la franja de Gaza en 2017. Vídeo: HRW/EPV

Más de 25 años después de los Acuerdos de Oslo, que sentaron las bases para la creación de la Autoridad Palestina, y tras una década de control exclusivo de Hamás sobre Gaza, el cisma político entre los islamistas de la Franja y el nacionalismo de Fatah, que gobierna en Cisjordania, se ha plasmado en una rutina de detenciones arbitrarias y malos tratos sistemáticos a disidentes y militantes rivales. Un informe publicado este martes por la ONG estadounidense Human Rights Watch (HRW) constata que, a medida que se ha ido agrandando la grieta entre las dos principales facciones palestinas, se han multiplicado los arrestos y las violaciones de los derechos humanos.

Opositores pacíficos, periodistas, blogueros… cualquiera que haya apoyado un texto crítico en las redes sociales o que se haya afiliado a una asociación de estudiantes enfrentada al poder se expone a acabar en el calabozo y a sufrir una paliza. “Allí donde han afianzado su autogobierno, los partidos palestinos han desarrollado Estados policiales paralelos”, advierte Tom Porteus, subdirector de estudios de HRW.

“Los chicos tienen miedo de escribir. Ni lo intentan. No comparten sus ideas. Ni si quiera se atreven a poner ‘me gusta’ a alguien que ha escrito [en las redes sociales] una crítica al Gobierno. Están aterrorizados”, sostiene Mohamed Lafi, de 24 años, un rapero del campo de refugiados del Jabalia, en el norte de la franja de Gaza. Permaneció entre rejas durante cinco días en enero de 2017, acusado por las autoridades de Hamás de haber publicado un vídeo musical en el que animaba a la gente a manifestarse en contra de los continuos cortes de electricidad en el enclave costero.

Su relato es uno de los 147 testimonios recogidos por la organización defensora de los derechos humanos durante dos años entre antiguos detenidos, sus familiares y abogados, y representantes de ONG locales. HRW ha revisado imágenes y grabaciones, partes médicos y sumarios judiciales para elaborar el informe Dos autoridades, una sola vía, cero disidencias: detenciones arbitrarias y torturas bajo la Autoridad Palestina y Hamás.

Shawan Jabarin, director de la organización humanitaria palestina Al Haq, considera que “no hay que permanecer en silencio ante la sistemática represión de la disidencia y las torturas perpetradas por las fuerzas de seguridad palestina, a pesar del hecho de que Israel viole los derechos palestinos más básicos”. Los tratados internacionales sobre derechos humanos suscritos por el Gobierno palestino en los últimos cinco años están siendo incumplidos. Muy pocos agentes de los Servicios de Inteligencia y de la Seguridad Preventiva de la Autoridad Palestina en Cisjordania, ni de la Seguridad Interna de Hamás en Gaza han sido investigados. Ninguno ha sido sancionado por esas prácticas, de acuerdo con la información manejada en el informe de HRW.

“Estuve un día entero con los ojos vendados en una habitación junto con otros cinco o diez detenidos. A veces nos dejaban sentarnos en unas sillas pequeñas, pero teníamos que pedir permiso para poder hacer cualquier cosa, como hablar o dormir”, rememora Fuad Jarada, un periodista de 34 años que permaneció bajo arresto durante dos meses, acusado de “atentar contra la unidad revolucionaria” después de publicar en Facebook un texto crítico con Hamás. “A partir del primer día comenzaron los golpes”, recapitula.

Las autoridades se amparan en una vaga legislación que criminaliza los insultos a altos cargos para arrestar a disidentes durante semanas antes de volver a ponerles a libertad sin presentar una acusación formal ante un tribunal. Entre enero de 2017 y agosto de 2018, la Autoridad Palestina mantuvo bajo detención administrativa a 221 personas sin supervisión judicial durante diferentes periodos. El pasado 27 de septiembre fueron arrestados en Gaza más de 50 militantes de Fatah, el partido liderado por el presidente palestino Mahmud Abbas. En contrapartida, las fuerzas de seguridad de Cisjordania capturaron en los días siguientes a más de 60 afiliados a Hamás.

“Un agente de paisano me recibió en la puerta de la prisión de los Servicios de Inteligencia en Jericó. Me vendó los ojos y me ató las manos a la espalda antes de comenzar a arrojarme contra la pared durante 10 minutos”, detalla Alaa Zaqeq, de 27 años y miembro de un grupo estudiantil de Hamás que fue detenido en Cisjordania. “Me dijo que esto solo era la ‘bienvenida’ y me llevó a los baños”, precisa antes de dar cuenta de las torturas que sufrió. “Al día día siguiente (un interrogador apodado) el Exprimidor me dijo: ‘Te prometo que solo vas a poder salir de aquí en una silla de ruedas”.

En los casos documentados por Human Rights Watch las fuerzas de seguridad amenazan, golpean y fuerzan a los detenidos a permanecer durante largos periodos atados con cables o cuerdas. Las denuncias presentadas por los arrestados o sus familiares rara vez culminan con una sanción interna o el procesamiento de los agentes. Los investigadores de HRW se reunieron en Ramala, capital administrativa palestina, con mandos de los Servicios de Inteligencia para recabar su versión. Estos alegaron que solo se habían producido casos aislados de malos trato que habían sido investigados y cuyos responsables fueron castigados. Israel no permitió el paso del equipo de la ONG estadounidense a la franja de Gaza para entrevistarse con dirigentes de Hamás. En una carta dirigida por el movimiento islamista a HRW, se aseguraba que en la Franja se respetaban los tratados sobre derechos humanos refrendados por Palestina. Hamás se negó, sin embargo, a permitir una investigación independiente.

El recurso sistemático a la tortura en ambos territorios puede suponer un crimen contra la humanidad perseguible por la Corte Penal Internacional, a cuya jurisdicción se somete Palestina desde 2015. Por ello Human Rights Watch apela a Estados Unidos, la Unión Europea y demás países que sostienen a la Autoridad Palestina para que suspendan las ayudas económicas destinadas a los servicios de seguridad implicados en violaciones de los derechos humanos hasta que pongan fin a esa práctica y sancionen a los responsables de cometer malos tratos. La misma petición se ha dirigido a Qatar, Irán y Turquía, que respaldan financieramente al Gobierno islamista de Hamás en Gaza.

“Vivo en un país donde me está prohibido expresar mis opiniones. No es el Estado con el que soñamos”, lamenta el activista Hamza Zbeidat, de 31 años, miembro de un ONG que permaneció detenido en Cisjordania durante dos días en mayo de 2016. “Nuestro gran problema es que la Autoridad Palestina está creando unas fuerzas de seguridad para controlar a la gente, pero ni siquiera controla los checkpoints [las barreras y retenes en manos de Israel]”. Zbeidat osó escribir en Facebook un mensaje en el que animaba a “combatir a la Autoridad Palestina con las misma intensidad que se combate a Israel”.

Según tomado de, https://elpais.com/internacional/2018/10/22/actualidad/1540233376_664384.html

The Lonely Convert

The Lonely Convert

 by Aliza Elisheva Garvin

No one warned me of the potential loneliness I’d face or how hard it can be to get married as a convert.


Before I converted, people tried to dissuade me. “It’s expensive to keep kosher,” and “It’s hard being Jewish” were the top arguments I heard. “Why are you doing this?” was another question people asked frequently. I was committed to complete my conversion no matter what people said. For me, there was just no other option to live a life of meaning and closeness to God.

A year and a half after I converted and became an Orthodox Jew, I still feel the same conviction towards being Jewish. But, as some people warned, this road has not been easy.

What has been the hardest part about being a convert?

Well, it’s not keeping kosher. I have the luxury and privilege of living in New York City where kosher groceries, products, and restaurants are abundant. Modesty? Not a problem. I joyfully took on that mitzvah. Shabbat? It’s my ultimate spiritual cornerstone to Jewish life.

Don’t get me wrong; some mitzvot are challenging and there is always room to learn and grow. I am no tzadiket; I’m not perfect. I took on the whole Torah to the best of my ability and by no means do I have any regrets.

For me, the hardest part of being a convert is the loneliness.

Some converts, myself included, can lose their entire family because of this enormous change. It’s not that you can’t join family gatherings anymore where treif food is served or where other discomforts or compromising situations can arise. Sometimes a convert’s family of origin, like my own, can take their child’s conversion offensively. Some gentile parents may cut their Jewish convert children off, leaving the convert to fend for themselves, hoping they’ll decide to renounce Judaism and return to their families. For me, renouncing Judaism to get my family back never was, nor ever will be an option. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. It would be dishonest of me.

For me, the hardest part of being a convert is the loneliness. This challenge echoes itself most loudly in shidduchim, dating for marriage. No one ever warned me of the potential loneliness I would face or how hard it can be to get married as a convert.

Shidduchim remind me that I am different from other Jews. Someone may have an interest in dating me until they I find out I am a convert. Sometimes it’s the family that opposes the match, no matter how compatible their children may be; they do not want their child to marry a convert under any circumstances. These families may see the convert as being flawed. They may consider the convert’s background “impure,” thus mistakenly rendering the convert “not- 100% Jewish.” Some people are against marrying a convert because of the custom of their communities is to not allow it, for they assume that all convert converts for insincere reasons. This is unfortunate because it puts an unfair bias against true converts. Have we forgotten the important figures of our history who were converts themselves or born from converts? Did their converted parent’s background stop them from reaching spiritual heights?

I have been shunned and forgotten by some shadchanim, matchmakers. A shadchan may match a convert with another convert, despite having nothing in common other than being a convert or share the same race. For converts of color, this is especially true. As a woman who was never married with no children, when I am lucky, I’ll be suggested someone who is divorced with children because we’re both in the category of “difficult cases.”

How many times does the Torah need to remind the Jewish people to love the convert? I now understand why the Hebrew word for a convert is “ger”, which means “stranger.” You may God forbid remain unmarried and your Shabbat invites may dwindle after you leave the safety net of seminary or yeshiva. You can observe Judaism and feel close to God, yet close to no one.

Please don’t treat a convert like a second-class citizen. We are 100% Jewish like you are.

I write this article not to kvetch, but to give this issue attention. People often do not realize there is a problem in their communities unless they or their loved ones experience the problem themselves. Many people do not talk about their struggles openly or wish to put themselves in the public eye.

Here is my request to the Jewish community: Please make the extra effort to love a convert, to help them feel welcome in your communities and shuls. If they have gone through an Orthodox conversion, their rabbis have already asked them plenty of questions. Don’t feel it is your duty to have them repeatedly undergo the process of conversion. Please don’t treat a convert like a second-class citizen. We are 100% Jewish like you are.

Please do not ask a convert (especially on the first date or at the Shabbos table in front of strangers) why they converted. For me, sharing my story requires some rapport with the person asking for me to feel comfortable. Each convert has their own personal, legitimate reasons for converting that are frequently very private. Don’t be nosy. There is a good reason why Jewish law prohibits reminding a convert that they converted. Please respect their boundaries and look for the good in them. And for shadchanim, try to address a convert just like you would if they were Jewish by birth.

I hope my article generates conversation and helps Jews to fulfill the mitzvah to genuinely love the convert and their fellow Jew.

As taken from, http://www.aish.com/jw/s/The-Lonely-Convert.html?s=hp1

The Courage of Persistence

There is a strange passage in the life of Isaac, ominous in its foreshadowing of much of later Jewish history. Like Abraham, Isaac finds himself forced by famine to go to Gerar, in the land of the Philistines. There, like Abraham, he senses that his life may be in danger because he is married to a beautiful woman. He fears that he will be killed so that Rebecca can be taken into the harem of king Avimelekh. The couple pass themselves off as brother and sister. The deception is discovered, Avimelekh is indignant, explanations are made, and the moment passes. Genesis 26 reads almost like a replay of Genesis 20, a generation later.

In both cases Avimelekh promises the patriarchs security. To Abraham he said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like” (Gen. 20:15). About Isaac, he commands, “Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death” (Gen. 26:11). Yet in both cases, there is a troubled aftermath. In Genesis 21 we read about an argument that arose over a well that Abraham had dug: “Then Abraham complained to Avimelekh about a well of water that Avimelekh’s servants had seized” (Gen. 21:25). The two men make a treaty. Yet, as we now discover, this was not sufficient to prevent further difficulties in the days of Isaac:

Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.

Then Avimelekh said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarrelled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. Then they dug another well, but they quarrelled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarrelled over it. He named it Reĥovot, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” (26:12–22)

There are three aspects of this passage worthy of careful attention. The first is the intimation it gives us of what will later be the turning point of the fate of the Israelites in Egypt. Avimelekh says, “you have become too powerful for us.” Centuries later, Pharaoh says, at the beginning of the book of Exodus, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are greater in number and power than we are. Come on, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and it come to pass, when there befall any war, that they join also with our enemies and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land” (1:9–10). The same word, atzum, “power/ powerful,” appears in both cases. Our passage signals the birth of one of the deadliest of human phenomena, antisemitism.

Antisemitism is in some respects unique. It is, in Robert Wistrich’s phrase, the world’s longest hatred.¹ No other prejudice has lasted so long, mutated so persistently, attracted such demonic myths, or had such devastating effects. But in other respects it is not unique, and we must try to understand it as best we can.

One of the best books about antisemitism, is in fact not about antisemitism at all, but about similar phenomena in other contexts, Amy Chua’s World on Fire.² Her thesis is that any conspicuously successful minority will attract envy that may deepen into hate and provoke violence. All three conditions are essential. The hated group must be conspicuous, for otherwise it would not be singled out. It must be successful, for otherwise it would not be envied. And it must be a minority, for otherwise it would not be attacked.

All three conditions were present in the case of Isaac. He was conspicuous: he was not a Philistine, he was different from the local population as an outsider, a stranger, someone with a different faith. He was successful: his crops had succeeded a hundredfold, his flocks and herds were large, and the people envied him. And he was a minority: a single family in the midst of the local population. All the ingredients were present for the distillation of hostility and hate.

There is more. Another profound insight into the conditions that give rise to antisemitism was given by Hannah Arendt in her book The Origins of Totalitarianism (the section has been published separately as Anti-Semitism).³ Hostility to Jews becomes dangerous, she argued, not when Jews are strong, but when they are weak.

This is deeply paradoxical because, on the face of it, the opposite is true. A single thread runs from the Philistines’ reaction to Isaac and Pharaoh’s to the Israelites, to the myth concocted in the late nineteenth century, known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.4 It says that Jews are powerful, too powerful. They control resources. They are a threat. They must be removed.
Yet, says Arendt, antisemitism did not become dangerous until they had lost the power they had once had:

When Hitler came to power, the German banks were already almost Judenrein (and it was here that Jews had held key positions for more than a hundred years) and German Jewry as a whole, after a long steady growth in social status and numbers, was declining so rapidly that statisticians predicted its disappearance in a few decades.5

The same was true in France:

The Dreyfus affair exploded not under the Second Empire, when French Jewry was at the height of its prosperity and influence, but under the Third Republic when Jews had all but vanished from important positions.6

Antisemitism is a complex, protean phenomenon because antisemites must be able to hold together two beliefs that seem to contradict one another: Jews are so powerful that they should be feared, and at the same time so powerless that they can be attacked without fear.

It would seem that no one could be so irrational as to believe both of these things simultaneously. But emotions are not rational, despite the fact that they are often rationalised, for there is a world of difference between rationality and rationalisation (the attempt to give rational justification for irrational beliefs).

So, for example, in the twenty-first century we can find that (a) Western media are almost universally hostile to Israel, and (b) otherwise intelligent people claim that the media are controlled by Jews who support Israel: the same inner contradiction of perceived powerlessness and ascribed power.

Arendt summarises her thesis in a single, telling phrase which links her analysis to that of Amy Chua. What gives rise to antisemitism is, she says, the phenomenon of “wealth without power.” That was precisely the position of Isaac among the Philistines.

There is a second aspect of our passage that has had reverberations through the centuries: the self-destructive nature of hate. The Philistines did not ask Isaac to share his water with them. They did not ask him to teach them how he (and his father) had discovered a source of water that they – residents of the place – had not. They did not even simply ask him to move on. They “stopped up” the wells, “filling them with earth.” This act harmed them more than it harmed Isaac. It robbed them of a resource that would, in any case, have become theirs, once the famine had ended and Isaac had returned home.

More than hate destroys the hated, it destroys the hater. In this case too, Isaac and the Philistines were a portent of what would eventually happen to the Israelites in Egypt. By the time of the plague of locusts, we read:

Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that   they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realise that Egypt is ruined?” (Exodus 10:7)

In effect they said to Pharaoh: you may think you are harming the Israelites. In fact you are harming us.
 Both love and hate, said Rabbi Shimon bar Yocĥai, “upset the natural order” (mekalkelet et hashurah).7 They are irrational. They make us do things we would not do otherwise. In today’s Middle East, as so often before, those intent on destroying their enemies end by doing great harm to their own interests, their own people.

Third, Isaac’s response remains the correct one today. Defeated once, he tries again. He digs another well; this too yields opposition. So he moves on and tries again, and eventually finds peace.

How fitting it is that the town that today carries the name Isaac gave the site of this third well, is the home of the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Faculty of Agriculture of the Hebrew University, and the Kaplan hospital, allied to the Medical School of the Hebrew University. Israel Belkind, one of the founders of the settlement in 1890, called it Reĥovot precisely because of the verse in our parsha: “He named it Reĥovot, saying, Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

Isaac is the least original of the three patriarchs. His life lacks the drama of Abraham or the struggles of Jacob. We see in this passage that Isaac himself did not strive to be original. The text is unusually emphatic on the point: Isaac “reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.” Normally we strive to individuate ourselves by differentiating ourselves from our parents. We do things differently, or even if we don’t, we give them different names. Isaac was not like this. He was content to be a link in the chain of generations, faithful to what his father had started. Isaac represents the faith of persistence, the courage of continuity. He was the first Jewish child, and he represents the single greatest challenge of being a Jewish child: to continue the journey our ancestors began, rather than drifting from it, thereby bringing the journey to an end before it has reached its destination. And Isaac, because of that faith, was able to achieve the most elusive of goals, namely peace – because he never gave up. When one effort failed, he began again. So it is with all great achievements: one part originality, nine parts persistence.

I find it moving that Isaac, who underwent so many trials, from the binding when he was young, to the rivalry between his sons when he was old and blind, carries a name that means, “He will laugh.” Perhaps the name – given to him by God Himself before Isaac was born – means what the Psalm means when it says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with joy” (Ps. 126:5). Faith means the courage to persist through all the setbacks, all the grief, never giving up, never accepting defeat. For at the end, despite the opposition, the envy and the hate, lie the broad spaces, Reĥovot, and the laughter, Isaac: the serenity of the destination after the storms along the way.

Shabbat shalom, by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

[1] Robert Wistrich, Anti-Semitism: The Longest Hatred (New York: Schocken, 1991).
[2] Amy Chua, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (New York: Anchor Books, 2004).
[3] Hannah Arendt, Anti-Semitism (part one of The Origins of Totalitarianism), (Harcourt Brace and Company, 1979).
[4] The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a forgery, produced by a Russian journalist at the end of the nineteenth century, claiming that there was a Jewish conspiracy to achieve world. The classic work on the subject is Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (New York: Harper & Row, 1966). See also Hadassa Ben-Itto, The Lie That Wouldn’t Die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2005).
[5] Ibid., 4.
[6] Ibid., 4-5
[7] Bereishit Rabbah 55:8.

As taken from, http://rabbisacks.org/courage-persistence-toldot-5779/

Admitting A Mistake: Even God Does

by Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo

    ויחרד יצחק חרדה גדלה עד מאד…

And Yitzchak shuddered a great shudder…
Bereshit 27:33

Nothing is more difficult than admitting a mistake, yet nothing is more human than making one.

In several places, the Torah deals with the need for and the merit of admitting one’s mistakes. After all, a life spent making mistakes is not only much more honorable, but the alternative is much worse. People who make no mistakes usually accomplish nothing. And only those who spend their time in self-absorption and vanity are faultless. There is no road in between, and there is no escape. Owning up to our errors is greater than merely knowing how to avoid making them. It is wisdom gained.

In the book of Bereshit, we read about a powerful example of having the courage to admit a mistake. When the sons of Ya’akov met their brother Yosef, the second in command of Egypt, they finally realized that they had badly erred in the way they had dealt with him 22 years earlier, when they had sold him to foreigners.

After Yosef treated them harshly and put them in jail, they recalled their behavior toward him and how they had sold him all those years ago:

And they said to each other: “We are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the suffering of his soul when he pleaded to us, and we would not hear; therefore this suffering has befallen us.”[1]

When carefully examining this case, we realize the enormous courage and strength that the brothers displayed at this crucial moment in their lives.

No Wine

Rashi informs us[2] that the brothers drank no wine from the day they sold Yosef until they saw him in Egypt. This seems to imply that during all those years their joy was diminished (as in a state of mourning), perhaps because they were continually deliberating and re-evaluating their earlier decision to sell Yosef. Not a day passed that they did not ask themselves if they had acted correctly, and for years they had presumably come to the conclusion that justice was on their side.

Only after more than 20 years did they have second thoughts, realizing that they had been wrong for all that time! This must have been a devastating and traumatic experience; one that few of us could endure. Who is able to declare that he has lived for so many years in error and now has the courage to change his mind?

Owning up to a mistake that was made through an impulsive decision is difficult enough, but admitting a wrongdoing that was thought about for years and was seen as absolutely justified is a completely different ballgame.

Captivity

Often, we make the terrible mistake of entrenching ourselves in our errors instead of admitting them. Consequently, we are no longer capable of taking a fresh look at the issues involved. The mind is, after all, a devoted captive of our desires and personal wishes.

One must live the way one thinks, or end up thinking the way one lives. To live is to regret so as to live anew.

Our main problem is thinking that admitting our mistakes weakens our stand in the community. We believe that we lose the respect of our fellow human beings and will be taken less seriously by those around us. However, looking more closely at our story proves different.

As long as the brothers insisted on their innocence, Yosef responded harshly, calling them spies and showing them little respect. Once they showed regret and openly admitted their mistake, he realized their astonishing greatness and behaved toward them with much compassion.

Looking into another story that deals with a similar issue, we see how Yitzchak “trembled violently”[3] after he discovered that he had mistakenly given blessings to his son Ya’akov and not to his first-born, Esav.

Unlike what many people believe, the sages point out that what made Yitzchak tremble was not so much his realization that he had wrongly given the blessings meant for Esav to Ya’akov, but that he suddenly understood how he had for years misread Esav’s constitution and temperament, thinking he was fit to receive those blessings.

It is remarkable that the realization of his mistake was seemingly more traumatic than when he was told years earlier by his father Avraham that he was to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah. Nowhere do we read that this caused him to tremble violently.

Throughout the Talmud and later commentaries, we see how the sages did not shy away from admitting a mistake. A famous case in point is mentioned in Tractate Shabbat:

When Rabbi Dimi came, he said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: “How do we know that woven [material] of whatever size is [liable to become] ritually unclean? From the tzitz [the head plate worn by the High Priest].” Said Abaye to him: “Was then the tzitz woven? But it was taught: The tzitz was a kind of golden plate, two fingers wide and it stretched around

[the forehead]

from ear to ear… And Rabbi Eliezer son of Rabbi Yose said: I saw it in the city of Rome [where it was taken after the destruction of the Temple, and it was indeed made of gold]…” When Rabbi Dimi went up to Nehardea, he sent word: “The things that I told you were erroneous.”[4]

He changed his mind. The importance of this admission is borne out by the fact that the Talmud took the time to record it!

My Sons Have Defeated Me

This may well be the reason why even God sometimes makes a “mistake.” In a famous passage in the Talmud, we read that the sages decided a certain law against the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer who was known to be the sharpest mind of his day and was fully supported by God:

On that day Rabbi Eliezer brought every imaginable argument, but they [the Sages] did not accept them. He said to them: “If the law is as I say, let this carob tree prove it.” Thereupon the carob tree was torn

[miraculously]

a hundred cubits out of its place [proving that God was on his side] – others say it was four hundred cubits! “No proof can be brought from a carob tree,” they retorted. Again he said to them: “If the law is as I say, let this stream of water prove it,” whereupon the stream of water flowed backwards. “No proof can be brought from a stream of water,” they rejoined. Again he argued: “If the law is as I say, let the walls of this schoolhouse prove it,” whereupon the walls inclined to fall.

But Rabbi Yehoshua rebuked them [the walls], saying: “When scholars are engaged in a halachic dispute, why do you interfere?” Hence they did not fall, in honor of Rabbi Yehoshua. Nor did they resume their upright position, in honor of Rabbi Eliezer; and they are still standing thus inclined. Again he said to them: “If the law is as I say, let it be proved from Heaven,” whereupon a heavenly voice cried out: “Why do you dispute with Rabbi Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the law is as he says!” But, Rabbi Yehoshua arose and exclaimed: “It [the law] is not in heaven.”[5] What is meant by this? Rabbi Yirmiyahu said: “It means that the Torah has already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a heavenly voice, because You, God, have long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, ‘One must incline after the majority.’”[6]

This remarkable story raises many questions: Why did God not agree with Rabbi Yehoshua? He had clearly stated in His Own Torah that when opinions conflicted, one should follow the majority of the sages and no longer rely on any heavenly voice. Why did He deliberately try to confuse the sages by giving His opinion against His own instructions?

One way of looking at it is that God decided to give the impression that He had made a mistake when saying that Rabbi Eliezer was right and the sages wrong! This is borne out by the continuation of the story:

Rabbi Nathan met Eliyahu [the prophet, who is considered to be immortal] and asked him: “What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do at that moment

[when Rabbi Yehoshua declared that he would not obey His heavenly
voice]

?” He replied, “He smiled [with joy], saying, My sons have defeated Me; My sons have defeated Me.”[7]

Indeed, when mistakes are raised to the level of God, the ultimate Source of wisdom, and God admits His “mistakes,” we can rest assured that it is nothing less than honorable to act similarly. God risked His reputation of being all-knowing. Instead of fearing a loss of prestige, He felt that admitting His mistakes only enhanced His dignity.

Even more astonishing is the observation in the Talmud that God brought a chatat (sin offering) on His own behalf to atone for His having diminished the size of the moon.[8]

Nothing more needs to be said.

Notes:

[1] Bereshit 42:21.

[2] Ibid., 43:34.

[3] Bereshit 27:33.

[4] Shabbat 63b.

[5] Devarim 30:12.

[6] Bava Metzia 59b.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Chullin 60b; Shavuot 9a.

As taken from, https://www.cardozoacademy.org/thoughts-to-ponder/parashat-toldot-admitting-a-mistake-even-god-does/?utm_source=Subscribers&utm_campaign=f608ccdd61-Weekly_Thoughts_to_Ponder_campaign_TTP_548_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dd05790c6d-f608ccdd61-242341409

Is Excessive Wealth a Virtue or a Vice?

by Levi Atvson

Question:

I’ve learned that Abraham was wealthy, Isaac was wealthy, Jacob was wealthy, Joseph was wealthy, Moses was wealthy . . . but it doesn’t feel right. Isn’t wealth the negative consequence of greed and unbridled ambition? Is wealth a virtue or a vice?

Answer:

In the portion of Toldot, we read of Isaac’s incredible financial success. “And Isaac sowed in that land, and he found in that year a hundredfold, and the L‑rd blessed him. And the man became great, and he grew constantly greater until he had grown very great.”1 Rashi on the verse quotes the Midrash: People at that time used to say, “Better the manure of Isaac’s mules than the gold and silver of [King] Abimelech!” In other words, Isaac was so wealthy that even his lowliest possessions seemed superior to the king’s riches.

The Talmud seems to offer opposing views on wealth. On the one hand, “G‑d went to search for good attributes and found nothing greater than poverty!”2 On the other hand, “Rebbi [Yehuda] used to honor wealthy people!”3 Or how about this one: “Rabbi Yochanan said that the Divine Presence rests only on one who is wise, mighty, wealthy and humble.”4

Is your head spinning yet?

Let’s leave wealth for a second and ask the same question in a different context:

Is talent a virtue or a vice?Is talent a virtue or a vice?

Are leadership qualities a virtue or a vice?

Is sexuality a virtue or a vice?

The answer to all these questions is the same: It depends what you make of it.

Wealth, like any means, is a potential. Potential is neither good nor bad; it’s neutral and colorless. The user gives it meaning and color. We take potential out of neutral and decide whether it will drive us forward or set us back into reverse.

An artist can use her G‑d-given ability to inspire by creating art that glorifies virtue, or debase by glorifying vice. A singer can sing lyrics of sincerity and mindfulness, or he can rant about false love and pathetic aspirations. The choice of what to do with potential is ours and ours alone.

The patriarchs saw wealth as a means rather than an end. Having an overloaded Swiss bank account was not their definition of wealth. Money was an instrument of change. With money they could give charity, offer dignity through creating jobs, host people, raise a family in comfort, fulfill mitzvahs with grandeur, buy beautiful gifts for their loved ones and offer their kids a head start on their own financial stability.

If wealth has so much potential for greatness, then why did the Talmud state that “poverty is a good attribute”? Maharsha explains that, like other forms of suffering, poverty can cleanse one from sin.5 In other words, poverty is not inherently good; it only serves the purpose of atonement.

If financial stability and even wealth was a blessing in previous generations, then how much more so in our times of abundance. Although we may romanticize the simpler times when poor village folk could live in bare huts and survive off of black bread and well water, in modern times we need homes, electricity, food options, medical insurance, often a car, etc. Money has the ability to offer us serenity and peace of mind.

In today’s time, poverty should not be an aspiration. In today’s time, poverty should not be an aspiration.

Allow me to quote a small selection from an incredible talk that the Lubavitcher Rebbe delivered in early February 1992:

A Jew is rich in essence; and his inner spiritual wealth should be reflected in actual material wealth. If this is not openly apparent, this is only because G‑d desires that a Jew reveal this wealth through his efforts, that he transform the darkness of the world into light. This in turn will draw down an abundance of Divine blessing into the world.

The above is particularly true in the present time, when the Jewish people have completed all the spiritual tasks demanded of them and all that is necessary is to actually accept Moshiach. Currently, each and every member of the present generation, the last generation of exile and the first generation of Redemption, is surely worthy of abundant material wealth.

This leads to a practical directive: Each Jew should seek to obtain wealth, spiritual wealth as our sages stated, “There is no concept of wealth other than knowledge,” and also actual material wealth. The latter will, as the Rambam explains, enable one to devote oneself to the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvahs in a more complete manner. Similarly, one will be able to donate more generously to charity, including the charity given for the construction of synagogues and houses of study.

I remember the first time I was introduced to this talk and how incredibly mind-altering it was for me. Living in comfort was always my dream and prayer, but wealth? Wealth was just a headache and a slippery slope to materialism and vice.

No, say the founders of our faith. No, says the Rebbe. Wealth offers tremendous potential for good. Why say no to an opportunity for growth and impact? Would we say no to a G‑d-given talent?

Of course, not all of us are destined for wealth. (For me, entering the rabbinate was not exactly the road to affluence.) And in no way are we saying that those of us who are not blessed with financial wealth have any less ability to make an impact. We all have the capacity to fulfill our personal mission. Wealth is but a tool.6

May we all use our G‑d-given abilities for their true intention: making a beautiful world for G‑d!

Footnotes

1.Genesis 26:12.

2. Chagigah 9b.

3. Eiruvin 86a.

4. Nedarim 38a. Drashot HaRaN essay #5 offers a lengthy essay to explain this statement literally (unlike Maimonides, who reads “wealthy” in non-literal sense). He explains that people will only take note of someone affluent, and a prophet needs people’s ear and therefore must be wealthy.

5. Ad loc.

6. For a beautiful article on this week’s Parshah that approaches the topic of wealth from a different angle, please see: The Purpose of Wealth.

As taken from, https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/4183854/jewish/Is-Excessive-Wealth-a-Virtue-or-a-Vice.htm

Ataque en la sinagoga de Pittsburgh: nadie pensó que podría ocurrir aquí

Ataque en la sinagoga de Pittsburgh: nadie pensó que podría ocurrir aquí


Este ha sido uno de los ataques más mortales contra los judíos en la historia de Estados Unidos. Es hora de despertar.

por Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

El hedor del antisemitismo abunda en el aire. Y apesta.

Después de que las vigilias con velas hayan terminado, de que los emotivos discursos de políticos y líderes comunitarios hayan finalizado, de que los memoriales y las flores hayan sido colocadas en las puertas de la devastación, debemos preguntarnos: “¿Y ahora qué?”.

Nací entre las cenizas del Holocausto. Durante años, las historias de mis abuelos, tíos y primos que fueron asesinados, eran mi propia historia. Mis hermanos e hijos llevan sus santos nombres, sabiendo que hemos sido bendecidos con vida para que podamos vivir por ellos. Ellos murieron en las cámaras de gas, pero nosotros sobrevivimos. Triunfamos sobre los nazis que querían eliminarnos de la faz de la Tierra.

Junto con nuestros nombres también cargamos con una gran responsabilidad. Por lo que encendemos velas de Shabat por ellos, celebramos nuestras festividades, estudiamos Torá, amamos a nuestro pueblo y transmitimos un legado a la siguiente generación como si ellos hubieran sobrevivido.

Pero con el pasar del tiempo, se ha fijado entre nosotros un estado de complacencia. Los años previos a la muerte de mi madre, ella repetía la siguiente frase a todo quien quisiera escucharla:

“Escúchenme, sé de lo que estoy hablando… El mundo está ardiendo y estamos durmiendo”.

“Sé de lo que estoy hablando, kinderlach. Escúchenme. He visto esto antes. No puedo quedarme en silencio. Estamos recibiendo un llamado a despertar. El mundo está ardiendo. Hay mucho pasando, tal como ocurrió cuando era pequeña. Y estamos durmiendo. Simplemente estamos durmiendo”.

Algunos escucharon, otros se encogieron de hombros. Algunos dijeron que no aplicaba a ellos. Nadie pensó que algo terrible podría realmente ocurrir en este glorioso país, Estados Unidos, donde reina la libertad. Los judíos aquí estamos a salvo. Estamos cómodos. Estamos contentos y progresando. Después de todo, esto no es Europa…

Pero entonces ocurrió uno de los más mortales ataques contra los judíos en la historia de Estados Unidos. Llegó el fatídico momento.

Llegó el día a partir del cual las cosas no volverán a ser iguales. Despertamos frente al radiante sol y el cielo sigue azul, pero la vida ha cambiado para siempre.

Mi madre describió el día en que volvió a casa de la escuela en marzo de 1944 y gritó “Mami, he llegado a casa”. Pero hubo un silencio. Mi madre, que cursaba primera preparatoria en ese entonces, encontró a su madre llorando el la cocina.

—Mami, ¿qué ha ocurrido?

Sólo hubo silencio. El corazón de mi madre comenzó a latir con fuerza. Mi abuela miró a la pequeña, pero no pudo decir ni una sola palabra.

—Por favor mami, ¿que pasó?

—Los malvados nazis han llegado. Quieren matarnos.

La suave voz de mi abuelo se escuchó a lo lejos:

—¡No le digas cosas tan terribles a la niña!

Pero mi abuela era conocida por decir siempre la verdad de forma directa. Ella le respondió:

—No tiene sentido escondérselo. Lo sabrá tarde o temprano.

La ocupación nazi de Szeged había comenzado.

Una noche, una acalorada discusión tuvo lugar en la casa de mis padres. Un judío había escapado de Polonia y contaba macabras historias sobre judíos que eran asesinados con gas y que luego eran arrojados a hornos ardientes. Nadie creía que fuera posible. Aquel todavía era un país de cultura, música y arte. El mundo era civilizado. Aquel hombre probablemente estaba loco.

27 de octubre, 2018. Ocurre la masacre en la sinagoga Tree of Life, ‘Árbol de vida’, en la que un hombre armado irrumpió en los servicios matutinos de Shabat con un rifle de asalto AR-15 y tres pistolas. En ese momento se efectuaba una ceremonia de nombramiento de un bebé. El terrorista gritó frases antisemitas y comenzó a disparar.

11 judíos fueron asesinados, sólo por el hecho de ser judíos.

Los incidentes antisemitas crecieron en un 57% en el 2017, y se documentaron 1986 eventos, de los cuales gran parte ocurrieron en los colegios secundarios y universidades. Hay odio hacia los judíos, odio hacia Israel, boicots y ataques a Israel mientras el mundo ignora las afrontas a la justicia que ocurren a lo largo del mundo. Los estudiantes tienen miedo de identificarse como judíos. Hay llamados abiertos a lo largo de la web a matar judíos.

Esto no se trata sobre control de armas, guardias de seguridad, cursos de autodefensa o de una discusión sobre política. Esto se trata sobre nuestro pueblo y el futuro de nuestra nación. Se trata de nuestros hijos, y los hijos de nuestros hijos. ¿Estamos durmiendo mientras la historia de desarrolla frente a nuestras propias narices?

“Soy una judía diferente hoy de lo que era ayer. Espero que la judía que soy hoy sea más fuerte”.

Sophie Levin, una estudiante de segundo año en la secundaria Taylor Allderdice y cuya madre y abuelos asisten a la sinagoga Tree of Life, dice que el ataque la cambió para siempre. “El antisemitismo era para mí algo que ocurrió en el pasado, en otros lugares”, dijo. “Soy una judía diferente hoy de lo que era ayer. Espero que la judía que soy hoy sea más fuerte”.

Querida Sophie, te hablo a ti y a las jóvenes y bellas almas de tu generación.

Estás creciendo en un mundo lleno de odio. Demasiadas veces ha habido silencio cuando sangre judía es derramada. El mundo está listo para decir Kadish por nosotros, crear un memorial, escribir sobre nosotros en los libros de historia. Nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Israel luchan por sus vidas cada día. Atentados, masacres, acuchillamientos, túneles subterráneos y secuestros se han convertido en la norma. La ONU debate sobre nuestro derecho a existir. En Estados Unidos se ha vuelto demasiado fácil vociferar palabras de odio contra nuestro pueblo diciendo “No tenemos nada contra los judíos, sino contra Israel”. Una forma conveniente de decir “Odiamos a los judíos”.

Dices que hoy eres una judía diferente de lo que eras, y que esperas ser más fuerte. Aplaudo tus palabras.

Este es mi anhelo. Espero que sepas que ser una judía más fuerte significa vivir con la fe de tus abuelas y abuelos que vivieron antes de ti. Espero que forjes un camino hacia adelante sabiendo de dónde vienes. Somos una nación que ha sobrevivido la destrucción de nuestros templos en Jerusalem, exilios, pogromos, cruzadas, inquisición, cámaras de gas y crueles actos de terrorismo. Hemos sido desparramados por los cuatro rincones de la tierra; estamos cansados, pero al mismo tiempo la chispa judía aún arde en nuestros corazones. Nunca se extinguirá. Eso es una promesa de Dios, pero de nosotros depende hacer que la llama se mantenga fuerte.

Depende de nosotros, de ti y de tu generación, definir la fortaleza que hace que el pueblo judío siga adelante. Es en la conexión con nuestra Torá y en nuestra ancestral sabiduría donde se encuentra nuestro oxígeno. Es el amor y la falta de prejuicios entre judíos lo que nos lleva a la unidad. Ningún terrorista pregunta qué tipo de judío eres antes de atacar.

Que Dios nos cuide y nos de paz.

Según tomado de, http://www.aishlatino.com/iymj/mj/Ataque-en-la-sinagoga-de-Pittsburgh-nadie-penso-que-podria-ocurrir-aqui.html

Is Replacement Theology Fueling Anti-Semitism in America?

What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. Ecclesiastes 1: 4-18 (The Israel Bible™)

(Credit: YouTube screenshot)

In the wake of the Pittsburgh atrocity on October 27, the founder of a nationally recognized watchdog group – active in confronting anti-Semitism – issued a stark warning about the dangers of replacement theology fueling an uptick in Jew-hatred.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) said, “It is long past time to confront the growing danger posed by the dramatic rise of anti-Semitism in America. We must examine how our society, including our churches and education system, is helping to enable this threat making not just our Jewish communities vulnerable, but all people.”

She also echoed words that Britain’s former Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks has used to consistently warn the world of the inherent dangers of enabling or excusing virulent Jew-hatred. “History has shown that anti-Semitism doesn’t stop with the Jewish community; this hatred will soon be directed at other people of faith as well,” Cardoza-Moore added.

PJTN was established to help educate about and confront the rise of anti-Semitism in the church and around the world. The organization seeks to educate Christians and Jews and people of any faith who desire to stand against this most ancient of hatreds – both in the United States and globally.

Cardoza-Moore cited the seldom recognized aspect of ‘replacement theology’ as a major fuel for anti-Semitism in America. Robert Bowers, a Christian Nationalist quoted from New Testament scriptures to legitimize his anti-Semitic, replacement theology doctrine, as he murdered 11 members of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh.

Replacement theology is a first century CE teaching that Ignatius of Antioch – an early Gentile Christian church founder – espoused; namely that Christians and the church replaced Israel and the Jews as God’s chosen children. PJTN is concerned that it is a doctrine that is still popular and is being actively preached “by a growing number of pastors and church leaders in many religious institutions in America”.

To add fuel to this fire, Cardoza-Moore noted, “Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content in our U.S. textbooks and instructional materials has also given rise to violence against Jewish students on secondary school campuses.

“We in America have witnessed a continuous rise in anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses and on social media platforms with little to no response from university administrators,” said Cardoza-Moore. “They continuously cite the ‘free speech rights’ of students to perpetuate and thus legitimize this growing threat. Unfortunately, it took a horrific attack on a Jewish community for law enforcement and the media to finally condemn the anti-Semitic posts on social media.”

In 2009, PJTN produced an award-winning documentary titled, The Forgotten People, Christianity and the Holocaust that exposes the false doctrine of replacement theology and the shocking history of Christian anti-Semitism.

As taken from, https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/116422/replacement-theology-fueling-anti-semitism-america/?utm_source=Israel365&utm_campaign=412dc402ba-BIN_evening_11_18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bb2894f273-412dc402ba-46578057&mc_cid=412dc402ba&mc_eid=3dced499f3