Rosh Hashana 5768: Unesaneh Tokef: The Role of Greed in Mental Coercion; the Gezeira Rah of Divide and Conquer


by Moshe Burt

Each Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we daven the Unesaneh Tokef as part of the Mussaf tefillah.

The story behind the Unesaneh Tokef tefillah (expressing the seriousness of the day): relates the Gezeira Rah (evil decree) faced by R’ Amnon of Mainz and his Kehilla of forced conversion to Christianity dating back about 1,000 years.

R’ Amnon who, with his Kehilla, faced dread coercion as well as mortal, imminent threat of death, gave the perception of consideration of possible compliance with the demand to convert to Christianity and, as a result, became distraught at even having given the impression that he could betray Hashem.

This gezeira rah 1,000 years ago in Mainz, Germany is contrasted in our time, where forced compliance with an evil decree is based on penalties for noncompliance far less than dread coercion and mortal, imminent threat of death.

In our times, we were witness to the compliance of nearly all of the tens of thousands of Chayalim and police who took part in the Israeli government-sponsored pogrom which ripped apart entire communities from their homes, friends, shuls and workplaces and ripped away from the Jews, at legalized gunpoint, parts of our divine inheritance — the Land of Israel. And we have been witness to expulsions of Jews in Hevron, from various outposts and hilltops, etc. at the peril of loss of jobs, loss of military training, loss of protexia, possible courts-martial, dishonorable army discharge, stains on one’s permanent record, but this author has yet to hear even Olmert threaten those who disobey expulsion orders with death.

And at the religious political level, compliance or noncompliance with “coalition discipline” is played off vs funding of a group’s institutions rather than the mortal, imminent death threat.

Therein lies an essential difference between the pressures borne by R’ Amnon of Mainz and his Kehilla which brought the Rav to momentarily weaken and the pressures to comply being felt by today’s soldiers, policemen and religious politicians and religious leaders.

And that’s what makes notable Minister of Industry and Trade and Shas party leader Eli Yishai’s comments about Shas’ future in Olmert’s coalition should the regime attempt to carry out it’s promotion of further Israeli withdrawals from Judea and Samaria resulting from Olmert’s projected “agreement” with Abbas . Yishai is a big man now making these bold pronouncements. But will he stick to his principles, and will Rav Ovadia Yosef, when push comes to shove and at the peril of Yishai’s ministry or of funding for Shas’ institutions, stick to the principles now espoused by Yishai?

In this author’s lifetime, the expulsion equates as the paradigm persecution of Jews in our time and more. For this Gezeira Rah was not perpetrated by any gentile nation against the Jews. It was perpetrated by one kind of Jew upon another kind of Jew, i.e. Israelis vs Jews.

There is one issue lurking behind the expulsion just over two years ago from Gush Katif and the Shomron: its implications and consequences and the desecration of Hashem’s Name. More and more religious soldiers are beginning to deal with this squarely, forthrightly although the same cannot be said for the kippoted and black-suited religious politicians who vacillated and equivocated at crucial junctures where any one group of them, had they been acting Al Kiddush Hashem, would have negated and reversed the gezeira rah. For the Religious parties, for the right price, will still fall all over themselves for the spoils of the coalition.

The point is simply this — We learn from Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah #157 that by a public gezeira rah against Hashem and Torah, Jews must be willing even to give their lives al Kiddush Shaim Shemayim, if necessary rather than commit the aveirah (the violation). Kol V’Chomer Jews must be willing to forego government funding, protexia and even risk court-martial or loss of jobs to prevent a Chillul Hashem.

As the Yom HaDin approaches, 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, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and the 3 captive Chayalim and the other MIAs be liberated and returned to us and that 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 the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

L’Shana Tova — a sweet year to Kol Yehudim!

Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network.


1 thought on “Rosh Hashana 5768: Unesaneh Tokef: The Role of Greed in Mental Coercion; the Gezeira Rah of Divide and Conquer

Comments are closed.