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 made and make no bones of their disdain for Yiddishkeit, for their Jewishness and thus have evolved into acceptance of 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 hasten, to distinguish these “new Jews” from the phenomenon which arose with Rav Meir Kahane, the JDL, Kach and the like whose members were both observant and secular Jews but who identified as Jews and who 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” 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) discredits his own right to live in Eretz Yisrael, by the Chillul Hashem he performs before the altar of foreign powers, in 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.
This generation’s secular Israeli, descended from the earlier generation “new Jew” who at least fought back when bullied, has, through lack of rooting and footing in Torah and belief in Hashem, 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.
And 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 repeatedly hear of proposals in the secular Israeli cabinet and government to hand over hundreds, thousands of terrorists with Jewish blood-stained hands to the murderous Islamic enemy; terrrorists who, once freed, will inevitably perpetrate more such attacks killing and maiming yet more Jews, in exchange for a single Jewish soldier kidnapped by Islamics in an organized attack upon Jewish soldiers on Jewish land.
The self-inflicted degradation its own credibility by this generation’s secular Israeli governance emboldens its murderous Islamic enemy 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 the facts repeated until internalized, let the chips fall where they may!
For those Jews, 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. There seems a correlation between appeasement and Jewish/Israeli self-hatred and disdain for the Torah ways of Hashem.
And are we, of our generations, so polarized that when the chips are down and we find ourselves collectively in ultimate, dire peril, that we will not have learned the lessons of the past and will not have united and identified with each other as fellow Jews, as Am Yehudi united in the generation of Mordechai HaYehudi and Esther HaMalka — V’Ahavta L’rei’echa Komocha?? Will we feel for each other as one — as one body, rather than as the ultimate end manifestation of the “new Jew” — Israelis vs Chareidim, Ashkenzim vs S’fardim, Dati Leumim vs Chareidim vs Chilonim, etc., etc.?? Can we detect the Yad Hashem (the Hand of Hashem) and the coming of the Ge’ula Shlaima in the recent chain of “natural” disasters, most recently last weekend’s 8.plus earthquake and tsunami in Japan — or do we simply rack them up to natural causes, i.e. one of the catastrophies facing our planet resulting from the moon’s closest orbit of earth in 18 years — taking place on Shabbos Tzav, the day before Purim?
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 — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to prevent the eviction of Jews from their homes and to prevent the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we unite and 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.