In this week’s Torah portion, the Jewish People encounters the other nations and becomes petrified. But we are not supposed to be afraid! As King David tells us, “G-d is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me?” (Psalm 118)
Having accepted the Torah on the holiday of Shavuos, we now face the summer, a season which presents unique challenges. Not only are there ubiquitous issues relating to modesty in dress, but we are about to enter the Three Weeks commemorating the destruction of the two Holy Temples, the period when our enemies destroyed our Holy Temple. This is a time for us to contemplate the nature of our relationship with the surrounding cultures.
A few weeks ago, in the Holy Land, the heat became almost unbearable. Temperatures rose dangerously to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, on Wednesday evening, a few days after Shavuos, a colder air mass moved in and there was the very unusual occurrence – for Israel – of summer thunderstorms. Then, suddenly, a new world arrived. Thursday dawned cool and brilliant, a perfect spring day.
This resembles the state of the world. We are now in the days of intense heat. Pressure is building. A storm is coming. After the storm, the atmosphere will clear and days of delight will arrive, but now the heat is still building up. “Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the wicked people and all the evildoers will be like straw, and that coming day will burn them up, says G-d, Master of Legions…” (Malachi 3:19).
Recently, headlines appeared, “Vatican recognizes State of Palestine.” One Jewish paper commented editorially, “The move undermines the Vatican’s status as an instrument for peace….”
Does this really represent a threat to us?
The answer is that it represents a threat only insofar as we fail to have sufficient faith and trust in the Master of the Universe. In other words, we have learned nothing since the days of the Spies! We will continue to be terrified of the other nations as long as our trust is in the wrong place. When are we going to grow up?
I am going to invoke once again one of my favorite commentaries. I apologize for returning to this passage so frequently, but it provides unique perspective on current events. I am referring to the Malbim’s commentary on Yechezkel 32:17, which appears at the beginning of my book, 2020 Vision: “In the End of Days, after the Children of Israel have returned to their land, the children of Ishmael and the children of Esau will unite to attack Jerusalem. They will form a world coalition against the tiny nation of Israel. But something will go wrong with their plan. The religious beliefs of the children of Ishmael and the children of Esau will clash, and the two nations will collide and destroy each other. This is what is referred to as the War of Gog and Magog. Following this cataclysmic conflict, the Final Redemption of the Jewish People will occur with the coming of Messiah the Son of King David.”
My dear readers, are we not seeing this scenario playing itself out in front of our eyes? Is it a wonder that the Vatican – “The instrument of peace!” – allies itself with the so-called “Palestinians”? Are we children? Is it not clear as day that the Vatican is Esau and the “Palestinians” are Ishmael? Did the Malbim, echoing the prophet, not just tell us that, at the End of Days they would unite in one final attempt to destroy us, G-d forbid?
Why are we surprised at the same thing over and over again! The answer is that we are so blinded by exile that we are totally unable to recognize the truth? This is so dangerous, my friends. Our perceptions have become terribly warped.
Why is the overriding obsession of the children of Ishmael and Esau – which overcomes even their mutual hatred – the destruction, G-d forbid, of the Jewish People? It is so clear! These nations, despite lip service to G-d, live for only one thing: The fulfillment of their physical desires. There is nothing else in their life, whether it is the shopping mall or forbidden relationships or the love of violence. And there is only one thing that stands in the way of their desire: the Torah of the Master of the Universe. The Torah demonstrates that the only Reality is spirituality.
The other nations want to continue with their depraved lifestyle, but there is a Nation called the Jewish people, the servants of the Al-Mighty, whose very essence cries out, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” We remind the world by our very existence that their way of life is emptiness and ashes. And so, their eternal obsession is to destroy those who by their existence puncture their fantasy.
My friends, when are we going to open our eyes, both to our own nature and the nature of the culture that surrounds us? Must we keep replaying the role of the Spies? Must we over and over forget who we are? Their hatred will not cease until we remember that we are the Children of the Al-Mighty, “a Kingdom of Priests and Holy Nation” (Exodus 19:5)!
The Prophet continues, “That coming day will burn them up, says G-d, Master of Legions, so that it will not leave them a root or branch, but a sun of righteousness will shine for you who fear my Name, with healing in its rays….” (Malachi 3:19ff)
As soon as we cease to fear the other nations and cease to expect our salvation to emanate from them, at that very moment the Righteous Redeemer will arrive to usher in an eternal era of peace and righteousness!