These days, not too many Jews show pride in the designation, “Chosen People” — especially in public. We may feel good about it to whatever extent we do, but we are careful not to display it. In fact, many who are upset by this term ask the question, “What are we chosen for?” and answer it: “To suffer.” I can say I’ve thought that way myself from time to time.
Last Yom Rishon (Sunday), R’ Ephraim Sprecher took it upon himself to answer the question, “Why is Israel Chosen to Suffer?” in a shiur recorded on video (see at the end of this article) the day before Rosh Hodesh Shevat, 5776. I was there.
Now, before you go away, you should know that he does not blame the non-Jews, the Erev Rav, or the Jewish spiritual descendants of the Erev Rav. This one is strictly on the descendants of the tribes of Israel, beginning with Dathan and Aviram who, it is explained, snitched on Moshe Rabbenu.
I, on the other hand, would not have called it “why are we chosen to suffer,” but why we choose to suffer, because of the reason Rav Sprecher gave: We Jews, for some reason, have a very great tendency to tell on one another. I thought about it again, and it seems to me it stems from the time of the Sale of Yosef, and has never gone away despite the punishments we get for it. The informers among us especially love to tell on those who live in the hope that the Mashiach will come, the whole Land of Israel will be reclaimed (and some parts of it will be claimed for the first time), the Temple will be rebuilt in its place in Jerusalem, the Great Beth Din will be built and its Assembly reassembled (speaking of which, here’s news concerning the “nascent Sanhedrin”), and the true mesorah (what is passed down) will be revealed and taught to all Jews, both to those who have known themselves to be Jews all their lives and those to whom it will be revealed in the (we hope, near-) future; and true Judaism will be lived and not just talked about. Most of these snakes-in-the-grass are hypocrites because they have done many of the things they accuse their fellow Jews of, in the service of their agenda, which of course is to keep the geula away.
Today many call them Erev Rav due to their disowning of the precious heritage we share, and their acting as though those who cling to it are evil and deserving of oppression and punishment. Perhaps they are, and perhaps not. But how many of us have considered why we are so vulnerable to such people? Is it possible that it all starts with real Jews with real Jewish souls, who hear a message, delivered in a certain way that makes it seem right; and, obeying and acting on that message, it turns out that they are harming the very brother or sister they wished not to harm? Do we really believe that G-d will deliver Israel, or do we believe that anyone who advocates preparation for the coming of Mashiach, the building of the Holy Temple, and Torah governance is a freak? Is our situation a good substitute for the liberation we were promised, which would make the nations admit that it is even greater than when we left Egypt?
A great deal of early Israeli history (readers might want to use more specific search terms than I did to tease out even more information) reveals a poison flower and its fruit in full bloom that continues to grow until the present day, with the recent detaining of “hilltop youth” (name-calling: a favorite tactic of the Left, even here), most of whom had nothing to do with the deed in question. There is even a strong possibility that Amiram ben Uliel, the one who was indicted, incriminated himself under torture. How can one believe what the media says he says until the trial itself reveals the truth? Even if he “re-enacted” the crime — and I don’t call a 31-second video that reveals nothing a “re-enactment” — how do we know it wasn’t just a matter of taking whatever the young man said and saying “we knew this all along and what he said matches”?
Drawing the bullseye around the arrow and calling that “hitting the target” is not the same thing as truly hitting the center of a pre-existing target. We need to remember the difference when we read the news.
Which begs the question: Do violations like these, of all that is sacred, reveal the sin that the state of Israel was born in, as our enemies say? I don’t think so. I think the situation is even worse than that: The people who took credit for the rising of the state of Israel took full advantage of the very life-giving holiness of the return of even a small part of the Jewish Holy Land to a very small part of its people to keep us under bondage to the godless system they brought with them from the by-then Communist lands they left, with previous British and Ottoman law left attached at their convenience. Their spiritual descendants still derive nourishment from this kedusha; they also know well that G-d will do just about anything to keep the Jewish people on the land He promised them at this time in history. Many of these “leaders” still remember the Six-Day War and all the miracles that took place then; they observe all the miracles in every war since, even if they don’t admit it. So, they know the Jewish presence will not go away, as hard as they try to create a hostile environment for Jews so that we will “go back where we came from.” Unlike true teachers of Torah, those who wield power here in Israel draw near with the left hand and push away with the right.
So, I believe I am not the only one who didn’t come up to Israel to live here because of the system and the “booming” economy; we are here in spite of them. Those who take credit for these achievements now do not give G-d credit for creating them and putting marvelous thoughts into their brains. Those of us who do give Him credit for having created all, including ourselves and our brains, are praying, working and waiting for His higher will to be done, beginning where we live and breathe.
A warning to my non-Jewish readers: I do not expect this article to be waved around by anyone from the non-Jewish nations so they can say, “See? They admit it, it IS all their fault!” No! You nations — especially the leaders of the nations throughout the generations, coming up on 2,000 years — contributed to this horrible dysfunctional behavior, aided and abetted it, encouraged us to rat each other out and laughed at us when we did. And worse: Don’t get me started. Especially when the victims were, and are, those who are aware of, and cling to, the words passed down to them by their fathers, who received them from their fathers…and so on, back to Avraham and Sarah, Yitzhak and Rivkah, and Ya’aqov and Rahel, Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah.
In fact, a particular group of non-Jews (and some former Jews, unfortunately), whom we know as Christians, even dared to change words in the Talmud so that what we learned would not be so offensive to them, rather than learning the lessons, in the Middle Ages. That makes their part in all this especially egregious because many Jews still learn from these redacted texts, imbibing twisted teaching from them as a result. Hypocritically, these redacted words are now part of the text you try to distance Jews from in order that they be cut off from the teachings of the Sages of blessed memory — creating problems where there were none before! So, instead of shouts of victory, I expect you to hang your heads in shame and cry out to G-d for forgiveness — and if you still can, try to reverse the evil your ancestors and your fellow Gentiles have done. Learn about, and become, true Seven Laws-abiding Noahides.
Back to the Jews: Is it confusing that we are still taking the punishment for the Sale of Yosef, even though the sentence was officially administered in the times of the Romans and we (at least in Israel —it’s possible that we read it outside Israel too, but I didn’t understand what I was reading in those days) read it every Yom Kippur?
I do not claim to understand what is still going on over the boys who were administratively detained by the Israel Security Agency’s Jewish Division (aka Shaba”k). Many have now been released; but we have conflicting reports on whether torture was “administered” or not. Not only this, but there have been many other times this issue has come up, for example the murder of Mohammad al-Khdeir, supposedly by Jews, after the murder of our 3 Boys, Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrah and Gil’ad Sha’ar, may their memories be for a blessing, who were very obviously murdered by Arabs. Perhaps the government was taking advantage of the understandable feelings and desire to act against a very dangerous environment to actually assign blame to Jews enclosed in it based on forced confession and self-incrimination (the US Constitution, which Israeli government likes to be seen as emulating, adheres to the famous Fifth Amendment, whereby one is allowed not to answer questions which may incriminate him; and the Torah forbids self-incrimination, relying instead on the testimony of two witnesses), even sharing this assignation with the rest of the population through the media even before trials could be planned to take place. Let’s have a proper trial, please.
According to R’ Sprecher (personal conversation, later that same day), two geniuses (ge’onim) of the last generation weigh in:
- R’ Yosef Dov Soloveitchik says that when it comes to national security, we must trust what the security agency says.
- The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, says that when it comes to national security, we must NOT trust the security agency alone.
It’s a large mahloket – discussion or controversy – between great modern-day rabbe’im. Does it depend on who your rav is, or on whose advice seems most relevant to the situation at hand? Is it treason for a Jew to disagree with his rav, if there is another whose opinion is as likely — if not more — to be correct, more appropriate or more helpful to the Jewish nation as a whole? We have an issue before us that very few of us witnessed personally, that only G-d and the perpetrator(s) of the burning of the Duma house know(s).
My question is: Once Jews are blamed, is it necessary to come up with Jewish suspects and convicts, or is it possible to investigate with an unbiased mind, taking every possible pathway with an eye for the truth?
In closing, I am very much in awe of how Rabbi Sprecher could smack me upside the head and down, and sideways; he could really dress me down. But he doesn’t. I’m not sure I could do as well, were I in his place. And, with the help of G-d, I will be there next week at his shiur listening, even if, as he promised me yesterday, I won’t like what he has to say; I’ll also post the shiur so my readers can listen for themselves.
For now, here's "Why is Israel Chosen to Suffer?"
UPDATE: This blog post made it to today's Havel Havelim (aka Batya Medad's Alternative International Jewish Newspaper) — only 18 posts! Read, enjoy and, if you especially liked this post, please let Batya know. Thank you!
UPDATE 2: I indeed posted R' Sprecher's shiur "May We Turn In the Duma Suspects?" — produced today, Sunday, 17 January 2016, to my "R' Ephraim Sprecher Videos" page.