Derekh Eretz Series part 1 | part 2 | part 3
|From Wikipedia's Hebrew site, Shim'ei ben Gera chasing after King David as he escapes from Yerushalayim.|
NOTE to my gentle readers: Drink plenty of water during these hot days of summer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere).
You may have noticed that the Jewish People as a whole has been on the defensive, and kept that way, for quite a while (since the days of Pharaoh, to be exact. Remember: "Be wise with them..."). It's time to push back. Have you observed our enemies, even though we think of some of them as friends, always starting to report the moment we strike in response to an offending blow, portraying it as the first? I wouldn't want to be in the same orchestra with these "ladies and gentlemen." They always start off on the wrong beat or a completely different rhythm.
For instance, Iran and Hamas have been cooperating in their attempt to cause the Jews to leave Israel en masse, shooting, bombing, injuring, kidnapping and murdering Jews, mainly civilians for years at a time. The reporters are silent. Then, all of a sudden, they start reporting.
War on Israel Explained as a Badly Played Opera
What happened? Israel (protagonist or antagonist, depending on which side you're on) was fired on during the time the overture was supposed to be played, and fired back on beat two of the first act; and the media (orchestra) treat it as though it were the overture, beat one. As a result, there was some action without the music during the overture, but now there's lots of music during the first act — maybe we killed some of them, maybe we destroyed bases of operation — whatever we did, if it were music, would shock the audience to find themselves in the middle of something they know nothing about. Because most of the orchestra wasn't participating during the entire overture, the audience wasn't either. Lots of talking was going on, and getting up and down to get popcorn (maybe the place is something between a music hall and a movie theater). Maybe they thought the overture was just stage hands setting up the stage, who knows.
This "opera" has been going on for a few thousand years: For the purposes of this post I'm calling it Opus No. 1, Act 3, by HQB"H. Many of the actors and singers have been improvising their parts, or so they think.
I'm not particularly an opera fan, but because the parts of operas contain a script and drama, they resemble the back-and-forth I am trying to describe in non-military terms. I hope the progression would be better understood thereby. The one major difference is that Jewish people, like the rest of the world, really are born, live and die!
These days, we need to open a conversation to include those Torah-abiding, Land-of-Israel-loving Jews whose voices have been silenced by being shamed, called names, slandered and libeled over issues that boil down to matters of common decency and courtesy, which constitute only some of the meanings of derekh eretz.
I believe the Jewish People has been bashed, battered around, and considered "the bad guy" of the world for more than long enough. If common decency does not include the Torah-abiding and Land-of-Israel-loving, it has failed. We refuse to cooperate with the attempt to drive the Jew from the world.
***End of Introduction***
Tomer Devorah, in answer to this guest post, defends the Jewish People by pointing out that we have a tougher time with repentance than the nations do because the yetzer hara' is stronger in Jews. I find this enough justification to put in my esser agaroth (approximately 2 cents - it might be 3 now 😄).
I would add an explanation, incomplete though it is, to this: In a way similar to those who have lived with prejudice from others (in my experience, mainly American black people — about them, I learned in college), some Jews tend to beat up on each other physically, verbally and in writing (not all at once, G-d does have mercy.).
Shamefully, some of us also tend to side with our enemies even more than the aforementioned minority. This yetzer hara' was shown to be so bad that we recently saw (literally, on video) London Jews' defilement of qaddish — the version of this praise of HQB"H that is said for the dead — for Hamas operatives (terrorists, in our terms) who were killed in national self-defense. Now that's crossing many lines of derekh eretz, and I would have been remiss in a post like this if I hadn't mentioned it. And here's a story that should give chills. There's more, but the links alone would fill up several posts.
After 70 years of an existing state of Israel, where Jews presumably rule the country, we still must learn how to identify where to apply our efforts most effectively so that we have maximum room for action, especially in the verbal and written arenas. I hope this series will at least be part of the beginning of such identification so that we will cease our self-flagellation and exert ourselves against those who treat us badly.
I found it interesting, from one of the articles linked above, that one of the organizers of the qaddish event, "Rabbi" Laura Janner-Klausner, is attributed to having actually called British Jews on the lack of derekh eretz over the argument that followed:
“...one Jew wishes another dead,” crossing “the boundaries of decency and we are now into violent, harassing, bullying behavior.”This quote from her did not take into account that her group violated this principle first, by having this qaddish event at all — much less in public — in the first place. No one there even stopped to reconsider after a Jewish taxi driver burst in and severely berated them over the news that 50 of the dead Gentiles they were giving the honor of a qaddish were Hamas operatives who had attacked Jews! Dismissing him because of his demeanor (or lack thereof) did not help at all. As far as I'm concerned, they had already effectively wished all the Jews of Israel dead by expressing mourning for our enemies.
In that same article, London-based writer and sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris said "the vitriol around the Kaddish for Gaza affair was unprecedented because “for the first time, the same kind of venom also [was directed at] some Zionist left-of-center groups.”
What about the venom injected by those "Zionist left-of-center groups” every day, constantly against orthodox, traditional, and other Jews with common sensibilities? Isn't that also lack of common decency and courtesy? This sort of "I can dish it out, but I won't take it" attitude reflects those who behave that way, and not those they treat in this cavalier manner.
I do not identify with that sort of Zionism, in case you were wondering. I consider the term Zionist applied to the left-of-center to be probably more cover than anything else. Zion refers to Jerusalem, lest we all forget, and to their chagrin is pro-Torah.
I should note that the sort of outrageous behavior I mentioned coming from the Left is called "virtue signaling" by the younger adult generation (millennials — our children and grandchildren, r"l). It won't get these Jews anywhere if — or more likely when pogroms start; in fact, they may die first as an example to others, as has happened in other times and places. If they haven't done so already, I suggest that at minimum they do teshuva (repentance, but even more than that), publicly apologize and make some substantial financial and spiritual investment in their lives in Israel, before the worst happens.
Disgustingly, many media people — even Jews — wrote in favor of the event. Only one person who commented positively on this event has walked his words back so far. Unfortunately, I can't find the link anymore. But Melanie Phillips notes in The Jerusalem Post the very real inequality of expectations:
It was...dispiriting that those condemning such insults voiced deep concern over the damage being done to the Jewish community – not by the mourners-for-Hamas, but only by those who were insulting them.
But at least the Londoners at RSY-Netzer later dropped one of the leaders of this unholy qaddish event, a woman, from leading a group here to Israel on a summer tour (on the linked page, go to the very end for the reference to her.). Now, that was exemplary. I hope the rest of the group learned the lesson so that they may take action and avoid the fate I mentioned two paragraphs above while they still can.
- Hamas called a ceasefire only after burning down in 1,000 fires more than 7,400 acres of farmland, forests and parks, much of that nature reserves. This is not merely terror; it is an attempt to starve us out, may G-d help us. Mark my words: People who complain that Israel (meaning the national Jew, of course) is always depending for support from other nations should realize that their nation's support of Hamas during this time period means they aided and abetted this huge crime against the people, animals, and plants of Israel, since most nations supported Hamas at Israel's expense. Not only that, but it is not the first time Israel has been deprived of the fruit of her own handiwork. Gush Katif was providing food for the world before it was destroyed at the behest of the world and made into Hamas' launching pad for our destruction in 2005; in addition, there is the more recent attempt in 2016 to burn the country down (search). We will not forget, and on the day of judgment we will not forgive either. Don't mistake us for those who turn the other cheek to garner favor, even if our government seems to do so.
- Gideon Levy of Ha'Aretz wrote that the LGBTQ strike was the strike of the pampered (that part I agree with) and that the Left should be striking on behalf of the Arabs instead. Of course. The rest of us can count on it, and the rest I don't want to say because I don't want to give bad people good ideas. I don't subscribe to HaAretz, so I'm sure there's more I haven't linked to.
The big question in the context of this article is, How do Jews in Israel respond to people who refuse to grant derekh eretz, particularly towards Jews in general, and all the more so towards Israeli Jews? Like the United States under Franklin Roosevelt, who wanted to silence the Jews in WWII**, just when we'd found out about the still-ongoing Holocaust. Even though he never made the declaration, the world, including British and other Europeans, cooperated to keep Jews out of Palestine-before-it-became-Israel, thus causing many more deaths than there otherwise would have been. (My father-in-law, z"l, hated President Roosevelt until the end of his life for this.)
And there is a flood of more questions:
- How can we develop as a decent society when we must constantly act to prevent murder and mayhem, which threaten the exclusion of all else?
- How can we continue to demand from ourselves to just take punishment from those who dish it out, but can't take it themselves?
- What do we do about our continuing self-deprecating behavior, so that we can encourage, or command, respect?
- How do we respond to the continuous assault on our integrity?
- Must we be polite and courteous to those who obviously hate us and want to get rid of us?
- Must we continue to accept those among our own whose lifestyle and goals threaten our survival as a people?
- It is good to correct misstatements and lies about Jews and Israel, but is that our only weapon?
- Have we constrained ourselves by our behavior and responses to attacks, whether they be physical, written and verbal; and how?
- How do we protest the invasion of behavior and "culture" denigrating the Holy Torah without being immediately shoved aside?
- and more...you may write yours in the comment section.
Here and now, you can find plenty of great Israeli writers, defenders, and expositors of our country, religion, and culture right on the sidebar of this blog. But, as one of the bloggers I read during this writing wrote back in May 2018, right after the London-qaddish-incident: "It should surely not be left to a few bloggers to show the red card." (He was referring to the 10 people he was naming and shaming from that event, which has already been discussed above here. And, eight more were added lower on the page there.) He's right.
The problem is that for most of Jewish history once we were driven out from Judea יהודה (this country's name then, which included all the land west of the Jordan River and maybe more) close to 2,000 years ago, we were not allowed any means of self-defense from would-be murderers and hardly any rights to oppose those who would shame and slander us verbally, or libel us in writing.
In our day, Israel has plenty of people who qualify as enemies among us, whom our government has allowed and encouraged to remain in place, who are not decent, to say the least; and even has allowed enemies to visit. Here's how the younger brother of Shalhevet Pass, of martyred memory***, was slapped by a Swiss multinational official invited by Breaking the Silence (BTS) to Hevron, where they were in a forbidden area — they were not supposed to go into Jewish neighborhoods, but they went anyway. Let's understand OUR "other" now, as others are expected to be understood: The boy kicked an adult in the shin and was slapped across the face, knocking off his kippah. You can read the rest of the story here and here.
Notice that the Arabs (not to mention the actual murderer) have not yet paid for baby Shalhevet's murder. Can you dare blame her brother, or his community, for his lack of respect for these adults?
Frankly, I hope BtS gets collective punishment (hard jail time, for starters) for their activities, including inviting non-Jews here for the purpose of weakening our country over the years. I certainly hate what they do and don't want to discuss with such people. They actually lied about IDF activities, as many have testified already. You can read and decide for yourself which side you believe: Google search.
A Couple of Good Examples
Yosef Rabin replied to "Rabbi" Leah Jordan's article on the "qaddish event" here. I'm sharing this with you as an excellent example on how to be offended by another's words and how to repudiate them, even if the offender is a fellow Jew. Just so you know: Lashon hara' ("evil speech") only occurs if you are talking about someone. My Rav says that direct verbal confrontation is exactly what is supposed to occur. If it started in public, it may be finished in public. Attempts to embarrass Israel in public, for instance, must be met publicly.
Micha Mitch Danzig dialogued by email with an Israel/Jew-hating (presumed) non-Jewish conspiracy theorist who blamed the Jews for practically everything under the sun. Read the whole series; this is part 2 of it. And here is part 1. (You do have to go back to the page I linked to here to click on each article.) This is a great rebuttal of many lies about many things Jewish. It's great mainly for the readers who come along and benefit. I don't know whether this creep who wrote him ever changed his mind.
How are the Jews Supposed to Win?
Ultimately, we must obey the words of our Father in Heaven: drive the so-called "people of the land" out. Now that we have the largest concentration of Jews in the world, it's long past time to start thinking about what our best interests might be. Over the last seven decades, we have tried just about everything else: gifts of money and land, appeasement, negotiation with our neighbors, sharing governance with our Arab-Israeli citizens, putting up with treason even from Knesset members (Ahmed Tibi and Hanan Zawabi, anyone?). All this, of course, with the "encouragement" of the nations, the bad advice of our frenemies. CAN WE STOP NOW, PLEASE, BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER DOWN THIS ROAD?
Can we use the word "Jews" and the word "Win" in the same sentence and in the proper sequence? With the help of HQB"H, we can. King David, the forbearer of Mashiah Tzidkenu, said:
I will speak of Your decrees, and not be ashamed in the presence of kings.
וַאֲדַבְּרָ֣ה בְ֭עֵדֹתֶיךָ נֶ֥גֶד מְלָכִ֗ים וְלֹ֣א אֵבֽוֹשׁ׃
Tehillim 119:46 | תהילים קיט: מו
Even though some among our enemies may not be able to defend their positions properly (see the video here for a laugh), we can't relax just yet. If we don't start demanding and commanding reciprocity of common decency and courtesy, we surely will not receive it. If those who demand derekh eretz from others without being willing to return the favor, we must be able to change our tone and stance to match theirs. And, if they threaten us, then we need to overcome them, doing whatever it takes with the help of G-d, shamelessly.
*Common decency and courtesy, or proper, appropriate behavior, came before Torah: from Midrash Vayikra Rabbah 9:3.
**hat tip to Mashiach is Coming; she also featured The Hypocrisy of Intersectionality and the Jewish Question, which highlights another methodology of shutting Jews off from the decent actions of others to save their lives and property.
***Murdered in Hevron by an Arab sniper while in her father's arms in 2001 shortly after the Arabs were given certain lands by none other than Binyamin Netanyahu (who was prime minister then, too). She would have been 17 years old today — approximately 7 years older than her brother. More