Friday, October 31, 2014

Lech Lecha: G-d’s blessings and curses

On November 1, 2014, Jews around the world will read the Torah Portion called, Lech Lecha (B’Reisheet, 12:1-17:27). In that Portion, HaShem, the G-d of Israel, speaks to our forefather Abram (at this point in the Torah cycle (12:1-3), Abram has not yet become ‘Abraham). HaShem tells Abram, “I will bless those who bless you, and he who curses you, I will curse” (B’reisheet, 12:3, The Living Torah, trans. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, 1981).

This is a powerful declaration. It’s stunning. It’s bold—very bold. It puts HaShem on the ‘hot seat’: it’ll be easy to tell if those blessings and curses occur.

Check it out. How have nations treated the Jew? How have they fared?

Throughout history, did powerful nations treat the Jews as if they came from a blessed source, from whom they, the nations, could receive blessings for themselves—or did they treat Jews as if they were evil?

Ask the Greeks, Romans and Nazis. The Greeks and Romans ultimately saw Jews as evil (Peter Schafer. Judeophobia: Attitudes toward the Jews in the Ancient World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997, p. 206). The Nazis cursed Jews from the very beginning (seeing someone as evil, and cursing them, come from the same ideological womb).

You’ll notice that these juggernauts no longer exist. They became cursed. They lost their supremacy.

They learned what the G-d of Israel meant when He said, ‘and he who curses you, I will curse.’

In the blessing noted above, HaShem told Abram, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you great” (The Living Torah, 12:2).

Look at modern Israel. It’s the most advanced nation in the Middle East. It is one of the most advanced nations in the world. It has become a ‘great nation’.

Our Heritage teaches that the ‘blessings’ our G-d bestowed upon Israel—and through Israel, upon the nations—includes ‘good fortune’ (Tractate Pesachim, 117b, note 32, The Shottenstein Edition). This has certainly been the case with the one nation that has helped Jews the most over the last 250 years—America. One can argue that America has been very good to Jews—and to Israel. One can also argue that, over that same 250 years, America has been blessed. It has become the most prosperous nation in the world.

Now, look at 2014. How are Jews doing? How do nations treat Jews and Israel? How are these nations doing?

We see more curses than blessings. For example, look at the Arabs. They curse both Israel and the Jews.

 How’re they doing? What’s it like to live in the Arab world? Look at Syria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, et al. Is life there marked by freedom and prosperity for all? Do you think life in the Arab world looks to you like a blessing—or a curse?

Certainly, if you’re a woman, a Jew, a gay, a political liberal or Christian you don’t want to live in the Arab world. If you move there, your life won’t be a blessing.

The G-d of Israel said it best: he who curses you I will curse.

Look at the West. How do they treat Jews and Israel? In this past summer’s 50-day Gaza-Israel war, we found out. Across Europe, attacks against Jews sky-rocketed. Anti-Semitic attacks jumped 300 -500 per cent.

In England, dozens of Members of the House of Commons denounced Israel. They called Israel a brutal oppressor. They wanted the Jewish state to be criminalized.  They cursed Israel.

In America, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel grows, mostly on college campuses (“BDS is vehicle to destroy Israel, says new study”,, March 21, 2014). Jewish college students across America fear to reveal their Jewish identity (“Students for Justice in Palestine Promotes Hatred on College Campuses”, Times of Israel, June 27, 2014). Jews are beaten, intimidated and spat upon. Israel is demonized.

Throughout the West, Israel is painted as the world’s greatest national evil. Israel is cursed.

This week, Israel’s Economic Minister Naftali Bennet went to England. He was asked to reply to those in England who call Israel ‘apartheid’ (“Bennett to Sky News: Don't Sit in London and Call Us Apartheid”, Arutz Sheva, October 31, 2014). He said it was a blatant lie.

Also this week—this time in America--a story appeared. It quoted “a senior Obama administration official” defaming Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most shocking manner, calling him ‘a chickensh**t’ (“The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here”, The Atlantic, October 28, 2014).  

Do England and the US begin to curse Israel? Does the West join the Arab world to curse Israel?

The G-d of Israel has a Story for you. It’s the Story of the Final Jewish Redemption. Do you think His promised blessings and curses will play a part in that Story?

Stay tuned. The G-d of Israel won’t disappoint you.


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