Friday, January 9, 2015

An old-fashion new story: Israel, G-d, Moshe

This is a story that’s very old. But it’s also new.

An old story that remains new is always well-fashioned. This story is very well-fashioned.

It’s about Israel. It’s about powerful world leaders. It’s about what happens when the powerful turn against the Jewish people.

More than 3,000 years ago, Israel wasn’t very strong. It wasn’t important. But a powerful world leader decided to protect it. He did—and Israel grew.

Israel grew strong. It thrived. Then a new world leader came along. He didn’t want to recognize Israel. He spoke to his ‘people’. Together, they decided they should deal cunningly with Israel.

This is how the story of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt begins in the Second Book of the Torah. It’s a story Jews around the world will begin reading this Shabbat, January 10, 2015. That’s when we all begin to read the first Torah portion of the Second Book of the Torah, called Sh’mot (Exodus).

It’s the story of the ancient Jewish people. It’s a story of the affliction of--and harshness towards--Israel (Sh’mot, 1:11-14, ArtScroll translation). It’s a story of what happens when the powerful feel disgust towards Israel (ibid, 1: 12).

That’s not just a Bible story. It’s also the story of modern Israel. That pressure, harshness and disgust is as modern as it is ancient.

Israel’s modern story is the Biblical story written for modern man. It’s a story that describes who we were then—and who we are today. It’s a story fashioned by G-d. It was fashioned to remind us that we have a G-dly Destiny—and worldly enemies.

It’s a story that reminds us why modern Israel exists. It exists because G-d promised that Israel would be born, destroyed, then reborn. The reborn Israel we see today is part of a Jewish Destiny story written more than three millennia ago.

This story was fashioned to remind those who would destroy us that they cannot thwart that Destiny. Indeed, as the Biblical story goes on to reveal (Sh’mot, 13:17-15:19), those who try to destroy that Destiny are themselves destined to be destroyed.

These two Jewish stories, old and new, seem to unfold according the same formula. For example, in both stories, support for the Jewish nation evaporates—or is perceived to have evaporated. In both stories, the powerful turn against the Jew. In both stories, pressure is applied against the Jewish nation. In both stories, the powerful feel disgust towards the Jewish nation. In both, the powerful demand that the Jewish nation perform tasks detrimental to itself: in the ancient story, it’s a Pharaoh demanding that Jews kill their boy infants; in the modern story, it’s the powerful demanding that the Jewish nation surrender land to those who would destroy Israel.

In both stories, the Jews refuse to fulfil that demand. In both, the Jews are rewarded for that refusal: in the old story, the Jewish nation increased and became very strong (ibid, 1:20); and in the new story (which unfolds since the Oslo accords, 1992/3), Israel has also increased and become very strong.

Of course, in the old story, a Moshe arrives (ibid, 2:1-10). He speaks to the Jewish people. He leads them to G-d and Zion. He leads them to their national Destiny.

Today, we have not yet seen our Moshe. Yes, many have stood before Israel. Many have led. But none has spoken of Zion and G-d.

Our leaders speak of Israel. They speak of democracy. They speak of equality. They speak of freedom.

They don’t speak of G-d. They never mention G-d in public. They never discuss the relationship that G-d has created for Himself and Israel. They won’t speak of the link between G-d and Zion.

Instead, they ignore G-d. They want Zion to be separated from G-d.

In our ancient story, we survived through Moshe’s leadership. He was the one who stood up for Zion and G-d. He was the one who showed how independence and freedom belong to Zion and G-d.

In our ancient Biblical Jewish story, Moshe stood up for the Jewish people. He stood strong before the disgust of the world’s most powerful leader.  He reminded all of the link between G-d and the Jewish people.

He didn’t speak of ‘what would the nations think of us?’ He didn’t demand we must do what the nations demand of us. He didn’t think, ‘how can we do what the nations want us to do’.

He thought only of G-d.

That Moshe led us because he stood firm. He led us because he stood for G-d. He led us because he called others to join him for G-d.

We need such a leader. We need someone who will stand for Zion and G-d. We need another Moshe.

Where is he?



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