Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sudden Destruction of Jerusalem

Khameni: "Israel must be annihilated" 
It happened so suddenly. That is what Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik points out in his interpretation of one of the Kinos Tisha B’Av that we said this morning. (Commentary to Kina 6 in the Kinos Mesores HaRav).

He was talking about the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. Sometimes a tragedy is  expected intuitively and when it happens the shock is somewhat buffered by the expectation of it. But in the case of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash no one really expected it to happen. People were going about their business as usual. The Kohanim in the Beis HaMikdash were doing their daily Avodah – offering sacrifices to God.

Even the prophet Jeremiah (Yirmiyahu) to whom God revealed that the Beis HaMikdash would be destroyed was shocked by it when it happened so suddenly.  Yirmiyahu was told by God to leave Jerusalem to go buy a field from his uncle (32:6-17). When he left he expected to return to a city intact with the Bies HaMikdash still running full steam. That is what he saw when he left. When he returned, the Beis Hamikdash was gone.

This is what the word Shovas – ceased - in that Kina means to tell us. Shovas Suru Mani. Our joy ceased. That the word Shovas means a sudden ceasing is indicated by how it is used in another context. U’VaYom HaShiviyi Shovas VaYenofash -  On the seventh day He ceased from work and rested (Shemos 31;17). Chazal tell us that God worked up until the very last second of the sixth day creating the world. An in that very same second (the latter half of it) he came to a sudden full stop.  From there we see that the word Shovas means suddenly ceasing. The Beis HaMikdash suddenly ceased to exist. When tragedy happens suddenly the impact and shock is far greater. It is emotionally and psychologically much greater. That is how it was for our ancestors in the Temple era.

I am reminded of the Holocaust. No one there expected what eventually happened. There was disbelief even as people who witnessed the horrors came back to their families to report it. Can’t be! Life went on until they were all rounded up and eventually sent to the gas chambers.  Those few who had the prescience to see what was coming, and got out of Europe lived to see the end of Nazi Germany.They lived to see their children and grandchildren live and prosper.

Most Jews in Germany during the 30s just didn’t believe their beloved Germany would do this to them. Jews were after all loyal and productive citizens, many of whom fought gallantly for Germany in the first world war. No way could a little antisemitic rhetoric by a German leader be anything more than that. Rhetoric.

Well we all know what happened.  Another Churban happened. A Churban better known as the Holocaust. The shock must have been immense to those whose lives one day was as normal as could be – and the next day they were rounded up and sent to Ghettos eventually to be killed.

Is history repeating itself? Are we not seeing the signals being sent from Iran? The antisemitic rhetoric coming out of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, in Iran is no less frightening that the anti-Semitic rhetoric coming out of Nazi Germany’s supreme leader in the 30s.  Hitler killed 6 million Jews. There are 6 million Jews in Israel.

People who are living the good life here in America seem to just be writing Khameni’s rhetoric off as – rhetoric. Just as American Jews in the 30s felt about the Hitler‘s rhetoric. Even German Jews living in Germany felt that way.

Will we not learn anything from history? If the leader of a powerful nation says he wants to wipe Israel off the map, should we not believe him? Should we not believe that given the means and  the opportunity, Iran will do exactly that?  And isn’t this nuclear deal increasing Iran’s ability to do it? Do we really think that giving Iran what it wants will bring them into the family of peaceful nations… that Iran will stop seeing the US as the Great Satan and Israel as the Little Satan?

I don’t think you have to be a rocket scientist to be figure out that Iran will carry out it’s threat when they think they are capable of doing so. A capability they may have in very short order once they are able to buy and develop the most sophisticated weaponry available on earth.  This deal guarantees them that. What do you suppose they will use those weapons for?

I am not saying it is 1939 all over again. Conditions today are entirely different than they were then. Jews are not being rounded up and placed in Ghettos by anti-Semitic governments. We have a strong Israel now. And a US government that has guaranteed that it has Israel’s back. Governments of the world are combating antisemitism instead of fomenting it.  So, no – it isn’t 1939 all over again. Not even close. But that doesn’t mean we ignore the clear threat of an Iran that in the not too distant future will be well equipped to destroy Israel. If not directly, then by proxy (Hezbollah and Hamas).

I don’t know that we can change the inevitable. This deal, bad as it is, will probably go through. But we should at least recognize just how bad it is. It is a deal that should have never been made. Not until Iran was more desperate than it is now.  A deal that was made with an Iran knowing that all options were NOT really on the table. They knew that this President would never go to war. That made it too easy for Iran to get exactly what they wanted – giving up little in exchange.

We should be aware of the dangers of a hostile country in Israel’s neighborhood - a country bent on its destruction now getting the money and the means to do it.  We cannot afford to be complacent. I don’t want to see Jerusalem destroyed yet again!  God forbid. And it could happen suddenly.