Wednesday, October 05, 2011

International Politics and Yom Kippur, 5772

By Tuvia Brodie

On Saturday, October 8, 2011, Jews around the world celebrate Yom Kippur, Judaism’s Holiest day of the year. We approach this twenty-five hour fast with fear and trepidation, for we know that, on this day, we have no excuses. We have no control. We must stand before the Supreme One—alone. We will acknowledge our sins and confess before the Master. Worse, on this day, we realize that man is not who he thinks he is because on this day, past, present and future converge before the All-Powerful G-d. Suddenly, on this singular day, we control nothing. We understand nothing. Time, we suddenly realize, does not belong to us. This convergence of Time before the Power of the Almighty is a concept we cannot easily understand because we—orderly man—must control, order and compartmentalize our existence. We must arrange our lives. History must be a time-line. Time itself must be organized. We must be the masters of our world. Except, of course, on Yom Kippur we cannot master anything. On Yom Kippur, we understand that all Power belongs to G-d.

On this Day, with no food or water, we think: What have we done? How can we change course? If we are wise, we will understand on this day that G-d alone is Truth. Truth is not controlled by man. It is not defined by man. It is not manufactured by man. It is not voted upon by man. Truth is G-d’s alone.

If we are unwise, we reject what we cannot understand. After all, we reason, we are created in the image of G-d. Therefore, if we cannot understand something, then it is worthless, right? If we cannot see it, it is worthless. If we cannot control it, it is worthless. If we are unwise, Truth becomes worthless.

We see this at the United Nations—the world’s house of international understanding, where man organizes and controls and creates. Here, at the center of man’s worship of his own inalienability, Israel is a pariah. She is an outcast--a criminal. She dares be a democracy in a sea of tyranny. Because of some kind of apostasy, she demands to be recognized as the people of the Bible even as she stands accused of denying inalienable rights to an invented, fictitious ‘people’. Her repulsiveness has made her a symbol of the ‘untruth’—and for that, she is worthless. Put another way, Israel’s existence casts a shadow of shame. She is an embarrassment for the world. She is, like G-d’s Truth, an ugly blot. She is the unwanted orphan.

G-d’s Torah predicts the ingathering of His Chosen people to His Holy Land. Modern Israel is a testimony to Holy Words written more than 3,300 years ago. Jews around the world call out, ‘Look, look: G-d’s Word is visible!’ But the nations of the world cry out, ‘Injustice, injustice!’ They are indifferent to G-d as they empower the enemies of G-d.

G-d’s Word created His Holy nation—the Jewish people. Men of hate have created a no-people who hate Israel. When the nations gather in their house of nations, they turn to the Holy nation and say, ‘evil evil.’ They turn to the no-nation and say, ‘we applaud you, we applaud you!’ They give honor to darkness.

G-d’s Torah describes his beloved, Jerusalem. Jews world-over have faced Jerusalem in prayer for nearly two thousand years. The enemies of the Jews turn their backsides to Jerusalem when they pray. But to the world they cry, ‘She in mine, she is mine!’ The nations of the world respond, ‘Amen, amen! Take her, take her!’ They have developed a lust for darkness.

How strange. The Supreme One gave to the nations their inheritance and their borders. He gave to them all they have. But today, these nations demand that the border markers of the Chosen be moved because in their eyes, the Jews do not belong. To the nations of the world, the truth is simple: the land of the Holy belongs to those who would desecrate and then destroy it.

The Truth is worthless. Israel is worthless. Will their peace also be worthless? Is this what the nations of the world, in their house of nations united, will bring to our world—a worthless peace? What will the price for that be? In this year 5772, the world unites. The nations will vote. Who will stand for Israel? Who will stand for Truth?

This Saturday, October 8, 2011, Jews around the world will stand before the Master of the Universe. With neither food nor water, we will afflict our souls. We will recognize that our humanity condemns us to stumble (see The Complete ArtScroll Machzor, Yom Kippur, trans Rabbi Nosson Scherman, Mesorah Pub, New York, pp xiv-xxii). We will recognize Truth. We will tremble at the thought of G-d’s Power. We will recognize that our Creator waits for us (ibid).

How strange is this poetry we call life: just as the nations of the world seek to take from us what belongs to G-d--our land-- our G-d asks us to return to Him. Perhaps this is our Yom Kippur lesson for the year 5772--that this is indeed the time to return to G-d.

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