Golus Trappings

Four years ago, the day after the presidential election, we wrote about what a happy time it was. How we were spared from another Clinton administration, how we escaped being governed by politicians who were on the wrong side of every important issue, and how thankful we have to be to Hashem, who saved us from an administration mired by scandal and immorality. We exulted in the great defeat of the news media, who were totally unobjective and tried their utmost to influence the outcome of the election.

We concluded, “We have merely won a battle and there is a long war ahead. The leftists will not go away easily. As these words are being written, there are demonstrations taking place throughout the country. These are hired provocateurs funded by people like George Soros and stand for evil. The liberal press will continue with its exaggeration and untruths, trying to undermine the president. We have been handed a great opportunity, but now it is imperative that the new administration utilizes this opportunity to its fullest.

“At the moment, there is much anger and discord amongst the populace. Over ninety million Americans are jobless. There is much racial tension, we have a lazy economy, and we are perceived as weak internationally. It will take common sense, discipline, and a herculean effort to bring the country together and put it back on its feet.

“While we must thank Hashem for this latest chesed, we must daven for the future that He continue guiding its leaders on the right path. Pray for the welfare of the malchus.”

At the time, this writer had no way of realizing how true these words would ring. That the leftists would not go away easily is quite an understatement. Who could have imagined the great underhanded efforts of the Democrats to usurp power from the president with devious schemes, with lies, with character assassination, with a hoax known as Russiagate, and with the Mueller commission? It is by far the greatest political crime in American history. But you wouldn’t know it from the press. Not only didn’t the fake news media call it out for what it was, but it was part of the scheme, an American brand of Pravda.

It also became quite evident that within the administration, there were operatives loyal to Obama-Clinton who tried to undermine the president. More than ever, we saw that there was a deep state doing their own thing and disloyal to the commander-in-chief and the American people. Throughout all of this, the president and his staff persevered. Most incredible was the great amount the president was able to accomplish amidst this bedlam. With boundless energy, he helped nurture a booming economy, causing the jobless rate to plunge amongst all sectors. He brought a certain pride back to America, unlike Obama, who was mocked by the Chinese and appeared like a Lilliputian next to the Vladimir Putin. President Trump stood his ground against all these countries, negotiating deals that were first and foremost beneficial for the United States.

As frum Yidden, we must be personally grateful to the president for respecting our way of life, for his strong stance against Iran, and for his Middle East policies helping broker a treaty between Israel and Arab countries that previously was unthinkable. He made it a priority to install conservative federal judges and to add three great jurors to the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, now, four years later, things have changed and it looks like we will be having a new administration, with drastic changes in policy. Speaking to people, it feels like there is a pall of gloominess hovering over their heads. Despite the pollsters giving Joe Biden a substantial lead, we all believed that, in the end, the president would prevail. It certainly seemed like that based on the enthusiastic crowds that jammed his rallies compared to the pathetic numbers at those held by Biden. How could such a thing happen? Are the American voters so uninformed and are they so blind to evil – yes, evil; there is no better word for it – of the leftists?

Can you blame people for thinking the election was a scam? This is not merely a case of sore losing. We endured two Clinton and Obama administrations and accepted them. But here we have witnessed twice in a row Bernie Sanders having the nomination ripped away from him. Loyal comrade that he is, he remained silent. We saw the Democrats’ shenanigans for the last four years, taken straight from the communist playbook, to usurp power from the president. And then the sham of mail-in balloting, which predictably had its flaws. It seems as if the American people have been disenfranchised of a basic right of democracy, the power of the vote.

The Ayatollahs are dancing, the Chinese are smiling, and Mr. Putin is chuckling. Who do you think the Palestinians were rooting for? Yes, they all got their wish and we are all worse off because of it. The progressives are perking up, happy to continue the Obama legacy of change – changing the constitution and the foundations this country was built on.

The situation that we find ourselves in is frightening. There is much inner rage on both sides, which never bodes well for Jews. That a majority voted for the party that supports deviant behavior, a breakdown of law and order and a change of norms that we are accustomed to is of great concern. That the news media, various industries, and higher institutions of learning are silencing voices of normalcy is quite worrisome.

The good news is that one factor, the most important one, hasn’t changed. That is the fact that the Ribono Shel Olam is in charge, always was, and always will be. It was He who elevated Mr. Trump into power to begin with and provided him with the fortitude to survive the pressure cooker that he was in and to accomplish great things. And it was Hashem who brought the pandemic for reasons beyond us that ultimately worked in favor of the Democrats. It is the same Ribono Shel Olam who guides us and protects us regardless of who is in power. We all are aware of this intellectually, but we must work on internalizing it until we really feel it.

We would love to see the president be rewarded for his efforts, and we would love to see the bad guys lose, but we are still in golus, where things are dark and murky, and where people with accomplishments are not acknowledged and wrongdoers receive accolades. One of the signs of ikvesa deMeshicha is that “the truth will be hidden” (Sotah 49b). Only when Moshiach comes will accounts be settled and all matters will become clear as day.

This turbulent milieu should serve as another reminder to us to loosen our grip on the golus and disengage ourselves from ideas we may have acquired through it. In the Haggadah Shel Pesach, we say the posuk, “I made you as numerous as plants of the field and you grew and you came to have great charm…but you were naked and bare” (Yechezkel 17:7). The Telzer rosh yeshiva, Rav Eliyohu Meir Bloch interprets this not in a negative way, but rather in a positive light.

Only when Knesses Yisroel lost its belief in foreign ideologies, only when it ceased placing its hopes on the idols of Mitzrayim and their sorcery, only when it remained naked and bare from those false doctrines, then, and only then, were they ready to see the G-dly light of redemption. Originally, the Jews had clothed themselves in strange outfits that they had picked up in the golus, garb that caused them to descend to the forty-ninth level of tumah. Ridding themselves of these alien vestments prepared them to don the Heavenly attire.

These words were said during the days of Churban Europe, when Jewish blood flowed freely and we got to see firsthand the so-called “refinement” of the nations of the world. The rosh yeshiva continues, “Now, too, we are experiencing the removal of the golus trappings. For years, the Jewish nation started believing in the salvation of man through human culture. From there will come the redemption of mankind who was suffering. Because the Yidden were settled in golus and banked their future on it, they no longer aspired for greater things and didn’t at all sense the need for a heavenly redemption.

“At that time, were we ready to hear the call of geulah? Would it be greeted with the proper enthusiasm? Even amongst good people, there was a lack of preparation for the geulah. It is only after we have become broken, embarrassed and disappointed in all human ideologies, when tomorrow is clouded in darkness, that the time has come for our resurgence to hear the ultimate truth. Now the time has come about which the novi says, ‘Behold days are coming, the word of Hashem Elokim, when I will send hunger into the land – not a hunger for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the words of Hashem” (Haggadah Al Matzos Umerorim).

During the last two centuries, Jews clothed themselves in the German culture of Goethe and Schiller, in Communism, Zionism, and other cloaks. All of these extraneous garments came apart at the seams, leaving us bare and naked with tragic results.

There is a kabbolah from Rav Chaim Volozhiner that the last golus of the Torah will be in America. For frum Yidden, this has been a remarkable country, offering us freedom to serve Hashem like no other country. It was a haven for us after the horrors of World War II and it is where we were able to rebuild Yiddishkeit with the help of Hashem in a miraculous way.

But with all the freedom and advantages, it is still golus. The affluence and availability of gashmiyus can easily make us lose direction. It is easy to forget that we must strive for higher levels. The volatility and anger, the heated rhetoric and even the violence should be a reminder to us to loosen our hold on golus, not to rely on the garb of democracy. We must reach out to Hashem. For us to merit the G-dly light of Moshiach, we must first shed the alien attire and live our lives based on the pure mesorah of previous generations. Only then will we be prepared to welcome Moshiach with great enthusiasm.