Thursday, Sep 16, 2021

Hearing the Signals

There's the story of Mrs. Marmorstein, a real Yiddishe mamme, who came to her rabbi all worked up. “Rabbi, rabbi, you've got to help me,” she cried. “It's my son. He's been drafted to the army and he has to report for his physical exam in a couple of weeks! What should I do?” The rabbi thought for a few moments and, in a perfectly calm demeanor, told the woman, “You've got nothing to worry about.”

A couple of weeks later, the woman returned, crying hysterically. “Rabbi,” she said, “what do we do? My son passed the physical with flying colors. He’s got to report for duty in two weeks!”

Once again, the rabbi became engrossed in thought for a while and then declared with confidence, “You don’t have to worry.”

Her fears allayed, she thanked the rabbi profusely and left. Two weeks later, she appeared again. “Rabbi, rabbi,” she cried, “my son reported for duty and he’s on a ship overseas!”

The rabbi didn’t think long and said to her with empathy, “Oy vey! Now you have reason to worry!”

Time has a way of dulling our fears and helping us come to terms with difficult situations. That can be a good thing. Sometimes, when there is potential danger, but it is not an immediate pressing situation, we tend to put it of our minds and sweep it under the carpet for a while without doing a thing about it. Then, suddenly, we find ourselves in a deeply troubling predicament with terrible ramifications.

Who could have imagined just a few years ago that the United States of America, which stands for democracy and peace, would sign a treaty that will ensure that Iran, the purveyor of world terrorism, can acquire nuclear weapons? The treaty will return billions of dollars in assets to that evil regime, allowing it to spread more bloodshed. But why are we shocked when there were signals of something like this happening all along?

We weren’t so comfortable with the background of the Democratic candidate for president in the 2008 campaign. He had a Muslim upbringing. But when he campaigned in Florida, the little old grannies kvelled when he told them, “Don’t call me Barack… Call me Baruch!” (A line undoubtedly fed to him by a well-paid Jewish PR firm.) Once he was president, we were disturbed when he insisted that Israel stop building houses in certain areas of Yerushalayim, depriving Jews of desperately-needed housing. But we let it pass. Prime Minister Binyomin Netanyahu cooperated, with the hope that it would contribute to peace in the Middle East and better relations with America. It didn’t.

We were alarmed when the president traveled around the Arab world, making overtures to them and apologizing for America’s past “sins” in the Middle East. And why, we asked, was he backing the extremist Muslim forces in Egypt against the more moderate regime of Mohammed Morsi? With the passing of time, we took this in stride as well.

It was disturbing to hear about the shabby treatment Bibi Netanyahu received in the White House, when the president walked out on him in the middle of a meeting to eat supper. We said to ourselves, “This, too, shall pass.”

We were upset about the administration’s derision of Bibi’s articulate and convincing speech in front of the U.S. Congress regarding the treaty with Iran. But people were so intrigued by the prime minister’s declaration of kochi ve’otzem yodi, and how Israel can fend for itself, that they failed to realize just how great and powerful the resistance against the State of Israel is. We are up against the entire world. And if in the past we were able to rely on the U.S., that is no longer the case, as we have an administration permeated with leftist Arabist influence.

Yes, there were signals. We tried to put them out of our minds, and now the moment of truth has arrived. We face a foolhardy, dangerous treaty with Iran, a treaty thrust upon us through doublespeak, deception, obfuscation, and political arm-twisting. It is a terrible deal not only for our brethren in Eretz Yisroel, but for America and the entire world. It might take a while for Iran to perfect the atom bomb, but the effects of the billions of dollars it will receive will be felt immediately in the form of terrorism around the world. The mullahs of Iran show no pretentions of peace. They openly declare “Death to America!” and their goal of wiping the Jewish state off the map.

Of course, there is talk of doing our hishtadlus, of calling our representatives in Congress and urging them to vote against this lunacy. To his credit, Senator Charles Schumer has openly declared his opposition to the pact, despite heavy pressure to back the deal. Undoubtedly, we must do all we can in this area.

However, if this would be the sum total of our efforts, we would be missing the point entirely. The whole situation defies logic. It is obviously a decree from Shomayim to awaken us and get us out of our comfort zone. If we missed the signals until now not to rely on others but to turn to Hashem, then now is the time to tune in. It is no coincidence that this highly consequential issue looms so prominently smack in the middle of Elul, when the blast of shofar cries out to us, “Awaken sleepy ones from your sleep and slumberous ones from your slumber. Search through your deeds, return with teshuvah and remember your Creator.” These are the people who forget the truth with the futilities of time and mistakenly focus on futility and vanity that will not help or save them (Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4).

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