We live in historic times. Our period will be studied by history students for many years to come. They will study the rebirth of Torah and its proliferation on these shores and around the world, in numbers and ways never known to mankind. In less than a month, masses of people will gather to celebrate the Siyum Hashas of Daf Yomi, proving that netzach Yisroel lo yishaker.
Historians will study the phenomena of Binyomin Netanyahu, the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s brief history, along with the allegations of corruption, his coalition deals with the religious parties, and the upcoming second do-over election.
These are historic things. They don’t happen too often.
Schoolchildren will be memorizing the names of Donald Trump and the Democrats who tormented and impeached him and will be analyzing what he did to deserve to be the third president to face what used to be that embarrassing fate.
President Trump’s crime occurred three years ago, when he was elected as a non-politician on a campaign to remake government. Democrats and others who despised him immediately set out to find ways to undo the election and have him impeached.
Different sins were floated, but they didn’t do the trick. Despite their best efforts, Democrats couldn’t make them stick. Then a phone call with the president of Ukraine fell into their lap, and with much determination and perseverance, it rose to the level of a high crime and/or misdemeanor with which to finally call the long-awaited impeachment hearings, draw up articles of impeachment, and hold a vote.
With faux sincerity, they speak of the danger the president represents to the country and the urgent need to rush him out of office. Haughty college professors appear before Congress, demonstrating the falsity of what is being taught on today’s campuses, twisting everything to support a leftist-socialist agenda.
The professors swore that they were impartial, but felt that the crimes exhibited during the infamous phone call led them to believe that the president must be chucked. Too bad that one of them, Noah Feldman, is on record as far back as 2017 as advocating for Trump’s impeachment.
So much of what transpires in the political world is fiction. Poll tested, practiced sound bites are intended to fool voters into believing that the politician cares about them and represents their interests in the halls of power. More frequently, that is as patent a lie as the politician’s hair color.
We need to ensure that the propensity to lie to get ahead doesn’t creep into our corner, and that the lack of decency and loss of shame do not invade our community any more than they already have. We come from better stuff and hew to values that have sustained our people since our birth as a nation.
We can’t take anything for granted and need to educate our children on the importance of living an honest life of values. We can’t count on them picking it up on their own or from their teachers. If we want to have good children, we must invest much time and effort raising and educating them.
In Parshas Vayishlach, we learn how Yaakov prepared his family for the showdown with his brother Eisov, who sought their destruction. Though born and raised in the house of Lovon, the upbringing of Yaakov’s children was such that they all remained loyal to their father’s heritage.
When Yaakov received word that Eisov was coming, he feared for his safety and the safety of his family. He sought various measures to provide for their defense should Eisov reach their encampment and seek to do battle.
From an examination of the pesukim that describe Yaakov’s tefillah at the beginning of the parsha, we can deduce that he was more concerned about the welfare of his family than for himself.
He said, “Hatzileini na miyad ochi, miyad Eisov. Hashem, please save me from my brother Eisov, because I fear pen yavo vehikani eim al bonim, that he will come and kill my wives and children.”
He followed this up by saying, “V’atah omarta heiteiv eitiv imoch vesamti es zaracha kechol hayom. Hashem, You cannot allow Eisov to come and kill my family, because You promised me that my children would be so plentiful that it would be impossible to count them.”
Yaakov then sent gifts to Eisov in a bid to win his favor, so that he may stop his brother’s murderous march, which was advancing with 400 warriors. He then spirited away his family to a safe place.
Yaakov was then alone, and while he was “levado,” the “sar” of Eisov confronted him and wrestled with him through the night. Yaakov was able to overcome him and earn the name change to Yisroel, the eternal name of the Jewish people.
All through the confrontation, his family was safe and in fact never touched by Eisov. As long as there is a separation between the Bnei Yisroel and Eisov, they are safe. It is when the Jewish people feel comfortable living among the Eisovs and the barriers break down that danger ensues. This has been the pattern of our nation throughout the years, as the Netziv aptly portrays in his monumental work on anti-Semitism called She’airis Yisroel.
Levado. Our legacy, handed down by Yaakov, is to be alone and not to mix and get involved with our host nations. It is an irrevocable force built into the natural order. The forces of evil are forever locked in battle with us. When we lay low and keep to ourselves, they leave us alone, but when we get too comfortable and bring too much attention to ourselves, trouble ensues.
Through the merit of Yaakov Avinu, when we have been true to the mission of Yisroel, we have been spared. Though battered and bruised, as was Yaakov, we have remained standing long after the Eisovs of each generation perished.
It has not gone unnoticed that many of the prominent drivers of the impeachment effort against President Trump are Jews. Anti-Semites have come to refer to what is transpiring in Washington as a “Jew-Coup.” Nothing good can come to our people from activity that causes such reactions.
It is incumbent upon us, as Jewish citizens of this great land, to openly declare that we are uncomfortable with the Jewish members of Congress who have been leading the charge against the democratically elected president they disagree with. Nothing good can come from Jews being attached to this, as our history attests. We cannot permit this political gambit to be placed on us.
Regardless of party affiliation, we need to recognize that Mr. Trump, to date, has been an effective president and a dear friend of the Jewish people and Israel.
Under his leadership, the economy is booming, benefitting every one of us and the causes we hold dear. Look around at how many people are doing well and sharing their largesse with communal organizations, yeshivos, and people who need help. You can thank Trump for that. The stock market is up, unemployment is down, the army is being strengthened, and the country’s borders are being fortified.
In the words of Trump’s attorney general Robert Barr, the political left and the media “have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.” President Trump and his administration are fighting back and working to reassert religion and traditional values in this country. The Justice Department is giving priority to cases that involve religious institutions, which benefits yeshivos, shuls and our way of life.
Previous presidents postured and promised to move the American embassy to Yerushalayim, but it was just an applause line in a campaign speech. Trump actually did it. Besides recognizing Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital, he recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan and the right for Jews to live in historic Israel. Yes, these things really do make a difference.
And let us not forget that he commutated the sentence of our dear friend, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, who now travels the country and the world delivering messages of emunah, bitachon and chizuk.
It behooves us to recognize the good that has been done to us and not do anything to give ammunition to those who seek to undermine us. We need to be good neighbors and practice common courtesies, if only so that people’s only interactions with Jews are positive ones.
This country has been good to us. The Constitution affords us freedoms we never enjoyed before in our long golus. We must not abuse them or act in ways that could lead anyone to question our patriotism, morality, virtue and simple decency.
Dinah left the protection of Yaakov’s encampment and was attacked by Shechem. Shimon and Levi exacted revenge, and for their act they were reprimanded by Yaakov. Though Shechem acted improperly, that did not excuse Shimon’s and Levi’s act of tricking the people of Shechem and weakening them through bris milah so that they could be overpowered, even though they did so with the best of intentions.
Yaakov’s middah is emes, truth, and to abuse the truth for any cause is never excusable.
A 30-something Yerushalmi talmid chochom was trying out for a rosh yeshiva position. He was invited to deliver a shiur so that the other roshei yeshiva could help make their decision whether to hire him for the coveted position.
The young illuy sat in front of the yeshiva’s talmidim and roshei yeshiva and began his shiur. As he began carefully laying out his dissertation, Rav Yonah Mertzbach, senior rosh yeshiva and leader of the yeshiva, rose to ask a question.
The young man stopped in his tracks, thought for a moment and said, “I made a mistake.” He immediately changed topics and began to say a different shiur than the one he had prepared.
He went home and told his wife that he was not going to get the job. “Right at the beginning of the shiur I made a mistake. I admitted that I erred and spoke on a different topic than the one I had prepared.”
As they were speaking, there was a knock on the door. Rav Mertzbach, the one who had asked the question and led the yeshiva, had come to their home. He turned to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and with a wide smile on his face said, “Mazel Tov, rosh yeshiva. You are the person we were looking for, honest enough to admit when you made a mistake.”
Rav Shlomo Zalman went on to lead Yeshiva Kol Torah for decades. He went on to serve as klal yisroel’s rebbi and posek. And now you know the rest of the story, he attained his position because his Torah was Toras Emes. Not only Rav Mertzbach, but the thousands of people who would learn under him and those who would turn to him for halachic rulings and advice in all manners of human life. They all appreciated his chein, chochmah and midas ha’emes.
Not only Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, but gedolei Yisroel throughout the ages stood out because of their greatness in Torah and in their devotion to the truth. Not only gedolei Yisroel, but good Jews as well. In fact a good person is referred to as “ehrlich,” meaning that he is honest and trustworthy and religious and a good Jew.
This is the heritage passed down to us from Yaakov and the way we are to conduct ourselves. We operate on a higher plane and answer to a higher authority.
Let us emulate our great forefather and demonstrate each and every day, and in everything we do, that we are guided by the absolute truth and nothing else, earning us approval from Above.