How many times do you hear people discussing something and exclaim, “That’s insane.” The truth is we are living in insane times. So much of what goes on really is insane.
Let’s take a look at the news. As soon as President Donald Trump was sworn in, the Washington Post called for his impeachment. Impeachment? He just got into office. He didn’t even do anything yet. How could he be impeached and on what basis? It didn’t matter.
The Democrats were sure that Hillary Clinton would be elected president, putting them in charge of Congress and the White House. They saw the continuation of their control, power and everything that comes with it. And then, in one fell swoop, it all collapsed. The non-politician, who didn’t play by the rules and campaigned on an anti-incumbent platform, had won against all odds. They had to stop him in his tracks and not permit him to carry out his plans. They would make sure he would fail.
They voted against everything he wanted, but he succeeded anyway. Not only did he succeed, but he did so on an historic level. He got the economy moving well. More people have jobs now than ever before. The economy is chugging along at a pace that Obama and the Democrats had said would be impossible.
Trump signed a trade deal with China, something that everyone said would never happen; he renegotiated the hated NAFTA trade deal with Mexico and Canada and got a new deal approved. The stock market is at historic highs.
For practical purposes, Trump ended ISIS. He killed the head of ISIS as well as the head of the Iranian terror corps. He recognized Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel and approved the annexation of the Golan. He set forth a realistic peace plan for the Mideast. At each one of these junctures, none of the predicted rioting and violence broke out.
His adversaries tried taking him down, claiming that he had colluded with Russia. The Democrats attempted to fabricate other scandals. Nothing worked. Nothing stuck. They appointed a special prosecutor and he came up empty. Not only that, but after being promoted as the most capable person for the position, the special prosecutor showed himself to be way past his prime.
The Impeachment Circus
Finally, they hit on a telephone call the president had with the president of Ukraine and thought they had caught him red-handed. With time running out and the election approaching, they took their chances and decided to impeach the president based on second-hand information conjured up by a so-called whistleblower. A transparent ruse, but they were desperate.
The president called their bluff and released the transcript of that conversation, which showed that he had done nothing wrong. Yet the die had been cast, and the Democrats rolled out their impeachment hearings in Congress.
Impeachment’s main cheerleader proved himself to be a serial liar when the transcript he presented of the president’s conversation with the Ukrainian president was shown to be as bogus as his previous claim that he had proof that Trump colluded with Russia to get elected. Equally phony, as it turned out, was his claim that he and his staff had never met with the whistleblower, and he didn’t know who he was.
After holding a biased investigation and rushed hearing, Congress voted to impeach the president, even though they knew that the Senate would exonerate him. It was an insane waste of time and energy and showed Congress to be a partisan group beholden to the progressive wing of the party and unable to thoroughly analyze an issue and its ramifications.
The circus moved to the Senate and the charade continued, but the Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, so the charade was kept to a minimum. After both sides presented their cases, the president was exonerated and allowed to continue in office, while the corrupt Joe Biden continued bumbling his way through Iowa.
Historic Peace Plan Wins Unprecedented Support
Meanwhile, the president continued to perform in office on behalf of the country and hotspots around the world. Putting impeachment behind him, even before it was over, he flew off to Davos to highlight the country’s booming economy. Last week, he rolled out his long-awaited Mideast peace plan.
Every president has tried to force peace on Israel, and it hasn’t worked. This president fashioned a plan based upon what is just and correct, working with Binyomin Netanyahu as well as Arab states, who over time have come to accept Israel’s existence and work with the Jewish state they had previously fought.
Since 1967, much has changed. The United States doesn’t need Arab oil anymore. Arab states are fearful of Iran and its intentions, and the Palestinians have done nothing to improve their lot, spurning every effort to assist them.
You would think that Democrats and Republicans would support the plan, which offers a realistic blueprint for giving the Palestinians a whole lot more than they deserve, while satisfying Israel’s security needs and historic connection to the land.
Yet, because we live in insane times, Joe Biden, whom liberal Jews view as a dear friend, said that the plan is a “political stunt that could … set back peace.” The responses from other Democrat candidates for president proved just as disappointing. Senator Warren is very upset that the plan is a “rubber stamp for annexation” that “offers no chance for a real Palestinian state.” Bernie Sanders says that it “will only perpetuate the conflict.”
Everyone else saw the virtues of the plan. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Qatar and Oman all recognized the historic possibilities of Trump’s proposal. Everyone except Iran and Turkey and those beholden to them, has supported the plan. Even the Europeans, no great lovers of Israel, came out in favor, some more than others.
Everyone realizes that the Trump plan will set the new bar when dealing with America, unless something should happen and President Trump does not win re-election.
The world realizes that Israel seeks peace and the Palestinians have only one interest: to obliterate Israel. Everyone has had enough of their shenanigans, terror, and ineptitude. The Sunni Arabs and the West want the issue to go away already, so they can work together with each other to neutralize Iran. It’s insane that only the American and Israeli left don’t get it and are rallying for the poor Palestinians.
A Solution from the Wise Men of Chelm
What else is insane?
If you have traveled on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway – and who hasn’t? – you know that this vital New York City artery is in dire need of repair and expansion. The highway simply can’t hold all the traffic of the people in the expanding city. The BQE can’t handle three times the amount of traffic it was built to accommodate.
The mayor appointed a committee to come up with a rescue plan for the road. They came back with a recommendation to cut out two lanes and make the highway two lanes in each direction instead of three. This will make it harder for people to get around in cars and force them to find alternative means of transportation. As if, in a city of millions of people, with millions more passing through, removing the ability to get around will help the people and the city.
What could be more insane, more counterproductive? And when New York City’s population starts shrinking and people stop coming in to shop and to do business, they will appoint another commission to figure out why.
And do you know what else is insane? Paroh.
Moshe appeared repeatedly before Paroh and warned him that if he didn’t free the Jewish people, he would be struck by supernatural occurrences brought about by the G-d of the Jews. The makkah came, Paroh and his nation suffered, and he said that he would let them go. Then, as soon as the makkah passed, Paroh returned to his stubborn ways.
We look at Paroh and laugh at his stupidity. It was so obvious that if he would acquiesce to the will of Hashem, he and his country would be freed of the afflictions and they would be allowed to return to living normal lives. How can it be that Paroh and his nation failed to recognize that?
The Ramban (Shemos 14:4) writes that the biggest of all the nissim that transpired with Paroh was that he and his army chased after the Bnei Yisroel at the Yam Suf, even after seeing that the sea opened for them. How insane it is that even though they saw the sea split supernaturally to allow the Jews a path of escape, they charged in after them full force, convinced that they would defeat the Jews and their G-d.
It is easy for us to read the pesukim and mock Paroh and his people that they were too senseless to recognize that what befell them was from Hashem, and to finally acquiesce to Hashem’s request. But if we take an honest look at ourselves, we have to admit we quite often behave the same way as the insane Mitzriyim.
Hakadosh Boruch Hu created us and sustains us and provided us with the Torah to guide us. As the Ramban writes at the end of last week’s parsha (13:16), the foundation of our belief is to know that those who follow Hashem’s guidance are blessed and those who don’t, suffer the consequences.
Hashem causes things to befall us so that we recognize that we aren’t following His ways and need to rectify our actions. When a person gets sick or has other problems, they are messages from Hashem, communicating our need to do teshuvah, no different than the messages Paroh received.
Too often, however, we are like Paroh and attribute what happens to teva, nature. If there is a hurricane and it damages our property and causes us losses, we don’t get the message. Instead, we say that too much warm water rose from the ocean and collided with cooler air. We forget that everything that happens to us is by Divine design for a reason. Nothing is haphazard. Nothing happens by itself, not even the coronavirus.
Understanding Shomayim Language
There was a Jewish merchant from China whose travels led him to Europe to seek out new avenues of distribution and sources of goods. Before heading home, he made a detour to the hamlet of Radin to seek a brocha from the Chofetz Chaim. He introduced himself to the Chofetz Chaim.
“Foon vanet kumt a Yid?” asked the Chofetz Chaim.
“I am from China,” the man told him.
“Vos hert zach in China?”
“It’s very difficult there,” said the man. “There is no proper chinuch. There is no shechitah. It is very hard to keep Shabbos.”
“It is a tzoras rabim,” responded the Chofetz Chaim. “In many countries around the globe, Jews are experiencing the same problems. I published a sefer for them. It’s called ‘Nidchei Yisroel.’ Please take some seforim with you and distribute them in China. The sefer teaches how to maintain your Yiddishkeit in difficult surroundings.”
The Chofetz Chaim paused. “What else is doing in China?” he asked.
The man discussed the state of the Jews there, not sure what else to add. He told the Chofetz Chaim that he had been away from his country for several weeks.
“Before you left,” asked the tzaddik, “what were people there speaking about? What were they writing about in the newspapers?”
The visitor thought for a moment, suddenly recalling an incident that had been widely covered by the newspapers back home. He shared the account with the Chofetz Chaim.
“The Chinese government built a huge dam, making available a tremendous amount of land for agriculture,” said the man. “But the dam was built very sloppily and could not withstand the awesome power of all the water it had backed up. The dam collapsed and flooded a very large area. 100,000 people died.”
The Chofetz Chaim was visibly shaken and became emotional.
“Oy vey. Oy vey. The middas hadin is running rampant! It has reached as far as China,” he said.
The man was perplexed.
“Can I ask the rebbe a question?” he queried. “Why is it that when I told you about the matzav of the Jews in China, you accepted it without much emotion, but when I told you about the Chinese people, you cried bitter tears?”
“During your European trip, were you in Warsaw?” asked the Chofetz Chaim of his visitor.
“Yes,” the man replied.
“How many Jews live there and what percentage of the population are they?” asked the Chofetz Chaim.
“There are about 300,000 Jews out of a population of a little over one million,” said the man.
“If a man stands on a soap box on a street corner delivering a speech in Yiddish, who is he addressing?” questioned the Chofetz Chaim.
“The Jews who are passing by, of course,” responded the man. “Why are you asking?”
“But you yourself said that they are but a minority in the city, correct?”
“Sure,” said the man, still confused. “But the goyim don’t understand Yiddish, so if someone is speaking in Yiddish, he must be addressing the Jewish passersby and not the gentiles.”
“Exactly,” replied the Chofetz Chaim. “The same is true with the dam that burst in China. When the water was unleashed to kill 100,000 people, that was the language of Heaven. It was a warning from Hashem. But the Chinese don’t understand ‘Shomayim language.’ We do. The Jews are the ones who cry out on the Yomim Noraim, ‘Mi bamayim.’ We understand that when such occurrences take place, they are meant to send us a message. But how are we, in Radin, to know about what happened? That’s why Hashem sent you here. He sent you to tell us what took place and for us to hear the Heavenly speech.”
Hashem is patient and loving, and sends us one message after the other as he waits for us to turn to him in tefillah and teshuvah. Let us not be insane. Let us get the message. Remember from where we come and the source of everything so that we can improve and better ourselves, and merit all the brachos reserved for those who follow Hashem’s Torah.
Let’s not get into a rut. Let us not fall prey to personal and communal makkos. Let us always be alert and on guard to recognize what is going on around us and remember that “hakol bishvil Yisroel.”