When I was in high school back in the early 1970s, I had a history teacher from whom I probably learned most of what I know of what they call “social studies.” His name was Reb Shmuel Yaakov Globman and we considered him to be a bit too liberal for our biased and somewhat slightly bigoted predispositions. In retrospect, he did teach us a bit about the concepts of tzelem Elokim and gadlus ha’adam, even for those whose skin color or race is different than ours.
But he taught us more than that. One of the adages I remember was explained with a belt. No, he did not use it on any of us rambunctious teens, but he did lay one across his teacher’s desk and explain that the two ends of the belt seem so far apart. But when the belt is used to hold up one’s pants, the two ends are quite close to each other.
There are two ends of the political spectrum. We know them as the far right, the fascists, and the nationalists. On the other side of the spectrum are the leftists and liberals. They seem to be as divergent from each other as possible. But sadly, we find that they can dance together while holding up the pants of anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred. Whether or not the fiendish act was perpetrated is irrelevant. What we do know is that a court in Sweden allowed for the public burning of a Sefer Torah, all in the name of free speech. The idealism of liberalism and free speech danced in perfect harmony with the evil acts of what should be their ideological nemesis, fascism and Nazism, whose book and Torah burning ensued for almost a decade before the Reich was quashed.
The world of liberalism, which allows for Yidden to daven publicly and celebrate publicly, has turned the corner to the madness of unfettered liberalism that is eerily reminiscent of the greatest antithesis of liberal thought.
But in the world of extremes, the extreme right and the extreme left can buckle up together to whip any sense of morality that is the fundamental essence of Judaism.
I understand that the alleged requester of the vile burning Torah act has since regretted his request and will no longer attempt to burn holy books, but the proverbial cat is out of the bag. The world as we know it has gone mad. The holy words of Torah and the basic tenets of the Five Books of Moses that even gentiles have claimed to accept are being proverbially burned with daily acts of desecration in the streets of America. Who is to say that some liberal judge won’t give permission for such sacrilegious desecrations to be performed here?
My worrisome thinking stretched this further. In our neighborhood, just a week ago, a car pulled up to a Target store and four men walked in, filled their bags with merchandise, and left. Stealing is a crime. Even the most liberal judge will not claim that removing items from a store shelf is an act of free speech. (At least I hope not.) Yet, these men will not be prosecuted or hunted down.
If the desecration of holy objects is granted immunity, heaven forbid, what is to stop this expression of liberal thought manifesting itself on a large scale with hordes rampaging through sanctuaries to desecrate what is deemed holy with the excuse of free speech? They will call it liberal expression. We used to call it pogroms.
I fear that the downward spiral that we are all witnessing can end in anarchistic chaos, and of course, in this long golus, we may be more than collateral damage.
Honestly, I was surprised a bit at the lackluster response from the Jewish community at large to the initial reports of the permitting of a Sefer Torah to be burnt. Even the normally vocal voices did nothing more than some press releases or video protestations. I wonder: Would it take the burning of 24 carts of seforim to raise the ire of a nation to amass hundreds of thousands in front of the Swedish embassy?
I don’t know. Maybe the ones in the know were previously informed that this would not happen, and the more attention we show toward it, the worse it might be come. There may have been quiet diplomacy that worked better than an open hue and cry.
The apathy of the world at large was certainly deafening. When the Torah is threatened to be desecrated, there is hardly a sound. But there is a new religion that has recently appeared. Its sacred symbol is a multi-colored flag. And that new religion, unfortunately, gets treated with much more vigilance. For some reason, if someone tears down a symbolic flag that represents their agenda, they are arrested for a hate crime. I wonder if the burning of a Chumash would receive the same gravitas.
I often look at the hypocrisy and chuckle. When certain religions are embraced for their anti-Israel stance, yet they clash with the other newfound religions of liberalism, there is trouble brewing. It seems that the liberals are at their wits’ end when their darlings fight for causes that are the antithesis of their other agendas. In the town of Hamtramck, Michigan, the city council is made up solely of members of the Muslim faith. Two commissioners in the human relations division of their town recently flew a certain type of toeivah symbolic flag on public property. They were immediately fired, as the Muslim town council had passed an ordinance banning such flags to be flown on public property.
Indeed, the resolution, proposed by Mayor Pro-Term Muhammad Hassan, was wise enough to bar any type of ethnic or religious flags to be flown, leaving the American flag as the only one to be flown, along with state and city flags, and other national flags, including the black POW flag.
It seems that this, once again, will be a time when divergent forces will have to unite to keep a sense of morality alive in a world in which its pulse is slowly ebbing away.
Indeed, the two ends of the belt sometimes have to meet. But unfortunately, the time they sync in harmony is when they are encircling the Jew in their grasp.