Gaza, Truth & The Red Apple

Friday, 25 July, 2014 - 3:38 pm

An older fellow was driving on the freeway when his phone rings. He picks up the phone, it’s his wife on the phone with a warning.  “I heard on the radio that a Meshugane is driving in the wrong direction on the Freeway -- please be careful!”

“ONE car going the wrong way?!” the husband replies. “There are HUNDREDS!”

What do you do when you KNOW something to be the TRUTH, and yet everyone around you insists otherwise? 

Do you change your tune? Do you second guess the veracity of your position?

If everyone else is traveling in an opposing direction on the freeway – does this necessarily mean that it is YOU are driving the wrong way?

Rabbi Baruch Hilsenrath, my Elementary School Principal, had a poster in his office. Depicted on it was an arrangement of 11 green apples and only one red one. The poster read, “Dare to be Different”.

Reuters, AP, CNN, SKY, Al-Jazeera, all spout lies and hatred. Skewed news and outright lies. Journalistic objectivity becomes license for hatred and Anti-Semitism. Even moderate [respectable] press establishments feel the need to sprinkle in a sense of balance with their reporting – as if reporting truth is somehow wrong.

The world is upside down, and it seems like it is all on our heads.

Prime Minister Yiztchak Rabin z’l, recalled an audience that he had with the Lubavitcher Rebbe while serving as Israeli Ambassador to the US. The Rebbe was addressing the isolation of Israel in the eyes of the world; her morality and noble nature ignored by everyone.  He quoted the Prophecy Biliam, who said “[Israel is] A nation who will dwell in isolation, who will not be reckoned amongst the nations” Am Lvadad Yishkon Uvagoyim Lo Yitchashav. (Bamidbar 23:9)

The Rebbe’s question for Rabin, which he went on to answer, was whether this isolation is by force or by our choice.

The Rebbe explained that both are true. We choose to be unique; we are steadfast to our traditions by our choice. Throughout our history, we’ve strongly CHOSEN to be unique, despite being in foreign cultures and environments.

Yet, sadly, at times outside factors present themselves, evil is imposed upon us. At such times, we are then forced to unite and embrace the unique ‘isolated’ status. As a people, we are then forced to strengthen ourselves as an isolated, yet strong national entity and faith.

More than just citizens of the world – we are strong and proud Jews. Our legacy is one of compassion, morality, and sense of Justice inherent to our spiritual DNA. In moments like these – we don’t engage in self-doubt or self-criticism – we forge a sense of deep allegiance and connection to our faith and our way of truth.  

In closing, I’d like to relate a conversation at a Bar Mitzva Kiddush in our Shul two weeks ago. The Israeli father of the Bar Mitzva boy, whose brother was tragically killed in Lebanon in 1981, asked me, “Have you ever been in Israel during a war?” I replied that I hadn’t.

His response: You should know that Israel during wartime is a special place. Everyone gets along, there is a special atmosphere. You wouldn’t recognize it as the same place.   

Hashem, we turn to you in Prayer: See how your children are unflinching in the face of isolation and world condemnation. See the acts of love, sacrifice, and courage. See how the opinion of the masses does not change their commitment to what they know is true.

Hashem, please answer the prayers of your children, with the coming of Mashiach Tzikeinu, an era of peace and harmony, in which Truth will be recognized without sacrifice.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yisroel Hecht

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