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Rabbi’s Blog: “Advanced” Societies

11/10/2023 01:45:26 PM


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Dear OZ family,


Historians, professors, and political scientists have long grappled with the question of how such an advanced society like Germany, could devolve so quickly to what we know took place between 1933-1945. Jews had thrived for decades, and permeated every level of German society. A full one third of German Nobel Prize winners were Jews. Yet the academy, the judiciary, the political and business landscape, fields of jurisprudence and medicine, all collapsed like a house of cards so quickly on Germany and all of Europe. Newspaper in New York reported a spike in attacks of Jew hatred in the immediate aftermath of Kristallnacht, which was 85 years ago yesterday. This isn’t a mystery. If you train your people from their most impressionable years to hate something, they will believe any lie about that object of hate because they want to. It fortifies their bias.


The first time this happened was in Egypt, as Paroah slowly stripped the Hebrews of their rights, and in stages began to suppress, oppress, subjugate, and ultimately kill them. All that happened after the Torah tells us that the Egyptians were taught to despise the Hebrews. This playbook was borrowed by the Germans in the 30’s, as every stage of oppression brought the Germans closer to their ultimate goal of genocide. The projection of Chamas supporters calling Israel’s uprooting of Chamas genocide, is also borrowed from Paroah and the Germans, who claimed that it was the Jews who wanted to take over our country or even the entire world. Yet Israel is ready to offer humanitarian aid, even as Chamas does not hide that they will use the opportunity to regroup and fight again. The morally challenged students, professors, politicians and reporters who think this is ok, would probably cheer another Chamas massacre (God forbid), like they cheered the first.


The problem is that for the longest time, the terrorists do not view our concessions (leaving Lebanon before taking out the PLO, relinquishing land gained in wars of self-defense, unilaterally leaving Gaza, etc) as a sign that we love peace. In fact, no nation has given up more in the interests of peace than Israel. She agreed to a partition of our ancestral homeland that comprised only 12% of the originally designated homeland, in the interests of peace. She gave up the administration of the Temple Mount in the interests of peace. The problem is that the terrorists see these concessions as weaknesses on our part, and that their terrorism works. They say so bluntly. When Chamas murdered Israelis on buses in Afula, Chadera and Tel Aviv, and committed numerous terrorist activities in the first half of the decade of the 2000’s, they saw the evacuation of Gaza in 2005, as a sign that their terrorism works.


This time they miscalculated. Their barbarism has brought our nation together. The tragedy of Oct.7 has brought out the best in us. Ruby, Hindy and Melissa Taub have used their culinary talents to serve over 1,500 meals to displaced families and soldiers in the last month. Sharon Turner has used her real-estate expertise to find unused apartments all over Jerusalem to be used rent-free, Mike Cohen is driving all over Israel (it’s a small country) delivering whatever is needed. Food, clothing, personal needs, toys for children, lodgings, and so much more are gladly shared all over Israel. Surely God has noticed. We do need a miracle now, and as Abba Eban said, an Israeli who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist.    


Keep up the calls. Thank those who have helped us, make your voice heard, on the phone, in conversation, on social media, and in a tear drenched book of Tehillim.


Next Motza’ei Shabbos, we will be having a musical event with Shmuel Bodenheim (BODI). Please register for it with the shul office, and bring your own instrument if you’d like to play. This event is a fundraiser for Beit Elazraki, a children’s home in Netanya that Alisa and I have been attending for many years. They have taken in children from all over Israel and are very strapped. Please keep your eyes open for other such events for Migdal Ohr and United Hatzala.


Welcome to the students of Yeshiva University and Stern College, who will be at Ohab Zedek for Shabbos. Rabbi Beny Rofeh is in with his family, and he will be on a panel with me and Moshe Bellows at the Oneg tonight to speak about the college experience at YU and in America today. We also welcome the Ramaz choir who will be performing this evening at the Oneg.


Stay well and healthy.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635






Mon, December 4 2023 21 Kislev 5784