Let my people KNOW

Thursday, 19 July, 2012 - 2:14 pm

One spring day in Paris a man saw a little girl being attacked by her own pit-bull. He quickly rushed to her rescue and killed the dog. A journalist saw the whole episode and approached the man asking him for his name so he could write an article about his heroism. “I can just see headline,” said the reporter, “Parisian hero saves little girl from viscous attack dog.” The man replied, “I am not from Paris.” “How about European man bravely rescues girl from pit-bull?” “I am not European.” “Then where are you from?” “I am from Israel.” The next day’s headline read, “Israeli aggressor kills little girl’s dog.”

Yet when there is an attack against Jews, much of the world is silent. Once again we suffered a blow at the hands of terrorists – Jewish lives in Bulgaria have been extinguished. How much longer must this persist – that a Jew needs to be afraid of being targeted while on vacation, or at a wedding, or at a Seder, or a pizza shop, or “safely” in bed at home? During these weeks of mourning for the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash this question is that much more poignant. True we must pray to G-d for protection and salvation. We must turn inward and find areas in our own lives that could be improved – thus making the world a better place. At the same time we must also demand that world wake up and acknowledge this malignant disease called anti-Semitism, so that action can be taken to fight it.

Let us pray that very soon the time for our Redemption will come, when Jews will be safe to live and serve G-d in our sovereign land Israel along with our crown jewel, a rebuilt Beit Hamikdash on the Temple mount.

They say that “Ignorance is Bliss,” yet our tradition does not accept that. The Shelah, a 17th Kabbalist, gives a unique interpretation to the story of Bilaam, his donkey and the angel. (Numbers: 22:34) After Bilaam strikes his donkey the angel allows him to see what caused the donkey to stop. Bilaam says to the angel "I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing on the road before me.” The Shelah explains, that we must all read this in the following way, “I have sinned, that I did not know.” In other words, not knowing itself is a sin.

Maimonides tells us that foundation and pillar of all wisdom is to know that there is a G-d. Belief is not sufficient. We must also have knowledge. The only way to know is by studying. This is why we are excited to be bringing Project Talmud Summer 2012 back to town. Project Talmud will run for a week beginning Sunday, August 12, featuring classes by visiting senior Yeshiva student Yosef Rivkin. An exact schedule will be released in the forthcoming days. Project Talmud Summer 2012 is sponsored by GCP Labs (Gulfport, MS) in memory of Reb Shmuel ben Aryeh Leib Fishel HaLevi.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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