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I will bless those that bless you!

Friday, 28 November, 2014 - 10:11 am

Genesis 12:3 states: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you." This is the promise that G-d made to Avraham when instructing him to “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.”

We live in a time when it has once again become in vogue to assault Jews. There are the insidious ideological attacks by the media, academia and politicians. There are the virulent verbal attacks that are evident during anti-Israel protests and on social media. There are the violent physical attacks on Jews in many parts of the world such as Israel, Europe and even most recently on our own shores in the USA. These assaults must be regarded with all seriousness and confronted on every level.

Yet, despite the doom and gloom, many, indeed, very many members of the nations of the world take that passage from Genesis quite seriously. G-d’s promise to Avraham is the inspiration for pro-Israel and pro-Jewish support from (some perhaps) unexpected places. While anecdotal at best, I would like to share three positive encounters I had this week, all within a span of 15 minutes.

On Monday morning I was returning home together with my son Sholom from our annual conference in NY. We collected our bags and seated ourselves on a bench outside the baggage claim area to wait for our ride. A young African American man was walking by holding the hand a small child. I noticed that he was staring at us intently. He calls out a cheerful good morning to which I respond in kind. As he passes us he asks me if I am Jewish, to which I reply in the positive. He then proceeds to ask me if he can take a picture with me. When I agree he tells me that he has to go get his camera and be back in a few minutes. Upon his departure I hear a chuckle from behind me. I turn around and there is an African American woman smiling at me and asking me where I am from. I tell her I am from New Orleans. She tells me that she is from Brooklyn and she loves living among her many Jewish neighbors. We chat for a few more minutes and then my buddy returns with his camera (phone). He asks a passerby to snap the photo and sits down next to me extending his hand in greeting. We pose for the photo with a handshake and then he thanks me profusely as if it was the biggest honor to have his photo taken with a Jew. I wish him well and he goes about his way. Not ten minutes later I see a middle-aged African American woman walking back and forth as if she is waiting for someone – but she keeps looking at us. Finally she comes over and asks us if she can take a picture of us. She tells us that she is big fan of Matisyahu but she doesn’t like that he cut off his beard. After snapping our picture she tells me that is going to post it on Facebook with the #missingMatisyahu.

So in 15 minutes three African Americans (not that it matters, I am just identifying for accuracy) expressed how much they respect and love Jewish people, especially those that are visibly maintaining their tradition.

As we get closer to the time of Redemption clarity comes to the world. There is an obvious gulf between those that are with us and those that are against us. There are some wonderful people with beautiful hearts and a great love for the people about whom G-d promised “And I will bless those who bless you.” To them I say (as I did to my newfound friends in the airport) thank you and G-d bless you! We look forward to the time in the near future when “they all will call upon the name of G-d and serve Him with one purpose.”

Happy 80th birthday Allen Samuels. Many healthy and prosperous years!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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