First and Foremost, We are Jews!

by Yossi Katz

The first piece of advice I was given was to never mix religion and politics, so I am going to do just that! Well, kind of, anyway. I have no interest in taking sides; quite the contrary, as you will see. What I want to say is applicable no matter which side of the political spectrum you are on.

I write this because there is now such a great divide and so many of our Jewish brethren are so pained. Those who are Trump supporters see the president as the greatest friend Israel ever had. They point to the almost unimaginable peace agreements signed between Israel and their now former Arab enemies. Instead of the hope that peace is finally around the corner, many now worry for the very survival of the country. Then there are those who can’t stomach Mr. Trump’s personality. How could religious Jews trust and even idolize someone of such character, they wonder.

Who is right? Now that the elections are over, I believe this question to be completely irrelevant. As believing Jews, we should be completely united with one very great and overriding hope: to await the arrival of the Melech HaMashiach. A life even in the safest, most democratic country, with every civil right and abundant opportunity, is worthless to us if it’s a life devoid of Hashem. Many thankfully have been blessed with everything under the sun, but materialism disconnected from purpose and higher meaning will never bring true simcha. 

Mashiach, on the other hand, will teach the entire world – Jew and non-Jew alike – that we have a Creator and a loving Father who waits to build a rich relationship with us. He will show us that there is purpose and profundity in our every experience. Not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Jews we should unite and pray together with brotherly love for this glorious era to begin.

Hashem Is In Charge!

We need look no further than our parasha for the assurance that Hashem always engineers events for our benefit. We all agree that Paroh was no tzaddik! Yet as a result of him first hardening his heart and then having his heart hardened and not allowing the Jews to go free, time and again great miracles were performed on our behalf. Eventually, with his drowning in the sea, the evil Paroh become one of the greatest catalysts for the sanctification of Hashem’s Name. Similarly, we see Bilam tried to curse the Jews and instead wound up blessing them. Haman prepared a tall gallows on which to hang Mordechai and in the end he himself was hung on them. Rebbe Nachman teaches that inasmuch as we exercise freedom of choice, Hashem in His marvelous ways still holds the steering wheel and manipulates every outcome to bring us closer to the final geula.

A great metaphor for this is bee honey. While the Torah forbids us from eating insects, the sweet product of bees is kosher for consumption without any requirement to first sanctify the food. This is very different from meat, where we must first ritually slaughter a kosher animal. Only Hashem can take something forbidden and impure and bring about something kosher and holy from it.

Sounds Familiar?

There was once a mighty Jewish warrior named Shimshon who wanted to save the Jews from the Pelishtim (this sounds all too similar to a different people). He married a girl from their people, something the Torah frowned on. His parents were none too happy, but we read that he did this because “this was Hashem’s doing: he sought a pretense against them” (Shoftim 14:4). Yet Chazal say that Shimshon ultimately had his eyes ripped out as a punishment for following after them (Sotah 9b). This seems to contradict the text, which clearly states that it was Hashem’s doing and that Shimshon did this for a good reason.

The answer is that Shimshon took matters into his own hands and involved himself in something beyond his pay grade. Hashem therefore led him into a forbidden situation which He ultimately manipulated for the benefit of the Jewish people. But Shimshon was at fault for following his own perception and not keeping the faith. For this reason, as he returns to marry her, he sees bees and honey (Shoftim 14:8).

No one knows the future and no one knows what is best for the Jewish people. But rest assured that Hashem is in control and He manipulates every situation for our very best. Let us therefore fulfil what the Torah makes abundantly clear: to embrace one another in the sweetest way possible! There is no better way to help bring Mashiach.

Likutey Halachos, Simanei Beheima #4

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