Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

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The Tea Party and Us

It’s finally over. The much anticipated election of 2010 is now a part of history. Now it’s on to the presidential election of 2012. The energy poured into this election will be negligible compared to what is likely to be invested in the next presidential election. Now that the Republicans have demonstrated their appeal to the majority of the American people, they will be further emboldened to win back the White House. The Democrat party, whose loss of touch with the people is increasingly on display, will be desperately trying to hold on to the power it still maintains, while seeking to prevent a rollback of the progressive legal advances that have proved so unpopular with the masses. Two years ago, Barack Obama overcame the odds, winning election to the presidency as a uniter, not a divider. He sold himself as a post-partisan politician who would ignore party labels, and who would govern in a bi-partisan manner. His election, he said, would usher in a historic era during which America would regain its preeminent position in the world, the economy would return to its full strength, fairness would return to the country’s taxation system, and an era of brotherhood and peace would dawn.

Tests

In the Across the Fruited Plain section of this week’s paper, there is a small news item about the closing of a shul in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Congregation Ahavas Achim had been struggling with waning membership and mounting deficits. It finally made the decision to shut its doors. As one whose father hails from that section of the country, I found the closing of this shul very newsworthy. But you don’t have to come from Massachusetts to recognize the historical significance of the story. With the closing of this shul, a slice of shining history will slip away, soon to be forgotten. That is regrettable, because this shul, founded 120 years ago byLitvishe Yidden from Europe, recalls the great mesirus nefesh for Shabbos that a handful of Jews demonstrated, despite the terrible price that they were forced to pay. That ought not be forgotten.

Achdus Lessons

This paper’s staunch support of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin has engendered some misunderstanding. In contrast to popular belief, we took up his cause and are waging a campaign to have his wrongful conviction overturned not because of a personal friendship or because we knew him prior to the day his company became front-page news in newspapers across the country. We rallied behind him because we became convinced of the justice of his cause. We saw an honest and generous person being hounded and demonized by forces apparently bent on destroying him. We saw the public being fed a web of lies about the meatpacking plant he helped manage. We witnessed a propaganda campaign gaining enormous traction in the media. An altruistic, deeply spiritual man was being sold to the public as a greedy millionaire who made his fortune taking advantage of the underclass. That was a breathtaking distortion of reality. The travesty cried out and we could not sit by quietly as this fine man was dragged through the mud and eventually railroaded by the justice system.

Gustav

This juxtaposition of this week’s Parshas Lech Lecha with last week’s Parshas Noach has a profound message for us. That lesson is underscored in the famous Rashi at the beginning of Parshas Noach that young children invariably quote from their parsha sheets at the Shabbos table. It’s a message we’ve heard innumerable times but for some reason, never truly absorb. Rashi states that according to one opinion, had Noach lived in the generation of Avrohom, he wouldn’t have been regarded as anyone special. Children read the Rashi off their sheets and continue their weekly devar Torah with the question: Why was Noach inferior to Avrohom? In what way did the two men differ so radically that the Torah has to hint that had Noach lived in Avrohom’s era, he would not have been considered a tzaddik at all?

Their Waterloo

The Israeli people are very proud of their nascent country’s many accomplishments. A sheep among seventy wolves, it perseveres despite all obstacles placed in its path. Its enemies have fought valiantly to destroy it, yet the Jewish state carries on with valor. Age-old anti-Semitic tendencies of the nations of the world die hard, and as hard as little Israel tries, it rarely enjoys much worldly support. Its leaders are educated, well-spoken, hard-working people, who have set as their life mission the well-being of the state. Believing that once the Jews would have a country of their own anti-Semitism will cease to exist, the Zionists have poured everything they have into the enterprise. Prior to the country’s founding, Jews were vilified because they were stateless, Zionists claimed, and the prevailing Zionist notion was that once they would have a country of their own, the hatred of the world toward the offspring of Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov would vanish. Once again, the Jewish state has been set upon by bloodthirsty terrorists. Only this time they didn’t have to kill anyone to score a major victory. They didn’t have to issue any press releases. They didn’t have to summon the media to their dens. In fact, they didn’t have to say a word. All they had to do was pull a simple stunt, tricking the vaunted Israeli navy into a clever trap. The world’s leaders and media did the rest.

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