Last week, preparing to come back to Israel, I returned my rental car. At the Hertz counter, I met a young lady in the uniform of TSA (Transportation Security Agency), waiting to pick up a car. I told her that we would be seeing some of her colleagues at the airport that evening, and I mentioned that not all of them are as nice as she. She totally understood! I gave her a bracha, telling her that I was sorry my wife and I would not see her at the airport that evening.
How right I was!
At the airport, I committed the sin of not taking the Ipad out of my briefcase. Suddenly, angry faces stared at me and my briefcase disappeared. When I asked where it went and how long it might be until I got it back, I began to feel like Reb Sholom Rubashkin, who was victimized by the U. S. justice system. Was I a criminal? The hatred was palpable.
Where was my friend from Hertz?
The entire world is now turning against not only the Jewish People, but against morality and normalcy in general. How long can a culture this corrupt continue to exist?
Last week, after I discussed theft at U. S. retail stores, a reader responded regarding other similar instances, for example, an employee who was fired for catching shoplifters and neighborhood stores where every product is under lock and key. By the way, do you know how many security cameras are in use in China? The answer: 700,000,000.
Trust and brotherhood are gone.
My friends, the world is cracking. As I mentioned last week, concerning the generation of the Great Flood, Chazal tell us, “their punishment was not sealed upon them until they stretched forth their hands in robbery.” (Sanhedrin 108a) The Great Flood was unleashed upon the world because of robbery.
Immorality opens the gate to violence, and the classic recipients of violence are the Children of Israel. Why? It is straightforward: The Author of Morality is Hashem. Those who abandon morality hate Hashem and His Laws, and we are Hashem’s representatives in this world, so we are the ones against whom the hatred is directed.
We are in the Three Weeks, reliving the terrible days when our Bais Hamikdosh burned and we were thrown into the Golus which seems to go on forever. We are like swimmers caught in a riptide, which is dragging us further and further into the ocean of idolatry, immorality and chaos. “Is Israel a slave? Why has he become prey? Young lions have …. laid waste his land, devastated his cities …. Even the people of Noph and Tahpanhes smash your skull. Is this not what you do to yourself, by forsaking Hashem your G-d ….! (Haftaras Masei).
Yes, we do it to ourselves! If we treat our own people like strangers, then, G-d forbid, we become the prey of strangers. If we speak against our own people, then G-d forbid, the world speaks against us.
The Three Weeks are all about teshuva! If we cause our own troubles then we can rectify our troubles. We can open our eyes! We can admit our guilt! This is extremely difficult, but – if we are suffering – then we can accomplish the impossible. If we dare to admit how bad the situation is then we can do teshuva. Let’s try to be honest, for that is the way of salvation. “Mo’de al ha emes … Let’s acknowledge the truth!”
The world of sheker around us is a house of cards, a fantasy world which attempts to cover up the World of Truth which Hashem created.
“Why do we cover our eyes when we say the Shema? To teach us not to look at what happens in This World, not to pay attention to what we see. Because if we do, we will get very confused and depressed…. Much of what we see in this world makes no sense. Wonderful people suffer; horrible people prosper! …. The possuk says, ‘Shema … Hear, Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem the One and Only.’ The Name ‘Hashem’ denotes G-d’s merciful facet, while ‘Elokim’ denotes the strict aspect. The Shema tells us that the Name ‘Hashem’ and the Name ‘Elokim’ are really One! …. In the World to Come … we will [perceive that what we thought was bad was really] good. In the meanwhile, our Sages imparted to us this secret: Don’t look. It’s not what it seems, and don’t be misled ….” (Paraphrase from the sefer Kol Aryeh quoted in the Artscroll biography of Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky zt”l)
This week’s Haftara says, “The word of Hashem was upon me, saying … ‘I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, your following after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel is sacred unto Hashem, the first of His grain. All who devour him shall bear guilt. Evil shall come upon them …. The word of Hashem!”
My friends, Hashem will cut down our enemies if we have the courage to do teshuva and cry out to Him! There is hope in this dark world. May we have the courage to admit the truth and come back to Hashem. May He rescue us and take us out of this dark Golus with a “yad chazaka … a strong arm,” as He rescued our ancestors from Mitzraim, and may we soon greet our redeemer, Moshiach ben Dovid!
Bais Hamikdosh: Holy Temple
Mitzraim: Biblical Egypt
Possuk: Sentence in the Torah