No matter, you’ve seen or heard something like this before: Israel is .000001% of the earth’s land mass. Israel (Jews) amount to point oh-oh-oh-oy-vey of the world population. 45% of the United Nations’ condemnations have been directed at Israel.
I know a woman who was raised in an activist Zionist home in the thirties and forties. She tells of how weekly, sometimes nightly, there were meetings for the cause that lasted well into the night. She tells me of how her father stood there the day the Israeli flag was raised for the first time at the UN, and how he cried.
That was the thought then, that we would finally “take our rightful place amongst the family of nations.” What happened?
America has changed somewhat, and with it the world. Homogeny is no longer the ideal; particularism is no longer the pariah. So it is hard for us to put ourselves in their place, in that time, after the events of that decade.
“We are different, but we are proud of that difference too.” I just paraphrased a young teenage girl writing in her diary. In between writing of her fights with her big sister and her discovery of the boy next door, she charmingly meanders into what it means to her to be a Jew. She was later murdered for being a Jew, but the words Anne Frank penned in hiding illuminate a clarity that was painful then and wanted to be ignored.
Holocaust history (often two paragraphs of a school textbook) reads: “Six million Jews were killed, as were Gypsies, artists, Poles, Communists . . .” There was an unspoken comfort in that—not alone were we singled out.
But of course we are singled out, even after the ovens of Oswiecim are cold. Those UN numbers don’t make us comfortable.
Am levadad yishkon, a nation that dwells alone,
uvagoyim lo yit’chashav, and in the nations they are not reckoned.
A soothsayer (ancient word meaning “lead editorialist”) was hired to curse the Jews (“curse” being an archaic word for “denounce”), but instead his words, recounted in this week’s Torah portion, emerged as a power of goodness.
The nation dwelleth alone, and this tiny nation (more a family in world proportions) birthed the civilizations of Christianity and Islam—nearly three billion people—a numerical absurdity when you think of it.
But think about it: had this family ceased to be a people apart in their first millennium of existence, there would have been neither Christianity nor Islam. The course of history has been played only because of this family’s particularism.
Destiny is history without hindsight. From a timeless perspective, destiny is as compelling as history. And what is eminently clear from the UN: the world is looking at us. Historically, that is the logical thing for them to do. But it perplexes the Jew. “Alone, we feel very ordinary” said one after the ’67 war, “just a mess of mortgage payments, bills and errands. But together, great things seem to happen through us and around us.”
Am levadad yishkon, a nation dwells alone. In ways we can’t always appreciate, that dwelling is a benefit to us and to the world. History attests to that, even as it does not explain it. May destiny do that for us, and until then, may we do our jobs.
Article Courtesy of Chabad.org
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