Let him who is convinced that his views are true and right express them . . . at every opportunity . . . without considering how much support or how much opposition he will encounter. Only falsehood is in need of many supporters in order to win the day; falsehood must have the authority of numbers to make up for what it lacks in justification. Truth, by contrast, will always prevail, even if it takes time. Noble, courageous and pure, expressed with all the fiery zeal and conviction and with all clarity of sure awareness, stated again and again at every opportunity, truth will ultimately gain respect and admiration even of those who do not accept it. The only truth that can be lost beyond recall is that truth whose adherents no longer have the courage to speak up candidly on its behalf. Truth has never gone down in defeat as the result of opposition, it has done so only when its friends are too weak to defend it. - R' S.R. Hirsch

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Too Numerous and Mighty

And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation.  But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.  Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.  And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we;  "come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land." (Exodus 1:6-10)

Rav v'atzoom mimenu (more and mightier than we) cannot mean 'more numerous and stronger than we are'.  There can be no doubt that the Egyptians were much more powerful and numerous than the Jews living in Goshen, unless we consider the possible scenario below:


The Hebrew sense of the phrase rendered "Now there arose a new king over Egypt" in most translations does not imply a normal legitimate succession to the throne.  In all likelihood, Egypt was invaded and overthrown by a foreign dynasty, which would also help explain why this "new king" did not know Joseph.  If the new king had been a native successor, it would have been impossible for him not to have known Joseph, one who was responsible for saving Egypt.

It is also conceivable that the foreign ruler would have brought with him a number of people from his own tribe.  Suffice it to say, the general Egyptian population was already subjugated.  It would have been to his own people (not the Egyptians whom he had lately conquered) to whom this foreign king turned and whom he addressed when he said: "The Egyptians we no longer fear, since they are already under our power.  But in an outlying area of Egypt there resides a tribe that is growing too strong, and if given enough time, we will not defeat them easily."

This is the first recorded instance of baseless hatred directed against the Jewish people as a whole.  The Pharaoh never actually charges the Jewish people with any wrong doing.  If the Pharaoh could have cited any actual wrong doing, it would not have been necessary for him to deal 'cleverly' with them. Nor did this baseless hatred originate with the general population in Egypt, rather, the Egyptians were incited from above.  The incitement served the Pharaoh as a political tool to consolidate and strengthen his regime.  Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.  This methodology has been the favorite modus operandi of countless tyrants throughout history. 

In order for the tyrant to effectively maintain control over a people he has just conquered and for the oppression to continue unabated, the tyrant must be sure to deliver into the hands of the conquered another people whom they (the conquered) can in turn oppress and afflict.  This provides the general population who has been vanquished a certain measure of compensation from the powers that be for its tyrannical rule.  And so the Pharaoh sought to create a pariah caste whom the general population could look down upon.  As long as all of the other castes had one caste which they could disdainfully and contemptuously oppress with impunity, the illusion that they themselves were living as free men could be maintained. 

All the Pharaoh needed to do was to cite reasons of grave "national interest" (in this case a high birth rate) to justify the harsh measures he had in mind when it came to a final solution to this most ancient Jewish question.  It is important to note that if the Pharaoh initially had the support and loyalty of the Egyptian populous, it would not have been necessary for him to act cleverly by inciting the people to envy or hatred based in irrational fears; with the undivided loyalty of the Egyptian nation, bondage and subsequent expulsion would have proved to have been no less effective.

Pharaoh cited high birth rates and 'what if'' scenarios to maintain order and tighten his iron grip on a subjugated nation which culminated in state sanctioned infanticide.  Several centuries later, another king would arise, this time in Persia.  The justification for making war against the Jews on his watch?  Their laws were not like his laws.  A disillusioned German corporal convinced one of the most civilized nations on the planet that the Jews were their misfortune and set out to do something about it.

Do we really believe that we can ignore the past?  Do we really think that such times will never recur?  "Never again!" is the clarion call of fools.  There can be no doubt that another king, who does not know Joseph, will soon rise up in our midst and we will witness once again the persecution of a caste populated by people whose only crime is their commitment to holding fast to the truth.

9 comments:

  1. As a gentile I see no reason to harm or bear any ill will against Jews or the nation of Israel.

    It seems to me that Jews desire to remain a distinct national/racial/cultural/religious group. This is understood and to my way of thinking acceptable. Why then should they expect to live in and among other national/racial/cultural/religious groups and not remain a distinct people in their own land?

    Why is it that Jews (as a distinctly national group) living among other nations are engaged in political and cultural activities that are harmful to the host nation?

    I agree with you that in the case of Egypt you cited above, that the Hebrews were made into a sort of Jewish bogyman for political purposes. Why then is it that Jews have been seen to behave badly (by their adoptive nations) throughout the diaspora throughout most of history?

    Modern Examples:
    Jewish involvement in promoting socialism and communism in the west.
    Jewish involvement in promoting cultural decay in Hollywood.
    Jewish involvement in unethical/illegal economic activity.

    In each of the 3 areas above Jews as a group have a disproportionate number of members involved in the activates and actively pursue ends that are harmful to the host nation.

    As a matter of geopolitical, logical and religious perspective, I believe that the Jews should rule over Israel. When I hear about the issue of the "west bank" I think they have the wrong river. In my mind Israel should rule from the Wadi of Egypt to the Med to the west bank of the Euphrates. I'm all for every square inch of Israel being ruled by the Jews. Every square inch, the temple mount, Gaza, etc. There shouldn't be one person claiming to be the pretend nationality of "Palestinian" in Israel. To the extend Israel graciously allows people who are not ethnically Hebrew to live inside their boarders and grant them whatever privileges of society they deem appropriate, that is 100% up to the Jews.

    Outside of those borders however, those nations belong to the racial/ethnic/national groups that inhabit them. Either join those cultures or move to Israel.

    I bend my knee to a Jewish king and expect to see the entire earth subjected to His rule. By and large modern Jews are doing nothing to advance that kingdom and are generally working against it.

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  2. "Why is it that Jews (as a distinctly national group) living among other nations are engaged in political and cultural activities that are harmful to the host nation? . . . In each of the 3 areas above Jews as a group have a disproportionate number of members involved in the activates and actively pursue ends that are harmful to the host nation."

    Abraham, the first Jew, was told that he (and his descendants) would be a blessing to the nations. That is a key component of our calling as Jews. As long was Abraham's descendants were walking in faithfulness to the G-d of Israel and His commandments, this would always be the case.

    Even when we were exiled from Israel and scattered among the nations, due to our rebellion and sin, the principle with which we were charged was to always be sure and promote the good of the host nation, while praying for its welfare. As we worked to promote the prosperity of the host nation, we too were promised prosperity (cf. Jeremiah 29).

    We do see some good examples. In Babylon, we see Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego seeking the good of Babylon and its king. They are eventually persecuted for remaining faithful to Hashem, not for subverting the nation in any way.

    In Persia, it is Mordechai the Jew who learns of a plot to assassinate the King, and what a most ruthless and despicable king he was. Why not just let it go and pretend he never heard anything. No one would have been the wiser. Instead, Mordechai was sure to seek the King's welfare and reveal the attempt on the King's life. Prosperity results.

    Joseph is another example of one who is always seeking the the welfare of Egypt not matter the circumstances. Egypt is saved from the famine and prosperity is again the result.

    I believe these examples to be the ideal and worthy of imitation. The answer to your question is really quite simple in my mind. It is not because they are Jews, but because they are not behaving as Jews. I would argue, generally, that the examples you cite are Jews who have by and large turned their back on G-d and His Torah; so, rather than being a blessing to the nations, their behavior becomes a curse that is no less pervasive. Karl Marx, from what I understand, became disillusioned and bitter with G-d somewhere along the way. Subsequently, he becomes the father of one of the greatest demonic scourges this world has ever known. What if he hadn't ignored his calling and turned his back to Hashem? Sadly, we will never know.

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  4. For me, I view the world through the lens of the Torah. Our people will be influential for good or for ill, but they will be influential as I believe the gift and call of the Jewish people by G-d to be irrevocable (cf. Romans 9-11).

    Ahitophel was one of King David's closest and most trusted advisers. In fact the Scriptures say that the advice of Ahitophel was Divine: "And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counseled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of G-d: so was all the counsel of Ahitophel BOTH with David and with Absalom" (2 Samuel 16:23 - 17:1).

    Notice, BOTH with David and with Absalom. Just because Ahitophel became unfaithful and used his gift to conspire against David did not mean he lost the gift. G-d instead causes Absalom to ignore the counsel, counsel which, if it had been followed, would have succeeded against David. Ahitophel will later commit suicide when he learns that his counsel has gone unheeded by Absalom. He never doubted for a moment the effectiveness of his counsel.

    One final example: Jonah. The ship to Tarshish which Jonah boards is likened to a microcosm of the world (goyim) by many of our Sages. How interesting that a disobedient and rebellious prophet, due to his rebelliousness and disobedience puts the entire ship in danger.

    Once they learn that he is a Hebrew and that he is running away from G-d, the men of the ship are greatly afraid. Reluctantly, they are eventually left with little choice but to toss this rebellious prophet (at Jonah's insistence) into the sea and hope for G-d's forgiveness. Interesting to note that the men on the ship come to know and fear Hashem as a result. This little book is traditionally read on Yom Kippur, which is related to atonement.

    So, we have a choice: the blessing or the curse. The three examples you cite are not due to 'Jewishness' in and of itself or to some vast Jewish conspiracy ad infinitum . . . but I believe is related to whether or not the Jew is walking in a way that pleases Hashem or not.

    Matthew is pretty clear: the nations are going to be judged on how they treated Israel throughout history (sheep and goat nations), and Israel will be judged on how they treated Hashem.

    I share the burden of Paul and carry an unceasing anguish in my heart for my brethren. I long to see every one of them come to a knowledge of the truth, for as Paul testifies, they have a zeal, but it is so often a misdirected and a misguided zeal that is without knowledge.

    The other side of our experience in Egypt is that we had also become heavily involved in idol worship (cf. Ezekiel 20). So, we were not merely a bunch of oppressed and innocent slaves that needed to be liberated from an oppressive government. The bottom line is that we were steeped in sin, and this is precisely what G-d saw, and saw fit to deliver us from, thanks to His unsearchable mercies and loving-kindness. Left to our own devices, we become the authors of our own destruction - first for the Jew and then the non-Jew.

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  5. All of your Biblical examples are well taken. Your point of

    the examples you cite are Jews who have by and large turned their back on G-d and His Torah; so, rather than being a blessing to the nations, their behavior becomes a curse that is no less pervasive.

    Is well said and no doubt as close to the truth as it is possible to come with limited knowledge of individual circumstances.

    There isn't any real way for a non-Jew to know if a Jew is being "a real Jew". First most gentiles don't have a clue about "Jewishness". Those that do probably have only viewed "Jewishness" from a "Christian" POV. I'm convinced that most Christians have only some vague ideas floating around in their heads. Second, Judaism today is an ethnic identity more than a religious one. Third, whatever the religious Jews are doing isn't visible as "good". Phylacteries, robes, long beards, etc look more odd than spiritual. Fourth, it seems that no matter what another Jew is doing against the host nation, other Jews will not only give him a free pass, they will get on the band wagon. Case in point George Soros, the guy actively works to maintain several organizations whose sole purpose is the destruction of western civilization. Even after Soros blamed Jews in general and Israel in particular for Islamic terror attacks, Jews line up to help him pursue his agenda.

    Yes I am aware of the irony of using Soros as an example.

    I don't know that I have a larger point to all this except to say that the Torah records historic fact about action and motivation. What I see as happening today doesn't have the same motivation. It's more of a backlash. Call it a reaction to Jews behaving badly if you like. The fact is Jews in todays world are not a beacon of spiritual insight, rather they are hindrance to righteousness. When I say that, I'm not holding them to a traditional American Judeo/Christian standard. I'm using Sheva mitzvot B'nei Noach as the standard.

    FWIW the church is becoming no better.

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  6. Here is a question that comes to mind and with which I struggle:

    Let's take Ben Bernanke or Alan Greenspan as examples. Their economic policies are destructive. They affect the nation adversely and are not in the best interests of the nation. They both happen to be Jewish. I understand that the average Jew may become a scapegoat down the line whenever the SHTF whether the average Jew agrees with those destructive policies or not. Two Jews with tremendous power and influence instituted these policies and so the average Jew will inevitably be held responsible and considered suspect and consequently guilty by 'association'.

    However, what does Bernanke's and Greenspan's Jewishness (ethnically or religiously), in and of itself, have to do with the economic policies they implemented? That's a connection I have trouble making. Do their economic policies only benefit other Jews exclusively in some way? Is that the connection? If not, then what?

    On a related note, I think organizations such as the ADL and others of their ilk are ridiculous and bad for the Jews. (The concept of a 'hate crime' is just as ridiculous not to mention redundant).

    We don't see Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Mordechai, or the apostle Paul scrambling for protection from some organization when they were subjected to far worse treatment by their government than Jews residing in the U.S. have been.

    Like any citizen, we can appeal to the laws of the land in which we reside. IIRC, Paul did something similar when he asked a couple of Roman soldiers if it was legal to beat a Roman citizen before formally charging him with a crime. They were terrified once they learned of Paul's citizenship. He never cried anti-Semitism and neither did Hannah's seven sons in the book of Maccabees when they were martyred before Antiochus in 164 BCE.

    If we suffer for His Name's sake, I believe this is commendable before G-d and before men. If we suffer for behaving badly and contrary to what is right, we are only receiving our just desserts.

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  7. However, what does Bernanke's and Greenspan's Jewishness (ethnically or religiously), in and of itself, have to do with the economic policies they implemented? That's a connection I have trouble making. Do their economic policies only benefit other Jews exclusively in some way? Is that the connection? If not, then what?

    "In and of itself" is an excellent dodge. The answer is of course nothing. The reality is that they belong to a highly exclusive group that is known for its support of others in that group.

    Do their economic policies only benefit other Jews exclusively in some way?

    The key here is the word "only". Again of course not, but do they benefit other Jews disproportionality to population as a whole? Name one Jewish banker doing time for financial fraud related to going along with the unsound banking practices that the government bailed out. Of course that isn't totally fair as a question, because the truth was the unsound practices were initiated in part to promote administrative policy. The bail out was the result of mutually beneficial hand washing among central bankers and market players.

    Group identity politics come into play when ever you have distinct groups making relationship based policy decision that effects other groups.

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  8. "The answer is of course nothing. The reality is that they belong to a highly exclusive group that is known for its support of others in that group."

    Well, naturally. Your answer is helpful in bringing more clarity to the issue.

    For the sake of argument, if the economic decisions proved to be magnificently beneficial to the host country, would the same group's Jewishness be highlighted? "You know, that most generous and charitable race, the Jews." I am not so sure.

    It seems to me that only when the 'highly exclusive' group is perceived by outsiders as behaving badly or promoting its own interests to the detriment of the non-group does 'Jewishness', in the context we are discussing, become an issue.

    Again, I think you and I would both agree that G-d has formed this 'highly exclusive' group, but not based on any merits we might possess inherently or otherwise, for we are the most stiff-necked and recalcitrant of peoples, not to mention the smallest. This demonstrates His glory and not ours.

    In other words, our 'exclusivity' is not only irrevocable, it cuts both ways: it can serve as a tremendous blessing and bring glory to Hashem, or it can cut the other way. When it cuts the wrong way, we tend to pay quite dearly sooner or later.

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  9. I tend to think that jealously from the native population is 50% to 60% of the problem. It is too easy to see someone else doing well and think they didn't earn it. Blacks view whites that way. Every one views Jews that way too.

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