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Faith for realists

Posted By Obadiah Shoher On October 29, 2013 @ 9:39 am In Jewish matters | No Comments

“In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles” David Ben Gurion

During the Exodus, the line between Redemption and wholesale death was thin. Jews were apparently dispersed in Egypt. Some lived in forced labor camps such as Raamses, others were affluent and always had “pots full of meat,” and still others possessed considerable riches, which were partially donated later to the Tabernacle enterprise. Their numbers were huge and their fates were different. Exodus became a leap of faith for them: incident after incident, they could die all together either instantaneously (in crossing the Reed Sea) or slowly (of thirst at Meribah). Step after step, they were taught to trust God, recognize his signs, and observe his will. The self-reinforcing spiral of trust and miracles is perhaps the most important. Non-believers can rationalize any miracles away: splitting the Reed Sea was a natural event caused by strong winds, which made the shallow water fordable; partridges usually fly on their own, and manna could have been some sort of plant gum. Only people who look for miracles see them.

In our time, the Exodus developed along similar lines. Four out of every five Jews refused to leave Egypt, and perished there; so it was in Europe. Masses of non-Jews joined the Exodus both times. From the golden calf to socialist atheism, Jews tried to ignore the source of their salvation. Miracles were explained away, from stunning victories in all of Israel’s wars to narrow misses in Nazi German and Syrian nuclear programs. Jews of very different backgrounds and locations have joined their fates: seventy years ago, the Germans could not lay their hands on all the world’s Jews, but today the Diaspora is drained. From Poland to Morocco, Jews left their former countries and hedged no bets: a single lost war could eliminate the Jewry crowded in the coastal strip of Israel; several nuclear bombs could do likewise.

Like Pharaoh, the Western countries tried exterminating us in Europe, and herded the survivors to the Middle East so that Muslims could finish the Christians’ work. The world insists on the peace process, which strips Israel of the last shreds of its security buffer-zones. The Taliban came close to obtaining nuclear weapons in Pakistan. Ahmadinejad, an apocalyptic maniac, sought to speed up the advent of the messiah with a nuclear confrontation. Symbolically, he has picked up where Hitler (another clown and apocalyptic maniac) had stopped: the nuclear weapon. By any rational measure, Jews are doomed.

Unless we turn to God.


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