Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • The State and Government of Israel



Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Tammuz 18, 5779
How did it happen? What are the reasons that Israel is the only country in the world , that has same language, same religion, same country as 3300 years ago... Do uou agree with that? why don’t other countries have it?
ב"ה Shalom You have indeed touched upon the mystery of the amazing survival of the Jewish people. Already, 2000 years ago, after the destruction of the Beit Hamaikdash, (which is appropriate to mention today on the fast of the 17th of Tammuz commemorating the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem) the Roman emperor Hadrian in one of his debates with the Rabbi Yehoshua the sage of the Mishna, says to R. Yehoshua, "Great is the lamb which survives among the seventy nations." To which R. Yehoshua responded "Great is the shepherd who saves them and destroys its enemies. " (Midrash Rabbah Esther 10:11) . Similarly, the Rambam writes about one thousand years later in his famous letter to the Jews of Yemen: "And now, my co-religionists, it is essential for you all to give attention and consideration to that which I am going to point out to you. You should impress it upon the minds of your women and children, so that their faith which may be enfeebled and impaired may be strengthened, and that they be re-established in an unceasing belief. May the Lord deliver us and you from religious doubt! Remember, that ours is the true and authentic Divine religion, revealed to us through Moses, the master of the former as well as the later prophets, by means of which God has distinguished us from the rest of mankind, as Scripture says, "Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them and He chose their seed after them, even you above all peoples" (Deuteronomy 10:15). This did not happen because of our merits, but rather as an act of Divine grace, and on account of our forefathers who were cognizant of God and Served Him as we read, "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people ... but because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore unto your fathers." (Deuteronomy 7:7). God has made us unique by His laws and precepts, and our pre-eminence is manifested in His rules and statutes, as Scripture says, in narrating God's mercies to us, "And what great nation is there, that hath statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?" (Deuteronomy 4:8). Therefore all the nations instigated by envy and impiety rose up against us, and all the kings of the earth motivated by injustice and enmity applied themselves to persecute us. They wanted to thwart God, but He cannot be thwarted. Ever since the time of Revelation (on MT. Sinai) , every despot or slave that has attained to power, be he violent or ignoble, has made it his first aim and his final purpose to destroy our law, and to vitiate our religion, by means of the sword, by violence, or by brute force, such as Amalek, Sisera, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Titus, Hadrian, may their bones be ground to dust, and others like them. This is one of the two classes which attempt to foil the Divine will. The second class consists of the most intelligent and educated among the nations, such as the Syrians, Persians, and Greeks. These also endeavor to demolish our law and to vitiate it by means of arguments which they invent, and by means of controversies which they institute. They seek to render the Law ineffectual and to wipe out every trace thereof by means of their polemical writings, just as the despots plan to do it with the sword. But neither the one nor the other shall succeed. We possess the divine assurance given to Isaiah concerning any tyrant that will wish to undermine our Law and to annihilate it by weapons of war, that the Lord will demolish them so that they will have no effect. This is only a metaphorical way of saying that his efforts will be of no avail, and that he will not accomplish his purpose. In like manner whenever a disputant shall attempt to demonstrate the falsity of our Law, the Lord will shatter his arguments and prove them absurd untenable and ineffective. This divine promise is contained in the following verse, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn." (Isaiah 54:17). Although the exponents of both methods persuade themselves that this is a structure which can be demolished, and they exert themselves to undermine its firmly established foundations, they only increase their pain and toil. The structure remains as firmly planted as ever, while the God of Truth mocks and derides them, because they endeavor, with their feeble intelligence, to achieve a goal that is beyond the powers of mortal man. The inspired writer describes their attempt and God's scorn of them in the following verses: "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their words from us, He that sitteth in heaven laugheth, the Lord hath them in derision." (Psalms 2:3-4). Both of these parties have harassed and afflicted us incessantly throughout the epoch of our political independence, and partly during the period of our dispersion." For full letter see: In relatively modern times, the gentile, famous American author, Mark Twain wrote : The Innocents Abroad, 1867] "If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also very out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world in all ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself and be excused for it. The Egyptians, the Babylonians and the Persians rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greeks and Romans followed and made a vast noise, and they were gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, and have vanished. The Jew saw them all, survived them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmaties, of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert but aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality? " In 1961, a public debate took place between Yaaco Hezog the Israeli ambassador to Canada and Arnold Toynbee, then 71, a professor at the London School of Economics. Toynbee questioned the right of the Jewish People to have a state and drew a moral comparison between the Israeli treatment of Palestinians and the Nazi treatment of the Jews. In his earlier writing, Toynbee had also characterized the Jews as a “fossil” civilization. Yaacov Herzog, then 39, was the son of the second Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yitzhak Herzog. The diplomat’s brother, Chaim Herzog, would later become the sixth president of Israel. In a the debate (which is fully available on You tube) Herzog says the following: The theory of classic Zionism was national normalization. What was wrong with the theory? It was the belief that the idea of a ‘people that dwells alone’ is an abnormal concept, when actually a ‘people that dwells alone’ is the natural concept of the Jewish people. That is why this one phrase still describes the totality of the extraordinary phenomenon of Israel’s revival. If one asks how the ingathering of the exiles, which no one could have imagined in his wildest dreams, came about, or how the State of Israel could endure such severe security challenges, or how it has built up such a flourishing economy, or how the unity of the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora has been preserved, one must come back to the primary idea that this is ‘a people that dwells alone’. More than that, one must invoke this phrase not only to understand how the Jews have existed for so long; one must invoke it as a testimony to the Jewish right to exist at all in the land of their rebirth.” So, I have just brought you a few excerpts of famous pieces of those who marveled at the existence of the Jewish people from both Jews and non- Jews. Our return to Eretz yisrael clearly defies Christian theology which claimed that we had been forsaken by G-d. Though, there is so much more to be said and studied on this subject , I will conclude with another Midrash which speaks of the virtue of the Jewish people and the reason they were redeemed from their first exile in Egypt. The Midrash Lekach Tov Va'era 6:6(with slight variations in different references) They did not change their names, they did not change their language, they did not change their code of dress.. All this attests to the unique Divine Providence over the Jewish people All the best
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