Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not Even a Walrus

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:  
     "I deeply sympathize." 
With sobs and tears he sorted out
     those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket handkerchief
     Before his streaming eyes.
Louis Carol, Through the Looking-Glass, chapter 4 (The Walrus and the Carpenter st. 17

Reading Roger Cohen’s Op Ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times (November 26, 2013), one gets the impression that only a hysterical militaristic Israel is dead set against the agreement between the West and Iran.  He conveniently ignores and omits the fact that most of the Arab world has lined up behind Saudi Arabia against loosening sanctions against Iran as reported in the Times as well. “The Saudi king and his envoys — like the Israelis — have spent weeks lobbying fruitlessly against the interim nuclear accord with Iran that was reached in Geneva on Sunday.” 

America is blessed to live so far away from Iran that it doesn’t pose an existential problem for us.  Not so for those Arab countries who are in the Middle EastIran has exported its revolution to its neighbors.  Just look at its responsibility for all of Lebanon’s troubles and its role in the civil war in Syria. And how much more so Israel. In the past, Iran has denied the Holocaust and supported the annihilation of the Jewish state through its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas. It has armed them to the teeth with more rockets than ever before.  These rockets are always aimed at civilian targets.  Too bad Cohen isn’t one bit sympathetic of Israeli fears of just one of these rockets being armed with a nuclear war head.

Even as the talks between Iran and the West were going on, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a speech supporting the jihadists and Islamists terrorist organizations vow of Israel’s destruction. “Peace be upon the children of our nation, peace be upon the brave jihadists in Palestinian and Lebanese resistance…” The ayatollah promises a restructuring of the Middle East: “Palestine will be free, have no doubt in this. … Palestinians will return there and there will be a Palestinian government … and that is based on the truth revealed by God. A new Middle East will be … an Islamic Middle East.” He called Israel a “rabid dog” and we all know what one must do to any rabid animal.  History has taught the Jewish people to take seriously any threat of genocide.  No wonder Israel wants to see the dismantlement of all the nuclear reactors and not just a moratorium where Iran could restart its nuclear bomb program at any time and have the same capabilities before the moratorium within two months. You would think that Roger Cohen even while disagreeing with Israel can show some understanding of her position.
As if those words promising a new Holocaust weren’t enough while negotiating was going on, The Washing Free Beacon reports that
“Iranian missile technicians secretly visited North Korea as part of joint development of a new rocket booster for long-range missiles or space launchers, at the same time nuclear talks took place in Geneva, according to U.S. officials. The booster is believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be intended for a new long-range missile or space launch vehicle that could be used to carry nuclear warheads, and could be exported to Iran in the future. Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have said that both North Korea and Iran are expected to have missiles capable of hitting the U.S. with a nuclear warhead in the next two years.”
I just wonder how he will feel about allowing Iran to continue its march towards a nuclear weapon when its rockets are aimed at the Great Satan.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving's Wonder Bread Stuffing

This is the devar Torah I gave last night at the Little Neck/Douglaston Interfaith Thanksgiving Service.

Our Scripture reading for tonight (Deut. 8:3-17) reminds us that God fed the Israelites manna in the wilderness those 40 years to teach us that “man doesn’t live on bread alone.” (Dt 8:3) Miraculously this manna fell from heaven every day except our Sabbath to feed our ancestors. Consequently, I like to call this miraculous manna the very first Wonder Bread.

When the Israelites initially encountered manna they had no idea what it was.  Moses told them it was “manna or in Hebrew tuv in."  If you rearrange the letters tuv in you get the word vbunt or faith.  Israel showed great faith relying upon God’s love to feed them each and every day during the 40 years. 

Scripture is calling us to keep faith with God all year and not just around our holidays.  It is easy to feed the hungry when we celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or Christmas.  We’re in a sharing mood.  Sadly, we tend to neglect needy come February when the food banks’ shelves are empty. 

Rabbi Hama in the name of Rabbi Hannina explained the verse in Deuteronomy 13:5 “Follow God, your Lord”:  What does this mean?  Is it possible for a mortal to follow God’s presence?  The verse means to teach us we should follow the attributes of the Holy One.  As God fed the hungry, we should feed the hungry.”

I believe this is one of the messages of the second scriptural passage.  I pray that we have the faith, emunah, to follow God all year round by sharing our bread with the hungry. Amen