Not Everything is Bleak

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In the space of a single hour this evening, I heard:

The former President of the most populous Muslim country on the globe declare that he will not rest until his country recognizes Israel. He then dedicated the honor he received to an unnamed rabbi (in Indonesia!), deceased for a few years, who enriched his life by introducing him to Talmud and Kabbalah.

The previous Archbishop of Canterbury closed his remarks with a beautiful piece of derush based on a beraisa in the first perek of Berachos. Lord Carey has campaigned against anti-Semitism for over twenty years, and stood up to his own church when it moved to divest its funds from Israel

A French-Catholic priest with tears in his eyes tell an audience why he has trekked for a decade through the Ukraine to uncover the previously unknown mass graves that hold the remains of a million and a half Jews murdered by Nazi mobile killing units. So far, he has found over five hundred of such graves. Invoking the words of the previous Pope in his visit to a Rome synagogue, he called Jews his “elder brothers;” he considered it intolerable that so many should be killed and their memories obliterated without any remembrance.

The Chairman of one of the largest studios in Hollywood speak with depth, passion, content and conviction – and with Jewish pride.

Anyone who believes that everything out there is dark and evil does not live on the same planet as I do.

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17 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    Of course I am familiar with those private tapes in which President Nixon clearly expressed antisemitic views. But action speaks louder than words for me. I would rather have a President Nixon in office, privately expressing antisemitism while simultaneously saving the Jewish State of Israel from destruction, then a Bill Clinton who never privately expressed any hatred toward Jews, but whose Oslo Suicide Accords were a catastrophe for the lives of countless Jews living in Israel.

  2. greenBubble says:

    Raymond
    You presented a list of politicians you called “Righteous Gentiles”, to wit: “Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Scoop Jackson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush.”
    I can’t discuss all of them, and I’m not sure which George Bush you mean; certsainly, in some cases your praise is deserved. However I can discuss Nixon. From his off-record speech and mannerisms, it is clear that he was an avid anti-semite. His actions during the Yom Kippur War can only be explained by “Lev Melachim b’Yad Hashem,” that Hashem controls the hearts of kings. I suspect, but am less certain, that the same can be said of Truman.

    Nixon did great things for our people, and for that we must be ever grateful to him, as well as to Him. But I do not think he can be counted among the lofty “Righteous Gentiles”.

  3. Raymond says:

    Sorry for feeling the need to add something to the comments I made earlier today, but I am feeling pangs of guilt since this morning, as I thought about several other philosemitic gentiles whose names I neglected to mention. I feel I must honor them now by naming them.

    There is John Milton, the 17th century Puritan British epic poet, author of Paradise Lost, who was not only a philosemite, but fluent in Biblical Hebrew. There was Victorian novelist George Eliot (real name Mary Evans) whose novel, Daniel Deronda, led directly to the modern Zionist movement…believe it or not! There is the greatest of all novelists, Leo Tolstoy, as well as my favorite gentile writer Mark Twain, both of whose love of Jews was so great, that they are forever quoted by various Jewish seminars such as the Discovery program. Then there is the late great Dr Martin Luther King, as well as Robert Kennedy, who was murdered over his strong, unwavering support for the Jewish State of Israel.

    And in spite of what I wrote earlier, there are whole groups that we Jews do need to be thankful to; sometimes their support for the Jewish State of Israel exceeds that of many Jews themselves. I am talking about evangelical, fundamentalist, and Mormon Christians, and any other Christian group whose origins can be traced back to the Puritan movement.

    It may be a cliché, but it fits here: we need to give credit, where credit is due. So I guess I agree with Rabbi Adlerstein’s original statement after all, only it took me longer to gain this understanding than it took him. Gee, how shocking!

  4. Raymond says:

    I am writing again just to modify my earlier statement.

    While I as Jew have an almost instinctive distrust for the gentile world based on inheriting thousands of years of our collective Jewish history in which we are perpetually hated, I also acknowledge that there are individuals here and there who are genuinely good to our people.

    I think of the present Pope and the Pope who came before him, as well as the Dalai Lama. I think of the late great Jerry Falwell, of Pat Robertson, and of John Hagee. And if I may bring politics into this for the sake of honoring those whom I think are clearly righteous gentiles, I put Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Scoop Jackson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush in this rarified category as well. Governor Arnold and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, are our friends. I have known several gentiles who may not be headline names, but genuinely love us Jews. I am sure that every person reading this, can think of further examples of righteous gentiles who have been good to our people.

    But I still do not trust virtually any group, especially those emanating from most of Europe or the Middle East.

  5. michoelhalberrstam says:

    I have heard beshem several gedolim, and mostly explicitly from Rav Hutner, Zatzal, that Klal Yisroel has to show thanks to Hakodosh Baruch Hu for his gifts, even when we are unsure of their permanence. For this reason, Chazal praised the beauty of the Bais Hamikdosh built by Herod, even though they had a tradition that it would br destroyed.
    We must all be terrified at the prospect of what could realistically happen to the Yishuv in Eretz Yisroel, and perhaps a greater level of concern will be Meorer Rachmei Shomayim on us all. However, in spite of everything, a failure to appreciate that which has been accomplished would be foolish, and ungrateful to Hashem. If we need to learn this from Goyim, because our own leadership doesn’t tell it to us enough, that’s ok too. After all the Navi has promised “V’ Halchu Goyim Leoraich” (The nations will walk by your light)This too is one the signs of Geula, we have questioned so many of those our generation has seen, maybe these outlined by Rav Adlerstein need to be examined a little mmore closely.

  6. Raymond says:

    To paraphrase Golda Meir, when our enemies love their children more than they hate us, maybe then I will have reason to breathe an optimistic sigh of relief.

    Until then, I have to hold my breath. The world has hated and murdered our people for too many thousands of years for me to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  7. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Nachum – You may have missed my point. I was not expressing optimism about Israel and the Palestinians. I was conveying what many people know, and others in our community do not: that there are tens of millions of decent people out there. Too many people think in terms of “us” and “them,” failing to take note of the arguably good things beyond the perimeters of their own communities. We have lots of people like that in our own community. We lose much when we think that way. We antagonize others, who recognize our standoffishness. We lose opportunities to make friendships that can help ourselves, as well as others. We fail to make any hishtadlus at all, beyond all-important tefillah, in working towards any solution to the scourge of extremism and jihadism around the world. Perhaps most importantly, we sink into an abyss of self-pity and loathing for everything else, missing all the good stuff that HKBH as allowed to flourish in our world.

    I never had the zechus of being an Israeli soldier on the front lines. I can only imagine that if I had to discharge the responsibility of dealing with a hostile population, any number of which were trying each day to kill me and everyone I loved, I might quickly lose any hope for the human condition. So I disagree strenuously. It might mean quite a bit to the Israeli soldier to know that there are good people and redeemable people in every nationality and religion out there.

  8. Nachum says:

    I’m not disagreeing with anything you say, R’ Adlerstein, and I mean no disrespect, but many would point out that *you* are not living on the same planet as everyone *else*. You must admit that you travel in some lofty circles. The former Indonesian President can talk from heint biz morgen, and it’s not going to mean anything to an Israeli soldier chasing a terrorist in Gaza.

  9. mb says:

    “To quote Dickens, these are the best of times and the worst of times.”

    Nowhere near the worst of anything. These are wonderful times for Jews in Israel and galut compared to anything since the Maccabee revolt.And that didn’t last long. Could be better, and it will be.

  10. LOberstein says:

    Not everythign is bleak. How true. I meet gentiles all the time who tell me that they love the Jewish People, that we are the Chosen People.
    Today is Israel Independence Day, a conflicted day on the orthodox calendar if there ever was one! I was playing a one minute video on the computer sent out by Aish Hatorah with Hatikva as the background music and my daughter told me that I was playing music during sefira, to turn it off! Every article I read seems to say that there is a lot of anxiety about Israel’s chances for survival and all of the problems Israel faces. It’s a mixed bag.
    To quote Dickens, these are the best of times and the worst of times.

  11. mb says:

    You forgot one.
    London elected an Israel friendly Mayor and dumped Leavingsoon.

  12. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    President Wahid is now on the way to Israel, where he will be the only Muslim from a country that does not recognize Israel to speak at the upcoming Peres Presidential Conference, to be held in Yerushalayim next week.

  13. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    “The former President of the most populous Muslim country on the globe ”

    His name is Abdurrahman Wahid, also known as Gus Dur, and the country is Indonesia. To simply refer to him as a former President understates his inflence, as he was and continues to be the spiritual leader of the largest Muslim organization in the world, with tens of millions of followers. He has been saying good things for decades, but because he doesn’t have the oil money that we give the Wahabis, it doesn’t get propagated much beyond Indonesia. He does, however, have an internet site http://www.gusdur.net and I recommend it highly.

  14. Maurice Sonnenwirth says:

    What were the sources for all these items? I would LOVE to read or hear them, but there are no links and these items are not exactly being trumpeted everywhere (i.e. anywhere that I can see besides here.).

    This would be wonderful stuff to know about, instead of the usual litany of bad news out there. If possible, if you could provide us with a bit more information and/or links.

  15. One Christian's perspective says:

    Anyone who believes that everything out there is dark and evil does not live on the same planet as I do.” – Yitzchok Adlerstein

    Nor do they know Scripture or the power of G-d.

  16. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Often in the darkest moments of our history, the eternal optimism of the Jew seeks the Chasidei Umos HaOlam as confirmation that all is not bleak. There have been beacons of morality even as the world at large sank into depravity.

    But recognition and gratitude at memorial services do not bring back the dead. As a descendant of holocaust survivors with entire extended families obliterated; a present-day world, while hyper-verbal, being short on action toward a very real threat of annihilation of millions of Jews; a free-world leadership crisis along with a debased, corrupt, amorphous, vacuous Israeli government dimming our connection to Yerushalayim Orah Shel Olam – that is the planet I live on.

  17. Garnel Ironheart says:

    > The former President
    > The previous Archbishop of Canterbury

    Support from “former” leaders, Jimmy Carter excepted, isn’t something we’d ever had trouble with. It’s the current leaders I’d like to hear from for a change.