21 September 2009

"Thoughts for Rosh Hashana"

by Roy S. Neuberger

Dear Friends:

Hashem Melech! G-d is King!
That is the theme of Rosh Hashana.
What does it mean for us?

Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States, but his popularity rating is going down. Maybe if he had to run now, he wouldn't win again. In Iran, the dictator was charged by opponents with rigging the election, but when those opponents started getting tortured the opposition suddenly disappeared.

We are accustomed to a world in which "the people rule." That is the theory. One man casts a vote, and it is tabulated along with the rest. The winner theoretically becomes the leader. We have grown up to believe that democracy is normal and irreplaceable and irrefutably correct.

My friends, in the world of Torah, it's not like that.

In the Real World, we have ZERO say in Who is the Boss! I am not joking when I say that G-d is terribly unpopular in this world. If you don't believe me, then just look how people behave. They know that He has made rules for us, and they usually ignore those rules and behave as if He does not exist. As the Prophet says, "an ox knows his owner, and a donkey his master's trough; [but] Israel does not know, My people does not perceive." [1]

G-d is King.

It does not alter the situation one iota whether we want Him to be King or whether we believe He is King. We can vote against Him until our finger is numb from moving the voting machine lever, but it won't help. In the Real World we are the ones who lose if we don't understand that He is the Complete and Eternal Master. In reality there is no such thing as democracy. We decide NOTHING, except to the extent that G-d has given us permission to decide. We have NO POWER except what He allows us to have. If we want to live in reality and to have a good year and a good life, we had better come to terms with this.

There is a corollary here. We are surrounded and outnumbered. The world is trying to kick us out of Israel and frighten us everywhere by declaring that we are the villains, the outcasts and the pathetic minority. This is an old story, but it is becoming a worldwide phenomenon. This is a positive sign, because just before the coming of Moshiach it will seem that we have NO HOPE WHATSOEVER and that we are COMPLETELY SURROUNDED by our enemies. Not only that, it will seem that we are so totally hopeless ourselves that there is no reason that G-d should even WANT to rescue us!

Where is there a hint of this? In the Chumash, of course! Ma'ase avos siman l'banim! The actions of the fathers are a sign for the children. In Egypt, we were at the forty-ninth level of descent into the morass of idolatry. One more millimeter and we would have become ... EGYPTIANS, G-d forbid! At the LAST SECOND G-d took us out of slavery, and rescued us from the utter depths!

And then we marched out of Egypt to the shore of the Red Sea, and there we were TOTALLY SURROUNDED, the Egyptians on one side and the sea on the other! It was all over! Or so it seemed. But "Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of G-d that He will perform for you today."' [2]

At that moment, G-d's will became visible to the entire world. The Children of Israel marched through the sea and were saved; our enemies were drowned, never to arise again.

My friends, these are our marching orders for Rosh Hashana 5770: "Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of G-d that He will perform for you today."

The nations of the world call for CHANGE! They want something new, but we are exactly the opposite! We endure forever because we cling with tenacious grip to the UNCHANGING WORDS OF THE HOLY TORAH! If we grip it with all our heart and all our soul and all our strength, my friends, we will soon see the perfect world which G-d has promised us.

The Torah has not changed! G-d has not changed. We cannot allow ourselves to be afraid of these empty people who threaten us! "G-d is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me?" [3] Our entire responsibility is to hold fast to our Torah and trust in G-d. But it is a huge responsibility, because it implies that we must give up our belief that alien cultures can save us. The nations of the earth stumble in blindness, but a light shines upon those who keep the Torah of G-d. As the Prophet states, "Darkness may cover the earth, and dense cloud the kingdoms, but upon you G-d will shine, and His glory will be seen upon you." [4]

Remember, my friends, only twenty percent of the Children of Israel made it out of the Land of Egypt. Only twenty percent marched with Moses. Eighty percent, in the words of Rashi, were "wicked individuals who did not wish to depart from Egypt." [5] IF WE WANT TO LIVE IN THE WORLD OF MOSHIACH THEN WE WILL HAVE TO WANT TO LEAVE EXILE, AND EXILE MEANS THE CIVILIZATION OF THE OTHER NATIONS.

When G-d brings about our redemption, there will be nothing we or the nations can do to stop it. No matter how filled the earth is with rebellion and moral pollution, at a moment He will choose, "His kindness [will] overwhelm us," [6] and the rule of idolatry will end.

Do you think you will never see it? You are wrong! Yeshuas Hashem k'heref ayin, the redemption of G-d comes in the blink of an eye, when we least expect it. The moment is not ours, but G-d's. The Prophet assures us, "In its time I will hasten it." [7] He is the King. When it happens, it will be so blindingly fast that our mouths will drop open in amazement, as the jaws of the brothers dropped when the ruler said, "Ani Yosef," I am Yosef. [8] And then, my friends, there will be no doubts, no recounts, no protests. G-d's Rule will be blazingly clear to the entire universe. "No longer shall violence be heard in your land, nor plunder and breakage in your borders; but you shall call G-d's salvation your protective walls...." [9]

K'siva v'chassima tova! May this year be filled with blessings for Israel and for all those who love and obey the King of Kings!

Roy S. Neuberger