It's here - the 20th of Sivan. If you don't know what the significance is just listen to Rav Richter's recent shiur on the subject: Be Prepared for June 23, 2019 (20th of Sivan). In short, this is "a date on which the Jewish communities of Europe repeatedly suffered calamities and annihilation."1 But there's no need to look back generations to find a reason for fasting on this date.
Together with yesterday's Torah reading which featured the "national hysteria"2 surrounding the report of the meraglim and given the quickly approaching month of Tamuz bringing with it the Three Weeks culminating in Tisha b'Av, one can be forgiven for feeling a bit on the down side this morning.
I found the following article to fit this mood nicely...
WELCOMING THE JEWSRAELISOf course, the author sees this as a positive development while I view it as befitting the atmosphere required for a fast day like the 20th of Sivan. In some quarters, "Israeli" is synonymous with "Jewish," but when I read in the news that an "Israeli" woman was injured in an accident or an "Israeli" man was arrested for a crime, I have to ask myself if she/he was Jewish or Arab or Christian or Muslim. Anyone who becomes a citizen of the State of Israel is properly called an "Israeli" and not necessarily Jewish at all. And what of the Filipinos, Eritreans, Sudanese Ghanans, Koreans, etc. who settle here as foreign or migrant workers, have children, put them in Israeli schools and then claim they need to stay because their children are Hebrew-speaking and have become accustomed to "Jewish" holidays?
...the creation of the State of Israel has led to a new type of Israeli Judaism that is like no other form of Judaism that existed before.
...Jewsraelis, explains Rosner, are the people who observe both Jewish and Israeli rituals and customs, and espouse beliefs that combine Judaism and Zionism. “Most Jews in Israel believe that being Jewish means observing festivals, rituals and customs, and a majority believe that being a good Jew means raising one’s children to serve in the IDF,” Rosner writes. “Jewishness means both observing festivals (tradition) and serving in the IDF (nationality).”
...“These are people who are not inclined to follow Halacha or a rabbi’s advice or a school of thought that is rigid,” he says, but is a much more flexible and relaxed sense of Judaism. Rosner explains that for the new generation of Jewsraelis, there is a sense of ease and identification as a Jew that comes simply from living in Israel and doing Jewish things. In Israel, he says, “you are just being Jewish. You don’t have to make a special effort.”
...Rabbi Dr. Dalia Marx, professor of liturgy and midrash at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, says, “People used to say, ‘I am not a good Jew and I don’t observe Judaism as I should, but the people in Mea She’arim do it for me.’ People don’t talk like this anymore. Now, many people are saying, ‘We want to take charge of our Jewishness. We want to experience and express Judaism as we think we should.’ I think that this is a very positive thing.”
...“Many secular Jews are proud of their Jewish identity, and they want to know what it means to be a Jew, though not necessarily to be obligated,”....
... “There is a strong Jewish sentiment, even if it is not religious. It is a mixture of Judaism and Israeliness. More and more Israelis are becoming connected to it from their own points of view.”
This is a kind of reverse assimilation. In the Diaspora, Jews become like goyim while in Israel the goyim become "like" Jews. Either way, the end result is the same. And Judaism, remade into whatever each person chooses for himself, without "obligation," becomes just another alternative world religion and not the unique Divinely-mandated path to G-d that the Torah claims.
Which brings me to this...
POMPEO ANNOUNCES EFFORT TO ADVANCE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WORLDWIDEAnd on this point, we are fundamentally at odds. Just like with their promotion of LGBT "rights" around the world, "religious" freedom is at odds with the Torah, the only standard of Truth that exists in the world. So-called religious freedom works for Jews in the Diaspora where they would be forced into the idolatrous religions of the gentiles without it, in Israel, where the ONE TRUE "JEWISH" religion is the majority, it is actually forbidden for us to allow the practice of other religions which are false.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday his decision to elevate the Office of International Religious Freedom along with the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the State Department.
...The Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom is submitted in compliance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
According to the State Department, “It describes the status of religious freedom in each foreign country, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations, and individuals, and US policies to promote religious freedom around the world.”
...“The mission [of advancing international religious freedom] is not just a Trump administration priority – it’s a deeply personal one. For many years, I was a Sunday school teacher and a deacon at my church,” said Pompeo.
“But in much of the world, governments and groups deny individuals that same unalienable right. People are persecuted – handcuffed, thrown in jail, even killed – for their decision to believe, or not to believe. Go into any mosque, any church, any temple in America, and you’ll hear the same thing: Americans believe that kind of intolerance is deeply wrong.
“That’s why the Trump Administration has promoted religious freedom like never before in our foreign policy agenda,” he continued. “Given our own great freedoms, it’s a distinctly American responsibility to stand up for faith in every nation’s public square.”
Speaking about the findings of the report, Pompeo said, “It’s like a report card. It tracks countries to see how well they’ve respected this fundamental human right.”
The extent to which the world loves Israel is the extent to which we are self-destructing by way of this secular, democratic State.
It's a good day for a fast. I've lost my appetite anyway.
1 Book of Our Heritage by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov
2 Stone Edition Chumash Commentary on Parashat Sh'lach L'cha