Today we have interesting computer programs which can help us search for all kinds of things. One which is very helpful to Jews, is a calendar program which takes the solar calendar and co-ordinates it with the Jewish lunar calendar.
This way we can check out when our child’s bar mitzvah will come out, and we can go back and check to see the Hebrew date which fell on the day we were born.
I was experimenting with this program a while back and made an interesting discovery. I plugged in the date, July 4, 1776. I was amazed to find that in that year the Hebrew date was the 17th of Tamuz.
This date, on the Hebrew calendar, marks the beginning of a three week mourning period for the destruction of our holy Temple in Jerusalem. For two thousand years we Jews have marked this period as one of national mourning. On this day, when the mourning period begins, we all fast and contemplate this enormous tragedy to the Jewish People.
Thus, on the very day when the United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain, and became a sovereign nation, while the majority of the new American citizens were celebrating and feasting, the Jews were mourning and fasting. Clearly this fact was no coincidence. The symbolism is prophetic. On the surface it may have seemed that the establishment of the United States of America was an opportunity for the Jew to find acceptance and true freedom from religious oppression. Indeed, over the past two hundred and twenty-three years most Jews would declare that this country has proven itself to be the best thing that ever happened to the Jewish People during our long Exile.
This fact alone is reason to mourn. The Jewish people were never meant to find peace and tranquillity outside of her homeland. We were scattered to the four corners of the world as a punishment. We were destined to wander and never find contentment until, at long last, our Exile would end and we would come home to our country, the Land of Israel.
In every nation of our Exile, in every generation, we made the best of a bad situation and kept our Judaism intact. We prayed for the day when we would be able to come home, and never lost hope that the day would finally come.
It wasn’t hard to keep the dream of Zion alive in the ghettos, and under the many persecutions which we had to suffer. But in the Land of the free and the home of the brave we faced a challenge for which we were unprepared. We were permitted to live as we wished. Surely there was anti-Semitism here too, but it was easier to ignore and hide from than in most of our temporary homelands.
Because it was a nation of immigrants, there really was no such thing as a pure bred American. It thus became easy to cast aside those things which made us appear different from our neighbours and to blend in with them. We took upon ourselves a new culture and rejected at least those parts of our Judaism which made us different.
We forgot the blessing of Balaam, that we are destined to be a nation that stands alone, not to be reckoned among the nations of the world. No.
We would find a way to be like our neighbours, and to be accepted by them as equals. That was the new Jewish dream.
The United States of America is the most dangerous place in the world for the Jewish people. The dangers here are more subtle than in other places. The fact that Jews have been able to achieve financial and political success has created an illusion that is nearly impossible to shatter.
We have been taken in by this illusion. We live in beautiful homes, send our children to the best schools, drive new cars and enjoy all of the best technological advances of mankind. We never had it better. But do we ever stop for a minute to look at our children? Where do they get their values? How are they equipped to deal with the moral conflicts which face them as they grow up among the American Gentiles?
Chances are, aside from their friends at school, most of their values are learned from the television and movies they watch. The watered down version of Judaism that they are given has no substance for them. What kind of role models do they strive to emulate?
The President of the United States is certainly not the kind of role model any moral individual would want for his children. Yet he is there, and he does present such an image. No matter how high a standard of living we have in the United States, no amount of money can adequately insulate the Jew from the depraved foreign values being imparted to his children. Even among the religious Jewish segment of American culture, which tries to develop a strong barrier between themselves and the society around them, it is impossible to avoid exposure and contagion with the alien culture in which we are submerged.
Throughout our history there have been Jews who dealt with anti-Semitism in different ways. Some gave up their Judaism outright in the futile hope that this would gain them acceptance in the eyes of the Gentile.
Others tried to adjust their Judaism to make it less different than the religion of their neighbours. And a hardy few kept a low profile but adhered to their heritage with a passion. Those are the ones who survived over the centuries. We can see all of these mechanisms at work in the United States as well.
Many have outrightly rejected their heritage. They married out of the faith and changed their names. Others re wrote our Torah and made Judaism easier for the goyim to accept. But, even with the strongest of our people, those who did not give in and who have kept their Judaism strong and proud, even these people cannot help but be affected by the warped society in which they live. Today there is only one guarantee for the survival of the Jewish People. Only by returning to our homeland and striving to rebuild, not only the Land, but the Jewish way of life, will be breathe true redemption into the dry bones of our Exiled people. We must seriously consider the very ominous implication of the fact that the birthday of the United States of America was a sad day for the Jewish People.
Let us understand that we have only one homeland. It is the Will of G-d that the Jewish People be gathered together in the Land He Promised our Father, Abraham, as an internal inheritance. Until 1948 it was extremely difficult to come home. But today, despite the many problems, at least it is under Jewish sovereignty and a modern nation. Today we have no excuse to remain in the cursed Exile which is destined to come to an end. We have no future outside our homeland.
We can wait for the Exile to spit us out or destroy us, or we can elect to come home now, with our pride and our possessions.