From Passover until the Festival of Shavuot, Jews worldwide have been counting the days and weeks that have elapsed.
After forty-nine days we celebrate and remember three major events.
The first is the receiving of our constitution, namely the Torah which laid the foundation for our lives as a nation in our own land.
The second is the agricultural aspect when the harvests were started and pilgrims journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem to make offerings.
The third is the recounting of the story of Ruth who voluntarily joined the Jewish People and Faith and eventually became the ancestor of King David.
Mount Sinai marked a defining moment in our history because it was there that we accepted all the obligations which marked us out as a distinct nation for all time. That former slave generation was not yet ready to change old habits and therefore it was the task of a new generation born and toughened as free individuals in the wilderness to complete the task. The goal, of course, was settling the Land which had been promised to their ancestors and establishing a society which was to be radically different from all the pagan nations around them.
Although many aspects of Torah laws were designed to be practised anywhere the fact remains that exile from the Promised Land was only ever intended to be applicable in its entirety in Eretz Israel. That intention is as valid today as it was then. Only in Israel can we make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the site of the Temple. It may be occupied by others today and Jews may still be forbidden from praying there but the time will come, soon one hopes, when the events prophesied enable the Jewish People once again to restore their full sovereignty.
The story of Ruth which we read on this Festival also resonates because of its relevance to us today. I remember the first time we celebrated Shavuot in Efrata. Looking out the windows of the Synagogue at the very fields where Ruth and Boaz gleaned their crops and where so much history has unfolded one could not but be moved by the fact that Jews have returned to their land. Not only have they returned but they have settled and built and developed these same areas which are mentioned in the Book of Ruth amongst others.
Ruth is the perfect example of a righteous convert who pledged her sincere allegiance to the Jewish nation. Her devotion is the standard by which all others wishing to join us should be judged. Far too often these days when political corruption and power plays distort our institutions the essence of Ruth’s story needs to be reinforced.
Talking of counting brings to mind the countless number of incredible imbecilic statements and utterances surfacing this past week or so. In fact there has been such a torrent of stupendous stupidity that one has to wonder whether the coronavirus has affected intelligence as well as other physical and mental faculties.
In no particular order of “narishkeit” (Yiddish for foolishness) these are:
- Well-timed for VE Day the German military counterintelligence agency whose apt abbreviation is MAD published a report with a map deleting Israel. Several red faces later the head of MAD apologized explaining it was a “technical” fault. Obviously some people were not “following orders” or were they? It gives a whole new meaning to the word “counterintelligence.”
- The internationally anointed dove of peace and President for life of the PA, Abu Mazen otherwise known as Mahmoud Abbas, together with his eternal sidekick, Saeb Erekat who masquerades as a “peace” negotiator, have provided this week’s choice selection of deranged declarations. Announcing for the umpteenth time that they are cancelling all security co-operation with Israel and voiding the Oslo understandings they demonstrated yet again their total detachment from reality. Oslo has been dead for years already, murdered by the Palestinian Arabs themselves. Abbas and his corrupt authority depend on Israel to survive and avoid being swept away in an orgy of violence instigated by Hamas and others. Likewise, Abdullah of Jordan joined in the chorus of Israel condemnations. The only people that have been impressed with this cacophony of phony gestures have been the UN whose representative in Israel pompously declared that “Abbas was issuing “a cry for help!!” Nobody apart from him and the usual delusional left could logically explain this apparent SOS.
- Concurrently with these decisions, Erekat also announced with great fanfare that all information sharing with the CIA was now stopped. What earth-shattering consequences were expected to ensue remains a deep mystery. This farce is best summed up by a political observer’s comment that “Abbas and friends were playing poker with no hand.”
- One of the best examples of how stupidity can be boundless occurred with the arrival for the first time of a plane from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) which landed at Ben Gurion airport with 16 tons of medical aid and equipment for the PA. No sooner was this precedent-shattering event revealed than the PA denounced this “vile act of recognition of Israel” by the Gulf State. With soaring rhetoric those in Ramallah charged with looking after the health and welfare of their citizens boycotted and shunned this planeload of aid. There is no better example of why peace with the current leadership is nothing but a delusional pipe dream. As an unnamed Arab commentator wrote: “if the plane had been carrying 16 tons of cash it would have been welcomed with open arms.”
- The annual hate fest on Quds Day in Iran provided more proof if any was needed that this regime is irredeemably outside the bounds of international legitimacy. With great fanfare, it was declared from Tehran that the use of all Israeli technology “was a crime against God” and therefore banned. If followed through this latest leap of lunacy will help propel Iran straight back to the dark ages where the Mullahs will no doubt feel completely at home. What it will do for ordinary citizens is another matter.
- The same occasion was used to announce that “Zionism is a virus that must be eliminated. The Jewish State is a creation of westerners and Jewish corporation owners.” When challenged by critics, the Supreme Leader was quick to assert that Iran would only eliminate Zionists and not Jews. This must have satisfied the Vatican because it remained silent in the face of this unconditional love.
- Within the last few days, the Iranian Parliament has passed a law which forbids Iranians from speaking or conversing with any Israeli citizen. The penalty is five years imprisonment. Needless to say neither the UN Security Council nor General Assembly nor Human Rights Council has uttered a peep. A deafening silence has also enveloped most of those countries who are usually keen and eager to condemn Israel for building homes in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
- Proof that foot in mouth disease is rampant was provided by President Trump praising Henry Ford’s “good bloodlines.” The fact that Ford was a white supremacist and virulent hater of Jews apparently escaped the attention of the US President.
This endless stream of unbelievable verbal nonsense continues non stop.
Who is counting? We all should be doing so because unless it is challenged and eliminated such rhetoric becomes acceptable and self-fulfilling.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.