Monday, April 26, 2021

At the Cusp of Redemption

Dilemma at the Dawn of Deliverance

Thirty years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe declared unambiguously that we stand poised on the threshold of Redemption.

The defining feature of the Era of Redemption versus the present era is emancipation from our subjugation to gentile kingdoms (“שעבוד מלכיות”).

Accordingly, the Rebbe’s identifying current times as the beginning of the Era of Redemption signals the end of millennia-long persecution of our people

Indeed, just over three decades ago, the USSR and other communist regimes were dismantled in miraculously bloodless revolution. The Rebbe referenced the wondrous changes in the world at that time, and saw them as unmistakable signposts of our unique era 

However, here we are all these years later and we are now experiencing unprecedented tyranny, the likes of which we have NEVER witnessed before in HISTORY.

Of course, the medical tyranny of current times that borders on dystopian nightmare is a rather bizarre anachronism for the era that the Rebbe emphatically described as the beginning of the Days of Moshiach.

This disparity cannot be overstated.

Is this the dawn of a glorious epoch of freedom and good will, or is it the darkest hour in history, an unparalleled nadir in which Jews turn on Jews in a morass of depraved authoritarian suppression?

How can we make sense of it all?

Perhaps there is a precedent.

The Children of Israel had marched forth from Egypt and were now free, or so they thought.

Barely a week later, Pharaoh was in hot pursuit, determined to subjugate his erstwhile slaves once more. Even worse, the Egyptian war machine was unleashed against them, ready to kill, plunder, impoverish and re-enslave the survivors.

When Israel became aware of this impending reality, they were extremely frightened and cried out to G-d.

The Midrash tells us that Israel was divided into four camps at that perilous juncture.

There were those who said, “Let us throw ourselves into the sea.”

A second group said, “Let us return to Egypt.”

A third faction argued, “Let us wage war against the Egyptians.”

Finally, a fourth camp advocated, “Let us pray to G‑d.”

These four camps were each addressed in Moses’ response to the people:

“Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G‑d which He will show you today. For as you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them ever again. G‑d shall fight for you, and you shall be silent.”

Moses effectively rejected all four options:

1. “Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G‑d which He will show you today” – don’t escape by plunging into the sea.

2. “For as you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them ever again” – don’t surrender and return to Egypt.

3. “G‑d shall fight for you” – do not wage war with Egypt

4. “…and you shall be silent” – there’s a time and place for prayer, but not now. 

Instead, what were they to do? Simply go forward.

G‑d said to Moses: “Why do you cry out to Me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they should go forward.”  (Exodus 14:13–15)

The Rebbe explained that “go forward” means keep your eyes focused on the objective, our onward march toward Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.

When we move forward toward our destiny, insurmountable barriers will yield and ominous threats will fade away. G-d will split the sea before us, exposing the submerged reality allowing us to cross it on dry land.

Between the rock and a hard place

The parallels between the dilemma at the banks of the Red Sea and our current times cannot be ignored.

We too thought that we had long seen the end of oppressive regimes and totalitarian subjugation. WWII and the Cold War are long gone, and besides for a few exceptions (like Iran), Jews have largely enjoyed unprecedented freedoms in recent years.

Moreover, the Rebbe predicted that the Redemption is at hand, the wonders of which are said to far exceed those of the Exodus from Egypt. We are now free to serve G-d like at no other time before in history!

Yet lo and behold… here we are in 5781, the year acrostic for “I will show them wonders – תהא שנת פלאות אראנו,” and tyranny rears its ugly head once again, and this time to an incomparably worse degree.

Tyrannical governments of the world are tightening the noose to enslave us all once again and reduce us to mere possession of the state, forced to become guinea pigs in the most extraordinarily perilous human experiment ever. No rights to assemble or travel. Free speech, freedom of opinion, body autonomy, and right of informed consent, are all things of the past.

How are we to react?

Fight or flight? Surrender or pray?

Much like for our ancestors at the Red Sea, there seems to be four prevalent approaches.

1) Escape into the sea:

Retreat from tyranny until you drown. Keep on trying to “stay under their radar” for as long as possible, i.e. don’t speak out but rather feign cooperation. Try to forge ‘vaccine status records’ to keep your kids in school and camp. Avoid confronting corrupt rabbinic leaders and administrators who sold out to tyranny. Don’t make waves, but just sink in them instead. Just keep retreating until you’re no longer able to work, go shopping, and feed yourself and your family. At which point you’ll just die of starvation. Or get force-vaccinated. Or both. There’s no point resisting.

Alternatively, move away from the blue-state cities and move to freer lands. Of course, it’s just a temporary move, since the waves of tyranny will surely follow you there as well. You’re just buying some time, but inevitably you’ll drown too.

2) Return to Egypt:

Surrender. Just cooperate with all their tyranny. It’s true that G-d made us free in a spiritual sense, but we are in exile and they are our captors. There’s no choice but to the jab and follow their policies… even if it means never being free again to educate our children and congregate etc. Don’t fight or protest… אל תתגרה באומות – one must not rile up the nations and ruling powers. We have no choice but to submit to dina d’malchusa and their medical apartheid policies. We are doomed to be slaves in Egypt so you might as well be a good slave. If you die of the jab or in its aftermath, then so be it. It is G-d’s will because, you know, public health. Yada yada yada.

3) Wage war with tyranny:

Fight back! Join groups devoted to bringing down the corrupt establishment. Viciously attack Bibi, Cuomo, Gates, and all their depraved henchmen, and expose them. Take up arms and fight. Let’s start a revolution. Better to die fighting than to live groveling on your knees.

4) Pray:

There’s nothing to do but rely on our Father in Heaven. So let’s just pray and look heavenward for our salvation.

Of course, the Torah is not a story book, but a blueprint with eternal lessons for all times. If these four camps were in error back then, then so too in our perilous times. All four contemporary iterations of these respective approaches are flawed:

1. Returning to the shackles of Egypt is not an option. There is no “return” to normal. “Public health policy” is in hot pursuit of every human being on the planet. They will not rest until we are all completely and irrevocably subjugated to Pharaohmacetuical dependency and stripped of all rights. “כי לי בני ישראל עבדים עבדיי הם – the Children of Israel are Mine and no one else’s. We cannot allow ourselves to be reduced to the status of chattel and experimental guinea pigs. Slavery is simply not an option. We cannot comply with this egregious assault on our freedom and body sovereignty.

2. Retreating into the sea is not an option either. We cannot continue to play the game of trying to stay under their radar, hoping to get by from day to day. The time will soon come when you will NOT be able to work, send your children to school, or even subsist, etc., without total surrender to their agenda. Ultimately, this approach is suicidal and precluded by Torah values. We need to act now to stem the tide of tyranny before it floods the world.
3. Fighting the system of tyranny seems like a wiser approach, but the stakes are high. Fighting also entails risks; victors suffer collateral damage too. Secondly, the very people we are trying to save will undoubtedly view us as contentious trouble makers, as we’ll be promptly discredited and deplatformed by today’s prevalent cancel culture. How can we realistically succeed in a battle against the encroaching tyrants and their Pharaohmaceutical agenda if there are so few of us? Not only is the other side innumerably greater and with endless resources, they already exert an unfathomable chokehold over the vast majority of our fellow Israelites, all of whom have long since surrendered and are helplessly resigned to return to Egypt because of an alleged pandemic.
But most importantly: is this really our job -- at this auspicious time in history that the Rebbe called the Era of Redemption -- to busy ourselves with fighting against Exile and its existential threats?

4. Praying is not the call of the hour. There is impending danger. We must take action.

But what action if not fight, flight, or surrender?

March forward

Fear not. There is a fifth option:

“Speak to the Children of Israel that they should go forward.”

It’s time to proceed to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. It’s time to achieve our destiny as a redeemed people.

Ay, there’s an ocean in the way? Insurmountable challenges? Impassable boundaries?

Never mind these perceived barriers. We must proceed forward.

Onward to Redemption, to receiving the Torah amidst freedom from Pharoah’s dictates.

Don’t “hide under the radar.” Publicize to the whole world that you are free and have inalienable rights to live your lives in accordance with Torah and to educate your children in accordance with G-d’s law.

If and when the government attempts to undermine your efforts to teach Torah to all Jewish children, simply resist. Keep your schools and shuls open. Stay the course on the road to Mount Sinai. 

Move forward – ויסעו. Onward to teach Torah to ALL Jews and ALL Jewish children. Do NOT comply to state policies that encroach on our freedoms and attempt to drag us back to subjugation to secular state ("שעבוד מלכיות"). Do NOT comply with policies that attempts to drive a wedge into our people and artificially divide us into the “vaccinated’ and “unvaccinated.” Such an agenda is not “forward” but exceedingly “backward.” And stop turning back toward to behold and consider such Egyptian backwardness. (“לא תוסיפון לראותם עוד עד עולם”)

Take back our schools and communities. Tell you administrators that you will no longer cooperate with state policies. No more masks, no more testing, no more zoom, and NO MORE vaccine mandates. In short, no more שעבוד מלכיות, no more enslavement to secular state dictate.

A Jew doesn’t approach Mount Sinai with a mask on his face and a needle in his arm.

If a rabbi is advising a “return-to-Egypt” or “retreat-into-the-sea” approach, find a new rabbi. Be the leader in your community and educate your rabbis. Be the Nachshon Aminadav and march forward to Mt Sinai, toward teaching Torah to your children and community amidst devotion to G-D, and not to state dependency, with true medical and religious freedom

If some schools, yeshivas, and synagogue have failed us, we must create new ones. If that’s not possible in states that have outlawed teaching Torah to all children due to unjust tyrannical policies, then create new communities and new institutions, perhaps in rural settings, independent of state funding, away from govt scrutiny.

There’s no need to fight the tyrants and their depraved agenda. Simply start resisting. And celebrate your religious freedom with friends, family, and community.

Perceived barriers will vanish. The sea of indifference will part before us.

The tyrants and their enablers will drown in the waves of their own doing.

And we shall proceed to achieve our destiny as a redeemed people, as free men and free women, under G-d and none other, the Almighty Creator Who has endowed us with freedom and unassailable rights, led by our righteous redeemer, in the most immediate future. Amen.


Dina said...

Thank you Rabbi Green. Your true leadership is a beacon that shines on a path forward. My vision reveals a gathering and eventual community of Jews in rural (red county/sheriff) Florida who contribute their divine gifts in myriad ways in order to live in the ways of Torah and Mitzvot and illuminate the path forward for others. Keep shining Rabbi. Good yomtov and Happy Pesach Sheini!

Michal said...

Yasher koach Rabbi! You are a light in this medical tyrannical world we currently live in. I will go forward and try my hardest to fight evil governmental mandates. Stay strong and keep fighting!

Michal said...

Yasher koach Rabbi! You are a light in this medical tyrannical world we currently live in. I will go forward and try my hardest to fight evil governmental mandates. Stay strong and keep fighting!

Unknown said...

Very right! I totally agree,! Living in Israel is a giant challenge right now. I'd like to hear your thoughts about israel.
Thank you for true words of reinforcement of our true path to be taken now.

Shellie Berman Grafstein said...

Thank you Rabbi. We need Rabbis like you, who speak the truth, but unfortunately there are so few. I find it hard to engage in debates because I find that NO ONE wants to know the truth anymore. Living in a religious community in Israel, I find that once a Rabbi says something, nothing will change their opinion. Any ideas? I do write some posts and share info but I am in no way a warrior.