Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday's Substitute for Suds

Yes, one of the main functions of this blog is to report on beer under kosher supervision, since it is the perfect pairing for so many things...but not when you have a stomach flu as I unfortunately am experiencing. So while this week's Sunday Night Suds will be deferred to Monday (iyh), I would like to spend a few moments on some thoughts which occurred to me about Parshas Lech Lecha.

In Bereishis chapter 16, the Torah discusses the interplay between Sarah and Hagar, wherein Sarah gives Hagar to Avraham so that he could have children. The Torah writes that after Sarah gave Hagar to Avraham, Hagar immediately became pregnant and at the same time changed her attitude towards Sarah as Sarah was lowered in Hagar's eyes (16:4).

Rashi fills in some color to the story and explains that Hagar had said that Sarah is not righteous and must not be the same on the inside as she appears to be on the outside. She based this opinion on the fact that Sarah was never able to become pregnant and she (Hagar) had become pregnant soon after she was given to Avraham.

Reading this Rashi made me think about the current situation in Israel. During the period of 1948 to 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem was controlled by Jordan, which destroyed all the synagogues in the Old City and barred all Jews from even entering East Jerusalem. I can recall my parents telling me about visiting the Western part of Jerusalem in the early 1960s and being told not to point to the Old City, as the Jordanian snipers might think that the hand was a rifle and they would then open fire.

After Israel conquered the Old City from Jordan, the Israelis did not do unto the Arabs what had been done unto the Jews. Rather than close the mosque complex, Israel allowed Jordan and the Waqf to control the Temple Mount area. Jews were limited to certain points of entry if they wanted to visit the Temple Mount and they were even restricted as to times of visit. Most important to the Arabs, the Jews were also prohibited from praying on Har Habayis - even though there is no holier site for a Jew (and the word Jerusalem does not even appear in the Quran).

But notwithstanding Israel's ceding of control to Jordan and allowing the Arabs access despite Jordan's prior restrictions on Jews, the Arabs have repaid this kindness with venom, hatred and bold faced lies as to the "status quo" of the area. 

For the last few weeks, the news has been filled with stories of "lone wolf" attacks wherein people who were not known to have prior terror ties would use cars to run down pedestrians or knives to attack random Jews. Why? Because the Arab leaders had lied to them and told them that Israel was looking to close the Temple Mount to Arabs and/or was going to allow Jews to pray there.

Thus what was old is now new once again. Much like Sarah took the audacious step of giving her heart away by endorsing the union of her maidservant Hagar with Avraham, the Jews had allowed the Jordanian Waqf to control the Jews' most important and holiest place on Earth. And much like Sarah, what have the Jews received in response from Hagar's descendants? Pain, ridicule and scorn in which the current occupants of the Temple Mount make the Jews appear evil when this could not be further from the truth.

But there is brightness emanating from the story of Avraham and Sarah which can serve to give us hope, even in the current dark times. The Targum Yerushalmi  relates a conversation between Avraham and Sarah which is also not mentioned explicitly in the pesukim. The Yerushalmi explains that Sarah says to Avraham - I have endured so much - I too left my parents and traveled to here, I was taken captive by Pharaoh and Avimelech and each time pretended to be your sister. Now, Hagar has insulted me and made me appear to be a fraud because I could not have children. But this is the reason why I will have children. Hashem will have to judge us now and because I have silently suffered these indignities and embarrassment, Hashem will have to grant me a child.

We can only hope that our dream of a rebuilt Beis Hamikdash will come more quickly, based on the humiliation being visited upon Israel by those who are currently occupying the Temple Mount.

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