|This year, despite being overwhelmed by the pandemic we will again gather with our families around the Seder table marking Passover, the festival of our liberation. 2021 also marks 80 years since the Nazi introduction of mobil gas vans in Chelmno and other parts of Russia which marked the first stages of the Final Solution murdering 700,000 thousand men, woman, and children, mostly Jews and Gypsies, while the world, including most Jews, kept silent.
The great thinker and Talmudist of the 20th century, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik discusses the question of why Moses, the greatest of all Jews, was never allowed, even after he pleaded with G-d, to enter the promised land, nor to even be buried there. While Joseph, whose remains Moses personally carried out of Egypt, was in fact interred in the Promised Land.
The answer, Rabbi Soloveitchik offers, is that when Joseph was thrown in jail by the Egyptians, he openly told his jailers, “For I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews ...” (Genesis 40 v15) ...whatever you want to do with me I want you to know I shall always remain a Jew!”
But when the daughters of Jethro approached Moses and said, “You are an Egyptian“ (Exodus 2v9), our great leader never corrected them, for that reason. Despite his overwhelming achievements he was never invited to enter the Promised Land nor allowed to be buried there.
What Rabbi Soloveitchik is teaching us is never to repeat our mistakes of the past by weighing in too late. To take seriously the early signs of the times. To pay heed to the latest hate crimes report of the FBI that shows 60 percent of religion-based hate crimes target Jews despite the fact that we make up only 2% of the US population.
To take seriously the recent Oxford University poll that shows 22% of those polled blame Jews for creating the pandemic so they can capitalize and make money from the vaccines, which they control. To remember that in spite of our immense contributions in every field of human endeavor - from medicine to science, from education to business, from technology to the humanities, we have paid the supreme price of losing 6 million Jews, one-third of world Jewry, to Hitler’s Third Reich. That we have earned the right to demand that any deal our country makes with Iran be ironclad because her leaders continue to deny the Holocaust and again threaten the very existence of the more than seven million Jews that now make up the State of Israel.
As Simon Wiesenthal said, “For evil to flourish, it only requires good men and women to do nothing.“