Please re-read the recent obituary for Ed Hantman.
In it you will find a description of the open miracle in which,
for most persons, the soil removed to form the grave is insufficient
to refill the grave level with the ground despite the fact that
it now contains a coffin. This is a physical impossibility, ergo a miracle.
Think about this!
But, for those whose lives have left a wholesome mark in this world, and
Eddie's certainly did, the soil more than fills the grave, indeed it creates a
Trump's New Approach to the Status of Jerusalem.
The word Jerusalem appears in our daily prayers as it has for Jews since King David, author of the Psalms that both Jews and Christians reverence, established it as the capitol of the Jewish nation.
As to the world's response to Trump's decision, he certainly expected it. The central pillar of Church doctrine is supersession, the claim that G-d has transferred His love from the Jews to the Christians and, as punishment for their role in the death of Jesus (in which the Church narrative essentially absolves Pontius Pilate, the then true power in Israel, in order to falsely shift guilt to the Jews), dooming them to eternal statelessness (the "wandering Jew") and eternal torment. Israel's very existence shatters that pillar, so the Church has been assiduous in its attempts to delegitimize Israel. The Vatican recognized the P.L.O. in 1974, but refused to recognize Israel until 1993! Trump's decision recognizes the de facto and de jure reality:
Jerusalem is, as it has been since ancient times, the capitol of Israel. Even in the over two millennia of Israel's exile, every census, Roman, Ottoman and British have shown that Jews constituted the great majority of the population of both the land and its capitol.
Those censuses, by the way, confirm Mark Twain's famous observation that the desolate land seemed "... to be asleep, awaiting the return of her children," as the land's revival began with the Zionist enterprise, the spur, by the way, for immigration by Syrian, Egyptian and Trans-Jordanian Muslims, eager for the well-paying jobs the reclamation of the land offered. The descendants of those immigrants, their regional origins obvious from their family names, constitute the bulk of the so-called Palestinians.
To continue the failed policies of the past is to repeat failure. Trump has thrown down the gauntlet to Abbas, "Come along, or step aside," he challenges. Trump's determination will break the logjam, as the Muslim Mideast is tired of the stranglehold the Palestinians have arrogated to themselves over the future of the region, witness Israel's open, close relationship with Egypt and its clandestine relationship with Saudi Arabia to counter Iran's thrust for regional hegemony.
Of the Torah's 5,845 verses, other than the awesomely mysterious "In the beginning...," my favorites are verses 5708 and 5709, Deuteronomy Chapter 30, verses 4 and 5 respectively. They read "If any of thine be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee and from thence will He fetch thee. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land that thy fathers possessed and thou shalt possess it, and He will do thee good and multiply thee`above thy fathers."
Taking dictation from HaShem, Moses wrote these words into the first Torah over 3,300 years ago. 5708 corresponds to 1948, so we have been privileged to see its fulfillment in the rebirth of Israel and its ingathering of Jews from around the world. But it is only recently that the fulfillment of verse 5709 has become apparent. In its 70 years of existence, largely through immigration, Israel's population has increased tenfold and now stands at 8.9 million citizens, 76 percent of them Jewish. The very high Arab birth had always been a concern when building settlements in Judea and Samaria, the fear that those would become isolated outposts surrounded by hostile neighbors. However something quite unexpected has occurred, the Arab birthrate has plummeted while the Jewish birthrate has soared. Much of the the former's decline can be attributed to education and the job opportunities it has opened for Arabs, but the Jewish birthrate of 3.11 children per woman, the highest in the world among industrialized nations appears to be Divine fulfillment of that Torah verse. Some of that can be attributed to the 90 percent satisfaction with their lives one finds when polling Israelis: marriages outnumber divorces by four-to-one, Israelis are happy and confident in their future and that spurs large families. Yet the contrast with shrinking birthrates around the world are astonishing. The E.U. is in such decline that it must depend on immigration to sustain its economies. Italy, formerly a font of fecundity, now has a birthrate of a mere 1.2 children per woman, far below the 2.1 needed to merely maintain its population.
Here too, one may discern a Divine hand at work: Europe, the heartland of anti-Semitism is declining while Israel flourishes, extending its commercial, cultural and academic ties to China and India. BDS has brought on Europe the curse God has promised those who curse Israel. Europe is importing its own executioners and when the fiction of multiculturalism has played itself out we may finally see just punishment for those who initiated and those who participated in the Holocaust.
Rosh Hashana, 5779
WHERE WAS G-D?
Rosh Hashana 5778
My good friend John Early, a transplant from Montana to Charles Street who is Catholic, recently sent me an email in which the Church spoke of the numerous Jews it had saved during the war by sheltering them in the Vatican, out of reach of the Germans. Here was my response.
I understand your gratitude for whatever exculpatory evidence emerges for the Church's conduct during the War. And I also appreciate the difficulty of having done much in the face of German fixation on Jewish genocide. Some Protestant churchmen did as their faith and conscience demanded and opposed the Nazi Beast at the cost of their lives, witness Dietrich Boenhoffer, but the Church was silent. As pre-war Papal Nuncio to Catholic Bavaria, Pacelli must have had a personal acquaintanceship with many who became Nazi leaders that would have offered, not with raving Adolf, but with those who still took Communion, opportunities to plead with them their duty as Catholics. Well, one might argue, it was different and too difficult during the War, and Rome had to bow to its new master, as Mussolini eventually, reluctantly did despite the fact that many of his early supporters were Jews.
Yes, there was danger during the War, but there was no such excuse after the War as many Nazi war criminals escaped to South America with new identities as priests, through false identity papers provided them by the Church. Travelling through Europe to ports of embarkation they lodged in monasteries, safe houses on their journey. The Vatican must have known of this but, again, remained silent.
In his new book "J'Accuse: The Vatican's War Against The Jews," Journalist Giulio Meotti documents the Church's 1,700- year history of active anti-Semitism culminating in its modern alliance with Islamists, its calling Palestinian terrorism "...a cry for justice," and so on. He shows that since the Church has, from its earliest days, pressed the claim of Supersession, the doctrine that G-D has transferred His love from the Jews to Christians, and has doomed the Jews to eternal statelessness (the wandering Jew) and torment (in which the Church, as dutiful representative of heaven, felt compelled to do its bit) for the crucifixion of Jesus, the resurrection of Israel after 2,000 years that has destroyed that primary pillar of Church doctrine has led the Vatican to ally itself with Islam, in the hope of undoing Israel's rebirth. It is a match made in hell for it dooms Arab Christians throughout the mid-East to murder and persecution, deprived of any support from Rome. Arab-Christians formerly comprised almost twelve percent of West Bank population: That figure has now dropped to one percent. In 1974 the Vatican formally recognized the PLO, but it refused to recognize Israel until 1993.
None of this goes unobserved in Heaven. Man demands free will and G-D acquiesces, but keeps an accurate tally of man's deeds and misdeeds. In Genesis Chapter 15, Verse 16, G-D tells Abraham that " ... the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete," i.e. they haven't yet done so much evil that He must intervene and punish, and knowing the future He identifies that time as four further generations.
I am often challenged to defend G-D by people who ask "Where was He in the Holocaust?" My answer is simple, "In Heaven, where mankind insisted He stay and not interfere with man's exercise of free will in running things on earth." But after WWII and its global devastation, man's tally of evil deeds compelled G-D to say "I gave man free will; Look what he has done with it! Now it's My turn." And His turn has been the miraculous rebirth of Israel, against seemingly insuperable odds. As for Europe, where anti-Semitism is an integral part of the culture, He gave it one last chance to redeem itself. No, it was impossible to forgive and forget; How could the slaughtered forgive? And we had a duty to remember them. But G-D let the world recover and let Germany rise to its dominant position in the EU. He gave Europe one last chance to repent of its conduct to the Jews and for a few post-war years, perhaps out of shame for what it had done directly or by complicity, Europe remained silent. But Europe's post-war silence can also be understood as something it dared not utter: Its quiet satisfaction at the virtual disappearance of the Jews, an ancient desire finally realized.
Eastern Europe, the demographic heartland of European Jewry, was, except for a pitiful remnant in DP camps, Judenrein. Only Russia still had a substantial number of Jews and Stalin's plan to exterminate them all by boxcar transport to a forest terminus in Siberia was only derailed at the last moment by his death on Purim in 1953. Yes, the Jews of Europe were gone and the British could be relied on to serve their Arab clients by limiting to a trickle Jewish immigration to Palestine. The stage was set; The Jews could only be saved by a miracle, and the miraculous is G-D's exclusive domain.
Sadly, Europe recovered soon enough, raised its voice with cries of ancient hatred, instituted BDS and countenanced -- even encouraged -- terrorism against Israel. Dreyfus died in 1935, but to this day France has not turned from its fatal path. In my view, the last straw was the demand of the French National Railway that it be paid the train fares of those it had transported to the extermination camps. Merkel and Macron, both childless, are committing European suicide with their importation of Muslims to replace their dwindling populations. Churches are closing at an accelerating pace while mosques spring up everywhere. In their native lands high infant-mortality largely offsets the high Muslim birthrate, but in Europe Western medicine and state subsidies ensure their demographic conquest of their host countries. It is already possible to envision a future in which Europe's great cathedrals remain only as museums of a vanished civilization, those, that is, that are not stripped of their crosses and converted into mosques.
I sometimes ask people to define "The West" in a single sentence and they usually respond with something like "The West is the modern heritage of Greece and Rome." Completely wrong. The West is the concretization of a spiritual concept that can be simply stated, "There is one G-D, and He is moral." The gods of Greece and Rome were numerous and amoral and the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed their lives as subject to the whims of those gods, when not pre-determined by blind fate. But a moral G-D, the sole G-D proclaimed by Israel, judges man by his deeds and offers the Ten Commandments as a moral code. He declares that man, through his own deeds, is the author of his future. It took over a millennium for Europe to accept this message yet, as it did so, it could not overcome its urge to slay the messenger, just as an ungrateful daughter denies her mother.
BDS has been the spur for Israel's turn to the East, to China and India where Anti-Semitism does not exist, as markets for its products, comestibles and technology. The warm welcome India's prime minister Modi received in his recent visit to Israel reflects the numerous joint Indian-Israeli projects in life sciences, medicine and advanced weaponry. India's current contracts with Israel total $2.5 billion. Last year China purchased Tnuva, Israel's nationwide cooperative of dairy farms, to upgrade the poor image of its food exports, and Israeli experts are now in China teaching the Chinese how to upgrade their dairy farms. Over three hundred Chinese students are enrolled in Israeli universities and in 2013 the Technion established a branch in China with a $130 million grant from Guangdong Province. It seems likely that Israel will eventually be able to purchase from China the jet engines that will enable it to manufacture in Israel powerful, yet inexpensive jet fighters for which South America is an enormous market. It is not only the land that G-D promised Abraham and his descendants, He also promised "Those who bless you I will bless, and those who curse you I will curse," and that too seems in process of fulfillment as Europe enters a self-inflicted death spiral while Israel rises like a phoenix from the ashes.
The Trump administration's new approach to the mid-East, and particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conumdrum, is refreshing for recognizing the current impossibility of implementing that old saw "return to the negotiating table." With whom could Israel negotiate? With Abbas, still wielding power 14 years after the election that gave him a brief period of leadership of Fatah, and administration of the West Bank? With Hamas, whose victory over Fatah for control of Gaza has put an end to any further elections there? Like two mutually hostile, venomous snakes in a basket, Fatah and Hamas would just as soon bite each other as oppose Israel and would denounce as treason any deal Israel might conclude with the other. Despite the financial support from Qatar and the EU, they stagnate in the straight jacket of the "three NOs" they've imposed on themselves. Their sole avowed purpose remains the destruction of Israel; Economic development be damned!
Refreshing, too, is Trump's appointment of John Bolton as his key adviser for the mid-East. Coming just after Trump announced his intention of promptly leaving Syria It could not have been more timely.
Bolton, with Trump's acquiescence, has reshaped the Syria exit plan into a staged withdrawal, each step conditional on the completion of its predecessor, and with the addition of previously unstated strategic goals. His inclusion of protection for the Kurds has, to his great credit, drawn harsh words from Erdogan.
Now openly a dictator, Erdogan views himself in grandiose terms. Having undone all of Ataturk's reforms, he hopes to supplant the Saudis, tainted by the Kashoggi butchery, as leader of the region's Muslims.
Thankfully, in Bolton, we now have a man whom Trump respects and listens to.
On November 1, a life of remarkable accomplishment came to a close with the passing of Ed(win) Hantman at the age of 90. Ed was the world's leading hydraulic engineer, a world traveler and loyal supporter of this Shul that he had attended since early childhood. Each summer he would visit one or
more foreign countries; His tally exceeded 130. He spent the rest of his summer in a house upstate, near a lake that daily yielded bass and perch to
his fishing skills. Last year, I drove him up there to bring home his mother's needlepoint pictures, as he had sold the place. My reward was his fishing rod
and spinning reel, some lures and a cork-handled fish knife.
Ed had a hand in most major military programs, Reagan's Star Wars project among them. But he also was the inventor of the Last-Chance Actuator, the
emergency hydraulic system that permitted Captain Sullenberger to steer and safely ditch his crippled airliner on the Hudson river. Unbeknownst to us,
we've depended on that system for our safety on every commercial flight we've taken in recent decades as it is installed on all airliners. To Ed's knowledge
it has saved over a thousand lives.
Which brings me to something remarkable.
I attend many funerals, staying to the very end to fill the grave. I know this is hard to believe, but there is rarely enough soil to fill the grave to
ground level. Now that is physically impossible, since the coffin occupies at least one-sixth of the grave and the dug-out soil is simply shoveled back in. Yet nine times out of ten there is insufficient soil to fill the grave!
I've come to recognize this as an open miracle; G-D is showing how many of us led shallow lives.
But in Ed's case when the grave had been completely filled in, roughly one and a half cubic yards remained on the tarpaulin,
enough to raise a two-foot mound on his grave. G-D knew what a big difference Ed had made in the world and wanted us to know it too.