The Lowliness Of Israel

The Romans decreed that Israel must abandon the mitzvot, as our sages said (Ta'anit 18a), "They went  and demonstrated by night, asking, 'Where is Heaven [Shamayim]?'" Tosafot comments, "'Heaven' refers to their crying out to G-d, 'Why should the nations say: Where is their G-d?'"

Listen dear friend. Hold fast to my words, because this principle is the key to the final redemption occuring in our day in majestic splendor: For the nations, Israel's low stature among the nations indicates the low stature of their G-d, Who - in the nations' eyes - is incapable of saving His people. This is national Chilul Hashem! Rashi states (Ezek. 39:7),
"Israel's lowliness is a Chilul Hashem."

Chilul Hashem in the nations' eyes is the absolute opposite of Creation, whose whole purpose was to sanctify G-d's name by creating awareness that G-d is Omnipotent and that there is none beside Him. It makes no difference whether at a time of religious persecution or hatred against the Jewish People, Jews die as
individuals for Kiddush Hashem. Even then, as far as the Jews as a people, Israel's lowliness among the nations proves to those nations G-d's weakness and belies His existence. This is national Chilul Hashem, which in the nations' eyes leaves the world like a vacuum [challal], bereft of G-d. "Israel's lowliness is a Chilul Hashem." There is no blasphemy more terrible.

Our sages said (Sifri, Beha'alot'cha, 84):

"�Let Your foes flee before You� (Num. 10:35): Can He Who created the world be said to have �foes�? Rather, the verse informs us that if someone hates the Jewish People, it is as though he hates G-d. Likewise it says, �In the greatness of Your excellency You overthrow those who attack You� (Ex. 15:7). Can anyone be said to �attack� G-d? Rather, the verse is teaching that if someone attacks Israel, it is as though he is attacking G-d.

�Similarly it says, �Forget not the voice of Your adversaries, the ever-ascending tumult of those who rise up against You�
(Ps. 74:23). Why? �For lo, Your enemies are in an uproar and they that hate You have lifted up their head� (Ibid., 83:3). Why do they lift up their head? �They hold crafty converse against Your people� (Ibid., v. 4). It also says, �For, lo, they that go far from You shall perish� (Ps. 73:27); and, �Do I not hate them, O L-rd, that hate You? Do I not strive with those who rise up against You? I hate them with utmost hatred. I count them among my enemies� (Ps. 139:21-22).

�Likewise it says, �Whoever harms [Israel], harms the apple of His eye�
(Zachariah 2:12). �Apple of His eye� refers to G-d...

�If someone helps Israel it is as though he helps G-d, as it says, �Curse you, Meroz', said the angel of the L-rd, 'Cursed be your inhabitants, because they came not to the help of the L-rd, to the help of the L-rd against the mighty'
(Jud. 5:23).'

�What did I do to Pharaoh, who harmed you? �Pharaoh's chariots and his host has He cast into the sea�
(Ex. 15:4). And to Sisera? �They fought from heaven, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera� (Jud. 5:20). And to Sennacherib? �The angel of the L-rd went forth and smote the camp of the Assyrians� (Isa. 37:36; II Kings 19:35). And to Nebuchadnezzar? �He ate grass like oxen� (Daniel 4:30). And to Haman? �They hanged him on the tree� (Esther 8:30).

�Likewise we find that whenever Israel are enslaved, G-d goes into slavery with them, as it says, �They saw the G-d of Israel, and there was under His feet a kind of paved work of sapphire stone�
(Ex. 24:10) [i.e., G-d keeps stones, symbols of Israel's slave-labor in Egypt, near Him - Rashi]; and, �In all their affliction He was afflicted� (Isa. 63:9)... and, �Your people, whom You did redeem out of Egypt, the nations and their G-d� (II Samuel 7:23)...

�R. Akiva says, �Had Scripture not said this, we could not say it. Israel said before G-d, �You redeemed Yourself.��

�We find that wherever Israel were exiled, the Divine Presence was exiled with them, as it says, �Did I not reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh's house?�
(I Samuel 2:27).

�When they were exiled to Babylonia, the Divine Presence went with them, as it says, �For your sake I have been sent to Babylon�
(Isa. 43:14). When they were exiled to Edom, the Divine Presence went with them, as it says, �Who is this who comes from Edom?� (Isa. 63:1). And when they return, the Divine Presence will return with them, as it says, �The L-rd your G-d will return with your captives� (Deut. 30:3). It does not say, �He will return others ['v'hashiv'] but �He Himself will return ['v'shav Hashem']�. It also says, �Come with Me from Lebanon, My bride. With Me from Lebanon� (Song of Songs, 4:8).�

We derive here two fundamental principles regarding Kiddush Hashem and G-d's Torah: First, Kiddush Hashem and the removal of Chilul Hashem come only through proving to the nations that G-d, indeed, is the Omnipotent, Supreme King of Kings, and this can be proven to them only through G-d's awesomeness and might. Second, the proof to the nations of G-d's might, or, Heaven forbid, His weakness, comes only through the victory or defeat of Israel. The lowliness and weakness of Israel, G-d's nation, constitutes, in the nations' eyes, the lowliness and weakness of G-d. We must never forget these two principles.

By Rabbi Meir Kahane
The Jewish Idea
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