If Sukkot was being presented on Sesame Street it would be brought to you by the number 7 and one word which we say nearly 1000 times over the 7 days of the chag:
‘Hoshana – Save us’
This morning, while walking around the shul, it struck me that we are very much in need of saving now.
Hashem, save us from the vile anti-Semitism erupting in the mainstream of British Politics
Hashem, save us from the self-hating Jews who join with our enemies to cause us no end of harm
Hashem, save us from Hamas, Hizbollah, Iran and all other terrorist entities who threaten the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
And Hashem save us from the hatred and blindness of many of the world politicians with their fixation to damage and harm the only democracy in the Middle East
Tomorrow in shul, we will read the sobering Megillah Kohelet – a strange choice for Zman Simchatanu – a time of joy. As always, the Torah is asking us to keep balance. Simcha does not mean unrestrained joy, it means focussing on what matters, what is important in life and through living our lives this way – simcha is the result.
In the first chapter, Shlomo Ha Melech reminds us that ‘Ein chadash tachat ha shemesh’ – ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. In many ways, this adage can be referred to the current ‘Hoshanas’ above.
We have known anti-Semitism before from mainstream European politics – nothing new here.
We have always had self-hating Jews – nothing new here
We have always had those who wish to destroy the Jewish people – nothing new here
However, the blindness to the state of Israel’s achievements is a bit more recent or actually is it just a reworked version of an old hatred?
As Bibi Netanyahu reminded us at the UN yesterday:
‘Israel airlifted Ethiopian Jews to freedom and a new life in Israel, in the Jewish state. Yet here at the UN, here at the UN, Israel is absurdly accused of racism. Israel’s Arab citizens vote in our elections, serve in our parliament, preside over our courts, and have exactly the same individual rights as all other Israeli citizens. Yet here at the UN, Israel is shamefully accused of apartheid. Today, there are at least five times as many Palestinians as there were in 1948, the year of Israel’s founding. Yet here at the UN, Israel is outrageously accused of ethnic cleansing.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you know what this is? It’s the same old antisemitism with a brand new face. That’s all it is. Once, it was the Jewish people that were slandered and held to a different standard. Today, it’s the Jewish state that is slandered and held to a different standard.’
So Shlomo Ha Melech is right, there is nothing new under the sun!
And then you hear the end of his speech at the UN and you can only smile and marvel at the wonder that is the State of Israel and the miracle that is the Jewish people and realise that Hashem has heard our Tefillot over the years.
However, there has been a terrible price for the State, thousands have fell defending the State from its’ enemies including the hundreds who have died at the hands of terrorists over recent years. Please join us for speeches and a prayer service with myself and Chazan Turgel on Hoshana Rabba from 11am at the top of Queens Road (see the poster below) as we remember Ari Fuld t’zl and all those who died Al Kiddush Hashem.
Yes, we have our challenges, our threats but as long as we keep focussed on the goals of Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael Al Pi Torat Yisrael – the people of Israel, the Land of Israel according to the Torah of Israel – we will not go far wrong!
As Bibi finished:
‘I could not be more proud to represent my country Israel.
I am proud that we’ve made Israel a global technological power of breathtaking creativity, in information technology, in precision agriculture, you know what that is? We target the fertilizer and the water down to the individual plant, not field, not part of a field, down to the plant. I’m proud of these geniuses, that bring these unbelievable developments, in water management, in cyber security, in autonomous vehicles, in digital health, in medical devices and in so many other fields that are improving the lives of billions of people around the world.
I am proud of Israel’s brilliant scholars, innovative entrepreneurs and talented artists. I am proud of Israel’s devoted teachers, compassionate doctors, and our search-and-rescue teams who save lives from Haiti to Mexico, from Nepal to the Philippines. I am proud, I am so proud of Israel’s courageous soldiers, the men and women who bravely defend our homeland while upholding the highest values.
And most of all, ladies and gentlemen, Most of all I am proud of the people of Israel, who draw extraordinary strength from the deep wellsprings of our heritage, who possess an unbreakable spirit and who are determined as ever to build a secure and magnificent future for the one and only Jewish state.’
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach – see you on Sunday
Rabbi Andrew Shaw