July 18, 2024
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I am angry with the nations of the world. The Jews are suffering and they don’t care! They are even making matters worse!

Before you hit the proverbial “like” button, let me come clean. I didn’t write this paragraph. I plagiarized it. And no, I didn’t plagiarize some recent speeches by Jewish leaders about antisemitism, but … I took these words from God himself.

Let me share with you the entire story.

Whenever I learn about the parsha, I try to find new insights. This week, I encountered a talk by the Rebbe that was so raw and filled with pain that it felt eerily relevant for today.

The Rebbe spoke on Shabbos, and there are no video or audio records of the talk. But the written version is so powerful; reading it, you can sense the Rebbe’s great pain while discussing this topic.

The Rebbe discussed a vision experienced by the prophet Zecharia on the 24th of the Hebrew month of Shevat while the Jewish people were under great duress.

In the vision (Zechariah 1:8-12) the prophet Zechariah sees “a man (angel) riding on a red horse, standing among the myrtles, and after him were red, black and white horses.” Curious about the horses, the prophet asks the angel: “What are these?”

The angel replies, “God sent these out to roam the earth.”

Then, the horses report back on their mission. “We have roamed the earth, and behold! All the earth sits still and is at rest.”

The angel then cries to God: “O, Lord of Hosts, how much longer will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, which you have been angry with for 70 years?”

At that moment, God replies to the angel with comforting words He expresses anger with the nations of the world and promises that a good future is yet to come.

“I am a zealot for Jerusalem… and I am very angry with those nations that are at ease; for I was only angry a little, but they overdid the punishment.

Assuredly, thus said God: I will graciously return to Jerusalem… My towns shall yet overflow with bounty. For God will again comfort Zion—and will again choose Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 1:13-17).

Reading the transcript from the Rebbe’s talk, I can almost imagine the Rebbe sharing this story with great emotion. The transcripts were written by people with photographic memories who, right after Shabbos, would record the Rebbe’s talks. So the content is very close to the words the Rebbe actually used.

In reading this piece you sense the great pain of the Rebbe when he describes how the nations of the world live in peace while Jews suffer greatly. But the Rebbe was not talking about this because he wanted to condemn the other nations. Instead, he was urging us to look inward.

Just like it was not acceptable for the nations of the world to tolerate Jewish suffering, we should not accept the fact that Moshiach hasn’t come yet. The fact that the entire universe is in a spiritual state of exile and God’s presence is hidden should be deeply bothersome to us. And we should actively pray and do what we can to bring about the future the prophets have promised us.

I am reading the words of the prophet from over 2,000 years ago and the Rebbe’s from 40 years ago, and I find their words so relevant today. Yes, once again Jews feel unprotected from all other nations, but I believe—just like the prophet promised us—that a better tomorrow is yet to come. All we need is to do our part.

Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Rabbi of Chabad of Hackensack and an editorial member of Chabad.org. He looks forward to your comments at [email protected]

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