Moshe BurtMoshe Burt is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
With each year, the Dayenu song at Pesach holds a unique perspective and is ever more timely now, this Pesach in Eretz Yisroel. We find ourselves now two and a half years into this war with Yasser Arafat, Abu Mazen (and his evil near-twin Abu Abbas) and the whole murderous "p.a. (sic) klan." We watch the US War on Terror against Iraq proceed while wondering, will Saddam send Scuds? Does he have any Scuds to send within striking distance of Israel? Are the Scuds hidden away somewhere in southern Iraq, where the American invasion has yet to find or detect them? If Saddam sends Scuds, will an isolated Scud penetrate Israel's defenses and wreak gas, death and destruction? What would Israel's response be this time around to a Scud WMD? Will the Arrows and Patriots work in real war? Or are these hi-tech instruments but an opiate to pacify and mollify Yossef Q. Israeli? And even if he sends Scuds and they're all knocked out of the sky by Arrows or Patriots, will Israel's government take the view of a strong nation, that mere Scud launchings toward her are acts of war in need of a military response? Will the government of Israel respond should the reality of war be thrust upon her? And will Yossef Q. Israeli view Scuds, if knocked out of the sky by Arrows or Patriots, as merely human Israeli/Western military technical mastery over an inferior foe, or will he view this as a miracle from Shemayim?
And how will Israel's government of deluded, self-interested, self-aggrandized politicians and our disunified, self-interested brethren react to the strong probability that the US will unite with Britain, the rest of Europe and the Russians in foisting the "Road Map" to a "p.a. (sic) state" upon us under the rationale that Arafat's appointment of Abu Mazen constitutes sufficient change and reform of the p.a. (sic)? Will we act like men, or like grasshoppers? Irrefutable proof existed on the IDF website, for all to see, of Abu Mazen's advocation of continued suicide bombing attacks, stonings, shootings and shedding Jewish blood until the Jewish State is destroyed; that is, until the Israeli government ordered such incriminating evidence removed from the site.
But, lo, Israel's government can't erase or expunge Abu Mazen's literary credits; denials of the Holocaust and denials of the death camps and ovens, which took 6,000,000 of our brethren. However, don't let the facts stand in the way of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and shadow Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (who continues meeting with Arafat's people in secret, with the prime minister's approval).
These self-interested Israeli politicians continue to trumpet the praises of Abu Mazen as prime minister (with dubious power) as "The Great Hope", as constituting suitable change and reform in the p.a (sic), when, in fact, it's elementary that he's "The Great Nope." And even if he or someone else would seem to stand for "peace" and co-existence with Israel, where are Jews permitted to relinquish any portion of Eretz Yisrael, our divine legacy, to non-Jews? Will our leaders face up to the hard reality that the only ways to security and peace for Klal Yisrael are by asserting our Jewish spirituality and heritage from Hashem, our Divine Right to our land -- Eretz Yisroel -- and by bringing about love, kindness and honesty, at all levels, amongst B'nai Yisrael?
And it all begins with Jonathan Pollard. Why do I say this?
A couple of Shabbosim ago, as the War with Iraq began, our rabbi in Ramat Beit Shemesh addressed the Kehillah regarding the war, gas masks and Shabbos. He held that recent articles state that even if chemical or biological weapon-tipped Scuds were to fall on a location here, the chances of it affecting people some distance beyond the point of impact were nil. The rabbi continued that he sees the whole premise of the gas mask as being the Israeli government's abrogation of its duty and responsibility, inherent in its existence, to properly protect and defend its people -- the Jewish people. And he seems to hold that this abrogation is rooted in previous actions, a year or so ago, when the government attempted to abrogate its responsibility by pressuring residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to send their children to school in reinforced buses.
I trace the litany of the government of Israel's abrogation back much further. I remember how the government tried to stifle transportation for numbers of people to pray regularly at Kever Rochel a couple of years ago "for their own safety." Only continuing and determined pressure by ordinary people forced the issue to the point where buses began to travel there regularly.
Abrogation of the government's duties and responsibilities to its people dates back beyond its barring, for years, of Jews from the Temple Mount. And there's no forgetting the abandonment and resultant repetitive destruction of Kever Yosef. What about Abu Sneineh - the snipers? haven in Hevron - victims of which included the baby Shalhevet Pass? Only after much Jewish blood was spilled and lives lost, many protests and threats by the people to take affairs into their own hands, did the government of Israel do what it is supposed to do ? protect and defend its people by taking the area, eradicating the snipers and maintaining a presence.
And what about the Jewish POWs, including Ron Arad, who continue to languish in the hands of Hizbullah, Amal or who knows where? One person I spoke to recently asserted that Ron Arad's plane bore another airman who was recovered because his father held high rank and pulled protekzia. And there are countless other cases, examples too numerous to mention here, of Israeli governmental abrogation of its duties and responsibilities to protect and defend all of her citizens and to stand behind those who serve in her Armed Forces and who provide intelligence.
But what has all of this got to do with Jonathan Pollard? And what do Pollard, Jewish POWs, Abu Mazen or the government's duty and responsibility to its people have to do with Pesach's Dayenu?
The litany of abrogations trace back to the government of Israel's rolling over on Jonathan Pollard.
It was the government of Israel who handed him over to the US. It was the government of Israel who had moral and religious duty and responsibilities, both as the beneficiary of the information furnished by Pollard and out of laws concerning Pidyon Shevuim, to see that the United States honored its plea bargain with Pollard and to monitor Pollard's defense. Israel abrogated its duty and responsibility then, as now, thanklessly abandoning an agent whose information saved many thousands, hundreds of thousands, of lives when Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor. The information that Pollard provided saved not just Jews, but the Americans who later fought in the Gulf War.
There is sufficient evidence that Pollard's continued incarceration covers up a multitude of sins -- wrongdoings in high places inside this very government. The government's abandonment of Pollard as expedient to cover possible wrong-doing paved precedent for abandonment of POWs, the government's abrogation of its duties and responsibilities in seeing to the protection and defense of those it governs during the Oslo era, which continues even today, the abandonment of Kever Yosef, the deaths of Shalhevet Pass and others from snipers on Abu Sneineh, the government of Israel's coronation of Abu Mazen as p.a. (sic) prime minister, the list goes on and on.
Self-respect and resolve to act like men of principle begins with Jonathan Pollard. Until he is free and safe in Israel, we will continue watch the government of Israel abandon its principles upon the Altar of the Super Power, as if it was almighty.
The commentary in the Artscroll Pesach Haggadah (pages 137-138) speaks about Dayenu in this way: "The bondage of our forefathers was two-fold -- physical and spiritual -- and so was their redemption. The physical bondage came to an end on Pesach night, but the spiritual redemption reached its climax only with the building of the Temple and Hashem's self-revelation in His sanctuary.
"Every step on the road to this ultimate goal was a further act of Divine kindness to us, a further revelation of Hashem's majesty. That's why we give thanks for each... favor [or kindness - MB] bestowed upon us. For every single step, we say Dayenu -- it would have sufficed by itself to give our thanks (attributed to Malbim)."
This does not mean that any one step would have sufficed by itself to bring us to our goal. It does mean, however, that each of the happenings of Yetziyat Mitzrayim, Giving of Torah at Mt. Sinai, the travels through the desert, entry of the Jewish People into Eretz Yisrael, through to the building of the building of the Beit HaMikdash "represented a new remarkable miracle... that Hashem need not have performed these miracles if he had not seen a particular purpose for each.
So, too, in our time the road continues for B'nai Yisrael. Israel's successful bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, Gulf War I, these past two years of the "Oslo" War, 9/11, the current US war with Iraq -- all represent the physical road. And the spiritual road to Jewish self-respect and self-esteem? It begins with Jonathan Pollard.
We tend to function, each in our own domain. We operate out of expediency -- in davening, at the place of business, dealing with our families. We, in our autos, speed past our brother who has his finger out. We see our brother running to catch a bus and don't make an effort, on his behalf, to get the driver to wait that extra second. Instead, we give our brother a blank countenance. We are not totally forthcoming and truthful with our brother concerning the facts of a business or banking transaction, often putting "obstacles in the way of the blind" as we grub for that last shekel at the other guy's expense. We give and take bribes, at all levels, if it will increase our personal influence, our place in history or our position on "the bottom line." And we are totally blase about our Land -- Eretz Yisrael. And each group has an agenda working against every other group.
The old adage is that a government is but a reflection of the people it leads. I hold that the purity and freshness our performance of mitzvot and our unity is directly related to Dayenu.
With Pesach upon us, every Pesach table should be set with a seperate place -- not just the cup for Eliyahu HaNavi, but a seperate place setting to honor Jonathan Pollard, symbolizing our tefillah, i.y.H., for his liberation from the affliction of his imprisonment and his reunification with his beloved B'nai Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael.
If our tefillah is real and genuine, if we leave the Beit Midrash and treat our brother as we would want to be treated ourselves, and if we finally recognize that the truth of the unity of B'nai Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael overrides the various agendas, then the other nations are as nothing. Instead of an attitude of "my place in history and to heck with you, because I'm better, more Israeli, more frum, etc. than you", when all Jews - Ashkenazim and S'fardim, Misnagdim and Chassidim, Chareidim, Datim and Chilonim, native-born Israeli Jews, Olim Chadashim and Jews of the Diaspora - truly love each other as blood-brothers, are as one and see "his success as mine, as ours", "his blood as mine, as ours" only then will we reach the destination of the spiritual road, the Geula Shlaima, the Ultimate Redemption -- no more Dayenu.
Chag Kosher V'Sameach.
Moshe Burt, formerly of Philadelphia, is a writer and commentator on events in Israel. He is the founder of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network.
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