Chernobyl site
Chernobyl siteiStock
As we are forced to listen to the rising clamor by Russia threatening that they are going to bomb their enemies with nuclear armed super missiles, I have been thinking - who gave Russia the nuclear bombs in the first place? And the obvious answer is tough, because it was a group of spies working in America who handed over the newly discovered nuclear secrets to the then Soviet Union.

The famous Manhattan Project when the USA developed and then detonated the first atomic bombs, was riddled with agents working for Communist ideals and who believed that the United States did not deserve to be the sole nuclear power in the world. They handed over key nuclear secrets to the USSR and by 1949 the Soviet atomic bomb project had received enough stolen information to help them detonate an atomic bomb.

Do people still remember the American Jews Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were found guilty and Who gave Russia the nuclear bombs in the first place? And the obvious answer is hard to take, because it was a group of spies working in America who handed over the newly discovered nuclear secrets to the then Soviet Union.
executed in 1953 for spying on behalf of the Soviet Union by handing over valuable nuclear weapon designs? These foolish acts of misguided idealism for a Communist Utopia were direct contributing factors to then Soviet and now Russian equally foolish hubris and braggadocio, allowing them to think that they can do anything they want on the international stage just because they came into possession of the "forbidden fruits" of nuclear know how and wizardry.

Judaism teaches that one good deed leads to another and conversely one bad deed leads to another (mitzvah goreret mitzvah, averah goreret averah, Pirkei Avot 4:2). Conventional historical wisdom is that the perfidy of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg hastened the rise of the Soviet Union/Russia as a thermonuclear super power only rivaled by the United States.

The purpose of the United States embarking on the quest for nuclear bombs was fear that Nazi Germany was on the road to doing so and that this could therefore be a game changer. In addition, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by America on Japan in August of 1945 was done for one reason: To stop the Second World War once and for all by forcing Japan to surrender, or else. Japan was made to pay for its commencement of the war against America by its surpise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

For all of Russia's cynical blustering and posturing about using its nuclear arsenal against its perceived enemies, reminiscent of the fabled egotistical "Big Bad Wolf" who "huffs and puffs" all the time to blow down houses, so far it's mercifully been all talk, and hopefully it will remain that way. After all, the Russians are familiar with mutual assured destruction (MAD) that's worth quoting from Wikipedia:

"Mutual assured destruction (MAD) is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender (see pre-emptive nuclear strike and second strike). It is based on the theory of deterrence, which holds that the threat of using strong weapons against the enemy prevents the enemy's use of those same weapons. The strategy is a form of Nash equilibrium in which, once armed, neither side has any incentive to initiate a conflict or to disarm. The term 'mutual assured destruction', commonly abbreviated 'MAD', was coined by Donald Brennan, a strategist working in Herman Kahn's Hudson Institute in 1962.However, Brennan came up with this acronym ironically, spelling out the English word 'mad' to argue that holding weapons capable of destroying society was irrational...."

In spite of this, during the current Russia-Ukraine war, Russian leaders in government, the military and in the now fully state-controlled media see no problem in constantly belting out threats that they will nuclear bomb, London or New York or NATO or countries neighboring Ukraine for providing military assistance to the Ukrainians in the war against them that Russia launched all on its own. It's a kind of self-destructive paranoid almost suicidal complex that afflicts the Russian leadership in that they seem to think they can act with impunity against the world - habitually and almost compulsively such as in Chechnya in 1994, Georgia in 2008, in Syria in 2015, and now in Ukraine in 2022, not to mention the Soviets' fight against Hungary in 1956, invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979, This is all because they keep on beating on their chest like a "King Kong" character mascarading as a "nuclear super power," but with very poor results for them when all is said and done.

In one of the great ironies of modern history, it was bizarrely and ironically the 1986 Chernobyl disaster with the explosion and meltdown of its nuclear reactor located in the area of Ukraine, then part of the now defunct Soviet Union, that caused huge nuclear radiation and so much damage that it's given by historians as a reason for the dissolution of the USSR itself! In an almost divinely fitting response to Soviet military bluster, the nuclear explosion at the Chernobyl plant and its far reaching nuclear fallout and radiation was a fitting boomerang effect for those who set the traps for others to fall into the morass of their own making.

It should be a lesson to those who threaten others with nuclear annihilation that there is Divine Justice in this chaotic world. Threatening to unleash deadly nuclear rockets on New York City or London or on NATO nations or nations not aligned with Russia is not something that should be made lightly because such threats are a two edged sword that cut both ways. The United States possesses the same nuclear fire power, if not worse, than Russia does. The United Kingdom and France are European nuclear armed nations as well and they can just as easily annihilate Moscow or Saint Petersburg!

It is unbelievable to think of the irresponsibility and recklessness of the Russian tyrants who have developed their own unique sinister vision of themselves and the world and buy into their own paranoid propaganda.

The question arises, why don't the Russians try to develop other capabilities besides their military and nuclear ones? What do they export beyond oil, gas and armaments? They specialize in spying on other nations and hacking internet networks. Their oligarchs and rich government ministers care little beyond accumulating billions for themselves and building villas in the south of France for themselves and fellow travelers.

How about pouring money into other industries besides building a state of the art gargantuan war machine? Where is the Russian Silicon Valley? Where is Russia's Wall Street or Hollywood? Why are there never any products for sale in other countries that say "Made in Russia"? Japan, China and South Korea have managed "the art of the deal" and of manufacturing, why hasn't Russia? Were the Russians afraid that Ukraine would become another economic superpower on the scale of a France or a Britain that would have eclipsed them and put them to shame?

From 1991 to 2022 Ukraine had a thriving Jewish presence free of prejudice. The Lubavitch, Breslov, Stolin Hasidic groups and many others had large religious schools, synagogues and very successful Jewish community outreach to thousands of non-religious Ukrainian Jews. Tens of thousands of Jews came annually from outside Ukraine to visit the graves of famous rabbis buried in Ukraine, especially the tens of thousands of Breslovers and their admirers who came to the town of Uman where Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) is still buried.

This roughly 30 year span was truly a brief "golden age" of Judaism in Ukraine! Ukraine's horrendous antisemitic history is not forgotten, but all of a sudden Russia sees Nazis and neo-Nazis under every Ukrainian rock to justify totally obliterating a productive country on their borders that was openly friendly and welcoming to Jews from all over the world who flocked there. Is this a good enough reason to threaten the Americans, the British and NATO the supporters of Ukraine with a nuclear strike? The Russian leadership sure seems to think so. Crazy!

Where this cycle of nuclear threats against the world, destructive war against Ukraine, and the deliberate destabilization of surrounding countries like Poland with waves of millions of refugees, will ever end is an open question. We need to pray to God that the Russians don't go all the way to the edge and try to jump off it, dragging everyone else down with them in their wake.

Contact Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin at [email protected]