Friday, January 09, 2009

Israel- a call to action

It's a few minutes before Shabbos and the rush is on, but this thought struck me and I would like to share it.

Israel's at war- again. Our collective Jewish heart skips a beat each time we hear of another missile attack or a soldier that was killed. Our collective Jewish conscience cringes each time a Palestinian is killed, because we don't celebrate the deaths of our enemies.

Global Jewish mobilisation in support of Israel is heart-warming. From Israeli-flag Facebook profiles to following IDF soldiers on Twitter to pro-Israel demonstrations to letters to the press to emailing video clips- people have responded.

Well, here's another "what you can do for Israel", gleaned from tommorrow's Torah portion.

Jacob dies. His last will calls for his sons to bury him in Canaan, which they set out to do. Egyptian dignitaries join the sad procession in respect to Joseph, their viceroy who is mourning his father.

Others have darker intentions.

As the procession leaves Egypt, a band of Ishmaelite and Canaanite princes ambush the group. Suddenly, inexplicably, instead of attacking the small Jewish band and their Egyptian associates, the princes join the funeral, hanging their crowns on Jacob's bier.

What changed their attitude?

Joseph's crown. The Talmud describes how they saw his crown adorning the casket and felt compelled to do the same.

Notice- they didn't change their tune out of fear of the Egyptians (World Superpower at the time) who accompanied the Jews. The emphasis is on Joseph's crown, not the viceroy of Egypt's crown.

What is the secret of Joseph's crown? Why did it stop the assault dead in its tracks?

Joseph was an atypical Jew. Unlike his brothers, he didn't live in isolation, tending the flocks, free to meditate and pray all day. He was deeply involved in the modern world, managing the most powerful position in the world.

Unlike others who rise to prominence, he didn't assimilate into the surrounding culture. Riding the wave of Egyptian world-domination, Joseph remained faithful to his roots. Rather than allowing society to shape his life, Joseph used morality and values learned in his father's home to guide society.

Joseph teaches us how to live in the "real" world, proud of the Jew we are.

As Israel battles its enemies in Gaza and its critics around the world, we need to wear Joseph's crown. It is the crown of Tefillin on our heads each morning and the pride of our Jewish heritage for all the world to see always.

Joseph's crown is so powerful, anyone who sees it switches from enemy to ally.

We pray for the day when there will be no more war, when all people will collaborate and assist each other. May today be that day.

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