The Jewish world stands a little straighter this week, emboldened by Prime Minister Netanyahu's telling-it-like-it-is at the UN last Thursday. Bibi lashed out against Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-myth rhetoric, blasted the UN's anti-Israel bias and reminded the crowd that the message of world peace engraved on the entrance to the UN was composed by a Jewish prophet, Isaiah, walking in our land 2800 years ago.
Time will tell if Netanyahu's courage will carry from the General Assembly podium to Knesset decision-making. But, the speech was clearly impressive, "Churchillian" they're calling it- direct and brutally honest.
Where did Bibi get the guts to stand up to the world? Was he inspired by his older brother Yoni, the Sayeret Matkal commander who gave his life to save others at Entebbe?
Bibi's spontaneous answer, to an Israeli journalist just outisde the General Assembly, is surprising. Netanyahu was appointed Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in 1984. Shortly after taking the post, a friend suggested he attend the Simchas Torah celebrations with the Lubavitcher Rebbe at Chabad-Lubavitch HQ in Brooklyn.
Before the festivities kicked off, the Rebbe spoke to Netanyahu for forty minutes, much to the surprise and frustration of the Chassidim who were eager to start the proceedings.
"The Rebbe told me," Netanyahu explains, "You are going to the UN and you will find there an assembly hall filled with infinite falsehood and utter darkness. Your challenge is to light a candle of truth in that darkness."
25 years later, last Thursday, Bibi got to light that candle.
Last week was Rosh Hashanah and we flipped the calendar page to 5770, which has all the markings of a powerful year. 770 has the gematriya (numerical value) of "poratzto", meaning to burst forth, break barriers and shift paradigms. Less than a week into this special year, Prime Minister Netanyahu did "poratzto" in the UN. 25 years ago, the Rebbe planted the seed that burst into the open last week. Hopefully, Israel will keep the "poratzto" momentum and stand strong and proud.
You and I may not be able to change Israel or address the UN. But, we can shift our own paradigms. We all have a "hall of lies and darkness" inside our own minds: self-doubt, apathy and an urge to please the world. Tonight is Kippur, time to reasses and reinvent ourselves, time for our personal "poratzto". Time to confront our personal "hall of darkness" and tell it where to get off.
G'mar Chatimah Tovah!