I’ve been watching the news about the war in Kiev, Ukraine and it is so sad as are the many injustices happening right now on this beautiful God-given planet of ours. My great-grandparents were born there and it is supposed to be a beautiful city. They lived in Kiev until they emigrated to Canada in 1906. They had to leave their home because of the pogroms. Imagine…the fake news back then was that Jews were kidnapping Christian children and using their blood to make matzah. How can anyone believe that? Then I think of the crazy things that people are believing today. I’m grateful that because of their courage to uproot themselves with 9 children and come to a new world, we could live free, we were spared from the horrors of the Holocaust. But today our freedom is at risk.
I’ve told you that I started studying the Torah 32 years ago. It’s not a religious book. It’s a story of our people; it’s a book of principles that give us wisdom and truth, it’s a manual for how we need to behave in order to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. By Moses told by God, “when you go into the land and you grow fat, do not forget me.” We are a very resourceful people; we have been in exile for almost 2000 years although many are back in the land. We have forgotten those words and when we prospered, we have forgotten our God. That’s why we suffer. If you cut off a branch from the tree and it can no longer be fed from the roots, it dies.
What we see happening now in the world is not new. Why are we surprised? The world has been at war since Cain killed his brother Abel, the first two children born to Adam and Eve. Although Canada has been a peaceful country, whether we realize it or not, we’ve been in a war for the past several years –biological or viral warfare which has forced us into isolation for the past two years; friends and families are being divided over religion and politics; the people we voted into government are abusing their power and have slowly been taking away our freedom of choice; but to me the worst war that we are experiencing is the war against free speech. We’re no longer allowed to openly express our opinion without being mocked, called offensive or some type of phobic. What this is doing is setting the stage for the censorship of God’s Words, His Torah and especially His Ten Commandments written by His own Hand. Ultimately it is a war against the Master of the universe. That happened with Pharaoh. How did that turn out for him?
I won’t want to listen to the words of the modern-day prophets who want to tell us that we are entering Armageddon or the War of God and Magog because the Torah says if they’re wrong, not to believe them. I prefer to listen to what our Hebrew prophets tell us. They help us to read the sign of the times. Noah shows us that God destroyed the world in his day because every imagination of the heart of man was evil, and violence was everywhere. Did you know the Hebrew word for violence is Hamas? Well, they’re not everywhere…yet!
The story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah shows us that when Abram asked God to spare the two cities and He said that He would if 10 righteous people could be found. Well, they couldn’t. As far as I can see, the evil in the world has not spread to those levels yet. Our prophet Ezekiel in chapter 38 tells us that our enemies will one day come against Israel when the chiefs of Gog, Magog, Meshech and Tubal (all around Russia), Persia (Iran) Cush (Ethiopia) and Put (Libya) shall say: “I will go up against the land of unwalled villages; I will come upon them that are at quiet, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates;” That day will come but that day is not today. Those days are described in both Judaism and Christianity as “Chevlei ha Mashiach”, the birth pangs of the Messiah. The world’s birth pains are not strong enough yet so let’s look at what do we can do today to be part of the healing of the world, to bring in Tikkun Olam instead of waiting for someone else to do it.
I had a revelation when I was in my teens, and I have lived by it all my life. I seek out the root of the problem instead of putting on a Band-Aid. That’s what the Torah does for us. It shows us the root cause of disease – physical, emotional, and spiritual, that plague our world. So, do we watch the news and fall apart, or do we trust that God is in charge? Do we continue to move forward to fulfill our calling, or do we cower in fear in our small corner of the world? What is God asking of us, of me? The good news is, as darkness grows, light can shine more brightly. We can each learn to live and spread the light of the Torah wherever we go. We just need to read it. It teaches us how to have true shalom in our lives, how to choose to have joy amid struggles. Through its stories we learn principles of wisdom which give us the tools to handle our daily struggles. The solution is simple; the tough part is putting them into action. Sometimes we’ll take two steps forward, and then fall one step backward, but we can always start again.
I host an intimate, relaxed discussion group every Wednesday at 8: 30PM EST. We do a little music, some conversation and we read the portion together. It’s amazing what is revealed that we never knew was there. If you’d like an invitation, send me an email and I’ll be happy to send you a link.