Time For Friday Morning Prayer And Story Of The Day
There is something about most Jews that few non-Jews know: We Jews often ask ourselves if a non-Jew in our lives would hide us in the event of a Nazi-like outbreak.
I don’t know if young Jews think about this, but nearly all Jews who grew up in the decades following the Holocaust often wondered: Would this non-Jew hide me?
I have thought about this all my life because the question “Who hid Jews?” is one of the most important questions anyone—Jew or non-Jew—needs to think about.
That question is far more important than “Who didn’t hide Jews?” because great goodness is rarer than great evil and even rarer than simple moral cowardice.
Yet, a vast number of books have been written attempting to understand evil, while relatively few have been written attempting to explain good.
The reason for this is simple: Since the Enlightenment, i.e., since the decline of Judeo-Christian thought, most secular people have believed, and nearly all secular thought has been predicated on, the reality-denying idea that human nature is essentially good.
As a result, scholars regard good as the norm and evil as the aberration. So, they study evil far more than good.
That is why the question “Who rescued Jews?” should be of overwhelming importance to humanity as a whole. If people are interested in increasing good and in decreasing evil, what question could be more important?
A lifetime of study of this question has led me to the following answers:
No. 1: Sam and Pearl Oliner, two professors of sociology at California State University at Humboldt, were the authors of one of the most highly regarded works on altruism, “The Altruistic Personality.”
The book was the product of the Oliners’ lifetime of study of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. They themselves had been hidden by non-Jews in Poland, and I had the privilege of interviewing them.
I asked Sam Oliner, “Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist, or a Polish priest?”
Without hesitation, he responded, “Polish priest.” And his wife immediately added, “I would prefer a Polish nun.”
I should note that neither had a religious agenda, as both were secular Jews.
Of course, most Christians in Europe failed the moral test of the Holocaust, but so did nearly all secular intellectuals. And few Christians today deny this.
But any honest person would still bet on a priest before a doctor, artist, lawyer, or professor. It is one reason I believe that the decline of Judeo-Christian religions is a calamity: We will produce fewer people who will do great good.
No. 2: Another study of rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust offered four characteristics of rescuers. I read this book about 40 years ago and I do not remember the name of the book or three of the four characteristics.
But I remember one of them because it struck me as an original insight and because it made so much sense. According to this study, individuals who were considered “eccentric” prior to the war were disproportionately represented among those who hid Jews.
Now, why would that be? Why would people regarded as eccentric be more likely to risk torture and death to hide a member of a persecuted group they weren’t part of?
The answer is obvious: Eccentrics are, by definition, people who march to the beat of their own drummer, who are nonconformists, and who don’t seek social approval.
That should give us some major insights into who would save Jews—or any other group targeted for death (such as landowners in communist countries)—if our society were taken over by Nazis or communists.
If this theory about eccentrics is correct, it should give us pause.
As My Brother Always Says
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, save me!”
5 The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The Lord protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Some Interesting Scriptures On The Holy Land
Genesis 12:3 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
John 1:47. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.
and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. 5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, 6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, 7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, 8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
We Are All Called To Be A Friend People
Israel (the nation) is over 3,000 years old
Israel was destined to become “a great nation”
Israel was destined to be a blessing to all nations
Israel is also a chosen (unique) nation – a special people planned to be God’s witness
Israel will exist as long as the sun, moon and stars exist
God renamed Abraham’s grandson Jacob and called him “Israel”
Jacob’s descendants were the twelve tribes of Israel (the Hebrew Israelites)
Initially the term ‘Jew’ referred to a member of the tribe of Judah, but later all Israelites were called Jews
In 1003 BC King David established Jerusalem as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel
In 922 BC the twelve tribes split into a southern kingdom (the ‘House of Judah’) and a northern kingdom comprising ten tribes (the ‘House of Israel’)
Only four Gentile empires were destined to rule over Israel: Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman
All the tribes eventually rebelled against God and were scattered by the Babylonians throughout the nations (the diaspora)
The Babylonians destroyed Israel’s magnificent temple (Solomon’s temple) in Jerusalem
Israel’s scattering was complete around 586 BC
A remnant of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple
The rebuilt temple (the Second Temple) and Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD
The Romans renamed the land of Israel (principally Judea) as ‘Palaestina‘ (modern Palestine)
At the start of the 20th century Palestine was still a mix of many peoples, with no distinctive Jewish nation or Palestinian people
At the end of the age God gathers His scattered people into their promised land. This is now underway
The 1922 British Mandate for Palestine sought a homeland for the Jewish nation, Israel
The Mandate encouraged Jewish immigration (aliyah), resulting in a 7400 percent in about 100 years
1948: the Declaration of the State of Israel
Jews are returning in unbelief, as prophesied (and will suffer tribulation under a revived Roman Empire)
Israeli tour guides sometimes say:
Israel may be three hundred miles long, thirty miles wide, but it’s three thousand years deep
They are simply referring to the fact that over three millennia of Bible history is sown in the land of Israel. Others agree:
Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same G-d that it did 3,000 years ago“
[Charles Krauthammer – The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998]
So much for the history of Israel over the past 3,000 years. But this 3,000 year old nation goes on:
Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success.It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom“
[John F. Kennedy, President of the United States]
The History of Israel Started with Abraham
The history of Israel and the Arab nations starts with Abram (later called Abraham). Some 4,000 years ago Abram was called by God to go from his home in Ur of the Chaldeans and travel to a land that God would give to him and his descendants, Fig.1. Scholars date this migration from Ur somewhere between 1900 and 1750 BC, and the land in question was Canaan. God said to Abram:
Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation … (Gen 12.1)
That nation was Israel. At this time God set about making a people for Himself to be a witness of Himself to the nations, and they were given the land of Canaan for perpetuity (Gen: 17,8). Through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob came the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Judah, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan …) and they inhabited the land God gave them – the area currently known as Israel, including the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights.
Sadly, after the Davidic Kingdom around 1,000 BC the tribes of Israel gradually fell away from their God and through their disobedience were uprooted from their land and scattered throughout the nations. Israel’s scattering (the diaspora) was complete around 586 BC. Subsequently, in 70 AD the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple in Jerusalem and declared the land of Israel would be no more. To this end they renamed the land of Israel, principally Judea, as ‘Palaestina‘ (modern Palestine) which some believe as an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel.
Let’s look at all this in more detail.
The Promise of a Great Nation – the Abrahamic Covenant
God told Abram that his descendants would become a great nation and that through this nation all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12.1-7).
FACT: the blessing came through Isaac, Jacob, Judah … to Christ – salvation for all mankind is of the Jews (Jn 4.22). To confirm this promise God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning ‘father of many nations’ (Gen 17.5) and He made a covenant with him:
I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you … I will give to you and your descendants … all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God
This covenant was ratified by God alone, meaning that the covenant is eternal and unconditional (Gen 15).
A Chosen Nation – A Special People for Ever
Note that God said: ‘I will be their God’. Here, God was claiming Israel to be His own; ‘You are Mine’ (Isa 43.1). So here we have God identifying Himself with a particular people. Here we have the God of Israel – they are God’s very own people, forever (2 Sam 7.24). Why did God do this? God made a people for Himself for a very real purpose. Besides blessing all nations through Christ, God made Israel to be His witness to the nations (Isa 43.10) and to be His servant (Isa 49.3). Israel is unique since it is the one nation on earth that God uses to make a name for Himself. As King David exclaimed:
Who is like Your people Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, to make a name for Himself
(2 Sam 7.23).
The nation Israel can never be destroyed: God chose His servant nation Israel to be His special witness in the world, and the survival of the Jews throughout the ages is strong evidence of His presence. As Mark Twain remarked: “All things are mortal but the Jews; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”. The answer is that God decreed that the Jewish nation will exist as long as the fixed order of the sun, moon and stars exists:
Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night … “If this fixed order departs from before Me … then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever” (Jer 31:35-36)
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