When I published the blog about my experience during my trip to Ostrolenka, Poland, little did I expect that it woud touch the heartstrings of the many who commented, both publicly and privately. It is hard to describe fully the emotions that I felt when we saw the first sign on the road, indicating that Ostrolenka was such and such kilometres ahead. For a moment, it was hard for me to believe that I was actually going to be in the place where my parents grew up, lived and eventually left … almost the night before the outbreak of WWII. There was an anticipation that I would find the graves of three of three of my grandparents, as well as gravestones of other members of the families of both of my parents, who had lived there for many generations. There is something that is built into the fabric of our being that longs for permanence, for an existence that continues beyond our days. Our hosts told us that the cemetery had been destroyed by the Nazis, but none of us knew the extent of the destruction or what was built over it.
As I began to recite the traditional Kaddish prayer, wearing my father’s kippa, I was filled with emotion. I had to stop and turn away from Orit, the couple who hosted us and their son, and wait a few moments before I could continue. As I wept, they wept with me. As I was reciting the Kaddish, two girls came out from the school that was built on the site. They saw me and laughed as they passed by. The son of the couple asked passers-by where the monument was. The locals who were asked claimed not to know where it was, despite it being around the corner from where we were standing and some 40-50 feet from the corner on Yanusz Korczak Street. [His real name was Henryk Goldszmit – who would not abandon the children in the orphanage that he was the head of and went with them to the gas chambers, even though he was offered opportunities to save himself.] There is no question that the spirit of anti-semitism is alive and well in Poland and elsewhere. The son of our hosts said that he works with people who are anti-semitic. When he asked them why they hated Jews and what Jewish people ever did to them, they could not answer.
In 1898, Mark Twain’s “Concerning the Jew” essay was published in Harper’s Magazine. When his comment about the Jews not serving in the military was later proven to be untrue, he issued a public apology. In the latter part of his essay, he wrote, in part:
“What has become of the Golden Rule?”
It exists, it continues to sparkle, and is well taken care of. It is Exhibit A in the Church`s assets, and we pull it out every Sunday and give it an airing. But you are not permitted to try to smuggle it into this discussion, where it is irrelevant and would not feel at home. It is strictly religious furniture, like an acolyte, or a contribution-plate, or any of those things. It has never been intruded into business; and Jewish persecution is not a religious passion, it is a business passion.
* * * If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world`s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” (Mark Twain: Concerning The Jews, Harper’s Magazine, March, 1898).
Indeed, the question of the ages has been “What is the secret of the immortality of the Jew?” Clearly, we are but human, fallible, given to every vice and virtue of almost every other people on the earth, whether presently existing or in ages past. We cannot over-simply the answer, nor should we try. Yet, a question that relates to immortality can only be answered by reference to that which “immortal”, which lives forever, which defies logic and necessitates a reliance upon faith.
We need to wake up to reality from a Biblical point of view. A time is coming, and it is not very far off, when the world will turn against this tiny stretch of desert land and its inhabitants and/or will idly stand by as nations gather together in an attempt to destroy us, so that the name of Israel would be no more (Ps. 83:4). Life for the Jew will be difficult beyond our imagination. Non-Jews who will come to faith in the Lord Yeshua, the Lord of Glory, the Holy One of Israel, during that time, will have their faith tested by the manner in which they relate to the Jew, as He stated (see Matt. 25:31-46): “***’to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” This statement was made by the Lord Yeshua before He went to the cross and died as the Passover Lamb that took upon Himself the sins of the world. His “brothers” were, therefore, according to the flesh, namely, the Jews. This is not the place to deal with the similarities or distinctions between the wars referred to in Ps. 83; Ezekiel 38:4-5, 10-12; 39:2 and Revelation 16. That is for another time.
Israel as a nation and the Jews as a people, will continue to exist. “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, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘If the heavens above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 31:35-37). The wars seeking to eliminate Israel and the Jews are physical manifestations of the spiritual warfare taking place – the spirit of Islam against The Spirit of the Resurrected Messiah, Israel in the midst of a sea of her enemies, who seek to destroy her.
What is the secret of the immortality of the Jew? Simply, God! He is sovereign in all His ways. He sovereignly chose Israel (Deut. 7:7-8) to be kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exo. 19:6). His gifts and His callings are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). May we examine and consider our ways and let us return to the Lord (Lam. 3:40) our God and obey Him with all our heart and soul (Deut. 30:2) and not wait for the day of our distress (Deut. 4:30). For if our ways are pleasing to the Lord, He will make even our enemies to be at peace with us (Prov. 16:7). And THAT will be the time for which we all yearn. This world, with all of the evil that is in it, is fading away. We have to hold on to that which is eternal and the to One who dwells in eternity. We need to see the whole picture.
Tonight begins the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah, referred to in Leviticus 23:23-25 as the Feast of Trumpets – year number 5780 according to the Jewish calendar. May you all be blessed with good health, strength, a sweet, encouraging, joyful and prosperous year. Indeed, may it be the year that we hear The Trumpet sound.
The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Gen. 12:2-3)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.