Erev Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Pinhas 5767
ד,ו חמישה דברים אירעו את אבותינו בשבעה עשר בתמוז, וחמישה בתשעה באב. בשבעה עשר בתמוז--נשתברו הלוחות, ובטל התמיד, והובקעה העיר, ושרף אפסטמוס את התורה, והעמיד צלם בהיכל...;
"4:6 Five things happened to our 'forefathers' on 17 b'Tammuz, and five on 9 b'Av. On 17 b'Tammuz--the tablets were broken, and the Tamid [offering] ceased, and the city [of Jerusalem] was breached, and Apastimos burned the Torah [scroll], and he set up an image (statue) in the Temple....."
All in all, the 17 of the Fourth Month (Tammuz) has been an unhappy day for Am Yisrael (the Jewish People), to say the least. So, perhaps you will be surprised then to learn that July 4, 1776, the day the United States of America declared its independence from England, fell on 17 Tammuz 5536.
In the short-term, the founding of the USA could be seen as something positive for Am Yisrael. After all, many Jews have benefited from the extensive educational and financial opportunities, made available by living in the USA. Many Jews have even found refuge there, a reprieve from suffering, persecution, and even death. My parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and I have all certainly benefited. And for that, I am grateful.
When I lived in the US, of course, I celebrated the Fourth of July. It was a lot of fun, and after all, it's not a "religious" holiday, but a national one, far from offensive to the diverse, American population, right? For most Jews, the Fourth of July was considered "kosher."
But this world can be deceiving. With the exception of a few Torah-enriched neighborhoods, what has living in America done for Am Yisrael spiritually? Assimilation, intermarriage, materialism, confusion of "western" values with Torah values.... Many Jews have turned to the false, spiritual band-aids, of so-called "liberal Judaism." Just like morphine, it's never enough. Give me more.... Water Judaism down some more.... Make my spouse Jewish.... Tell me my spouse doesn't even have to be Jewish....
Sure, Israel's certainly not immune. Tel-Aviv looks more like a European city than a Mid-Eastern one. And I defy you to locate a Hebrew, neon sign in Hertzliyah from the freeway. (They're all in English.) But, for those of you who continue to sing the praises of the Almighty America (lehavdil) and its accompanying angels, the dollar and the military, wake up already before it's too late. If being Jewish has any importance to you whatsoever, and you don't want to lose what you still have, then get on the plane....
You can still have your barbeque. It'll just be on the Fifth Of Iyyar instead. Then you can have your watermelon in the summer as usual. It's supposedly good to eat before a fast.