Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Putin's Call to Jews: A Test and a Temptation, How Will You Fare?

י"א לחודש האחד עשר תשע"ו
Tablet: Putin to European Jews: Come to Mother Russia!
When members of the European Jewish Congress shared their concerns about heightened anti-Semitism at home, the Russian president invited them to ‘return’

Vladislav Davidzon, January 19, 2016

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Jews facing anti-Semitism in Europe to return to Russia. The comments, reported by the RBC, a Russian media outlet, took place during a meeting in Moscow with a delegation from the European Jewish Congress, which expressed concerns over the culture of anti-Semitism in Europe, “the worst since World War II,” said its president Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor. In reponse, Putin said: “During Soviet times they left, so let them return.”

Putin then made a “come here” gesture with his forefinger and, in an uncharacteristically gentle manner, instructed the Jewish delegation and the Jews of Europe, saying: “Here, to us. They should come to us.” (cont.)

Esser Agaroth (2¢):
Spain and Portugal have already made similar offers for Jews to return. Under German reparations for the Holocaust, an Israeli citizen may not be turned down for a German work visa. Germany, Austria, Poland, and presumably other countries, are offering opportunities for grandchildren of Jewish citizens who fled Europe during the Holocaust to apply for citizenship.

Muslim, Jew-hating violent France, not only has a chief rabbi who appears to be encouraging Jews to stay, but also has a former K'nesseth Speaker as one of its citizens, Avraham Burg.

Denmark's chief rabbi is also disappointed by calls for aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel).

Vladimir Putin is not the only Russian encouraging Jews to live in Russia. Rabbi Alexander Boroda, head of the Chabad-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, seems to as well.

So, you see, Putin's gestures to Russian Jews are nothing new. They are part of a larger trend.

In this week's Torah portion Beshalah, those of B'nei Yisra'el who survived the plague of darkness, have left Egypt, and are preparing to cross a Red Sea, which has yet to part miraculously.

Most are afraid, believing themselves surrounded by dangers, the Egyptian soldiers on one side, and certain death by drowning in the Red Sea, on the other. Some cry to return, "better to be slaves in Egypt and alive, than free and dead."

And now, we are standing at the edge of the same sea. However, many, if not most of us, have already made it to Eretz Yisr'ael (Land of Israel). Yet, there are still many of us who are tempted to leave, even more so, by the apparent welcoming, open arms of the lands of our previous exiles.

Can you imagine that? There are those Jews who are actually tempted to leave our Divinely Promised land? Those who prefer to have their hashqafoth (Torah perceptions) dictated by their feelings, instead of having their feelings influenced by the Torah?

Certainly there are heterim (permissions) to leave Eretz Yisra'el. But these are only for temporary periods of time. And if everyone leaves, at this crucial juncture, then who will be here to fight to keep our only true Homeland? No one? We will just wait around in exile for Mashi'ah to arrive and do all of the work, fooling ourselves that it is actually safe there in the first place?

The temptations from the outside, from our the lands of our exile are clearly a test, a filtering out. Only this time, instead of sticking around those lands, waiting to be taken by the plague of darkness, these Jews are actively seeking out the darkness, and subsequent death from it!

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