Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fools of the World - They're Still Here

This post is an exact copy of a post that I wrote on October 15, 2008. Only the news link at the head of the post has been changed. Sadly, very sadly, nothing else has changed.

Re: Jerusalem Post Article - Court: No to haredi income benefit

The opening gemara in Masechet Avoda Zarah (2a) says:

In the future to come the Holy One shall bring a Torah scroll and set it in His lap and proclaim, “For each one who occupied himself with it, let him come and receive his reward.” Immediately all the nations of the world will gather and come in pandemonium…

The kingdom of Rome will enter before Him first…The Holy One says to them, “In what way have you involved yourselves?”. They will say before Him, “Master of the World! We installed many markets, we made many bathhouses, we amassed much silver and gold, and all this we did for no purpose other than to enable [the people of] Israel to busy themselves in Torah.” The Holy One says to them, “Fools of the world! All that you did, you did for your own purposes. You built marketplaces to situate harlots, bathhouses to adorn yourselves, and the silver and gold is actually Mine...”

The kingdom of Persia enters after them. The Holy One says to them, “In what way have you involved yourselves?”. They will say before Him, “Master of the World! We built many bridges, we conquered many metropolises, we waged many wars, and all this we did for no purpose other than to enable [the people of] Israel to busy themselves in Torah.” The Holy One says to them, “Fools of the world! All that you did, you did for your own purposes. You built bridges to collect from them tolls, you conquered cities to conscript the inhabitants and their property for your military campaigns, and, as for wars, I am the One who manipulates wars…"


I have oft-times reflected on this passage and noted that the great super powers of the world will line up to apply for this reward. Edom (the US and Europe) and Persia (Iran). No doubt Russia and China will also submit their applications.

And what about the State of Israel?

Will the State of Israel that tries so hard to be like all other nations, will the State of Israel also line up to ask for the great reward? And what claim will they make?

My guess is that the State of Israel will be right there clamoring away with the rest of the nations. And, as with the rest of the nations, HKBH will ask them, “In what way have you involved yourselves?” And they will say before Him, “Master of the World! We gave military deferments to those who could prove that they are studying Torah. And we made sure that they will not be able to legally work as long as they received these deferments. We gave child allowances for the children of your people - although we halved the child allowances at the same time as bread and milk doubled. And we set aside a special budgetary allotment for Torah schools - to make it look like we are giving them extra money when in truth we are giving them less since we didn't think that they deserve the same basic funding as State schools and so we made sure they didn't get it. And all this we did for no purpose other than to enable [the people of] Israel to busy themselves in Torah..."

And what will happen? Will the Holy One smile and heap infinite reward on the State of Israel for their sincere efforts or, as to the rest of the nations, will He say to them, "Fools of the world! All that you did, you did for your own purposes..."?

Just don't kick the sukka on the way out.

3 comments:

Dov said...

Chazal also say that someone who receives something without showing hakaras hatov will in the future lose what they're receiving. (I think Chazal were talking specifically about support for Torah learning, but I'm not sure.)

A Rav in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem (not RYMHR) said 6-7 years ago, during a big round of budget cuts, that he had in the past instructed all those learning in his kollel to show and vocalize and internalize their hakaras hatov for the country that was giving them any level of support, so that they hopefully wouldn't lose the support according to this Chazal.

None of this is contrary to what you (Yechezkel) say in your article, but I think that there are as always many sides to every issue, when looked at from the full breadth of Chazal.

Yechezkel said...

>>Chazal also say that someone who receives something without showing hakaras hatov will in the future lose what they're receiving.

Where??

Dov said...

Have to look for it, I heard it in a drasha a few years ago....