August 7, 2020, Israel
An Israeli soldier wears a prayer shawl and holds a Torah scroll at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp in Poland, we remember.
"Should you say in heart, these nations are greater than me, stronger than me, how can I possibly defeat them and dispossess them as I was commanded and promised by God? You shall not fear them, but you shall remember very well what the Lord, your God, did to Pharaoh, the mighty king of the Egyptians and his powerful nation, the mighty warrior nation. You shall remember the great trials and tribulations which you saw with your own eyes, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm with which God brought you out of Egypt. So Shall God do to all the nations that you are afraid of now." (Deuteronomy, Chapter 7, verses 17 - 19) Translation by Moshe Katz.
כִּי תֹאמַר בִּלְבָבְךָ רַבִּים הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה מִמֶּנִּי אֵיכָה אוּכַל לְהוֹרִישָׁם. לֹא תִירָא מֵהֶם זָכֹר תִּזְכֹּר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְפַרְעֹה, וּלְכָל מִצְרָיִם. הַמַּסֹּת הַגְּדֹלֹת אֲשֶׁר רָאוּ עֵינֶיךָ וְהָאֹתֹת וְהַמֹּפְתִים וְהַיָּד הַחֲזָקָה וְהַזְּרֹעַ הַנְּטוּיָה, אֲשֶׁר הוֹצִאֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כֵּן-יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְכָל-הָעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה יָרֵא מִפְּנֵיהֶם (דברים ז)
We have a saying in Israel; We survived Pharaoh, we shall survive this. I grew up with this saying. What it means is; we have seen worst times, we got through them, we shall get through this as well, don't worry. Growing up surrounded by Holocaust survivors, the truth is they did not have to go so far back to Ancient Egypt, they could have said we survived the Nazis, we can survive this. Yes, we have been through a lot. Call it Jewish privilege; the privilege to survive and overcome all obstacles, meet all challenges.
Each week as I prepare the reading of the Torah I review it many times; it becomes like a mantra, a meditation, and often after reading the same passage again and again, a thought will suddenly enter my consciousness, something which never occurred to me before. And so it is.
Should you say to yourself, I cannot overcome these nations, they are too great for me, they are too powerful, remember, Remember, REMEMBER!
As a nation we are admonished over and over again with that holy word; Remember. We are told to remember our history and in fact Jews know their history more than most. Remember your history and learn from it, learn its lessons. Here we are told to remember the past events when things seemed hopeless.
An Israeli soldier is defending his position in 1973 versus overwhelming Egyptian forces, doubt enters his heart and he remembers these words...Should you say in heart, these nations are greater than me, stronger than me, how can I possibly defeat them? Remember what the Lord Your God did to the mighty Pharaoh, remember! You yourself saw these miracles and wonders, these Signs!
Indeed in those battles the modern day Egyptians were stunned when they discovered how few Israeli soldiers were holding back entire powerful divisions of Soviet trained troops and equipment. And so the tide turned in favor of the modern day Israelites as they drove the Egyptian forces back to where they came from, and further.
Our strength comes from our history, our faith. But today it is another lesson I wish to share, an individual lesson, for all, a universal message.
Should you say in your heart...I cannot overcome...In life we often find ourselves alone, either physically or spiritually, and self-doubt creeps in. During these recent days of the Virus and the Economic downturn and isolation, many have suffered and fallen into despair. Many have lost their jobs and income, many have seen business that they built up over a lifetime collapse overnight. And now we must pick up the pieces and move forward, but that voice inside us says... I cannot overcome, These nations are greater than me, these forces are greater than me, stronger than me, how can I possibly defeat them and dispossess them?
l point to the next parts; Remember - You shall not fear them, but you shall remember very well what the Lord, your God did to Pharaoh, the mighty king of the Egyptians and his powerful nation, the mighty warrior nation. You shall remember the great trials and tribulations which you saw with your own eyes, the signs and wonders.
You must Remember; Remember that first day of school, when you were shorter than the other kids, when they teased you? but you overcame that, you eventually became a popular kid, leader of the baseball team. Remember when you were first rejected by a girl whom you liked? or turned down by a job interviewer? But you overcame that. You with your own eyes experienced the trials and tribulations, and you saw the "Signs", that everything would work out, it will be OK. You experienced a lot in your life, draw on that, look to those past experiences for guidance and strength. Remember. This is not your first rodeo, this is not the first time you have been thrown off a horse. You can do this.
And remember this...dispossess them as I was commanded and promised by God.
What does this mean for the average person today, even one without faith in the Divine? I will tell you; God created you with a purpose, you are destined to achieve some great things in this lifetime. Command and promised means that you have both an obligation and a promise made to you: Be all that you can be and those promises will come true. You, Joe Cohen, Adam Smith, Gertrude Gonzalez, whomever...you were born to be someone special and you were Commanded to be this person!! Do not go back on that dream, remember, you can do this, you have been through worse.
The storm? I am the storm! Watch out because I am not going to be stopped, so either join me or get out of the way because I am a man on the move.
"God brought you out of Egypt. So Shall God do to all the nations that you are afraid off now."
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