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Noah and Kristallnacht

11/07/2019 01:13:29 PM

Nov7

In the space of a week, we have elections, impeachment hearings, Veterans Day, and the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht. And, lest we forget, there is the ongoing wrangling to form a government coalition after the second Israeli elections this year. Let’s return to simpler times.

According to the Rabbis, the first thing Noah did once he got God’s call to build the ark was to plant cedar trees. He spent the next 120 years waiting for those cedar trees to grow to the proper dimensions for the ark. During those 120 years, Noah spread the word, sounded the alarm, and wrote on the wall. Not one soul heeded the warnings. Then the animals came aboard. Didn’t anyone find it strange to see all those creatures crawl, lumber, trot, and fly onto the barge? Still, no one asked to join them on the ark. Too uncomfortable, I suppose.

In 1932, Germany held two national elections. After the second, in order to cobble together a government coalition, Hitler was offered the Chancellorship. In the aftermath of the 1933 Reichstag Fire, Hitler legally suspended civil liberties for all Germans. The cedar seeds were planted. Anti-Jewish legislation then marched on unimpeded. By November of 1938, German Jews had experienced what historians call “social death” as a result of their banishment from non-Jewish German society. Kristallnacht was the next stage, the clear-cutting of the cedar forest. For a variety of understandable reasons, roughly a third of 1932’s German Jews remained even after Kristallnacht and were murdered.

As we honor the veterans who risked the ultimate sacrifice to protect our lives and lifestyles, let us pledge to risk discomfort to defend our values and principles. How many warnings do we need?

Fri, October 23 2020 5 Cheshvan 5781