"That S...ty Little Country, Israel"
"All the troubles of the world are due to that s...ty
little country, Israel."
-- Daniel Barnard, French Ambassador to England. December 19, 2001.
He said it at a private home party in England. I heard that the hostess was
Jewish. And the next day, when the world media blasted him and Israel demanded
an apology and a reprimand, he said that he hadn't said anything that he needed
to apologize for. That's the way it was reported in Israel on the English news
on December 20th.
Living in Tsfat, the world's center of Kabbalah, I'd like to share with you
"the deepest secret", as Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach, z'l, would have said.
Kabbalistically, he is right. Now before you lose your temper, read on. Jews
are spiritually commited to be responsible for the whole world. We made that
commitment at Mt. Sinai, and every person with a Jewish mother and every Jewish
convert has inherited that responsibility, because all our souls were there
on Mt. Sinai and we accepted this responsibility. It is a binding contract that
follows us through all of our future reincarnations, as well as G-d's promise
that He will never destroy us and never forsake us.
The world depends on us keeping the Torah and the mitzvot, and establishing
this little microcosm of a model society to reveal how wonderful the world was
intended to be when people are loving and good.
When Jews do what is forbidden according to the teachings given us at Mt. Sinai,
there are far-reaching consequences that wreak havoc and literally tear the
universe apart. Now, the majority of Jews don't believe what I just said, and
there was a time when I didn't believe it either. But just like when you commit
a traffic offense, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
I know now that although I lived a pretty honest and hard-working life, all
those years when I was breaking mitzvot that I didn't even know existed, I left
a trail of destruction and debris that were the metaphyisical (kabbalistic)
spinoff of my innocent ignorance. It's sort of like when you are driving down
the road and suddenly loose control of the car and total it. The car is wrecked,
even though you didn't mean to do it. The difference is that spiritually, you
can total a car and not even know that you were driving. What car? It's invisible.
As far as you know, all you did was eat a cheeseburger, or drive to the mall
on Shabbat, or have relations with your spouse without knowing the laws of family
purity. All seems normal. Evreybody else does it, except for the Jewish religious
relative or friend who probably sent this to you. You hear on the news that
there was an earthquake in Guadamantrido, 9,000 miles away from you and 5,000
people, G-d forbid, died. You might even send money or blankets to help. But
if you are a Jew, your action could have caused that earthquake.
And the consequences are more personal than that too. We don't know which soul
sparks our soul spark is the most closely related to. We are all sparks of one
giant Jewish soul. But some sparks are closer to one another than others. So
here's why Jewish guilt refuses to die, no matter how many self-help books you
read or how many years you go for therapy. When one Jew does something good
or bad (there is no neutral) it affects every Jew in the world, especially those
Jews whose soul sparks are the most closely related to them, even if they have
never met them, don't know that they exist, are on different continents and/or
Giving generously, doing a kindness especially for another Jew, making peace
between two Jews, studying Torah (the Torah given on Mt. Sinai unedited for
political correctness), or having a true new insight into the Torah, saying
a prayer, saying a tehillim (psalm), learning Jewish halacha (law) or doing
any of the myriads of mitzvas (commandments) can literally and kabalistically
save lives, heal the sick, prevent natural disasters and stop wars, even wars
between nations that you never heard of. All the more so do Jewish actions
affect the welfare of Israel, the Jewish soil that corresponds to our Jewish
We create our enemies and all the bad things that happen in the world when
our behavior is unfitting for a Jew, although it might be perfectly acceptable
behavior for a non-Jew. That is because our soul is different, and so we are
spiritually allergic to things that a non-Jewish soul is not spiritually allergic
to. Our Jewish soul literally writhes in agony every time a mitzvah is broken
or a kindness is walked away from undone.
There is a happy ending, because Our Creator designed our universe for happy
endings. Our choice as Jews is whether to participate in bringing that happy
ending sooner by fulfilling the purpose for which we were created, or not to
participate. If we don't, we will have to endure, indeed we will cause, the
necessary suffering all over the world that is the purification process before
the happy ending. And we will be ashamed later when it is too late to participate
in the fixing of the world. That's free will. Either way, a day will come when
this world will be perfected, the One G-d of the Torah will be everyone's G-d,
and all will live in peace and joy.
Now we can reframe and only slightly edit the words of the French Minister
to Britain and see the truth and the beauty behind his rabid anti-Semitism:
"All the troubles (and joys) of the world are due to that ... little
country (and people), Israel."
Chana Besser was born in post-war Germany. She grew up in Chicago and rasied
daughters as a single mother in Denver, Colorado. Chana made aliyah in 1995
to Tsfat, where
she teaches, learns Torah, and occasionally writes.