November 5, 2008

by Reb Yudel
Waiting for the sky to fall

This morning, 78 percent of us woke up with an unfamiliar companion: hope.

But what about the other 22%? Sure, we know the campaign pandered to fear, arguing Obama was untested, risky, might pressure Israel with the Palestinians, lead to disaster in the Middle East. Of course they would wake up this morning with a little fear.

So I figured. But that effort to empathize with political opponents did not prepare me to deal with the high-level paranoia that seems to be metastasizing in Orthodox Jewish circles.

Herewith, some species of Orthodox Jewish paranoia.


1) First is the fear that Obama is the new Hitler, the new Haman, and maybe -- though it requires some adjustments to traditional Jewish dogma -- the all-but-antiChrist.

From the Haredi Cross-Currents, Chava Willig Levy writes:

Even Obama acknowledges his "spooky good fortune."

It certainly looks as if God is guiding Mr. Obama straight to the White House. But if God is guiding his history, and ours, aren't we mere spectators forced to watch passively -- some might say helplessly --as it unfolds? Several of my coreligionists think so, fatalistically pointing to the fact that the secular date of Obama's breakthrough keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention -- July 27 -- coincided with Tisha B'Av, a fast day commemorating the many seismic tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.[...]

It looks as if the smooth-talking Haman, whose ambitions have been fulfilled at every turn, who has been blessed with "spooky good fortune," is destined to succeed. It looks as if God is guiding his
history so that he will have his way. But Mordechai knows that, at this juncture, fatalism would be fatal. He beseeches Esther to intervene, to help halt history in its tracks. And when she demurs, Mordechai upbraids her (Esther 4:14): "Who knows whether it was for just such an opportunity as this that you attained your royal position?"

In the absence of full disclosure, Esther has to resist her temptation to follow protocol, to be politically correct. But she accedes to Mordechai's demand only after he agrees to accede to hers (Esther 4:16): "Go and gather all the Jews in Shushan, and fast on my behalf for the three days...My maidens and I will also fast."

We have no Esther today. But over 2,400 years after she left the  world's stage, her example remains. We must emulate her two-pronged strategy: politics and prayer.

On his more modern Orthodox (albeit with intelligent design sympathies), the blogger known as Avakesh warned yesterday:

Leaders that arise from nowhere worry me. Ahashveirosh once used to be a stable boy (Megilla 12b) and Hitler was an unemployed painter. When Hashem brings someone out of nowhere to rule geat empires, I grow concerned about what He has in mind. These are messianic times and messianic times also bring forth false messiahs.
And at the uncensored, ultra-Orthodox watering hole Yeshiva World news, response to Obama's election included this eschatalogical musing that borders on parody:
Gittel this may not be Germany, but America is going to be the first country to go before Moshiach comes. Do you really intend to stay here for it's downfall?

Oh, and guys, OUR FEAR IS NOT UNFOUNDED! Yes, Kol Ma DiAvid Rachmanah L'Tav Avid, that's first and foremost, but that doesn't mean we have to walk blindly into a trap, Hashem gave us saichel for a
reason!If you want to know exactly why so many people are freaking out, well, I'll give you my reason. If you open up Sefer Yechezkel, the posuk that talks about Milchemes Gog U MaGog, if you take every seventh letter in that posuk, it spells out the name O-B-A-M-A.

Coincidents? I think not.

Moshiach is on his way here, we're standing at the precipice of the third world war.

Guys, I think we should all start being makpid on Seudas Melaveh Malkah, and start keeping a cheshbon hanefesh.

2) Then there's the bogus fear that Blacks are rising up against the Jews in all their latent anti-Semitism

On Yeshiva World News:
In 1984 when the Bobover Rabbi zt"l Rabbi Shlomo when he made a kinus
for the the holochust. He said we should not think that in America we
are secured we will have one day a BLACK president. His neveus became a
reality
Seen on Facebook:
this is an email I received from someone in NYC. It is disappointing to read this after such a historical night...

Tonite , I travelled to Yale University where I give my once a semester Torah class to Maimonides students. BH the class went well.. I then left the building with the Maimonides.Rabbis..

We saw and heard the revelry of the students celebrating the Obama victory. with their generous cups of beer in hand... We looked at one another.. and shrugged..

I proceeded to the New Haven train station to go back to NYC.. taking the 1130 P..M train.. tired and trying to discern what the victory meant for the Jewish people, the country.,and. the world..I heard the conductor, passengers and crew laughing celebrating the victory...none of which surprised me... and then 4 exuberant young people said to me ":you must be upset?"

" I asked why? "'

'they responded ," because Obama has won.".

again I asked why should I be upset?"

" because you are Jewish"..they answered..

I answered , "did u know that polls have said aprox 80 % of Jews most likely voted for Obama"

they replied.. "but you are religious!".

I replied with disbelief..,"what .??

They responded " the majority of religious JEWS were supporting McCain.".

I asked.."how do u know that?

"everyone knows that" they said."." Religious Jews know that the day of their power and their ruination of WALL STREET IS OVER.,. CHANGE IS COMING.,. OBAMA HAS PROMISED THIS."

They walked away..

I felt sick,.. and thought.. wow so maybe this is how the chapter for American Jews is.ending..
Received by direct email:
I was waiting to cross Broadway on 42nd street when I was approached by a rather large, smelly,  toothless, homeless guy (who happened to be a black man).  When I shook my head "no" in response to  his request for money he responded that Jews never give him money (how he can  know that I'm not sure as less than 10% of the Jewish population actually wear Kippot).  He then started saying that, now that there's a Black President,  things are going to be different and how "we're gonna bomb Israel" (he said this  twice).  Now I am sure that this guy is crazy and his anti-semitic views  don't reflect the feelings of the vast majority of Obama supporters  (heck, I'm sure  that they don't even represent the views of the vast majority of large,  smelly, toothless, homeless people)  but I can't help  but be upset by his words.   I've always felt that the future of the Jewish
people does not lie in Teaneck, Brooklyn or the Five Towns.  I don't feel "at home" here.  I think that we are in for a rough stretch.

Obviously, not every Orthodox Jew shares these sentiments or voted for McCain, though Orthodox Obama supporters feel enough of a minority to form a Facebook group, I voted for Obama and Yes, I'm still Frum. In a pre-election survey only 1/6 of Yeshiva University students were for Obama, with 2/3 for McCain. Yes, only slightly less popular among evangelical Jews than among evangelical Christians. For both communities, it will be interesting to see what happens if Obama suprises them and turns out to be simply an American president without eschatalogical implications.

I'd like to think that come 2012, relieved McCain voters will vote for Obama.  Perhaps in numbers sufficient to outweigh all the anti-Semites Obama disappointed today by naming a former Israeli soldier Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff.

(h/t SR, DK)

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