Some years ago, a prominent American Christian Evangelical minister proclaimed that “God does not hear the prayers of Jews.” This statement obviously did not sit well with Jews, or with vast numbers of non-Jews who resented the arrogant self-righteousness of that minister. How did he dare to speak as though he knew God’s policies about hearing prayers?
The great American writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, made an important observation: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” This is not only a truism, but a tremendous challenge.
One idea: The recent deal with Iran is a disaster for the Western World and an immediate threat to Israel. Iran will continue with its nuclear aspirations, and enjoy an economic boom that will enable it to increase its support of terrorism throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Painting Israel into a Corner
As many of us feared, the Iran Deal has become more and more problematic for Israel on many fronts. President Obama has stated that “the whole world” favors this deal, and only Israel is in opposition. (Whether this is true or not doesn’t really matter. If President Obama repeats it often enough it becomes “true” in the media and in public perception).
A recent article in New York’s Jewish Week quoted an elderly man who said that lately he wakes up in the middle of the night “feeling terrible, depressed—I’ve never felt this bad.” This man had been a major financial supporter of his synagogue for many years.
He had attended daily services, was active on the Board, and played a key role in many synagogue activities. Now, at age 90, he is bitterly depressed. He didn’t pray at his synagogue on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but attended a “break-away” congregation.
A story is told of an incident on a bus in Jerusalem. A pretty young lady got on the bus and sat down in a vacant seat next to a Hareidi rabbi. The rabbi arose in a huff and walked quickly away from the woman. At the next stop, a Sephardic rabbi got on the bus. Seeing the empty seat next to the young lady, he sat down. The young lady was perplexed. She asked the rabbi sitting next to her: “When I sat down next to a Hareidi rabbi, he got up and stomped away from me. But you’re also a religious man, and yet you sat down next to me. How do you explain this?” The Sephardic rabbi replied: “That Hareidi is a rabbi. I am a Hakham!”
(Pinchas Landau is an economist and writer, living in Jerusalem.)