With all the talk of Iran aiming to destroy the Jews, it easily brings to mind a previous group of psychopaths who were also bent on exterminating Jews. We called them Nazis.
They called themselves Aryans.
Hitler’s Germany believed their nation consisted of the purest members of the so-called Aryan race. They believed they were naturally superior to non-Aryans, especially Jews. And they were peculiarly obsessed with the notion that it was their historic duty to rid the world of Jews.
Like Nazi Germany, the Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei is also insanely obsessed with the destruction of the Jewish people.
Today’s Iran is really Persia. We all know that. And we all know Persia was called “Persia” for millennia, since biblical times. Yet why did Persia suddenly become “Iran” as it neared the middle of the twentieth century?
Here’s why. Two years after Hitler took power, Persia’s ruler, Reza Shah, was fascinated with Nazi Germany. He was especially fascinated with the concept of Aryanism. He considered Persians to be Aryans and not Arabs, and he wanted the world to know it. So in 1935, with the encouragement of Hitler’s Germany, he changed his country’s name to Iran.
The word “Iran,” in old Persian, means “Land of the Aryans.”
So now here we are in the early 21st century with yet another Land of Aryans calling for our extermination. Throughout the last few years, Achmadinejad said Israel should be wiped off the map and that the “solution” to the Middle East crisis is to eliminate Israel. You can imagine how proud his Nazi-Aryan predecessors would be.
Unlike Hitler’s Aryan Third Reich, though, today’s Land of Aryans is nuclear. And as if there’s any doubt that Iran is enriching uranium for the sole purpose wiping out Jews, the wife of recently slain nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan told Iran’s Fars News Agency a couple of months ago that “Mostafa’s ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel.” This Mostafa wasn’t merely a technician; he was a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, and his motivation for building Iran’s nuclear program was to destroy Israel.
Of course, Achmanejedad insists his country’s nuclear intentions are only peaceful.
And he’s not lying.
When we in the West hear the word “peace,” we think sunshine and rainbows and everyone getting along together. But that’s not what Achmadinejad means when he says the word “peace.”
To Achmadinejad, “peace” means an Israel-free world.
If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve read Josephus’s The War of the Jews.
Josephus reports nearly two thousand years ago that the Roman emperor Vespasian also believed peace meant the destruction of Jews and Israel. If you remember, Vespasian was the Roman emperor who, along with his son Titus, destroyed Judea and the Beit Hamikdash (our Holy Temple) in 70 C.E. Vespasian then ordered the erection of a pagan temple in Rome to boast of his defeat of the Jews (and to house the golden vessels of the Beit Hamikdash).
He didn’t call his temple “The Temple of Triumph.” Nor did he call it “The Temple of Victory.”
According to Josephus, he called it “The Temple of Peace.”
In the twisted minds of our enemies, peace is synonymous with our destruction. And now Achmadnejedad, president of The Land of the Aryans, also seeks what Vespasian and his son Titus accomplished.
The demise of the Land of Israel and the Jews.
Only like Hitler before him, the Holocaust-denying Achmadenedjad wants the destruction to be complete.
During a ceremony in March commemorating the 70th anniversary of Nazi-occupied France deporting its Jews to Auschwitz, famed Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld made the obvious comparison of Islamist fascists like Adhmadenedjad to Hitler. Klarsfeld said, “"The anti-Jewish hate that led these tens of thousands of victims to an atrocious death remains, alas, persistent and alive, even if it has changed its vector and Hitlerian ideology has been substituted by the most extremist fringe of Islam."
Germany, Iran-Persia, Rome, Russia (who supplies arms to Iran)—it seems as though the world’s about to boil over and all the Jew-hating flavors throughout the centuries are coming to a head all at once.
You don’t have to be a prophet to see the storm clouds gathering and feel the culmination of history in the air.
We Jews have been anxiously awaiting the Geula, our complete redemption from exile for more than two thousand years. And it looks like our wait is just about over. But as Rebbe Nachman told our generation more than two hundred years ago, there’s still one missing ingredient that keeps us Geula from coming.
Emuna — the complete faith in Hashem.
Rebbe Nachman said, “In essence, redemption is dependent on faith. The root cause of the exile is simply a lack of faith (Advice, page 7).” And since we’re still in exile, Rebbe Nachman is saying it means we still need to strengthen our emuna.
During the Gulf War, I was attending a baal teshuva yeshiva in Israel when yet another enemy tried to kill as many Jews as possible—and failed. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was lobbing missiles at heavily populated areas. Since we thoughtIraq had chemical weapons (and since chemical warfare is a particularly nasty way to die) we grabbed our gas masks and ran into our sealed rooms when the air raid sirens blew. It turned out the Iraqi warheads were never chemical, but we didn’t know that. And during one scud missile attack, a couple of my friends went up on the yeshiva’s roof to watch the fireworks show of missiles exploding at night. They were quickly reprimanded.
What was their excuse for putting their lives in danger?
“We have emuna and bitachon (trust) in Hashem,” they said.
One of the rabbis in the yeshiva then gave a lecture to nearly the entire student body on what emuna and bitachon really are. He said something to this effect: “Having emuna and bitachon doesn’t mean you can put yourself in danger because you believe Hashem will save you. Instead, it means you believe that the situation you’re already in is from Hashem.”
That Gulf War lesson stayed with me all these years: Everything, even the threat of chemical warfare, is from Hashem. And The Garden of Emuna adds that not only is everything from Hashem, but it’s also for our very best (even though we can’t understand it) and a message from Hashem for us to correct our souls, to do teshuva.
With the seemingly imminent nuclear war Adhmadenedjad’s “Land of the Aryans” is threatening us, as well as all the other heart-rending tragedies the Jewish people are currently going through, it seems pretty obvious we need emuna (and lots of it) more than ever.