3 Shvat 5781 / Saturday, January 16, 2021 | Torah Reading: Va'era
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Too Much to Bear    

Too Much to Bear

Several groups of men were enjoying lively conversations during the repetition of the Shemona Esrai, speaking as loudly as they would in a boardroom or a gym…


Don’t take my word for it that Jews may not be safe in America; take the Riminov Rebbe’s.


Back in March, the Riminov Rebbe warned there will be a war in the near future and that the U.S “will be a place of danger” for Jews.


As quoted on the JP Updates website, he elaborated that “…it is still too early to say which states within the United States will survive, but many parts will be destroyed and poisoned, even civil war will break out in the United States and states will cut themselves off from the federal government. The US may not be used as a refuge but there will remain here survivors…. “


If this dire forecast takes place, will the United States protect its Jewish citizens?


Vice President Joe Biden says no.


Speaking to a group of Jewish leaders and officials in 2015, Biden said American Jews can’t rely on America for safety. This was his statement to American Jews: "You understand in your bones that no matter how hospitable, no matter how consequential, no matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved you are in the United States...there’s only one guarantee. There is really only one absolute guarantee, and that’s the state of Israel.”


Translation: The second in command to the President of the United States is singling out American Jews and telling them not to expect their country to protect them from danger.


With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise, many American Jews already feel a sense of danger, enough for a rising number of observant Jews to carry guns on Shabbat for protection. And that’s in addition to the local police in their patrol cars being stationed outside synagogues every Shabbat and Jewish holiday in such major cities as Chicago.


But as more synagogues in American cities need more protection, it’s what occurs inside of synagogues that can provide the real protection.


After the Holocaust, the Gerrer Rebbe, also known as the Imrei Emes, asked why the Sephardi Jews were spared from the horrors of the Holocaust, even though the Germans were in North Africa.


His answer? Sephardi Jews didn’t talk in the synagogue during prayers.


Meaning the mere act of refraining to join a conversation during prayers can save lives in times of danger. Today, this overlooked fact may be more relevant than ever as many authorities warn that Jews in America are facing great danger.


The Riminov Rebbe isn’t the only rabbinic leader predicting a grim scenario for American Jewry. The Kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Zev Leibowitz, among others, warned that the Jews in America will suffer a catastrophe.


With the Golden Age of American Jewry clearly ending (and Jewish history shows that every Golden Age ended badly), the climate is looking ripe for such predictions. It’s now commonplace in America to see swastikas spray painted on Jewish property, to hear angry calls to boycott Israel (which really means Jews) and to watch college campuses transformed into seething hotbeds for Jew hatred —  just as had happened in pre-Holocaust Europe.


Which stands to reason that since signs are indeed pointing toward danger, we could help save ourselves by remaining silent during prayers in shul.


Of all the transgressions in the world a Jew could possibly commit — from eating on Yom Kippur to committing adultery — the only one that the Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law) singles out as being “too much to bear” is talking in the synagogue during the repetition of the Shemona Esrai prayer.


History unfortunately backs this up. The famous Tosefos Yom Tov (1579-1653) attributed the massacre of tens of thousands of Jews during the Chielminicki uprising of 1648-49 to the transgression of speaking during prayers in shul.


Our reverent silence during prayers, Rabbi Shimon Schwab once wrote, will “speak very loudly to Him Who holds our fate in His hands. Communicating with Hashem is our only recourse in this era of trial and tribulations.” And our era is definitely one of trial and tribulations.


So it was with astonishment that one Shabbat not too long ago, I found myself in an American synagogue that was far from silent during prayers. Several groups of men were enjoying lively conversations during the repetition of the Shemona Esrai, speaking as loudly as they would in a boardroom or a gym. The rabbi, who noticed what was going on, started walking around the shul with his forefinger covering his mouth and politely shushed the talkers. Some openly laughed at the rabbi while others mocked him.


Not a good sign.


If we strengthen our emuna that the Divine Presence dwells in the synagogue, that the synagogue is a miniature Jerusalem Temple and that our unnecessary speech during prayers drives away the Divine Presence when we need it most, perhaps then we’ll be quiet. And if we also take the Riminov Rebbe’s advice to “go to the Holy Land Israel as soon as possible while it is still is possible,” that would be even better yet.


Because the last thing we want is for the harrowing predictions of the Riminov Rebbe (and others) to materialize. That would be too much to bear.

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  4 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Golden age just beginning
Mrs. Y7/7/2017 6:38:55 AM
Anonymous,7/14/2015 5:27:45 AM
  The comment as to why why certain Jews were killed in Holocaust is not backed up by The Lubavitcher
Anonymous,7/6/2015 8:50:02 PM
  Howard Morton
yehuda7/5/2015 2:02:42 PM

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