Israel Forever

For the week ending 15 January 2005 / 5 Shevat 5765

A Reminder from Outsiders

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Sometimes it takes an "outsider" to remind us of our need for recognizing that G-d runs the world.

At a recent conference on religious freedom in America held at Manhattans Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia compared the attitudes of European countries towards religion with that of the U.S.

"The founding fathers never used the phrase separation of church and state," he declared in his argument that the rigid separation practiced in Europe would be bad for America and bad for the Jews. He pointed to the experience of Jews in Europe as proof of his point.

"You will not hear the word G-d cross the lips of a French premier or an Italian head of state," he added, "but that has never been the American way."

This seems to echo what the servants of Pharaoh said to him as recorded in this weeks Torah portion. After Moshe warned the Egyptian ruler that unless he released his Hebrew slaves G-d would devastate his land with a plague of locusts, they cried out: "Send these people away to serve the L-rd, their G-d. Dont you yet realize that Egypt is lost?"

In the homeland of the Jews we should not need any reminders about G-d from Egyptian advisers or Italian judges. We have our own Torah and our own history to remind us of our need to depend on serving G-d as the best guarantee for Israel forever.

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