Friday, March 26, 2010

Is March Madness really about Basketball?

As the grass gets greener, and the days get longer, Northerners make plans to head back north, managers and coaches shore up their pitching staffs, regulars start playing seven innings and 40 year old veteran hangs 'em up for good while the twenty-one year old phenom from Waxahatchee Creek tries to navigate the press corps that he will hopefully face daily for the next ten years.  What Spring Training does, better than anything, is prepare us for Summer.  Warmer days, swimming pools, family picnics and the Fourth of July.  July 1st in Canada; le 14eme en France.  All in all, and wherever we live, these days all celebrate independence.  Freedom.

In our Jewish world, however, one day ranks even higher than Canada Day or the 4th of July. That day, this coming Tuesday, is the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. We are commanded on this day to observe, recall, remember and finally to celebrate our Exodus from Egypt and our liberation from bondage and slavery fashioned by G-d’s strong hand and outstretched arm, and the actions of His chosen messenger, Moshe Rabeinu, Moses.

On Monday evening, around the world, we will gather with family and friends. We will listen intently as the youngest at the table recites the “four questions”, which is really one question, “Why is this night different from all other nights”, and four reasons why it is different. The leader will then guide his or her guests through the telling and retelling of the story of the Exodus, and then, after two of our 4 required cups of wine, we will eat a delicious meal, sing some songs, eat dessert and finally, at the end of the night, we will proclaim: Le Shana haBaa b’Yerushalayim, Next Year in Jerusalem.

My question today is: Do we really mean it?

I mean… If we mean it every year… I guess I am really asking: If we mean it; Next Year in Jerusalem; why are we still not in Jerusalem? Why do we remain in Arizona or New York, or Los Angeles, Montreal, Sydney or Paris?

Just yesterday, a friend and I were talking and we were wondering if the Province of British Columbia or the Dominion of Canada had to ask for or receive permission from the “Temporary Tenant” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW to build the beautiful new buildings and neighborhoods in Vancouver that were introduced to us during their tremendous production of the Winter Games last month. If so, why did we not hear about it, and if not, why not? If Canada does not need permission from Mr. Osama, I mean Obama, why should Israel? We are sovereign nations. In fact, come to think of it, the world is full of sovereign nations that seem to be bossed around by this Country. Why is that?

This being the case, again, I ask: If we mean what we say, why are we still here?

You may recall that a few weeks ago, I recounted, quoted and showered British journalist Chris Roycroft-Davis and his piece called “WHY CAN'T THIS COUNTRY FOLLOW ISRAEL'S LEAD?” As is often the case, I received quite a bit of e-mail over the several days following publication of that Column, most positive, and one, from a Real Estate Developer in Hurst, Texas that I must share with you. Initially, I was going to share his name, address, phone number and every other way to reach him that he posted for all to see, but in reality, he just isn’t worth the bother. What he wrote, however, is. (Please note that he makes reference to a Jewish man in Los Angeles, whose name I have deleted and replaced with XXX).

From: Unnamed Reader in Hurst, Texas
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 9:06 AM
Subject: RE: A British Journalist's viewpoint...

I read your article with great interest. I support Israelis position and have always wanted Israel to pop them every time. But, I have to say I have dealt with several Jewish people in my business over the years and the experiences have been not good. Just this past year I settled a lawsuit with a XXXX XXXXX of L.A. I have never been so screwed. While this guy was screwing me he was praying several times a day. XXXXX would not say crap if his mouth was full of it but he would screw you out of everything you have and now regret it one bit. This may be the problem that causes the Jewish people to suffer so much… I have heard that the Jewish faith feel they can cheat everyone out of their possessions and not be sinning because it is just business and be forgiven the first of each year… I am not racist that is just a plain fact. I have had dealing with about 250 of them and I got took every time.

Is this “Public Opinion”? Are opinions like this reader’s popular to the point that the “Temporary Tenant” of Pennsylvania Avenue NW is more interested in where Israel builds Jewish housing than housing his own Citizenry?

If so, I must ask another question. An important question that each of us as Jews must take a moment to contemplate: If this “administration” is so concerned with Jewish housing in another country (Israel), what does he really feel about us taking up housing in this country? In short, I ask: Are we safe?

In Europe of the late 1920’s and 1930’s, we felt safe. Were we safe? Are we safe now?

At the end of the Seder, when we proclaim “Next Year in Jerusalem”, it is because we are commanded to return to Zion; to Jerusalem. Could the time be now? Could we do worse than Jerusalem? In the words of Sarah Palin: You betcha!

As March becomes April; the NCAA Basketball tournament heats up with new heroes born on late night television every weekend in an event called "March Madness", and I look at the activities of this past week and wonder if "March Madness" is really about the Basketball, or is the madness this March more about the rest of the world?

And, in this madness, where does Jerusalem sit? I believe that she sits waiting for us with open arms to golden walls. And, if you ask me further, I believe that G-d is ready once again to bring us from the bondage of “Galut”, of Diaspora, and to return us with a strong hand and outstretched arm to our freedom once again. To Eretz Zion, Yerushalayim.

When we sit with our families and friends next week and proclaim “Le Shana haBaa b’Yerushalayim”, let’s mean it. There is space enough for all of us. Whether Mr. Osama Obama gives us permission to build or not.

Hashata HaCha, This year we are here;  LeShana b'Araa DYisrael, May we all be in the Land of Zion.  Our land.  Jerusalem of Gold awaits.

From the Emek in the Midbar, I Send you my love and blessings; Ahavah u'Vrachot...

--Rabbi Alan Abrams

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