The Talmud (tractate Shabbos 33.2) relates that Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Shimon were once seated together, and with them was Yehuda ben Geirim. Rabbi Yehuda opened the debate and stated: ‘How beautiful are the works of this nation (the Romans). They have built market places, bridges, and bathhouses’. Rabbi Yossi remained silent. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai responded saying: “All that they have built has been for their own benefit. They built markets for women of ill repute; bathhouses to pamper themselves; bridges in order to exact taxes”.
|Remains of Roman Bridge|
Yehuda ben Geirim left and repeated their discussion, which came to the attention of the Roman Empire. The authorities announced: ‘Yehuda who promoted, shall be promoted, Yossi who was silent shall be exiled to Tzipori, Shimon who disparaged shall be killed. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was forced to be a fugitive and remain concealed in a cavern.
Why does the Talmud relate this introduction to Rabbi Shimon’s words which resulted in his having to remain concealed? We have here a teaching how the Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai) related to the acts of the nations, and the kind of tribulations which result from relying on the ‘kindness of the nations (which is) a sin’.
As in those days, so it is in our time. All the anguish that exists today is because for many years there has been ongoing dismissals that there is nothing to fear from the Arabs who want to exterminate us. Amongst the gentiles, they believe, are our ‘good friends’ in Washington who will not permit even one Arab to harm Israel, as our Sages have stated: ‘we have a sister in the Palace’. This makes no sense. There are eighty million Arabs, haters of the Jewish Nation who rise up to annihilate us. Regardless, there are those (in the government of Israel) who argue there is nothing to fear. Not because we are reliant on G-d, but because we rely on a gentile in Washington who will do all within his power not to permit harm to Israel. They do not pray to G-d to guard us. The only act which they do perform is to flatter the gentile so that he will agree to help. Moreover, they are sure that the gentile will sacrifice his life to save Jews. Israel relies on the USA who, they believe, will intervene at all costs and therefore Israel does everything to find favor in her eyes. The reason for this is, as the Talmud states, ‘one who faults [miscalculates] others [will himself miscalculate] has the same fault’.
Jews fall before and flatter the gentile to such an extent, that when they see a gentile, they beg him to go to the Holy Land and assure him that they will register him as a Jew. He anticipates that the gentile will conduct himself with him to the point of self-sacrifice. Their reliance is with closed eyes. An entire calamity is unfolding. They have forgotten that the gentile is no more than an axe in the hands of the quarryman (Zohar, Bereishis 36.1) which can do no more than the wood chopper commands, forgetting that there is a wood chopper analogous to G-d Himself, forgetting the laws [Jewish lifestyle] which He has commanded us to keep.
Rather, they search to find favor in the eyes of the axe itself, which is total nonsense! This is the cause for all the troubles. The gentile does what he pleases with no consideration of the good for the Jews. The Israel government calls this ‘independence’– having the freedom to do as they please. Yet never has there been such a situation of such reliance on the nations as now. This is where it has brought them – all those that argue that they are independent – to a conduct of running after (and begging) the nations!
Public discourse Parshas Emor 1974