Friday, February 25, 2022

New World Disorder

The world has entered a very dark era and no one knows how this will end. As Russia invaded Ukraine in an offensive and unprovoked attack, this marks the first major war on European soil since World War Two. Despite the worried anticipation leading up to the military attacks, now that the time of peril has arrived, people are in shock and disbelief. Tens of millions of Ukrainians including the thousands of Jews have their lives upended in too many ways to count. Beyond the staggering cost of the lost lives, the ramifications of this conflict are likely to trigger a financial and refugee crisis. There will be far-reaching economic consequences felt here in America. Some people have questioned how such a war in which we witness a return to an authoritarian conquest can occur in the year 2022. The uncomfortable question that we are confronted with is has the world has returned to its pre-World War II state in which the strong take advantage of the weak, and authoritarians are on the march? This disturbing development is just the latest in a string of smashed illusions of the Western world we thought was living in an era of a permanent state of peace and prosperity. On September 11, 2001, we woke to a shattered illusion of the immunity to mass terror and mayhem on American soil. As the years went on and the country tried to rehabilitate itself, it was hit with the financial crisis of 2008. The vaunted financial sector quickly unraveled and the effects were felt well beyond Wall Street. As the country recovered once again, people were feeling giddy about a rising stock market and newfound prosperity. The good times didn’t last for too long. In 2020, the world was hit with COVID, and this time the modern world including the United States realized the vulnerability of its public health infrastructure. A mere two years later the latest bubble has burst. This time with a nuclear power pummeling its way through a weaker neighbor and its menacing presence threatens not just Ukraine but the entire world. (Many have taken notice of the reluctance of Israel to condemn Russia. This is attributed to how beholden Israel is to Russia as it seeks to eliminate terror in Syria and Russia controls the airspace of Syria.) In 20 relatively short years, the great might of the American military, its vaunted economy, and public health infrastructure have sadly unraveled. As the Talmud teaches us, we are living in the days of each day the curse is greater than the previous day. The Talmud cites the verse from the Torah which states בַּבֹּקֶר תֹּאמַר מִי־יִתֵּן עֶרֶב וּבָעֶרֶב תֹּאמַר מִי־יִתֵּן בֹּקֶר. This translates as “in the morning one will say what will the evening bring and in the evening one will say what will the morning bring”. As the Talmud states in these uncertain times, it’s becoming more clear by the second that, we have no one but to rely on other than our Father in Heaven. Let us engage in serious reflection and prayer to the עושה שלום במרומיו or the One who makes peace above to usher in an era of permanent peace for the weary who are beleaguered with uncertainty. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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