What were the chances that our father, Avraham, would have a son at the age of 100?
What were the chances that Yitzchak would emerge unscathed from the Akeidah, after his father “reached out and took the slaughtering knife to slit his son’s throat”?
What were the chances that Yaakov would successfully “steal” the brachah from Eisav and get away with it? After all, Eisav was a hunter and promised to “kill my brother, Yaakov”…yet he didn’t.
What were the chances that Tamar, who was rejected by her father-in-law, Yehudah, would have a baby – with Yehudah! – and would ultimately become the ancestor of King David and the Mashiach!
What were the chances that Yosef would survive a pit full of snakes and scorpions, and – while in the dungeons of Egypt – rise to become the second most powerful man in the world?
What were the chances that Pharaoh, who said, “Every boy who is born must be cast into the Nile” – because he was afraid that one of them would redeem the Jews – would actually be the one who raised that very boy!
I could give dozens of similar examples, throughout Tanach, where the odds were heavily stacked against our leaders and our nation… but those leaders and that very special nation survived and thrived. Our Temples were desecrated and destroyed, our prophets were thrown in jail, our rabbanim were executed, our chasidic masters were imprisoned, our Talmud was burned, our yeshivos were turned into factories, our shuls were bombed, and tens of millions of our brothers and sisters were brutally murdered… yet our nation is alive and well!
We defy the odds! The Jewish Nation, starting way back with Avraham and Sarah, are clearly different from all others. Despite the tragedies and mass extermination, we always found a way to get off the ground and wipe away the dirt. Yes, we mourned and cried and sat shiv’ah more than we should have, but we took our inspiration from the few examples listed above. The 100-year-old Avraham never gave up his dream of having a son and, years later, that same son did not give up hope when a knife was about to slit his throat. Yosef had every reason in the world to be depressed, as did Tamar, Ruth, Aharon, Mordechai and Esther, David, Judah Maccabee, Rabbi Akiva, and countless others. These heroes bravely fought the enemy – and some paid with their lives – but we are here today as living proof that their fight was well worth it!
Fast forward a few thousand years… to the 1940s, when we know exactly what happened. Simply put: No other nation would have been able to rise from those ashes, yet – with the entire world watching – we refused to be knocked out. As difficult as it was, we stood erect, established an army, and defeated five Arab countries who were fighting with experienced, well-trained, and well-equipped soldiers! The young IDF had little training, almost no planes, little ammunition, and a weapon called the Davidka, which made a lot of noise – and nothing else. Yet, once again, we defied the odds – not only in that war, but in several more in the years to come.
We then dried swamps, built homes, made the desert bloom, and opened the door to 688,000 new immigrants (more than double our population) in the first 3.5 years of our existence! We continued to build and became a world leader in technology, medicine, agriculture, science, and education. We set up thousands of new yeshivos and proudly boast of more Torah learning than ever before in Jewish history!
We defied the odds before and, baruch Hashem, we defied the odds again. We are clearly the “longshot” in every bet, yet we come through time and time again. Nothing I have written should surprise you; it’s all clear and documented. So why this article? Simple: To combat all the negative. Everything I read focuses on the problems in our community, the divisiveness, the in-fighting and the name-calling. Article after article talks about this crisis, or that disaster. Millions of words have already been written (with millions more to come) about the problems with the Israeli government or the IDF. People kvetch about yeshivah tuition, the high cost of kosher food, rising anti-Semitism, the BDS, and everything else under the sun.
To all these people, I stay stop! I agree that there are problems – and some are very serious – but we defy the odds! We will beat those problems and overcome the challenges. Don’t harp on what’s wrong all the time, as if there’s no hope in sight. We are the 4,000-year-old Jewish nation with tons of experience in emerging victorious from battles where others have walked away. We don’t get depressed, discouraged, or filled with despair. We are the Chosen Nation – the representatives of Hashem in the world – and we defy the odds! Stay strong, my brothers and sisters, and let’s fight these battles together – with bitachon in our hearts and smiles on our faces!
Am Yisrael Chai!
Shmuel Sackett is a 100% product of Queens. He was born in Middle Village and moved to KGH shortly before his bar-mitzvah. He graduated from YCQ (1975) and YHSQ (1979). He was Havurat Yisrael’s first Youth Director (4 years) and started the first 2 NCSY chapters in Queens. Shmuel made aliyah in 1990 and co-founded Manhigut Yehudit, together with Moshe Feiglin. His website is www.JewishIsrael.org Sackett is married with 6 children and 4 grandchildren. He lives in Herziliya Pituach.