Last week, my wife and I traveled to Houston to spend time with our children and grandchildren. On the way there, at LaGuardia Airport, we naturally had to spend time on the security line. (People forget that the whole need for airport security originated thanks to the PLO, a gift to the world.) While on a rather long line, one of the TSA agents announced that the next to be searched should be female.
Standing right in front of me was a heavyset African American male. I jokingly said to him that I think I’ll identify for the moment as a female. He responded with a belly laugh, although I didn’t think the joke was that funny.
Now I’m sure many of you are wondering why I am mentioning the man’s race. (Maybe some of you are wondering why I am mentioning his gender.) The reason I mention race is because it is no secret that most African Americans, like most Jews, are very liberal in their voting habits. So, making that remark to him I knew came with some risk. But I also knew that most human beings, underneath it all, really know the truth. And the truth is that this whole business of “identifying” as male or female is absurd as it is unscientific.
In Parshas VaYeishev (B’reishis 39:10), we are told of the wife of Potifar, who made many efforts to seduce Yosef into sinning with her. According to the Midrash, she tried convincing Yosef that it was a great “mitzvah” for them to have a union. “And so it was: Just as she coaxed Yosef day after day, he would not listen to her…” The Chid”a, an 18th-century Italian gaon, explains that Yosef was able to determine that she was up to no good because evil needs to be repeated many times to be convincing. Good, on the other hand, has the ring of truth, which strikes immediately.
We are living in a world in which nonsense is repeated again and again until it ultimately becomes accepted as the truth. The absurd has finally made it to the normal.
Recently, someone who did a lot of good for the Torah community left this world. But he also led the way for some of the most liberal causes of his time. I would rather not detail them at this time out of respect for his soul. A person close to me remarked that what he did should not upset me, because most of that legislation does not directly affect the Orthodox community.
I disagree. Most of that legislation is built on one absurdity on top of another. He is she. She is he. He can marry him. She can marry her. Hatred is love and love is hatred. Criminals are good and civil people are privileged racists. The list goes on.
In this kind of environment, with thinking completely perverse, Jews are now known as oppressors, even as the facts are known otherwise. Amnesty International, the supposed universally respected monitor of human rights, issued a report stating that Israelis are bigoted rulers. Never mind that the current Knesset contains a major Arab party, and there is a Muslim Supreme Court Justice. Whoopie Goldberg on “The View” asserts that the Holocaust was not about race, just about human beings doing evil things to other human beings. And the “nodding seals” on the panel gesture with pompous approval. Jews are taken hostage in a synagogue by a Muslim, and we are concerned with Islamophobia.
Yes, the absurdity of the liberal agenda does affect us all. It lays the fertile soil for the perversity to thrive. And it is coming to bite us.
Yet, there is another truth that we need to proclaim repeatedly: Jews really can get along. In Houston this was on full display. The Young Israel of Houston works in partnership with the Lakewood Kollel there. In fact, the Kollel is situated in the Young Israel building. On Shabbos, the Mi SheBeirach for Israel and the IDF is recited. The rabbi, Rabbi Yehoshua Wender, is a Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim musmach. Of course, I need to mention our son-in-law Rabbi Naphtali Buchwald, assistant rabbi, and Rabbi Moshe Friedman (son-in-law of KGH’s Rabbi Marty and Yaffa Katz), who is the Kollel administrator to round it out.
I am glad the gentleman in LaGuardia laughed at my joke. My fervent hope is that the joke is not on us.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.