Thursday, November 3, 2011


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Lech Lecha

7 MarCheshvan 5772/November 4, 2011

Do you have that one friend who always seems to be one step behind? He’s the person who is very sincere but a bit too gullible (the one who believes you when you tell him that they took the word ‘gullible’ out of the dictionary); the one who never laughs at a joke because he needs the punch line explained to him. He’s the fellow who just ‘doesn’t get it’ unless it’s spelled out for him.

But perhaps on some level that describes all of us.

In 1985, the U.S.S.R. was - as it had been since the conclusion of World War II - the United States’ most implacable foe. Behind what Churchill dubbed ‘the Iron Curtain’ was the joint forces of the communist world. Led by such nefarious leaders such as Lenin, Stalin, Malenkov, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev, it was an impenetrable power.

At the same time Saddam Hussein was the dictatorial ruler of Iraq, as he had been since 1973. He had instigated a war with neighboring Iran that caused the death of hundreds of thousands. Mummar Gaddafi was the tyrannical dictator who dominated Libya since 1969. He financed and supported Palestinian militant organizations against Israel, and was dubbed ‘Public Enemy number one’ by President Reagan.

If you would have told someone then that by the year 2011 the U.S.S.R would already be a historical entity for over two decades, that Saddam Hussein would have already been captured in a farm house, put on trial for his crimes against humanity, and subsequently executed, and that Gadaffi would be dragged out of a drainpipe by rebel forces who toppled his forty-year reign, and would be beaten and killed, they wouldn’t have believed you.

Add to that that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind responsible for the September 11th and America’s Most Wanted enemy since 1998, who was killed in his Abbotabad Mansion in a gutsy raid by American Marines that lasted just a few hours.

Dovid Hamelech stated, (Tehillim 49) “Do not fear when a man grows rich, when he increases the splendor of his house. For upon his death he will not take anything, his splendor will not descend after him.”

Saddam Hussein had a net worth of over two billion dollars, Gadaffi was worth an estimated one billion, and Bin-Laden had a net worth of about fifty million dollars. [The U.S.S.R was completely bankrupt when it disbanded under Gorbachev’s policy of Glasnost.]

In the last few years we have witnessed the incredible downfall of three powerful leaders and a world power, all of whom paralyzed their respective nations with intense fear and intimidation. They deified themselves to the masses and ensured everyone’s complete allegiance solely to them. Any opposition was brutally crushed and they inundated their masses with propaganda and lies. They maintained personal wealth that boggles the mind, living in palatial wealth while many of their subjects suffered abject poverty.

And now they are all dead, killed in a most ignominious fashion, and all of their decades of wealth, might, and power are gone too.

But that is all old news already. We want to hear the latest about the storm cleanup and what is happening in sports. Thank heaven the Giants didn’t lose to the winless Dolphins.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum