So what happens when a fly falls into a cup of coffee?
The Italian breaks the cup in a fit of rage. The German washes the cup, sterilizes it and brews a new cup. The Frenchman takes out the fly and drinks the coffee.... The Chinese eats the fly and throws away the coffee. The Russian drinks the coffee with the fly, since it was extra with no charge. The Israeli however sells the coffee to the Frenchman, the fly to the Chinese, the cup to the Italian, drinks tea instead, and uses the money to invent a device that prevents flies falling into coffee. Unfortunately, the Palestinian blames the Israeli for the fly falling, protests the aggression to the UN, takes a loan for more coffee from the EU, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, Frenchman, Chinese, German and the Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give away his cup of tea to the Palestinian.
This anecdote is an accurate depiction of ancient history and modern reality: When Jacob took from his older brother the birthright for a measly pot of stew, Eisav was accepting. But when Jacob “stole” the blessings, Eisav promises, “Let the days of mourning for my father draw near, [then] I will then kill my brother Jacob.”
Similarly, when Isaac was playing the holy Patriarch the locals were filled with goodwill. But as soon as he became a successful farmer, they turned decidedly UN-neighborly, contentious, and mad with envy. Why the switch? Eisav tolerates - even welcomes - a Jacob dedicated to the “birthright,” spirituality, Torah study, and ritual. Someone has to do it! Eisav especially likes it when it is done far away from him in Williamsburg, B’nei B’rak and Boro Park. But when Eisav observes Jacob’s ability to dress in his clothes, assume his persona, be business savvy, and become the wily hunter, this triggers his ire. How dare Jacob trespass the separation of church and state. When Jacob brings authentic Judaism to the public domain, to the mainstream, builds modern schools, puts up menorahs in malls, produces children who can navigate the halls of Princeton and the corridors of Capital Hill with a kippah and tzitzis, this bothers Eisav to his core. He feels threatened.
Ditto for Isaac when he transitions from the synagogue to the street or defenseless Jews during the Holocaust who evolved into Israelis who don the garb of Eisav and wield the sword.
Many people, well intentioned, don’t get it. The UN calls on Israel to show restraint. As long as Jacob is being a “good boy,” producing scholarly journals and Einsteins, Eisav’s hate is dormant. But when Jacob demonstrates his skill to better his competitor or fight his enemy, then Eisav cannot forgive the Jew.
It is time for us to let the world worry about the fly and for Jews to take care of Jews.
Thank you to my mentor Rabbi Denberg,
Thank you for reading my articles on www.examiner.com