are you an elephant?

Friday, 3 March, 2023 - 3:29 am

Legend has it that a few decades ago there was a secret competition between the intelligence agencies of Israel, the U.S. and the Soviet Union. An elephant was released in a thick forest, and the competition was who would find it first.

The CIA were the first to try. They used electronic sensors and drones, and found the elephant in two days.

The Mossad was next. They sent intelligence agents disguised as animals, used human information sources, and within less than 30 hours the elephant was located.

The last ones were the K.G.B. They went out to the forest, and came back in one day with a cat, saying: “He admitted he’s an elephant.”

A truly sincere admission carries a very deep meaning. No – I don’t mean an admission made during a police interrogation, or an admission before elections. I mean the kind of truly sincere acknowledgment that is expressed in a person’s deeds, behavior and entire existence.

The first time in the Bible the Jewish People are defined as “Yehudim” (Jews), is in the Purim Megillah – Megillat Esther. Until then, they are described as Bnei Yisrael, the People of Hashem, a holy nation etc. The word “Yehudi” has the meaning of “Hoda’ah” – admission, or acknowledgment. A Jew, in his inner being, acknowledges the existence of Hashem, and in his behavior he also proves that this is his very essence. That is also the inner essence of the Brit Milah that is marked in our flesh, and the clear message of the Mezuzah on our doorposts: Here lives a person who believes in Hashem, and therefore he has a piece of parchment with the sentence, “Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is One,” on the doorpost, at the entrance to the house.

In the Hitva’adut (Chassidic gathering) of Purim of 1969, the Rebbe quoted the verse from the Megillah, “A Jewish person was in Shushan the capital, and his name was Mordechai.” And the Rebbe went on to say, as a clear and eternal message to all of us, that when Mordechai was in Shushan the Capital, everyone knew immediately that he was Jewish – even before they knew that “his name was Mordechai.” Even from afar they could see that the person they were seeing was Jewish.

In other words, when you walk down the street, do not be ashamed of who you are. You can let people know you’re Jewish without them having to use electronic sensors, secret agents or the K.G.B.

The days are past when we would be embarrassed, hide ourselves or hide our identity; because a Jew “neither kneels nor bows down.”


Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim!


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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