Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, May 29, 2022
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
RR – 5/29/22 Lest We Forget II by Dr. Raymond Finney
ON “VACATION:” For several reasons, Linda and I have not had a true vacation in many years. Upon starting to write this week’s RR, I was consumed with laziness. I thought, “I need a short vacation.” My “vacation” is to revise a RR I wrote last year for Memorial Day. By the way, Linda and I are having a great “vacation.” This RR is your “wish you were here” postcard. Surprisingly, though, as I look out the window of my vacation rental home, the beach looks exactly like my front yard.
SAD TRUTH ABOUT AMERICANS’ VIEW OF FREEDOM: “Lest we forget” is an oft-quoted phrase, including a line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Recessional” (1897): “Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, lest we forget– lest we forget!” We Believers have much to hold fast in memory, including freedom and the men and women who died and bled to secure that freedom for us. Unfortunately, our freedoms are being rapidly eroded, and the men and women who secured and continue to secure that freedom are held in contempt by many.
SIDELIGHT: I digress to mention how we Believers are remembered by God. God keeps “books” on His children (see: Exodus 32:32, Psalms 56:8 and 69:28; Daniel 7:10 and 12:1; and Revelation 13:8 and 20:15.) Our God of infinite wisdom does not need “books,” but they are kept for our benefit. At the time the Bible was written, “books” were not readily available. Depending on definition of “book,” historians date the first books to the Epic of Gilgamesh (eighteenth century B.C.), the Holy Bible– the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century AD), or the Gutenberg Bible (AD 1454-1455). In ancient (Biblical) times, records were written on papyrus or parchment scrolls. Whether God’s records are written in ancient scrolls or modern books is immaterial.
The most important book (scroll) is the Lamb’s Book of Life. (See: What Does the Bible Say About The Lambs Book Of Life? (openbible.info) .) Only if one’s name is inscribed in this Book will he/ she gain entry into Heaven. But, there is also a Book of Remembrance. In human history, the kings of Persia kept such books to record the deeds of servants (subjects) who had rendered special service to the king, that they might be rewarded. In the Tanakh, an example of this activity is found in Esther 6:1-3. Yeshua spoke of future rewards and punishments (for example, Matthew 10:42, Mark 9:41, Luke 6:23, Revelation 22:12).
Malachi wrote about a record book (summarized in Malachi 3:13-18): “Your words against Me are grievous,” says Adonai. Yet you say: “What did we say against You?” You say: “Serving God is worthless.” Also: “What good is it that we kept His service or that we walked as mourners before Adonai-Tzva’ot? So now we are calling the proud blessed. Those who practice iniquity are built up. Indeed, they have tested God, and escaped!” Then those who revere Adonai spoke with each other, and Adonai took notice and heard, and a scroll of remembrance was written before Him, for those who revere Adonai, even those who esteem His Name. “So they shall be Mine,” – says Adonai-Tzva’ot “in the day I make My own special possession. So I will spare them, as one spares his son serving him. Then you will return and distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” [Adonai-Tzva’ot = “Lord of Hosts.”]
God remembers deeds. Many have asked or wondered why good people suffer and bad people prosper. They fail to realize that the present (earthly) life is only temporary– a brief trial or prelude for the future. Every person, whether righteous or evil, is assured of only two things– first, death; then, judgment (Hebrews 9:27). At judgment, the good person will be rewarded and the evil person, punished. Judgment evens out life’s inequities. In eternity, the good person will rejoice for his/ her good life, even the hard times he/ she endured. In eternity, the evil person will mourn his/ her evil ways and, through weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, regret lost opportunities to believe in and serve God.
No one escapes the rewards or punishments of the Divine Judge. (Galatians 6:7-10): Do not be deceived– God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he also shall reap. For the one who sows in the flesh will reap corruption from the flesh. But the one who sows in the Ruach will reap from the Ruach eternal life. So let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good toward all– especially those who belong to the household of faith. END sidelight.
HISTORY OF AMERICA’S MEMORIAL DAY: Tomorrow– Monday, May 30– is celebrated in America as Memorial Day. Memorial Day (originally Decoration Day), an American holiday observed by statute on the last Monday in May, is set aside to honor and mourn the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Two other days are set aside to honor our military:
● Armed Forces Day, not an official federal holiday (observed earlier in May), recognizes men and women currently serving in military uniform; and
● Veterans Day (always observed on November 11) honors all who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
Memorial Day– observed first as Decoration Day, later as Confederate Memorial Day– started in the South toward the close of the Civil War. Southern women decorated the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers with flowers and used the occasion to tend to any disrepair of cemeteries. The idea later took root in the North. Still later, it became a national holiday.
ESTIMATE OF AMERICA’S WAR DEAD: More than 1.1-million American men and women have died in military combat. Deaths of Americans in major wars we have fought include:* **
● American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) – 4,435 deaths
● War of 1812 (1812-1814) – 2,260 deaths
● Mexican War (1846-1848) – 13,283 deaths
● Civil War (1861-1865) – 618,000 deaths***
● Spanish-American War (1898) – 2,446 deaths
● World War I (1917-1918) – 116,516 deaths
● World War II (1941 -1945) – 405,399 deaths
● Korean War (1950 – 1953) – 36,574 deaths
● Vietnam War (1955, 1964-1975) – 58,220 deaths
● Gulf War (1990-1991) – 383 deaths
● Iraq/ Afghanistan War (2001 – 2021) – 6,773 deaths
* War dead are estimates. There may be under-counting. For example, a wounded soldier may return live from the theater of war, only to die later from his/ her injuries. I do not know if these statistics include veterans’ suicides (see: 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report (va.gov) ).
** Some authors include other war dead, such as, casualties of Indian wars and war by terrorists (the 9/11 attacks on the Trade Center Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the downed airliner in Pennsylvania). See: United States military casualties of war – Wikipedia .
*** Civil War casualties include both Federal (North) and Confederate (South) soldiers. Some authors estimate the total Civil War casualties as high as 750,000.
With regard to American military casualties, the deadliest battles have been:
● In the Civil War, more than 7,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died in the Battle of Gettysburg; and
● In World War I, more than 26,000 American soldiers died in the Battle of Argonne Forest (record losses of American military personnel in all wars).
MEMORABLE MEMORIAL DAY SPEECHES: Memorial Day is a day which attracts politicians to display their patriotism and oratorical skills. I include four memorable Memorial Day speeches from: (https://www.christianpost.com/news/5-memorable-memorial-day-speeches-in-american-history.html):
● Ronald Reagan (president, at Arlington National Cemetery, 1982): “Earlier today, with the music that we have heard and that of our National Anthem– I can’t claim to know the words of all the national anthems in the world, but I don’t know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does: ‘Does that flag still wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?’ That is what we must all ask.”
● Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Civil War veteran and future Supreme Court justice, at Keene, NH, 1884): “So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly…. But grief is not the end of all. I seem to hear the funeral march become a paean. I see beyond the forest the moving banners of a hidden column. Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death– of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.”
● Calvin Coolidge (then, vice president, shortly before becoming president at the death of Warren G. Harding, Northampton, MA, 1923): Coolidge, often a civic educator, stressed the importance of American ideals and sacrifice in his remarks. He honored America’s fallen and Memorial Day by saying we set the day apart “to do honor to all those, now gone, who made the cause of America their supreme choice.” Coolidge quoted John 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
● James A. Garfield (Civil War veteran; then, Ohio Congressman; from first Memorial Day address at inauguration of Arlington National Cemetery, 1868): “I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion…. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.”
THE COST OF AMERICA’S VIGILANCE– “JUST ENOUGH GROUND TO BURY OUR WAR DEAD:” In defending the liberty of nations around the world, the United States has lost the lives of many of our young men and women and has spent much of our national treasury. America has become the policeman of the world. Yet, America is hated by many nations for our “militaristic” activities. These “militaristic” activities are the reasons why swastikas do not fly over Paris, why there are still living Jews in Europe, and why we are not all part of the Third Reich.
When then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke in Switzerland in 2003, the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, asked Powell a touchy-feely, “gotcha” question: Does the United States rely too much on “hard power” [military action], as opposed to “soft power” [appealing to the common values of the major religions and building trust based on those values]?Powell responded by affirming the values of “soft power,” but added it was the “hard power” of the military that, for example, helped free Europe so that the “soft power” of peace and reconstruction could take place. Powell added, “We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek… to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.”
I wish Powell had included in his answer Festus’ accusation of Paul (Acts 26:24-25): As Paul was thus making his defense, Festus says with a loud voice, “You’re crazy, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!” But Paul declares, “I am not insane, most noble Festus! Rather I am speaking the sober truth.” Archbishop Carey was a scholarly man, but his question of Colin Powell marked him as being nuts. His years of scholarly study of arcane aspects of faith had caused him to lose sight of the real world in which we live. (Recall the bumper sticker popular in the past: “Liberalism is a mental disorder.”)
SIDELIGHT: The United States has been denounced for dropping two atomic bombs on Japan in August, 1945. An estimated 140,000 of Hiroshima’s population and 74,000 of Nagasaki’s population died in the two bombings. As horrendous as this number may seem, millions of lives were saved, had the American military attacked Japan in a traditional invasion. It is estimated that the nuclear attacks saved up to 500,000 American military lives and millions of Japanese civilian lives. Fanatic Japanese civilians would have fought to the death to protect their emperor. Anti-war protesters again get it wrong. END sidelight.
All of us want peace. I personally believe we will not have peace until the Prince of Peace, Yeshua HaMashiach, returns to defeat war and evil at the Battle of Armageddon. This belief is shared by Yeshua and other prophets. Armageddon may not be too far away. Bo, Yeshua, Bo! Maranatha! Until Yeshua’s return, it is appropriate that we fight for peace and honor the men and women who sacrifice lives and limbs for that peace.
Perhaps, Abraham Lincoln said it best in his November 19, 1863 “Gettysburg Address,” excerpts of which follow: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live…. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate– we can not consecrate– we can not hallow– this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract…. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us– that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion– that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain– that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom– and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
SIDELIGHT: I admire Celtic music. For me, one of the most poignant war ballads ever written is the “Green Fields of France.” This ballad tells the story of a man who visits one of France’s World War I cemeteries. Stopping to rest by the grave of a long-forgotten soldier, Willie McBride, he ponders who Willie was, how he died, and how he was missed by family and friends. It is powerful and well worth your time to listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofhao4SHXGo . I hope you think that every war casualty is a “Willie McBride,” whose young life was ended by man’s greed and stupidity. We tend to think of every “Willie McBride” as only a statistic, but every “Willie” had parents, possibly a future spouse and children, loved ones waiting at home for a glorious reunion, and many friends and relatives who were deeply saddened by the death of this “statistic” on a foreign battlefield. How many “Willie McBrides” from Russia and Ukraine have lost lives due to Putin’s evil invasion of Ukraine? On this Memorial Day, I urge you to think of at least one “Willie McBride.” Unless you have a relative for whom you can mourn, mourn for this fictional “Willie McBride,” after hearing the “Green Fields of France” ballad.
If you do not listen to a performance of the ballad, you may read the lyrics at: .
We have lost all of our World War I veterans, and the number of living World War II veterans becomes significantly fewer with every passing day.
Memorial Day is a national day of observance to mourn the loss of our war dead, to remember the lives of our young men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, and to thank God for the land of liberty in which we live.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? If you have a friend or relative who is a veteran, I suggest that you call and thank him/ her for his/ her service for our country. “Thank you for your service” means so much for a military veteran. You enjoy freedom today– your family enjoys freedom today– because men and women like your friend or relative sacrificed for us.
If you know someone on active duty, I suggest you contact this person by mail, email, or telephone, and tell him/ her how thankful you are that he/ she is standing in your place to protect your freedom. He/ she and many like him/ her prepare to fight and are willing to die daily in order that you and your family may remain free.
We Americans are fast losing the knowledge of what it means to be a free people. We Americans have almost lost the will to fight for freedom. Many Americans do not appreciate (even deserve?) the many freedoms we enjoy. We Americans are like über-rich kids given far too much by indulgent parents, who end up being shiftless, drug-addicted, spoiled, unhappy adults, adults who appreciate nothing in life and who do not realize how fortunate they are. It should frighten all of us that America may need to fight against foreign invaders by emptying colleges and universities of their snowflake students and placing rifles in their hands.
THE THIN BLUE LINE NEEDS TO BE APPRECIATED, TOO: The Thin Blue Line was a British regiment that stood against the Russian cavalry during the Crimean War (1854). By 1922 in America, this phrase was used to describe the few brave (the thin line) of blue-uniformed policemen who stood against evildoers to protect the citizen masses.
Law-enforcement officers are the only ones today that stand between us and civil disorder. Idiots have taken over our government, educational institutions, and media. These people want to defund the police (and replace the police with social workers?). Police officers are called disgusting names. (An example is The Black Lives Matter chant: “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.”)
Law-enforcement officers are being assassinated (even while they sit peacefully in their patrol cars).
Many departments face critical staffing shortages. And, why not? How many people would want a relatively low-paying, high-stress job in which death can come unexpectedly at any moment?
GIVE HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE: Honor, a precious gift, is cherished by God, when honor is showered on a worthy recipient. See multiple Scriptures about honor at: What Does the Bible Say About Giving Honor When Honor Is Due? (openbible.info) . If you see a young man or woman in military uniform, I suggest that you make a point of thanking him/ her for his/ her service to our country. Many Americans belittle, curse, or symbolically spit upon the heroes who protect us. The uniformed man/ woman you thank may be too modest to say much back to you, but I assure you that he/ she will be emotionally overwhelmed that you have taken the time to thank him/ her for protecting you and your family.
And, extend your demonstration of gratitude to law-enforcement personnel. These men and women go to work daily, not knowing whether they will return to their families at the shift’s end. Sadly, some do not return home, because stupid punks think it is sport to assassinate these officers. The idiotic”woke” crowd chants that we should defund the police. In many jurisdictions, idiotic attorneys general and judges do not back up the police. Thugs are back on the street almost immediately because of our revolving door justice system. Lenient bail posting and sentences make a mockery of our laws. Our nation may soon become a lawless cesspool, as it is now in some large cities. When you come in contact with a law-enforcement officer, smile and say simply, “Thank you for protecting me and my family.”
President Ronald Reagan (I, for one, miss him!) is quoted as saying: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” I can already tell a marked difference in “Reagan’s America” and “Biden’s America,” a span of only four decades. Some prophecy scholars have taught that America must fall for the Antichrist to rise. I believe they may be right. If you do not see the beginning of America’s fall, wake up!
Consider the words of Yeshua this Memorial Day (John 15:13): “No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” Armed forces personnel and law-enforcement officers surrender their lives regularly for you and your family. When shots are fired in a building, you and I run out to seek safety. On the other hand, policemen run into the building to attempt to neutralize the danger. Recall the brave men and women who ran into the burning, collapsing Twin Towers on 9/11, even though they must have realized they would never leave alive. Quoting Rudyard Kipling again: “Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, lest we forget– lest we forget!”
Well… surf’s up, dude. Back to my “vacation.” Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.
Counting the Omer – Day 36
Here is the proper blessing to be said each day.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohenu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav, Vitzivanu Al Sefirat Ha-Omer.
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his commandments and commanded us about the counting of the Omer. Today is five weeks and one day of the counting of the Omer.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 29-May-2022 28th of Iyyar, 5782 Yom Yerushalayim 35th day of the Omer
Nu 1:1-19 Jer 16 Job 27 (Mk 5:21-43) 1 Co 7:1-24