Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, June 6, 2021
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 6 June-2021 26th of Sivan, 5781
Nu 16:1-13 Jer 35 Dan 11:1-20 (Lk 1:1-38) 1 Co 16
Some Lessons We Can Learn from D-Day by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: Today is the anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, Allied Forces invaded Normandy, France. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi high command considered the western coast of Europe to be invincible. Even the Allied Supreme Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, was uncertain whether the invasion– an essential step in defeating the Axis Powers– would be a success or a failure– in which case World War II would probably be lost to our enemies. Soviet Union pressure from the east would be insufficient for victory. Allied pressure from the west was needed to squeeze the Nazi forces into submission.
Months of meticulous, brilliant planning had gone into the invasion, now called “D-Day,” then called “Operation Overlord.” For hours, Allied troops languished on five blood-soaked beaches of Normandy, a beachhead which measured sixty miles in length. Amphibious landing sites on the western French coastline were given code names of Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach. Although not one of the code-named beaches, Pointe du Hoc, an elevated outcrop between Omaha and Utah Beaches, was a dramatic target. The Normandy invasion was the largest amphibious assault in military history.
Approximately 175,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches, under a hail of bullets and artillery shells from the Nazi defenses. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the Allied troop invasion. Nazi forces in western Europe, mostly eastern European conscripts, numbered approximately 850,000 troops, and 80,000 of these were entrenched at Normandy.
The precise number of casualties from the Normandy invasion will never be known. Casualty estimates are: Total casualties in Operation Overlord from D-Day (June 6, 1944) until the day German troops retreated across the Seine River (August 30, 1944) were more than 425,000 troops (Allied and German, combined). Of these, there were more than 209,000 Allied casualties, including nearly 37,000 ground forces deaths and more than 16,700 air forces deaths. Additionally, approximately 15,000 French civilians died. Germany’s losses were even greater. Several Websites provide a more detailed breakdown of Operation Overlord casualties.
As fighting raged on and progress toward gaining inland territory for maneuvers and control remained doubtful, many feared the invasion was a lost cause.
But by the end of June 6, Allied Forces had gained a foothold in France. They, then, could begin the march toward Berlin and ultimate defeat of the Axis Powers. Germany offered unconditional surrender and Hitler is said to have committed suicide in less than one year following the D-Day invasion.
SIDELIGHT: Adolf Hitler’s goal was to create the Third Reich in Germany. This Reich (Reich = German for “Realm” or “Empire”) was intended to be the successor of the First Reich, the Holy Roman Empire (AD 800 – 1806), and the Second Reich, the German Empire (AD 1871 – 1918). Hitler promised the Third Reich would last for one-thousand years. It actually lasted only twelve years, from January, 1933 to May, 1945. Instead of the glorious Reich Hitler promised, Germany was left in rubble, poverty, corpses, hundreds of thousands of raped women, and despair. END sidelight.
Although written for a different war (World War I, 1917), I can hear George M. Cohan’s famous “Over There.” This song was popular in both world wars, and probably some Allied soldiers hummed Cohan’s song as they slogged across France and Germany: “Over there, over there, || Send the word, send the word over there || That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming || The drums rum-tumming everywhere. || So prepare, say a prayer, || Send the word, send the word to beware– || We’ll be over, we’re coming over, || And we won’t come back till it’s over, over there.”
SIDELIGHT: A 1962 movie, The Longest Day, is said to be fairly accurate (by Hollywood standards). The movie shows many important details, from both Allied and Nazi perspectives, about the June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion. (June 6 is the source of “the longest day” title.) One criticism is that the bloodbath encountered by Allied troops, as they disembarked from the LCAs (landing crafts assault) to enter the ocean and climb onto land, is not shown or is highly sanitized.
A more realistic view of the horrors of this landing on Omaha Beach is said to be in the opening scenes of the 1996 movie, Saving Private Ryan. On this D-Day anniversary, spend a little more than twenty minutes and watch a film clip of this D-Day landing at Saving Private Ryan D-Day Scene – YouTube . (Warning: R rated because of violence and language) Actual footage of the D-Day invasion may be seen at D-Day Statistics: Normandy Invasion By the Numbers – History (historyonthenet.com) . END sidelight.
Rabbi’s note: I watched the Saving Private Ryan clip. It stole my “shalom.” Sometimes we need our shalom stolen. Beware before you go. End RN.
EISENHOWER’S TWO NOTES: General Eisenhower wrote two D-Day notes:
● Pre-invasion message to the troops: In February of 1944, Eisenhower drafted a letter of encouragement to the expeditionary force about to assault the Nazi defenses of Normandy. In this message, he tried to instill courage and confidence. This message, delivered to the troops before the invasion, reads:
“Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
“Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
“But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
“Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
“s/ Dwight Eisenhower”
● In case of failure note: Eisenhower had doubts about the success of the Normandy invasion. The weather had been stormy, and no general would choose such an invasion under the weather conditions facing his army. Because of tides and other factors, the attack had to occur in the early morning of June 6 or be delayed for weeks. The battle-hardened German troops were superb soldiers and were led by brilliant generals and one idiot, insane Fϋhrer. The Germans had many months to strengthen the French coastline against an invasion. They had practiced every conceivable invasion scenario. The main thing the Allies had going for them was a certain element of surprise. (Hitler would not tolerate any discussion that the invasion would come at Normandy, but would, rather, come farther north at Calais.) The Nazis mounted a slowed counterattack from sequestered panzer units because a heavily drugged Hitler slept during the early hours of the invasion and his generals feared to awaken him. And, we Believers would like to think that God was on the Allies’ side because this Satanic little man (Hitler) needed to be deposed and suffering/ martyred people (Jews, gypsies, communists, mentally ill, and other “undesirables”) needed to be freed.
In a handwritten note written on June 5 (accidentally dated July 5), Eisenhower accepted blame for the failure of the Normandy invasion. His note, never issued but ready to be issued in case of defeat, reads:
“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”
● These two messages from Eisenhower– one upbeat and planning for victory, the other sad and accepting defeat– show the gut-churning decisions weighing on his shoulders, as success or failure of the D-Day invasion he orchestrated and approved would determine the fate of the free world.
A FEW LESSONS WE CAN LEARN: There are many lessons we can learn from the June 6, 1944 (D-Day) Normandy invasion. I will mention only a few:
● Hitler tasted God’s fury (God’s curse) because he violated the Abrahamic Covenant: God made an ancient covenant, called the Abrahamic Covenant, with Abram (Abraham) and his descendants (Genesis 12:1-3): Then Adonai said to Abram, “Get going out from your land, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. My heart’s desire is to make you into a great nation, to bless you, to make your name great so that you may be a blessing. My desire is to bless those who bless you, but whoever curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” For thousands of years, a binding promise has existed between Adonai and Abraham’s descendants (the Jews, and, I also believe, Believers in Yeshua). Hitler and his henchmen zealously pursued “The Final Solution,” which included a plan to exterminate all Jews. A number of concentration camps and gas chambers dotted Nazi-controlled Europe. It is estimated that six-million Jews were murdered during the Jewish Holocaust for only one reason– they were Jewish. God promised to curse people like the Nazis because of their crimes against Abraham’s seed. They lost their war; they lost their Third Reich; their leaders have been thoroughly discredited; and many leaders died a cowardly death by suicide.
SIDELIGHT: Antisemitism, a form of racism, is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. Antisemitism is probably the longest-standing hatred existing. It clearly is Satanic in origin. This hatred stems from the Jews being God’s “chosen people.” There are too many Scriptures about the special relationship between Adonai and the Jews to discuss in this RR, but some may be read at: 22 Bible verses about Jews As God’s Chosen People (knowing-jesus.com) .
Antisemitism is on the rise throughout the world, including the United States. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recorded a record number of violent acts against Jews in America during 2019 (see Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2019 (adl.org) ).
When we Americans practice hatred and prejudice against Jews, we also violate the Abrahamic Covenant and we risk incurring God’s curse. I find no footnote or parenthetical comment that America is excused from the Abrahamic Covenant.
President Donald Trump was an outspoken friend of Israel. President Joe Biden, it seems to me, is an outspoken friend of Israel’s enemies (such as, the Palestinians). If I have figured this out, do you suppose Adonai has also figured it out? For better or worse, a nation is judged by the actions of its leaders. END sidelight.
● “Freedom is not free:” A common saying loved by those in the military is: “Freedom is not free.” The inference is that our freedom has been bought at a precious price– the lives of brave men and women in the military. The Gospel of John explains the greatest love a man or woman may demonstrate (John 15:12-13): [Yeshua said] “This is My commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” Yeshua laid down His life for us at Golgotha, that we may have eternal life. Many hundreds of thousands of young men and women have laid down their lives, that we may have freedom to enjoy the promises set forth in the Declaration of Independence of 1776: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I am uncertain who coined the phrase, “Freedom is not free,” but it was written in a poem: Freedom Isn’t Free – A Patriotic American Poem (ellenbailey.com) . I am free today– you are free today– because of the young patriots who laid down their lives for us at Normandy and countless other battlefields throughout the world.
SIDELIGHT: We are losing our freedoms. “Educators,” especially at the university/ college level, indoctrinate many of our young people, turning them into Marxists. Impotent parents stand by watching their most valued gifts from God– their children– turn into anti-American robots. The parents’ roles have been taken over by the “educators,” and the parents’ only role is to pay exorbitant tuition rates, often becoming indebted in so doing.
We are losing our freedoms. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be destroyed because we destroyed ourselves.” Nikita Khrushchev predicted the Soviet Union’s victory over the West, saying: “We are on the right side of history. We will bury you.” Hmmmm… probably no RR has quoted Lincoln and Khrushchev in the same paragraph. The USSR has collapsed, but Socialism-Communism are very much alive and are gaining traction. Weep for America! END sidelight.
● A leader accepts failure, as well as success: I am impressed by the two notes– polar opposites of each other– written by General Eisenhower before the Operation Overlord invasion. Ever since his days at West Point, Eisenhower was repeatedly schooled in chain of command. The President is Commander-in-Chief and civilians, such as the Secretary of Defense, control the military, with the command chain passing down the line: generals > colonels > majors > captains > lieutenants > sergeants > corporals > privates. As the outstanding military leader he was, Eisenhower was willing to accept full blame for any failure.
In civilian life, I have been associated with good and bad leaders, as have probably you. A good leader does not gloat over successes and take undue credit for someone else’s ideas and work. A good leader shoulders responsibility and blame, when ideas do not succeed.
Military chain of command should be the model for a Believer’s spiritual life. Share credit, when a brother or sister does something good, but do not take credit when no credit is due. The Bible has several verses about a person taking responsibility for his/ her actions. I do not have space to quote these verses, but some are included at: What Does the Bible Say About Responsible For Ones Own Actions? (openbible.info) .
● Deepest gratitude: On this D-Day anniversary and every day for the rest of your life, be grateful to God and to the men and women who sacrificed lives and bodies to secure your freedom.
A beautiful sentiment about war has been expressed in a simple sentence: “All gave some, some gave all.” This truth is attributed to a Korean War veteran and purple heart recipient, Howard William Osterkamp from Dent, Ohio.
Those who “gave all” include, of course, those slain in battle. Those “who gave some” include all others. No one comes out of a war zone unscathed. The memories of comrades-in-arms dying or wounded beside a soldier can never be fully erased. And, “those who gave” must include the parents, grandparents, spouses, boy-/ girl-friends, children, and other loved ones who waited day-by-day at home, hoping never to receive a telegram from the War Department (World War II language), beginning, “The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that….”
If you watch the Normandy invasion film clips I suggested, think how you would have felt, as the LCA gate opened and heavy machine gun and artillery fire rained down on you. Think how you would have felt, when your best friend standing beside you was suddenly decapitated. Think about how you would have feared never seeing loved ones back home again. Think about being injured, lying helpless on the wet, blood-soaked sand and in great pain, praying that you would not wait too much longer before an overwhelmed medic would reach you and inject you with morphine to ease the pain and transport you to a hospital ship before you died.
These troops, eighteen- and nineteen-year old men (truly boys) were a few weeks earlier eating mama’s pancakes at breakfast or working on dad’s farm. They had sweethearts back home, whose photographs were carefully protected under their steel helmets. After the first burst of fire, they suddenly were transformed from farm boys to men. After the first burst of fire, they were suddenly initiated into “America’s greatest generation.” After the first burst of fire, they became worthy of all the respect this nation, including you and me, can give them.
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman best summed up the “glory” of war: “War is hell.” The dates of war and the battlefield geography change, but war remains the same. Young people die. Sadly, many die in loneliness and cruel pain.
● PLEASE: I suggest the following for you on this D-Day anniversary:
□ May you never take freedom lightly. Your freedom has been bought at a great price– the price of hundreds of thousands of young patriots’ lives. Their blood cries out to us: “Cherish the freedom we have secured for you! Never let your freedom be taken from you!”
□ May you teach the precious gift of liberty to your children and grandchildren.
□ May you strive earnestly to protect your freedoms and fight those who would take them away from you for some Marxist theory. America is being overrun by politicians, “journalists,” and others who know or care little of our past and desire a future you do not want.
□ May you thank Yeshua, who secured our faith for us (Hebrews 12:1b-2a): … Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith….
□ May you thank God that you had the privilege of being born in America.
□ May you thank a veteran or a man/ woman in military uniform for preserving your freedoms for you. A simple, “Thank you for your service to our country,” is sufficient.
□ And, may you thank the family of anyone on active military duty. As John Milton, in “On His Blindness,” wrote: “’They also serve who only stand and wait.’” In some ways, family members may have the toughest job of all, as they endure “the fog of war” not knowing if their loved one is in peril at any given moment or even if he or she is still alive. A handshake or hug, a smile, and a simple, “Thank you for the service to our country being made by your family,” is sufficient.
□ And, also, never forget law-enforcement personnel and their families. When we defund the police, what next? Who is running our nation? We are entering a crazy time when inmates run the asylum.
FINALLY: I have more examples, but, as usual, I have written far too much. You can think of as many lessons to be learned on this D-Day, as I can. Just remember the sacrifices made for you. Be thankful. Fight for liberty. Once lost in America, liberty will never be regained.
We all want the opposite of war– peace (shalom). Peace is something for which we all must be vigilant and fight.
Adonai told us that He will grant peace, if “those called by His name” will become worthy by changing their ways (2 Chronicles 7:14): [Adonai said] “… when My people, over whom My Name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Vince Gill wrote a modern-day hymn, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” which has two beautiful lines: “Let there be peace on earth || And let it begin with me.”
Are you doing your part to make your corner of the world a little more peaceful? Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.