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The air raid sirens are wailing. The shelters are full. Women and children are fleeing to escape the horrors of invasion and war. Men, once working and studying, are now picking up arms to defend a free country.
Kiev is under siege. Lvov has been attacked. Reb Nachman’s Tomb in Uman is in danger of being flattened by tanks. A crisis of global proportions has been created by one man who seeks to crush an independent country, while trying to crush the human spirit.
Jews have no special love for Ukraine. Its horrors toward our people over the centuries is well documented and well remembered. But even as those sad memories fade, new hopes blossom. A hope that Klal Yisroel can live in peace again, in Ukraine and throughout the world. Today, at least 50,000 people identify as Jews there, and perhaps another 200,000 are hidden Jews or distantly related. But not only those 50,000 are under assault now from that one man, but the entire nation of over 40 million is in harm’s way, not to mention the rest of the world.
This one man is of course ex-KGB agent in former communist East Germany, Vladimir Putin, the current dictator and erstwhile new Tsar of Russia. No wars have been seen in Europe since the breakup of communist Yugoslavia, which was precipitated by the final breakup of Putin’s beloved Soviet Union. Wars which cost over 140,000 lives and brought back the specter of genocide, ethnic cleansing, war rape and European refugees to our doorsteps.
Putin has gone so far as to threaten neutral Finland and Sweden, and rattle his nuclear bomb sabre against the West. The current invasion and war on Ukraine by Putin is not an existential question or Talmudic intellectual exercise, because it gets down to some simple questions of reality. It has been well noted that many in the Charedi community have supported Donald Trump, and that is their right. And Mr. Trump’s open support of Putin has also been noted, during his two campaigns, during his presidency and even now, during the vicious invasion. Mr. Trump has called Putin “a genius”, and “smart, so smart” for his ruthless tactics and strategy against Ukraine, America and the West. So the simple question is: why are Charedi Trump followers supporting Trump and his overt backing of Putin even during this bloodthirsty invasion?
The murderous, unprovoked attack has already resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths and has created over 500,000 refugees and displaced people, mostly women and kids. So the next reality-based question is: why, if life under tyrant Putin would be so good, that the entire Charedi Klal is fleeing to Poland and elsewhere? It’s not just to evade the war. Everyone has seen what has happened to other places that Russia attacks: Afghanistan, Georgia, Chechnya, Syria. Life after a Russian war is despairing, hollow and desolate, just as many experience life in Putin’s dictatorship at home in Russia.
So, as millions try desperately to escape the Stalinist fury of Putin’s aggression, the final question comes to mind. You may have seen the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America’s statement in support of Jews in Ukraine. They are asking Klal Yisrael to say extra Tehillim. In addition, they are asking the public to donate to the Agudah’s relief fund for Ukrainian Jews.
An excerpt from the statement, shown on VIN said: “There are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Ukraine (among them, many Orthodox Jews), who are in peril as a result of the Russian invasion into Ukraine. They face the dangers of war, as well as the danger of increasing antisemitism….The Jewish Nation is one organism; when one limb of a body hurts, the whole body is in pain…”
The question is: if Jews are one limb, and Ukrainians another, and each a part of Humanity as one organism, as understood from Torah, when those limbs hurt, and the whole body is in pain, mustn’t we care about all Humanity? Especially during this horrific war caused by Putin, and backed by Trump.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of VIN News.