Should He Speak to Congress or Not?




    Shifra Vepua

    Should He Speak to Congress or Not?

    Three major events from last week’s Torah portion of Beshalach connect to the Jewish scene today in the halls of congress and answer the question: Should Netanyahu speak there or not? Written by Rabbi Reuven Flamer ● Full Article

    Written by Rabbi Reuven Flamer


    Three major events from last week’s Torah portion of Beshalach connect to the Jewish scene today in the halls of congress and answer the question: Should Netanyahu speak there or not?

    1) The Jewish people witness the splitting of the Sea.

    2) The Jewish people are given Manna, the heavenly bread that fed them each day for 40 years while in the desert.

    3) Undeterred by the miraculous powers displayed in Egypt and the Sea, Amalek attacks the Jews.

    The splitting of the sea catapulted the Jewish people on to a level of prophecy that had them singing unrehearsed, all in with the same words! Unity is the hallmark of the experience of a G-dly experience, and it came out in song! (Last Shabbos was called Shabbos Shirah, the Shabbat of Song).

    Afterwards, the Jews “came down” and realized they only had the clothes on their back and the Matzah to eat was running out, they worried and asked how they would survive the harsh desert environment. How will a few million people trekking across the hot desert rock and sand eat!?

    In response, G-d sent heavenly bread; there were no raw ingredients (there was none to be had in the desert) just a miraculously delicious meal every day. No cooking time was necessary, and it tasted like any dish you desired…

    But we must have water! What about water? So they complained again. And G-d gave them water.

    Just as things were getting settled in, Amalek comes along and attacked the Jews.

    Rashi explains the connection between the Manna and Amalek:

    He [G-d] juxtaposed this section of the manna to this verse, [“Is the Lord in our midst or not? “] implying: “I am always among you, and [I am] always prepared for all your necessities, but you say, is the Lord in our midst or not?’ So, I will send you a dog that bites, then you will know where I am.”

    When the Jewish people do not shake their fear and worry for the future, Amalek turns on us. And worry begins with questioning “is G-d in me or not?”


    What bothers Amalek and most of his kindred spirit so deeply to fight the power of G-d Himself?

    “Why must the Jewish people be unlike any other on earth?”

    1) We are one family; albeit splintered into various factions, philosophies, and cultures.

    2) Jews want similar things in life as anyone else. We want good health and parnossah (a livelihood), a fine home, and so forth. Just as everybody else. But, living life itself is the spiritual journey for us; there is no split between nature and above nature. Jews do not take off from the daily routine and connect to G-d. The daily routine is G-d.

    3) We are few in number, but our impact is huge!

    If I feel that it is wrong to be “parochial” and patriotically Jewish, if I am ashamed of it, and when I feel I am “a tiny nation” and I must bend to the majority view, Amalek attacks; precisely when I agree with his sentiment and question the same things as he!! Shouldn’t it be now when he should applaud me!? This is when we should become friends!


    After an attack Amalek has the Chutzpah to proclaim “see, you were right to worry! So next time, when you begin to get excited again (and you will) and you all sing together as you did at the sea, when you feel that “oneness” Jews seem to feel, and when you feel the miraculous don’t jump too fast!  Remember how I proved your concern last time?”

    So what does this have to do with the halls of Congress? Army Radio recently reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu does indeed seek to influence Congress directly on the Iranian issue in his upcoming speech before the Senate and House… “The US is leading an approach in which the Iranians are the solution and not the root of the problem,” an anonymous source explained. The US is “betting on the Iranians at the expense of the moderate Sunni states,” the source continued, and called this “a serious strategic mistake.” The sources compared the US approach to a situation in which “the Iranians break the glass, and are then called in as the glaziers.”

    Amalek has the Chutzpah to be the root of the problem and then proclaim he will fix things and take his advice.

    The controversy swirls around.

    The House of Representatives’ senior ranking Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, said on Wednesday she was concerned that if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress in March, it may result in negative ramifications for the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.

    Amalek sets you up and warns you: if you do this I will be proven right (if the Iranians break off talks or worse G-d forbid, we can blame it on Netanyahu! So, do not go forward! Stay where you are and rely on diplomacy; take the natural course).

    So where is G-d in all this, you might ask?

    It depends on how you want to read our situation. Perhaps, this is the “Higher” reality:

    As the Jews stared at the Yam Suf, the Sea of Reeds, their back was turned from a very strong superpower of the day. They had survived so far through sheer miracles but what now?

    The Jews could not argue there had been no miracles so why now did they question what would happen?

    You might think that the years of persecution under Pharaoh would raise questions whether once again G-d would put them in a compromising situation. From G-d’s answer we know what they were thinking:

    “Travel on.” Rashi elucidates: just move forward. The sea will not deter you. You have the merits of your ancestors, they and your faith in me (G-d) will take you out and the sea will split.”

    The first step is to believe G-d is with you.


    Everything has its opposite. While talks go on between Washington and Tehran a source quoted Republican and Democratic senators who came to Israel to be briefed on the Iranian threat, asked Israel to “save us from our own mistakes.”

    A Jewish figure is being asked to address the congress (and the world) and direct them! What an amazing turnaround!

    “G-d is in me.” Go talk to congress Bibi. But remember, you represent the Jews who once stood at the Yam Suf and watched it split, and had the Manna for 40 years. If you talk that way, Amalek will stay silenced.

    The world is waking up to the fact that the Jews are a special nation. It is time to proclaim our role and position.

    Instead of asking “Is G-d in Me?” move forward. Learn Torah more. Embrace your own soul. And sing this Shabbat Shirah like we sang once on the Sea. In joy and unified as one people who know who we are.

    Photo Credit: “G.W. Bush delivers State of the Union Address” by White House photo by Susan Sterner – President Delivers “State of the Union”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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