Payback: Straw, Stone and Lead
by Rabbi Nachman Kahana
The book of Kings (Melachim) 1 chapter 21 relates the tragic story of King Achav of Yisrael, his wife Izevel (Jezebel), and Navoth (Naboth) the Yizreelite (Jezreelite) who inherited a family vineyard that bordered on Achav’s fields. When Achav offered to buy the vineyard, Navoth refused. Izevel had Navoth convicted on false charges and stoned to death. Achav then seized the vineyard.
Eliyahu the prophet appeared before the royal couple, denouncing them with the harsh accusation: “You murdered and seized (inherited) your victim’s property", implying that their conscience was so dulled that even the act of murder did not prevent them from stealing the man’s property from his legal heirs.
Eliyahu then prophesied that Achav and Izevel would soon die, and dogs would lap up their blood.
A New Song: In the Shacharit (morning) prayers, just before the Shemoneh Esrei (Amida), we say:
“The redeemed people sang a new song of praise to Your name at the sea. They all, in unison, gave thanks and proclaimed Your sovereignty and said, ‘The Lord shall reign forever and ever.’”
Our sages called the song sung at the sea a “new song”, implying that there had previously been an “old song” that had been replaced by the new one. What was that old song, and what led to its replacement?
The Jewish people spent 210 years in Egypt, with the last 80 years involving dreadful slavery. In the last year of their sojourn in Egypt, the Jewish people experienced the enormous miracles that God performed: the ten plagues, the splitting of the sea, and more. They acknowledged those miracles and the One who performed them, and they prepared to sing a song of thanks to God for taking them out of Egypt, saving and redeeming them. Yet coupled with their joy over being saved and redeemed was a sense of discordance. Where was HaShem during the harsh years of servitude, beatings and murders? These mixed feelings inhibited their initial ability to sing with feelings of absolute gratitude.
In Az Yashir, the “new” song they ultimately sang at the sea, we find that the Egyptians were divided into three groups:
“Moshe and the Israelites then sang this song to HaShem…. The depths covered them (the Egyptians). They sank to the bottom like a stone… In your great majesty You broke your opponents. You sent forth your wrath. It devoured them like straw…. You made Your wind blow. The sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters”.
Yalkut Shimoni explains that the “stone”, “straw” and “lead” describes the death in the sea of three types of Egyptians: the most wicked, those in between, and the mildly wicked. The most wicked died a slow death, like “straw” on the water’s surface, which does not sink quickly. The “stone” alludes to those in between, who drowned after a bit of suffering. The “lead” refers to the mildly wicked, who died quickly, just as lead sinks quickly in water.
Every Jew could see his own slave-master – be he absolutely wicked, in between, or mildly wicked – and they saw each one die in accordance with his own level of wickedness. From this they understood that God was with the Jewish people every single moment throughout the years of enslavement and was aware of the cruelty that was perpetrated on His people. The redeemed Jews understood that they had erred in thinking that HaShem had only appeared for the rescue but not been with them throughout the years of enslavement.
Therefore, after they crossed the sea, they replaced the old song with an updated wording that expressed their new understanding based on what they had witnessed at the Sea of Reeds.
Poland and Christian Europe
Poland is now attempting to cover up their nationwide role in destroying the over 3 million Jews who lived there for 1000 years, and seizing their property in the spirit of, “You have murdered and seized your victim’s property”.
The Poles were not the only murderers of our people in the Shoah, but they were among the worst. The Germans headed the list. Close behind were the Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Romanians, Hungarians, the French, the British – indeed all of Christian Europe. They didn’t have to be brainwashed to perpetrate the most bestial acts against their Jewish neighbors, the German just paved the way for them to vent their Christian hatred and feel good about it – to murder and disregard the claims of the survivors.
For these Christian nations, the Shoah was just one more of countless pogroms inflicted over 2000 years, just larger and more appealing to the evil nature of the descendants of Esav.
Payback time is quickly approaching for Europe. There will be nations that will suffer much like the straw, and those who will suffer less like the stone and the lead. The plagues are beginning to show in Germany, which has willingly and insanely invited millions of Moslems into their land. From Germany, it will metastasize to all the surrounding countries, engulfing each one according to its place on the scale of evil.
At the end of the day, there will be no more Christian Europe to speak of.
The Jewish people left the Reed Sea experience spiritually and materially prepared to receive the Torah at Sinai.
For the Jews, the Shoah remains an immense spiritual and physical open wound. But for the gentiles of Europe, it was the beginning of the death throes of Esav.