(As usual in our times, well-meaning people get excited about the wrong things, and getting the facts straight straightens out our hashkafot too).
First of all:
- The guy lacks any meaningful connection with Judaism.
He's not interested.
Yes, he himself blames that on his Communist-influenced secular upbringing.
But free choice exists.
So many Russian Jews with his same upbringing (or even worse!) made the choice to learn more & commit more to their Jewish soul-needs.
In fact, I personally know Ukrainian Jews who became frum.
(One Ukrainian Jewish woman credited the Ukrainian summer camps run by Karliner chassidim for her decision to become frum. Did you know Karlin chassidus was active in Soviet kiruv? I did not. Like most everyone else, I thought only Chabad was doing everything there. But it's nice to know about the Karliners too. Yashar koach to them & their fantastic summer camps for Ukrainian Jewish children!)
In other words, the options existed and Zelensky never took advantage.
Which brings us to our next issue...
- The guy is married to a non-Jew.
There are other rumors about the extent of his meshumadness, but I couldn't find verifiable information except about his wife not being Jewish.
Many Jews today, including frum Jews, hold an open mind regarding intermarried Jews. It's so common and so understandable (heck, I'd have married a non-Jew myself had I not turned to Torah)...so nobody wants to condemn an intermarried Jew.
And certainly, we should not be mean to people or insult them over transgressions, especially people who've no inkling of the magnitude of sin they've unwittingly committed.
Warmth, encouragement, patience, education...this is the way to deal with most Jewish transgressors (whether they're frum or not).
On the other hand, the sin of intermarriage is particularly horrible and damaging, whether the intermarried Jew perceives it or not.
And personal observation proves that an intermarried Jew RARELY divorces the non-Jewish spouse to do teshuvah.
In a tiny minority of cases, the non-Jewish spouse converts, but only the truly special ones perform a sincere conversion.
You see by their refusal to conform to even the basic halacha after the conversion, that these conversions deriving from convenience or pressure lack sincerity (including those performed by the type of Orthodox rabbi who, wittingly or unwittingly, is lax himself in holding up the non-Jewish spouse to the correct standards).
In the vast majority of cases, intermarried Jews really are lost to the Jewish people.
You don't always see that right away, but especially with the men and their non-Jewish children...it's all over.
It's one of the big tragedies of our times.
And this is exactly the case with Zelensky.
According to Rav Avigdor Miller, both his lack of shemirat Shabbat and his non-Jewish spouse prevent him from being considered our brother (according to the Gemara, which states "a brother in mitzvot").
A Jewish Prime Minister of the Ukraine is One of the Worst Possibilities for Jews
Even a perceived mistake or plan-gone-wrong could ignite the embers of Ukrainian Jew-hatred—that was my fear too ever since I heard about his election.
Furthermore, it could also ignite Jew-hatred on the Russian side.
However things play out, Jew-hatred can fan out on one side or the other (God forbid!) simply because one of the main players is a Jew.
Basically, it's a no-win situation as far as Jew-hatred goes and I'm upset Zelensky insisted on going for the position of Prime Minister in the first place.
And I find it bizarre that anyone is taking sides because Russia and the Ukraine are mostly just two sides of the same coin.
Does it really matter whether corrupt Ukrainian officials or corrupt Russian officials are running the Ukraine?
And while Ukrainians have generally been pretty cool about religious Jewish & Israeli tourism, that's no indication of how they really feel because, hey, money talks! They're making tons off of Jewish & Israeli tourism.
Jewish blood soaks the pages of both Ukrainian and Russian history.
Having a Jewish Prime Minister in this battle is probably going to turn out very, very badly (Hashem yerachem).
Can We Please Stop Pretending that Non-Jews are Jews with Regard to Soviet Immigration? When Will This Willful Ignorance Finally Stop?
A percentage are not Jewish at all. What percentage? N̶o̶t̶ ̶s̶u̶r̶e̶.
(Update: Only 25%. See here: https://hamodia.com/2022/02/14/israel-has-secret-plan-to-rescue-ukrainian-jews-in-event-of-invasion/—H/T Yaak.)
There are so many non-Jewish spouses and non-Jewish children in the Ukraine. The Jerusalem Pest once did an article on Ukrainian Jews wanting to immigrate and for some reason, the Pest interviewed the non-Jewish wife of a Jew for her thoughts. She said she very much wanted to come to Eretz Yisrael with her non-Jewish children and, oddly, she gave the impression that she deserved to—like it's her right and Israel owes her & her children or something.
And people like her will come and grant more power to Lieberman and his minions.
They will damage & fragment Israeli society even more—not because they're bad people (although some certainly are), but they will simply wish to live their secular or Christian gentile lives in this country without respect or consideration of Jewish Law.
But I'm definitely very concerned about the actual Jews in the Ukraine, especially the elderly Holocaust survivors and the children. I know the Holocaust survivors are especially terrorized by what's going on right now...and that hurts.
Erev Rav Attitude
And it's hard to believe he doesn't realize the potential fallout his rule could eventually have on his fellow Jews in the Ukraine. Or in Russia, depending on how the tide turns.
I think he doesn't care about the consequences. Or maybe it's a form of overconfidence, like "That won't happen to ME!".
Another aspect that misleads Jews regarding Zelensky is his seeming pro-Israel stance, his visit to the Kotel, and his telephone call to the rabbi of Kiev to pray for them.
First of all, like a lot of other mumar Jews, he likes the SECULAR aspects of Medinat Yisrael and he likes knowing the Medinah is there for him as a glorified bug-out location.
Secondly, a classic aspect of Erev Rav is using Jewish ritual as a lucky charm.
This post explains the idea in detail:
Why the Erev Rav CAN'T Change Themselves
But the Erev Rav, whose source derives from Egypt, didn’t go out according to the word of Hashem, but according the opinion of Moshe.
They ignored Hashem and Hashem's Power (and also the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu could not bring them without Hashem allowing it!).
But they never really wanted to join Am Yisrael.
They were always looking back, yearning for their impure origins:
And it’s said about the Erev Rav: “And these are their journeys to their origins”--because they always had a desire and a will to return to Egypt, to their source.
The Erev Rav feared that if Moshe won't come, then Hashem will command them to be driven out from the community...
Therefore, they thought up a scheme to request another leader in place of Moshe..."We did not know what he had, for surely he had the image of some star, and he was a leader and performed miracles with its power."
[The Erev Rav speaking to Aharon HaKohen]: "And you, his brother, know without a doubt what that item was. Therefore, we want that you shall make for us some image that will be an intermediary between us and between the stars..."
"They lusted after many gods."
So you can see how confused and contradictory they are while being incredibly smug & confident at the same time.
In a nutshell, they don't disregard the power of Judaism or the existence of God.
They simply do not consider it the only gig in town.
As the Kli Yakar explains, they considered Elokai Yisrael the biggest bully on the block and ran after Moshe Rabbeinu...while looking back toward Egypt the entire time.
Following the biggest bully on the block (in their eyes).
Seeking the most effective "lucky charm." (Initially, they were convinced Moshe Rabbeinu used some kind of star image to accomplish all the miracles; they could not conceive such powerful miracles from holiness and, well...GOD.)
No real grasp of Who is in charge.
No ability to cultivate an emunah attitude.
They relate to Judaism that way because that is how they honestly perceive even the deepest & most powerful aspects of Torah Judaism: shallow, superficial, a kinda cool yet fake "show," full of more-effective-than-usual lucky charms & superstitions...
I saw this in real-time with a BT psychopath.
I could never understand why the person became frum until I saw that:
(1) This person was not frum on the inside at all. This person did a lot of forbidden stuff with no feelings of contradiction. It's not hard to go through the motions externally when people are looking. (Or to lie to people when spotted.)
(2) Despite lots of lashon hara (and some bad experiences) to the contrary, most frum people are nicer, more readily give you the benefit of the doubt, are more generous, and more forgiving than any other group. Psychopaths can find that pretty comfortable as long as they're willing to wear a frum disguise themselves.
(3) This person believed in Judaism in a superstitious-lucky-charm manner. Tehillim, for example, was more of a lucky charm rather than a way to connect with Hashem or elevate oneself. But when it didn't "work," the person dropped it completely.
It really came to fore when this person experienced a difficulty and responded by calling all friends & acquaintances to insist they forgive this person if they ever imagined this person had wronged them.
And this person attributed the difficulty to people holding grudges (for no good reason, of course), which is why this person insisted people offer their forgiveness.
Just like that.
It was so incredibly superficial and superstitious—not at all like how spiritual physics really work.
One person tried to call the psychopath's bluff by saying "What's this 'if' stuff? You KNOW you hurt people."
But the psychopath responded by explaining the yetzer hara is playing tricks and causing one to "imagine" the psychopath had ever done anything wrong.
(This came after this psychopath had knowingly caused widespread financial and emotional damage to many people over the course of several years. "Imagined," eh?)
And then the psychopath continued to pressure the person to "forgive."
I found it bizarre.
I found it bizarre until I realized the psychopath had no concept of these fundamental Jewish concepts & merely viewed Judaism as a "lucky" rabbit's foot.
It's like how squabbling frum children will say, "If you won't be my friend, then you have an aveira! All I need to do is tell you slicha three times, and then the aveira's on you! Slicha, slicha, slicha—still don't forgive me? Aveira's on you! So there!"
Obviously, each request for forgiveness must be sincere and, when necessary, accompanied by appeasement. And the 3 times should be spread out to allow the hurt person time to heal.
But the psychopath simply craved a quick end to the difficulty.
So when the rabbi said to seek out and make amends with people who may have been hurt, the psychopath/Erev Rav could not do so in a real way, but only in the way an immature, petty, ignorant child would.
So an assimilated mumar Jew calling a rabbi for prayers or visiting the Kotel does NOT automatically mean he feels any connection to Judaism or even respects Judaism.
Sure, it COULD mean that. It could be a pinteleh Yid.
But it doesn't HAVE to mean that.
And here, I really don't see any indication that it does mean anything more than that.
- I think there is a very disturbing situation going on between Russia and Ukraine—and I think the potential for some very bad fallout is very real.
- I think we need to keep our minds clear and focus on our real values (rather than getting caught up in various narratives—including those by some frum websites and articles).
- If you're Jewish, Russia is not your buddy.
- If you're Jewish, the Ukraine is not your buddy.
- We need to focus on helping REAL Jews.
- We need to focus on our own personal unique self-improvement.
- We need to daven.
To donate to help Ukrainian Jews:
Ukraine Relief Fund - Agudath Israel of America
Please say Tehillim 130, 142 and 121.
Please read this article:
Please watch this 10-minute talk by Rabbi Daniel Travis:
Rav Moshe Sternbuch Speaks on The Russian Invasion