It is a difficult place. In both the Russian and Polish languages, it means "The place on the edge, at the border, near the end." Ukrainians developed their distinctive nationality later than most of the Slavonic nations. They made their capital in the city which was first capital to
Russia, which cast
its influenced over thousands of years. First conquered by Vikings from the
north, Kiev became the seat of
Russian power with the establishment of the first Tsar Dynasty – the Ruriks.
Then came the Mongols and Tatars, as
moved northward. After Asian withdrawal the land became part of the Polish
Lithuanian commonwealth for several hundred years. Krai was at the edge of the
biggest country in Europe at the time.
We will always remember what happened to our brothers and sisters in this land, when Chmielnitzki Y-Sh with his Cossaks murdered thousands of Jews there. He considered them an influential tool in the hands of the Polish government, to control 'Krai'.
A few millennia have passed since then, and the Ukrainians currently aspire to joint nations, which they view as free and independent.
By now most of us have seen horrible pictures from the newest chapter in the book of nations, as they try to overthrow their corrupted regimes. It causes pain to every human being who has a heart in his chest, to watch those scenes coming from
- regardless of the difficult past that Yidden endured there. We Jews will always
see events in a different light from the rest of the world. To Ukrainians,
Chmielnitzki will always be a hero who fought the oppressive Polish government;
while for us, he will always be a cruel murderer, listed alongside Haman and
Ten years ago, the Ukrainians tried to gain independence through their bloodless Orange Revolution, bringing some hope to this desperate nation. In those days, I spoke with my Ukrainian workers every day about the situation in their country, about their families, about their hopes and fears. I knew
firsthand from the years when I went there every few months to visit my friend,
to preach, and to hopefully generate some business while I was still living in Poland.
I knew this rich land with ambitious people who were constricted by the then
post-Communist web of corruption.
I wished them the best and hoped they would win the Orange Revolution, in order to build a free and democratic society. Ten years later we see bloody war on the streets of
people are once again trying to get rid of corruption, this time as established
by the oligarch Eastern-style ruling class.
Those scenes remind me of my own youth, when I was part of a similar revolution. I remember building barricades, throwing stones, running from the shots of the police forces in my then-Communist country. At least the Polish Communists didn’t allow the use of sharp ammunition in most cases. Nevertheless, police forces aimed small canons of tear gas at the running protesters. Many of those burning containers flew next to my head and fell at my feet while I ran hard so as not to get knocked out.
I was sixteen and that was a crucial year for me - one which shaped my entire future. I read intensively at the time: philosophy, religion, history. That was the year when I came to the conclusion about the futility of my own, and my countrymen's actions. I believe that it was more a result of my prayers than my reading, but both prayers and books were necessary to shape my views which, in foundation, have never changed since. Through my joining the People of The Book – the Nation of Torah, my views have crystallized and gained solid structure. What once came only from my kishkes, my understanding and my intellect, I found evidenced in a revelation of the Creators’s message to His nation in particular, and to humanity in general.
So many times in the history of mankind, nations and citizens overthrew some Nimrod who brutally turned them in to his subjects, in order to establish Eisav as their leader in his stead.
Eisav is smarter than Nimrod. Nimrod rules with cruelty, while Eisav works with cunning. Eisav may take away Nimrod's power, but his intentions are also not altruistic. Eisav recognizes the idea of freedom and independence, because he grew up in the house of Abraham. So rather than dictatorship, Eisav uses sly methods of controlling the masses by fooling them. But if his wiles don't work, he is always ready to use Nimrod's means of governance.
I know, the last few lines I wrote are very cryptic, but I-H I will write more about Nimrod, Eisav and lehavdil Yaakov in the coming months.
In those coming essays I will write about a part of human history and its struggle toward creating a free society - which was always the wish and the intention of the Creator. This is described in the Torah, which was written at a time when there were no other books and no other nations to write them.
As to contemporary Egyptians; when they struggled to break the chain of dictatorship, so too did the Ukrainians. I wish them a speedy end to the bloodshed and a speedy beginning to the rebuilding of their country in a way that will serve all its citizens well, giving them equal opportunity to develop as human beings and not the subjects. But watch out for Eisav.