Everyone in Great Britain, The Realms and The Commonwealth, and the entire world for that matter, is witnessing history in the making. As I prepare this article for publication, we are in the ten-day mourning period of the late Sovereign Lady Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II.
A Tribute to Our Late Sovereign Lady
Before we start, it would be appropriate to pay tribute to Her Majesty, and in fact the Royal Family in general. We owe them a debt of gratitude in the name of the entire Jewish community in Great Britain.
To illustrate what was mentioned above, I would like to relate a very touching episode. Some time ago, there was a commemoration in remembrance of the liberation of the concentration camps. The Holocaust survivors were to meet Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II. It was good timing because by then, unfortunately, the majority of these people had passed on. A certain elderly individual was to say a few words on their behalf. He was a very fine gentleman and merited against all odds to set up a beautiful bayis ne’eman b’yisrael (an enduring and long-lasting Jewish home) with many grandchildren who are Talmdei Chachamim (Torah scholars). It happened to be Chanukah so the Parshah (Weekly Torah Portion) was Parshas Mikeitz.
When this gentleman finally came to speak to the Queen, he said the following speech: “In the portion of the Bible we read this week is the story of Joseph, when he was swept from 12 years in prison to suddenly standing in full glory before the majestic Pharaoh. I feel the same way. When we left the concentration camps, we were bereft of our home, family, and in fact our entire past. We also had no present, and seemingly no future either. When we came to the shores of this great country that is under the Crown of Your Majesty, we were given opportunity to make a life for ourselves. By and large, with the grace of G-d, we were successful in building wonderful families. Therefore, in the name of all, like our ancestor Joseph, I stand before Your Majesty to say THANK YOU”.
“From Generation to Generation we Relate Your Greatness”
However, not all members of the Royal Family were so benevolent. It is well known that King Edward VIII, the older brother of King George VI, who was the father of the late Queen Elizabeth II, had close ties with the Nazi party in Germany. In fact, Edward was in the line of succession after King George V, and was King for nearly a year – but abdicated the Throne for personal reasons before his Coronation. It was then that King George VI ascended the Throne, and was coronated on the pre-arranged date for streamline purposes and continuity, and the rest is history the way we know it. Who knows what could have been if Edward VIII, with his distorted world views, was king during WWII? One shudders to think.
We must understand, however, what a real “King” means. It means being in total control of everything – from world history through to the forces of Nature. These include gravity, evaporation, condensation, and all the other sciences. Although these are essential for the world’s existence, no matter how many studies have been conducted, and more is understood about what happens, no real explanation has been given on how they really operate. But they are there for everyone to see and marvel.
With the above explanation, we understand that Hashem orchestrated that King Edward VIII abdicate and make room for more caring and compassionate members of the Royal Family to step forward and be in the right place at the right time.
Be it as it may, it was during the reign of King George VI and even more so – during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, when the post-war Jewish community in Great Britain was given the opportunity to practice Yiddishkeit under the protection of the Crown without fear. It is with this benevolence that Baruch Hashem (thank G-d), our community grew in leaps and bounds beyond anyone’s expectations, may it continue to be so with the Grace of Hashem.
With the above in mind, we can better understand what we say in the “Vechol Ma’aminim” pi’ut (a poem in the Rosh Hashana prayers): “All believe that He is the Solitary One, Who gives sovereignty to kings but retains Kingship”. The next stanzas are: “All believe that He is the eternal King, Who guides in kindness every generation.” When studying the Great Britain monarchy, the above words take on another perspective altogether. Only later on would one appreciate what took place years earlier.
In summary, Edward the VIII, who was King, abdicated. Queen Elizabeth II, who wasn’t even designated to be a monarch at birth, went on to reign 70 years – the longest in British history. So, we understand that all that transpires in world history, as well as all the forces of nature, weather, and everything else, is under the Rule from Upon High, the True King.
לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום
May you merit to be transcribed and sealed for a long, good, and peaceful life.
By Rabbi Gavriel Lamm