Every seat of the 1000-person capacity banquet-hall of the Conejo Valley’s Hyatt Westlake Hotel was filled as renowned author, commentator and radio talk-show personality, Dennis Prager, took to the podium to address the topic “In Search of America’s Moral Compass – on Domestic and Global Issues,” as part of the Conejo Jewish Academy’s ongoing lecture series on current issues of the day.
In addition to addressing the recent rapid decline of traditional American values on the social and cultural fronts, Prager, whose most recent book is entitled “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code,” was able to draw a direct line between the moral deterioration prevalent on domestic issues and the recent lack of coherent American direction and leadership when it comes to foreign affairs. The most telling examples being the debacle of the nuclear deal with Iran and the abhorrent drawing of moral equivalencies between Arab attacks on innocent civilians and Israel’s response in self-defense.
“I say it often, but I think it bears repeating that the ‘Israel Test’ is the central divide in the world today,” said Prager. “Those who stand in support of Israel in her daily struggle for survival while surrounded by by ruthless and merciless hate-filled enemies, clearly have their moral compass intact. Those, on the other hand, who stand against Israel, and are supportive of those who tell blatant lies in their drive to instigate and perpetuate violence against innocent men, women and children, are obviously seriously morally deficient… One cannot be presented with a clearer juxtaposition of good and evil than the contrast offered by Israel – a country seeking to live in peace as she contributes so much to the world in every arena of human achievement – and her neighbors who are engaged in the most barbaric acts of terror and oppression seen anywhere in the world today.”
Throughout the course of his talk, Dennis Prager referred repeatedly to the evening’s opening remarks delivered by Rabbi Moshe Bryski, Director of Chabad of the Conejo, in setting the stage for the ensuing discussion. This included the Rabbi’s reference to “In G-d We Trust” as the foundational principle upon which America was first established. “When you tear down the foundation, you risk having the entire structure collapse onto itself, resulting in moral chaos and confusion,” said Rabbi Bryski.
“This country has not prospered by cowering in fear before those who would seek to do her harm, murder innocents or cause upheaval in the world,” the Rabbi went on to say, “but by leading the way with the confidence in the goodness and righteousness of her cause… Never seeking out conflict, or the conquest and domination of other nations, but at the same time, putting those with evil intentions on notice that their actions will not serve them well in the long run -and not with empty threats at that either”…
“If you look at the eagle on the great seal of the United States,” said Bryski, “you will see that the talons of its right toe is clutching an olive branch, and the talons of its left toe is clutching a set of arrows. The point being that we, as Americans, seek peace, but we also know that we cannot enjoy such peace if the enemies of peace do not respect our strength… That is simply the way of the world.”
Rabbi Bryski further underscored that while Israel and her supporters must remain vigilant and steadfast in pursuing every course of action in the realms of diplomacy, intelligence, military and public relations at their disposal, they must also be animated by a pervasive recognition of Divine protection over Eretz Yisroel, as was frequently invoked by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. “We must stand strong, we must stand proud, and we must stand united, never losing sight of the fact that it is G-d Almighty – not the terror-mongers of the West Bank and Gaza, the despotic Ayatollahs of Iran or the anti-Semitic distorters of truth – who is the true arbiter of our destiny… As such, let there be no doubt that Am Yisroel Chai!”
Dennis Prager summarized by echoing Rabbi Bryski’s call for audience-members to sign on for Torah classes and courses of study at Chabad’s Conejo Jewish Academy – a premier adult education institute with a yearly enrollment of some 3,000 students. “The best way for Jews of the Diaspora to strengthen and fortify Israel is by being more knowledgeable, engaged and involved Jews,” he said. “You will not find a warmer, more open, welcoming and accepting environment in which to celebrate, discover and explore your Jewish roots than Chabad.”
If you would like to order a copy of the DVD of the lecture, visit www.chabadconejo.com/pragerdvd.