Oct 23, 2021

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Due to an ongoing and extreme financial crisis, the two largest power stations in Lebanon shut down for lack of fuel. One rabbi noted that by supporting Hezbollah, the country that sourced the precious Cedars for the Jewish Temples has cut itself off from the source of light.

Fuel shortages

Lebanon is in the throes of a massive economic crisis which became painfully apparent on Saturday when the country’s two largest power stations, Deir Ammar and Zahrani, had shut down because of a fuel shortage. The two power stations provide approximately 40% of the country’s electricity. A government official told Reuters news agency that the country-wide blackout would most likely last for several days with “no possibility of resuming operations in the meantime”. The crippling economic crisis began about 18 months ago and the Lebanese currency has lost over 90 percent of its value in less than two years. Unable to import from other countries due to the crisis, Lebanon has suffered fuel shortages leading many civilians to resort to private diesel-powered generators for power. 

The country is also still recovering from a catastrophic blast in the Beirut Port in August 2020 which caused at least 218 deaths, 7,000 injuries, and $15 billion in property damage, and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless. The explosion was caused by 2.75 tons of ammonium nitrate that was improperly stored in a warehouse. It is believed that the material was being stored by Hezbollah to be used in weapons. In the wake of the explosion, the entire government resigned. 

Ironically, the fuel crisis has helped reinstate Hezbollah as a leader in the country. Last month, the terrorist organization imported oil it had purchased from Iran in contravention of US sanctions. 

The Menorah: the source of all light

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, explained that the resurgence of Hezbollah is precisely what has led to this recent nationwide blackout. The rabbi cited the Prophet Ezekiel:

Thus said Hashem: On the day it went down to Sheol, I closed the deep over it and covered it; I held back its streams, and the great waters were checked. I made Lebanon mourn deeply for it, and all the trees of the field languished on its account. Ezekiel 31:15

Rabbi Berger noted that the word  “וָאַקְדִּר” (vakdir) is translated as ‘mourn’ but it literally means ‘will be made black’.

“The cedar is the symbol of Lebanon,” the rabbi explained. “It is Lebanon’s connection to the Temple since the Cedar’s of Lebanon were used in an essential role in the Temples. Lebanon cannot grow or flourish if it rejects Israel.”

Rabbi Berger quoted Isaiah. 

Behold! Darkness shall cover the earth, And thick clouds the peoples; But upon you Hashem will shine, And His Presence be seen over you. Isaiah 31:2

“According to the Midrash, Creation began on the Temple Mount,” Rabbi Berger said. “Everything in the Temple sustained creation. The Show Breads provided sustenance. And light for the world was from the Menorah. Any nation that tries to extinguish that light will find itself in darkness. By supporting Hezbollah, Lebanon is cut off from sustenance and even from light.”

Israeli gas helping Hezbollah thanks to Biden

One possible solution to turn on Lebanon’s lights may come in the form of Egyptian and Israeli gas. The deal, endorsed by the US and financed by the World Bank, would sidestep the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, which places heavy sanctions on the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. The gas will necessarily pass through Syria, requiring the act to be waived. This is a sticky matter for the Biden administration which, as part of its “green” policy, created new rules prohibiting world banks from financing fossil fuel projects.

Hezbollah is the most powerful political party in Lebanon so propping up the government without requiring any concessions regarding the terrorist organization would serve to strengthen it, thanks to gas provided by Israel.