The Jewish world received an incredible sign that God’s word is more relevant than ever when it was discovered that a Friday incident at the Olympics of an Egyptian athlete snubbing an Israeli judoka was literally described word for word in the ancient Book of Lamentations.
After he was beaten in a judo match by Israeli judoka Ori Sasson at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Friday, Egyptian opponent Islam El Shehaby walked off the floor to loud boos when he refused to shake Sasson’s hand or bow after the match.
Sasson, who would later go on to win a bronze medal, approached the Egyptian athlete with his hand outstretched for the customary post-match handshake, but El Shehaby turned and walked away, refusing to shake Sasson’s hand or to bow, as is required by judo rules.
Incredibly, the incident was recorded in an ancient Biblical text which Jews all over the world read Saturday night: the Book of Lamentations.
Jews gather to read Lamentations in full on Tisha B’Av, which began on Saturday night. The day of mourning, a fast day, commemorates the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. Jews traditionally sit on the floor or ground to listen to the annual reading of the Eicha (Lamentations) scroll in order to enter the somber mood of the holiday.
This year, some keen readers picked up on a verse in chapter 5 which reads, “We have given our hand to Egypt (Mitzrayim).”
Considering the timing, the significance of the verse is undeniable. The snubbing took place on Friday night; the very next night, virtually the entire Jewish population read the text, making it impossible to miss.
The verse could not have come to life more literally than at Friday’s Olympic incident, which some have said is a microcosm of the entire Israeli-Arab relationship: Israel extends its hand in friendship and peace, and the Arab world walks away.
This was not the first sign of God’s presence at the Rio Olympics. A story circulated last week that famed Kabblist rabbi Netanel Shriki, who is credited with taking down Hamas terror tunnels with the power of prayer, had prayed for Yarden Gerbi to win an Olympic medal prior to the match in which Gerbi secured the bronze, Israel’s first at Rio.