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PARASHAT NITZAVIM – VAYELECH

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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook (first Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael)
“Prayer is a concrete activity… Still, its outcome hinges entirely on the holiness of the worshipper’s individual will, and on the divine content that fills his soul. The prayers of the righteous foment an enormous, beneficial upheaval in the values of the entire world.” (Orot HaKodesh 3:48)


Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today


“Hidden things may pertain to the L-rd our G-d, but that which has been revealed applies to us and our children, forever. We must therefore keep all the words of this Torah” (Deuteronomy 29:28). Rashi comments, “I [Moshe] do not punish you for ‘hidden things,’ i.e., what is hidden in your heart. That pertains to G-d.” It is G-d who will punish that individual about whom it says, “Today, there must not be among you any man, woman, family or tribe, whose heart strays from G-d, and who goes and worships the gods of those nations” (verse 17).

As for “what is revealed,” that applies to us and our children. We must destroy the evil from our midst. If we do not execute judgment against sinners, the masses will be punished by G-d. And even regarding that which is revealed, G-d did not punish the masses until Israel had crossed the Jordan and undertaken the oath at Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval, by which all of Israel because one another’s guarantors (see Rashi there). Indeed, when they crossed the Jordan and Achan violated the taboo, the entire nation was punished, suffering defeat at the War of Ai, which melted the hearts of the people like water (Joshua 7:5). Only after judgment was executed against Achan, whose sin brought suffering upon the entire nation, did Israel achieve a great victory in the second war on Ai.

Today, a covenant of mutual responsibility has been renewed in our generation with the establishment of the State of Israel. The immoral behavior and corruption of the individual is not the private business of this person or that. It affects the entire nation and influences the plight of society, security and the economy. Upon all of us rests the responsibility to educate ourselves and others to integrity and morality, good character and fine deeds, and we must help others to return to Jewish sources and roots, for it was from there that the Jewish People have drawn life from time immemorial. “It is a tree of life to those who take hold of it” (Proverbs 3:18).

At the same time, we have to take to task those corrupt individuals, especially if they hold the reins of leadership, whose immoral and irresponsible behavior have a negative influence on the entire nation. During this season, the time of Selichot and judgment, we must search our souls, as individuals and as a nation, eradicating evil and rectifying whatever needs improvement. By such means, we shall march forward on the path winding upward towards complete redemption and repentance. And may we merit salvation and great consolation. With blessings for a good, sweet year, and looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!


Write a letter of support to Jonathan Pollard, in jail for 20 years because of his love for the Jewish People and our Land! Address letters to:
Jonathan Pollard # 09185-016
FCI Butner Medium
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 1000
Butner, NC 27509 (USA)



Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El
“National-Religious Jews are not Despised”


Question: It is clear that the National-Religious, and especially the settlers, are despised. There has therefore been a decision to wipe us out: They destroyed Gush Katif, Northern Samaria, put girls in the army, tried to hurt the Hesder program, and more. Both the previous government and this one worked to destroy Yesha (Judea and Samaria). This is a wicked government, and we have to fight it. The time for hugs is over. It’s no longer a Zionist government. They want to blot us out, and if someone comes to blot you out, blot him out first. And if blood is shed, all the better. Don’t try to scare me with the words, “Civil War between brothers.” They’re not brothers. They hate us!

Answer: Enough. Calm down. Get over your persecution complex. Obviously, those who don’t think like you are causing a terrible calamity, an awful loss of direction, so it’s not against you personally. It’s a general problem of weakness. This government and much of the nation that follows them regarding Yesha are not traitors to Zionism. They are indeed Zionists, and their arguments are Zionistic. They are just afraid of war in the Middle East, and to keep things quiet they are ready to pay a heavy price. They are mistaken, but they are Zionists.

1. They are afraid of the demographic demon, from five million Arabs, two in Judea and Samaria, 1.5 in Gaza and 1.5 over the Green Line.
2. They cannot bear to see us having the political status of “conquerors,” devoid of international recognition.
3. And now, they are afraid of Iran, and seeking American support. The Iranians are crazy. They are preparing an atomic bomb and are undeterred by a counter attack that will kill hundreds of thousands. They teach the value of a martyr’s death, and the idea that life is nothing compared to death, which constitutes an aperture to good worlds. These are the same Iranians who sent 12-14 year old children to blow themselves up in mine fields in order to pave the way for their army. Worst of all, they believe that if they martyr themselves, they will merit the reappearance of the twelfth Imam, the mysterious redeemer, who died hundreds of years ago but really is still alive, and is the Messiah. So Israel’s left wants to save five million Jews at the expense of fifty thousand – one percent, and they relate to this as to a painful but necessary operation.

Certainly they are making a horrible error. Yet with your simplistic perspective, you will soon say that Herzl was not a Zionist, since he was willing to accept the Uganda Plan for fear of a Holocaust. And perhaps you will also say that our army is not Zionistic. Certainly, some Israelis are preparing to destroy Judea and Samaria, and several other places. Certainly they are mistaken and are afraid. The truth is that we have no reason to fear at all, not from demography, and not from terrorists and not from Iran. Yet their mistake isn’t against you personally. It’s still your country. It’s still your Independence Day, still your HaTikva. Yet things are going to be hard.

Still it seems to me that you are not spoiled. You are not a zealot. You are not superficial. You’re not just an overenthusiastic school boy. So continue to struggle together with us. It’s in our hands. We have a lot of power. Muscle won’t do it, only brainpower. Yet we are capable of persuading, of changing the direction of the piston in the steam engine. Continue to struggle in preparation for calamity, but certainly don’t be a prophet of doom. The worst thing is despair. The worst thing is to proceed dejectedly like a downtrodden minority. Don’t dig yourself into a hole. Lift your head!

And don’t let your faith hinge on success or failure. Rather, as Chananiah, Mishael and Azaryiah said, “G-d can save us, but even if He does not, be aware that we shall not bow down to your god” (Daniel 3:18. Quoted in Rashi on Leviticus 22:32). Be aware that they love us, they want us, and they are interested in us. Be aware that the National-Religious disciples of our master, Rav Kook, in all their variety, possess enormous power, a power that can change everything. Obviously, not overnight. So stop cutting yourself off, whining and making yourself out to be an unfortunate. Be aware that the key to the present and the future is with us.

I am not saying this out of arrogance, but out of humility, for we are attached to the entire Jewish People. As is known, the Jewish People consist of three streams, as Rav Kook wrote (Orot, Orot HaTechiyah 18): religious, nationalist and humanists. We stand at the junction between the three. We are therefore called upon to be the leadership. It may be there are more religious than us, more nationalists than us and more humanists than us, yet all three affinities are fulfilled through us, for we contain everything.

How fortunate we are that we have a National-Religious public. How fortunate we are that G-d chose us to provide salvation to our people. How fortunate we are, despite the minor differences between us, that we have risen up and revealed a profound spirit rather than letting them create rifts between us. The people admire us. Yes, they truly love and admire us.

Just don’t broadcast that you feel despised. Don’t be irritating. Don’t use extremist expressions. All these things are like shooting yourself in the foot. You won’t gain a thing from it. You’ll only lose out, friend. Let us attach ourselves to what Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook called “the mélange of healthy forces in the nation.” By such means, we will infuse the entire nation with a spirit of faith, fortitude, valor and joy. Let us delve deeply into the problem. We shall certainly prevail, for we possess great strength to come to G-d’s assistance against the mighty.


Rabbi Eyal Vered from Netzarim-Yevul
“Let Me Hear Your Voice” – “The Shofar”


The central mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah is to hear the Shofar. Although this mitzvah is decreed by the Torah (Leviticus 23:24), Rambam offered a further allusion, saying, “Awaken, sleepers from your sleep, and slumberers from your slumber! Improve [shifru] your deeds!” We, as well, shall follow in his footsteps and try to find in the details regarding shofar, allusions to man’s service on Rosh Hashanah.

Hearing
As is well-known, there is no mitzvah to blow a shofar, but only to hear it. On the Day of Judgment, a man is required to LISTEN. All year long the mouth doesn’t stop talking, until we sometimes forget, through so much talk, that man’s main task is to listen – active listening, constructive listening, the sort that enables one to absorb exalted matters and to internalize them. Reality has its own voice. We need only listen. We need only open up to the voice of G-d knocking on the door of man’s heart and calling on him to return to his life and to the life of his soul.

The origin of sin involves man being frightened by G-d’s voice instead of letting it give him life: “Adam said, ‘I heard your voice in the Garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid” (Genesis 3:10). Hence, in order not to hear this voice which demands of man the primal question, “Where are you?” man creates an unceasing babble of noise throughout the year. We therefore have this day, in which the shofar blast creates listening: “He shall blow the great shofar and the delicate sound of silence shall be heard” (Rosh Hashanah prayers). Here it becomes clear that only by way of silence can G-d be heard. The shofar helps us to understand that our chief task is to listen to G-d’s word and to the divine reality that is revealed to us, in our souls, in space and in time.

The Bent Shofar
Jewish law requires that the shofar be bent, an allusion to us that we must bend our hearts in submission. A person arrives at the day of judgment loaded down with an entire year of arrogance. He is proud of how much he has accomplished during the past year, and he credits himself for it. Yet one cannot approach the King in such a state, for such a person cannot accept anyone else as master. Arrogance is a curtain that cuts us off from G-d, as our sages said, “If someone is arrogant, G-d and he cannot coexist together.” To coexist with G-d we must bend ourselves to submit… “Bending the heart” means developing great humility, thereby making clear to us that we are not setting out to ask G-d for something in exchange for this or that deed which we accomplished. Quite the contrary, we approach G-d as paupers, citing only our descent from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Full of abject humility, we understand that it is a free gift that we are seeking.

The Simple Tekiah Blast
The basic unprocessed sound that emerges from the inner depths of man is simple and uncomplicated. It expresses man’s simple longing to be close to G-d, to be upright and good in his actions, without calculations of profit and honor, with closeness to G-d being the most appropriate thing for man, and his greatest source of joy.
Before the other sounds of the shofar complicates matters, the shevarim and teruah with their emotional crises, one must remember what the starting point is. The foundation is simplicity. From there it all begins and to there it all returns. We therefore start with the tekiah.

Shevarim
Now comes the time to take a look at our present situation and to see just how fragmented it is. The result is not a simple sound, but a broken one, representing crisis. Life is divided up into different segments. We pray, we eat, we study Torah, we engage in mundane affairs, and generally we do not see the connection between these elements.
Yet life is actually simple and contiguous. Holiness is not confined to one corner or another, but bursts forth from everything man does. This is our primary level, and to that level we shall return. G-d says, “In the past I gave you Torah, and in the future I shall give you life.” Yet in the meantime, we are in a situation of fracture, of discontinuity, of dissonance between matter and spirit, the soul and the body. Each of these pulls in its own direction, and we have to create peace between the warring parties.
This is an illness over which we should be moaning, just as a sick person moans from deep in his heart over his plight. We should moan over the simplicity lost to us, over the sophistication and superficial luster that inundate our lives, over our terrible breakdown when we all chose to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, the tree of complex awareness, when we followed the advice of the serpent, so sly that he offered us illusory sophistication. We should instead have kept eating from the Tree of Life, from life itself, which sings out G-d’s glory in so simple and clear a manner, without any need of clever explanations.

Teruah
The word “teruah” carries an allusion to the words, “Awaken [uru] sleepers, from your sleep.” The five Hebrew letters of “teruah” also spell out “erut Hashem” – “awakening by G-d”. In Parashat Bereshit we learn that G-d placed Adam in a deep sleep. NOWHERE DOES IT SAY THAT HE AWOKE. We are asleep, and we have a duty to awaken. The main lesson to be learned is that it is possible to awaken! What sometimes seems like such deep sleep can be transformed into a great awakening. We are the “people familiar with the teruah” (Psalm 89:16). We know the secret of awakening. “I am asleep but my heart is awake” (Song of Songs 5:2). The teruah serves to teach us: “You have it in your power to limit the gaps, to bring them closer together, to turn your lives into a contiguous, uniform whole, almost perfect like the tekiah with which we started. Do not despair! Awaken! Rejoice! Rediscover the light of G-d that fills up all the universes and sustains them. Crown G-d King over yourselves and over the entire world! Make it known to all that the world is not pandemonium, that the Divine Presence shall one day be revealed once more. Awaken and sing! G-d’s glory is to you revealed!

The Tekiah after Each Group
This second tekiah is entirely addressed to the great future that awaits us. We have not despaired of hoping for it. We stand at Rosh Hashanah and we proclaim that the end of this process will come when we once more hear the contiguous, rather than broken, shofar blast, the sound of the great shofar that will be blown and that will restore all to its original state; that will reconcile sons to their fathers and fathers to their sons; that will return sons to their borders, and the Divine Presence to its abode: “On that day, a great horn shall be blown; and all those lost in Assyria and dispersed in Egypt shall come; and they shall worship the L-rd on the holy mountain at Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13). All the various dispersed Jews in the various Egypts will emerge to eternal freedom. The world will become, once more, a world of spiritual listening. Hearing will be the chief thing, and not speech. Then even the King will be happy to hear us, saying, “Let Me hear your voice, for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is comely” (Song of Songs 2:14).

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