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PARASHAT MATOT

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“From the World of Rabbi Kook”
“As the Messianic era approaches, the nation’s unity will increase… although that unity will be camouflaged by accusations and strife, at its core will remain love and a marvelous oneness. That in turn will arouse an overall feeling of anticipating the entire nation’s salvation.”   (Erpalei Tohar 108)


Rabbi Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “The Three Weeks – a Time for National Soul-Searching”


During the Three Weeks, between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, the Jewish People mourn the bad things that occurred to Israel during this period. On the 17th of Tamuz, five troubles befell Israel: the tablets were broken in the Golden Calf Incident; the Daily “Tamid” offering of the First Temple was cancelled; Jerusalem’s wall was breeched during the Second Temple period; the Torah was burnt by wicked Apostomos, and an idol was installed in the Temple Sanctuary. On the 9th of Av, the First and Second Temples were destroyed; it was decreed that our ancestors in the desert would not enter the Land; Beitar was captured and tens of thousands were murdered by the Romans. On this day, the Temple Sanctuary and its environs were ploughed, thereby fulfilling the verse, “Zion shall be ploughed as a field” (Jeremiah 26:18).

At this time of year, we have to arouse our hearts and look for ways to repent; to think about our own deeds and those of our ancestors. Their deeds were like ours, and those deeds brought both them and us suffering. Recalling these things will make us repent and become better…. Therefore, every Jew must repent during this period, examining his own deeds and making amends” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:1). Today, we must search our souls not just as individuals but as a nation as regards our relationship to the People, Torah and Land of Israel.

Regarding our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, we must return to ourselves. We must learn and recognize, study and make ourselves aware, become acquainted and inform others of what we are, what our destiny is and what our specialness consists of. We are not like all the nations, we are set apart from them. We are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Our historic task on earth is to shower light upon the world and to bring goodness to mankind, in accordance with G-d’s command to Abraham: “I will make you a great nation…. and you shall be for a blessing…. All the families of the earth shall be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3). As Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook taught in Orot 55: “We are greater than any other people; if we recognize this greatness, we will recognize ourselves, and if we forget it, then we will forget ourselves. A people that forgets itself is small and lowly… Forgetting ourselves constitutes forgetting our greatness.”

As far as our relationship to the Torah of Israel, our sages long ago said, “Each day, a heavenly voice resounds from Mount Sinai proclaiming, ‘Woe to the people for their disregard of the Torah!’ (Avot 6:2). Rav Kook adds, “We must study Torah and give it the appropriate respect, and we must relate to it reverently. Surely when one ponders the Torah, one finds that everything is contained within it, every delight and every splendor” (Orot HaTeshuva 4:9). Our holy Torah is a living Torah for us and for the entire world, as we say in our prayers, “Everlasting life did He plant in our midst”. We, as a nation, must repent, and bring ourselves and our children once more to study Torah lovingly. By such means, we will merit that our people, rising to rebirth in Zion, will have a new heart and a new spirit.

As far as our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, we must rid ourselves of the fundamentally erroneous assumption that Eretz Yisrael is just a means towards achieving existential goals such as security, prosperity or even spiritual and religious goals. (Eretz Yisrael is not an external acquisition of our nation. It is “an independent entity tied to the nation by a living bond, enveloped in inner virtues inherent to it” – Orot 9). Eretz Yisrael is not a topic for negotiations. It cannot be handed over to any individual or people on earth. Just as one does not concede his own life, so are we forbidden to concede our land, not one single millimeter.

Unfortunately, our present political leadership, and portions of the public, are suffering from a kind of confusion, and a weakness of faith, that have brought them to unprecedented effeteness and lowliness in their relationship to Eretz Yisrael. That relationship is expressed by the plan for expelling Jews from our land and for establishing a state for the Arabs who long to destroy us. By repenting nationally and as individuals vis-à-vis the people, Torah and Land, we will merit that these days will be transformed from a time of mourning and pain to a time of joy and gladness. As Zechariah said, “The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons. Therefore love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19). Looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!


HELP SAVE GUSH KATIF!
www.savegushkatif.org : an excellent site for information about Gush Katif and the thousands of Jews living there, and what you can do to help. Visit the site; send a link to everyone you know!



Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
“Recently, it’s Been Hard to Love”


Some people I naturally like. On the other hand, there are people I don’t agree with, who make me angry. I think they harm the country. Loving them, for me, is a real challenge. So I look for the good in them that I can love. It cannot be that they are all bad! Sometimes, this involves hard work, but work interests me. It’s fascinating, and a great mitzvah. G-d very much wishes us to love one another. Someone hurts me and causes me pain. I must make an effort to love them. Right now, those hurting me most are those carrying out the Disengagement and their helpers. Since Israel’s establishment, I don’t know if anyone has hurt me so much. Therefore, it has recently been hard for me to love. Yet where in the Torah does it say that if a mitzvah is hard we don’t need to fulfill it? Towards my wife and children, my love flows by itself, without effort. When I see them, or even think about them, I immediately feel contentment.

With these others, however, I generally try to view them favorably. I say: Maybe they are not bad but only mistaken and confused. Obviously, this doesn’t justify what they do, and it certainly does not exempt me from struggling against them, but it removes any pretext for hating them. Just as I do not hate those who violate the Sabbath, so too, I do not hate these people. Yet there are some who are even worse. There are people who hate and insult me and inflame others against me, till I have a desire to hate them in return. There are people who tell me that a settler is no different from a Hamas member; that I led the country to the brink; that I caused the murder of a prime minister; that I cause divisiveness; that they love Palestinians more than they love me; that they don’t care if there is a civil war; that they don’t feel like we are brothers, hence what’s coming is no civil war.

It’s then that I want to say to them, “If you love me, then I’ll love you. If you hate me then I’ll hate you.” But I get over it. I say, “Let me be the first to love.” Maybe they will love me too. It’s a pity that they should think about me in that way. They are my brothers all the same and I love them. They don’t know me, and if they get to know me, I hope they will change their views. Let’s hope. Even if they hate me, I will love them. It’s frustrating. Yet if anything, I find the effort spiritually uplifting.

There are still worse things, however. For example, they say that I am violent. Me violent?! If it weren’t so sad, it would be funny. Me violent?! Sometimes at demonstrations and road blockings I see how my friends get beaten and do not respond, both because they are really not violent and also so that the police won’t beat them worse. By the way, I am against road blockings, but right now I am not talking about that, but about violence. Kids are getting badly beaten and wounded. Thank G-d, it’s rare, but it’s still terrible. And afterwards, some people from the media, and sometimes people in uniform, say that those kids are violent! That, already, is wicked! Now you’ve managed to get me angry. But I’ll overcome it all the same. I will continue to love you, but be aware that you’ve insulted me deeply.

I forgot to mention that you’ve promised many times not to send any more provocateurs. Yet you keep on doing it. You want to throw the people of Gush Katif into the street, and in order to do that you’ve got to harm the image of them and their friends. Don’t deny it! We’ve all seen it time and again. That’s really wicked! Sorry that I am talking this way. How am I supposed to love you? You make it hard for me. True, I promised myself that I would do it, but how? Fine! We can leave this topic for afterwards. Suddenly I remember what was really bothering me.

You sometimes act violently against me. A friend of mine was blocking a road (I am opposed to this!) and someone got out of a car and stabbed him! And the police didn’t even arrest him! Someone else shot an air gun from his window at youths giving out orange ribbons, and wounded two of them. Can anybody explain to me where the proportions are here? Loving is complicated. You might respond: “These are exceptions. Don’t generalize! Don’t make accusations!” Fine, I accept that. Yet sometimes these aren’t exceptions. I wanted to say that violence doesn’t always involve physical force. Everyone admits about Prime Minister Sharon, including his supporters, that he is preying on us, trampling us. So why do you look on and remain silent?

I already said that I am against blocking roads. Yet a youth who blocks roads is an idealist, a lover of Israel, jeopardizing his studies and his personal future. He does all of this for the sake of an ideal. He feels real pain for Eretz Yisrael. He comes home, gets criticized by his parents and teachers, and a little bit by me as well. But I also love him. Still, the beating he sometimes suffers from the police are a truly frightening, shocking sight. Look at the TV and the Internet. For a long time, he will suffer physical pain, and psychological harm. It is hard for me to love a policeman who beats a demonstrator. I try, but it is hard for me. I will try. Perhaps they have forced these policemen into an impossible situation, and they have lost control? Not convincing! Perhaps they have virtues as well, and they don’t just do bad things, but good things too? Probably. And perhaps they do the bad things with good intentions as well? Fundamentally this is a sound argument, but in our case it is hard to accept. Within man there is an image of G-d, and a beast. Within everyone, including myself, there is a violent side, but we have to overcome it.

Let’s calm down. It’s hard to love, but it’s worth it. I love everyone, even those who express hatred – groundless hatred – for their brothers. I love everyone and hug everyone. I even love those who wish to uproot me. I can never forget that we are all one country. We are all in the same boat, and I am not going to disengage from them. I think almost everyone thinks this way.


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 Elisha AvinerEducation Corner
“Educational Messages and the Disengagement”


Dear Parents,
The “Disengagement Plan” imposes enormous educational challenges upon parents. The deep involvement of our youth, especially the adolescents, in activities against the Plan, has long-range ramifications for their educational experience. For the most part, that influence is blessed and positive. It is our task to identify, strengthen and encourage it. Nonetheless, there is no light without shadow. Some educational influences are unhealthy and require our treatment and attention lest they harm the minds of our children and their basic worldviews.

Introduction: In our people’s history are transient events whose influence is negligible; others have changed the face and direction of our history. During the past sixty years, there were a number of significant events. Among them, the establishment of the State of Israel; the Six Day War; the Yom Kippur War; the opening of Russia’s gates to emigration. Besides their historic influence in the limited sense, they also had an influence on the spirit of the generation. While they were occurring and afterwards, the Jewish People underwent a broad, collective experience. This experience has contributed to the fashioning both of society and of the individual. For example, the Six Day War brought winds of optimism, hope, faith and self-confidence (some say: euphoria). The Yom Kippur War brought despair, weakness, defeat and impotence (some say: sobering up).

Quite naturally, the influence of historic events is greater upon adolescents than upon adults or small children. During adolescence, young people undergo a process of crystallizing their identities and fashioning their personalities. They emerge from the protective familial umbrella and build their own universe. Therefore, the profound experiences that they undergo during adolescence are “defining experiences,” fashioning the infrastructure of their psychological universe.

Without a doubt, the “Disengagement Plan” can be added to the list of historic events that create “defining experiences.” At this time, our youth are undergoing intense experiences, some of them marvelous and others more difficult. We, the parents, are the “product” of the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War. Our negative feelings regarding Disengagement are secondary to our positive feelings that were created by the previous experiences that we underwent. Although adults are presently undergoing the same experiences as youth, we can better balance them with the help of our previous positive experiences. Hence adults do not lose hope and do not despair.

It is easy for us to internalize the idea that Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook used to say about an unclear text in the Jerusalem Talmud. There it says, “The sanctification of G-d’s name is greater than the profanation of His name.” At face value, these words seem superfluous and obvious. Yet, as Rav Kook explained, the text is referring to a situation in which there is a mixture of light and darkness, of sanctification and profanation of G-d’s name. Regarding the question, “which will hold sway – the light or the darkness,” the Talmud answers, “The sanctification of G-d’s name is greater.” The light holds sway. That is the principle upon which we must we must judge our times. There was light, right now there is light, and there always will be light. It is the light that holds sway.

The most important message that we must pass on to our youth is that they mustn’t despair of the State, neither must they lose hope in Israeli society. There is darkness, but the light will hold sway. In the face of feelings of despair, we must express messages of hope. (to be continued…)


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