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From the World of Rabbi Kook (1st Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael)
“Our entire nation believes that following the redemption which is gradually starting up before us, there will be no more exile. Their deep faith in this itself constitutes the secret of their survival. It is G-d’s secret, being revealed through a historic process. Ancient tradition attests to the light of Israel’s soul that knows itself and knows all the chain of events leading up to the end of time, to that generation that anticipates imminent salvation.” (Orot HaTechiyah 77)
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 Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “Abraham Gave All That he Owned to Isaac”
Our sages relate that one time Ishmael’s descendants and Ketura’s descendants came as litigants with the Jewish People before Alexander the Great. They announced, “The Land of Canaan is ours and yours, as it says, ‘These are the chronicles of Ishmael son of Abraham’ (Genesis 25:12), and, ‘These are the chronicles of Isaac son of Abraham’ (25:19).”
One of the wise men, Gevia ben Pesisa, then asked them, “From whence do you bring proof of this?” and they answered, “From the Torah.” He then said, “I too shall bring proof from none other than the Torah, as it says, ‘Abraham gave all that he owned to Isaac. To the sons of the concubines that he had taken, he gave gifts […and he sent them away]’ (25:5-6).” If a man gave a last will and testament to his sons in his lifetime, and he sent some of them away, do not those who remained have any advantage over those sent away?” And what are those gifts that Abraham gave the sons of the concubines? The skills of sorcery (see Sanhedrin 91a).
By contrast, to his son Isaac he gave not only the Land but the ability to bestow blessing, which was a trait unique to Abraham, as it says, “You shall become a blessing…. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (12:2-3). As Rashi there explains, “The blessings were placed in Abraham’s hands to bless whomever he wished.” Indeed, when there is a saint in the Land, he is like a wellspring of living waters through whose deeds and blessings all are blessed. (see Malbim, ibid.). Even in our day, the Arabs argue and demand that the Land must be partitioned. They present their argument before President Bush and the nations of the world. Yet we know with certainty that this argument of theirs not only has no basis in the Torah, as our sages said, but it is also a ruse along the way to their true goal, the conquest of Jerusalem and the liquidation of the State of Israel.
The Jewish People are rising to rebirth after two thousand years of exile, to actualize G-d’s promise to Abraham, that he would become a great nation and a source of blessing and light to the world – Israel and Jerusalem being the light of the universe. By contrast, our enemies, in their impurity and sorcery, wish to snuff out the light of the universe. As King David said, “Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain? The kings of the earth join ranks; the rulers take counsel together against the L-rd and against His anointed” (Psalm 2:1-2).
Yet the day is not far off when in the war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness, we will enjoy tremendous victory. As the Prophet Zechariah said (14:3,12,13,16): “Then shall the L-rd go forth, and fight against those nations…. And this shall be the plague wherewith the L-rd will smite all the peoples that have warred against Jerusalem…. On that day, there shall be a great tumult…. and every one left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King.” Then through us shall be fulfilled Zechariah’s words, “The L-rd shall be King over all the earth. On that day shall the L-rd be One, and His name one” (14:9). Looking forward to complete salvation,
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
“Don’t Believe Lashon Hara (evil gossip)”
Don’t believe a single word of evil gossip from anyone! Don’t listen to it altogether! That itself is forbidden. Yet if you happen to hear it, don’t believe it. There’s so much Lashon Hara in the world! There’s so much falsehood and slander!
Tales were spread about Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook that he was a closet Christian, about Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto that he was a false Messiah, about Rambam that he had become a Moslem, about the Prophet Jeremiah that he had cohabited with a harlot, about Moses that had committed adultery with 600,000 women!
Even what you see with your own two eyes, don’t believe! Maybe you don’t know all the details and if you did it would change the picture. This is called giving the benefit of the doubt, not in the sense of wearing blinders and emotionally distorting the truth, but in the sense of clarifying what the truth is. Yet let’s not forget that the truth means all the truth. This is the rule. Even what you see with your own eyes, don’t believe!
The story is told that Rabbi Arye Levine saw someone purchase a flower pot in the middle of a funeral. He was very puzzled. Yet when he clarified matters, he found out that the departed had a dangerous, contagious disease. The hospital had therefore decided to burn all his effects, including his tefillin, unless they would be taken directly for burial. That person therefore bought a flower pot in order to bury the tefillin.
A woman was once waiting for a plane at the airport, munching on sugar wafers. Suddenly she was called up to the desk to clarify matters. When she returned, she saw a man of Chareidi appearance unabashedly eating her sugar wafers. She didn’t wish to insult him, so she took a wafer and began to eat it, in order to hint to him that they were hers. Yet he did not take the hint and continued to eat. He ate one and she ate one, until the package was finished. She was astonished by his chutzpah, but kept quiet. Yet when she settled down in the plane and opened her bag, she saw her package of wafers inside, and she then recalled that she had put them in her bag when she went to the desk. Suddenly the story took on an entirely different hue.
The story is told that when the Arizal arrived in Tsefat, he was appointed to a committee that dealt with sin. Very early one morning, a member of the committee rose to pray at sunrise, and as he opened his window, he saw a married woman leave her home and approach the courtyard of a man known as an adulterer. The man was very shocked, and after services he assembled the committee and told them about the terrible deed of that woman.
The Arizal said to him, “Quiet! How dare you to speak so about a reputable Jewish woman? In the same courtyard as that adulterer a visitor from the Diaspora has found lodgings. That visitor has brought money and a secret letter from this woman’s husband, and her husband demanded that the money and letter not be delivered to the woman by a third party, but directly. She therefore went there, and so modest is she that she chose to go early in the morning when there is no one else on the street so that no one would look at her.” The committee member responded, “Forgive me, Rebbe! Forgive me!” Yet the Arizal answered, “It isn’t me you have to ask for forgiveness, but that righteous, modest woman whom you suspected!”
Another story is told of rabbis who held a large gathering in order to deliberate on the problems of the generation, and afterwards ate a meal together. In the middle, the senior rabbi rose and informed the others that he would show them a marvelous sight. From his pocket he removed a coin from the time of King David, which he would use for such rituals as “redeeming the firstborn”. The coin passed from hand to hand, and all the rabbis were very excited.
Yet at some point it disappeared. Everyone looked for it on the table and the floor, but the coin had disappeared into thin air. An unpleasant mood developed. The senior rabbi said, “Perhaps one of the rabbis unintentionally, out of habit, put the coin in his pocket. Please, let’s everyone have a look.” They were a bit insulted; they searched, but they didn’t find it. The mood was now grave. The senior rabbi said, “Perhaps accidentally the coin fell into the pocket of one of you, without your noticing it. Rabbis have lots of pockets too. Perhaps a rabbi is unaware of all his pockets. I therefore suggest that every rabbi should examine the pockets of the rabbi sitting on his right.” The rabbis felt very uncomfortable at this, but out of respect for the senior rabbi they performed his request, but they didn’t find anything. There was one elderly Torah scholar, however, who said forcefully to the man on his left, “No one is going to search my garb!”
“Why not,” his neighbor asked. The elderly rabbi turned red in the face, but he insisted, “No one will search me!” The senior rabbi turned to him and asked, “Then what you do suggest?” “I don’t suggest anything!” he cried. Everyone was silent. The mood was terrible. A heavy silence enveloped the chamber. After ten minutes, the waiter burst in holding the coin. He had accidentally cleared it away with the tray of dishes. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, gazed shamefacedly at the elderly Torah scholar whom they had suspected. They then asked him why he had refused. He then put his hand into his pocket, took out a similar coin and said, “I, too, brought an identical coin to show everyone, but when the senior rabbi showed his, I saw no reason to compete with him. And now, who would have believed me that I too had such a coin?…” Everyone lowered his head in shame and said, “It was worth coming here just for this to happen.”
Now do you understand? Don’t believe a word of evil gossip, even what you yourself have seen!
Rabbi Moti Herschkoff – Rosh Yeshiva of Kinor David Ateret
“The Purchase of Ma’arat HaMachpela (the Cave of Machpela)”
The Torah’s clear, precise, detailed documentation regarding the purchase of Ma’arat HaMachpela constituted, both the past and present, a historic tool of enormous significance vis-à-vis the nations of the world, but chiefly vis-à-vis ourselves. Yet if we suffice with that, the Torah’s purpose in detailing all the stages of the offer and refusal that preceded the actual transaction remains unclear. What would have been missing had the Torah made due with the two verses that summarize this section and describe the transfer of so much money to Ephron, and the transfer of ownership to Abraham? It would seem that in detailing the stages of negotiations that precede the purchase, the Torah is trying to impart to us something of Abraham’s philosophy no less than describing the purchase itself.
In the section on the negotiations that precede the purchase, Abraham, that man of kindness and giving (Micha 7:20), is revealed to us as steadfast and uncompromising in everything having to do with his refusal to accept kindness from others. Unlike his rejection of the King of Sodom’s offer, where Abraham refused to accept property that was not originally his, his refusal this time was very expensive for him, costing him a great deal of the wealth that he had acquired through his own toil. The Torah takes pains to describe Ephron’s generous offer, and Abraham’s polite refusal, in accordance with all the rules of protocol extant in those times.
The profound difference between an unearned gift and acquisition by way of high-price purchase was clear to Abraham from the start. An unearned gift could be given to someone unilaterally, hence the receiver would have no real ownership over the gift, despite the fact that he had been given the possibility of benefiting from it. Abraham’s only connection to the Machpelah Cave, had he received it as a gift, would be the right of burial, per se.
By contrast, by way of purchase, the purchaser creates genuine ownership over the purchased object. He gives of himself, of the money he acquired through his efforts, for the object’s transfer to his own domain and ownership. Therefore, in the case of Ma’arat HaMachpela’s purchase, the issue is not just the act of burial, but the land’s becoming a “burial property” (Genesis 23:4), a genuine acquisition. Abraham, by his strong insistence on making a real purchase, bequeathed to us the secret of the Jewish People’s survival – the sense of commitment engendered through personal attachment.
Without a doubt, this important lesson from Abraham is particularly relevant in our own day, an era in which various, bizarre attempts and experiments are being made to pull the rug out from under assets to which we have a binding attachment, such as Eretz Yisrael and the family unit. Occasionally it more than just seems that the point of departure of the Disengagement or the Abomination March is the same moral and ethical breakdown. In response to this, a deep-set imperative is aroused within us to follow in the pathway of the Patriarchs, to teach and to educate with great clarity the important significance of the acquisition of the Machpelah Cave, which creates a bond and identification and a commitment to everything that is truly dear to us.
From Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook’s talks on “Orot” 96
“Self-Sacrifice for the Unity of the Nation”
A blemish in the Jewish People here on earth causes a “blemish”, so to speak, in the Divine Presence above. All the profound, lofty, spiritual entities in the Heavenly realm are harmed by a spiritual process of divisiveness within the Jewish People. It’s frightening! When one knows this, one understands how shocking are the results that divisiveness within the Jewish People can cause.
Hence, the greatest saints of the Jewish People are the foundation of the Jewish People. They are the “Defense Forces” of the Master of the Universe. They stand guard, protecting Jewish souls, protecting spirituality, protecting the divine against all of these negative tendencies and processes.
They devotedly stand guard against all these points of divisiveness within the Jewish People. They are ready to suffer, and to sacrifice themselves for the unity of the Jewish Nation. These world-class saints, who truly love G-d and revere His name, devotedly wage war over this principle of preserving Israel’s unity.
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