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Parashat Vayetze

From the World of Rabbi Kook
“Be strong and fear not! The light of the Messiah is shining. Everlasting redemption is everywhere visible through the window slats. From the darkness of despicable wickedness and heresy, forsaken of men, shall emerge a supreme light, which will set Israel on the right path and exalt the stature of the nation that knows its G-d.” (Orot 67)

Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “The Glory, Brilliance and Splendor of Eretz Yisrael”

“Jacob left Be’er Sheva, and went to Charan” (Genesis 28:10). Rashi comments: “It had only to be written: ‘Jacob went to Charan.’ Why, then, mention his departing? This tells us that the departure of a righteous person from his place makes an impression, for while a righteous person is in the city, he is its glory, brilliance and splendor. When he leaves it, its glory, brilliance and splendor depart.”

The Jewish People’s departure from Eretz Yisrael likewise makes an impression. When Israel was exiled from Eretz Yisrael at the end of the Second Temple Period, the glory, brilliance and splendor of the Land departed, and the Land was left desolate. The verse was then fulfilled, “I will make the land so desolate that [even] your enemies who live there will be astonished” (Leviticus 26:32).

Yet since our return to our land over a hundred years ago, with the intent of settling it, we see with our own yes how the words of Ezekiel 36:8 are being fulfilled: “But you, O mountains of Israel, your shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are at hand to come.”

Today, the State of Israel is developing by leaps and bounds. This process is occurring in two stages, to which our sages find an allusion in Leviticus 26:13. The first stage is the ingathering of the exiles and the establishment of a national home in the form of a militarily and economically strong, independent state. Simultaneously, and by way of the first stage, secretly and openly, the second stage is occurring. The Jewish People are developing spiritually in Eretz Yisrael, and the glory, brilliance and splendor of the land of our life’s blood are being restored to it. Already today, Eretz Yisrael is the greatest center in the world of people learning Torah. The Torah is returning to its natural abode, to Zion and to Jerusalem, as it says, “For out of Zion shall the Torah go forth, and the word of G-d from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).

The farther along the upward path we march, the more the lofty spiritual level of the Jewish People will be revealed, and we will all then merit a new light that will shine over Zion, speedily in our day. Looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Ya’akov Filber –Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir
“G-d Intervention in Free Will”

Our sages’ rule that “everything is in G-d’s hands except for the fear of G-d” does not mean that man has total freedom to do whatever he feels like. The above rule has a parallel rule stating that man’s free will only applies for the individual, but where the welfare of the entire Jewish People is concerned, man does not have unlimited free will. Above the law of free will other rules operate within reality, serving the divine plan. One of them is this: If a man’s free will is liable to disrupt or encroach upon the divine plan, Divine providence then activates additional forces that direct man’s free will to positive channels. We see such a balance in the physical nature of reality. By such means, Divine Providence ensures balance in the spiritual realm as well. If G-d sees mankind being drawn in one extreme direction, He then activates opposing forces that will bring the human spirit to a proper balance.

In several of his articles, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook focused on this phenomenon, and I shall bring two examples. In his article “LiDemut Dyukano shel HaRambam” [Profile of the Rambam] (appeared in Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah I:113), Rav Kook explains that in man’s spirit, two movements have an influence on his faith, one positive and the other negative. The positive movement brings him closer to G-d, but this longing, when it flows unchecked and unsupervised by man, is liable to take a monstrous, heinous form, full of wickedness and foolishness. From such longing emerged idolatry and all the other types of forbidden worship.

Then Divine Providence arouses in man’s spirit a counter movement of negativism, a spirit of heresy, as a counter force to cleanse mankind of the filth of idolatry. This heresy is what shall refine and purify the longing for closeness to G-d, and shall liberate it from its dark perversions.

Another example of this phenomenon of two opposing movements within man’s spirit is brought by Rav Kook in his article “Gargirim Hegyoniyim” (written during his period as Rabbi of Jaffa), where he explains: Every entity has a task in Creation, and the greater the need for that task to be fulfilled, the greater the entity’s importance.

Rav Kook applies this principle also regarding the condition of religious philosophy, and he writes the following there: “In our day, the demand to know G-d has decreased, and this decrease has caused led to negligence and superficiality in our approach to theology. That same superficiality has led to a breakdown in man’s understanding of the spirit, and to the distortion of the concepts required for man to achieve perfection as far as Torah and G-d’s name.

“These distortions are mostly found precisely amongst Jews of full faith, those who are inherently good, with a proclivity for bearing the yoke of Torah and faith, either due to their inherent goodness or to the good education they received in the proper path. It is precisely they who cause philosophical chaff to mix in with the grain. Moreover, it is precisely the innocence of these people of full faith, whose spiritual outlook is blighted with weeds, which prevents them from being aroused on their own to examine their conceptual world as far as knowing G-d. And since our religious philosophy has to be purified, Divine Providence employs the brash attacks of the impudent of our generation. Thus, their influence will increase, and by their impudence they will remove from the public agenda the distortions in our philosophical faith.”

This option, writes Rav Kook, might be painful, but there is also another way to blunt the brash attacks of the impudent, and that is if those who seek G-d toil to achieve purity and truth in their concepts of faith and the ramifications deriving from them. The more all-encompassing will be the clarification process, the less need there will be of the ‘service’ provided by the impudent in purifying faith. When their task is completed, wickedness will then automatically fall away to nothingness when there is no longer any need of it.

Pursuing this thought, that negative phenomena can be rectified not by war but by a positive approach, we can understand Rav Kook’s guidance when he wrote: “Pristine saints do not complain about wickedness, but increase justice. They do not complain about heresy, but increase faith. They do not complain about ignorance, but increase wisdom” (Erpalei Tohar, page 39).

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