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PARASHAT MASEI

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From the World of Rav Avraham HaCohen Kook
“The rebirth of our people has to be complete. It has to encompass physical and spiritual rebirth, rebirth of the sacred and the secular. Indeed, the whole purpose of the secular rebirth is to bring us to spiritual rebirth, to the rebirth of the holy.” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, p. 336)


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Rabbi Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “I Will Restore Your Judges…Zion Shall be Redeemed With Justice”


In the Plains of Moab, on the Jordan River at Jericho, G-d commanded the Israelites, by way of Moses, the laws of statutes regarding inheriting the Land, pledges and the murderer (Ibn Ezra, Numbers 36:13). There, facing Moab, Israel prepared to enter the Land and conquer it, and in that setting, Moses, and later on Joshua, gave them their operational orders. Those orders consisted of the following: “When you cross the Jordan into the Land of Canaan, you must drive out the land’s inhabitants ahead of you… Clear out the land and live in it, since it is to you that I am giving the land to occupy” (Numbers 33:51-53).

Simultaneously, Israel was warned that unless they fulfilled the mitzvah of conquering the Land and banishing the foreign peoples in it, they would suffer compound troubles: “If you do not drive out the land’s inhabitants before you, those who remain shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, causing you troubles in the land that you settle. I will then do to you what I originally planned to do to them” (verses 55-56). Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh explains that even if Israel left the foreign nations in place happily and willingly, those enemies would still plague them with troubles. If Israel considered compromising with them over the Land, i.e., dividing it with them permanently, those nations would not make peace. Rather, they would behave hostilely towards Israel regarding the portion that Israel remained in, saying, “Up and out with you!”

Indeed, Joshua stressed the mitzvah of banishing all the Land’s inhabitants in his comments before the people prior to their crossing the Jordan. As the Talmud teaches: “While they were still at the Jordan, Joshua said to them: Realize why you are crossing the Jordan: It is in order to drive out all the Land’s inhabitants before you, as it says: ‘Drive out the Land’s inhabitants ahead of you.’ If you do so, well and good. Otherwise, water will come and flood you [oteichem] out.’ Why the odd form ‘oteichem’ for you? It means ‘oti’ [‘Me’, i.e., G-d] and you.” (Sotah 34a). In other words, the purpose of conquering the Land was to conquer it all and not just parts of it.

It is no coincidence that Rabbi Chaim Atar was called “Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh” – “the holy living light”, for he was like his name. In his commentaries, he envisioned the future of the Jewish People. He understood that it would not help Israel to leave foreign nations in the Land, and that those nations would bring compound troubles upon Israel. They would never resign themselves to the State of Israel, and they would fight it constantly, with the goal of destroying it. The punishment for our failure to banish the land’s inhabitants is that “G-d will then do to us what He originally planned to do to them.”

Today, to our great chagrin, Jews wish to banish Jews, G-d forbid. Yet let us not lose hope. The rectification to the corruption and the tragic error of Prime Minister Sharon will surely come about through an alternative leadership speedily arising to replace the present one. Already, there is no justification for that present leadership’s existence, for more and more, it is being revealed as corrupt. As the Prophet Isaiah said: “Your princes are rebellious and the companions of thieves. Every one loves bribes and pursues reward” (Isaiah 1:23). In their stead we will merit the fulfillment of the prophet’s words: “I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.” (Isaiah 1:26-27). 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
“The Army Can’t?”


The Israeli army “can’t”? There’s no such thing as “can’t.” There’s only “doesn’t want to.” That’s what they say in the army, and they’re right. Here’s the rule. There’s no such thing as the army not being able to fulfill a mission. If the army can’t do it, it’s no longer the army. That’s the rule. Yet every rule has its exceptions. There are things the Israeli army cannot do, and if it does them, it is no longer the Israeli army.

If the Israeli army uproots a Jewish community from Eretz Yisrael, then it’s no longer the Israeli army. If it gets into a civil war, which according to what was published in the name of the Prime Minister’s Office is liable to cause several hundred deaths, it is no longer the Israeli army. The Israeli army, or, in its official title, “The Israel Defense Forces,” is, as its name suggests, a military force intended for the defense of Jews. It certainly is not meant to serve as a force for banishing good, peaceful Jews from their homes and transferring those homes to their murderers. If the I.D.F. throws men, women and children into the street, without a home, without a means of earning a living, without schools, then it is no longer the I.D.F., but the opposite, the I.E.F., the Israel Expulsion Force, or the I.U.F., the Israel Uprooting Force., or the I.A.F., the Israel Abandonment Force.

Here is a letter from an army officer:
“I am a company commander in an infantry unit that is earmarked to evacuate civilians. We have been trained for numerous scenarios and in all of them it is clear that we are obligated to carry out the orders with a maximum of sensitivity and a minimum of hurt. Yet one scenario has not been taken into account, and that is the simple event in which we are unable to perform the mission. If this occurs, it will not be because we are not strong but because we are unable to cut off a Jew from his land, especially following a long period in which we risked out lives to defend him. One thing is clear. On the day of reckoning, there will be orders but there will not be soldiers to carry them out. I therefore beg of you: Don’t employ violence. That will ruin everything. We are incapable of carrying out this mission. Quite the contrary, we will help the evacuees to return to their homes. Let me conclude by pointing out that I am a proud secular Jew who is happy that there are sane Jews in this country. For your sakes, it is worth it for me to fight for our land and our country, and to defend it. There are a lot of other people like me who have not yet spoken, but on the day of reckoning we will hear from them. With a torn heart and with tears, I say to everyone that we are brothers and it is forbidden to argue with brothers. See you in Gush Katif.”

How fortunate the soldier who is incapable. How fortunate the soldier who remains a human being, who remains a Jew with a Jewish heart that they have not succeeded in destroying. How fortunate the army that does not destroy itself from a humanistic perspective. How fortunate the army that does not place soldiers in an impossible dilemma and does not ask brother to smite brother, mother and children. How fortunate the army that does not spend billions to expel Jews and to unleash a security catastrophe upon others Jews in the Northern Negev and the Sharon. How fortunate the army that does not make its chief task the defense of the prime minister from criminal charges. How fortunate the army that does not wipe out brotherhood.

When the army finds they cannot, they may feel a bit ill at ease. We will therefore console them and say to them that they possess a trait of their Maker. G-d, as well, has things that He cannot do, as our great master Rambam states, that G-d cannot create a G-d like Himself, neither can He be made into a corporeal being. This trait does not constitute, Heaven forbid, weakness or impotence (Guide to the Perplexed II:13). Let me add here that the Master-of-the-Universe cannot do something immoral, neither can He do something illogical, and neither trait constitutes a shortcoming, Heaven forbid, but a virtue.

It is the same regarding our army. It cannot be that our army cannot defend our country, and indeed, it does defend it. It cannot be that our army cannot rout terror, and indeed it does rout terror. Of no less importance, our army cannot stand before the gentle rebuke: “Brother, are you expelling me?!” Only, soldiers must emphasize that there is no refusal of orders here and no rebellion. There is no political manipulation and no balance of fear. There is only a genuine, moral, humanistic inability on the part of soldiers who have been placed in an impossible situation fraught with infinite moral difficulties that make it absolutely impossible for them to act in this way against fellow Jews.

There is a story told of two, not religious, leftist female soldiers who led countless educational workshops in preparation for the Disengagement. Those spoke enthusiastically and convincingly about the duty to obey orders. Then they themselves received notification that they were going to be called upon to participate in the expulsion, and they broke out in tears. Puzzled, the other soldiers asked them, “Didn’t you talk incessantly about the duty of soldiers to fulfill orders?” and they answered, “Sure, but not us!”

At the heart of our army will always stand mutual responsibility. We have one army, one police force and they constitute the center of our national consensus. We so love our army and police, and when they show that they cannot carry out the expulsion, we will love them many times as much. We shall always remain one people with one army.


Rabbi Elisha AvinerEducation Corner
“Educational Messages and the Disengagement” (Part 2)


In our previous column we dealt with two issues: first, the defining experience of our youth’s activities on behalf of Eretz Yisrael. This is a constructive experience which has a pioneering and a faith aspect to it, a message of supreme sensitivity and brotherhood, of volunteerism and devotion, of responsibility vis-à-vis the entire Jewish People. Second, we dealt with strengthening our children’s awareness of hope, so that they do not despair of the country and of Israeli society. Despite the harsh crises that are impairing all government functioning and that are affecting the public at large, we mustn’t despair. Rather, we must believe that that which they have ruined can be fixed, and that within the darkness light is still concealed. This light is the main thing. The sanctification of G-d’s name is more powerful than the profanation of His name, even when the two are mixed together.

We are not in despair over Israeli society, and not even over the Jewish State. Hence, we are not abandoning ship. We know that the repair work is complex, and that we shall not succeed in completing it in a day. Only, we mustn’t despair.

3. Aggressiveness. Our youth are exposed to a very aggressive atmosphere. The political dialogue is aggressive, the government’s law-enforcement agencies exercise strong-arm tactics and violence. There is police brutality, violence in the justice system, the use of the army against civilians, and all of it with legal license. Youth are liable to learn from this that social conflicts can be solved by the use of force, and that the key to salvation is force. Some youths say, “Politeness and etiquette are fine and good, but they render us irrelevant in Israeli society. Force must be answered with force. If we were more violent, nobody would dare to touch us, let alone to harm that which is precious to us.”

In response to such trains of thought, we must present an entirely different message: In the generation of redemption, we do not win social conflicts within the Jewish People by means of force. That is our working assumption. We are not pacifists. We are aware what force can accomplish, but it is reserved for war against the external enemy. Force is not just physical violence but aggressiveness, threats, being coercive to others. As Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook wrote: “We shall redeem the people from their dire straits by means of teachers armed with spiritual valor. They won’t need staves to bind the people” (from a message he wrote for the month of Tamuz)

What connection is there between this quotation and the month of Tamuz and “their dire straits”? According to Rabbi Yosef Karo in Shulchan Aruch, most of the mourning practices start on the first day of the month of Av, excluding two practices that begin on the 17th of Tamuz and that continue throughout the Three Weeks. One of them is: “From the 17th of Tamuz until the 9th of Av… teachers must not strike pupils” (Orach Chaim 551:18). Even though sometimes, for the sake of education, our sages permitted gently striking a pupil, one mustn’t behave this way during the Three Weeks. The exodus from exile and destruction cannot be advanced through hitting. Redemption will come through spiritual valor and not through coercion. And what are these “binding staves”? He is referring to aggressiveness, coerciveness, forcing the hand of others. In the generation of redemption, the Jewish People cannot bear aggressiveness. Even if we succeed in applying force, that success will only last a short time. Afterwards the Jewish People will rebel and will loathe everything that was achieved through that force.

How can we win in internal conflicts? By means of “spiritual valor”. “Spiritual valor” includes two components: nonviolence and fortitude. We shall not win by cynically abasing ourselves before all sorts of high-placed elites. Spiritual valor means uncompromisingly, stubbornly sticking to principles. At the same time, it does not avail itself of strong-arm tactics to pass those principles on to society. Rather, it advocates influencing spiritually, radiating a spiritual message, explaining, addressing people with a message that bursts forth from the heart and enters the listener’s heart. This is the only efficient way in this generation of redemption. And if this does not work… that does not attest to the failure of this approach. It is only a sign that we need increased spiritual valor.

Make no mistake: We possess a great store of spiritual valor. We have enough to ensure our own survival and to prevent our disintegrating within the society that surrounds us. Our valor prevents our assimilation. It preserves our psychological vitality. It transforms us into idealistic people of the spirit. Yet in order for us to influence our surroundings an added measure of spiritual valor is required. It is no coincidence that Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, all his life, called upon the religious public to deepen their faith and worldview. How is our generation different from previous generations in which a little bit of faith sufficed? Why must we deepen our faith so much? The answer is that without spiritual valor, without spiritual fortitude, it is impossible in the generation of redemption to be victorious in the conflict over the identity of the Jewish State and Israeli society.

Our sages teach that the Torah scholars in the Diaspora are called “binders” (from Zechariah 11:7), while the Torah scholars of Eretz Yisrael are called “graciousness,” for they “address one another graciously regarding Jewish law” (Sanhedrin 24a). Addressing others graciously does not mean submitting to them. It isn’t weakness. It isn’t self-abnegation. It only means radiating pleasantness. Obviously, we cannot just suffice with speeches and sermons, leaflets and articles. In order to influence society, we have to avail ourselves of political means. Yet even political struggles must be carried on by pleasant means. This is the message that we have to pass on to our youth.

Here is the place to devote a few words to the importance of involving our youth in activities such as “Panim El Panim,” or in giving out orange ribbons. Their practical importance is great, but additionally, they have educational importance. When a boy (or girl) stands at a road junction, smiles at a driver and says good morning to them, and sometimes even is privileged to tie an orange ribbon to the car’s antenna, that is an educational lesson of the highest order. It includes all three of the previous messages: The youth is working on behalf of Eretz Yisrael and on behalf of the Jewish identify of the State of Israel. He is also learning that that we mustn’t despair of the Jewish People. Finally, he learns that victory will be achieved by employing a pleasant approach. The same applies with “Panim El Panim” [lobbying door-to-door against the disengagement]. Thus, this approach is not just a tactic, but a long-term strategy that expresses our basic faith in the future of the Jewish People and in the appropriate manner for influencing them.

(to be continued)



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