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From the World of Rabbi Kook

“Then, one clear day, all those gone astray shall return…and clearly understand that even the negative roles…were always directed by G-d, who controls the generations from start to finish… Then all His children gone far away will return and holiness will be evident in all the work of our builders in the land of our glory, forever.”   (Ma’amarei HaReiyah 185) : 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 Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “Let Our Suffering Not Drive us Mad”

The Rambam’s father wrote a letter to the Jews of Morocco, against whom the Muslims had issued harsh decrees. In his letter, he offers them consolation and encouragement, strengthening their faith and trust in G-d:

“Let our suffering not drive us mad. Let us recall that our covenant is eternal and irrevocable. Surely, He who made it is the G-d of the universe… who chose His people Israel. How can He then abandon them? Surely He gave our people a name the likes of which He gave to no other being that He created [Israel, containing G-d’s own name]… G-d will not abandon us, neither will we abandon him. He cannot hate us. Shall a father hate his own son? Surely we are sons to the L-rd G-d… Let us cast no doubt on His fulfilling His promises to us, just as we cast no doubts on His very existence. From time to time, the nations attacking us will overcome us, pursuing us in their hatred, but we will stand firm by means of our faith in G-d’s promises… Let us pour out our hearts… during days of distress, times of torment and tribulation, days in which sons and daughters are being lost, days of cruelty and despair…let us find much consolation and become stronger in our faith…let us be reassured of our eternity and see our enemies as a momentary phenomenon, and our future redemption as everlasting. G-d will bring us joy, as it says, ‘Gladden us in proportion to the days wherein You have afflicted us, the years wherein we have seen evil’ (verse 15). And one of G-d’s days equals a thousand years of joy.”

Today, Shabbat Chazon, and tomorrow, the 9th of Av, the Jewish People weep and lament the Destruction and the troubles that have befallen us. Previously, there was the destruction of the First and Second Temples; the generation who betrayed Eretz Yisrael and died in the Desert; there was Beitar, which was destroyed, and the Temple Mount which was plowed. There was the expulsion from Spain over five hundred years ago. Today, there is the threatened expulsion of Jews – by Jews – from Gush Katif and Samaria. Woe to us over what has befallen us!

Even so, despite everything, we believe and are certain that our troubles are a momentary phenomenon and our redemption will last forever. Our suffering shall not rob us of our sanity or our faith. We trust in G-d’s oath to be fulfilled: “You and your ancestors will long endure on the land that G-d swore to your ancestors, promising that He would give it to them as long as the heavens are above the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:21). 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 Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
“Prayer of the Conflicted Soldier / Policeman”

Master-of-the-Universe! Save me from my brother who has ordered me to smite my brothers, mothers and children alike. You brought me to this point. Show me the way to serve you. From whence shall I derive the joy of Eretz Yisrael, the tranquility of loving my fellow Jew? Strengthen me! Succor me! Make me a man and not a robot! Keep me from insane acts! Keep me from being partner to a government of bribery and abomination, corruption and crime.

Master-of-the-Universe! I am afraid of myself. I am looking for quiet in the eye of the storm. Shine Your countenance upon me for the day is done; the evening shadows have appeared. G-d in Heaven! You are the Supreme King. May it be Your will to open my heart to love every Jew. Save me from hating my brothers. Redeem me from a war between brothers.

L-rd G-d! Bring me not near to the altar of evil, lest they yell “Nazi!” and “Judenrat” at me. I feel impure. I am ashamed of myself. Woe to me if I meet a close friend. Woe to me before a wildly shrieking child, before a bitterly weeping little girl, before the tearful eyes of a mother, before the penetrating gaze of a father! O my brothers, my brothers! Better I should die and be buried under the sand. If I am not a man, if I am unworthy to be called a man, better they should bury me in the sand.

G-d! The earth is trembling under me. Please don’t break my heart. Help me to be a good person and not to forego Eretz Yisrael or the Jewish People. Master-of-the-Universe! Have mercy on me, for my soul is torn. Help me to stay humane, for my brothers have abandoned brotherhood and they want to smite their brethren. L-rd G-d, who trains my hands for war; my fingers for battle – but against my enemies and not my people – help me not to harm my brothers, like the Jewish policemen in Egypt who were smitten for the sake of the their brothers. Assist me such that my officers should understand me. Help me that inside my uniform, my soul should remain the soul of a Jew.

How great my pain! How terrible it would be if I expelled a brother, if he were wounded. Over time the scar would heal. I, however, shall never get over it. I will remain a psychological cripple all my life, consumed with infinite guilt. The sight of suffering faces, the scenes of shouting children, will accompany me sleeping and awake. Master-of-the-Universe! I am suffering greatly. I have hit rock bottom. I feel like a criminal. My blood is emptying out of me. I am bursting with the weight of the crime. How can I break down a door? If I banish a Jew, I shall never forgive myself. I will have a hole in my heart.

My G-d, keep my soul pure within me, protect it from attackers. Save me! Evil waters have flooded my soul. G-d, teach me to show mercy to my brothers. Save me from all hatred and violence. L-rd of hosts, save us from the national insanity, lest I lift a hand. Let me not hit any Jew! Let me not be cruel to any Jew. Let me not make up false reports about those I arrest in order to cover my actions. Let me overcome my evil impulse. Let my soul be silent to those who curse me, and like dust to all. Open my heart with Your mercy, and may You speedily thwart the plans of this entire, evil government.

G-d, save me from my brother who orders me to banish my brother, for both are my brethren and I love both. I am caught in the middle. Lend me a hand! And may all the nations know that You dwell amongst Your people. Your love rests amongst us forever and ever.

Rabbi Elisha Aviner – Education Corner
Educational Messages and the “Disengagement” (Part 3)

This column is devoted to another educational message that we must pass on to our children. This message is problematic and complex, but quite essential, and especially suited to these days on the Jewish calendar.

Well known are the Talmud’s words (Yoma 9b) that the First Temple was destroyed because of three grave sins: idolatry, sexual sin and bloodshed. Yet “why was the Second Temple destroyed, when at the time the Jews kept Torah and mitzvoth and performed kind deeds? It was due to groundless hatred. This teaches us that groundless hatred is of equal weight to those other three sins, combined.”

Many have a hard time understanding how the Second Temple was destroyed due to groundless hatred even though the Jews studied Torah and performed kind deeds. How could anyone imagine that groundless hatred is the equal of those three sins combined? Moreover, the Talmud asks which generations were greater, those of the First Temple or of the Second? Our sages respond that the Temple is the proof. After the First Temple’s destruction, it was rebuilt. By contrast, after the Second Temple’s destruction, it was not rebuilt. From this we derive that the sins of the Second Temple were graver. This conclusion arouses puzzlement: Could it be that groundless hatred is worse than that of murder?

The Netziv, Rabbi Naphtali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, answers that in the Second Temple period much blood was shed as well. As the history books describe, armed groups fought one another throughout the Second Temple period, especially at the end. If so, what difference was there between the bloodshed of the First Temple period and that of the Second? Netziv explains that during the First Temple period, the general moral level of the people was very low and the crime rate was high. Bandits and murderers ran around undeterred and carried out their schemes. By contrast, during the Second Temple period, the people were righteous and saintly. Yet due to the “groundless hatred that they felt for one another, they suspected those who acted differently from themselves of not being G-d-fearing, of being Sadducees or heretics. This led them to bloodshed of enormous proportions, and to all the other evils on earth, until the Temple was destroyed.” (Netziv’s introduction to “Ha’amek Davar” on Bereshit)

Their bloodshed stemmed from “thinking in terms of mitzvoth. They considered one another Saducees, heretics or informers, who by law may be lowered into a pit [i.e., they may be killed by all possible means]. What made them think like this? Their groundless hatred” (Netziv: Meromei Sadeh). The Netziv adds that instead of giving one another the benefit of the doubt, they hated one another and cast the gravest accusations against one another.

Today, we must be careful that our sons and daughters not fall prey to the sin of groundless hatred. Our youth are fed a variety of expressions that we utter against the initiators and executors of the Disengagement Plan. Some of them –aimed at specific individuals – are exceedingly harsh. We accuse them of corruption, lack of integrity, falsehood, loss of their humanity, etc.

Yet it is forbidden that our children should learn from this that whoever supports the Disengagement Plan is the height of evil, corrupt, and has lost his divine image. We have a serious argument with him. We hold that he has made a terrible mistake. We may even claim that his faith is weak. Yet he is not an evildoer or a “menace to Israel” (I Chronicles 2:7). The thought that anyone who adopts a belief or a spiritual, moral or national path that is different from ours is a corrupt person, is a type of terrible groundless hatred. I am allowed to accuse him of an ideological mistake. I am allowed to think that he is smitten with spiritual weakness that finds expression in despair and the loss of his way. Yet I have no license to turn tens of thousands of Jews into evildoers and menaces to Israel.

There are sensitive citizens, caring people and lovers of Israel, who support the Disengagement Plan because they hold that it is being forced on us by reality. They think that it is going to bring good to the Jewish People in the international realm and that it will improve our security situation. We argue the exact opposite. It isn’t necessary. It causes inestimable damage to our strength as a nation, to the tenets of Zionism, to Eretz Yisrael, to the country’s security, and it hurts the finest settlers of Eretz Yisrael. It tears apart the Jewish People. It was conceived in weakness and it perpetuates that weakness. Its origins are found in a spiritual disengagement from values. Our ideological debate with the supporters of the Disengagement is bitter and deep. The controversy is penetrating. It descends to the depths and skyrockets to the heavens. Yet, it is forbidden that groundless hatred to take control over us.

According to the Netziv, groundless hatred means demonizing our fellow man. In times past, this involved relating to him as a Saducee or a heretic. In our own day, there are other forms of demonization (this is not the place to bring examples). Obviously, it is forbidden to gloss over the facts and to ignore those isolated individuals who really are smitten with corruption. Every time Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook writes about the specialness of the Jewish People, he emphasizes that there are individuals who are exceptions, who have lost their specialness and even their special attachment to G-d (see Letter 555). Yet it is forbidden for us to fall prey to the blight of generalization, relating to the masses the sins of individuals.

The Netziv writes that the opposite of groundless hatred, the opposite of demonization, is giving others the benefit of the doubt. In the Second Temple period they didn’t do this, and we see the result. The Netziv demands that we give the benefit of the doubt even within the framework of sharp ideological and social debates. This demand is aimed at us as well. Yet we mustn’t deny that it is enormously difficult. Pain and frustration fill our hearts, and leave no room for giving the benefit of the doubt to those who seek to uproot large, flourishing cities in Eretz Yisrael. We are duty-bound to strive to give the benefit of the doubt, if not fully then at the very least partially. Even someone who does not succeed in giving the benefit of the doubt at this time is still required not to exacerbate his own groundless hatred, and not to fan its flames.

This is the vital educational message that we must pass on to our sons and daughters. We must hold fast to our positions and grow deeper in our faith. We must increase our good works on behalf of Eretz Yisrael, enthusiastically and devotedly. Yet let us not slip down into groundless hatred against those who disagree with us.

Be sure to catch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir).

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