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From the World of Rabbi Kook
“The land of Israel, with its new settlement, is spreading the light of Torah and steadfast holiness. May G-d strengthen the builders in their holy work in increasing settlement and construction in the Holy Land”. (Igarot HaRe’iyah 109)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Founder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “We Must Pass on Love and Faith to the Jewish People”
Everything happening today in Israel is a tangible, concrete expression of the moral, spiritual and ethical doldrums in which the State of Israel finds itself. Rectification of this severe crisis in values will surely come about by means of a cultural, educational and ethical change transpiring in Israeli society. It will take place in the life of the individual, the family, the society, and in the way that the country is run.
Eighty-seven years ago, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook foresaw that the Zionist movement that had engraved on its banner that it had no connection to religion would lead the people and the State to a spiritual and moral crisis in values. Today we see that this has happened. He called then for the establishment of a political and spiritual movement that would influence the process of national rebirth. That process would be influenced by the holy, and that would make our national rebirth what it truly must be. In other words, through us would be fulfilled the promises previously made to Abraham: “I will make you a great nation, and you shall be for a blessing…. Through you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3). Also fulfilled would be G-d’s pronouncement to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, that we are “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) whose purpose it is to shower light upon the world.
It is not as the thinkers of the Zionist movement conceived, that we are meant to be a nation like all others, whose purpose would be solely to eat and drink and to rest in peace from the troubles of the exile, and nothing more. Such thinking has brought us to our present moral and spiritual crisis.
Rabbi Kook called his movement “Degel Yerushalayim” [the Banner of Jerusalem] because Jerusalem is the tangible spiritual expression of the Congregation of Israel in all its unity and glory. In fact, it is in Jerusalem that the global mission of the Jewish People is increasingly being revealed: “For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of G-d out of Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). Unfortunately, Rabbi Kook’s call to establish such a movement with the purpose of sanctifying and exalting the process of rebirth in our land has not yet been fulfilled. It is still a shelf plan.
Today, the call of the hour is to advance the plans of Rav Kook’s “Degel Yerushalayim” from potential to actual use. The nation is in great need of unity. That unity will surely come about, but only if together we attach ourselves to the Jewish values and roots from which the Jewish People have always drawn their sustenance.
The social and political crisis that has beset our country requires a national reassessment. If until today, existential issues, security and economics, stood at the top of our national priorities, the call of the hour is to place values and ethics at the top. We can and must change the country’s mood through our people’s returning to themselves. They must recognize their own worth and return to their Jewishness. This mission falls upon every single Jew for whom the welfare and unity of our nation are precious. Let us be strong and courageous on behalf of our people and on behalf of the cities of our G-d and look forward to complete redemption, speedily in our day,
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
“Facing up to Evil”
Question: My mother was incarcerated due to a false police charge that she had thrown a burning tire onto the road. Rabbi Aviner, I was standing by her. No tire was thrown! Based on this charge she was tried a judge who put his stamp on the injustice. I myself stood quietly in protest over this abominable incident, without doing anything bad. Police cruelly beat and trampled anyone who was wearing a yarmulke, even if he did nothing.
The police take violent policemen and place them in hot spots, where they mistreat citizens in an unbelievable manner. I saw how a policeman was brutally beating a little girl, and how another policeman violently arrested a girl. She is still in pain from that incident. Another policeman beat a boy more and more. A friend of mine, a brave fellow, approached the policeman and said to him, “If you don’t stop, I’ll submit a complaint against you.” So the policeman himself submitted a complaint against my friend for assaulting a policeman! Now his life has been complicated with trials and lawyers. At Kfar Maimon, I saw how the police made a provocation and beat people who weren’t doing anything. In the courts, they believe the false police reports. Rabbi Aviner, the justice system has collapsed!
Afterwards, in the prison, it’s terrible as well. Girls were arrested and held in disgraceful conditions. They were prohibited from bathing and from receiving a change of clothing. They were also prohibited from calling home or from taking a short walk in the small prison yard. The police didn’t even bother to contact the parents to inform them of the arrest.
The news media, as well, are full of lies. They, whose job it is to fight for truth, have likewise collapsed. They’ve collapsed, Rabbi! Everything is falling apart! Once it wasn’t like that. Yet our prime minister has succeeded, by way of threats and economic pressure, in forcing the cabinet, the Knesset, the courts, the police, the army and the media to submit. He has turned the Israeli army into a political police force that persecutes devoted, upright citizens in order to advance a program that hasn’t the least bit of logic or ethics.
Until now, he hasn’t even bothered to explain it to the people. Following the example of the British, he has produced a sort of “White Paper” that forbids Jews from living in portions of their land. In the past, the nations expelled us. Now, they are using us to expel ourselves. Rabbi Aviner! It’s terrible! Good people from Gush Katif are being thrown into the street, with low compensation payments for their homes and a mere pittance for their factories, and the children remain without schools! Whoever does not leave of his own free will is slated to lose all the compensation for his home and work place.
What cruelty! They’ve gone nuts! They’re expelling Jews who have come home and have been living there for three generations! They’re spitting in the face of the entire Zionist enterprise! Soldiers are bursting with frustration over the great injustice. They are going to emerge from this as emotional cripples. The expelled Jews will ultimately be rehabilitated, but the soldiers never will. Years of psychological therapy won’t help.
If a soldier says that he is incapable of carrying out the task, he is persecuted. The soldiers are given no choice, because they know that almost none of them will be capable of doing it. They won’t refuse orders. They just won’t be able. Even the non-observant soldiers. Yet all of them are afraid to talk, so this is a dictatorship, as it was with the prevention of the plebiscite. In order to expel his fellow Jew, the soldier has no choice but to mentally demonize the settlers. Or, he can function like a robot without thoughts and emotions.
Rabbi! What is happening to us? They’ve succeeded in creating a quarrel between us. Some estimate that there will be between three and four hundred wounded or killed on both sides. It’s insane! The army is preparing sharpshooters to kill anyone who opens fire. Rabbi, make no mistake! I am a happy, optimistic type, but I can’t stop crying over the terrible injustice being done to a wonderful community that has been struck by thousands of bombs, and so many blows and tragedies. This prime minister is an evil man. He is evil incarnate! He is turning everyone else into evil people as well. Darkness is covering our country. A “might makes right” attitude has taken over. Perhaps we really should stop being so gentle, and we should return to this evil man what he has dished out to us. I have lost faith in the Jewish State! Where is the Divine Providence!?
Answer: You’re right. It really is terrible! There is a lot of darkness and a lot of evil. But there are also a lot of good things. There is also a lot of light. Some see the shadows, but others see the light above the shadows. After all, if there are shadows, that signifies that there is light, and that light is so very sweet. Therefore, we mustn’t despair. Rather, we must increase the light. There’s nothing new about a situation in which evil strikes precisely at the good, or in which the righteous suffer. It’s nothing new to have evil inundating the world. G-d gave evil the power to act against His will, as though, G-d forbid, He has no power to restrain it. Moreover, that evil masquerades as good in order to deceive the good. When a great light shines, darkness wants to swallow it up. Since it cannot come near to it as it is, it disguises itself in a mantle of light.
The struggle over Gush Katif is not just against an inhuman man who wishes to throw innocent people into the street. It is not just against a man who is uprooting Zionism and spitting in the face of the Matriarch Rachel, who has tearfully beseeched G-d down through the generations, “May the sons return to their borders.” It is a war against evil itself! We must therefore be very careful not to be evil ourselves, for if in order to fight more forcefully we become evil, then evil wins. After all, so to speak, G-d restricts Himself in order to give man free will. Hence man can rise up against G-d. There is no good unless we do our utmost to make it. When a person turns his back on evil, that force that could, Heaven forbid, rise up against G-d, instead changes direction and turns to G-d. Therefore, we must fight against the evil within us. We must subjugate the evil impulse within us. Observe how the people of Gush Katif turned desolation into a garden of G-d, sort of like transforming the evil impulse into the good impulse.
We won’t let the Force of Evil poison our souls. We won’t be sullied by a war against filth. We won’t pray for our prime minister to die. Rather, like Rabbi Meir’s wife Bruria, we will pray for our prime minister to repent, just the way that Abraham prayed for Sodom. Each Shabbat, we will recite a prayer for the Jewish State’s welfare, that G-d should send our prime minister light and truth so that he can repent. I have seen so much light, so much goodness. I have seen a holy population sacrificing itself on behalf of Gush Katif, walking in the sun, small children and the elderly, mothers with baby carriages. I have seen a holy population that conquered the evil impulse within them, standing hours and days without a bit of violence. They did this not in response to a warning from the army and the police, but by their own decision. It was not because they were frightened by the wall of soldiers. After all, we are talking about youth without an ounce of fear. Rather, so full are they of love for their fellow Jew that they will not push a soldier a single inch.
Our youth know how to bend their passions to the light of Torah. Are they enthusiastic? Yes! Are they hot heads? No! When our prime minister tells us, “You must choose between the heroes of Gush Katif and the heroes of the army,” we don’t want to choose! There aren’t two choices here but one! The prime minister is saying to us, “Cut the baby in half!” and we say, “No!”
Therefore, we mustn’t be frightened of the black rivers of fire flowing forth each time in a different form. We will struggle against them until the dawn. In fact the dawn has arrived! We are the victors! Rather, it is not we who are the victors, but G-d. Listen to what our youth are singing: “Israeli Army: We love you!” Listen to what our youth are shouting: “Soldier! Policeman! I love you!”
In one of the marches, one youth shouted rebuke at a soldier. A small child turned to the youth and said, “My rabbi said that we don’t talk that way.” The youth surrendered before the light. The little boy vanquished the forces of darkness! In that same march, a little girl offered soldiers some chocolate wafers. They answered, “We are not allowed to take them from you.” She asked, “Who is your commanding officer?” They pointed out their company commander. She approached him, offered him wafers and he accepted them. The soldiers looked on with surprise. She then asked, “Can I give them to the soldiers as well?” Forced into a corner, he smiled and said yes. The little girl had vanquished the forces of evil! More light! More goodness!
Be sure to catch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at www.israelnntv.com (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir).
Rabbi Elisha Aviner – Education Corner
“Educating Towards Hope”
On the day that the Temple was destroyed, the Messiah was born – so do our sages teach us. Even during the harshest moments of destruction and ruin, we do not lose hope. Some think that this approach constitutes naivete, fantasy, illusion, and that it is only meant to give a person strength and to enable him to get through life’s difficulties without collapsing physically or emotionally. They say that faith in the Messiah is a psychological trick in order that we shouldn’t lose hope.
Yet they are wrong! Faith in the Messiah reflects a serious worldview about history and about the future: history is not random, and it is destined to achieve a state of goodness. Faith in the Messiah is included amongst Rambam’s Thirteen Tenets. It is a corollary of belief in Divine Providence. G-d has not abandoned the universe. He watches over it and leads it towards goodness. We do not know precisely what that goodness is or how to achieve it, as Rambam said regarding the Messianic era and the path leading to it: “We won’t know how it will be until it happens.” Even so, we know that the general direction of history is towards goodness. We do not know how that goal will be achieved or how long we will have to wait until our Messianic aspirations are completely fulfilled. We do not know many vicissitudes mankind will experience until it reaches its destination, but we are certain that things will be good, and that is not just a slogan.
Our sages fought against illusions and fantasies. From here derived their fierce opposition to calculating when the end of days would come, and to making promises that have no coverage. Fantasies are destructive. We are not dreamers. We operate within reality with our eyes open. At the same time, we believe that G-d directs things, promising us goodness. Therefore, educating towards hope is not a secondary goal. It is the basis of the way we relate to life.
The Midrash (Eichah Rabbah) relates a marvelous story: “The day our enemies entered the city and destroyed the Temple, outside of Jerusalem there was a Jew plowing his field. He saw that his cow, pulling the plow, threw itself down on the ground and didn’t want to continue. The man saw this and was very alarmed. He smote the cow to get it to work, but it didn’t want to…. At last the man heard a voice asking, ‘Why are you bothering the cow? Leave it be! It’s crying out over the Temple’s having been burnt and destroyed today.’ “The man heard this and he immediately rent his garb and pulled his hair and cried out. He placed ashes on his head and he tearfully said, ‘Woe is me! Woe is me!’ After two or three hours the cow rose up and danced and rejoiced. The man was very puzzled. He then heard a voice say, ‘Hitch up the plow again! Just this moment the Messiah was born!’ The man heard this, he washed his face and got up and rejoiced and went home…”
The end of the story is that the man went to Jerusalem where he found an infant who had been born on the day of the destruction. His name was “Menachem ben Amiel.” The man believed that this infant was destined to be the Messiah, but after several years the infant died. His mother recited the verse, “She has none to comfort her amongst all who love her” (Lamentations 1:2). This story teaches us that even after the destruction, we do not lose hope, but continue to plow. We do not resign ourselves to the destruction, but nurse hope of rebirth. That is why the man plowed. The end of the story teaches that it is forbidden to live with the illusion that the hope will be fulfilled immediately. The Messiah was born with the destruction, but we mustn’t force the hour and fall into false Messianism.
PARASHAT VA’ETCHANAN (Shabbat Nachamu)
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