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PARASHAT VAERA

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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“The more those who seek out G-d strive for truth and purity in all matters relating to religious faith, the more the stature of the wicked will decline. Ultimately, as their usefulness diminishes, ‘they will disappear like smoke, and vice shall close its mouth.’” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, Gargarim Hegyoniyim)


Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “We Have no one to Rely on but our Father in Heaven”


The four expressions of redemption that G-d asks Moses to relate to the Israelites are, “I will take you out… I will save you… I will redeem you…. I will take you…” (Exodus 6:6-7). These four expressions allude not only to the exodus from Egypt, but also to Israel’s exodus from subjugation to the four nations that overcame them: Babylonia, Persia, Greece and Edom. This is in line with Ba’al HaTurim, who explains “I will take you” as referring to Edom, the worst exile of all. It therefore uses the verb “to take”, like a person who takes something by force.

It is well known that our own 2,000-year-long exile is called the Exile of Edom, and it is the harshest of all the exiles. Indeed, in our exit from this last exile, we experienced the terrible Holocaust, the worst thing to happen in the history of our beloved nation. One third of all Jews were murdered by the Nazis – may their name and memory be blotted out.

Yet immediately following the Holocaust the State of Israel came into being with G-d’s help, and through is being fulfilled the fifth expression of redemption, “I will bring you to the land regarding which I raised My hand, swearing that I would give it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will give it to you as an inheritance. I am the L-rd” (Exodus 6:8).

Today, how fortunate we are that our generation is privileged to see with its own eyes G-d’s return to Zion, and the fulfillment of G-d’s promise to “bring us to the Land and to give it to us as an inheritance”. We have merited much light. Yet there are still not a few shadows. Therefore, let us not be like the People of Israel in Egypt, who “did not listen to Moses, owing to their disappointment and hard work” (6:9).

Indeed, we see how those signs of the “Ikveta DeMeshicha” [the Footsteps of the Messiah], that our sages describe are being fulfilled today. They said that in the generation of the Messiah, “Impudence will increase; the government will become heretical and there will be no rebuke them; the border population will go around from city to city and will be shown no kindness (as happened to the idealistic settlers expelled from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria); the truth will disappear.”

Not only will there by moral rebellion and governmental corruption, but also crises in the family and on the personal level: “Youths will insult their elders… sons will revile their fathers; daughters will rise up against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law.
A man’s enemies will be the members of his household. The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog.” (Some expound that “the face of the generation” refers to the generation and to its leaders.)

Yet we mustn’t fall into despair! Quite the contrary, we have to believe that “the One higher than the high watches over us” (Ecclesiastes 5:7). Our sages therefore conclude: “Who do we have to rely on? Our Father in Heaven.” (see Sotah 49b).

With G-d’s help, we shall continue to march onward and upward, with love and faith, on the winding path to complete redemption and consolation. Soon in our day, Amen! Looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!


Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El
“Operation Sarah”


“Sarah saw the son that Hagar had born to Abraham playing. She said to Abraham, ‘Drive away this slave together with her son. The son of this slave will not share the inheritance with my son Isaac’” (Genesis 21:9).

Had he not been “playing”, he could have stayed. What is meant by “playing” [metzachek]? Among other things, it means committing bloodshed (Rashi, Tosefta Sotah). If the Arabs were not busy murdering us, there would be room for deliberating on their place in Eretz Yisrael. Yet murderers, accessories to murder, those who provide shelter to murderers and those who provide legitimacy to murderers have no place in our land.

The basic assumption preceding the entire discussion is that Eretz Yisrael is ours. As Rabbenu Tzvi Yehuda Kook wrote: “This land is ours. We control it and take care of all its affairs. We increase our millions within it, and the Arabs can live under our authority and in our midst, as resident strangers [“gerim toshavim” in the Hebrew] who are allowed to live in the land – as long as they are not engaged in murdering us. Of that it says, ‘If someone is intent on killing you, slay him first.’” (Igeret Rabbenu, 10 Tamuz, 5737 (1977), “HaNochri Asher Bekerev Ha’aretz”; Sichot Rabbenu, Eretz Yisrael).

One time it was proposed to me that I meet an Arab leader living in Israel. I responded, “I do not meet with murderers.” “He’s not a murderer,” they said. “Then let him publicly proclaim that he accepts the commandment, “Do not murder.” “He is not willing to do so,” was the reply. “Then I don’t wish to meet him,” I answered.

If the Arabs do not worship idolatry, are not engaged in murdering us, and they accept our sovereignty, there is room to discuss their living here. Otherwise, goodbye.

As noted, this is premise number one: This is our land! The entire world knows this, including the Arabs. In the Koran, Moses, addressing the Israelites, says, “Advance towards the Holy Land that Allah promised you” (Sura 5 [24] 21)….

In the Koran, G-d, speaking in the plural first person, says, “Afterwards we gave the the persecuted people the Holy Land as an inheritance, east and west. All of G-d’s promises will be fulfilled for the People of Israel” (Sura 7 [133] 137).

Recalling history, G-d says, “We drowned Pharaoh and all who were with him. Then we said to the People of Israel, ‘Take possession of Eretz Yisrael, and on the last day, appear together before Us” (Sura 17 [106] 103-104).

Thus, the time has come to fulfill “Drive away this slave.” There is a time for everything. For a while, already, it’s been time for the fulfillment of, “I shall expel the other nations before you and extend your boundaries” (Exodus 34:24. See Rashbam). For G-d “uproots habitations from one place to another, and places others inhabitants in their place” (Zohar II 124:1).

Yet we have always gone beyond the letter of the law, when we paid the Arabs for lands that were actually ours (see the speech of our master Rav Tzvi Yehuda to the JNF, Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah 252). Now, as well, we should go beyond the letter of the law and pay large sums to every Arab who agrees to leave the Land. Thousands have already left of their own free will, without money, and many many more would be interested to leave for money. Then others will see that it is a good thing, and they too will leave.

Of course there are those who will not like this solution, and Abraham, himself, did not like it at first, until G-d told him, “Listen to everything that Sarah tells you” (Genesis 21:12).


Rabbi Ya’akov HaLevi FilberGuest Lecturer at Machon Meir
“The Exodus from Egypt and the Messianic Era”


When the Torah tells us that the purpose of the Exodus is that we “should be able to confide to our children and grandchildren how G-d made fools of the Egyptians and performed miraculous signs among them” (Exodus 10:2), what is that referring to? Ben Zoma and the Chachamim [Sages] debated this in the Mishnah at the end of the first chapter of Berachot: “At night, we mention [mazkirim] the Exodus at night [reciting the third paragraph of the Shema, which alludes to it]. Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah said: I am like a seventy-year-old and I never merited the Exodus being mentioned [te’amar] at night until Ben Zoma’s exposition won out, as it says: ‘You will then remember the day you left Egypt all the days of your life’ (Deuteronomy 16:3). ‘The days of your life’ teaches us to mention the Exodus in the daytime Shema. ‘All the days of our life’ teaches us to mention it by night.’ Our sages expounded: ‘The days of your life’ teaches us about mentioning it in this world. ‘All the days of your life’ teaches us about mentioning it even in the World-to-Come.’

Our sages used various expressions in regard to mentioning or talking about the Exodus. Our Mishnah, for example, used “te’amar yetziat mitzrayim” for the mentioning of the Exodus. In the Hagadah we have, “sippur yetziat mitzrayim”, “telling the story” of the Exodus. Why did our Mishnah here choose the expression “mazkirim”?

The difference between “amira” and “sippur”, on the one hand, and “hazkara” on the other, is that with the first two a person takes what he has inside him and expresses it, whereas with “hazkara” a person absorbs ideas from outside and internalizes things inside himself. Indeed, with the Exodus, we do both. We publicize the Exodus down through the generations, yet that is not enough. We must also internalize the theme of the Exodus as a defining moment in our lives.

What is the idea of the Exodus? “Mitzrayim” symbolizes “metzarim” – dire straits, our slavery and subjugation to alien forces, and our loss of independence. The “exodus from Mitzrayim”, by contrast, enables us to break out of those straits and find new expanses, to move from slavery to freedom, to lives in which we can actualize our goal and mission.

Ben Zoma and the Chachamim debated the function of mentioning the Exodus. One said that mentioning the Exodus was meant only for the here and now, for our daily lives, night and day, in order to preserve what exists, while in the World-to-Come, in the Messianic Era, there will be other points to mention, as it says, “Behold, the days come, says, the L-rd, that they shall no more say: ‘As the L-rd lives, that brought up the People of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the L-rd lives, who brought up and that led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them’” (Jeremiah 23:7-8).

The days and nights symbolize two periods in a person’s life. As King David said, “To tell of Your kindness in the morning, and Your faith at night.” Morning is the time of kindness, when Divine Providence shines its countenance on a person, and one need only thank the Creator with a full heart. Night, by contrast, is the time of G-d’s concealing His face. Night, by contrast, symbolizes that time when we suffer in the darkness of troubles and failure. Here we have to exercise our faith, “Your faith at night”. According to Ben Zoma, the mention of the Exodus has to accompany the person during both of these periods. In periods of kindness, we mustn’t be sated and become perfidious, and during periods of darkness, we mustn’t turn licentious.

Yet according to Chachamim, the theme of the Exodus must not be limited to our present lives. We mustn’t just watch over our daily lives and view them as the end of the way. ‘Rather, the Exodus has to give us direction in the future as well, even in the Messianic era. It is a defining moment throughout the entire history of the Jewish People, from beginning to end. It msut therefore act as a catalyst for our nation even in the end of days. According to that second view, there are not two separate periods in the life of the Jewish People, this world and the Next. Rather, it is all one longing, one consecutive period, starting with the Exodus from Egypt and ending with the end of days.

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