From The World of Rabbi Avraham Kook (First Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael)
“Whoever in his purity is effused with the light of faith will love all men without exception. His entire goal will be their improvement and betterment, and the greater his faith, the more reflective of integrity will be his methods towards achieving his goal.”
(Midot HaRe’iyah, Emunah)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “The Building of the Tabernacle”
G-d commanded, “They shall make me a sanctuary and I shall dwell amongst them” (Exodus 28:8). The building of that sanctuary represents the climax of redemption, the pinnacle of our success as individuals, as a people, and as human beings. As Moses said in Az Yashir (Exodus 15:17-18):
“O bring them and plant them on the mountain You possess. The place You dwell in is Your accomplishment, O G-d. The shrine of G-d, Your hands have founded. G-d will reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:17-18).
G-d’s revealing to us His divine presence in the Temple, and through us, to all mankind, is the goal of mankind and of all Creation, and it will occur in the future, as Jeremiah said (3:17): “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the L-rd. All the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the L-rd, to Jerusalem.” It will occur through the establishment of the Third Temple in the State of Israel, which constitutes “G-d’s throne on earth,” as Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, zt”l said, “The State of Israel is the foundation of G-d’s throne on earth. Its entire goal is to make G-d One and His name One” (Orot 160).
Today, how fortunate our generation is that we have merited to see the rebirth of the Jewish People in their land, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, along the way towards the rebuilding of the Third Temple – may it be soon in our day! This is all true despite the darkness of the exile and our country’s birth pains, and our nation’s tribulations of rebirth, which sometimes conceal the purpose for which we returned to our land. This is the goal that has never left the hearts and eyes of the fathers and leaders of our people down through the generations. It has never ceased to find expression on the lips of the Jewish masses who daily recite the words, “Restore the worship to Your abode… and may our eyes see Your return, in mercy, to Jerusalem. Blessed be Hashem, who restores His presence to Jerusalem.”
Looking forward to complete salvation.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
“On Truth and Trickery”
Question: Some time ago, you wrote about the question of whether or not supernatural forces really exist. Yet doesn’t the Torah talk about such forces? Don’t we believe in anything mystical?
Answer: Certainly we believe in the Torah and we believe in miracles, but one needs a bit of a scientific frame of mind, and one has to know that not everything that one doesn’t understand should immediately be labeled a supernatural force. Such was the mentality of the ancients towards magic. Instead of giving a rational explanation to the natural phenomena they experienced, they invented all sorts of forces and deities and demons and faeries and mystical energies. Yet two thousand years have passed since then, and we have advanced a great deal.
Had you turned on a flashlight two thousand years ago, you would have been burned to death as a warlock. Nowadays, however, children learn all sorts of things in school. It is true that we don’t learn there how to do magicians’ tricks, and rightly so, for it is better to devote the time to serious matters. Yet we must know that all the so-called miracles in which the parapsychologists take pride in are tricks one learns in any “magicians’ school” – and you don’t have to be a Harry Potter to do them. In a magicians’ school one learns many tricks, such as how to pull a rabbit or a dove out of a hat. There are several such schools in Israel, but don’t go there. Better you should learn Chumash with Rashi.
In such schools they learn how to break a glass “with mind power”. On the table, below the glass, there is a timed apparatus with a strong spring that penetrates the bottom of the glass and then returns without being seen.
A magician knows how to turn a compass haywire by moving his hand near it with a strong magnet hidden in his palm. It is not hard to guess what song a person is thinking about. You ask him to write down its name on a slip of paper that is on the back of the musician’s guitar, where the wood of the guitar is made of a special material that absorbs the shape of written words, sort of like carbon paper.
You want to stop a clock at the top of a tower? It’s enough to pay a small sum to the person in charge.
You want to guess what a pilot is thinking about during his flight? Ditto.
How do you find out all sorts of secret things about a person? You can get it out of him gently, without his even noticing.
How does one bend a spoon? By quick hand movements that can be detected by viewing a video of the event in slow speed.
How do you bend a spoon that is sitting by the viewer’s television set in his home? You do brainwashing so he notices a certain amount of crookedness that he hadn’t noticed before.
And so on and so forth. All these are simple tricks that can be purchased in magician’s stores.
If so, you ask, does that mean you don’t believe in the mystical? No it doesn’t. I certainly do believe in it, and I want everyone to believe in it, because these are the most important things in the world! Faith in G-d, in prophecy, in divine providence. I therefore am afraid that because of all sorts of nonsense, people will make light of the major mystical things, and that will be the end of the world. After all, during the past several hundred years, scientific and critical thinking have advanced greatly, and many people are no longer willing to believe all sorts of nonsense. If we associate that nonsense with Torah and faith, what we will achieve is that those serious, thinking people will throw out the baby with the bathwater.
If so, how can we know what is truth and what is trickery?
The answer is simple: If the Torah tells us something is true, then Moses is truth and his Torah is truth. As we know, the Torah tells us that sometimes holy people of the spiritual elite perform miracles, but not everyone can. As far as the power of sorcery, this is not the place to discuss it (see Tiferet Yisrael, Sanhedrin 17). That leaves scientific examination by authorized people, with the assistance of magicians.
In conclusion, I would like to quote from our master, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook:
“One researcher, Professor Laparon, wrote a short work in Latin: ‘Hypnosis and Spiritualism’. He was a truly intelligent individual. Here is what he wrote:
“There is a fool who believes everything, even that which does not exist. By contrast, there is the person who scorns everything. No extremism is good. One has to examine matters more deeply.’
“Yet he writes vociferously against the masses taking an interest in these matters [hypnosis and spiritualism]. It is forbidden to foster knowledge of mystical matters amongst the masses. Only among the prized elite is there room for such a thing. Knowing mystical matters does damage to the psychological, moral and religious condition of the masses.” (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehuda, Bereshit 313)
At the end, Rav Tzvi Yehuda concludes: “Every person who wishes to see mankind progress must fight with all his strength against the spread of these things amongst the masses, because they can cause enormous educational and moral damage.” (ibid., 311-312)
May we merit to walk in the pathways of the Torah’s light.
Rabbi Azriel Ariel- Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir
“The Ark Poles”
The Mishkan [Tabernacle] was transported from place to place. It wandered around the desert, and all its vessels with it. Towards that end, poles were attached to all of those vessels for transport. Yet the Torah describes the use of those poles differently regarding the various vessels. With both the Table and the Incense Altar, it is made clear that poles are needed, and that they are meant for carrying the vessel. It does not say, however, that the poles must always be attached. By contrast, with the Ark, there is a much more specific command: “Place the poles in the rings on the sides of the ark, so that the ark can be carried with them. The poles must remain in the ark’s rings and not be removed” (Exodus 25:14:15). Similarly, even if less pointedly, regarding the Copper Altar, it does not just mention the manufacture of their poles, but also their placement within their rings.
This difference is dealt with by the Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin. The Table and the Golden Incense Altar symbolize functions that are meant to remain fixed in place, even if the technical possibility exists of moving these vessels, themselves, from place to place. By contrast, the Ark and the Copper Altar symbolize functions that are essentially meant to be movable. Thus, the poles remain attached to them even when there is no need to move them.
As is well-known, every one of the vessels expresses a different strength within the Jewish People. The Ark represents the Torah; the Table represents the Monarchy; the Golden Incense Altar represents the priesthood; and the Copper Altar represents the Temple service. (During the time of the Temple, that found expression in the sacrifices, but since its destruction, it finds expression through prayer).
Now the Jewish monarchy and priesthood have only one location – Eretz Yisrael. We were commanded to establish the monarchy only there. As the Torah states explicitly:
“When you come to the land that the L-rd G-d is giving you, so that you have occupied it and settled it, you will eventually say, ‘We would like to appoint a king, just like all the nations around us.’ You must then appoint the king” (Deuteronomy 17:14-15). Only in Eretz Yisrael does establishing a monarchy have halachic meaning, as part of fulfilling the mitzvah of conquering the Land and imposing sovereignty on it.
Similarly, the Jewish priesthood does not have much significance anywhere but in Eretz Yisrael. There we were commanded regarding separating terumot and ma’aserot [tithes from the fields], and it is there that the Kohanim will go up to serve in the great and Holy edifice to which G-d’s name will be affixed. These two forces, monarchy and priesthood, we cannot drag with us into the exile. Only a very little remains from them there: Jewish leadership roles in the community, “in remembrance of the monarchy,” and the priestly blessing, “in remembrance of the priesthood.” Both the Golden Incense Altar and the Table do have poles, but they are placed on the side, as though they are not ready for use.
Torah and divine worship are different, however. It is true that the Torah sets aside for itself a place in Eretz Yisrael. In fact, our sages described the Torah scholars of Babylonia as “not being local”. Moreover, Our sages say of the exile: “There can be no worse nullification of Torah learning, as it says, ‘Her king and her princes are among the nations, there is no more Torah’ (Lamentations 2:9).”
Yet with all the pain of the exile, the Torah can be moved even to there. Wherever Jews lived, yeshivot were set up and Jews learned Torah there.
Divine worship can be moved to the exile as well. It is true that there, it will not appear in its full power, with the bringing of offerings. Even so, the substitute of those offerings, prayer, accompanied our people everywhere, in every “Mikdash Me’at”, miniature Temple.
We can accordingly understand the difference between the Ark and the Copper Altar. That altar, itself, was not so suited to movement. It had poles, which could be inserted into rings, but it was permissible to remove them. Only prayer, the substitute for Temple offerings, could accompany us on our long road into the exile.
By contrast, the Torah has a dimension that transcends space. The Ark’s travel poles could never, ever, be removed from their rings.
Even during times of exile and uprooting, the spirit expressed through the Torah could not be stopped. Buildings of stone could be destroyed, but our spiritual edifice lived on and grew even without them. The Torah went everywhere with us. At the same time, we seek to plant that spirit precisely in the place earmarked for it. Wherever we learn Torah, we recall the words of the Midrash: “‘The gold of that land is good’ (Genesis 2:12) – and there is no Torah like that of Eretz Yisrael.”