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From the World of Rabbi Kook
“When supreme goodness takes control in one’s heart, leaving one full of kindness and forgiveness, this holy process must not be held back by means of any other idea that might limit the goodness and kindness. It is from such moments of light that the holy spirit spreads throughout the world.” (Orot HaKodesh 502)


Rabbi Dov Begon – Founder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “We Shall Pursue Justice”


“Appoint yourselves judges and police…in all your settlements…make sure they administer honest judgment for the people…Pursue perfect justice so that you will live and occupy the land that the L-rd your G-d is giving you” (Dvarim 16:18,21). Rashi comments, “Appoint expert, righteous judges to judge fairly. Appointing reputable judges has the potential to bring new life to the Jewish People dwelling in their land.” Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook added, “Justice and fairness are among the very pillars of communal life. As long as any sort of national or social entity exists, it must have recourse to a legal system to defend it” (Orot 50).

If Jewish judges are righteous and expert, they bring life to the Jewish People, enabling Israel to dwell in their land; otherwise, great suffering and anguish can result. Great moral responsibility rests on whoever appoints judges, for they bring the nation life. If they are honest and righteous, they will bestow a beneficent spirit upon the public and cause Israel to dwell in safety in their land.

Today, we bear witness to a deterioration of morality and spirituality. The words of Isaiah 1:23 are being fulfilled: “Your princes are rebellious…Every one of them loves bribes and pursues reward. They judge not the fatherless nor does the cause of the widow come unto them.” How can the Israeli secular legal system, whose job it is to pursue justice and to defend the society and nation, instead provide backing to unethical, inhumane deeds? They are aiding in the expulsion of Jews from Eretz Yisrael. They are harming entire families and communities, and destroying homes, synagogues and yeshivot.

Instead of defending the Israeli nation and society, they serve the interests of Israel’s enemies. Instead of strengthening and protecting the unique Jewish identity of the Jewish People, they are determined to make us a nation like all others, without an identity, without a culture, without Jewish values. Those presently in the seat of power offer a religion of “disengagement” from the people, Torah and land.

The time has come for a change. We must elect different leaders and judges who are connected to Jewish roots, to the Torah, People and Land of Israel. We need people who will defend the security interests and the cultural interests of the nation. Thus may be fulfilled 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, a faithful city.’ Zion shall be redeemed with judgment; and those that return to her with righteousness” (Isaiah 1:26-27). Shabbat Shalom!


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 Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
“Sadness and Joy”


I lament for our Holy Land liberated with our soldiers’ blood and now turned over to our enemies; for that section of the Land built with great toil over the course of generations, now destroyed and left desolate; for the pure and holy Jewish communities that have been shattered.

I lament for the precious families cast into the street without a home, without work, without agriculture and without schools for their children; for a people’s army that has been contaminated, ravaged and shattered, and the higher echelons of the army who did not say: “We can’t do it. We’re incapable of carrying out such an inhuman order.”

I lament the harsh blow to our unity as a people; the tension created amongst lovers of Eretz Yisrael; the governmental wickedness and violence of our prime minister and his ministers and colleagues; a legal system that applies law selectively, ignoring trafficking in women and foreign workers, while granting approval to the expulsion of women and children.

I lament over the terrible dishonesty of the media, who defamed the pure, pristine population of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria, calling them violent extortionists; for that large portion of the Jewish People who remained apathetic; I lament the Divine Presence that is weeping.

I lament and lament and lament.

* * *

I don’t know how long it will take me to recover from these lamentations. But I am also happy about good things! I have mixed emotions, as in all complex situations.

I am happy that within the stormy sea there are also tranquil islands; that so many people enlisted in the struggle and gave up on their vacations. They knew that Eretz Yisrael is our essence and they made the nation’s attachment to the Land healthier, igniting a holy fire.

I am happy we discovered such wonderful, idealistic, caring and dedicated youth; that in Gush Katif and Northern Samaria there were such marvelous people, who withstood temptations and threats and held on to such great faith to the point of being willing to forfeit their money; that our heroic brothers from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria have family, wives and children, true friends.

I am happy we were so gentle, so removed from violence, even the most militant amongst us; that we have faith, that we have Torah, that we have spirit; that we have a state, that we have an army, that we have a nation, that we have redemption.

* * *

Sometimes I lament, sometimes I am happy. “In times of joy, be joyous. I times of mourning, mourn” (Bereshit Rabbah 27:4). But we are obliged to remain happy, because we must continue the struggle and cannot win except through happiness (see Tania, Ch. 26). So I am joyous on the outside while I cry inside (see Chagigah 5b).

The main thing is not to despair, for we believe in the spiritual uniqueness of the Jewish People. We believe in the hidden divine light that shines in all Jewish souls down through the generations, especially in this generation, the generation of redemption. We will continue to struggle for the heroes of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria.

“I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them and make them rejoice from their sorrow…Refrain from weeping and from tears, for your work shall be rewarded…Your children shall come again to their own borders” (Jeremiah 31:13,16,17).


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 Zeev Karov
“Never Forget: This is Our State of Israel!”


In the wake of the uprooting of settlements in Eretz Yisrael, numerous questions are being raised regarding our relationship to the State, the army, an the Jewish People. Some of the questions derive from thinking; others come from storms of emotion.

Here are four brief questions and answers to provide direction in clarifying our faith. First though, let’s start with two general principles that will help us grapple with the questions:

Principle 1. Pure truth cannot be challenged by impure acts. A rabbi who conducts himself in a manner contrary to Torah, cannot damage the essence of Torah’s holiness. Torah remains lofty and holy, even if its torchbearers are less than so.

Principle 2. See the whole picture. We must cling to the trait of Abraham, who viewed the world “with a good eye,” seeing reality in its entirety.

Question 1: “Is the State of Israel still “the first step to our redemption”?

Answer:
A. The State of Israel is holy. It is indeed the “first step on the road to redemption” since it constitutes the restoration of Jewish control over Eretz Yisrael. Jewish control over the Land constitutes redemption. No longer are G-d’s people an object of contempt, without a country. No longer are we controlled by others. Government can sanctify G-d’s name more and it can follow more in the ways of the Torah, or it can sanctify G-d’s name less. As stated above, however, the very fact that the Jewish People have returned to rule over their land after two thousand years is the very definition of “the first flowering of our redemption.”

There was a time in which the Temple was standing and the people served G-d, yet that time was still counted as part of the exilic period “because they were subject to Cyrus.” There were other times when Jewish kings did evil in G-d’s eyes but those periods were counted amongst the years of redemption. The state’s holiness does not derive from the righteousness and Sabbath observance of Ben-Gurion or any other prime minister, but from the fact of its being a Jewish State, just as every Jew has holiness deriving from his Jewishness, without regard for his deeds.

B. The prophecies pronounced thousands of years ago are coming true before our eyes: the gathering of our exiles from the four corners of the earth, the wars of the start of redemption, the Messianic birthpangs. This is precisely as our prophets and sages promised. Hence why are we so surprised?

Since the state’s establishment, Israeli governments have not followed the path of Torah and mitzvot. They relinquished previously conquered portions of the Land. For years we saw that the Jewish State was in a process of the Biblical prophecies being gradually fulfilled. Sometimes there was light and sometimes darkness. We always knew that at first “a minor regime would arise with a few of the trappings of government and rulership” (Malbim on Michah). Only later would the Kingdom of David arise.

Question 2: “Are we still one people?”

Answer:
We are one people because that is how G-d created us. Division within the Jewish People constitutes division within the Divine Presence. That is why our sages were so strict regarding quarrelers and gossips who create a rift amongst the people. Whoever tries to divide the people is fighting against the Creator. The Divine Presence depends on our unity. The Torah depends on our unity and our success does as well.

Precisely in times such as these we are tested regarding how much we love our fellow Jew. As with our children, when fellow Jews behave in accordance with our expectations, it is no challenge to love them. The test begins when a child “disappoints” us, perhaps severely so. Shall we then say, “He is no longer our child”? Shall we cut ourselves off from him? G-d redeemed us even when we were bereft of mitzvoth and Egypt was awash with our idolatry. Let us show G-d that we resemble Him. Rav Ya’akov Moshe Charlap wrote, “The salvation of Israel depends chiefly on the will of the upright to judge Israel favorably… When they forget this duty… they reveal a lack of desire for true redemption.”

Question 3: “Is it still a mitzvah to serve in the army?”

Answer:
A. The mitzvah of serving in the army is growing even greater! Our army defends the State of Israel and our lives. If there is no army there is no State of Israel, and no Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael. The mitzvah of helping to defend Jews from their enemies does not disappear even if army officers commit grave acts. For thousands of years the Jews dreamed about a Jewish army – we are the lucky ones to merit it. True, many of the army’s officers made an enormous error. Most of them were opposed to the Disengagement but fell victim to an inferior values system and to brain washing by the media. This fact provides us with the incentive to ensure there be more senior officers whom the government knows they cannot use for contemptible acts.

B. We must continue to recite the prayer for Israel’s soldiers, recited Shabbat morning, all the more fervently. Do we not need G-d to bless our soldiers in their war against our enemies? In this prayer, we ask G-d to shower His blessing upon “all their deeds”; this certainly does not refer to uprooting settlements, but to their war against our enemies!

C. We must treat soldiers respectfully even if they participated in the expulsion. We can condemn them for participating in this grave act, but we cannot forget their devotion and readiness to die in the defense of the Land. You musn’t just see part of the picture. Let us not be dragged down to the level of the media, who sometimes show just part of the picture as though it were the whole thing.

Question 4: “Should we stop being so pro-State (mamlachti)?”

Answer:

A. We should be still more pro-State if by this you mean concern for the State of Israel and recognizing its holiness. We must ensure that the State should become more committed to the faith of Israel, both in its relationship to Eretz Yisrael and in its relationship to the values of Torah. It was G-d’s will that Jews who did not observe Torah and mitzvoth would establish and build the State. As the Talmud states (Meilah 17b), “A miracle can come by any avenue.” They carried the State till now, and today more than ever, we must ensure that a faith-based ideology will lead the State of Israel in the future.

B. If by “pro-State” you mean committing ourselves to obey the laws of the Israeli government, Jewish law states that if a Jewish king orders Jews to violate Torah law, we do not heed him. After all, the words of the master take precedence over the words of his student. There is a clear distinction between showing the king respect and obeying his orders. A Jewish king is not necessarily good that we should have to follow all his orders. On the other hand, even if a Jewish king is wicked, the kingdom loses none of its importance that we should be able to denigrate it.

The Jewish People need us today more than ever. Shouting and violence don’t advance our cause, or help anyone. We must conduct ourselves like the righteous who work on improving themselves first. We must increase the light, both in quantity and quality. Moreover, we must pray, for it is a time of trouble for Israel, but we will persevere and survive.


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