From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
(First Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael) “Avoid anger. Learn to look at your fellow Jew, at the other group, with the eyes of a merciful brother, caught up together with him in terrible suffering, and ready to unite for one holy purpose: to assist the Jewish People as a whole, and to advance their glory and preservation”
(Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, page 365)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
“I Will Sprinkle Clean Water Upon You, And You Shall Be Clean”
Moses is commanded by G-d, “Attack the Midianites and kill them, since they demonstrated their hostility to you through their plot with Peor, as well as through their sister, Kazbi, daughter of a Midianite prince” (Numbers 25:17-18). How did they demonstrate hostility? They abandoned their daughters to harlotry in order to lead Israel astray towards idolatry. Indeed, G-d commands Moses before Israel’s entering the Land: “Take revenge for the Israelites against the Midianites,then you shall be gathered to your people” (Numbers 31:2). Even though he heard that his death was contingent on this war taking place, he joyfully did the mitzvah, and did not postpone it. He organized the fighting force, as it says, “Detach men for armed service against Midian, so that G-d’s revenge can be taken against the Midianites” (Numbers 31:3).
Whoever attacks Israel is considered to have attacked G-d. Indeed, in the war against Midian, Israel were victorious, as it says, “They mounted a surprise attack against Midian as G-d had commanded Moses, and killed all the adult males” (Numbers 31:7). All the same, Moses was angry at the commanders, as it says, “Moses was angry at the generals and captains… and he demanded of them, ‘Why have you kept all the women alive? These are exactly the ones who were involved with the Israelites in the Bilaam incident, causing them to be unfaithful to G-d in the Peor incident, and bringing a plague on G-d’s community” (31:14-16). And what was the Bilaam incident? Our sages teach that even if all the nations of the world attacked Israel, they wouldn’t be able to beat them without promiscuity (see Rashi, ibid.; Sanhedrin 106).
When we entered Eretz Yisrael, we fought two types of wars – Joshua’s war to conquer the Land, and the war that preceded it – against Midian. The latter was a war against Bilaam’s plotting. Bilaam’s goal was to weaken Israel by spreading promiscuity among them.
It is the same today. We need to fight on both of these fronts. The first front is against our enemies who set out to annihilate us. Towards that end we must be strong, united and cohesive, with a strong army and economy.
The second front is that of education and culture. We must confront wicked Bilaam’s culture of promiscuity with the culture of the Jewish People. We must bring about cultural and educational change in our society and country, and we must banish the darkness by increasing the light – the light of love, of faith, of modesty, of purity of heart, of pure use of our eyes, of family purity. By such means we will merit to be the living fulfillment of Ezekiel’s words (36:25-26):
“I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean…. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (36:25-26).
Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
“Whom Should I Marry?”
– How does one make decisions?
– It isn’t simple at all. Most people fail at it. There’s even an academic field called “Decision Sciences” which avails itself of mathematical models, which is widely used in military planning and economics.
– Yet I haven’t studied this, and I still have to make the most important decision of my life: whom to marry.
– Why do you say that’s important?
– Because it doesn’t affect just one part of life the way choosing a profession does, but all of life. Also, it’s a decision you make forever. At least I hope it is.
– So, you’ve got to define why you want to get married and based on that we’ll decide the criteria for whom you should choose.
– O.K. I want a friend for life. With me it’s “friend or bust”! Having a friend for life is for me a matter of life and death. All the same, I’ve been hesitating for many long years.
– Are you hesitating because you want a spouse equipped with all the good traits there are?
– Is that not legitimate? You only get married once.
– No. Such thinking is leading to your not getting married even once… You’ll never find a life partner exactly like you want. You must therefore decide what’s most important for you and weigh the pros and cons. Let me ask you again: What are you looking for in a friend for life?
– I don’t understand your question.
– Let me explain. There are different types of friendships, as Rambam notes in his comments on our sages’ words, “Acquire for yourself a friend” (Avot 1:6). By the way, we derive from this source that there is a need to invest in a relationship all of one’s life for it to succeed. Yet that is not our topic right now.
– I rather think it is.
– I’m glad you said that.
– I’ll explain later on. As I was saying, there are three types of friendships, those providing benefits, those providing comfort and those built around an ideal. The first is like a business relationship. The second is meant to provide tranquility. The third involves two people uniting for the sake of a common ideal.
– Do the three contradict one another?
– Certainly not. Yet each has different criteria. If you are looking for a friend who will benefit you, you must look for an intelligent, diligent, organized, talented, efficient person with a good profession, and the wealthier the better. But if you want a comfort-friend, someone you will feel good with, someone you will enjoy and to whom you will be able to tell your secrets, then you must look for a friendly, pleasant girl who arouses your love and affection, someone with whom you can easily engage in deep discussion. Finally, if you are looking for friendship based on ideals, a partner for the common ideal of serving G-d in general, and raising children in particular, you must look for someone with a good heart, good character, reverence for G-d, motherly traits and seriousness.
– But you can’t have one without the other. If we don’t love each other we won’t be able to work together as parents. If she lets chaos reign in our home, I’ll go crazy. I know myself.
– Certainly, All three of these elements show up in every marriage. The question is what is the most important element. On which are you willing to compromise a great deal and on which are you willing to sacrifice only a little bit.
– You know, you’ve set me up to ask an even harder question than I had to deal with before.
– How so?
– To paraphrase an old saying: Tell me what kind of spouse you’re looking for and I’ll tell you who you are. Actually, I must first decide who I am and what I want to be all my life, and how much I am willing to invest in marriage my whole life.
– That’s why I was glad when you mentioned the idea of investing throughout one’s life. Buddy, you’re looking for a partner with shared ideals.
– You’ve helped me a great deal. I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
– You can say thank you by sending me an invitation to your wedding. That would make me happy.
Rabbi Yoram Eliyahu– Lecturer at Machon Meir
“Did You Look Forward to Salvation?”
Amongst the question that a Jew is destined to be asked on his Judgment Day is the question: “Did you look forward [tzipita] to salvation?” The meaning of the Hebrew word “tzipita” here is “Did you believe? Did you wait? Did you have certainty that it would occur?” The Ran [Rabbenu Nissim] in Shabbat added a significant word, “biyamecha”, i.e., “Did you look forward to salvation IN YOUR DAY.” Rav Ya’akov Moshe Charlap wrote, “Looking forward to salvation means not just for the future, but in the present. It means expecting every moment that redemption can appear because otherwise that moment won’t have the power to bring redemption closer. Thus, the time of the final redemption is hidden from us so that people will look forward to it all the time” (Ma’ayanei HaYeshu’a 11).
Yet it appears that in the course of our daily routine, this waiting does not claim a central role. Material wealth, on the one hand, or troubles and penury on the other, cause a person to focus on his personal life and not to engage in these earth-shaking matters.
We therefore have this period between 17 Tamuz and the Ninth of Av, starting and ending with fast days, whose purpose it is “to arouse the hearts, and to open up avenues of repentance, so that we recall the evil deeds of ourselves and of our ancestors that brought this suffering upon them and us” (Rambam, Hilchot Ta’anit 5:2). Therefore, “during this period, every person must examine his deeds and repent his sins, for the purpose of a fast day is preparation for repentance” (Mishnah Berurah, Hilchot Ta’anit).
Thus, in this period of mourning and suffering we are expected to take a good look and to engage seriously in clarifying how much we really are missing because we do not have a Temple. We must ask examine why that which is missing has not yet been made up for, and what we must do to fill in our great lack, the absence of our Temple. We can achieve this by studying about the greatness of the Jewish People, about the virtues of the Holy Land, and by studying about the virtues of the Temple, the Beit HaMikdash, and the service to G-d carried out there. From these days we will emerge equipped for the entire year with a sense of what we are missing. This will render all our talk in our daily life, all our Torah learning and all our prayers to be on a different level.
“If someone does not gain a grasp of the virtue of the Holy Land and its special traits and holiness, how can he pray for the rebuilding of Jerusalem? We can only look forward to redemption from deep in our hearts if we sense what we are missing” (Introduction to Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook’s “Mussar Avicha”).
Rav Yehuda HaLevi taught a similar point in his “Kuzari”: “If someone arouses in people’s hearts love for this holy place, he will be drawing the fulfillment of our hope closer… for Jerusalem will be rebuilt when Israel longs for it so greatly that they love its stones and earth.”
Translation: R. Blumberg