From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
(First Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael) “When the light of faith reveals itself in someone, as demonstrated by his purity, he will love all people without exception, and his entire goal will be their betterment and spiritual improvement”
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
“For the L-rd has Chosen Jacob for Himself; Israel for His own Treasure”
The connection between Israel and G-d is eternal. There is never a situation in which we are cut off from our Father in Heaven. This was true even when we were exiled from our land and remained few in number, as it says, “G-d will then scatter you among the nations, and only a small number will remain among the nations to which G-d will lead you” (Deuteronomy 4:27). It was true even when the nations caused us great suffering in the exile, and we fell to the most abject state, as we saw with their own eyes in the terrible holocaust a generation ago, as it says, “When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you” (verse 30). In all these situations, G-d does not abandon us: “G-d your L-rd is a merciful Power, and He will not abandon you or destroy you; He will not forget the oath He made upholding your fathers’ covenant” (verse 31).
As Rashi explains, “‘He will not abandon you’ – he will not cease His support.’” In other words, G-d is like a benevolent, loving father who holds his child’s hand under all circumstances, never letting go, continuing to love his son even if that son suffers setbacks. As it says, “It was because He loved your fathers, and chose their children after them, that G-d Himself brought you out of Egypt with His great power. He will drive away before you nations that are greater and stronger than you, so as to bring you to their lands, and give them to you as a heritage, as He is doing today” (4:37-38).
Today, how very fortunate we are when we see with their own eyes, how the covenant and the love and the promise to our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “For the L-rd will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance” (Psalm 94:14), is being fulfilled for all to see. It is true that we are still on the road to fulfilling the complete redemption. It is true that unfortunately a large portion of the Jewish people is still in the exile. It is true that we are still fighting for our survival as a free nation and our land, and we are still in an accelerated ingathering of the exiles with all the difficulties that this entails. To be sure, not all of the Jewish people have yet actively attached themselves to their roots and to Jewish tradition with love and faith. All the same, we can already see light at the end of the tunnel: “There are many devices in a man’s heart; but the counsel of the L-rd, that shall stand. The counsel of the L-rd stands forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations. For the L-rd has chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His own treasure” (Yehi Kavod).
Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
“Bring me Children”
At first I was sunken in depression. Every month — tense waiting, disappointment, and then, a day of crying. Sometimes I would have a good feeling that this time it was it, finally. I was pregnant — but it wasn’t to be. I thought to myself, if the matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel became pregnant, then certainly I will too, but it didn’t happen. And on top of that, there were the intrusive questions of my family and friends — and in response, my cold evasiveness, broadcasting to them that they mustn’t get under my skin, and after that, the restrained anger against them over their not leaving me alone. And, how I struggled over the question of whether or not to begin treatment! Goodness, sterility is so hard!
My husband didn’t always understand me. “Aren’t I better for you than then sons?” asked Elkana of Chana. No you’re not better for me than sons. And anyway, there’s no connection. I want children. And yet, maybe it’s I who didn’t understand him. Maybe he, as well, was broken, and he was only trying to encourage me with his clumsy language. Every time I met a young girl who had just now gotten married and was already pregnant, I felt jealousy. Why must precisely I go through all the difficult, painful tests and treatments — with no results?!
The blessings from the rabbis didn’t help either: “Soon it will be all right! It will be OK!” How do they know? And anyway, who says I will ever be pregnant?
Many times I felt like I want to die. I know that isn’t logical. Yet, emotions crept in without knocking on the door. I felt sad, in despair, depressed, tense, overwhelmed, stifled. “Bring me sons! Otherwise I will die. I understood that this pressure would ultimately kill me, and that I must relent. But how could I do that?
Then my husband and I understood that there was no point in hiding matters. Quite the contrary, hiding things uses up a lot of energy. After all, we hadn’t done anything bad, and we weren’t guilty. Things were hard for us as it is, so why did we need the added burden of silence? Then we began to tell the family and friends, to share with them regarding what we were going through. And they helped us a great deal with support and with love. Every meeting became easier. Even regarding failed pregnancies, we struggled whether to tell them are not, and in the end we told them.
Over the course of time, we even developed a certain intimacy with our suffering. We understood that were not the only ones in the world who suffer. There are other couples without children. There are also sick children, retarded children, and rebellious children, children who die young. Slowly we internalized it was all not in vain. There is a Master of the universe who loves us, but we don’t know the secrets of the souls.
It took us a long time to decide that we have to adopt a son. The process was very long. I have friends who gave birth after adopting a son, apparently by virtue of the pressure being off, but with me it didn’t happen. We adopted children from poverty-stricken families, really poor children. It was a real match made in heaven: indigent parents with indigent children. But together, we’re all happy. They are really our children. Thank G-d, Master of the universe, in our name and in the names of our children, thank you very much!
Rabbi Azriel Ariel– Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir
“With all Your Might”
Well-known is Rabbi Akiva’s utterance from when the Romans were combing his flesh with iron combs:
All my life I suffered over the Rabbis’ words, “‘Love G-d… with all your soul’ (Deuteronomy 6:5) – even if He takes your soul.’” I asked, “When will I have the opportunity to fulfill it?”
Indeed, this utterance of Rabbi Akiva was in the minds of people sanctifying G-d’s name throughout the generations: during the Crusades, during the Chmielnitzki pogroms and later pogroms, and during the Holocaust, up to our own time, during the second Lebanese war of 2006, when Ro’i Klein jumped on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers, crying out, “Here O Israel, Hashem is our G-d. Hashem is One.”
Seemingly, the command to love G-d “with all your might”, which our sages said means willingness to sacrifice all you own, is entirely superfluous. If one must sacrifice his “soul,” i.e., his life, then surely he must sacrifice all his “might”, i.e., all he owns.
Yet taking a deeper look, it would appear that the matter is not so simple at all. Our sages already pointed out that “there are people whose wealth is more precious to them than their bodies.” What is being described is not a humorous situation of a person who has lost all sense of proportions. Rather, it refers to a very complex reality, as when Jacob returned to the Yabok River in order to reclaim the little urns that he had forgotten, regarding which our sages say, “For the saints, their wealth is more precious to them than their bodies.”
Our “reeducation” in this matter we underwent two years ago at Gush Katif. The heroes of the Gush, who for long years withstood the test of “Love the L-rd your G-d… with all your soul,” by way of the remarkable way they dealt with terrorists, terror incidents and terror victims, were expected to face yet another challenge. Governmental authorities threatened that anyone who remained in his home would lose a sizable portion of the compensation owed him. The army and police further issued threats regarding property remaining in the homes the day after the expulsion. Numerous families who had heroically and devotedly fulfilled the mitzvah of loving G-d “with all your soul” struggled hard over the question of loving G-d “with all your might”. Sacrificing all you own involves an element that is much harder than giving up your life. One who sacrifices his wealth continues to live for many years more, and he must worry about his own livelihood and that of his children. He must provide them with a home, tend to their health, food and clothing. He does not leave the world, with others undertaking responsibility for the continued lives of his heirs. “Love G-d with all your might” means leaving your future, the responsibility for tomorrow, in G-d’s hands. It means that all your previous toil to accumulate the wealth intended to ensure your future goes up in smoke in one moment. This trial, of “with all your might” – is psychologically difficult for a person, in numerous senses, harder still than the trial of “with all your soul”.
Most of the residents of Gush Katif passed the test and taught us all a lesson about loving G-d. It is a lesson that until now we did not pay attention to due to the enormity of our pain over the expulsion. Gush residents announced publicly that they were abandoning all their property and not taking their homes, because a Jew does not abandon his home in Eretz Yisrael and does not act opposed to his faith and his values even when faced with economic threats. Their worry over tomorrow did not impinge on their devotion to values and principles of today. The purpose of life orchestrated for them the needs of their lives. Their love of G-d did not translate for them merely as the willingness to endanger their lives in order to sanctify G-d’s name, but to sanctify life, itself, as something totally devoted to fulfilling the divine purpose inherent in it.
This understanding leads us to the profound connection that exists between two expositions of our sages on the words “with all your might”. It would appear that the two complement each other. Until now we have focused on the first, that “might” [me’odecha] refers to a person’s wealth. The second exposition relates to the way a person deals with events that occur to him:
‘With all your might’ [me’odecha]: With every measure [mida] that G-d sends your way, thank [modeh] Him muchly [me’od].”
Giving up our wealth means placing our worry about the future in G-d’s hands. It doesn’t mean blind faith that the future will be easy and pleasant. The murky future is certainly liable to be gloomy and difficult.
Yet if a person lives on this spiritual level, in which all his life is dedicated to fulfilling the divine purpose stored away in it, then just as he does not tremble over future worries, so will he not be alarmed by present difficulties. He will view every difficulty as a challenge, every problem and every new situation as a new opportunity and a unique divine mission.
By such means he will be able to thank G-d greatly for every measure that G-d doles out to him, whether pleasant or painful. “It is good to give thanks to the L-rd, to sing praise to Your lofty Name. To tell of Your love in the morning [when reality smiles on one], and Your steadfastness at night [when the reality is gloomy]…” (Psalm 92:2).
When the soul is a beacon of light, even the darkest heavens produce a pleasant light.
Translation: R. Blumberg
From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
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