20th of Av 5767 4/8/07
From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
(First Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael) “G-d’s word endures forever. The holiness of the Land of Israel, and G-d’s love for it, has not changed neither will it change…all its desolation and destruction could not overcome this…It is the merciful love for an unfortunate mother, coupled with the glorious, majestic love for a royal queen.” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, p. 324)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
“If you do this, you and your children will long endure on the land that God swore to your ancestors” (Deuteronomy 11:21)
There is a connection between learning our holy Torah and taking hold of Eretz Yisrael. As the Torah states, “Teach your children to speak of them, when you are at home, when traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up… If you do this, you and your children will long endure on the land that God swore to your ancestors, [promising that] He would give it to them as long as the heavens are above the earth” (Deuteronomy 11:19-21). Rashi comments:
‘Teach your children to speak of them’: From the time that the son is able to speak, teach him ‘Moses prescribed the Torah to us’ (33:4) so that this develops his speech. From here it is said that, when an infant begins speaking, his father should converse with him in Hebrew and teach him Torah. If he failed to do this, it is as if he had buried him…”
And if you do this, “you and your children will long endure on the land that God swore to your ancestors, promising that He would give it to them as long as the heavens are above the earth” (11:21; see Rashi). As the Midrash teaches:
“If you see cities uprooted from their place in Eretz Yisrael, be aware that they didn’t pay their scribes and teachers… as it says, ‘How was the Land lost and laid waste like a wilderness, so that none pass through? The L-rd said: It is because they forsook My Torah which I set before them (Jeremiah 9:11).”
Today, to our great chagrin, we have seen with our own eyes how “cities were uprooted from their place in Eretz Yisrael,” with the destruction of settlement in Gush Katif and Northern Samaria, and the forced expulsion of their residents from our land.
To rectify this awful situation, which derives from the spiritual and moral weakness that plagues Israeli society, there has to be spiritual and educational change, by way of returning to Jewish tradition and Torah, such that all of Israel’s children will have the privilege of their parents teaching them, “Moses prescribed the Torah to us, an eternal heritage for the congregation of Jacob” (Deuteronomy 33:4).
The day is not far off when we will merit a great arousal to return to the roots of Judaism. This will make us stronger and stronger spiritually, until we are the living fulfillment of the divine oath: “If you do this, you and your children will long endure on the land that God swore to your ancestors, promising that He would give it to them as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Hundreds of hours of free Torah videos! – www.machonmeir.net
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
Shall we start from scratch?
Question: We have to view the bankruptcy of secular Zionism with open eyes. It does not represent exalted holiness. Quite the contrary, it has sunken to anti-Zionism and post-nationalism. There is no Torah, and there is no nationalism. Instead, we have seen the uprooting of Gush Katif and the pogrom at Amona, the destruction of the Hesder Yeshivot and of the Religious Councils. From this anti-Semitic Chelm, no redemption shall result. Rather, we have to blot out everything else and begin anew.
Answer: Dear friend, don’t be angry and don’t be depressed. If you do, you won’t be able to function, and you won’t be fit to help at all. After all, we have a responsibility and we have a job to do. Don’t punish yourself with all sorts of formulas such as, “We won’t forgive and we won’t forget.” In situations of weakness and illness, one has to act and one has to be a man, in order to instill in people lofty fortitude. Physicians are not angry with their patients. Rather, they treat them. Teachers are not angry with their students. Rather, they educate them. I understand that it is hard for you, but you are mistaken in calling the nation that dwells in Zion derogatory names. Don’t forget that the greatest saints do not reach the ankles of the Jewish people (see Rav Kook’s Orot Yisrael 9:5). Moreover, you have to stand at attention, in awed silence, before the nation that carries the Jewish State upon its shoulders.
My dear freind, be careful. Your claims are not new. They are old claims, Christian claims of those disappointed by the Jewish people, “the people whose Master turned His face away from them” (Chagigah 5:2). God forbid! God’s hand is always open to us, whether you can see it or not.
I am very sorry that you are blind, and do not see everything that our people have accomplished in the land of Israel, with enormous devotion, during the last 120 years – the building of the Land, the return to Zion, the establishment of the State, Israel’s wars, and the restoration of the Torah to the Land, its proper abode. Yes! All of the enormous yeshivot exist largely by virtue of “the heretical state”. And all of this that “heretical state” did as emissaries of the Master of the Universe, whether they know that they are emissaries or not. What an enormous success. You are blind, my friend!
What do you mean when you say “blot out and start anew”? Those are just words! Do you have a plan? It’s too big for you. It’s too big for any human being. It’s God’s handiwork!
So what is your task? It’s not to undo what the Jewish people have done, or even to belittle it with words (Orot, Orot HaTechiyah 9). Quite the contrary, it is to teach the Jewish people what great light they possess, even if that light is still largely hidden away.
But first you yourself must understand this. You must learn Sefer “Orot” a great deal. Learning that book will help you understand what is happening to the Jewish people. Yet obviously, you mustn’t take a condescending approach, but must be out to learn in order to improve yourself. For if you do not understand, then you are missing out on what G-d is doing. If you do not understand, then you are not a complete person.
There are certainly negative phenomena, and there will continue to be more, but why are you fixated on them? Why don’t you notice permanent and the ongoing?
Rav Kook said that the two descriptions of the Messiah, the one who is “lowly and riding upon an ass” (Zechariah 9:9), and the majestic Messiah who “comes with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel of 7:13) are one and the same. Within that which we see as lowly is already stored away the great, heavenly light.
Buddy, look ahead!
Rabbi Azriel Ariel – Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir
“Warning to the Haughty”
Rabbi Moshe MiKutzi, author of Sefer HaMitzvot HaGadol – “Smag” – in which he listed the 613 mitzvot, relates how he came to include the prohibition against haughtiness in his list of (Negative Precepts 64):
“I have always rebuked the masses on the importance of humility, but I never intended to count the prohibition against haughtiness in my list. Neither did Rambam include it or mention it in his list of prohibitions. Yet when I was formulating my list, I had a dream in which I was told, “You have forgotten the main point! ‘Be careful that you not forget the L-rd’ (Deuteronomy 8:11). In the morning I pondered that verse, and indeed it is a major foundation regarding reverence for G-d. Thus with the aid of Him who grants wisdom to the wise, I had the good fortune to include it. Later on I looked in the first chapter of Sotah (5a), where it states explicitly:
“Where do we find an admonition against haughtiness? Rav Nachman beRabbi Yitzchak said it came from here: ‘Your heart may then grow haughty, and you may forget God your Lord’ (Deuteronomy 8:14). And it says, ‘Be careful that you not forget God’ (8:11).”
Smug is unique in the including a Torah prohibition against being haughty. In his view, the words, “Be careful that you not forget the L-rd your G-d” is not just ethical guidance but a negative prohibition against haughtiness.
His using this source as his prohibition against haughtiness demands an explanation. What connection is there between humility, which involves the relationship between man and his fellow man, and forgetting G-d? We could understand if the issue was a lack of respect being shown to G-d, but what connection is there with forgetting G-d? We must therefore examine our parasha.
The Torah’s admonition is linked to man’s success. It says, “You may then eat and be satisfied, building fine houses and living in them…. everything you own may increase” (8:12-13). The result will be, “But your heart may then grow haughty, and you may forget God your Lord, the One who brought you out of the slave house that was Egypt. It was He who led you through the great, terrifying desert…. When there was no water, it was He who provided you water from a solid cliff. In the desert He fed you Manna….” (14-16).
The successful person tends to attribute his success to himself – to his strength, talent, diligence, labor, or even his good luck. He simultaneously forgets who it was who gave him those strengths and that talent, and even the diligence to toil and to achieve by his own efforts.
The importance of Him who grants him strength becomes clear precisely when he has no strength. In Egypt, in the house of bondage; in the great and terrifying desert, where there are snakes and scorpions; in dry places where there is no water. G-d’s gifts, which are discovered in time of want, teach us regarding G-d’s gifts that are granted quietly in more bountiful times. The successful person who forgets G-d, credits his success to himself, while telling himself, “It was my own strength and personal power that brought me all this prosperity.” (8:17).
All this applies on the surface level. A person who credits his success to himself forgets Divine Providence. Yet he still has not forgotten G-d himself. All the same, beneath the practical question of who is responsible for man’s success is concealed a still deeper question: From what does man’s worth derive? From whence does a person draw his feeling of self worth? A person blinded by his own success will feel that he has worth, in fact, that he is worth more than others,
by virtue of his success. He will view his success as attesting to his worth. That is his great mistake. If someone is not successful in life, does he lack worth? Is anyone allowed to murder him on the grounds that he lacks worth? From where does a man’s true worth derive? Only from one thing: from his having been created in the image of G-d. This worth exists in all people equally. It is not dependent on anything, and it exists all the time. If a person derives his feeling of self worth from himself, he craves success, for only then will he feel he has worth.
Yet if someone draws his feeling of self worth from G-d’s having created him in His image, he will not need success to derive self-worth. This awareness creates the ability to recognize the true source of success: “Remember the L-rd your G-d, for it is He who gives you the strength to succeed” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
Translation: R. Blumberg