From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“There are two elements to humility: The first involves recognizing G-d’s exaltedness until one’s own will is of no count before that of G-d. The second involves perceiving fully that without G-d’s existence nothing else exists, neither can any will exist without G-d.” (Mussar Avicha, 2:5)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
“Your Name Will no Longer be Said to be Jacob, but Israel”
Jacob makes preparations to meet his brother Esau who had plotted to kill him, as it says, “Esau was furious at Jacob because of the blessing that his father had given him. He said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father will be here soon. I will then be able to kill my brother Jacob.'” (Genesis 27:41). He takes into account all the possible scenarios: the possibility that Esau will make peace with him, but also the possibility that he will kill him and his family. He therefore readies himself in three ways: he sends Esau gifts, he prays and he prepares for war.
True, Jacob was an innocent scholar, and the Torah even states, “Have complete trust in the L-rd your G-d” (Deuteronomy 18:13), but with people like Laban and Esau it’s forbidden to be innocent and naïve. Quite the contrary, Jacob exercised all his wisdom and perception in watching out for these liars and evildoers. Yes, they were his relatives. Laban was his uncle and Esau was his brother. Yet despite their kinship, they still wanted to harm him and plotted to kill him.
Yet not only Jacob needed wisdom, understanding and special divine assistance to survive against the open and veiled hostility of Laban and Esau. Today, the entire Jewish People returning to live in their land and carrying on in the path of Jacob our father need those same attributes and blessings. Our leaders must learn from Jacob how not to fall in the traps that our enemies lay for them. On the one hand, we must remain connected to the nations of the world, for the entire theme of the Jewish People is universal, as G-d said to Abraham, “All the families of the earth shall be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). Moreover, Abraham was, like his name, “a father of a horde of nations” (17:5). At the same time, Israel must be strong, wise and cautious, and they must know that a struggle is going on between us and our enemies that is not just military and political, but also philosophical, religious and faith-based. Esau’s angelic prince wrestles with us just as he wrestled with Jacob: “Jacob remained alone. A stranger [appeared and] wrestled with him until just before daybreak” (Genesis 32:5; see Rashi). We must relate much more forcefully to the claims of our enemies who would steal our land, while they label us occupiers. Eretz Yisrael belongs exclusively to the Jewish People, and the same holds true regarding Jerusalem.
Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael are the light of the universe.
The Arabs’ goal is to extinguish the world’s light source, which is growing brighter and brighter in Eretz Yisrael. Once more we must address President Bush and all those who join with him with the aim of dividing Jerusalem and establishing a terror state for the Arabs there. Just as Jacob vanquished Esau’s angelic prince in his struggle, so too, G-d willing, shall we be victorious in our struggle today. The day is not far off when the sun will rise and through us will be fulfilled, for all to see, “‘Your name will no longer be said to be Jacob, but Israel (Yisra’el). You have become great (sar) before God and man. You have won.'” (Genesis 32:29). As Rashi comments, ” [I.e.,] it will no longer be said that the blessings came to you through deceit and trickery, but, rather, with nobility and openness.”
Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
You Don’t Cut Up Eretz Yisrael!
Question: What is the Torah’s view about the new suggestion of bringing the destroyer right into Jerusalem, by transferring neighborhoods in which Jews do not live to either Jordan or the Palestinians, or other such ideas?
Answer: Obviously this strange and bizarre suggestion is pure nonsense. It is well-known that the mitzvah of the Land of Israel may be divided into three parts:
1) Living in the Land. Every Jew must live in Israel and not in Babylonia, New York or anywhere else on earth.
2) Settling the Land. The Land must be built, settled, filled with Jews, filled with factories, fields and vineyards. As Ramban wrote: “We must never abandon it to desolation” (Positive Commandment 4 of Ramban’s additions to Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot).
3) Occupying the Land. The Torah commands, “You shall clear out the Land” (Numbers 33:53); and, “Inherit the Land” (Deuteronomy 4:1). These commands refer to the people taking ownership of the Land. As Ramban said, “We mustn’t leave it in the hands of any other nation” (ibid.). This land must not be left in the hands of any other people, but only our people.
This mitzvah requires self-sacrifice. Without self-sacrifice it won’t work out. No nation on earth succeeds in holding on to its independence without self-sacrifice, all the more so the Jewish People. Everything we have today in our land has come by way of self-sacrifice: 1) Self-sacrifice to move to Israel, even in face of danger, even traveling through deserts or by ship; 2) Self-sacrifice, down through the generations, to establish settlements in the Land, to establish neighborhoods and to build. Such self-sacrifice was exhibited by all Jews, secular, religious and Hareidi; 3) The self-sacrifice exhibited by our army in occupying our land.
The rule is this: This entire land has to be under our sovereignty (Ramban, ibid.). There is a place for non-Jews living here, under certain conditions (Ramban, ibid.), just as such conditions exist in every country on earth. Whoever wishes to live in a particular country must certainly fulfill its laws and practices. He must certainly not be involved in the murder of its citizens. There is room for deliberating on which non-Jews should be allowed to live here, in accordance with their religion and nationality, wickedness or faithfulness – yet all this is referring to a private calculation. If an Arab has a house or field, accompanied by proof that it is indeed his, and not just stolen – we won’t take it away from him. (see Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, page 252)
We are talking here about national ownership, in other words, by the State. How strange the argument that in the Jerusalem neighborhoods earmarked for transfer, “Arabs live there and not Jews anyway. What difference does it make if there is non-Jewish rule?” How senseless one must be to make such claims! After all, in every country in the world there are minorities. Obviously, we are not like every country in the world – we must live as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Yet we are not inferior to any other nation, as Maharal states at the beginning of his book Netzach Yisrael. Shall we fail to understand something that every nation on earth understands? For example, shall the French, because they have eight million Arabs or twelve million Arabs, suddenly establish a state for them there?! Every single country on earth has minorities. Obviously, we have to relate to them with human dignity, but that does not give them the right to national sovereignty.
Therefore, this entire idea is a one big deceit and a dangerous blunder. It is hard to understand how people can talk such nonsense, nonsense that no other nation on earth would spout. Find one people on earth ready to establish a state or to hand over to another people part of its territory since foreigners live there. This nonsense, according to the theory of our master Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, stems from the Holocaust (LeNetivot Yisrael 1:94): In the Holocaust, they not only murdered us but also drove us insane, until we lost our self-confidence to bang on the table and say: Eretz Yisrael is ours!
A friend who went on vacation in Alaska told me that he sat by the sea, fishing. During the trip in the light plane that brought them there, someone jokingly asked, “What happens if a bear approaches us?” Yet the group leader didn’t laugh. He answered, “Look it straight in the eye and say to it, ‘Hey bear! This is my place!’ Later on when my friend was fishing he heard a rustling behind him. He turned around and saw a terrifying sight – a bear was threatening him. He had the courage to look it in the eye without blinking and to say, “Hey bear! This is my place!” The bear made a noise, turned around and left.
We have to state clearly: This land is our place. It is all ours. The fact that we disappeared from the Land because we were cruelly exiled by our enemies, and foreigners came and built homes and stole our lands, does not suddenly make it theirs.
Also the claim that all of these non-Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods cost us money is nonsense. We did not establish our country as a business venture. Millions of Jews lost billions. Ask any Jew who dwells in Zion: For you, is the Jewish State just about economics and security? He will be insulted and will respond, “G-d forbid! It’s history! Thank G-d we’ve got an economy and security, but that’s not the only reason we returned to our land. We came back because it is our land. We didn’t wait two thousand years just to give part of it away to foreigners.”
Ben Gurion once asked Yitzhak Tabenkin, one of the principle thinkers of the Kibbutz movement: “Is it possible to concede parts of Eretz Yisrael for peace?” and Tabenkin responded, “I have to get advice.” The next day he answered no. Ben Gurion asked him, “May I asked you from whom you got advice?” and Tabenkin responded, “I asked my grandfather who has died and my grandson who is not yet born.”
Let us be strong and courageous for our land. Below I am adding a poem by the Israeli poet Natan Alterman:
(Translation by Richard Silverstein)
Palestine is an Arab land.
Strangers have no share in it.
a public broadsheet
A clear night. Trees wave
Their boughs in an airy whisper.
From above, Arab night stars
Sparkle over an Arab land.
The night-stars sparkle and blink
Sowing their trembling light
Upon the quiet city, El Kuds,
Where King Daoud dwells.
From there, they gaze
To the far-off city, El-Chalil,
The city where Father Ibrahim is buried–
Ibrahim who bore Ischak.
From there, their sharp line of light
Hastens to paint with radiance
The waters of the river, El-Urdun
Which Yakub with his crook crossed over.
A clear night. With an airy wink
Night-stars sparkle as is their custom
Upon the Arab hills
Which Musa saw from afar.
Translation: R. Blumberg
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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
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