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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook

“The longing to plant, to settle the world, is an expression of man’s inner longing to be good to all.”
(Megged Yerachim, Shevat)

Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:

The Shira – A Song of Victory

Shirat Hayam, the Shira, the song sung at the sea, is the song of the victory of the Jewish People in every generation – from the Exodus and the Splitting of the Sea until the end of days, as it says: “Moses and the Israelites then sang this song to G-d. It went: I will sing to G-d for His great victory, horse and rider He threw in the sea…. With love, You led the people You redeemed; With might, You led them to Your holy shrine…. O bring them and plant them on the mount You possess. The place You dwell in Is Your accomplishment, God. The shrine of God Your Hands have founded.” (Exodus 15:1,13,17)

Indeed, for thousands of years, joyfully, Israel have daily sung the Shira, the song of victory, in the early part of morning prayers, as Jewish Law rules: “The Shira must be sung joyfully. One should imagine that he himself had crossed the sea that very day. If someone recites it joyfully, he will be forgiven for all his sins” (Orach Chaim 51:42:17).

Despite the great victory over Pharaoh and his army, Amalek dared to attack Israel with the goal of humiliating and even destroying them, as it says, “Amalek came and fought Israel at Rephidim” (Exodus 17:8). From then until today, we have a long score to settle and a war to fight in every generation against Amalek. As it says, “Write this as a reminder in the Book and repeat it carefully to Joshua. I will totally obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens…. ‘The Hand is on G-d’s Throne. G-d shall be at war with Amalek for all generations” (17:14,16).

The war against Amalek, whose goal was to eradicate Israel, continues and shall continue until we merit complete salvation. As Rambam ruled: “Israel were commanded with three mitzvoth as they entered the Land – to appoint themselves a king; to wipe out the seed of Amalek, and to build the Temple” (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 1:1).

Throughout the generations enemies of Israel have risen up from Amalek’s seed, with the intent of destroying the Jewish People. During the First Temple Period this occurred in the days of Saul and David; at the end of the Babylonian exile there was wicked Haman; and in our own generation, the generation of rebirth, there was Hitler and his collaborators, who murdered a third of our people just because we are Jews.

Today as well Israel’s enemies are rearing their heads and planning to destroy the State of Israel. True, they are claiming that we conquered their land, but that is false. They are making use of this falsehood in order to achieve their aim – the destruction of the Jewish People. It is no coincidence that they are vociferously opposed to the State of Israel as a Jewish State.

We must pray that those who hold the reins of statehood will open their eyes and they will understand what the aims and goals of the Arabs really are. We must pray that our leaders will not fool themselves and the Jewish People into thinking that establishing a state for the Arabs in heart of our land will bring peace and tranquility to our people. We know that just as all of Israel’s enemies have suffered defeat, they, too, will suffer defeat, and through them will be fulfilled:
‘The Hand is on G-d’s Throne. G-d shall be at war with Amalek for all generations.… Fear and dread fell upon them… Until Your people crossed, O G-d…. O bring them and plant them on the mount You possess. The place You dwell in is Your accomplishment, G-d. The shrine of G-d Your Hands have founded.” (15:14,16-17) 

Hundreds of hours of free Torah videos! –

Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El

We have strange fruits in this country…

“Happy Tu Bishvat, Sabba Eliezer!” the children said bursting into the house. “Happy birthday Grandpa!” The old kibbutznik seated his guests with a glowing smile, and with his rough hands the old farmer offered them the fruits of the Land. “Yes, indeed! How hard we worked and slaved until the Land brought forth its fruits! All my youth, all my life I devoted to this, but… — and here he raised his eyes – I am not sorry. I am proud…”
“Why are you proud, Sabba?” asked Yochanan the economist. “Fruit can be imported from abroad….”

“Nonsense, Yochi! Our fruit is sweet! The sweet product of our own labors! I built this land and I was built through it, and I am still building and being built. The connection with my land is like a man’s connection to his wife.” Grandma smiled and said, “It’s nice to know that you’ve got another wife.”
“That’s not what I meant, Mirele! I am married only to you, forever! Yet the Jewish People and their land are like a man and his wife. It’s a duty and a pleasure.”
“I agree with you, Sabba,” said Yossi, whose lieutenant-colonel bars adorned his shoulder. “I, too, devote my life to the Land and I am happy.”

“What are you so happy about?” asked Yochanan. “I sit in an air-conditioned office from 9:00 to 5:00 and have frequent vacations. You run around after terrorists, crawl through thorns, go to sleep at midnight, get up at 3:00 A.M. and in the middle you get woken three times. Sabbaths and holidays are nonexistent for you…”
“Cut it out. I’m happy, because I know that I am defending the people and the Land, as well as the glory of Israel, what the religious call… what they call…”
“Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of G-d’s name,” said Rav Aharon.
“Yeah, that’s it. Kiddush Hashem. Look, I’m very happy. Thanks to me and to my soldiers you’re able to sit here quietly in your air-conditioned office, talking all you want about money, money, money…”

“Now just wait a second! I’m just money, money, money?” Didn’t I just complete a month of reserve duty as a volunteer? Didn’t I help out Sabba for two weeks with his harvest? I just know one thing: Without money we don’t have a thing – not an army nor education nor a kibbutz nor Rav Aharon’s yeshiva! How fortunate we are that we have a well-to-do country, but money doesn’t grow on trees. It requires planning. It requires calculations…”

“And where does the money go?” Nadav interjected. “There are so many poor people who have nothing. This country is very beautiful, but for me it’s just a means, so that we can build a just society here, a society of integrity, of brotherhood.”
“And do you think there’s no justice in our country as it is?” asked Sabba Eliezer.
“Not enough. It needs a lot of improvements. That’s what it say in your Bible, Rav Aharon, that Abraham was chosen in order that his seed should perform deeds of charity and justice.” 

“My Bible? It’s EVERYONE’s Bible,” pointed out Rav Aharon.
“Is that all you have to say?” asked Yossi. “You’re sitting there quietly the whole time, the family pietist.” 

“I’m here because it’s a mitzvah, even a great mitzvah,” answered Rav Aharon.
“And in your view, the rest of us are NOT doing a mitzvah?”
“Hmmm… You are doing one, you’re just not aware of it….”
“We’re not aware? I lie in wait to conduct a military ambush and I don’t know it’s a mitzvah?” wondered Yossi.
“Enough! Enough! Please don’t fight!” said Sabba Eliezer. “You’re all sweet, just like these fruits are sweet. Just like this land is sweet… We are one family and a lot of brothers. Each one has his talents, each one has his special mission, each one fulfilling through his life a particular trait of the entire Jewish People.”

Rabbi Azriel Ariel Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir

“Triumphantly Proud”

One of the most remarkable expressions from Moses’s song at the sea, if not the most remarkable, is his reference to G-d’s pride: ” I will sing to G-d for He was triumphantly proud, horse and rider He threw in the sea” (Exodus 15:1). Miriam as well, when she once more sings the song with all the woman, repeats the words, “Sing to G-d, for He is triumphantly proud” (15:21). During the original song, as well, the theme is repeated more than once: ” In Your great pride You broke Your opponents. You sent forth Your wrath. It devoured them like straw” (verse 7).

It is hard for us to fathom this. In our world, there is no trait more loathsome than pride. Our sages were not kind in their references to people smitten with this despicable trait, even saying, “He is worthy to be cut down like an Ashera [a tree used for idolatry].” How can we possibly associate such an illegitimate trait to G-d?

We must therefore take a deeper look at the philosophical foundation of ga’ava, pride. Pride does not refer to a person recognizing his abilities and talents. That characteristic, which today is called “having a high self-concept”, has nothing wrong with it, as long as someone recognizes oneself as he truly is, with all his good and bad qualities. Also what is called “self-esteem” is all right. If someone feels that his life is entirely worthless and he feels that he has no right to live on this earth, what that person has is not called “humility”. He should be referred for psychological treatment immediately…

Yet everything I have said is true on one condition, that a person’s feeling of self-worth should be based on what about him that is truly worthy. If someone derives his feeling of self-worth from the fact that he was created in G-d’s image, then his worth is almost infinite (in line with the verse, “You made him just short of the angels” – Psalm 8:6). Such a person does not base his worth on his accomplishments nor on his talents or the circumstances of his life. This being the case, he has not need to inflate his accomplishment or talents beyond what they really are in order to feel self-worth. Certainly that person will have no need to feel that he is better than his fellow man in order to feel importance. The value of his life is guaranteed by the very fact of being a person with a divine soul within him, a person created by G-d.

All this applies on the human level. G-d, Himself, however, has what to be proud about. His worth does indeed derive from Himself, from the very fact of His being the Infinite Divine. He, Himself, constitutes absolute worth, absolute value, and everything else of worth derives its worthiness from Him. This divine pride is real and it has no connection to the false pride of man. Therefore, we “sing to G-d for He is triumphantly proud.” G-d deserves to be prideful.

Translation: R. Blumberg

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