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“From the World of Rabbi Kook”
“Without the impudence of the pre-Messianic era, it would be impossible to clarify the mysteries of the Torah in a totally straightforward manner. Only the coarsening of our emotions through impudence enables us to absorb intellectual enlightenment from a very lofty source, such that ultimately everything will return to its perfect state.” (Erpalei Tohar, 42)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Founder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “Gladden us in accordance with Your having afflicted us”
Adam and Eve’s punishment for their sin was anguish, as it says: “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly increase your anguish and your pregnancy. With anguish you will give birth to children…’ To Adam He said, ‘You listened to your wife, and ate from the tree regarding which I specifically gave you orders, saying, ‘Do not eat from it.’ The ground will therefore be cursed because of you. You will derive food from it with anguish all the days of your life. It will bring forth thorns and thistles for you’” (Genesis 3:16-18).
Noah relieved some of that anguish. That is why he was named Noah, which means “relief”: “[His father] named him Noah, saying, ‘This one will bring us relief from our work and the anguish of our hands, from the soil that God has cursed’” (5:29). Rashi comments: “‘He will give us rest from the toil of our hands’: Prior to Noah they had no plow and he invented it for them. The earth had been producing thorns and thistles when wheat was sown as a result of Adam’s curse and this ceased in the days of Noah.”
The invention of an animal-driven plow made man’s life easier. Previously, agricultural work had been difficult and frustrating. Farmers would sow wheat and come up with thorns. Yet joy did not yet return to him. Noah himself would drink wine as a way of fleeing the difficult reality in which he lived: “Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank some of the wine, making himself drunk, and uncovered himself in the tent” (9:21).
Yet Abraham, G-d’s intimate and elect, was kindness personified. Only within him were restored the joy and laughter of Adam in Eden before the sin. As it says, “Abraham fell on his face and laughed [va’yitzchak]” (17:17). Targum comments, “The word ‘yitzchak’ here refers [not to disbelief at the angels’ report that Sarah would bear a son, but] to joy. In fact, G-d commanded him to call his son Yitzchak [Isaac] (17:19).”
Through Abraham and his seed after him came rectification for Adam’s sin, the sin that brought anguish to the world. With Abraham we move from the 2,000 years of chaos and anguish to 2,000 years of Torah. That, in turn, stands in preparation for the 2,000 years of the Messiah, at the height of which joy will return to the Jewish People and to the entire world. As it says, “Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads” (Isaiah 35:10. See Shabbat 88a). This idea is hinted at by the Hebrew letters of the word “Mashiach” [Messiah], which are the same letters as in the word “simchah” [joy].
Today, mankind’s goal is to emerge from the anguish that has hung over it since the days of Adam, to the enormous joy that will characterize the human race in general, and Israel, the eternal People, in particular, in the end of days. As it says, “The ransomed of the L-rd shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).
In our own generation as well, as in Adam’s generation, we bear witness to enormous technological development that ostensibly makes man’s life easier, as in Noah’s day. Yet however advanced and sophisticated the world may be, that does not suffice to fill man’s heart with true joy. For joy to return to the human race and to every individual, we have to rectify the sin of Adam, who followed his passions and evil impulse. Man has to return to himself as a man, from a moral and values-oriented standpoint. He must follow in G-d’s pathways and do charity and justice, as it says of Abraham: “I have given him special attention so that he will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep God’s way, doing charity and justice. God will then bring about for Abraham everything He promised” (Genesis 18:19). As a result, “Abraham is will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and through him all the nations of the world will be blessed” (verse 18).
All those anguished years in which G-d concealed His face from us will be transformed to joy, as it says, “Gladden us in accordance with Your having afflicted us, in accordance with the years in which we saw evil” (Psalm 90:15). Looking forward to complete salvation,
Write a letter of support to Jonathan Pollard, in jail for 20 years because of his love for the Jewish People and our Land! Address letters to:
Jonathan Pollard # 09185-016
FCI Butner Medium
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 1000
Butner, NC 27509 (USA)
Rabbi Elisha Aviner – Education Corner
“Crisis and Confusion”
Has the destruction of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria actually caused a spiritual crisis amongst our youth? It is still early to arrive at a clear conclusion, but thank G-d, we can already state that there are no classical crises of faith, nor any crises in their faith in redemption. There are signs of a crisis of faith in the country’s institutions, and even in the “state” per se. This crisis was foreseen. The country’s leadership was warned about it, yet they did not heed the warnings.
This crisis is natural. What boy is not going to be disappointed in his country when it destroys flowering settlements? What girl is not going to be disappointed when the army sends prodigious forces against faithful citizens, upstanding pioneers? There is nothing more frustrating than the Israeli government’s conduct over the past year, since its surprising adoption of the Disengagement Plan. Many young people are not hiding their deep disappointment in the government’s institutions that initiated the Disengagement Plan and took part in its implementation. These young people are expressing openly their anger at the country. The extent to which various young people have reservations about our country is not equal amongst all youth. There is a broad spectrum (running from light to heavy reservations): disappointment, anger, wrath, estrangement, cutting themselves off.
Even though the crisis was to be expected, it is not desirable. Expending mental energies on anger and frustration is a waste when that energy is crucial to positive action and to the improvements warranted by the situation. Being angry at the State or cutting oneself off from it certainly will not cure its ills. Frustration is unbeneficial, and crises contribute nothing to improving the situation.
Despite all this, we needn’t be alarmed. Less than three months have gone by since our children underwent the traumatic experience of the Israeli government destroying parts of Eretz Yisrael. We cannot stop the outbreak of emotion, and it is presently finding release through anger and frustration. Hence there are educators who hold that the reaction of our youth is healthy. Yet all this is on condition that the anger will be temporary, will go away within a reasonable amount of time and will make way for a spiritual stance that does not cut itself off from the State. Rather, our youth must recognize the State’s value and seek to influence it spiritually “from within,” as our great rabbis of the last generation instructed us to do. Much work awaits our youth within Israeli society.
Indeed, there is room to hope that this crisis will pass quickly. It is a great shame that there are voices calling on our youth to increase their anger at the State. This is an attempt to perpetuate the crisis of our youth and to aggregate it. These voices are not new. They derive from a worldview that always objected to the State. There are elements who never appreciated the State, and in the depths of their heart were cut off from it. Now, they are taking advantage of the crisis of our youth in order to imbue them with their own pessimistic outlook. Instead of hearing words of comfort and encouragement, our youth are being fed anger and frustration, on the principle of, “The angrier and more distant we are from the State, the better.”
That is not the way. As we all know, in this generation we will not win through increased strictness, but through increased kindness. Our youth, as well, who thirst to be strengthened, encouraged and comforted, do not need increased anger and resentment. Rather, they need the light of kindness. This instruction is relevant both to our individual service to G-d as well as to service to G-d as it relates to the public, the community, the society and State. The herald of our redemption is the Prophet Elijah, whose task it will be to “iron out controversy,” “to draw near and not to distance,” and “to make peace between Jews” (the Mishnah at the end of Eduyot). As “herald of redemption,” Elijah lays the groundwork for it. In other words, what the Mishnah describes him doing is a prerequisite for redemption.
Our youth thirst for every ounce of hope as far as the future of the State. Therefore, how fine and good it is when we arouse their hopes that in the not-too-distant future we will run the State in the spirit of Torah linked to Zion. This hope is also essential for our youth so that they can stand more erect following the great humiliation that they experienced. Many of our youth, however, translate such encouragement as calling for on-the-spot change. They thirstily drink up expressions such as “the time has come to conquer the leadership,” and interpret these words as a plan meant for immediate implementation. If we only will it – they say – the country’s leadership will be in our hands.
Yet every person of intelligence knows that a lot of groups in Israeli society are vying for the crown of leadership. Everybody is struggling against everybody else for the same piece of the pie, and it does not seem like in the immediate future anybody is planning on willingly handing over to us the reigns of leadership or the rudder of the ship of state. Hence, there is no guarantee that we will succeed overnight in conquering the leadership. (Our sages taught us long ago (Berachot 64a) that whoever behaves impatiently will just be pushed off further.) If our hope of conquering the leadership is not fulfilled by tomorrow morning, the disappointment of our youth is liable to deepen and their frustration will be transformed to a chronic illness. Their confusion will increase and the crisis will worsen.
From Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, we always heard a message of patience. Rav Tzvi Yehuda taught us stubbornness and hope, but patience as well. This is a message that our youth have to hear today. Patience does not mean despair, neither does it mean non-action. Rather, it is a key to making it through times of “complications” [Rav Tzvi Yehuda’s expression]. We cannot know when we will succeed in extricating ourselves from the present complications, and at what pace. Therefore, we must arm our youth with our time-honored trait of patience. Certainly we are worthy of leadership. Certainly there is no cure to what ills the generation other than Torah-based leadership, and certainly there is no Zionism without Torah. Even so, restoring spirit to the people is not a task to be fulfilled in one day.
Therefore, we have to strengthen hope, to help our youth to stand more erect and not to feel inferior, and to imbue them with faith that we possess the spiritual resources needed for leading the Jewish People. At the same time, we have to educate towards our time-honored patience.
Be sure to catch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at www.israelnntv.com (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir).
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