From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Whoever in his purity is effused with the light of faith will love all men without exception. His entire goal will be their improvement and betterment, and the greater his faith, the more reflective of integrity will be his methods towards achieving his goal”
(Midot HaRe’iyah, Emunah)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
“The Kohen Gadol [High Priest] Among His Brothers” (Leviticus 21:10)
The Kohen Gadol’s job was to atone for the entire Jewish People and the bestow of his benevolent spirit on the entire nation, lovingly. As the kohanim say each day, blessing G-d “who sanctified us with the holiness of Aaron and commanded us to bless His people Israel with love.” Indeed, there were two ornaments on his outfit, and they contained the names of all the tribes of Israel. There was the breastplate [choshen], on which were embossed twelve precious jems, each different from the rest, and engraved on them were the names of the tribes. As it says: “The stones shall contain the names of the twelve sons of Israel, one for each of the twelve [stones]. Each one’s name shall be engraved as on a signet ring, to represent the twelve tribes” (Exodus 28:21). The breastplate lay on the Kohen Gadol’s heart, as it says, “Aaron will thus carry the names of Israel’s sons on the decision breastplate over his heart when he comes into the sanctuary. It shall be a constant remembrance before God” (verse 29).
The second ornament, the sardonyx stones were on the Kohen Gadol’s shoulders, over his apron [ephod]. On them as well were the twelve names of the tribes engraved, as it says, “Take two sardonyx stones, and engrave on them the names of Israel’s sons. There shall be six names on one stone, and the remaining six names on the second stone [inscribed] in the order of their birth…. Place the two stones on the two shoulder pieces of the ephod as remembrance stones” (28:9-12).
The entire Jewish People, in all their tribes and variations, down to the very last Jew, are engraved on the heart and weigh on the shoulders of the Kohen Gadol as a constant remembrance before G-d. The heart hints at the Kohen Gadol’s great love and the shoulders hint at the responsibility resting on the Kohen Gadol.
Already with the Exodus from Egypt, the Jewish People had two leaders: Moses, our political leader who led us through the desert, gave us the Torah and judged all Israel. Along with him was his brother, Aaron the Kohen, who bestowed of his benevolent spirit on the people. Aaron “loved peace and would pursue it. He loved his fellowman and would bring him closer to Torah” (Avot 1). During the First and Second Temple periods as well we had high priests some of whom bestowed of their benevolent spirits on the political leadership, i.e., on the kings and on the entire nation.
In our own generation, the generation of national rebirth and the ingathering of the exiles, the further we move along the ascending path towards complete redemption, the more we encounter difficulties and complications from within and from without. Precisely at this time we need responsible, strong and wise political leadership that will know how to lead the nation to the goals and destinations for which purpose it was created. And alongside that political leadership we need moral and spiritual leadership, like the air we breath, which can bestow of its spirit on the nation and its leaders, just as the Kohen Gadol did.
Our generation has been privileged in that G-d, who plants in our midst the souls that each generation needs, planted the magnificent, benevolent soul of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhcak HaKohen Kook, zt”l. He was like the Kohen Gadol of our generation and of the generations to follow. Rav Kook bore the nation upon his heart and his shoulders. He loved our nation infinitely Just as G-d loves Israel, and just as we bless G-d who “chooses His people Israel with love.” Rav Kook bequeathed to us the light that illuminates our pathways and our souls, as well as the souls of the generations to come, until the advent of a righteous redeemer, speedily in our day.
The day is not far off when the light of Rav Kook will illuminate the path of the Jewish People, in all their streams and all their variety, and will be revealed for all to see. Then we will be the living fulfillment of, “A new light shall shine over Zion, May we all speedily merit that light.”
Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner– Chief Rabbi of Bet El
I’m Not Going to the Army
Question: I’m not going to the army! It’s an army of expulsion! An army of expulsion from Katif, an army of violence at Amona, an army of eviction in Hebron. The seculars need me as their drone to sacrifice my life and be killed, but they won’t let me rise up the command hierarchy. Maybe they’ll let me be a company or a platoon commander, but not more than that. I won’t be anybody’s sucker. I’ll sit home and not go to the army! After all they did to me, they can get along without me!
Answer: For sure. Don’t go. If that’s how you think, if that’s what you believe, if that’s how you feel, don’t go. You’ll just ruin things there. I will try to convince them not to accept you, because you’ll just cause harm.
Stay home. Learn Torah. Learn a profession. Get married. Volunteer to help terror victims. Do all sorts of mitzvoth. Then you’ll do some good.
Apparently you think that this is Switzerland and that there aren’t 300 million Arabs surrounding us who want to liquidate us all, who want to kill men, women and children. By the way, in Switzerland they go to the army as well, and our reserve duty system is based on theirs. One time the Swiss Defense Minister was asked, “Don’t you trust the neighboring countries, Germany and Austria, French and Italy?” and he answered, “No!”
Apparently you don’t understand that without an army we have no nation, we have no country, we have no Amona. We don’t have anything!
You say, “They can get along without me!” You’re right. The I.D.F. will get along without you. Even if ALL the religious don’t go to the army, if all the Haredim and religious and national religious don’t go, the army will still make due. Maybe it will be a little bit harder for them, but they’ll get along, because they will still have the same partner they have had all along: The Master of the Universe. “The L-rd your G-d is the One who is going with you. He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will deliver you” (Deuteronomy 20:4). G-d will accompany the soldiers, even if they have no kippa on their heads, but only the cover of heaven, and their helmets.
You’re not doing anybody any favors if you do the army, but only yourself, for it makes you a partner in this marvelous group that is called the army. To be a soldier is not just a duty but a privilege. I know a paralyzed person in a wheelchair who fought with all his might until he was accepted into the army. I know a blind man who fought and was accepted. I know someone with emotional problems undergoing psychiatric drug treatment who fought until he was accepted. All three brought benefit to the army. To be in the army is a privilege. You are right. Even if you don’t go, they’ll get along without you, but you will lose out. Your friends will be emissaries of G-d, and you will remain outside.
And just what do you mean by saying that you’re not a sucker willing to be killed for the sake of others?!
To think that the irreligious are not killed in the army, don’t risk themselves for the sake of us all, don’t receive medals of valor, as in the recent Lebanese War – that’s already slander against people who risked their lives and some of them were killed!
What do you mean that you won’t go to the army for them if it means your remaining a simple soldier? Are you going to the army “for them” or for G-d?! G-d, who commanded you to enlist! We don’t think that way: “If I don’t become a high-ranking officer I won’t enlist.” “If I can’t become a big Torah scholar I won’t study.” “If I can’t become a saint I won’t make an effort with mitzvah observance”, etc. No! A little bit of humility is called for, and a bit less arrogance.
We relate humbly to serving G-d, and even if we are insignificant, we are happy to serve Him. As Rambam explains in the Guide to the Perplexed, even if you are not an angel but just a simple person, your serving G-d is still worth a lot. Likewise, it says at the beginning of Rav Chaim of Volozhin’s work, Nefesh HaChaim, that a person shouldn’t say, “Who am I, so poor and insignificant, and what is my serving G-d worth?” No! Your serving G-d is worth a very great amount, and it is exceedingly precious in G-d’s sight. Everyone must do the best he can, and “the reward is concomitant with the pain invested” (Avot, end of Chapter 5). Whether one invests much or little, the main thing is that he should direct his heart Heavenward” (Berachot 17a).
After all, the army is a mitzvah, a three-fold mitzvah. As Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook explains in his article “LeMitzvot HaAretz”, which was written in order to exalt army enlistment in preparation for the War of Independence (LeNetivot Yisrael I:118):
1) Army service saves the Jewish People. The Torah commands us, “Don’t stand idly by when your brother’s life is in danger” (Leviticus 19:16), and this applies all the more regarding the lives of the entire Jewish People. Preserving life is an enormous mitzvah that overrides almost the entire Torah (except for particularly severe prohibitions).
2) It saves the Land of Israel. It fulfills the mitzvah of conquering the Land and of preserving it once it is conquered. This is almost the only mitzvah for which we place ourselves a priori in a situation of endangering our lives in order to fulfill it.
3)The mitzvah of sanctifying G-d’s name. When the Jewish People are in a wretched state, battered and beaten, pursued and broken down, that is a profanation of G-d’s name. When we have an army, and we fight fiercely and smite the enemy, that is a sanctification of G-d’s name. It is the great sanctification of G-d’s name mentioned by the Prophet Yechezkel (Chapter 37).
It is true that there are problems in the army. It is true that that army was used to banish Jews and to evacuate homes. That is a terrible crime. It is true that girls have been brought into all sorts of places in the army, and that is the worst foolishness, the worst insanity, a disgrace and a danger. Yet in this world, nothing is perfect. Nothing is precisely as you would want it to be.
Rambam taught us a major principle: People are judged in accordance with the majority of their essence. A country is judged according to its majority. The world is judged according to its majority (Hilchot Teshuva 3). Likewise, the I.D.F. is judged according to its majority.
Don’t exaggerate, pal. Don’t call the army “an army of expulsion” or any other pejorative. That isn’t right. It isn’t true. It isn’t fair.
You can’t be taken seriously, friend. Forgive me that I say that. So who do you want to go to the army? The irreligious? Is that your worldview as for our people’s rebirth in their land, that we should sit on the side? Or perhaps we should send Thais and Chinese to be soldiers?! You’re just not serious, friend!
I therefore recommend to you that you repent. You have to understand what the army is. You have to love and admire it, enlist in it with all your heart, all your spirit and all your soul.
Translation: R. Blumberg
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