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PARASHAT VAYAKEL

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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Skepticism is part of the intellect, but emotion runs deeper. It is associated with certainty. The heart sees and the heart hears”

(Erpalei Tohar 46)


Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir


Message for Today:
“I Will Raise up Jerusalem Above my Greatest Joy”


Our sages (Berachot 25) teach us by means of the way that Betzalel ben Uri was selected how a communal leader should be chosen, and what characteristics and traits are desirable in a good leader:
“We do not appoint a leader over the public unless the public are first asked their advice, as it says, ‘Moses said to the Israelites: God has selected Betzalel'” (Exodus 35:30).
Later in that source our sages posit the conversation that took place between G-d and Moses:
“G-d asked Moses, ‘Does Betzalel seem worthy to you?’ and Moses responded, ‘Master of the Universe! If you find him worthy, certainly I should.’ G-d then said, ‘Even so, tell Israel.’
“Moses went and asked Israel, ‘Does Betzalel seem worthy to you?’ and they responded, ‘Moses! If both you and G-d find him worthy, surely we do too.'”

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, zt”l in his “Ein Aya” derives from this source that a good and worthy leader has to have three main traits.
First he has to be “pure-hearted”. In other words, he has to be idealistic that all that concerns him is the public good, and he has no personal vested interest. This only G-d knows, for G-d examines what is deep in the heart.

Second, the leader must be wise and full of understanding. He must know how to lead and sustain a community in the complex situations of war and peace. This Moses knew how to do, for he was the greatest of the sages.

Third, the leader must be beloved to the community and the nation, and he must know how to speak to the people, who place their faith in him.

Today, the Jewish People in Israel need a pure-hearted, wise and beloved leader like Betzalel ben Uri, just like they need air to breathe. Rav Kook, less then 100 years ago, foresaw in his wisdom the great national and moral crisis awaiting the Jewish People and the State of Israel if their political leadership is not tied to Torah and the fear of G-d and does not draw on our holy Torah. We see this today, when those holding the reins of leadership talk of their intent to establish for the Arabs, who would steal our land, a state that would endanger our existence. These same leaders talk of dividing Jerusalem, the heart of the nation and the heart of the world. They ignore the proclamation of every Jew: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I do not mention you” (Psalm 137:5-6). They wish to hand over portions of Jerusalem to our enemies.

Rav Kook conceived an idea of establishing a movement to be called “Degel Yerushalayim” – Banner of Jerusalem – whose purpose would be to instill Jewish content in the Jewish state that would arise, encouraging it to be run on the foundations of Jewishness and Torah. The ultimate goal would be to fulfill the vision of the prophets of Israel – to bring light and goodness to the world.

The idea of the need to instill Jewish content in the State of Israel is good and just and wise. The State of Israel without Judaism is like a body without a soul. The call of the hour is to unite all the Jews all across the social spectrum, religious and irreligious, Hareidi and traditional, Right and Left, from all the ethnic communities, and to establish a movement that will set as its goal to strengthen the bond with Jewish tradition and with our roots.

By such means may there arise for us a leadership akin to Betzalel ben Uri, a leadership that is pure-hearted, wise and understanding, and beloved on the nation, a leadership that will rebuild Jerusalem. Then, we shall be the living fulfillment of, “I will raise up Jerusalem above my greatest joy” (Psalm 137:6).
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.






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Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Bet El

The Great Youth Rebellion

We have decided on a great youth rebellion. What is great? The youth or the rebellion? It makes no difference. Youth who carry out a great rebellion are themselves great, and great youth carry out a great rebellion.

So, dear parents, we have decided to rebel. This is not a rebellion against you. We honor and love you. Rather, it’s a rebellion against the small, shiny, tempting, destructive screen of the television, video and internet.

Dear parents, you tell me that these things are important; that they are appropriate for modern man; that we mustn’t cut ourselves off from reality and that we learn new and interesting things from these media. You say that we have to be open to the world of the living and that we mustn’t close ourselves off. You add that these media also have a calming effect.

You have always been aware that there is a problem here, and that one shouldn’t watch EVERYTHING available. You just argued that we shouldn’t run away from the battlefront but we should confront it, overcome it and take control of ourselves. You called this “controlled watching”, as something we have to learn how to do. You backed up your approach by saying that it’s permissible to walk down the street even though it isn’t modest, and that it is a mitzvah to serve in the army even though various aspects of that are problematic.

I have a humble reply to all this, if I may: All this is fine in theory, but it’s not realistic. Please don’t be insulted. The reality is that through these media both you and I see immodesty, and come into contact with falsehood, evil speech, heresy, irreverence and all sorts of nonsense. Yet when all this appears, we do not turn off the TV set or Internet, and we do not close our eyes. After watching something like that, I am disgusted with myself. Unseemly images spin around in my head. Each time I promise myself that I won’t fall prey again, but I do not succeed in overcoming my passions. Each time the wound is reopened and it bleeds.

Dear parents, I am not an angel! I have passions – and you are not angels either. Yes, I have passions, and things are hard enough as is without my provoking them. I am ashamed of myself. I feel impure and dirty. I feel corrupted. If I wasn’t so sad I would make a joke: “T.V. is spiritual TB!”

It makes it hard for me to pray, to learn Torah and to ascend spiritually. My senses are rendered impervious to murder and rape. I am starting to relate to females not as people but as objects. The small, disgusting screen is feeding me a lot of drivel and eating me up inside. G-d will have mercy on me. But if YOU don’t have mercy on me, how will G-d? A thousand times I have decided to go cold turkey but I don’t succeed. So please! Dear parents! Do me a favor and throw the television, video and Internet out the window!

And if you absolutely must have Internet for work, please use a blocker, Moreshet or Rimon, with the highest level of block possible. I know this is hard for you, but it’s harder still for me and I am just a boy. So please decide if you love me or not. And if you do, why are you poisoning me day after day with spiritual poison? Please stop!

That’s it! We’ve decided. We, the youth, are going to start a struggle against the little screen. We’ve banded together. I am not alone in this war.

Rabbi Azriel Ariel

Two Golden Cherubs

On the Ark of Testimony was the Kaporet – the cover, and on that were “two golden cherubs” (Exodus 37:7). According to our sages, these were the figures of a boy and girl and they were facing one another (verse 9) with a loving gaze. Just as in Song of Songs the human love relationship described there represents the love between G-d and the Jewish People, so too, with the cherubs (Netziv). A strong expression of this is brought in the Talmud (Yoma 54a):
“When Israel would ascend to Jerusalem for the festival pilgrimages, the kohanim would pull back the sanctuary curtain to show Israel the cherubs which were clinging to each other, and they would announce, ‘Observe your own love relationship with G-d! It is like that between male and female.”

Let us attempt to focus on those elements characterizing the bond between the two cherubs. From that we will be able to focus on the bond between the Jewish People and G-d:
“Two cherubs” (Exodus 37:7): The two cherubs were equal to each other in every way – representing the dimension of equality existing between husband and wife.
“Hammered out from the two ends of the cover” (ibid): They were both one unit. They weren’t two separate entities, but two components of one entity – the family.
“One cherub on one end and one cherub on the other” (verse 8): True, they possess their common element, but their starting points are different and opposing viewpoints, with each contributing his or her own special perspective to their joint creativity.
“The cherubs were made on both ends from the same piece of metal as the cover itself” (ibid): They have a shared base. True, each of them stands at opposite ends of the Ark Cover, but it’s the same Ark Cover. The shared foundation of values upon which the Jewish home is built is the Kaporet, which covers the Ark of Testimony holding the tablets and the Torah scroll.
“The cherubs had their wings outstretched upward” (verse 9): The reality is weighted down. The feet are tied by numerous restrictions. Yet the wings, the Jewish couple’s aspirations and dreams, are unlimited. They gaze upward.
“They shield the ark-cover with their wings” (ibid.): Their dreams are not cut off from reality, yet they shield their dreams lest they become eroded by the monotony of daily life.
“They face one another” (ibid.): Both when they dream as well as when they take responsibility to direct the daily reality, nothing is done alone. Each partner gazes at the other, taking into account his or her existence, needs, opinions and emotions.
“Their faces are inclined downward toward the cover” (ibid.): Besides “facing one another,” they also look down, towards the Torah, which directs them in how to bring to fulfillment, within the complex reality of practical life, their most sublime values and aspirations. It is this that the bond between G-d and Israel must be compared to. Obviously, there is no equality between the two, but there is compatibility. G-d, who gives the Torah to His people Israel, gives it in accordance with the measure that Israel is capable of receiving. We can thus view the two cherubs as representing the two portions of the Torah: the Written Torah, which descends from Heaven, and the Oral Torah, which sprouts forth from the Jewish Nation, which is on earth. Both stand midway between lofty Divine ideals and mundane reality.
Torah learning and its fulfillment are the connecting point between Israel and G-d. It is through them that the mutual love of the two cherubs finds expression. Those two cherubs cannot be viewed as two separate entities but as one entity. “His own nation remained G-d’s portion; Jacob was the lot of His heritage” (Deuteronomy 32:9).



Translation: R. Blumberg


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