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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“G-d’s word endures forever. The holiness of the Land of Israel, and G-d’s love for it, has not changed neither will it change…all its desolation and destruction could not overcome this…It is the merciful love for an unfortunate mother, coupled with the glorious, majestic love for a royal queen”

(Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, p. 324)

Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:
“Who is the Man Who Desires Life and Loves Each Day?”

G-d’s Torah, encompasses mankind entirely. It guides him when he is in his normal, healthy state, and also in less healthy situations, in times of weakness. The prime source of all sin and illness is speech. When a man’s speech is unhealthy, it attracts all sorts of other illnesses and corruption. Man is revealed through speech. Speech expresses his thoughts and heart. Man, with the gift of speech, utters out loud what he thinks and feels about his fellow man and about society.
Through speech, the healthy, wholesome and complete person is revealed. Speech is linked to a person’s essence, to his human form, as it says, “G-d formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life. Man thus became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7). The words “man thus became a living creature” are rendered by the Targum, “Man was given the gift of speech.” As Rashi comments, the difference between man and animal is that man has intelligence and speech.
The skin disorder described in the Torah reveals that the smitten person’s spirituality is lacking and needs rectification. In our generation, that is achieved through guarding the tongue. One hundred years ago the brilliant, saintly and beloved Chafetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen, zt”l), wrote books about guarding one’s tongue. Indeed, he got his name, “Chafetz Chaim”, from the following verses:
“Who is the man who desires life [chafetz chaim] and loves each day, that he may see good therein? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:12-14). May we all merit to fulfill these passages!
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom!

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Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Bet El

Crisis in Religious Zionism

Some ask: How can we rectify the crisis that is besetting Religious Zionism following the Gush Katif expulsion?
And the answer is as follows: We’re not fixing it, because there is nothing broken. Maybe those asking the question have a crisis. Maybe the margins of Religious Zionism are in crisis. Yet the vast majority of the National Religious public has no crisis.
Certainly there is sorrow over the expulsion and over other things occurring right now, and that have occurred since the Jewish State’s establishment and since the start of the return to Zion – some less severe and some more severe – yet we have no crisis. Obviously, someone who has despaired of his former path and is looking for a new direction is undergoing a crisis. There are some people who are undergoing such a crisis, but they are a negligible minority. The National Religious public at large is undergoing no crisis. There is deep sorrow over what occurred and over what is happening now in the realm of security, ethics, the family, and other spheres. Yet Religious Zionism never claimed that the nation’s rebirth in its land would be a bed of roses. They never dreamed that the Jewish State would be a tallit with techelet on it, or even a tallit with tzitzit at all. They always knew that we needed patience, and that there would be ups and downs.
Most of the Religious Zionist public, about half a million people, is faithful to the State and to the army and to all the other institutions of the nation that is rising to rebirth in its land. The “Disengagement” from Gush Katif has not made them decide to disengage from the State. And if any lesson was learned, it is the opposite – namely, that we have to be even more involved in all affairs of the state, for if you are not there, then matters proceed without you. Whoever toils on Friday will have food for Shabbat, as they say, and whoever does not toil on Friday will not. “He who tends the fig tree shall eat its fruit” (Proverbs 27:18). Obviously, I’ve also got to point out that the reason we should be involved is not to strengthen our own position but because this itself is a mitzvah.
In any event, those who speak of the “expulsion army”, “Sharon’s army”, or who use phrases like, “We won’t enlist,” “we won’t allow soldiers to take part in a prayer quorum,” “We won’t pick up hitchhiking soldiers,” “we won’t wed soldiers,” “we won’t forgive the army and we won’t forget”, are a negligible minority, and such utterances are foreign to the vast majority of Religious Zionism. The Religious Zionist public believes that the entire process of our nation’s rebirth is an appropriate process with divine value. They believe that all in all, the rebuilding of the Land, the return to Zion, the establishment of the State and of the army, with all the harsh problems that were and that will be, are a magnificent, marvelous thing. And if it were necessary to repeat the entire process all over again, they would do it again.
It is true that the Religious Zionist public is taking its blows, and has its share of scars. Yet it is not alone in this situation. The entire Jewish People dwelling in Zion is suffering blows. Yet all in all, the Religious Zionist public is a happy, optimistic public, that works and pushes forward, full of energy and creativity.
This is a very eclectic public that includes some more religious and some less, some more yeshivaish and some more academic, some more right wing and some more left wing. This is a strong public, not a public of “We shall not forgive and not forget.”
It pains this public that sometimes the government shows a lack of integrity, but that is not enough of a reason for them to throw in the towel and cease their partnership with the Jewish State. Neither do they relate to the State as a means by which to attain their own needs. Rather, they view the Jewish State as an ideal, the first fulfillment of prophetic vision of Jewish redemption. They do not ignore the difficult problems that are besetting our country, and amongst them there are serious differences of opinion as far as some important public and spiritual issues. Yet all in all they constitute an energetic, optimistic, unique unit of people who love the State and the army.
Those with an unending belly full of anger and frustration, indignation and insult, speak of an alternative faith-based Torah State with an alternative faith-based Torah army which shall be rebuilt from scratch. Having cut themselves off from the present-day Zionist State, this minuscule fringe group affects of style of speech by which they do little more than talk to themselves, and they represent no one but themselves. Hence they become unaware of just how arrogant and unrealistic they are.
Yet the vast majority of Religious Zionism wants a connection to the entire Jewish People, despite their criticisms. They identify deeply with the formula of our master Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, of “working together with everyone on everything” (Eder HaYakar, page 60). They identify closely with Rav Kook’s words that “there is no saint on earth who comes up to the ankles of the Assembly of Israel as a whole” (Orot 171).
It is possible to find numerous shortcomings in the Religious Zionist public, and they, themselves, do not avoid self-criticism. Yet one great virtue they possess is this: They are deeply attached to the Jewish People, the State of Israel and the redemption of Israel.
In the bell-shaped curve of statistical distribution, there are sparse margins, but from the mountain that rises up in the middle comes forth a great cry: “This is my people! This is my State! I shall never abandon it! Rather, I shall work relentlessly towards its rebirth!” Hence, “a divine force exalts and elevates it with salvation” (Shemoneh Kevatzim 7:201).

Rabbi Lior Engelman
What Happens There, Outside?

“When a person has the mark of the leprous curse, his clothing must have a tear in it, he must go without a haircut. and he must cover his head down to his lips. ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ he must call out. As long as he has the mark, he shall remain unclean. Since he is unclean, he must remain alone, and his place shall be outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:45-46)

What happens there, outside the camp? I am not asking about the technical details regarding the metzora [Biblical leper] who has been distanced from society, but about the emotional process he undergoes once he finds himself is such difficult solitude. We have to assume that the time in which he sits outside the camp is intended for his being cured, and not just as a punishment. It would be interesting to think a bit about the Torah’s intent in sending him there.
We customarily assume that the plague marks of the metzora are the direct result of his having spoken lashon hara, forbidden gossip. The chronic gossip is a person who when he was surrounded by people saw only evil all day long. He was troubled by the success of others, and he, for his part, chose to slander them. Perhaps he was motivated by jealousy, and perhaps by veiled competition with those around him. Either way, he reached an emotional state in which he could only appreciate himself by belittling others. He had already given up on the need to leave his stamp on the world through his own effort and advancement. Instead, he chose to blur the effect of his fellowmen, as though blotting them out was a way of leaving his own stamp.
The jealousy burning in the chronic gossip is generally not connected to his friends, the object of his libel, but to his own feelings about himself. Quite often, a person who does not know his own value and who is unable to discover his own importance becomes caught up, in his despair, in a meaningless fight with other people. He nurses himself with the conviction that everyone else is guilty for his own failings, and in his own eyes he becomes a victim. Out of an inner feeling of loss of his self-worth, he tries to restore his lost honor by trampling others. By such means, he loses, once and for all, the chance of rebuilding his own life. The plague spots in his home, his clothing and on his body, attest like a thousand witnesses that he is losing everything, having chosen to turn his resources outward, and having decided to shoot poison arrows at the hearts of others. His wagging tongue, spewing forth to others the evil that he sees, makes a statement that even when he was living inside the camp he was actually all alone. Even if many people surrounded him, there was no real connection between them and him. He has a hard time seeing himself connected to others. He is not part of the group. He spends his life as a limb cut off from everything happening around him, and he does his utmost to fight against his surroundings. The feeling of all of Israel being connected to one another is totally foreign to him.

“Our sages said, ‘How is the metzora different from other impure people that he must sit outside the camp? Since by his gossip he created divisiveness between husband and wife, and man and his fellow, he too must be set apart” (Rashi, ibid.).
There, outside the camp, the metzora receives a true picture of his own life until now. The man who was always alone because he chose to be jealous and he chose to hate, discovers what loneliness is. When he was too close to others, he became angry at them and whispered evil about them. Now, from a distance, he can acquire a different, more precise perspective. Suddenly, he finds that he misses society. His longing for people allows him to see that he had good people around him, whom he, in his bitterness, refused to appreciate. True, they weren’t perfect, yet now he would give all the wealth in the world to return to the company of these imperfect people… The experience of loneliness kindles in him the craving for a connection, for trust, for love. He discovers how detached he was from people. The pain of loneliness deepens within him the need to once more become one limb in the limbs of the Jewish People.
The distance from the roaring crowd and from the fight over status allows him to look differently at what occurs, to analyze matters more calmly, to discover how much foolishness there is to the pursuit of pride and glory. Events that swelled to alarming proportions inside the camp return to their real dimensions in the eyes of one who views them from a distance.
Another process that the metzora undergoes is not linked to his environment but to his inner self. As noted, lashon hara usually stems from jealousy and competition. It is the result of a person viewing himself in a negative light. Since, when he looks inside he does not see his worth, he proceeds to fight for his place by looking outward instead. Outside the camp, alone, he discovers himself totally dependent on his own toil. No one else is going to worry about him. No one else is going to fill in his shortcomings. Reality will force him to act, to toil, to make an effort. To survive, he will have to believe in his own strengths, strengths that while inside the camp he refused believe he possessed. Now the time had come for them to appear. Outside the camp, he will discover himself anew. He will suddenly meet a new person he never knew before, a person who succeeds in his efforts. Never again will he be forced to pave his own way through the downfall of others.
Once he has experienced the taste of loneliness, peppered with longing for his fellow man, and the recognition of his own ability to succeed, he will be able to return to the camp. Then, “He shall be pure!”

Translation: R. Blumberg

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