From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“All culture steeped in falsehood will necessarily perish from the world; in its place will rise a kingdom of the holy and sublime. The light of Israel will create a world with nations of a new spirit, nations that will not mutter in vain nor be in an uproar against G-d and against His anointed.”
(Orot, HaMilchamah 15)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
All-Out War Against Our Enemies
Twice Amalek fought Israel in the desert, first at Rephidim, and then at Arad. Regarding the first, it says, “Amalek came, and fought Israel at Rephidim” (Exodus 17:8), which our sages expound to be “where Israel became lax [rafu yedeihem] regarding the Torah.” The second time was after Aaron’s death, when the clouds of glory receded and Amalek imagined Israel had been weakened: “When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were traveling along the Atharim Highway, he attacked them and took some captives” (Numbers 21:1).
This time, Amalek disguised itself as Canaanites. They spoke Canaanite, but they were really Amalekites (Rashi, ibid.). The difference between the Canaanites and Amalekites is that the former fought Israel over conflicting interests. After all, Israel was coming to conquer the Land under their control. Amalek, by contrast, fought because they hated Israel and wished to annihilate the Jewish People.
The Amalekites at Arad succeeded in taking one single slave girl captive. In doing so, they succeeded in their goal of showing that it was possible to harm Israel in this way and to show that Israel was just like any other nation. Israel’s reaction was appropriate. They set out to crush Amalek, engaging them in an all-out war: “The Israelites made a vow to G-d, and said, ‘If You give this nation into our hand, we will render their cities taboo [chormah].’ G-d heard Israel’s voice, and He allowed them to defeat the Canaanites. The Israelites declared them and their cities taboo. The place was therefore named Chormah” (Numbers 21:2,3).
The Arabs have been fighting us for over 100 years, and their goal is to destroy the State of Israel. They, like the Canaanites, claim we conquered their land. Yet they are really fighting us because they hate the Jews like Amalek, as in their well-known cry, “Itbah el-Yahud” – “Slaughter the Jews!” Indeed, they are trying to kill us, and they do not distinguish between soldier and civilian, husband and wife, young and old, so great is their hatred. They understand that hurting one Jew hurts the entire Jewish People.
The State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces have to learn from the war on Arad. Just as the Israelites waged an all out war, even though the cause of the war was the capture of a single female slave, so too in our own day, for every Jewish loss, whatever it may be, we must wage all-out war against our enemies, who proclaim for all to hear that it is their desire to destroy our country. Only through strength and fortitude will the longed-for peace arrive, as it says, “The L-rd will give strength to His people. The L-rd will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner- Chief Rabbi of Bet El
The Ten Principles of Our Party
Why just ten principles? Why not 613? Surely, “everything G-d said we shall do and obey!” (Exodus 24:7). Yet it also says, “What does the L-rd require of you? Only that you do justly and love mercy, and walk humbly with your G-d” (Micah 6:8). Is that all? Certainly not! Yet, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi explains that when all is complex and convoluted, corrupt and confused, one cannot simultaneously dance at all the weddings. If you try to attain too much, you can end up with nothing. Therefore, you have to start with the main things, and then, obviously, we can add on (Kuzari 2:47).
After all, you can see that Rambam derived thirteen principles, and other great luminaries derived other numbers, such as Rabbi Yosef Elbo, Rabbi Shimon ben Tzemach Doran, Rabbi Chasdai Crescas, Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel.
Yet Radbaz wondered how it was possible to derive principles when everything was so important. Surely, he asked, one could not leave out the slightest dot or tittle. (Responsa 344).
In response, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook explained that when someone is deathly ill, you cannot cure him of all his sickness at once. Rather, one must work gradually, concentrating first on the vital organs. Obviously, one can later improve one’s health further. (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah 15)
I shall now list the ten commandments of our party:
1. A Jewish State. Indeed, we are Jews, all brothers, and this is our country. This national pride is the foundation of everything. One time, French Prime Minister Pierre Mendez-France told Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, “Let’s be clear on one thing: I am a Frenchman first, then the prime minister, and only then am I a Jew.” Mrs. Meir responded, “No problem, here in Israel we read from right to left…” Israel is a Jewish country.
2. Jewish Culture. Therefore, also our true culture is Jewish. We love our heritage, our Bible, our Shabbat, our Kashrut, our Jewish law.
3. Jewish Education. It goes without saying that our children are at the center of our lives. We want Jewish education, good education, and not juvenile delinquency, the sight of which tears our heart to pieces. We are willing to invest a very great deal in this.
4. Family. The family is the basic unit, and we want the Jewish family to be good, healthy, strong and stable. We want couples to live in harmony and to have large families. These things are splendid.
5. We Are One. When all is said and done, we are all one family, and all brothers. Therefore, we shall aid our impoverished brethren. To start with, we will create work places so they won’t be poor. We’ll wipe out poverty!
6. Our land. This is our land. It all belongs to us, and not to the nations. Make no mistake. This is the Land of Israel, not the Land of Ishmael. Obviously, we shall treat the minorities as befits them, humanely, yet they have no national rights in our country. At present, they have twenty-two countries of their own, spread over an area five hundred times the size of our own country. That seems enough, doesn’t it?
7. Security. Don’t fall asleep on the watch! We have hundreds of millions of enemies surrounding us, and millions from within, who wish to swallow us up alive, militarily and politically. Don’t caress them. Smite them! For, if someone comes forth to kill you, kill him first.
8. Wiping Out Crime. How can it be that in Israel there is suddenly all sorts of organized crime?! Obviously, unorganized crime is crime too, but against organized crime you need self-sacrifice, the self-sacrifice of policemen and judges.
9. Clean Government. Without corruption. We are truly disgusted with all of those corruption scandals. We’re sick of seeing fulfilled, “Your princes are rebellious, the companions of thieves. Every one loves bribes, and follows after rewards” (Isaiah 1:23). We want good, upright, moral leaders, and with G-d’s help, they can be found.
10. Legislators Who Are Our Partners. We are our representatives in the Knesset to represent us, and not to represent themselves. That will give us a strong, cohesive government. We’ve had enough of small-minded parties with each one blowing its own little horn, as if only that party has all the truth and justice.
In a word, let’s not spread ourselves too thin. Let’s go back to the simple, natural, normal things that we’ve forgotten. Let’s not be too complicated, philosophical and sophisticated. Let’s get back to the simple basics. We can do it. True, the situation is difficult, but ours is a great, flowering generation, with enormous potential, possessing many strengths. We have done much, and we shall do much more. The next generation, our youth, our hope, is better than we are. It is marvelous. We put our faith in them.
Rabbi Azriel Ariel
Make War – Justly and with Faith
Exhaustive negotiations were conducted between Yiftach and the King of Amon. The Ammonite army was ready for war on Gilad. Facing him was Yiftach’s small army. And then the peace talks began. The demand of the Ammonite king was simple and unequivocal: “territory for peace”. The Ammonites demanded justice: “Israel took away my land, when he came up out of Egypt, from the Arnon even unto the Jabbok, and unto the Jordan. Now therefore restore those cities peaceably” (Judges 11:13).
Yiftach did not hasten to concede, and he sent an additional delegation for talks with the Ammonites: “Israel did not take away the land of Moab, nor the land of the Ammonites” (verse 15). “No!” he said. “We haven’t stolen anything from you.” Then he began to tell a long story, containing many arguments, consolidating his premise:
1)We didn’t conquer anything from Ammon or Moab, but from Sichon, King of the Amorites and Og, King of the Bashan. (True, Sichon conquered those territories from Moab, but with that, the Moabites’ rights to them ended. As the Talmud states (Sanhedrin 94b), “Ammon and Moab’s lands were purified [i.e., rendered fair game for Israel] through their conquest by Sichon”.)
2)We didn’t initiate the war. We were attacked by Sichon. Ours was a defensive war. In light of this, we have a full right to the territories conquered in it. (By the way, the Giladites, from the half-tribe of Menashe, lived entirely to the north of the area of contention, which was in the tribal portion of Gad).
3)We received this land from G-d. Your claims to it represent an affront to G-d’s will: “Now the L-rd, G-d of Israel, dispossessed the Amorites from before His people Israel. Shall you possess it?” (verse 23)
4)Previous generations of Moabites never saw themselves as owners of these territories, from Balak, King of Moab to the present generation, including periods in which Moab had a military force that could have demanded it. Three hundred years’ Jewish settlement proves this claim fully. (By the way, even now the Moabites remain silent. The ones claiming the area of contention in the Moabites’ name is their cousins, the Ammonites, and that raises questions…)
5)The present Ammonite threat is immoral, and constitutes nothing but unbridled aggression. “I have not sinned against you, but you do me wrong by warring against me” (verse 27). The Ammonite claim of justice is blighted by a blatant lack of innocence. It is nothing more than an excuse for starting a war, whose motives are entirely different. Yiftach adds that he is so certain of his being right that he is ready to put the case to a legal test: “Let the L-rd, the Judge, judge this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites” (ibid.).
As expected, Yiftach’s words did not convince the king of the Ammonites. Yiftach did not wait for the Ammonite attack. Rather, he speedily skipped from place to place, misleading Ammonite Intelligence regarding his intentions, moving the war into the territory of the enemy and achieving a quick victory.
It thus turns out that Yiftach did not fool himself and did not think that diplomacy would be able to put an end to the crisis. Neither did he have any intention of entering into negotiations over the territories in question, for G-d’s inheritance was not a topic for political wrangling. It would seem that the main purpose of the Israelite “peace delegation”, besides as part of obeying the Torah command that “When you approach a city to wage war against it, you must propose a peaceful settlement” (Deuteronomy 20:10), was internal. Yiftach’s speech was intended for Israelite ears. It contained three main messages for his people:
1)To make clear to the people that “the territorial question” was nothing but a weak pretext for Ammonite aggression.
2)To convince the people of the righteousness of their path. His point was this: This purpose of this war is not for us to consolidate our hold on stolen lands, but to continue to hold on to what is ours by full right.
3)To make clear that the war was a war of G-d – over G-d’s gift to Israel and over the righteousness of divine judgment.
This stance placed the Giladites and their rule Yiftach in the appropriate religious, moral and existential frame of mind. As a result, G-d’s spirit rested on Yiftach as he set out for battle, and G-d gave the Ammonites into his hand.
Any connection between this discussion and the arguments arising regarding Migron and the houses of Ofra, is – obviously – a total coincidence…
Translation: R. Blumberg
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