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PARASHAT VA’ETCHANAN

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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Then, one clear day, all those gone astray shall return…and clearly understand that even the negative roles…were always directed by G-d, who controls the generations from start to finish… Then all His children gone far away will return and holiness will be evident in all the work of our builders in the land of our glory, forever.”
(Ma’amarei HaReiyah 185)


Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:
“Comfort my People – for G-d’s Word Will Endure Forever”


The Prophet Isaiah (Chapter 4) addresses the prophets and sages in every generation and asks, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people! Bid Jerusalem take heart” (verse 1). And what is the consolation Isaiah offers? “Proclaim unto her that her time of service is accomplished, that her guilt is paid off; that she hath received of the L-rd’s hand double for all her sins” (verse 2). In other words, the time earmarked for her in the exile has passed. The end of the exile has arrived, for she has received twice the punishment coming to her in the Babylonian exile and in the 2,000 year long exile. The atonement for her sin has been completed.

In the stage of actual redemption Isaiah addresses them and says: “O you who tell good tidings to Zion – get you up into the high mountain. O you who tell good tidings to Jerusalem – lift up our voice with strength. Lift it up! Be not afraid. Say unto the cities of Judah: ‘Behold your God! Behold, the L-rd G-d will come as a Mighty One” (verses 9-10). Those nations that will see fit to fight us will be like a drop in the bucket, like dust on a scale, as it says, “Behold, the nations are as a drop in the bucket, as the small dust of the balance. Behold the isles are as a mote in weight. Lebanon is not sufficient fuel, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for burnt-offerings. All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are accounted by Him as things of nought, and vanity” (verses 15-17).

Lebanon is here compared to a forest of trees all aflame. Isaiah addresses the skeptics, those weak in their faith, and he says: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the L-rd; my right is passed over from my G-d’? Did you not know? Have you not heard that the everlasting G-d, the L-rd, Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, nor is weary? His discernment is unfathomable. He gives power to the faint; and to him that has no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait for the L-rd shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” (27-31)

Today, with our own eyes we see Isaiah’s words being fulfilled in our day. After two thousand years of exile, after our having undergone the calamitous Holocaust, we are rising to rebirth in the land of our life’s blood. Millions of Jews are being gathered homeword, as Isaiah said, “Even as a shepherd who feeds his flock, who gathers the lambs into his arm, carrying them in his bosom, gently leading nurslings” (verse11). We can see with our own eyes how the land is developing with great strides. Roads and train tracks are being laid out, and the Isaiah’s words are being fulfilled: “‘Hark!’ one calls: ‘Clear in the wilderness the way of the L-rd, make plain in the desert a highway for our G-d.’ Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the rugged shall be made level, and the rough places a plain” (verses 3-4).

The nations are rising up against us to fight us, and these nations are likened to grass: “The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the L-rd blows upon it – Surely the people is grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our G-d shall endure forever” (7-8). Looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!


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Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Bet El


The I.D.F. – What Your Country Can Do For You


When I joined the army, I thought the point was to give of myself, and I really did give of myself. Yet I received much more than I gave, and even if I pay it back all my life, I won’t be able to give but a thousandth of what I have received.
Only now do I understand. Only now do I feel that beforehand I was missing something. I was missing a great deal. I lacked being normal, being logical, being honest.
Beforehand I was a bit spacy, a bit theoretical, a bit unrealistic. Beforehand I was sort of wooden, sort of overly serious. Thanks to the army I became gracious and friendly. I became spontaneous. Beforehand, I made light of the nonobservant. I would look down on them. I would say that I loved them, but it was lip service. Now, that I really know them, I see what marvelous, friendly, sweet people they are.
Beforehand, I would listen to myself. I thought I knew it all and understood it all. Now I listen to others. I learn from others.
Thank G-d, I’ve learned a lot of Torah, and I thought I really know a lot. Now I see that in the army they fulfill what I learned – ideals and self-sacrifice. At first I thought that in yeshiva I was engaging in self-sacrifice, especially when I made the effort to learn another hour, and I still think that. But now I understand something more: In the army people truly engage in “self-sacrifice” – literally.
Now I understand that back then I was part of a closed, arrogant sect. Now I am part of something big, something larger than myself – the Israel Defense Forces.





Rabbi Lior Engleman
Honoring Parents and Loving Life




The Difficulty
Honoring parents is a difficult mitzvah – difficult but remarkable. It is difficult because we are expected to show limitless respect to people we did not choose as parents, and sometimes they think differently from us. As people whose task it is to educate us, sometimes our parents’ words are unpleasant for us to hear and we find their demands unacceptable. All the same, the Torah sets before us a mitzvah regarding our emotional relationship to them – we must honor them.
It is natural for people to honor those whom they greatly admire due to their achievements in various realms or the virtues with which they are graced. With honoring one’s parents, however, the respect demanded of one has no connection to the true stature and worth of the parent. A son has to honor his father even if objectively speaking that son is much greater, be it in Torah learning and good deeds or in wealth and social status. A son has to honor has father even if, as he understands it, his father never treated him properly as he was growing up.
Honoring parents is a difficult mitzvah. One reason for its difficulty is that it demands that we show constant gratitude towards our parents, and people, in their pride, do not like being in a position of having to show gratitude. They prefer thinking that they have achieved everything they have in life with their own two hands. They are unwilling to recognize the fact that their lives and all they have were gifts they received through the efforts and actions of others. If we avoid honoring our parents, it allows us to feel as though “our own strength and effort have brought us all our success” (Deuteronomy 8:17). This frees us from the need to show gratitude for what we received from them.
This mitzvah is particularly hard in this generation, in which parents themselves do not demand respect. They think that by such means they are building relations of love and intimacy. They do not understand the enormous treasure of which the child is deprived when respect is not demanded of him. A parent who views as his ambition being his children’s friend will not open them up to the essential world of honoring one’s parents. First and foremost, this mitzvah is difficult because we don’t look at it with the right perspective, and we do not understand what a great treasure is hidden away in its fulfillment.

The Relationship to Life
Another difficulty with honoring one’s parents is tied to one’s very relationship to life. It is one’s parents who bring one into the world, and when a person relates to life bitterly and deep in his heart he would have preferred not to be born, that relationship surfaces in the way he turns his back on his parents. That is the reason that during the period referred to as “the teenage years”, when teens sometimes develop tough questions on the value and purpose of life, difficulties likewise surface in their relations with their parents. Showing one’s parents respect expresses one’s happiness with the life we have received thanks to them. Disrespect expresses one’s feeling that he has nothing to be thankful for, and constitutes a declaration: “I would be better off had you not brought me into the world…” From here it emerges that one’s difficulty with honoring one’s parents is not always tied to one’s relationship with them or to his admiration of them, but to something much more fundamental – his relationship to his own life.
Up until now we have explained a person’s difficulty in honoring parents as reflecting a problem with his life itself, yet perhaps, that, itself is the secret of honoring one’s parents. The more a person accustoms himself to treating respectfully the source of his own life, the more he will convince himself that life has worth and meaning and is nothing to be scoffed at. By way of a healthy relationship with his parents he will build a positive outlook on the entire universe, and that can change his mindset 180 degrees. Parents who resign themselves to a reality in which their child does not treat them respectfully do so because they do not care about their own self-respect, yet by their humility they deprive their child of any chance of developing a happy approach to his own life.
Malbim expresses similar ideas in his comments on the Ten Commandments:
“There are people who think that there is more evil in the world than good, and they loathe and despise their lives, cursing their parents who brought them into this reality, which they believe is to their detriment. The Torah therefore said, ‘Honor your parents… in order that things will go well for you’ (Deuteronomy 5:15). By honoring one’s father and mother one will understand that life is good, and then things really will go well for him.” (HaTorah VeHaMitzvah, Shemot 20:12).
Malbim presents the Torah’s promise, “In order that things should go well for you” as a great blessing that is already there in the world for us, in return for our honoring our parents. When we honor them, the world looks better to us, life seems more positive, and we lead happier lives.
Thus, honoring parents fosters a proper attitude to the life of the person, himself, who honors them. Parenthetically, Malbim chose an extreme example of a person who loathes his life, but his words are true for every person on earth. The more respectfully we treat the people who brought us into the world, the more we will view the world with a positive, belief-based outlook. For Malbim, fulfilling this mitzvah to perfection is accompanied by a change in thinking vis-à-vis the life our parents have brought us to: “By honoring your father and mother, and by thinking that life is good, one’s life will indeed be improved.” A person can treat his parents with enormous respect, in accordance with all the rules, but if that respect is not accompanied by revolutionary change in his attitude to his life, he will not be allowed through the doorway to renewed thinking and he will not enjoy life.
Honoring one’s parents is a mitzvah that constitutes a mirror on a child’s attitude to life. Simultaneously it has enormous power to transform that attitude for the best. This is a great gift granted us by the Creator. More than it is intended as a reward for parents who toiled hard for their children, it is intended to enable the child who honors his parents to have a blessing-filled life.




Translation: R. Blumberg



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