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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Life’s divine graces, exalted through their supremacy, and spreading with their marvelous naturalness and simplicity throughout the Community of Israel by way of the light of the divine ideal implanted within them, render life convenient and refined, sweet and pleasurable, through their intrinsic essenc.” (Orot 112)

Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:
“Restore Our Judges as at first”

We are commanded to appoint righteous judges, as it says, “Appoint yourselves judges and police in all your settlements… and make sure that they administer honest judgment for the people…. Pursue perfect honesty, so that you will live and occupy the land that G-d your Lord is giving you” (Deuteronomy 16:18,20). Rashi comments, “Appoint competent, righteous judges, to judge righteously.” The appointment of fit judges has the power to bring the Jewish People back to life and to restore them to their land.

Jethro, as well, in setting out to advise Moses about who are the leaders and judges fit to rule and judge the people, says, “You must seek out from among all the people capable, G-d-fearing men – men of truth, who hate injustice… let them administer justice for the people” (Exodus 18:21-22). Also Isaiah, when he saw the crisis in morals and values amongst the people, came out against the corrupt leadership, saying, “Your princes are rebellious, the companions of thieves. Every one loves bribes, and follows after rewards” (Isaiah 1:23). Yet he also comforts the people, saying that a time will come when the entire corrupt leadership will disappear, and in its stead will come a leadership of integrity and righteousness: “I will turn My hand upon you and purge away your dross as with lye, and I will take away all your alloy. I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.” (1:25-27)

Today, we are in great need of a leadership of integrity and righteousness. It is towards this end that we daily pray, “Restore our judges as at first, and our counselors as at the beginning” (Shemoneh Esreh). We pray for this in hopes that G-d will “remove from us sorrow and sighing” (ibid.). We need a leadership that will be sensitive to the people’s suffering, both of the public and of the individual. We need a leadership that will remain connected to the people, and will take responsibility for our people, Land and heritage, as expressed by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, who went up to Heaven on the third of Elul, seventy years ago: “It is impossible for a person truly to feel the public’s sorrow until he hallows his ways, refining his character and repenting completely. Only those with a pure soul, following a pristine path, who follow G-d’s Torah, can achieve heartfelt empathy for the communal suffering” (Orot HaTeshuvah 13:4). Looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!

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Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Bet El

Eretz Yisrael and not Uman

Let’s not talk about the fact that leaving one’s wife and children on Rosh HaShanah is a moral or even a halachic problem.
And let’s not talk about the fact that our master, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, proved that one has no license to leave Eretz Yisrael to pray at the graves of the righteous. (Mishpat Kohen, page 352).
Let’s not talk about the fact that it is not clear at all that there is any mitzvah to pray at the graves of the righteous. There are 613 mitzvot in the Torah and many more that are Rabbinic, but there is no such mitzvah (see Mishpat Kohen, ibid.).
Let’s not even mention that if it is graves of the righteous that we are seeking, is there any shortage of such graves in Eretz Yisrael? Here we’ve got illustrious giants, rishonim and acharonim, tanaim and amoraim, and even our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov, and the Matriarchs, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, who can’t be discounted, even in comparison to Rabbi Nachman of Breslev.
And let’s not even talk about Rabbi Nachman’s promise to remove sinners from Hell if they visit him in Uman, for long before him we already merited to have Avraham remove us from Hell (Eruvin 19a), and the same is true regarding Yitzchak (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 8; Succah 52b; Rashi, s.v. “Shiva Ro’im U’Shemoneh Nesichim”). Moreover, Avraham sits at the entranceway to Hell and he doesn’t let anyone circumcised enter there (Bereshit Rabbah 48:8).
And let’s also not talk about the fact that we don’t need to look for new tricks in order to be saved from Hell. Can we not suffice with the words of our holy sages, the tana’im and amora’im, who taught us that what saves us from Hell is mitzvah performance? Obvious examples include reciting the Shema (Deuteronomy 15:2); prayer (Derech Eretz Zuta 9); visiting the sick (Nedarim 40a), charity (Gittin 7a; Bava Batra 10a) or Mishnah study (Midrash Talpiyot).
We certainly won’t talk about the fact that until this very day, Rabbi Nachman of Breslev, with all his greatness and holiness, is considered a solitary approach, not just amongst the illustrious sages of Israel but even within the Chassidic movement itself.
We won’t talk about any of these things, because all of these topics have already been totally exhausted, and everything that could be written about them has already been written.
I only wanted to point out that the Chassidim of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev himself hold that on Rosh Hashanah one should be in Eretz Yisrael, and at that time they conduct services at the Kotel, the Breslev synagogue in Meah Shearim, the Priel synagogue near there, in Tel Tzion, Bnei Brak, neighborhood 6, the Ivei HaNachal settlement, in Yavniel, Meiron and elsewhere.
Moreover, even many of the greatest of the first disciples of Rabbi Nachman held that way. Here are some quotations from the booklet “Rosh Bnei Yisrael”, written by the Breslov Chassidim:
“According to his holy disciples, our masters Rabbi Natan, Rabbi Naphtali, Rabbi Shimon and his disciples’ disciples down through the generations – the view of Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman of Tolchin and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, who were known for the exactness with which they received the traditions from their Rebbeim, was that Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s strong, clear wish was that on Rosh Hashanah, the Jews of Eretz Yisrael, fortunate to dwell in the Land of the Living, the King’s palace, need not travel to Uman, because in Eretz Yisrael, the light of the Tzaddik shines very powerfully, as is explained in the writings of our master, in Likutei Moharan 111, as follows:
“In Exodus 30 we find the words “rosh benei yisrael” [leader of the people of Israel], whose first letters spell ‘Rebbe’. And in Siman 48 it is explained that precisely in Eretz Yisrael his light shines forth as Rebbe, which isn’t the case in the exile.” “For very many reasons, one shouldn’t leave the holy land for the Diaspora to spend Rosh Hashanah there, and to do so is very much not in keeping with the will of our Master, Rabbi Nachman” (page 1).
“Our holy Torah states, ‘It is therefore a land constantly under Hashem your G-d’s scrutiny; the eyes of Hashem your G-d are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year [i.e., Rosh Hashanah itself] until the end of the year [Erev Rosh Hashanah]’ (Deuteronomy 11:12). Our Torah thus states explicitly that in Eretz Yisrael, starting on Rosh Hashanah and stretching throughout the year until Erev Rosh Hashanah, special divine providence applies. G-d is particularly watchful over Eretz Yisrael, in a manner not matched anywhere else on earth. No creature, even a saint or prophet, can say anything different from what is written in this verse” (page 2). “It is also clear and simple that no one on earth can permanently cancel out the mitzvah of settling the Land over a set period of at least three days. Could anyone imagine our sages doing so?!” (page 2).
“Rabbi Shimon, disciple and servant of our master, [Rabbi Nachman] in this world and in the next, in accordance with a promise by our master, even though he lived [far from Uman] in Eretz Yisrael, never left Eretz Yisrael for Uman to spend Rosh Hashanah.” (page 2).
“He only left one time for Shavuot, to marry off his son… And even though he knew that the yearly gathering was approaching, he did not remain in the Diaspora, but returned immediately to Eretz Yisrael following the engagement, to be in Eretz Yisrael for Rosh Hashanah” (pages 2-3).
“Based on the preceding, also Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman deduced that from Eretz Yisrael one need not leave Eretz Yisrael for Uman before Rosh Hashanah, and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak said the same explicitly. (page 3)
“Our master Rabbi Natan went to Eretz Yisrael even though he knew that due to this trip he would probably forfeit spending Rosh Hashanah in Uman, and that, indeed, is what occurred. From this we derive that Eretz Yisrael overrides Uman” (page 3).
“Our master Rabbi Natan commanded his son, Rabbi Yitchak, that when he reached age sixty he should go to Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Avraham ben Nachman explained that doing so would jeopardize his trip to Uman for Rosh Hashanah, and indeed, Rabbi Yitzchak did not leave the Land for Uman” (page 3).
“Rabbi Meir Tekplicker, a major disciple of our master Rabbi Natan, did not leave Eretz Yisrael to go to Uman for Rosh Hashanah” (page 4).
“In Rabbi Nachman Tolchiner’s letter to the residents of Eretz Yisrael [printed at the end of the book, “Alim LiTrufah”] – it is made clear that the residents of Eretz Yisrael did not leave the Land for Uman, yet he did not criticize them in any way for that, accepting it as a matter of course. The letter, in fact, greatly encourages them not to leave Eretz Yisrael and not to squander even one penny on the Diaspora” (page 4).
“In the time of Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman, there were prominent Breslov Chassidim in Eretz Yisrael, and even though it was easy to travel by boat to Uman, they still didn’t do it.
“An exception was Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman of Tolchin, and he, too, excused himself by explaining that he was not leaving Eretz Yisrael for the gathering at Uman but to strengthen the Breslov Chassidim in the various towns, and to increase the Torah learning of the masses. And altogether, his main purpose was to encourage the Breslov Chassidim everywhere to leave the Diaspora for Eretz Yisrael [including the residents of Uman who lived near our master’s grave…].” (page 4).
“Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman said, ‘As far as Eretz Yisrael, quite the contrary. That is where we merit in the very best way to be close to Rabbi Nachman…” (page 5).
“Rabbi Avraham ben Nacham… told the very devoted Chassidim… not to leave Eretz Yisrael to be in Uman on Rosh Hashanah” (page 6).
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak said, “I heard from the holy lips of Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman… From Eretz Yisrael we don’t need to go to Uman for Rosh Hashanah…” (page 6). Rabbi Levi Yitzchak… heard explicitly from his lips… that they did not merit burial in Eretz Yisrael because they left the holy land to be in Uman for Rosh Hashanah” (page 6).
“To be in Eretz Yisrael is an obligation. To leave for the Diaspora to go to the graves of the saints, some permit it and some forbid it, but none require it. No reputable father would command his son to leave the Land to come to him, but would instead come to his son in Eretz Yisrael. And so wrote Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman, ‘Our master [Rabbi Nachman of Uman] dwells in Jerusalem near the Western Wall, and going to the Kotel, even in our own day, provides a powerful spiritual remedy, and rectifies sins involving the covenant of the circumcision… And whoever says that our master is in Uman and not with us in Eretz Yisrael, is viewing his spirit as physical and insulting Eretz Yisrael and the saint’s greatness” (page 6-7).
“In Eretz Yisrael, our holy master is Rebbe [resh bet yud], whereas outside the Land there is the aspect of “riv” [resh yud bet], meaning ‘quarrel’, as is explained in Likutei Moharan 48” (page 7). “The following was said by Rabbi Avraham ben Rabbi Nachman…: ‘The soul of Moshe, the Messiah, is found in Eretz Yisrael and outside the Land, but its main abode is in the holy place.” (page 7).
“Our holy master said to come to him on Rosh Hashanah – not to his grave. Indeed, down through the generations, nobody went to his gravesite on Rosh Hashanah” (page 8).
“He that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written unto life in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 4:3).

Translation: R. Blumberg

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