From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“The ascendance of lofty spirituality strengthens practical action and increases interest in the world, in life and in all it contains… The more those practical elements expand and are consolidated, the greater the influence of spirituality, in all its holiness and truth, upon the world and upon life. The light of Israel then illuminates the world with its consummate beauty.” (Orot 77)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
Month of Mercy
We are now in Elul, the month of repentance and mercy. What is this mercy that we are in such great need of in general, and especially at this time? Ramchal [Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto] explains in his work Mesillat Yesharim:
“G-d rules over His world with Strict Judgment, responding measure for measure to our deeds. However a person conducts himself, that is how G-d treats him. G-d watches over everything, large or small, and rewards a person according to his works: ‘G-d declares to man what is his speech’ (Amos 3:13). Even a man’s light conversation with his wife is declared to him at his judgment. ‘For G-d shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or evil’ (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
“‘Strict judgment’ means that G-d judges everything, and that He punishes for every sin, and we cannot escape. If G-d is strict regarding every sin, what then is ‘mercy’? ‘Mercy’ refers to the continued existence of the universe, for without mercy, the universe could not continue to exist. This trait represents G-d going beyond the letter of the law with us.
“With strict judgment, it would be appropriate for a sinner to be punished immediately upon sinning. Moreover, the punishment would be divine wrath appropriate for someone who rebels against G-d, and it would be impossible for him to ever rectify his sin. After all, once someone has sinned, once he has murdered or committed adultery, how can he make amends? Seemingly, it is impossible to remove something from existence.
“Thus the trait of mercy provides the opposite result of that obtained from Strict Judgment. First of all, it provides the sinner with time, such that he is not punished immediately. Also, the punishment itself is not carried out with overwhelming wrath. The person’s rectification, i.e., his repentance, is treated with complete kindness. That is, if someone fully regrets his act and takes upon himself not to repeat it, his uprooting his will that brought him to sin is then treated as though he had uprooted the deed from existence. It is the same as when one nullifies a vow, where the vow is uprooted from existence. As the prophet said (Isaiah 6:7), ‘Your iniquity shall be taken away and your sin expiated.’ The sin is removed from existence. This represents total kindness beyond the letter of the law.” (Mesillat Yesharim Ch. 4).
G-d treats His creatures mercifully, i.e., patiently, allowing them an opportunity to make amends, and going beyond the letter of the law. We as well must follow G-d’s ways. Just as G-d is merciful, so must we be merciful. Just as He is kind, so must we be kind. We must make a great effort to make peace with our fellow man. We must make peace within the family, husbands with wives, and children with parents. We must find a way to achieve peace within our nation, without conceding the least bit on the truth of Torah and our belief that Eretz Yisrael belongs only to the Jewish People. Valor and wisdom in life consist of living together despite disagreements. That is how it is in the individual family, and that is how it is within the Jewish People. Through this, may we merit G-d’s mercy in judgment, and may through us be fulfilled the words of the prayer: “Rule over us speedily, O G-d, alone, in kindness and mercy.” Let the year and its curses end and let the new year and its blessings begin. Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner– Chief Rabbi of Bet El
On Accepting Contributions from Christian Groups
Question: I don’t understand why the Rabbis have forbidden accepting money from Christian institutions such as the Christian “Friendship Fund”. After all, that’s a Christian organization that loves Israel and I don’t feel like the money I received influences me the least bit in the direction of Christianity.
Answer: First of all, I am puzzled by your great enthusiasm about living off the money of others. Have you suddenly become a beggar, what in Yiddish is called a “schnorrer”? Even to be a schnorrer from Jewish money is a shame, but to be one from non-Jewish money is already a disgrace, a profanation of G-d’s name.
Observe what our sages wrote: “Those who eat ‘something else’ are disqualified as witnesses” (Sanhedrin 26b). Generally speaking, in the Talmud ‘something else’ [davar acher] connotes pork. Here, however, Tosafot proves that it should not be interpreted that way (s.v. “Ochlei”). Rather, Rashi explains that here it is referring to “People who accept charity from non-Jews, this being a profanation of G-d’s name for the same of monetary gain. Such people are classed as ‘rasha dechamas’ – avaricious evildoers.”
If we were a poor country it would be one thing. I would yet understand this enthusiasm. I wouldn’t justify one’s being an “avaricious evildoer”, but I would understand it. Yet we are a wealthy country, amongst the wealthiest on earth, and all of this money is a tiny percentage of the national budget. And for the sake of this you degrade yourself? Shame on you! And the worst is that it is non-Jewish money.
Let me explain. The Evangelical Protestant missionary institutions try to infiltrate anywhere they can by whatever means possible. Now they have found the golden pathway – financial support. The sums they contribute are for them nothing. They just make a big impression on us and arouse our craving for more. In the United States there are fifty million Fundamentalists. If every one of them contributes ten dollars every year, you’ve got half a billion dollars right there, which looks like an enormous sum.
Financial support is their present method of slowly infiltrating us. It doesn’t happen all at once. Not everyone who accepts their money immediately becomes a Christian. Yet their influence involves a seepage process that can spread over years. Those people are very patient and gradually they make inroads.
When a simple Jew hears the word “Christianity”, he is filled with abhorrence. He immediately thinks of the blood of millions of Jews tortured to death by the Christians. He recalls the Inquisition. He remembers everything. Therefore, he will never want to listen to them.
Faced with that, what do we find in the internal memos of those organizations that hunt souls? “We have to break down the barriers between ourselves and the Jews. We have to rehabilitate their trust, which has been totally destroyed. We have to operate slowly and patiently. We have to show that we are friendly, and who is more friendly than He that distributes money to those who crave money?!”
They use data to infiltrate every community. For example, in order to penetrate the Charedim they dress up like Charedim and keep tabs on their poor. If someone falls ill or passes away, they come to visit, help out, provide money, offer an encouraging word – without a single word about Christianity, obviously. They come again and again until a connection is formed. They talk from the heart. When they see that the time is ripe, they say, seemingly as a side comment, “Certainly Christianity is something bad, but Yeshu the Christian was all-in-all a good person.” In the first stage, that one sentence is enough. Later on comes another sentence, and then another sentence, via the slow-seepage approach.
In one place, a missionary dressed as a Lubavitcher gave some Chabad women a series of lectures on Tanach [the Bible] in a style that was totally Chabad. The series went on for two years without one word about Christianity, until one day he mentioned that “That Man” wasn’t so bad.
Everywhere there are missionaries sporting knitted yarmulkes. The missionary’s son learns in a yeshiva high school, and he is a little missionary. His daughter studies at a girls’ Torah high school, and she is as well. They’re all very nice. They don’t give themselves away. The main thing is to slowly build a connection, to foster trust.
That is their approach. We know them and we know exactly how they operate. There’s a story about a man who picked up a hitchhiker, an officer, a lieutenant colonel, with a knitted yarmulke, who lived in Gush Katif. Certainly, all the elements of a fine person. They conversed at length, yet that same lieutenant colonel let slip a comment about “That Man”. Since the driver was personally involved in combating missionaries, he immediately sensed who this was and he reported it to the army. The army investigated and threw him out, because they don’t want missionaries there. The officer turned to the Supreme Court, but lost in court. The army has enough headaches without that.
That’s their secret. They wait until we say, “All in all, the Christians are fine people. They give us money. We doff our hats!” That’s how they break down the barriers. Some time later, we say, “Maybe we’ll meet with them. Maybe we’ll talk with them.”
Dear friend, you are no expert in the strategies employed by the Christians. Were the donor an individual Christian, there would be room to deliberate from a halachic standpoint on whether one could accept his gift. At the same time, it is no great honor to be a schnorrer, as noted above. If, however, the donor is a Christian organization, then under no circumstances is one allowed to accept even one cent!
It’s true that if you, as a private individual, accept their gift, one can hope that you won’t be influenced towards Christianity. Yet we are talking about the public agenda of the Jewish nation, that it is forbidden for us to develop a dependency on them.
Here is a terrible case in point. Unfortunately, there are tens of thousands of Christian missionaries working in Israel. Already a number of times a new Knesset law has been recommended: “One is not allowed to persuade someone to convert. Jews cannot persuade Christians or Muslims, Christians cannot persuade Jews or Muslims, etc.” Yet this law fails every time, because those same Christian organizations that support Eretz Yisrael and distribute funds to the settlements and to the poor threatened, “If you enact this law we will cease our financial support. We will also consider ceasing our political support.” Money demands something in exchange. It ensnares you.
Don’t mistakenly say, “They’re Christians, not missionaries.” Every Evangelist Protestant is a missionary, even if he hides it. Also, we haven’t learned Greek, so we don’t realize that the word “evangelist” means “missionary”. At all the pro-Israel Christian marches and demonstrations, the Christian Lovers of Israel walk hand-in-hand with the missionaries. It turns out that because of the money that you receive, Jews become Christians! For the missionaries, hundreds of millions are a pittance, but to us it looks like a lot. To refuse to accept millions is a temptation that you can, indeed withstand. Yet once you start to accept it, it’s hard to stop.
About twenty-six years ago, such a Christian approached me, declaring that he greatly loved my yeshiva, because we were building the Temple. I told him that we’re not building the Temple. “But you want to build it, right?” “Certainly we long to build it,” I replied. “And what are you doing on that score?” he asked. I answered, “We learn Torah and strive to improve our character.” “Great! Very good!” he said. “We are fifty million fundamentalist Christians in the U.S.A. Every one of them will give one dollar a year, and you will have fifty million dollars a year, and that will be our contribution towards building the Temple.”
And what did I answer to his generous offer? “No!”
Since, then, I reckon that I have lost out on a billion three hundred million dollars. No big deal. Small change.
There’s a settlement in Judea and Samaria that received a million dollars from them. Now, in that settlement there’s a Christian worship service in their Town Council building! A prayer service of Christian missionaries and Jews for J. – right there in the Town Council building! Nowhere is it written that the one was in exchange for the other, but that is precisely the result. Let’s not be naïve.
How fortunate you are, through G-d’s grace, to have been born in Eretz Yisrael, such that you don’t know what Christians are, how they operate and how sophisticated they are. You should bone up on your history.
By the way, there are two other types of Christians. First, there are liberal Protestants. They are against the State of Israel, because we, allegedly, committed an injustice against the Arabs. Second, there are Catholics, who presently are not engaged in missionizing. Yet, they, too are against the State of Israel, because they think that they are the true Israel, and it was they who were supposed to have established the State.
Yet presently we are talking about the Fundamentalist Protestants who love the State of Israel and who are associated with the missionaries. The common denominator is that we suffer fusillades from all of them, and not just today but throughout history.
Let us be strong and courageous. Let us not accept from them even a penny. Let us not run awry after their dollar crusade.
Translation: R. Blumberg
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PARASHAT KI TETZE
From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
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