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From the World of Rabbi Kook
“When a person longs to remove the arrogance from his heart, his enemies begin to love him in their heart.” (Midot HaRe’iyah, Ga’avah)

Be sure to catch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir).

Rabbi Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “The Appearance of the Nation’s Glory, Brilliance and Splendor”

“Jacob left Beer Sheva and went to Charan” (Genesis 28:10). Rashi comments: “It had only to be written, ‘Jacob went to Charan.’ Why, then, mention his departing? This tells us that the departure of a righteous person makes an impression, for while a righteous person is in the city, he is its glory. He is its brilliance. He is its splendor. Once he has left there, its glory has departed, its brilliance has departed, its splendor has departed.”

True, Jacob left Beer Sheva, but G-d promised him that he would return to the Land, and on a very large scale: “Suddenly he saw God standing over him. God said, ‘I am God, Lord of Abraham your father, and Lord of Isaac. I will give to you and your descendants the land upon which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. You shall spread out to the west, to the east, to the north, and to the south. All the families on earth will be blessed through you and your descendants’” (28:13-14).

Just as Jacob left Beer Sheva, so were the Jewish People exiled from their land for two thousand years, and the land was left desolate, losing its glory, brilliance and splendor. Yet it wasn’t just the Land that lost its luminance. Rather, all mankind was left in spiritual and moral darkness, as long as the Jewish People suffered the darkness of the long exile.

Today, the Jewish People are coming home to Eretz Yisrael. We are seeing with our own eyes the fulfillment of the Prophet Ezekiel’s words: “For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land” (36:24). Yet presently, during the ingathering of the exiles, the glory, brilliance and splendor of the Jewish Nation in their land is not yet noticeable. We have a need to be cleansed of the contamination of the exile. One of the worse forms of corruption it caused was the blurring of the Jewish People’s identity as a special nation, as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, chosen to bring benevolence and light to the world.

The worldview that sees the Jewish People as a nation like all others, and the State of Israel as a country like all others, and nothing more, degrades our people and endangers our existence. We have to return not just to our land but to ourselves as well. We have to recognize the special value of the Jewish People and their historic role of being a light unto the nations. In this regard the Prophet said: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean… A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. I will put My spirit within you…and you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers. You shall be My people, and I will be your G-d…Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, the L-rd, have built the ruined places, and planted that which was desolate” (36:24-36).

The call of the hour is to study, recognize, and explain the identity of our beloved nation. Through this shall be revealed for all to see, the glory, brilliance and splendor of our nation in the land of our life’s blood. Looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!

Write a letter of support to Jonathan Pollard, in jail for 20 years because of his love for the Jewish People and our Land! Address letters to:
Jonathan Pollard # 09185-016
FCI Butner Medium
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 1000
Butner, NC 27509 (USA)

Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El
“My World Has Not Been Destroyed”

I am one of the people expelled from Gush Katif. My world has been destroyed. Our lives were good. My husband worked. I worked as well, and we earned a nice living. We weren’t rich, but it was all right. We even succeeded in slowly saving a bit of money and buying a small, attractive home. It wasn’t luxurious, just nice, and we raised happy children there and altogether led happy lives. “When you eat the labor of your hands, happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you” (Psalm 128:2).

In the Gush, there was no unemployment, but now, for several months already, we have had no work. All our little savings have been depleted. In the past we would regularly contribute to those in need. Suddenly we are forced to accept charity in order to buy food. How mortifying! At first they agreed to give me a part-time job in my former place of employment, yet traveling from one end of the country to the other, and the enormous expenses entailed, broke me. We live out of suitcases in a hotel. It’s our fifth stop since our expulsion. We all live together in two small rooms. I admit that some expellees have it worse. Some are living with a grandmother. Others have crammed girls and boys into the same room. Some people have two rooms without an inner door between them.

It isn’t nice to talk this way, but I hate this hotel. What a hole in the wall! The lowest of the low! There wasn’t even a brush to clean the toilets! There’s no telephone in the room, and our cell-phone bill is astronomical. The kitchen is off limits. The food doesn’t taste good and there’s no variety. Lunch and supper are meat meals, and our children, who aren’t used to this, don’t eat. We’re sick of it too. It goes without saying that we can’t invite any guests. I can’t invite my old mother. And how are we going to celebrate our upcoming bat-mitzvah? And for our forced stay in this cursed hotel we have to pay! In other words, the costs are deducted from our compensation. Tension has begun to develop between myself and my husband. We quarrel and are angry. My husband was a calm, good-hearted man. Now he has become depressed and full of phobias. He has begun going to a psychologist who demands enormous fees that we don’t have. Our oldest son is angry at the whole world – the government, the country, the army, the rabbis, us, everybody. He stopped going to school. There are hundreds like him. We left the next in line, a girl, living in her dormitory high school, because travel between her school and the hotel was an unbearable insanity. She cries all the time and misses home. The dormitory costs a great deal of money as well. We are not complaining, because our friends have children who have drifted into drugs as a result of the situation, and others who are suicide risks.

All of these problems dwarf the bureaucratic run-around we face, although that too could drive a person crazy. In the offices of the Disengagement Authority, they have decided to give us all nervous breakdowns. “Compensation?! Prove that you were residents of Gush Katif!… An i.d. card isn’t enough… Put your request in writing, please… Prove that you bought a house… Bring the contract… Bring certification from Amidar in Beer Sheva that it’s registered in your name… Yet that’s not enough. Prove that you lived there… Bring proof from the electric company in Beer Sheva that you paid all the years… Now bring proof from the schools showing that your children studied in Gush Katif. Yet that isn’t enough either. Maybe your proof is fabricated? Bring your children’s report cards from first and second grade… It’s in the container? That’s your problem!

Tell me something. Do you want to kill us? Having expelled us, would you murder us too? And anyhow, we don’t know where our container is amongst all the other containers. The government didn’t register them carefully. And anyway, how much aggravation this container has caused us. While they were packing it, valuable items like computers were stolen. I also don’t understand why the container assigned to us costs several times more than a container hired privately.

By the way, when, on the other hand, it comes to collecting money from us, everything is A Okay. We continue to pay a mortgage to the bank for the house that we don’t have and that no longer exists. We continue to pay insurance on the house we were expelled from. We even paid the electric company for turning off the meter!

Yet the Disengagement Authority offices give us the run-around. They treat us like liars, and I have to go crazy in order to prove that I am not a liar. They send me from the north of the country to Beer Sheva in order to bring proof from the electric company, when with one email forward they could pass on all the information about all the settlers from one government office to another! It is clear to us that this isn’t just any old bureaucratic chaos. Rather, it’s directed against us. They want to break us. How wicked these people are who destroyed our lives and our families! And they continue to proclaim to the media that everything is OK. “There is a solution for every settler!” That’s what they claimed, and what they continue to claim. Wretched liars! And we’re not allowed to open our mouths either, because they we get accused of being crybabies, manipulators and compensation chasers!

Us!? Quite the contrary, we settled in a desolate region and turned it into G-d’s garden, under a barrage of bombs. And now they tell us that we need to forgive and forget. To forget the past – and the present as well?! That’s the “eighty-first blow”. This expression is attributed to a Holocaust survivor who testified at Eichman’s trial that one time he received eighty lashes during the Holocaust. Later on someone asked him if he was certain it really happened, and he answered, “This is the eighty-first blow!”

All the same, I don’t hate these people. Very simply, that isn’t me. I am incapable of hating anyone. I don’t like to hate anyone. I love everyone. I love to dance and to be happy, even when times are tough. We’re lucky that we have friends and acquaintances, all kinds of people who volunteer wholeheartedly and are happy to help. These are National-Religious people, and a few non-religious people as well: They volunteer money, time, help, advice, assistance in organizational matters, psychological support, medical assistance, help with the children, with the laundry, and more.

I thank you my friends! When I think about you, my eyes well up with tears. I am still on a journey to the unknown in this insane country, and I love this country as well, despite everything. I march along a path of uncertainty, amidst a war of attrition being waged against us, but I am holding my own. It’s hard. It hurts. It’s terrible! But I persevere. I am still happy, pleasant and friendly. Sometimes I ask myself what will be. It’s troubling and annoying, but I persevere and I do not despair. I thought we had finished with the exile, but that isn’t so. There is an exile mentality within us, and apparently you don’t get rid of it overnight. They’ve found a new way to torment us, but I rejoice over every day that I hold out, every day that I keep breathing.

Mesilat Yesharim writes that the world is full of trials and hardships – it really isn’t easy. Living with economic uncertainty is really burdensome (see Menachot 102b; Petichta Esther Rabbah, “Vayehi bimei Achashverosh”). My life has become harder, yet I have also discovered within me new psychological resources and faith. Within the stormy sea of this national insanity, I find secure points where I can take hold. One time I saw a quote from Rav Kook that I can really relate to: “Being disenfranchised is the greatest horror the soul can suffer. A person has to have his own unshakable niche. The worst thing about exile, I would say, is disenfranchisement. It is terrible when a person feels that he is consciously and essentially disenfranchised, footloose, floating in the air…” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah 161).

Yet even in the exile we continued to survive, and surprisingly, the Jewish People live and endure today, and are full of valor. Their success derives from the fact that in every situation, they had something to hold on to. King David is an example. From childhood, he suffered from his brothers: “I became a stranger to my brothers; an alien to my mother’s children” (Psalm 69:9). So from where am I to draw strength? At this point, what “wellsprings” do I have left to me?

First of all, we’ve got our unity. This they haven’t succeeded in breaking. Many arguments rage amongst the expellees over our problems, and within the family as well, but we preserve our unity, and have even increased it. A major principle about unity is that people don’t all have to be the same thing and to think the same thing. We don’t have to have the same yarmulke, the same faith, the same approach and the same thoughts. Without a doubt, what binds us together is that we are all hurting. The hardest thing is the uncertainty, hence it is no tragedy if there are different viewpoints and disparate feelings. It’s OK to think differently. It’s OK to be different. It’s like a bet midrash, a house of study, with fierce arguments raging, yet everyone loves one another. We have amongst us many expert debaters: our youth! Both our boys and our girls are walking Talmuds and they love to argue about everything. Whatever I say, they say the opposite, and that’s just fine. I don’t argue with them. I don’t try to win. I am happy that I have children who are so involved and concerned. They have a lot of merit to their name, and I envy them.

They blame us for all sorts of things – inactivity – what DON’T they blame us for? It’s irritating. It took me a while to understand why it irritates me. Then I understood: I, myself, blame myself and live with uncertainty. I therefore have decided not to let it insult me. I look for areas of agreement with them and together we strengthen the good things. I am very careful not to be their psychologist, but only their mother.

Things are harder for my two-year-old who is tense and doesn’t know how to express it. The signs are bedwetting, irregular stools and occasional fever. I’m not alarmed. I hug him and kiss him and get him drinks. With my child in nursery school I see the same things – regression, stuttering and bedwetting. I am not alarmed. I do role-playing with her and let her feel in control. Yet my third grader has become really aggressive. He shouts, “I’ll KILL So-and-So.” I am not alarmed. He won’t kill anyone. I’m also not going to waste my energy on restricting verbal expression. If I shut him up, he won’t talk more. In my house, you’re allowed to talk.

I don’t know why I am telling you such personal things. Apparently I, too, have to tell someone what I am going through. I am constantly dealing with crises. I am constantly answering questions from my children, such as, “Mommy! That soldier there – is he a good soldier who protects us, or a bad soldier who expels us?” They definitely still feel threatened. Therefore, I provide them with a warm nest without too many questions. I don’t deny it. We fear for the future which has a lot of uncertainty, yet I am trying to limit that uncertainty. Children! I will always be with you! We shall always carry on together, even if it is unclear what is going to happen. My husband! I shall always be at your side in every situation. Many parts of our world have broken down, but I am not broken. Because I need strength, G-d gives it to me.

G-d, I know you are with me!

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