From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“The turbid, stormy waters of secularity roar and foam, as they seek to swallow up all that is sacred. In their quaking enormity, they inundate nations and peoples, but the strength of Israel shall never founder” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah 150)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
The Spark in the Heart of Every Jew
The little vial of pure oil with the stamp of the Kohen Gadol [the High Priest], found in the Temple after the Greeks contaminated all the oils, hints to us of the spark of faith stored away in the heart of every Jew wherever he may be. It is a spark that no impure spirit can extinguish.
The Chanukah candles that we light, recalling the miracles performed for them in those days at this time of year, likewise could not be extinguished by the Jewish People’s enemies for thousands of years – not during the Holocaust, not during the pogroms and not under any other circumstances. Although they appear tiny, they continue to illuminate the Jewish home and the entire world, and they shall continue to do so until we merit the building of the Third Temple, speedily in our day, and a new light shining over Zion.
Today, we are living in the generation of national rebirth, a generation in which the national home is being rebuilt, and that home is an asset of the Jewish People that will bring more and more light to the entire world. At this time we are privileged, more and more, to see how the sparks stored away in the heart of every Jew are being revealed and fired up, and many of our people are returning to Jewishness. The glow of returnees is increasing, and G-d willing, will continue to increase more and more.
Machon Meir has a special, central place in this process of return to Jewishness. It attracts Jews closer, in the spirit and path of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, zt’l, the Kohen Gadol, and it does so lovingly, the same way that kohanim are commanded to bless the Jewish People.
The stamp of that Kohen Gadol and lover of Israel leaves its imprint in the hearts of all who come to Machon Meir, and in the hearts of everyone influenced by it in the various channels, and that influence shall continue spreading outward to broader circles of the Jewish People until we hopefully merit to see the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (11:9): “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L-rd, as the waters cover the sea.” In these times, Machon Meir is holding a national fundraising campaign due to its heavy financial difficulties.
I am hereby calling on all the friends and students of the Machon, past and present, to come to the Machon’s aid.
Through your contribution you add “oil” to the Menora, which will enable us to continue kindling the sweet, joyous lights that the House of Israel is so thirsty for.
The merit from this will protect you, and you will be blessed from Heaven with great light.
With blessings for a joyous Chanukah,
Looking forward to salvation,
Hundreds of hours of free Torah videos! – www.machonmeir.net
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner- Chief Rabbi of Bet El
The Religious Kibbutz Movement Is Ours
Question: I don’t understand why you mentioned the Religious Kibbutz Movement favorably. Things have degenerated over there. They’re not going well. First of all, it’s not religious there. Their Jewishness is superficial. Second of all, they’re closed up within themselves, and they contribute nothing to society. Third, they’re left-wingers and harm the State.
Answer: My dear friend, did you live for eight years in a religious kibbutz or did I? So why are you putting your nose in their business? Do they do that to you? Did they ask you to marry one of their daughters or to settle on a kibbutz? If you lived there, you would immediately see that everything you said is wrong. Yours are the sort of generalizations used by anti-Semites down through the generations.
First of all, kibbutz residents are all religious, filling the entire spectrum of religiosity, as in any other society. There are pious and holy people there. There are many young people who go to yeshivot and to pre-military yeshivot, and there are girls who go to post-high-school seminaries. There are people there who are weaker religiously, as anywhere else. Obviously, however, those people probably have other virtues, as I shall mention below.
Second of all, they certainly do make a large contribution, and they have always done so. They contribute to the army – to its most elite unites. They contribute to the environment. They contribute in the National Service. They contribute by joining settlement groups. They contribute through the “Third Year of Service” program. To say that they are closed within themselves is really the opposite of the truth.
As for your claims about their being leftists, that, too, is baseless. The vast majority of the religious kibbutz community hold right-wing views. Moreover, if someone wishes to be left-wing, that is his ideology. He has no intention of destroying the country. Quite the contrary, he loves the country and believes that his way is best for it. So you have no license to sling mud at him. He probably risks his life for the country, so who are you to talk about him?
As noted, for many years I lived on a religious kibbutz, and I could feel the religiousness of the place. I still remember positively the “clean pathways”, not just the tidy public thoroughfares, but also the wholesome pathways of communal living. Obviously, kibbutzniks are not angels, but they’re the same as everyone else. Also, there aren’t so many intrigues and dirty power struggles such as are rampant in religious society.
Unfortunately, religious society is not faultless, and often, alongside lofty words you find a low moral level and vile battles under the veil of piety. And maybe that’s what’s happening here too.
Therefore, my friend, my advice to you is to repent your words and to see the good in your friends. For example, learn from the Religious Kibbutz Movement, besides what I mentioned above, also the mitzvah of settling the Land, in its simple, direct context. Likewise, learn what productive work is, and what it means to make a nice living and not to live from the money and the work of others, and not to fall into debt that others will pay for. Not in vain did our sages say, “One who benefits from the work of his own hands is greater than He who fears G-d” (Berachot 8a).
Machon Meir – There is Only One
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
It is a great mitzvah to support all yeshivot. The Torah “is a tree of life for all who support it” (Proverbs 3:18). The Torah grants life, not only to those who learn it but even to those who support those who learn it. That supporter, after all, is connected to the Torah, and he loves the Torah.
It is a great mitzvah to support all yeshivot. Obviously, people aren’t so wealthy, so our sages declared, “The indigent of your own town come first.” Before anything else, one must first donate to the yeshiva in which one learned. One must donate to the yeshivot from which one draws one’s spirit, one’s Torah, one’s wisdom and fortitude. In other words, one should contribute to yeshivot that imbibe from the spirit of our master Rav Kook. After all, if you do not donate to them, who will donate? One should especially donate to Machon Meir, for there is only one Machon Meir.
Thank G-d, there are many yeshivot that imbibe their spirit from Rav Kook, and may they increase like the stars of the heavens, everywhere, in the towns and villages, the mountains and the desert! Even so, there is only one Machon Meir!
After all, we must disseminate the Torah throughout the entire nation. We must teach every student who thirsts for G-d’s word, whether he is already full of the Torah, or still empty, whether he is a sharp or slow, whether he fulfills Torah and mitzvoth or he still has elements holding him back from total fulfillment.
But Torah learning is Stage Two. Stage One is fine character, as our master Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook constantly taught us. Indeed, dangers looms for whoever plunges into the fire of Torah, that he will forget his good heart, his good traits, the fine character that precedes Torah learning, that he will forget how to be a good person.
Thank G-d, at Machon Meir the Torah is built on a foundation of good character, a foundation of love of one’s fellow man, of guarding the tongue from speaking evil. That same light that Machon Meir produces is not a light that burns, but a light that provides illumination and warmth.
Likewise, for several decades now this light has grown, until there are now thousands of students spread all throughout the Land. Some are great scholars, others are lesser scholars, some are G-d fearing laymen who keep Torah and mitzvoth. Yet they all possess fine character.
And all this is thanks to Machon Meir, and the man standing at the helm, my friend HaRav HaGaon Dov Begon, shelita. I call him “my friend” because I like him very much, but the truth is that he was my first teacher and mentor from among the disciples of our master Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, and the following is how it happened:
When I was discharged from service following the Six Day War, I came to that august institution, the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva, and I arrived precisely at lunch time. I sat down – and I was very young – at a small table with four seats.
And I gazed in admiration at the three older students who were seated at the table. One of them began to tell a story, and his friend said to him gently, “I don’t want to hear this,” but the first one continued. The friend then said gently, once more, “I don’t want to hear lashon hara [evil gossip].” Yet the first student pressured him to listen. Now the friend answered, with a broad, sweet smile playing on his lips, “You won’t force me to listen to lashon hara.”
The one who didn’t want to hear lashon hara was Rabbi Dov Begon, and in the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva that was my first lesson.
Translation: R. Blumberg
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