From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Just as a person must adapt himself to the physical forces of nature, training his steps and deeds in accordance with the general laws that rule the universe… all the more so must he adapt himself to the spiritual laws of nature, which have even greater ascendancy over reality”
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
“Do not Make a Treaty With Them…it Will be a Fatal Trap”
While we were yet in the desert, G-d informed Israel about the process of conquering the Land, where would be the borders and how we must conduct ourselves and relate to the nations dwelling in the Land: “I will drive the inhabitants out little by little, giving you a chance to increase and fully occupy the land” (Exodus 23:30). We would not conquer the Land all at once, but gradually, until we had a chance to increase from a people of 600,000 to one of millions. Indeed, from the time of Joshua until the completed conquest of the land, in the days of King David and King Solomon, hundreds of years would pass.
What will the Land’s boundaries be? “I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Philistine Sea, from the desert to the river” (verse 23:31).
As far as our relationship to the Canaanites dwelling in the Land, G-d commanded us: “I will give the Land’s inhabitants into your hand, and you will drive them before you” (ibid.). Until they are conquered, Scripture states: “Do not make a treaty with these nations or with their gods. Do not allow them to reside in your land, since they may then make you sin to Me… it will be a fatal trap for you” (Exodus 23:32-33).
Today, the conquest and settling of the Land in our generation resembles the very same processes in the past. G-d is “driving the inhabitants out little by little.” Israel’s redemption in our generation is occurring gradually. Over a hundred years ago, when the process of national rebirth began, there were tens of thousands of Jews in the Land. When the State was established, there were about 600,000 (like the number that left Egypt). Today, we are privileged to be approaching six millions Jews in our country. We are the living fulfillment of, “Giving you a chance to increase and fully occupy the land.” True, the increase in the number of Arabs is worrisome (the “demographic problem”), yet it can be dealt with in two ways: 1) by way of great natural increase. This will occur, with G-d’s help, when the nation returns to Jewish tradition, as was promised by Ezekiel 36: “I will sprinkle pure water on you…” As is well-known, traditional Jewish families have many children. It can also happen by way of massive aliyah of the remnants of the Dispora, as in our Shemoneh Esreh prayer, “Gather us together speedily from the four corners of the earth.” 2) It can also be dealt with by the possibility of the Arabs fleeing from the Land, as they did during the War of Independence and the Six Day War. Through them was fulfilled, “Through their very plots, He rose above them” (Exodus 18:11). The Egyptians imagined destroying us through water, yet they themselves were destroyed in water (see Rashi, ibid.).
Nowadays as well, the Arabs, robbers of our land, would like to destroy us, and they proclaim their ambition before the entire world. What occurred in the past is what will occur now. With G-d’s help, “everything will be overturned.” G-d promised us the Land with its borders, which are to be the permanent borders of the State of Israel. True, we have not yet achieved those borders, yet we were already not far from achieving them when the Arabs forced a war upon us and we were 100 kilometers from Cairo, and we also reached Beirut.
Today, the State of Israel need a leader who will unite the nation, strengthen its spirit and its faith, restore to it erect stature and defend Eretz Yisrael. We need a moral leader with values, who is strong in his faith, in his recognition of what is the Jewish People, what is their identity, what is their historic purpose. We need a leader who understands that our war over our existence in the length and breadth of our land is not just our war but the war of the sons of light against the sons of darkness, against the axis of evil. He must understand and recognize that treaties and agreements with our enemies only weaken us, just as the wretched Oslo Accords brought us much death and suffering, strengthening those who would steal our land from us. As our parashah states, ““Do not make a treaty with them…It will be a fatal trap for you.”
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner– Chief Rabbi of Bet El
Who Won the Elections
Who won the elections? The Jewish People! After all, each political party is only part of the Jewish People. It lacks all the strengths and all the virtues. Yet G-d in His mercy spread out those talents amongst us all, and all the parties together amount to a complete nation.
Therefore, when I vote for a party, my intention is that in my opinion, there one will find mostly light and only a little darkness, but I do not mean that the other parties aren’t worth anything. I look positively at everyone. I see the good in everyone, and I relate to them all as being a necessary part of the whole. Definitely, I am for my own party, and the other parties I do respect, love and admire. Yet if I take it a step further, and I explain that all the truth, fairness and integrity is with me, and all the others are as useless as a garlic peel, then I am falling into the dark hole of groundless hatred. For what is groundless hatred? Hatred of that which is different. One thinks: How can anyone be different from me? I’ve got it all! Surely, it was my political party that built the country, brought back the nation to Israel, established the state, won all the wars and restored the Torah to its home, while all the other parties just stood by passively.
But such thinking is wrong! The one that did everything was the entire nation!
Therefore, if you say, “I see my party as the most important part of things,” I can agree with that, but if you say, “My party is not a part. It is everything!” – I cannot agree with that.
It’s true that I voted for my party. But above all else I voted for the Jewish People. For the sake of the Jewish People, I stood alone with my Maker, excited at that holy instant, in the voting booth. For the sake of the Jewish People I thought, “Blessed be G-d, who has granted us life and sustenance, and permitted us to reach this season,” even if I didn’t utter it with my mouth. For the sake of the Jewish People I felt: “This is the day that G-d made! Let us rejoice and be happy on it!” And as far as the two national religious parties, there really is no contradiction between them, and there would be nothing more natural than for them to unite.
As a minor example of this, there is my humble self. I, per se, am more similar to the approach of the National Union, being yeshiva-oriented and a settler, but I voted for the Jewish Home. And why? Because I wanted to be together with all my friends, i.e., the various types of National Religious – yeshiva-oriented or academic, right-wing or left or the middle, more Hareidi-like or more modern. True, there are differences between us, and I do not gloss over those differences, but what links us together is infinitely greater than what separates us, in other words, “the rebirth of the nation in its land, according to the Torah,” or “the rebuilding of the lives of the individual and the nation in the Land, according to the Torah,” or other formulas.
Actually, what I long to fill is the Shumanit woman’s aspiration to “dwell amongst my people” with all of Israel (II Kings 4:13). Yet I am doing so gradually. First, I must live in peace with myself, without inner contradictions. Then I must live with my wife, then with my family, then with my peer group, the National Religious, and only then with all the G-d fearing and the entire Jewish People. First I must attach myself to my friends even though they are not exactly like me. It is not enough to applaud unity if in the same breath I limit it to being united with those just like me. It was the way of the Mizrachi from time immemorial to serve as a single, broad umbrella for many different shades of thought, with the common denominator being, “rebuilding the nation in its land, according to the Torah”.
At the start of this article I used the expression “yeshiva-oriented” which describes a situation, rather than the expressions “Torah-true” or “believing”, for to decide that I am more Torah-true or believing than my friends who differ from me is arrogance. So I learned from my master and teacher, Rabbi Chaim Druckman, and I am certainly not more righteous or wise than he, but rather less so. Indeed, it is not for me to judge anyone else, and I do not know what that person does behind closed doors or what he thinks. Consider the words of Rambam: “A person is judged in accordance with most of his deeds, but that there can be a type of mitzvah that counteracts several sins, as it says, ‘because in him there is found some good thing’ (I Kings 14:13), and only the Omniscient G-d can decide one’s spiritual status. It is He who knows how to compare a person’s good deeds to sins.” (Hilchot Teshuva 3:2)
The example being referred to is about King Avia, the son of Jeroboam, who indeed committed many sins, but one good thing too, and because of that one thing “all of Israel eulogized him” (I Kings 14:13). That one good act is not spelled out in the Bible, but only in our sages: “he called off the sentries whom his father, Jeroboam had placed along the highways to stop the Jews from making the pilgrimages to Jerusalem, and he, himself, went up on the pilgrimages” (Moed Kattan 28b). He thus reunited our two kingdoms, and that weighs against all his sins.
Resuming where I left off, don’t decide that you are more Torah-true than anyone else. One time our master Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook was asked by a news reporter, “What are the spiritual achievements of the State of Israel during the first decade of its existence?” and he responded, “The answer is in the question. In other words, the spiritual achievement is the state’s very existence!” How true! Is the State of Israel not a mitzvah? Is it not something spiritual? Does it not sanctify man like any other mitzvah? As the Rabbis said, “Blessed be G-d… ‘who has sanctified us with His mitzvoth’”. Quite the contrary, since the State of Israel is a mitzvah whose fulfillment involves our sacrificing ourselves through Aliyah, settlement and army service, it certainly does sanctify the masses.
One time the illustrious Rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin was asked why he voted for the Mizrachi and not for the most religious party? He answered, “This is the most religious party, because it includes everything in it.” Indeed, it includes institutionalization of the Torah in Israel; strengthening the Chief Rabbinate; religious education; the Jewish character of the State; arrangements between yeshiva learning and army service; a strong fortress against separation of religion and state; concern over society’s welfare, etc. We won’t decide which is more Torah-true – the Jewish State or the talit, and what is more faith-based – the army or tefillin. We will follow the path of the Jewish People, which proclaimed, “Everything G-d said, we shall do” (Exodus 19:5). Likewise, at first I did not say that I am “pro-Eretz Yisrael”, but that I am a “settler”, a resident of Judea and Samaria, which is a fact. For who can determine who is more pro-Eretz Yisrael – the soldier or the settler? Who helps Eretz Yisrael more? A settler who is against the army or a soldier who is against settlements? Who are we to decide?
Indeed, there are many fronts. Always the Mizrachi, the Religious Zionists, fought on all fronts. It is a lot easier to fight on one front with all one’s zeal, but all the fronts are relevant regarding establishing the great vision of Jewishness in the institutional sense in Eretz Yisrael – including the spiritual, the national, the social. All these are part of the Jewish character of the State.
Both the Jewish Home and the National Union belong to that same vision, the greatest and most complete one there is, and one without many advocates in the nation. It is true that seven Knesset members is not a lot, but they are the faithful sentries of that Religious Zionist ideal.
Truthfully, the unification of these two parties does not constitute a combining of different entities but a unification of two similar entities that have broken apart. It’s like a small child whose parents have divorced or who live in a constant state of emotional divorce, and he says to them in a broken voice: “Dear parents! I know it’s hard for you together, but please transcend your differences and find a way back. Don’t explain to me why you have separated. There may be numerous reasons for that. Please look for what you have in common.” True, unity exacts a price, but divisiveness is all the more expensive.
As another parable, imagine a ship whose crew are bitterly divided. The passenger says to them, “Dear crew, I won’t intervene in your affairs, neither do I understand them, but as a passenger I am entitled demand that you won’t do anything to cause the ship to sink.”
And if we’re talking about ships, we have to mention also the courageous process by which one religious party joined up with the Likud, and many did not understand. It’s like a small boat with seven devoted sailors caught in a storm and in danger of capsizing. Indeed, we are threatened with war on four fronts, including nuclear attacks from without and social explosion from within due to the economic crisis. Then along comes a large ship which has hired a fine crew for itself, and then one of the crew members from the small boat climbs aboard the large ship, not as an anonymous passenger but to strengthen the ship and ensure that it reaches safe harbor.
In conclusion, regarding elections, there is more than one right decision. One cannot say, “Only this is right”. What is certain is that we have a wonderful political camp and for its sake we must unite. You cannot have everyone doing whatever he pleases.
“For the sake of my brothers and companions I shall seek peace” (Psalm 122:8).
Translation: R. Blumberg
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