From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Skepticism is part of the intellect, but emotion runs deeper and is associated with certainty. The heart sees and the heart hears”
(Erpalei Tohar 46)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
G-d Will Withhold no Good Thing From Those who Walk Rightly
At the end of the Tabernacle service it says, “They brought the Tabernacle to Moses” (Exodus 39:33). Why did they bring it to him? It is because they could not erect it themselves. No human being could erect it because the boards weighed so much that no one could put them upright. Yet Moses succeeded. Moses asked G-d, “How can a human being possibly erect it?” G-d replied, “Go through the motions.” Moses seemed to be erecting it, but it stood erect and rose by itself. This is the meaning of the words, “The Tabernacle was erected” (Exodus 40:17). It arose by itself (see Rashi, ibid.).
Not just with the erection of the Tabernacle in ancient times, so heavy that no man could lift it, did Israel required divine assistance. They also require assistance with establishing their personal Tabernacles, the Jewish family and nation. We are commanded to make a sincere effort, and G-d helps us. We have limited strength, but G-d assists us, as our sages said, “If a person sanctifies himself a little, G-d will sanctify him more. The effort he makes here on earth is equaled by what G-d does for him from above” (Yoma 39a).
In our generation, we are busy with the rebuilding of the Third Temple, in three stages, as Rambam wrote: “Israel were commanded to fulfill three mitzvot on their entry into the Land: appointing a king precedes waging war on Amalek; destroying Amalek precedes rebuilding the Temple” (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 1:1-2). In all of these stages we need to strive greatly despite the enormous difficulties, and in accordance with our efforts we enjoy divine assistance.
The State of Israel is the beginning of the Kingdom of Israel, at the height of which we will merit the appearance of the Messianic King and the rebuilding of the Temple. Yet the State of Israel is beset by enormous hardships in the shape of struggles and wars with enemies from without and spiritual, moral and social crises from within. Sometimes matters seem as difficult as erecting the Tabernacle walls. Yet we need to follow in the path of Moses, who went through the motions of raising up those heavy boards while G-d assisted him.
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner– Chief Rabbi of Bet El
Finally I Have Friends
I never had friends at school. I’m not so smart, not so sharp, not so interesting, not so handsome. I’m also from a poor family. When I wanted to start dating for marriage, girls wouldn’t look at me. They’d say, “He radiates lack of self-confidence”. Yet that wasn’t exactly it. It wasn’t that I didn’t radiate it. It’s that I really didn’t have any. I don’t know how in the end a fine girl agreed to marry me. I have no explanation. It was a miracle and that’s it. Yet besides her, I feel inferiority everywhere.
Except for once place: the army. The uniform is a bridge. When we’re all dressed in uniform, you can’t tell us apart. Suddenly I am the equal of the factory owner and the CEO, the rabbi and the professor. It’s not like daily life when they’re all dressed with precision and I’m dressed with simple clothing.
We also have a common dialogue. We recall experiences from past months of reserves, as well as memories from the various wars. And, obviously, we switch over to army slang. Actually, in parallel with my civilian life, I’ve got a second career in which I am the equal of everyone else. One time I saw a sign in the army: “Once a paratrooper, always a paratrooper”. Obviously, I am not a paratrooper, but a simple infantryman, but I am a life-long soldier.
There in the army, I have real friends, more than I had in school or later studies, at work or in my family – my wife excluded, of course.
In our unit, we have memories from when the chips were down that bind us together. I see that there are many people who owe one another their lives. I saved Yossi and Chezi, and I owe my own life to Simcha and to Sasha. Every time I come to reserve duty, that connection is rekindled.
In the army, all the differences are nullified. There’s no poor or rich, educated or uneducated, city-folk or country-folk, Sephardic or Ashkenazic, Yemenite or Ethiopian, religious, secular or Chareidi. We’re all brothers. We all listen to one another and try to understand their problems. We also try to help out. Obviously, I can’t help out much. But one time I told there was a bureaucratic maze keeping me from getting something vital for my baby daughter. Immediately an army buddy, an important CEO, slapped me on the back and said, “Why didn’t you speak up?” Right on the spot he made a phone call and in an instance all the obstacles were gone.
That doesn’t mean we agree on everything. We have serious arguments, yelling and shouting about religion and politics, but we remain intimate friends. Sometimes we even play soccer together, or just sit around and laugh together.
But the main thing is that we are partners in the biggest mission there is: working to ensure the survival of Israel, the people and the country. We do not go to sleep on the watch. We have 300 million enemies from without and several million from within. And altogether, our international situation is bad, and sometimes “the whole world is against us”. I, together with my comrades, am saving the Jewish People. We all agree on that.
That’s why we’re real friends. I thank you, Master-of-the-Universe, that we have an army, and that I am privileged to be part of it.
Rabbi Yaakov Halevy Filber
Purim, Pesach and Yom Kippur
Purim is behind us, but it’s part of a package. Our sages link it to two other holidays: Pesach and Yom Kippur. In Megillah 6b, the Talmud notes that in a Jewish leap year, when there are two months of Adar, Purim has to be held in the second Adar, adjacent to Nissan, the month in which Pesach falls out. The reason given is that “it is best to join two redemptions together,” which Rashi says refers to Purim and Pesach.
By contrast, the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Mishlei 9) ties Purim to Yom Kippur and says: “Just as Purim will never be eliminated, as it says, ‘these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed’ (Esther 9:28), so too Yom Kippur will never be eliminated, as it says, ‘All this shall be for you as a law for all time’ (Leviticus 16:34).
Maharal in his book Tiferet Yisrael (Ch. 36) explains the connection between Purim and Yom Kippur: “As far as the question of why these two holidays (Purim and Yom Kippur) shall never be eliminated, it is in the context of the mitzvoth involved. Both mitzvoth involve rebirth. On Yom Kippur, the sinner, condemned to death, has his life restored to him. On Purim, the Jews were threatened by the sword, but G-d opened a lofty gate from which their lives were returned to them.”
Shla [Shnei Luchot HaBrit] (Yoma, Hilchot Teshuva) writes: “Purim and Yom Kippur will never be eliminated because they are the same – on Purim the forces of [the diabolic angel] Somuel are eliminated, and on Yom Kippur Somuel himself is eliminated.”
We have to ask whether or not there is any common link between the three holidays together. Berachot 28b relates that when Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai fell ill, his disciples came to visit him. When he saw them he began to weep. His disciples asked him why he was weeping, and he responded, “Even if I were being brought before a mere mortal king I would weep, although his anger against you cannot last forever, and if he imprisons you it does not last forever, and if he kills you your death does not last forever…”
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai mentioned three conditions faced by men: anger, imprisonment and death. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook explains them in his book Ein Aya (ibid., Ch. 4, Ot 36): What is unique about these three conditions? Man’s perfection depends on all three: existence, freedom and love. Existing means being alive – without life one has no existence. Yet if someone leads a life of slavery, if he is not free to act as he wishes, then his life is no life either. Yet freedom isn’t everything either. Many people are free, yet their day-to-day conduct is disreputable, and there is justified anger against them, either from G-d or from man. Such people lack love. Such lives lack hope as long as a person is not fulfilling his purpose. Thus, only when one attains life, freedom and love does he achieve perfection.
Each of these three holidays is linked to one of these three aspects of perfection. On Purim, there was an attempt to deny us our very lives, through Haman’s decree “to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day” (Esther 3:13). Yet Heaven annulled his plan, and “it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them” (9:1). It follows that on Purim the Jews were granted life itself.
As far as Pesach, we were in the House of Bondage, our freedom being denied to us by the Egyptians. At that time, Egypt was one big prison, as the Midrash comments (Sechel Tov, Shemot 18): “‘Praised be G-d, who liberated the people from Egypt’s power’ (Exodus 18:10): What is this teaching us? Hadn’t Jethro in the same verse just praised G-d who ‘rescued you from the power of Egypt and Pharaoh’? Rather, previously no slave could escape Egypt. Now, G-d had removed THE ENTIRE PEOPLE TOGETHER from the power of Egypt, and the Egyptians couldn’t protest.”
Another Midrash teaches (Shemot Rabbah 15): “‘It shall be the first month of the year’ (Exodus 12:2): A king once removed his son from prison. He ordained: ‘Let that day be a holiday for all time, for on that day my son emerged from darkness to light, from an iron yoke to life, from slavery to freedom and from subjugation to redemption.’ In the same way, G-d removed Israel from prison, as it says, ‘He brings out the prisoners into prosperity’ (Psalm 68:7). G-d removed them from darkness, as it says, ‘He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death’ (Psalm 107:14), and He replaced an iron yoke with a Torah yoke. He brought them out of slavery to freedom, as it says, ‘You are sons to the L-rd your G-d’ (Deuteronomy 14:1), and from subjugation to redemption, as it says, ‘Their Redeemer is strong, the L-rd of hosts is His name’ (Jeremiah 50:34). G-d therefore ordained a celebration for them, because He had punished their enemies.”
This is the link between these three holidays. Each one completes one of the components of human perfection. Therefore, they must all accompany us throughout the entire year.
Translation: R. Blumberg
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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
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