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From The World of Rabbi Kook
“When the righteous believe in themselves, in their enormous resources and in the lofty holiness of their souls, they increase divine devotion… They bring holy vibrancy to the world, pleasure and contentment, good health and long days, the blessings of wealth and children. Then the light of repentance and the joy of mitzvah observance proliferate in the world.” (Orot HaKodesh 4:464)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Founder and Head of the Machon
Message for Today: “Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David”
Joseph was the “dreamer” (Genesis 37:19), as well as the dream interpreter. It looked as though he lived in a world of dreams and imaginings, but really, as Pharaoh said (41:39), there was no one with as much wisdom and insight as he. Joseph was a complex personality. On the one hand his dreams accompanied him throughout his life and he knew full well that they would ultimately be fulfilled. On the other hand, he was “a very successful man” (39:2) who knew how to manage the Egyptian economy and to prepare Egypt, with his wisdom and insight, for the years of famine. He was well aware that all the situations he found himself in, whether he was in prison or viceroy, were all part of his dreams being fulfilled, at the climax of which was a dream about the Jewish People being born as tribal units in Egypt. His head was in his dreams, but his feet were set on the ground, in the complex, intricate reality he experienced in Pharaoh’s house and with his own family.
Today, “as G-d returns His people to Zion, we are as dreamers” (Psalm 126:1). Our sages viewed the ingathering of the exiles and the establishment of a Jewish State as part of the fulfillment of the task of “Mashiach ben Yosef” [the Messianic descendant of Joseph] (see Kol HaTor by the disciples of the Vilna Gaon). In other words, just as Joseph was wise and insightful, and successful in everything he did, and just as he engaged in saving Egypt economically, so, too, our generation is one whose chief preoccupation is ensuring our survival and our economic welfare.
Yet this is just the first stage in Israel’s rebirth. The second stage is the appearance of Mashiach ben David, the Messianic descendant of King David, for “the ultimate purpose of the Jewish People is not just to be defined and set apart as a nation, but also the longing to unite all of mankind in one family, in which all proclaim G-d’s name” (Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot 109). Our sages interpreted the words, “Bring us upright [komemiyut] to our land” (blessings before the Shema) as meaning that the ingathering will happen in two stages [komot]. First will come national rebirth, represented by Mashiach ben Yosef. From within that will come the universal rebirth of all mankind, represented by Mashiach ben David.
With blessings for a joyous Chanukah, and looking forward to complete salvation,
Be sure to catch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at www.israelnntv.com (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir).
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
“Don’t be Depressed”
Please, spare me the sermons. Don’t tell me, “Don’t be depressed! Why are you so sad, so fearful? Why can’t you function? There’s no reason for it! Everything is OK with you. You don’t have any problems. It’s all in your mind. You’re just depressed – that’s all, so get over it! I am trying to help you, but you aren’t cooperating. You’re just spoiled.”
You aren’t helping me with all that talk. It just makes things worse. Just listening to you is enough to make a person depressed. Do you really think it’s fun for me to live in a state of depression? That I choose to be so? This illness is destroying me! It’s sapping my strength! Yes! It’s an illness, an illness within the mind, a cruel illness, an illness that is destroying all the good in me, and that covers me with shame. Everyone looks at me with haughty scorn. It’s not like when someone has heart, liver or lung disease.
How can you dare say that I am not cooperating? I’ve tried everything – medicines, psychological treatment, support groups and getting advice from rabbis. Everything. I haven’t given up and I will continue fighting. I am not ready to surrender. So don’t judge your fellow until you reach his place. If you knew my inner world, you would admire and appreciate me. Yes, I say this without boasting: I am strong. I am a fighter. A fighter! A fighter!!
Do you know how much mental energy one needs to suppress suicidal thoughts? You don’t fight half as much as I do. Not one tenth as much! In order to carry out the most simple, trivial daily tasks, I have to invest more energy than what you invest in a week. So please keep quiet. All your preaching doesn’t help me one bit. I haven’t lost hope. I see fellow sufferers who have found full cures. Each must find his own way back. I also have my better days, and I am in the midst of a relentless struggle, slowly progressing.
What helps me is FRIENDSHIP, a personal, warm relationship. I wish I could find such a thing in my family. I think that if my family and my friends were warmer this wouldn’t have happened to me in the first place. I live in a cold, hostile world, and that is what tears me apart emotionally. My greatest enemy is loneliness!
Therefore, if you would like to help me, be my friend, a true friend, and I will be grateful to you all my life. Friendship is the key. That’s right pal, the word is LOVE. Also faith in G-d helps me a lot. If I didn’t believe I would yet live to see G-d’s goodness, I would be lost. How fortunate I am that G-d doesn’t scorn me. Rather, He loves me always. He loves me. He LOVES me! And He believes in me.
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 Elisha Aviner – Education Corner
“Teens and Growing Up” (Part Five)
One of the elements characterizing adolescence is the teen’s physical development. The teen’s body grows at a much faster rate than during any other period since infanthood. This physical maturing also finds expression in the development of biological differences between the sexes, in the body’s external structure and its interior design, for example, the reproductive system. These changes stem from hormonal activity that begins in adolescence. Without a doubt, these changes have a great impact on the psychological world of the teen.
It is important to note that Jewish law, as well, takes the teen’s biological development into account. According to Jewish law, the passage from being a “minor” who is exempt from mitzvah performance, to being an “adult” who is obligated in mitzvoth, depends on age (twelve for girls and thirteen for boys), and on physical “signs” (in scientific language, “secondary gender characteristics”).
As noted above, these physical changes affect the psychological world of the adolescent. The first effect is his heightened interest in his body. He is preoccupied with it, and the way his body is perceived by those around him is important to him. Anyone who seeks to know about the drives that are aroused during the teen years is invited to observe the behavior of teens in a permissive society that does not limit their impulses and does not educate towards self-restraint. During the teen years, the young person feels the pressure from drives at work within him, pulling him in unknown directions. This is a new phenomenon for him. Sometimes it frightens him a great deal, because he is unacquainted with it and does not know how to relate to it. The forces rage within him and do not let him rest. In our sages’ words, “the fires of youth and its passions” (Malbim, Mishlei 20:14). In the wake of these “fires”, some teens lose the tranquility that they possessed before.
The Admor from Slonim, known for his “Netivot Shalom” series, put it well when he said regarding adolescence: “The main problems in education begin during the teen years when the evil impulse attacks the teen on many fronts at once. The teen’s hot blood arouses in him many problems and complications, and with his lack of experience, shadows of mountain look like real mountains to him, and his primal imagination, which abets his evil desires and lusts, only increases. In the excitement of his youth, he wants to conquer the whole world. Jealousy, lust and honor give him no rest, until he is left powerless against them.” (Netivei Chinuch Chapter 5).
This characterization of the teen years seemingly contradicts our sages’ characterization. Our sages stated that the evil impulse is born with the infant, and accompanies him starting then. The good impulse is invested in him much later, only at thirteen, the age of adulthood. Our sages accordingly expound regarding the verse, “Better a poor and wise child than an old and foolish king” (Ecclesiastes 4:13).
The “poor child” is the good impulse: “Why ‘a child’? For it attaches itself to a person only from age thirteen and on. And why is it called ‘poor’? For not everyone heeds it. And why is it called ‘wise’? Because it teaches people the proper path.”
The old and foolish king is the evil impulse: “Why a ‘king’? Because everyone listens to it. And why is it called ‘old’? Because it attaches itself to him from childhood to old age. And why is it called a fool? Because it teaches a person an evil path.” (Kohelet Rabbah 4). Avot DeRabbi Natan 16:2 teaches, “The evil impulse is thirteen years older than the good impulse. When a person reaches thirteen, his good impulse is born.”
Our sages’ approach to adolescence is optimistic. They say it is the period of time when the good impulse appears. Were our sages unfamiliar with the “hot blood of youth” and the awaking of passions? Were they unaware of the physiological changes taking place and their influence on the teen’s psyche? What is this good impulse that is invested in the teen at age thirteen? The answer is that during those years not only primal forces accumulate in a person, but also celestial forces. He attains “da’at,” i.e., the ability to think abstractly as well as the ability to make moral judgments. (Our sages said that “a minor has no da’at”, but an adult “does have da’at.”). The teen understands in a deeper manner what is evil and the meaning of evil. He also attains the ability to control himself – self-restraint, control of his evil impulse and moderation. The evil impulse of the young child, which accompanies him from birth, constitutes his surrendering to his instincts. The infant is entirely in the hands of his drives. He has no awareness but of his needs, the hunger that arouses him to demand that he be fed. This continues in various forms throughout childhood as well. With adolescence, the youth has more judgment and more of an ability to free himself of his natural drives.
In summary, during the teen years two opposite psychological processes are taking place: New, especially fierce drives are aroused, while intellectual development occurs, including various forms of self-control that enable the teen to conquer his passions. It is now that the true struggle begins within man. His evil impulse grows, but the good impulse grows as well. The youth is then equipped with all the tools he needs for this confrontation. He has the ability to show responsibility. He has resources, he has “da’at”. Therefore, at this time he becomes responsible for mitzvah observance. (to be continued…)
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