From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“G-d’s word endures forever. The holiness of the Land of Israel, and G-d’s love for it, has not changed neither will it change…all its desolation and destruction could not overcome this…It is the merciful love for an unfortunate mother, coupled with the glorious, majestic love for a royal queen”
(Erpalei Tohar 49)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
“Who is the Man Who Desires Life and Loves Each Day?”
G-d’s Torah, encompasses mankind entirely. It guides him when he is in his normal, healthy state, and also in less healthy situations, in times of weakness. The prime source of all sin and illness is speech. When a man’s speech is unhealthy, it attracts all sorts of other illnesses and corruption. Man is revealed through speech. Speech expresses his thoughts and heart. Man, with the gift of speech, utters out loud what he thinks and feels about his fellow man and about society.Through speech, the healthy, wholesome and complete person is revealed. Speech is linked to a person’s essence, to his human form, as it says, “G-d formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils a breath of life. Man thus became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7). The words “man thus became a living creature” are rendered by the Targum, “Man was given the gift of speech.” As Rashi comments, the difference between man and animal is that man has intelligence and speech.
The skin disorder described in the Torah reveals that the smitten person’s spirituality is lacking and needs rectification. In our generation, that is achieved through guarding the tongue. One hundred years ago the brilliant, saintly and beloved Chafetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen, zt”l), wrote books about guarding one’s tongue. Indeed, he got his name, “Chafetz Chaim”, from the following verses:
“Who is the man who desires life [chafetz chaim] and loves each day, that he may see good therein? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalm 34:12-14). May we all merit to fulfill these passages!
Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner– Chief Rabbi of Bet El
Is This the Redemption?
Question: I’m sick of this country! This isn’t the country we were waiting for. Even the army is no longer the “Israel Defense Forces”, but an operation based on alien ideologies that contribute nothing to the inhabitants’ security. A third of our youth dodge the draft – and not just the Haredim – and they’re right.
Answer: I don’t believe you really think that if these are killed as soldiers while those others enjoy life, that is fair. I don’t believe you really think we could survive even a moment without the army. And altogether, I don’t believe that you’ve really never heard that the redemption is meant to come gradually. Certainly you heard it, but perhaps you forgot:
“One time, Rabbi Chiya the Great and Rabbi Shimon ben Chalafta were strolling through the Arbel Valley as morning approached, and they saw the breaking of dawn. Rabbi Chiya said to Rabbi Shimon, ‘Such is Israel’s redemption. At first it is gradual, but the further it moves along, the faster it is.” (Jerusalem Talmud, at the start of Berachot)
Countless times I have passed through that area, during the seven years I lived on Kibbutz Lavi in the Lower Galilee, and now, as well, that my daughter lives there in Kfar Zeitim, near the Sea of Galilee. Were Rabbi Chiya to see all of this, he would burst with pleasure and pride at how gloriously Eretz Yisrael is being rebuilt and how plentifully it is bearing its fruits. Indeed, this is one of the points that distinguish the intelligent from the unintelligent: the understanding that there are phenomena that do not occur all at once but involve a prolonged, painful, gradual process.
To what may this be compared? To sunrise. The sun doesn’t suddenly appear out of total darkness. Rather, first comes dawn, the brightening of the east, sunrise, and at noon the sun appears in all its might.
It is the same with the start of redemption. Light and darkness intermingle. There are ups and downs, crises and setbacks, difficulties and complications.
And why is that? Would it be too hard for G-d to bring redemption all at once, instantaneously? Certainly not, but such is G-d’s will, that we should be partners in redemption, and such is the nature of people, that they are not angels but just people with weaknesses, mistakes and oversights.
Therefore, if we see problems along the way, we mustn’t despair. We mustn’t think we have erred in our direction. All the questions only prove that our country does not constitute the complete redemption but only its first flowerings. Or, more precisely, we are already at an advanced stage of our redemption process.
One might say: “I can agree to the redemption’s proceeding gradually, but not to its regressing and to our losing what we have already gained.” If so, however, my response is that G-d does not need your consent. Moreover, you’ve forgotten that the Jerusalem Talmud brings as a first example of gradual redemption, the Purim miracle, which began with Mordechai’s exposing the plot against King Achashverosh. Yet one can ask: Wasn’t that success followed by a decree to exterminate all the Jews, men, women and children?
The commentary on Sefer Charedim provides an answer to this: The “gradualness” referred to relates to the increase in light, yet it is also possible that within this process there will be times of great darkness.
You’ve also forgotten that when Moses came to redeem Israel, at first the situation deteriorated and Pharaoh hardened his decrees, as Ramban explains at the end of Shemot.
The rule is this: the redemption is not a sudden burst of light like the moon at midday, but light and darkness in coexistence. We rejoice over that light on Israel Independence Day, and we weep over that darkness on Tisha B’Av, and struggle to rectify it.
Therefore, in the Pesach Haggadah, we seek a “day that is neither day nor night”. We certainly long for a situation of total day, but we know that there is an intermediate situation of neither day nor night, and even for that we cannot possibly offer enough thanks, in comparison to the previous situation that was total darkness.
The source is the Prophets, from Zechariah 14:7: “There shall be one day which shall be known as the Lord’s, not day, and not night, but it shall come to pass that at evening time there shall be light.” It shall not be entirely like the future redemption, nor entirely trouble like the exile (Rashi, Redak).
Don’t worry. We are not stuck half-way through. “Shall I bring her there but not assist in the birth? Shall I begin to assist her but stop? – the word of G-d” (Isaiah 66:9). Rashi explains: “Shall I bring the woman to the birthing stone but not open her womb to remove her fetus? Shall I start something without being able to finish?”
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook writes [with Rav Aviner’s comments in square brackets], “In the end of days, a silent movement has arisen [the Zionist Movement, quietly working to influence hearts and minds]full of strengths and desires, full of contradictions and contrasts, full of light and darkness, and seeking to reach the shore of Jewish salvation. It represents a small light from the light of the Messiah [yet compared to the darkness of the exile, it is an enormous light].” (Orot, Yisrael U’tchiyato 20).
Is this the country we have been waiting for?
Absolutely! It’s not yet total light, but it has a lot of light, and it is getting brighter.
Rabbi Eyal Vered
The Silence of Israel Memorial Day
The siren. A uniform sound that penetrates deep in the heart. And behind the siren, a silence looms.
An entire nation stands silent, as in Aaron’s silence on the death of his sons (Leviticus 10:3).
What is this silence? What does it serve to expose?
The silence makes room. My human voice is muted, and thus I make room for other voices, voices I may never have heard.
And suddenly, when we stand there silent, the ear begins to hear new sounds, sounds we never knew, for the noise and chaos I have created blocked them off from me. It turns out that these sounds, produced by the silence, are near to me. I sense that despite the “other”ness, there is a blood connection between us. One blood courses through our veins, and that which henceforth seemed strange, distant, perhaps even alien, suddenly takes on the form of something close, like another limb, but from the same body, with the same blood flowing between us.
And as we flow more deeply into the silence, and allow it time and place, we succeed in seeing that actually, what connects us is infinitely greater than what separates us. We are all one simple fabric. Despite the differences, there is also great similarity, in our intentions, our deeds, and that we can achieve unity even in the external sphere of life.
Thus, the silence is the key to true unity, deep unity, which ponders, bleeds, and is silent, and which realizes that deep down, a single heart is beating, and one day a year succeeds in making us all stand silently, together.
Translation: R. Blumberg
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