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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Faith is pure when it is full of inner emotion without self-deception, and without alien intrusions…All the same, whoever is graced with intelligence cannot function without intellectual logic. For him, innocent faith cannot surface unless it is forged with the light of knowledge”
(Midot HaRe’iyah)

Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:
“Your Right Hand Crushes the Foe”

When Jacob was about to die, he wished to reveal to his sons what would happen to them in the end of days, as it says, “Jacob called to his sons and he said, ‘Gather together and I will tell you what will happen to you in the end of days’” (Genesis 49:1). Indeed, Jacob did wish to reveal the end of days to his sons, but the Divine Presence removed itself from him (Rashi, ibid.).

By contrast, the wicked prophet Bilam – not to mention him in the same breath with Jacob – succeeded in revealing to us what would happen to Israel in the end of days: “A star shall go forth from Jacob, and a staff shall arise in Israel, crushing all of Moab’s princes, and dominating all of Seth’s descendants” (Numbers 24:17). When Jacob saw that the divine presence had removed itself from him he feared that one of his children had ceased his attachment to G-d. After all, Ishmael had emerged from Abraham and Esau from Isaac. Yet his sons answered him, “Hear O Israel, Hashem is our G-d. Hashem is one! Just as in your heart there is only One, so in our hearts there is only One.” That moment Jacob responded, “Blessed is the name of G-d’s glorious Kingdom forever and ever.” (see Pesachim 56a). Jacob’s sons, in undertaking the yoke of G-d’s sovereignty before their father, were proclaiming: Father, Israel! Do not worry! We believe that Hashem, the G-d of Israel is King, and His sovereignty is over all, in all times and places. Your revealing the end of days to us can neither add to nor weaken our faith in the One G-d.

Yet the nations of the world, and the haters of Israel amongst them, such as Bilaam and Balak, have to realize that in the end of days we will crush and undermine them when they come to attack us (see Numbers 24:17).

Today, we are experiencing the revealed end of days, with the ingathering of the exiles and the establishment of the State of Israel. It is no longer enough to undertake the yoke of G-d’s Kingdom and to pray that He remove the threat from our enemies who are rising up to destroy us. Our enemies may be likened to a boxer with both a strong left and right punch. With the left hand, the Arab marauders of our land hit us with a war of attrition involving relentless terror. Simultaneously, the surrounding Arab countries are like the right hand preparing the knock-out punch, G-d forbid, in the form of atomic, gas and chemical weapons of mass destruction, and everything else imaginable.

The call of the hour is to awaken from our slumber, to unite and to prepare the people and the army to fight back forcefully, in order to deter the cruel enemy. It is not enough to have a strong army. In order to win, we also need a strong spirit and great faith in our identity, destiny and future, a spirit that can unite the nation. Jacob’s call, “Gather together,” has to stand before our eyes.

By such means we will see with our own eyes the fulfillment of the end of days (Rashi, Pesachim 50), when G-d’s right hand will strike our enemies, and the words of Exodus 15:6 will be fulfilled: “Your right hand, O G-d, is awesome in power; Your right hand, O G-d, crushes the foe.” Shabbat Shalom!

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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner– Chief Rabbi of Bet El
“My Soul Thirsts for You”
Question: I have been through some rough times in my life. My father died when I was a child, as did my older sister, and we led lives of poverty and wandering, coupled with health problems. The suffering wore me down, but I wasn’t afraid of trials. Quite the contrary, thanks to them I put aside all sorts of frivolity that young girls normally are involved with.
I was pursued and oppressed, but most of my tribulations strengthened me and my faith, and made me self-reliant.
Now I’ve got an important post involving my taking charge over many people and networks, but precisely that bothers me. I don’t identify with that world so taken up with material gain and possessions – the kingdom of wealth.
I love simplicity. For many years I have volunteered in hospitals, seeing the wretched side of mankind up close. I love people and I love G-d even more, and I fear that that brutal world in which I find myself will stop me from attaching myself to G-d, my great love. I even tend towards abstinence and have been an ascetic since youth, and that suits me fine. Perhaps you can provide me with a short list of tips to help me maintain my balance, a page that I could peruse daily, or perhaps some Torah thoughts that I could read over every time I feel a thirst for G-d?
Answer: Below I have presented some chapter headings. The chapters you will have to fill in yourself. As our master Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook said, everyone should write an ethical tract for himself, consisting both of what he has learned from others and of novel thoughts he has come up with himself (see the start of Mussar Avicha).
1. Belief in Hashem, the Almighty G-d [Kel Sha-dai]. The Master-of-the-Universe is enough [dai]. He all man needs. Then, nothing can frighten you, for everything is transient, and only G-d doesn’t change. Then, patiently, you will achieve everything you want, and out of your faith in G-d you will lack for naught, for G-d, alone, will suffice.
2. Abstinence. Abstain from all sorts of nonessential items. Don’t pay so much attention to Creation, but to the Creator. And in order to draw near to G-d, shed yourself of the physical. Suffice with little in worldly matters.
3. Acts of Charity and Kindness. Loving your fellow man, pure love, not out of a desire for any kind of profit, but for the sake of G-d, and out of one’s love for mankind. And if, in exchange for this, your fellow man repays you evil for good, don’t be perturbed, but accept suffering with love.
4. Good Character. A constant effort to fulfill every task for G-d, even if it is hard. All of life is a march towards clinging to G-d. One should subscribe to the path of good character, and not make any allowance for oneself.
5. Your Inner World. Despite all your activities and positions, you must not lose out on your inner world. Set aside time for solitary reflection, for deep, heartfelt prayer, taking stock of yourself and longing for G-d. Man is what happens inside his soul, within that secret universe that whispers: “Rejoice, O my soul!”
6. Song of Songs. Preserve and increase the pure flame by reciting Song of Songs at appropriate intervals, for it is holy of holies.

Yehuda HaKohen

With Vayechi, we complete the Book of Bereishit. In this parsha, we witness Yaakov Avinu blessing his sons for the final time before his eternal rest. “All these are the tribes of Israel – twelve – and this is what their father spoke to them and he blessed them; he blessed each according to his appropriate blessing.” (Bereishit 49:28)
The Abarbanel teaches us that Yaakov bestowed a blessing on each of his sons, according to each one’s particular role in the task of the Israeli Nation as a collective. Yaakov blessed his sons individually, each in line with his own
specific character and ability, so they would be directed toward the path for which G-D had suited them. Yaakov’s blessing makes it clear that each of the tribes has its own unique role as part of the larger national mission. Far from breeding disunity, however, the separate tribal callings bring us together. The tribes are likened to spokes of a wheel – though the spokes point in different directions, they are all part of the same wheel and essential to its proper function.

The sons of Israel all had different roles to play in the Nation of Israel. While Yehuda was destined for royalty, Levi the priesthood, Yisachar scholarship, Zevulun commerce, etc., all twelve would contribute their talents and unique abilities to serving HaShem and sanctifying His Name in the world. We learn “there are 70 faces to the Torah”. There are numerous ways of understanding G-D’s Truth. While this concept is both true and important to recognize, it is unfortunately sometimes misunderstood.
The various faces of Torah are only legitimate so long as they fit into the framework of G-D’s absolute Truth. An interpretation cannot be considered a valid understanding of G-D’s Law if it contradicts the Torah itself. There is one Truth, not 70. At the same time, however, this one Divine Truth can be viewed from different angles. It can be related to and understood in various ways so long as they are all in line with its Oneness.
The different faces of Torah are the various ways of contributing to the objective goal of Am Yisrael. The Nation of Israel is like one body with One common purpose – to bring Divine light into the world, reveal G-d’s Kingship to all of Creation, and uplift existence to its ultimate potential. In order for the Nation to achieve this lofty mission, it first and foremost must be a living, breathing Nation in its Land with all facets of nationhood. It must encompass scholars, police, soldiers, doctors, farmers, lawyers, pilots, politicians, firefighters, and sanitation workers, all serving HaShem and working in unison to build His Kingdom here on Earth. A holy Nation, where even the taxi and bus drivers drive with the intention of serving HaShem. This is what is meant by “70 faces of Torah”.
Am Yisrael must function as One body. While Torah scholars must be the heart of that body and work to lead and direct it, each part of the body is essential to its healthy function. Therefore, we must understand that the G-D of Israel created us differently with our own unique tasks in this world. Whatever our individual talents might be, we must always direct them toward achieving our national aspirations in the service of HaShem. Only this way, as a Kingdom of Priests and holy Nation, can we hope to fulfill our roles in this
world, both as individuals and as a holy collective. Shabbat Shalom.

Translation: R. Blumberg

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