From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook
“Love and faith are always linked to each other, both radiating within the soul in all their might. When the light from one of them is complete, the second will be aroused by the first, and will emerge from the depths of the soul to shower light on the entire person.”
(Orot HaTechiyah 69)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir
Message for Today:
“The Holiness of Time and the Holiness of Man”
The first mitzvah commanded to Israel was to establish a Jewish calendar, as it says, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you” (Exodus 12:2). It is true that time is something that cannot be touched the way a place can, yet our very existence is found within time, just as man, created in G-d’s image, is found in this world.
Time is the order of man’s life in this world. Man’s existence is linked to time and place. There are steps in time, in place and in man. It is Israel who sanctify time, as in our blessing G-d who “sanctifies Israel and time” (Festival Shemoneh Esreh). In other words, Israel uncover the divine content of time, they invest value and content in time and in man’s reality in the world, by dint of G-d’s revealing himself to them. Israel uncover man’s holiness in the world (see “Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehuda on Shemot, page 132).
Today, our generation has a great need to discover and to strengthen the holiness of time, place and man. They have to separate and distinguish between “the holy and the profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between Shabbat and the six days of work” (Havdalah).
The materialistic worldview blurs the holiness of time, space and man. This worldview leads one to think that all times are equal. The sun rises on Shabbat and festivals precisely the way it rises on weekdays. Therefore, there is not, so to speak, any difference between them. There is no Shabbat, no festival, and no intermediate days within the festivals.
The world is round. Therefore, every place on the face of the earth is equal. Seemingly there is no difference between Eretz Yisrael and the rest of the lands, between Jerusalem and the other cities in the world. This outlook leads us to concede parts of our holy land to the Arabs, G-d forbid. For people with this outlook, there is no difference between the Jewish People and other nations. Therefore, they permit themselves mix marriages and assimilation amongst the nations.
How fortunate we are that we merit to sanctify time. How fortunate we are that G-d chose us from amongst all the nations and gave us our Torah. How fortunate we are that are regaining Eretz Yisrael and Zion. “For the L-rd chose Zion. He desired it as His abode… The L-rd will not abandon His people, neither will He leave His inheritance” (Yehi Kavod). Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Shlomo Aviner– Chief Rabbi of Bet El
I’m Losing Patience
Without being such a saint, I’m a pretty easy-going guy. I’m no genius, but I’m not so dumb either. I hold fast to my opinions, and I’m pretty obsessive about that. But I don’t write off all those people who disagree with me. I don’t get angry at them. Rather, I relate to them patiently, so that pretty much makes up for my being opinionated.
When I see a Jew violate the Sabbath, I don’t throw stones at him, but I feel sad, and I say to myself, “That person doesn’t know any better.”
When I see a Jew eat non-Kosher food, it pains me, but I say to myself, “Poor fellow! He wasn’t taught.”
When I meet people who want to give up part of our country to our enemies, I shudder, but I end up saying, “They’re just confused.”
When I hear about a juvenile delinquent caught up in petty crimes and foolishness, it hurts me deeply, and I am filled with compassion for him.
Faced with all sorts of improper, inappropriate, immodest, immoral acts, I react with patience. I say to myself, “I believe in G-d. He won’t abandon His people. Everything will work out.”
But there are extremists, the likes of which make me lose patience when I see them. When I hear someone shout, “Death to the Arabs!” I shudder. I remember the Storm Troopers’ song, “When Jewish blood squirts from the knife, then will we have it so.”
The fellow who yells, “Death to the Arabs” always sugarcoats those words in a layer of fine verbiage taken from our treasury of holiness and nationalism. I remember that all that aggressiveness that hurts people and makes one forget what man is, starts with talk. When I hear an extremist call his Jewish brother, a traitor, an anti-Semite, a Nazi, etc., my patience runs out.
From my youth I recall Ionesco’s stage play “Rhinoceros”, which describes how moderate, friendly, intellectual, logical people can, without noticing it, turn into wild monsters who try to persuade their fellow man, by all sorts of argumentation, that they are right. Those same brutes, closed up in their frozen world with their distorted approach, who never ever listen to anyone else, are unaware that they have turned into primitive crazies, busy trampling people.
Yes, be careful, man. I don’t know if you come from the wild, but for sure you’ve still got a bestial spirit, and you are liable to become a wild animal. Don’t fall asleep on the watch.
Certainly, during wartime we’ve got to protect ourselves, but let us not forget that our enemies are still people. Let us recall that when Jacob was preparing for war with his brother, he “feared lest he be killed, but was troubled lest he be compelled to kill others” (Rashi on Genesis 32:8). Let us recall Abraham, who returned from battle and was afraid because of the people he had killed (Rashi on Genesis 15:1).
Yes, in war we kill, because “if someone is coming to kill you, you should kill him first.” We have no choice. But one should not nurture a culture of murder, even by allusion. One should not speak lightly about death to the Arabs. One should not arouse the nations’ hatred.
Our master Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, wrote that every Jewishly healthy person, even a child, knows that despite the terrible things that the nations did to us, we never nurtured our hatred for them (LeNetivot Yisrael 1:17). Also, one must not talk of hatred for the nations in the name of the Torah, and certainly we mustn’t talk of hatred for our fellow Jew. The Torah was compared to water, and Israel in their elevated moments were compared to the stars, and in their lowly moments were compared to sand. Sand and water mixed together makes for a swampy morass.
Therefore, I am losing patience, because when that type of extremist gets going, it really hurts. They don’t let their fellow man live in peace, but turn the world into a powder keg.
Consider yourselves warned.
Rabbi Yaakov Filber
Even though the redemption from Egypt was miraculous, G-d was careful to ensure that it involved human activity as well. G-d could have taken the Jews out of Egypt without man’s having to do anything, as happened when Israel were faced with an attack by the Assyrians. As it says, “An angel of the L-rd went forth and smote the Assyrian camp, killing 185,000” (II Kings 19:35). II Chronicles 32:21 adds, “The L-rd sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty men of valor, and the leaders and captains, in the camp of the King of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land.”
All the same, the leader remains an important component in the redemption process. In our own day, one of the most pressing problems is the lack of leadership, such that the Jewish People right now are really like a flock without any leader.
Moses was an example of the perfect Jewish leader. When the Torah describes Pharaoh’s daughter finding Moses in the bulrushes, it calls Moses a “na’ar”, literally a “lad” (Exodus 2:6). The word na’ar is composed of three Hebrew letters, nun, ayin and resh. Our sages say the word “na’ar” here is a mnemonic for three qualities possessed by Moses. Moses had integrity [Hebrew “ne’eman”, starting with a nun); “humble” [“anav”, starting with an ayin]; and a shepherd [“ro’eh”, starting with a resh].
An “anav” is a person who doesn’t think about himself, but negates himself before others. We see Moses’s humility already at the start of his path, as a prince living in Pharaoh’s palace, enjoying all the luxuries of life. Despite these circumstances, he gave up his status and went out to his brothers, not as a tourist looking in from the side at what was happening, but as someone who was there to lend a hand to his persecuted brethren to the point of being ready to endanger his own life. In the end, he was forced to flee from Egypt, and to seek out a foreign, distant land.
By the same token, Moses had integrity. A leader’s integrity does not stop at his being cautious not to throw around promises he cannot keep, lest he say one thing today and do the opposite tomorrow. It does not stop with his claiming that what he sees from the position of leader cannot be seen by those not in that position. A leader’s integrity also includes his not trampling those who stand in his path, impeding his personal advancement. We see Moses’s integrity when he refuses to accept the leadership role at the expense of his brother Aaron. As the Midrash explains:
“Do you think that what held Moses back was that he was afraid of being leader? That is not the case. Rather, he was showing honor to Aaron. Moses said, ‘Before I came along, my brother Aaron was the prophet ruling the Israelites in Egypt for eighty years. Shall I now impinge on his territory as competition?’ That is why he did not wish to accept the position.” (Tanchuma Shemot 27).
Moses demonstrates still another type of integrity when G-d suggests that He destroy the Jewish People and make Moses into a great nation instead of them. By this, G-d actually wished to have Moses replace Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and to start from Moses in establishing a new nation, with Moses as its father. Yet Moses rejected this offer and entreated G-d, “Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Your servants” (Exodus 32:13). He was ready to forego his share in the World-to-Come for Israel’s sake, as in his request of G-d, “Blot me out of Your book” (32:32), G-d’s “book” being Eternity.
As for the trait of the true shepherd, G-d saw this in Moses when he was shepherding and a kid fled from him. Moses pursued the kid and found it drinking. Moses said, “I didn’t realize that you ran away because you were thirsty and tired.” Moses put it on his shoulders. G-d then said, “You possess the mercy to rule over the flocks of mortal man. I swear that you shall rule over My own flocks, Israel.” (Shemot Rabbah 2).
In the Talmud (Berachot 28a), Rabbi Yehoshua says to Rabban Gamliel, “Woe to the generation of which you are its leader, woe to the ship of which you are its captain! Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook explains in his book “Ein Aya” the difference between a leader [Hebrew “parnas”] and a captain [“kabernit”]. A parnas is responsible to listen to the problems of individuals and to satisfy their needs. The word “parnas” is related to “parnasah”, connoting the personal needs of every individual. By contrast, the ship captain does not get down into the details. He worries about the ship’s general welfare. He must bring it from its point of origin to its destination. He needn’t be aware of the personal needs of each and every passenger.
Rav Kook explains that the true leader of the Jewish People is one who knows how to synthesize these two types of leadership. He must both worry about the needs and concerns of the individual and also must know how to forge a general leadership policy that will provide solutions for the general needs of the entire population.
Moses had both of these talents. It thus says, “Moses went out to his brethren and he saw their suffering” (Exodus 2:11). According to the Midrash, Moses experienced two types of seeing here, that of the parnas and that of the kabernit. The Midrash teaches (Vayikra Rabbah 37):
“Moses saw large people carrying small burdens and small people carrying large burdens, men carrying women’s burdens and women carrying men’s, the elderly carrying burdens suited to the young and the young carrying burdens suited to the elderly. He went around switching their burdens.”
This was Moses filling the role of the “parnas,” dealing with the needs of the individual. At the same time, he also concerned himself with the needs of the people as a whole:
“He saw that the people had no rest, and he said to Pharaoh, ‘If someone has a slave and that slave does not rest one day a week, he will die. If you do not let your slaves rest one day a week, they will die too.’ Pharaoh responded, ‘Go arrange things for them as you say.’ Moses went and established the Sabbath day for them to rest.”
Translation: R. Blumberg
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