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PARASHAT MISHPATIM

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Correction:
Rav Elisha Aviner’s reference last week to girls at Amona suffering “pegia bitzni’utan” and translated as “sexual abuse”, should have been translated as “a blow to their modesty.” (Translator: R. Blumberg)



From the World of Rabbi Kook
“Just as a person must adapt himself to the physical forces of nature, training his steps and deeds in accordance with the general laws that rule the universe… all the more so must he adapt himself to the spiritual laws of nature, which have even greater ascendancy over reality.”


Rabbi Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “Do not Make a Treaty With Them…it Will be a Fatal Trap”


While we were yet in the desert, G-d informed Israel about the process of conquering the Land, where would be the borders and how we must conduct ourselves and relate to the nations dwelling in the Land: “I will drive the inhabitants out little by little, giving you a chance to increase and fully occupy the land” (Exodus 23:30). We would not conquer the Land all at once, but gradually, until we had a chance to increase from a people of 600,000 to one of millions. Indeed, from the time of Joshua until the completed conquest of the land, in the days of King David and King Solomon, hundreds of years would pass.

What will the Land’s boundaries be? “I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Philistine Sea, from the desert to the river” (verse 23:31).

As far as our relationship to the Canaanites dwelling in the Land, G-d commanded us: “I will give the Land’s inhabitants into your hand, and you will drive them before you” (ibid.). Until they are conquered, Scripture states: “Do not make a treaty with these nations or with their gods. Do not allow them to reside in your land, since they may then make you sin to Me… it will be a fatal trap for you” (Exodus 23:32-33).

Today, the conquest and settling of the Land in our generation resembles the very same processes in the past. G-d is “driving the inhabitants out little by little.” Israel’s redemption in our generation is occurring gradually. Over a hundred years ago, when the process of national rebirth began, there were tens of thousands of Jews in the Land. When the State was established, there were about 600,000 (like the number that left Egypt). Today, we are privileged to be approaching six millions Jews in our country. We are the living fulfillment of, “Giving you a chance to increase and fully occupy the land.” True, the increase in the number of Arabs is worrisome (the “demographic problem”), yet it can be dealt with in two ways: 1) by way of great natural increase. This will occur, with G-d’s help, when the nation returns to Jewish tradition, as was promised by Ezekiel 36: “I will sprinkle pure water on you…” As is well-known, traditional Jewish families have many children. It can also happen by way of massive aliyah of the remnants of the Dispora, as in our Shemoneh Esreh prayer, “Gather us together speedily from the four corners of the earth.” 2) It can also be dealt with by the possibility of the Arabs fleeing from the Land, as they did during the War of Independence and the Six Day War. Through them was fulfilled, “Through their very plots, He rose above them” (Exodus 18:11). The Egyptians imagined destroying us through water, yet they themselves were destroyed in water (see Rashi, ibid.).

Nowadays as well, the Arabs, robbers of our land, would like to destroy us, and they proclaim their ambition before the entire world. What occurred in the past is what will occur now. With G-d’s help, “everything will be overturned.” G-d promised us the Land with its borders, which are to be the permanent borders of the State of Israel. True, we have not yet achieved those borders, yet we were already not far from achieving them when the Arabs forced a war upon us and we were 100 kilometers from Cairo, and we also reached Beirut.

Unfortunately, the Arabs continue to fight us with the goal of liquidating the State of Israel – it will never happen. Quite the contrary, with G-d’s help, the result will be that we will achieve the permanent Biblical borders even against our will. As for the permanent borders spoken about by Acting Prime Minister Olmert, they are, as the late Abba Eban called them, “Auschwitz Borders.” Such talk as Mr. Olmert’s is politically unwise. It is interpreted by our enemies as capitulation to terror. Moreover, such talk pulls the rug out from under the just, moral claim that Eretz Yisrael belongs exclusively to the Jewish People. Through his words, he weakens the nation and its unity, exalts the spirit of our enemies, and provides justification for the terror they carry out against us.

Today, the State of Israel need a leader who will unite the nation, strengthen its spirit and its faith, restore to it erect stature and defend Eretz Yisrael. We need a moral leader with values, who is strong in his faith, in his recognition of what is the Jewish People, what is their identity, what is their historic purpose. We need a leader who understands that our war over our existence in the length and breadth of our land is not just our war but the war of the sons of light against the sons of darkness, against the axis of evil. He must understand and recognize that treaties and agreements with our enemies only weaken us, just as the wretched Oslo Accords brought us much death and suffering, strengthening those who would steal our land from us. As our parashah states, ““Do not make a treaty with them…It will be a fatal trap for you.”

Shabbat Shalom!


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 AvinerEducation Corner
“After Amona: An Educational Perspective” (Part 2)


Amongst the opinions being voiced recently, one that stands out is the voice of youth seeking to take charge of the struggle over Eretz Yisrael. Our youth argue that the adults have already tired and they lack the fire and determination that they possessed in the past. Therefore, they say, the time has come for the youth to inherit their place in leading the struggle, by raising up the banner of ideology and idealism. This demand has also found support in various arguments that have recently been published.

Without a doubt, this consideration derives from the fact that adults are absent from the arena of the struggle, and only youths are present there en masse. That’s how it was at Gush Katif and in Northern Samaria, and that’s how it was at Amona. Therefore, amongst youth there is a feeling that the adults are tired from long, crushing years of struggle, and they are vacating their spot to those younger than them in age and in spirit. The demand of youth to inherit the leadership includes within it veiled, but harsh, criticism: Where are the adults?! Without a doubt, this constitutes a severe failure in education and guidance: Adults call upon the youth to enlist in harsh public struggles, but they themselves are not there. The problem is twofold:

1) A person should practice what he preaches. One should not demand that others do what he, himself does not do. One shouldn’t send the youth to fulfill national missions if one does not intend to participate in them himself. In the present situation, the educational message being broadcast is very bad: The adults send off the youths to “do the dirty work.”

2) Our public struggles are becoming more and more complex and complicated. It is forbidden to abandon our youth to face such situations on their own. Our youth are exposed to exceedingly difficult situations, and they need to be accompanied educationally and emotionally lest they return from the struggle battered in spirit. (I won’t be saying anything new if I quote the many educators and professionals who place in doubt the ability of young boys and girls, age twelve or thirteen, to bear the emotional toll of experiences such as they underwent at Amona. Such experiences damage the psyche. The wound is deeper amongst those younger, because their spirits are soft and gentle. We have to take into account that the deeper the wound, the less chance of recuperating.

Regarding the demand by youth for the leadership over the struggle to be placed in their hands, our youth accuse the adults of weakness, capitulation, hesitancy and appeasement. Indeed, our youth are full of positive fervor, strength and fortitude, and strong faith. This is the marvelous ray of light illuminating our dark horizon. This is our consolation and our hope: In both the near and distant future, there is someone who will raise up the torch of faith. There is someone who will continue to arouse the love for the land of our delight and to cling to the clods of our soil. We remain certain that our youth are destined to lead the struggle over the faith of Israel and the Land of Israel.

Yet for this to happen, fervor, determination and fortitude are not enough. Our sages (Megillah 31b, Nedarim 40a) quote an instruction-admonition in the name of the Mishnaic Sage Rabbi Shimon ben Eliezer: “If the old counsel you to tear down and the young counsel you to build, you should tear down and not build, because the tearing down of the old is building, while the building of the young is tearing down. Look what happened to King Solomon’s son Rechavam.”

The source of this instruction is the Tosefta (Avoda Zara 1:19), where an important clarification is added: “If children tell you to build the Temple, don’t heed them. If the old tell you to destroy the Temple, heed them…” Even regarding building the Temple, we mustn’t heed children! How can that be?! Do our sages treat “children” so lightly? The answer is that our sages knew full well the fine traits and virtues of the young, but they wished to emphasize that the experience amassed by the old over the course of their lives has great value. Another advantage of the old is their broad perspective, which enables them to gaze at reality from a complex point of view. When the reality itself is complex, gazing at it one-dimensionally hides part of the fuller picture and leads to mistaken conclusions.

Scripture (I Kings 12) relates that King Solomon’s son Rechavam did not heed the advice he received from his older advisors, recommending that he lighten the people’s burden. Rather, he accepted the advice of the younger men who recommended that he increase the people’s burden. He heeded that advice, the people rebelled, and the kingdom was split. The text stresses that Rechavam abandoned “the counsel of the old men” (verse 8) and followed the advice “the young men who had grown up with him” (ibid.). We see here that Rechavam was influenced by the age of his advisors when he sought to decide which advice to follow. He placed his trust in the young. Moreover, the advice of the old men was conciliatory, unlike the strident advice of the younger men. Rechavam feared that the advice of the old men derived from weakness and from fear of the nation, from their being too weary to confront the people. Therefore, he preferred “the counsel of the young men,” which radiated strength, fortitude and firmness towards the people. Yet this advice led to his downfall. Not only was his position not strengthened, but he lost half of his kingdom. Had he heeded the counsel of the old men he probably would have conquered the hearts of the people and strengthened his standing.

The recipe for success is a combination of “the counsel of the old men” and the fervor of the youth. We have to carry on an open dialogue between the old and the young in order to combine together the virtues of the two groups. “He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 3:24).

Parenthetically I must issue a warning regarding a serious phenomenon. There are youths who have become arrogant after receiving so many compliments. They think they have permission to cast scorn, to slander and defame whoever thinks or acts differently than they do on behalf of Eretz Yisrael. Those youths, whose tangible contribution to Eretz Yisrael has not yet been proven, come for a number of days of activities and then they leave, and they arrogantly fling verbal attacks on anyone who holds a view different from theirs. Of this it says, “Might and humility belong to the Everlasting One.” Might is an important trait, but this trait does not come alone, but together with humility. Our future leadership will arise only where these two traits meet. Humility alone is not enough, and neither is might. Only the two together!

Catch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at www.israelnntv.com (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir).

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