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PARASHAT TETZAVEH, ZACHOR

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From the World of Rabbi Kook
The Jewish People, whose survival in the world is a great miracle, exhibit this miracle through their very existence. By their very nature they are one people, however scattered and dispersed they may be….” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, Ad D’lo Yada, 155)

Rabbi Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “The Jews had Light and Gladness and Joy and Honor”

On the Sabbath before Purim it is a mitzvah to read “Parashat Zachor” (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) about “what Amalek did to you on your way out of Egypt.” What did they do? “When they encountered you on the way, and you were tired and exhausted, they cut off those lagging behind, and they did not fear G-d” (verse 18). Amalek wished to show that Israel is like all other nations, even those inferior to it. Amalek therefore attacked and fought us. As Rashi comments: “‘When they encountered you [Heb.: ‘karcha’] on the way’: The meaning is ‘cold’ [kar] as opposed to heat. They cooled you, moderated you to tepidness from seething heat. For all the nations were afraid of waging war against you, until they commenced, preparing the way for others. This is compared with a boiling bath into which no creature could enter. One villain came and leaped into it. Although he was scalded, he cooled it for the others.”

Amalek’s gross impudence in fighting Israel immediately after the Exodus and the splitting of the sea, when all could see that Israel are exalted over all other nations, and G-d’s special favorite, was made possible as a result of the weakness that reigned over Israel, as it says, “Amalek came and fought Israel at ‘Rephidim’” (Exodus 17:8), which our sages interpret to mean “the place where Israel grew lax [raphu yedeihem] in Torah learning.” At Rephidim, their faith and identity were weakened, and they said, “Do we have G-d in our midst or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

Israel’s victory over Amalek was made possible by Moses and Joshua who strengthened the spirit of the nation and their faith, as it says, “When Moses would lift his arm, Israel would prevail” (Exodus 17:11). Our sages ask: “Did Moses’s arms make or break the war? Rather, the point is that as long as Israel gazed upward and subjugated their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they would prevail. Otherwise, they would fall.” (Rosh Hashanah 29a). Moses, in raising his arms upward, was hinting to Israel that Amalek’s goal was to defeat Israel, and that the defeat of Israel would constitute a profanation of G-d’s name. After all, G-d’s name was given to us, Israel’s wars are G-d’s wars, and Israel is G-d’s army.

The goal of the Amalekites of the past and those who have followed in their path down through the generations until today, is to show everyone that Israel is like all the nations and can be fought and humiliated, and even annihilated, as Haman and Hitler tried to do. In our very day as well, the Arabs who seek to steal our land, and their Muslim supporters, have the same goal.

In the face of this attempt to humiliate Israel and blur our identity and our goal to bring light to the world from Eretz Yisrael, we have to place at the head of our country a leadership that recognizes the identity and specialness of the Jewish People – a leadership that will broadcast faith and trust in the righteousness of our historic and divine right to our land. It has to be a leadership that will deter our enemies not only with weaponry and a strong army, but with a profound spirit and strong faith. It has to be a leadership that will unite the nation, and that will call out with a loud, clear voice, both to our people and to the whole world, that the L-rd G-d of Israel is King, and is sovereign over all, and that He chose us from among all nations and gave us His Torah and Land. By such means may we be privileged to see with our own eyes how the tables are turned, how the Jews will have light and gladness, joy and honor.
With blessings for a joyous Purim and looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El
“I’ve Got Love” (an interview w/ Rabbi Aviner from “Olam Katan” magazine)

Question: Has anything changed in your positions since the Disengagement?

Answer: No. The Torah is true. The Land of Israel is ours. Religious Zionism is truth – it’s all true. Things have just been made harder.

Q: There is a widespread argument being made that since a moderate stance was taken in the evacuation and we did not demonstrate even the minimal resistance of a person defending his home, public support for such an agenda has increased and with it the government’s readiness to move forward.

A: The fact that the expulsion paved the way for further expulsions, G-d forbid, is clear. It’s like the parable about the boiling-hot tub cooled off by Amalek in the desert. It is the same here. They understood that it is possible to expel, and if it is possible, they are continuing. As far as the opposition shown by residents of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria, they fought for two years in every possible way. They remained until the last second, and they engaged in true self-sacrifice. They lost millions. Only in the end they did not succeed. Yet their lack of success does not mean that there was no opposition.

Q: Please allow me to ask an extreme, theoretical question in order to clarify the point: If the people at Kfar Maimon had broken through the fences and people had been killed, would it have been worth it in order to try to stop the expulsion?

A: This is a two-fold question – would use of violence have been beneficial, and is use of violence permitted? Let me begin by saying that it is forbidden – you can’t do such things by force. We have other partners in this country and we mustn’t think that we are running everything however we like and that everyone else has to accept our dictates, as though only we established this country and fought its wars. At most, we are ten percent, but above all, it is immoral to employ violence.

Q: Yet doesn’t even the minority have the moral right to demand of the majority not to trample it?

A: Just as it is wrong to force someone to marry by threatening with a gun, it is wrong to force someone by threats to guard and risk his life for parts of Eretz Yisrael. The public at large did not want to do this. This is from a moral standpoint. From a practical standpoint, we surely know the security forces prepared for violence; prepared to shoot, to come to blows. They carried out exercises on how to break bones and they prepared sharpshooter units. If you want to make a violent uprising – and I say that this is forbidden, but if you want to – you need broad support from the people. In every country where there was a resurrection, they didn’t do it with a handful of people. Rather, it was preceded by long preparation. They advertised their cause until they had gained the support of most of the nation. Hamas engaged in long preparatory work until they came to power. Also the Left did not take power in a day. Rather, they disseminated their ideas amongst the populace, and ultimately effected a revolution. If you want to rebel, you need a throng of soldiers behind you.

Q: Rabbi Aviner, excuse us. Perhaps we went to far. When someone calls for active opposition to the evacuation process, he does not mean to grab immediate control of the government. His only intent is basic, precise, human opposition to a campaign being waged at the moment. As far as the effectiveness of this opposition, seemingly the events of Amona proved that active opposition caused the government to stop other planned expulsions until the elections, and that shows that opposition was in fact a deterrent. Moreover, there is a more profound argument that by the very fact that our opposition amounted to “intellectual” opposition, as you yourself defined it, we broadcast to the public the lack of a real, natural connection to the values that we shout about so much. The public absorbed that the issue is esoteric theories for which, so to speak, we lack the willingness to fight, and for that reason support for expulsion increased after its implementation.

A: I said when we started, such things cannot be done by force. Experts who analyzed the events of the expulsion determined that this is precisely what the authorities wanted – namely, violent opposition. They wanted blood to be shed so that our public could be presented as consisting of lunatics, since in the eyes of the public, whoever uses forces loses legitimacy. The nation dwelling in Zion is far removed from all the things that we talk about. In their eyes, the army defends us, and if you conflict with the army, you lose all the points.

Q: Is there no situation in which it is legitimate to use force?

A: It’s impossible with force! All the self-sacrifice that people demonstrated throughout the years, it was all because people were in love with the Land. Hence they were willing to fight for it and to sacrifice for it. People learn in yeshivot for so many years only because they yearn to do so. The idea that with force one can turn the tide is foolish! You can’t get married by force and you can’t carry out great changes by force. In order to be true shepherds of the generation, one must be motivated by love. One must love one’s flock. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto in his Mesillat Yesharim (at the end of Chapter 19) writes that whoever is not in love with the flocks cannot be the generation’s shepherd. There’s nothing terrible in this. Not everyone has to be shepherds of the generation. Yet one must know his place. If someone wants to behave violently, he should sit on the sidelines.

Q: There are many boys and girls, and a lot of adults as well, who are not inherently violent, and they believe in long-term work such as you espouse. Yet at the same time they feel pride in what happened at Amona. So is none of them amongst the shepherds of the generation?

A: Right. They can be righteous, but not saintly shepherds of the nation.

Q: Is it possible that we are losing our healthy instincts since we are too attached to intellectual theories?

A: No, the opposite is the case. We are losing our simple emotion – that we are one nation. You are ten percent trying to have an influence. Whoever thinks he can influence through blows, of the sort one gives to a donkey, will see that he will not succeed. You, after all, learned in yeshiva. Had the rabbis there forced you to study, the next day you would have left.

Q: Yet the issue here is not long-term influence but a response to one’s being thrown out of his private home and out of part of the Land. Perhaps the message of “Love will win out” is likewise correct theoretically, but too complex and irrelevant to such situations?

A: There are two mistakes here. First, Eretz Yisrael has been “privatized”. People say, “I am being expelled from ‘my’ home.” We have to decide what we are fighting for. Are we fighting for our private homes, or for the national home? Another thing – the fact that you say, “They did absorb the message” or “they did not absorb the message” shows that you have never really spoken with people from Tel-Aviv. You have never spoken with 80% of the secular people – you have no idea what is going on in their minds. You imagine what influences them, but in actuality, it affects them the exact opposite of what you think. For that reason today, we really have to talk with them as much as possible. They think that whoever touches policemen should be wiped out.

Q: According to various polls, people think that the police exerted exaggerated force. That means that there is no absolute support for the deeds of the police.

A: Certainly force is always forbidden.

Q: Is there any situation in which force is justified?

A: No. According to countless articles written by Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, and of his father, Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, there is no place for violence.

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
“Violence”


Recently, the findings of an in-depth study ordered by the Education Ministry regarding the extent of violence in the schools were published. The findings are very worrisome. In schools there is physical and verbal violence, hooliganism, a violent atmosphere, and harassment. The study gathered data about the extent of violence and also examined the students’ feelings. Many students stated that in school they felt insecure! As far as what concerns us, it does not matter if there is a light fall in relation to years past or a moderate rise. The present is very worrisome. The question to be asked is how the school, which is an educational institution, turned into violent territory? No one suspects the school of creating the violence or of arousing it. It is clear to all that the school just facilitates it. It facilitates the encounter between the youth, and that encounter makes the violence possible. The question is why the education system does not succeed in uprooting the violence among the youth, in improving their character, in refining them, and in imbuing them with the ambition to increase goodness in the world.

The answer is that the education system consumes the rancid fruits of the absence of education in the home. In the wake of the spirit of openness of the modern and the postmodern age, our youth have been exposed to an inferior culture which consists entirely of provoking the passions – the passion for sexual sin, violence, vengefulness, jealousy and avarice. All of modern technology, with its infinite power, is enlisted towards provoking the spirits of our youth – television, Internet, film, videos, the cellular phone, etc. So much stimulation drives them crazy. Their nerves become taut like a coil and their emotions are blunted. In school, youth encounter one another, and everything bursts out like a volcano. The opposition to the inferior cultural food that our youth consume today has to come from anyone who has a bit of educational responsibility. It’s not just the problem of the greatest saints or of ascetic Nazirites, but of every good and honest person who loves goodness and integrity.

Even though the education system tries to deal with the phenomenon of youth violence by way of special educational programs, it bears part of the blame. Violence is not a phenomenon that stands on its own. It is not cut off from the whole range of values. There is a debate amongst professional people regarding whether or not the response to violence amongst youth should be to increase law enforcement and to make punishments more severe, or to increase explanations and education regarding the topic of violence. Both are wrong. Violence does not stand on its own. Its dimensions cannot be decreased without carrying out a comprehensive revolution in values. Whoever wishes to stop the violence has to deepen education towards values – good-heartedness, optimism, respect, idealism, volunteerism, self-restraint, modesty and heroism – “Who is a hero? He who conquers his passions.”Whoever is unable to evince self-restraint regarding passions having to do with his relationship with himself, is suspect that he will not overcome his negative passions in his relationship with others. As long as the education system continues to hesitate regarding the question of educating towards values, and does not liberate itself from its fear of educating towards values, it will not enjoy even one local success.

There are cultural norms that feed violence. For example: Violence is linked to the passion for competition. As Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook taught us, the root of human violence is the passion for competition, which destroys the soul. The first violent outburst on earth – Cain’s murder of Abel – is an expression of the unhealthy competition between Cain and Abel. (Rav Kook writes in “Ginzei Re’iyah” that this competition was over “faith,” i.e., over their worldview and closeness to G-d. Afterwards, however, it escalated: “Cain’s materialism-based hatred combined with his competitiveness regarding the various spiritual proclivities.”)

Therefore, the purpose of human spiritual toil is to liberate oneself from the urge to competitiveness. As our sages say, “In the World-to-Come, there is no eating or drinking… no commerce, no jealousy, no hatred or competition” (Berachot 17b). Until we achieve perfection, the Torah strives to educate man to overcome his drive towards competitiveness and to moderate it. This is one of the tasks of the Sabbatical year, which is “a year of rest from all work on the Land. Man suffices with the blessing of the land, G-d’s gift to it, and human competition ceases” (Mussar HaKodesh, page 563).

Youth breathe in the competitive atmosphere from their whole surroundings, because Western society thrives on competition and is fed by it. Everyone competes with everyone else. The Western economy is based on competition, and the education system is pulled along. The modern school is not free of internal competition. Worse, however, it educates towards competition. Every rung in the educational ladder prepares students for the competition of the next rung. In such a way, the higher the pupil climbs from class to class, the greater the level of competition, until he reaches the institutions of Higher Education, and from there he slips into the frightening competition dictated by the Western lifestyle.

It is impossible to deal with the phenomenon of violence without first dealing with its cultural roots, with the competitive drive, the norm of careerism, and without questioning a few of the cornerstones of Western culture. There is no other way but to deal bravely with some of the “hallowed” norms of Western culture.

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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