Support Torah Outreach at Machon Meir! Tax-deductible gifts- in USA: payable to: “American Friends of Machon Meir” In Israel: payable to: “Machon Meir” send to: Machon Meir 2 HaMeiri Ave. Jerusalem 91340, Israel We are experiencing technical difficulties with the delivery to our email list of recipients of Parashat Shavua. Hopefully the problem will be resolved in the next few weeks. We apologize for the inconvenience. From the World of Rabbi Kook “On this holy festival, the time of our freedom, the beacon of freedom will shine forth in its very purity, distinguishing between slavery and freedom, between pure freedom which is the freedom of truth, and false freedom which bears the deep imprint of slavery.” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah 164) “Learn Torah at home with the Machon Meir English Dept. Video classes now available on our website: www.machonmeir.org.il/english/ !” Catch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at www.israelnntv.com (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir). Rabbi Dov Begon – Founder and Head of Machon Meir Message for Today: “When Israel Performs G-d’s Will, Left Becomes Right” It says in the “Shira”, the song sung by Moses at the splitting of the sea, “Your right Hand, O G-d is awesome in power; Your right Hand, O G-d crushes the foe” (Exodus 15:6). Rashi comments: “The expression ‘right hand’ is mentioned twice. When Israel perform G-d’s will, left becomes right.” As is well-known, right and left serve to symbolize the concepts of G-d’s kindness and strict justice. When Israel performs G-d’s will, they merit to see how within the very trait of strict justice is hidden the trait of kindness. At the splitting of the sea, G-d’s strict justice was transformed to kindness, that is, left was transformed to right. The Jewish People merited “the revelation of the sparkling primal light of the World of Divine Unity, where all is one and no evil abounds” (Rav Kook, Orot HaTeshuvah 12:5) Also regarding the mitzvah of listening to the voice of the Great Rabbinical Court and not rebelling against its words, it says, “You must keep the Torah as they interpret it for you, and follow the laws that they legislate for you. Do not stray to the right or left from the word that they declare to you” (Deuteronomy 17:11). Rashi comments, “Even if they say to you that right is left or that left is right, but certainly if they tell you that right is right and that left is left.” In other words, if the sages tell you that what seems to you to be divine kindness is really strict justice, and what seems to you to be strict justice is really kindness, you must heed them, for their perceptions and vision are profound, penetrating further than a superficial glance bereft of wisdom and understanding. Today, just as Moses and the Israelites sang Shira at the Sea with enormous joy, so too in our own generation we must sing the Shira on the Seventh Night of Pesach, and every day as well within the morning psalms, with great joy. As our sages ruled, “In every generation, a Jew has to view himself as though he left Egypt.” It is true that we see how the community in Israel is splitting into right and left, yet all of that is on a superficial level, viewed from the outside. Whoever takes a deeper look to understand the entire marvelous process of the generation of rebirth, of the ingathering of the exiles, and the beginning of the raising of Israel’s stature in their land, can understand that when “left” seemingly has the upper hand, i.e., when strict justice holds sway and G-d’s countenance is concealed, within these very traits, and from their very midst emerges “right”, kindness and goodness to Israel and to the entire world. How fortunate we are and how good our lot that we are privileged to see the beginning of the fulfillment of the Shira, which states, “O bring them and plant them On the mount You possess. The place You dwell in Is Your accomplishment, God. The shrine of God Your Hands have founded. G-d will reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:17-18). Rashi comments, “The Temple will be built with two hands. And when will that occur? When G-d reigns forever and ever – in the future when all sovereignty is his. With blessings for a joyous, kosher Pesach, and looking forward to complete salvation, 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 Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El “A Bizarre Suggestion” Question: Perhaps we have no choice but to suggest by ourselves a territorial compromise. Otherwise we stand to lose everything – the people and the Land. We are progressively forfeiting our unity with the Jewish People. Thus, for example, at the Kfar Maimon demonstration, you couldn’t find one person there without a yarmulke. So we must concede parts of Eretz Yisrael in order not to forfeit other parts – even if morally we are right in wanting to keep it all. Moreover, we are also losing out on the sovereignty and settlement of the Land. In order that all of Judea and Samaria should not be lost, we must present a political program of compromise, a concessions map. We mustn’t struggle against the government. Rather, we must start a dialogue with it. In a word, better to lose half of Judea and Samaria than to lose it all. Answer: No! This is the foundation of faith – not to do what you suggest. There is a story about Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, author of the High Holiday “U’Netane Tokef” prayer. The king pressured him unceasingly to convert, until in order to push him off, he told him that he would think about it. Yet he immediately understood what a terrible thing he had done, and he repented fully. It is true that researchers say that associating this story with the great and holy Rabbi Amnon is a mistake, but the principle is correct. There is much suffering in life, and with G-d’s help we will overcome it. Yet as far as agreeing of our own free will to the destruction of our people, Torah and Land, G-d forbid! If someone plots to steal your wife, would you enter into a dialogue with him with the aim of letting him have her half of the week so that you don’t lose her entirely?! Rambam taught: “If women were told by the gentiles, ‘Let us have one of you for sexual sin; otherwise we will have you all,’ the whole group must submit rather than handing over a single Jewish woman. Likewise, if the gentiles said, ‘Give us one of you for us to kill; otherwise we will kill you all… they must all submit to death rather than hand over a single Jew.” (Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 5:5) Why is this the law? If the gentiles take all of them by force, it is true that this is a terrible tragedy, but our hands remain clean. If, however, we hand over even one, we are criminals, and that is infinitely more grave. In the first settlement attempt by the core group of Elon Moreh in Samaria during the mid 1970’s, our leaders were ready to accept a compromise and to move the settlement to the nearby army base, but our master Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda refused, saying, “Is this Eretz Yisrael or isn’t it?!” As a result, we didn’t get anything. Several of Gush Emunim’s leaders said, “Rav Tzvi Yehuda lacks political flexibility. Next time we won’t take him along.” Yet our master was right. This struggle breathed great spirit into the movement, as a result of which a quarter of a million Jews ultimately settled in Judea and Samaria. True, he lost the battle at that time, but he won the war, because the spirit was lofty. It’s true that in business we concede a bit in order to earn a lot, and the same in checkers or chess. Here, however, we’re not talking about business or games. We’re talking about life itself. In spiritual matters, one doesn’t do business. How did Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook put it? “Giant heroes have ceased, and been replaced by a plethora of cowardly do-nothings, wallowing in the mud of small ideas, engaged in the material and spiritual horse-trading” (Orot 114). Therefore, in response to your whole bizarre suggestion I must say: “It turns wise men backward and renders them foolish” (Isaiah 44:25). Such a suggestion is based on sorrow and despair. No! We are not in despair. We are full of fortitude and might and full of hope for the future, despite all the difficulties. There always were difficulties, and we always overcame them. If not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow. We shall struggle and we shall convince our people. Regarding the Same Issue: Don’t throw stones at the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council. We have to protest vociferously against the various slanders being leveled against the Yesha Council. They are nothing but lies and first-degree libel, and they reflect terrible ingratitude against people who have sacrificed themselves for Eretz Yisrael and are still toiling to their utmost on its behalf. There is always room for suggestions, criticism, requests and demands, but all such things must be leveled out of friendship and respect, love and admiration. We, after all, are all brothers. How good it is when brothers dwell together! Let us unite together, let us achieve conciliation, and let us be filled with strength and hope. By such means we will reach the gates of light. Rabbi Elisha Aviner – Education Corner “Sons and Slaves” Pesach is bounded by two special days of celebration, one at the start of the holiday and the other at the end. These two special days mark the two focuses of the holiday, corresponding to two great events in our nation’s history: the exodus and the splitting of the sea. Many have asked: Which is the climax, the first day or the last? Do we climb higher and higher over the course of the holiday, or are we slowly descending from the pinnacle of the night, down to the last? The Chassidic masters responded that the direction of the holiday is one of ascent – from the level of slaves to the level of sons, from “slaves of G-d” to “sons of G-d”. Slaves and sons are the two titles by which the Jewish People are called, as we say in the High Holiday prayer, “HaYom Harat Olam”: “Sometimes You relate to us as sons, and sometimes as slaves.” When did Israel merit these two titles? When did we become slaves of G-d, and when did we become sons of G-d? Let us begin with the expression “slave of G-d.” We became slaves of G-d at the Exodus. There, G-d redeemed us from Egyptian slavery. He purchased us, as it says, “Is He not your father, your Master [kanecha]?” (Deuteronomy 32:6). Rashi and Rashbam interpret “kanecha” as connoting a “kinyan,” a purchase. Rashbam adds, “‘Kanecha’ is short for ‘kana ot’cha’ – ‘He purchased you’. G-d purchased us out of the house of boundage.” It likewise says in Parashat Behar (Leviticus 25:55): “All this is because the Israelites are My slaves. They are My slaves because I brought them out of Egypt.” An allusion to this can be found in Megillah 14a in a discussion of the recitation of Hallel. In one of its explanations the Talmud states that the reason we do not recite Hallel on Purim is that in Hallel it says, “Praise G-d, O you slaves of G-d,” from which our sages deduce, “We praise G-d because we are slaves of G-d, not Pharaoh… With Purim, however, the Jews remained slaves of Achashverosh.” Only someone who is a slave of G-d is eligible to praise G-d, but slaves of Pharaoh or of Achashverosh cannot. Therefore, on Pesach we recite Hallel, but not on Purim, because even after the miracle of our rescue, we remained Achashverosh’s slaves. We thus derive that when the Jewish People are slaves to the nations, they are not privileged to be called “slaves of G-d”. That is how it was with the enslavement in Egypt as well. Once Israel were freed from Egyptian bondage, they merited the level of slaves of G-d. And when did we become G-d’s sons? On the seventh day of Pesach. At the splitting of the sea we advanced, ascending to the level of sons, as is hinted at in the evening blessings of the Shema, in which we praise G-d who “made His children pass between the divided parts of the Sea of Reeds… His children beheld His might, and they gave praise and thanks to His name.” What connection is there between the miracle of the splitting of the sea and the title of “sons of G-d”? The Chassidic masters answer that for the purpose of saving Israel, the miracle of the splitting of the sea was entirely superfluous. G-d could have saved Israel from the pursuing Egyptians by stopping or waylaying the Egyptians along the way. If the splitting of the sea was not essential to Israel’s rescue, whey did it happen? The answer is that the miracle serves to express G-d’s love for the Jewish People, the love of a father for his sons. The Midrash states that until the splitting of the sea no one on earth had ever sung G-d’s praises, until Moses, Miriam and the Israelites did so, reciting Az Yashir, the song praising G-d for splitting the sea. The Midrash enumerates all the miracles that occurred to our ancestors, starting with Abraham’s salvation from the fiery furnace, and it notes that our ancestors did not sing G-d’s praises until Israel recited it at the Sea of Reeds. The Sochotchover Rebbe comments that all the previous miracles did not arouse Israel to sing G-d’s praises because all were essential to saving individual Jews or the whole people, or for another important purpose. What is unique about the splitting of the sea is that it was totally an expression G-d’s love for Israel (from the book “Ne’ot Deshe”). Therefore, within Israel was aroused the desire to sing praises for G-d’s love, and it was with this that Israel became G-d’s children. As stated above, At the exodus we became slaves to G-d, and we ascended to the level of sons at the splitting of the sea. Our standing before G-d as slaves is not the same as our standing before Him as sons. A slave is legally obligated to fulfill all the tasks imposed on him. He is his master’s property, and his life is not his own possession. Even his will is subject to his master. By contrast, a son fulfills his parents’ will out of love and a feeling of inner connection. Another difference is this: The connection between children and parents is eternal and does not depend on the children’s behavior. That is the sort of connection extant between Israel and their Father in Heaven. As our sages taught, “A Jew who sins remains a Jew.” Moreover, Rabbi Meir ruled (Kiddushin 36), even when Jews do not behave like sons, the title of son remains applicable to them: “Righteous or sinful, they are still called sons.” The pinnacle of serving G-d is when we reach the level of sons. Therefore, Pesach is a time of progress and ascent – from the service of a slave to the service of a son, from divine worship based solely on undertaking G-d’s yoke, to divine worship based on identification and belonging. How fortunate are those who have attained the level of G-d’s children, whose worship stems from great love and the feeling of a connection to G-d. Yet from the structure of Pesach, we also derive that there is a clear, well-defined pathway regarding how to climb up to the pinnacle. The path begins with, “Praise G-d, O you slaves of G-d,” and “the Israelites are My slaves.” It concludes with “You are sons to the L-rd your G-d” (Deuteronomy 14:1). The pathway begins with undertaking the yoke of Heaven and mitzvoth, literally, without trying to be too clever and without shortcuts. It means fulfilling every mitzvah scrupulously even when one lacks a feeling of full identification or ascent. Such is the slave. Whoever successfully passes the test of this first stage, is fully entitled to advance to the status of being a son, and to demand and to feel the pleasantness of “You are sons to the L-rd your G-d.”
SHABBAT CHOL HAMOED PESACH
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