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From the World of Rabbi Kook
“G-d’s word endures forever. The holiness of the Land of Israel, and G-d’s love for it, has not changed neither will it change…all its desolation and destruction could not overcome this…It is the merciful love for an unfortunate mother, coupled with the glorious, majestic love for a royal queen.” (Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah, p. 324)

Rabbi Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “58 Years to the State of Israel”

Fifty years ago, in 1956, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook said:
“We have to be very joyous on Independence Day. We must be joyous over the revelation of the Divine Presence, the return to Zion, and the rebirth of the Jewish People. All the rebuilding, rebirth and survival of the State of Israel is interwoven with great miracles that G-d has shown us… Fifty years ago who could have imagined that the Turks, who ruled triumphantly over our land, would be entirely ousted? Ten years ago, would anyone have thought that mighty England would be forced to give up its rule over our country? Every tractor and tank and plane defending our country has divine holiness. Every aspect and every detail is a revelation of the divine, national content of the holiness of Israel. Even if many lack this awareness that it is Divine Providence which guides what is occurring, that is the reality. It is solid fact that will not go away, whether or not people recognize it…”
“True, the entire land has not yet been conquered – even Jerusalem, the sanctuary of our kingdom is not yet entirely in our hands (This was eleven years before the Six Day War). In both quality and quantity, our rule over the Land must be completed and developed. Yet the State’s establishment constitutes the revelation of the Divine Kingdom, and we must be exceedingly joyful on Yom HaAtzma’ut over our having merited to become an independent country…” (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, on the 8th Israel Independence Day).

If fifty years ago, when the State of Israel was at the start of its path we were required to rejoice over the kindness G-d performed for us in establishing a State, all the more so now when over five million Jews live here. Israel is making enormous strides. It is today becoming one of the strongest countries militarily and economically. We see clearly how the words, “May our eyes see [tirena] Your kingdom” are being fulfilled – through our tangible nation state. The day is not far off when we will all merit the fulfillment of the entreaty, “May our eyes see [ve’techezena] Your return in mercy to Zion,” not just the restoration of the kingdom, but the restoration of the soul to the Temple sanctuary. We have merited “tirena”, referring to external vision. Now our eyes are raised to G-d in hopes of “techezena”, a more spiritual vision. (ibid., Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook).

With blessings for a joyous Israel Independence Day and looking forward to complete salvation,

Shabbat Shalom!

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Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El
“New/Old Principles of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael – Religious Zionism”

G-d created us as a people with the intent that we should be a nation of priests and a holy nation. He wished us to sanctify G-d’s name not only in our private lives but also to lead national lives of morality, justice and holiness. Here are the central ideas:

1. The Nation’s Rebirth. In accordance with a divine command, we are rising up to rebirth. With our own eyes we see the fulfillment of the prophetic vision of the rebuilding of the Land, the return to Zion, Jewish independence, wars of liberation and the restoration of the Torah to its abode.

2. Gradual Redemption. G-d is bringing our redemption gradually, by non-miraculous means. This explains the delays and complications, setbacks and regressions. Hence we mustn’t despair. Rather, we must continue pushing forward.

3. The Jewish People. G-d is bringing redemption to us and to the world, through us and through our midst, by way of the entire nation, not by way of any particular group. Within all of us, openly and clandestinely, G-d’s spirit lives.

4. The State of Israel. The act of Israel’s conquering the Land and of attaining sovereignty over it is a great and all-encompassing mitzvah. It is such a great sanctification of G-d’s name that despite several ways in which G-d’s name is being profaned, in the realms of education, the courts and missionary activities, that sanctification of G-d’s name transcends all. It is more overpowering than the profanation of His name.

5. The Israel Defense Forces. This is a three-fold mitzvah comprising defense of the Jewish People, of the Land, and the sanctification of G-d’s name. This is a mitzvah that has been fulfilled with devotion since the State’s inception, and that devotion has gone on unceasingly despite the scourge of settlement uprooting and the mixing of the sexes. We shall continue to enlist with all the more energy and alacrity.

6. The Government. The government has an element of being a Jewish “monarchy.” Certainly aspects that go against G-d’s word are null and void like the dust of the earth. Still, despite these shortcomings, we are happy that we have a Jewish government rather than a Turkish or British regime. We will fight to rectify everything that needs improvement, and to buttress everything that has already been improved.

7. This is our Land. This land is all ours, throughout all of the Biblical borders, in accordance with the word of G-d. We need not give up on any part of it. Rather, we must struggle devotedly towards the sovereignty, rebuilding and settlement of all of it.

8. We must increase faith. Not through coercion and pressure will our people be brought nearer to Torah and its mitzvoth, and the mitzvoth of the Land. It will only come about through love, Torah, patience and faith – faith in G-d, faith in the uniqueness of Israel, and faith in the special traits of the Jewish People.

9. Unity. Through groundless love we will rebuild, through internal unity, devoid of hatred, out of a recognition of the truth that that which ties us together is infinitely greater than that which divides us. All of this does not prevent just public struggles, but red lines must not be crossed, such as those involving violence, degradation and hatred. We have to remember always that differences of opinion do not mean rifts between hearts. All the more so that among those faithful to the nation’s rebirth in its land according to the Torah, great love must reign.


We are full of faith in G-d, His Torah and His mitzvoth!
We are full of faith in our people, the people of G-d!
We are full of faith in the State and the army that G-d established for us!
We are rising to rebirth in accordance with G-d’s word!

Rabbi Ya’akov HaLevi FilberGuest Lecturer at Machon Meir
“In Houses, in the Land you Will Inherit”

The Talmud (Arachin 17a) notes seven causes of plague spots, and they are: 1) evil speech; 2) bloodshed; 3) swearing falsely; 4) sexual sin; 5) arrogance; 6) theft and 7) covetousness. The common denominator of these seven things is that they are all interpersonal sins. The Torah therefore links the plague spots to Israel’s arrival in the land of their inheritance, as it says, “When you come to the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as an inheritance” (Leviticus 14:34). Jewish society cannot survive in the land they inherit unless human relations between its inhabitants are founded on justice and fairness. Hence the Talmud mentions sins in which human dignity is compromised and people refrain from helping one another (such as covetousness and arrogance), as well as sins involving unreliability and the absence of mutual love (swearing falsely, theft, evil speech, bloodshed). When these sins spread through Jewish society, Divine Providence sends us hints that we must improve our ways.

Even if Biblical leprosy comes in response to a number of sins, without a doubt its central cause is evil speech, as the Talmud states (Arachin 15b): “‘This is the law concerning the Biblical leper’ [metzora]: I.e., this is the law concerning the slanderer [motzi shem ra].” Rambam in Hilchot De’ot devoted an entire chapter (Chapter 7) to the topic of gossip and evil speech, and he distinguishes there between three types of sins, enumerating them from the lighter to the more severe. The first is “rechilut,” gossiping. Rambam explains: “What is a gossip? It is one who carries gossip around, going from one person to another and saying, ‘So-and-so said such-and-such. I heard such-and-such about So-and-So.’ Even though he is speaking the truth, he is still destroying the world.”

Worse still is “Lashon Hara,” literally, “evil speech.” Rambam writes: “There is a sin that is much worse, included in the same prohibition, and it is lashon hara. This refers to one who reports bad things about his fellow man, even if it is all true.” In both categories, the information is true and even so is forbidden. Worst of all is where the information is false: “One who speaks falsely is called a ‘motzi shem ra’, a slanderer.”

Modern day society is far-removed from the Torah’s social-ethical norms, particularly those of caution in speech. Within this society we notice a great deal of hypocrisy and double standards. On the one hand, when it comes to saying something bad about those in power, the banner of “the right to privacy” is raised. All the power structures, including the legal system, are enlisted to protect the elites, to cover up injustices perpetrated by individuals or by public bodies valued by the oligarchy. Yet when it comes to the little man, here the issue becomes “the public’s right to know.” By dint of this right, the entire media, written and electronic, allow themselves to slander and libel anyone they don’t like. If many areas of Israeli society need improvement, one that cries out for change is the newspaper profession. (Rav Tzvi Yehuda rightly said to us, quoting his father, that had there been newspaper men during Mishnaic times, the Mishnah would have counted them amongst the list of those disqualified to give testimony).

Our sages instructed us with various styles of warnings regarding the severity of lashon hara. Here we shall bring several of them that appear in Arachin (ibid.):
“Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Yossi ben Zimra: If someone speaks lashon hara, it is as though he denied the chief tenets of faith, as it says: ‘They say: Our tongue will we make mighty; our lips are with us. Who is lord over us?’ (Psalm 12:5).

“Rabbi Yossi ben Zimra said: ‘Whoever speaks lashon hara will be smitten with plague marks.’ Resh Lakish said: What is to be learned from, ‘The one with the tongue is no better’ (Ecclesiastes 10:11)? In the future all the animals will gather together and approach the serpent, and they will ask: ‘The lion mauls and consumes its prey. The wolf attacks and eats. Yet what benefit do you derive from your bite?’ He will answer them, ‘Is the [gossip] with his tongue any better?’

“Resh Lakish said: Whoever speaks lashon hara amasses sins reaching up to the heavens, as it says, ‘They have set their mouth up to the heavens; their tongue walks the earth’ (Psalm 73:9).

“Rav Chisda said in the name of Mar Ukva: Whoever speaks lashon hara deserves to be stoned. In one place it states, ‘Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I cut off’ (Psalm 101:5). In another place it states, ‘They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and have cast stones upon me’ (Lamentations 3:53).

“Rav Chisda said in the name of Mar Ukva: Of anyone who speaks lashon hara, G-d says, ‘He and I cannot coexist in the world,’ as it says, ‘Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I cut off. Whoever is haughty of eye and proud of heart, him will I not suffer’ (Psalm 101:5).”

If we, in today’s Israeli society, internalized the severity of lashon hara as our sages taught us, everything would look different.

Rabbi Iti’el ArielRamat Bet Shemesh B’
“Who can Extract Purity From Impurity?”

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi taught us a major principle in how to approach the concepts of purity [tahara] and impurity [tum’a], dealt with at length in this week’s portion. In his view, impurity is not an expression of spiritual contamination as it is conventionally explained, but an expression of the removal of the life force in man.

That life force, found in every one of us, finds expression in one’s physical and mental health, and there is great value to its appearing fully. By contrast, wherever life absents itself and death takes control, impurity appears. For example, the leprous whiteness that appears on a person’s skin makes him look like a dead man whose flesh has been consumed. Thus Aaron entreats Moses regarding Miriam, smitten with Biblical leprosy, “Let Miriam not be like a stillborn child, who comes from the womb with half its flesh eaten away” (Numbers 12:12). Only when the leprosy is cured and a person’s flesh regains a healthy appearance can the Biblical leper begin his purification rites.

This principle covers numerous types of impurity familiar to us, such as the impurity of the dead and that of the man with a discharge from his organ [zav] (Leviticus 15), (in both of which the potential a person had for bringing forth new life has been lost). Yet it is worthwhile to focus our reflections on the impurity of the woman who has just given birth. Such a woman simultaneously undergoes opposite experiences, and her days of impurity and her days of purity mingle together. On the one hand, she has merited to bring life into the world. At the same time, however, she loses her placenta and additional organs that served the fetus during her pregnancy. In every birth, these two opposites are fixed together, the impurity of deterioration with the purity of healthy renewal.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook (in his article “HaMisped BiYerushalayim”) elaborated on this paradox, adding that even in the laws of Biblical leprosy we find a similar paradox. One of the symptoms of Biblical leprosy is the appearance of whiteness on the skin, and the whitening of attached hair. Two such white hairs suffice to render the leper impure. Yet if the leper “becomes totally white” he is pure (Leviticus 13:13). The reason is that such a broad spread of impurity itself attests to renewed forces of growth and deep purity hiding underneath. In this context Rav Kook expounds that the verse, “Who can bring a pure thing out of an impure thing? Only the One” (Job 14:4), is referring to G-d. He is the one who knows how to unite polar opposites such as purity and impurity.

In our world we are commanded to distinguish between the pure and the impure, and to call impurity by its name (see Leviticus 13:45), and to distance ourselves from it. By such means we seek to separate ourselves from death and to cling to life and to the source of life: “Only you, the ones who remained attached to the L-rd your G-d, are all alive today” (Deuteronomy 4:4). This is the proper path that we must ever strive to follow.

All the same, we have to be aware that making a clear distinction of this sort is not possible in every generation. Sometimes purity and impurity mingle together and are hard to distinguish. If at first glance a new birth seems far from the world of impurity and death, it turns out that this process is more complex, and the elements of impurity within it must be isolated. If the whiteness of hair in the leprous spot is recognizable to you as a sign of impurity, it turns out that this external symptom can sometimes attest to the foundations of purity found in deeper strata.

All this summons us to take a deeper, sharper look at our spiritual world. Such an approach is called for in an age in which darkness and light coexist. Enough said.

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)

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