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E - Parashat Shelach 5774
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E - Parashat BaMidbar & Jerusalem Day 5774
E - Parashat Bechukotai & Lag BaOmer 5774

Parashat Emor

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“From the World Of Rav Kook”
“Normally, one’s country is not the source of ultimate contentment… However, in the case of a country ideological to the core, that is engraved in its very being with the most exalted ideological content; such a country indeed provides one with his greatest source of contentment.” (Orot Yisrael, p. 160)

Notice:
The Machon Meir English Dept.’s new spring/summer semester began this past Monday, Rosh Chodesh Iyar, May 9th. For registration please contact us at english1@machonmeir.org.il or 052-449-1601.




Rabbi Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “On Being Independent – and True to Ourselves”


“You shall count seven complete weeks after the day following the Passover holiday when you brought the omer as a wave offering” (Leviticus 23:15). From the first night following the first day of Pesach, until Shavuot, is the time of our receiving the Torah: “Until the day after the seventh week, when there will be a total of fifty days” (verse 16).
The days of counting are like a ladder which in the past we climbed from the exodus until the receiving of the Torah, and which we continue to climb each year, day by day, improvement by improvement, through fulfillment of the mitzvah of counting the Omer. One way that the theme of improvement is alluded to is by the change in the type of offerings that we bring on the first and last days of the counting. On the first day we bring the “wave offering” made of barley. On the fiftieth day, Shavuot, we bring a wheat offering. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, noting that barley is viewed as a food consumed by animals, points out that the barley offering alludes to Israel’s innate emotional faith, a special virtue. The Jewish People are believers and the children of believers.
Yet following this, and built upon this, comes the academic and intellectual spiritual elevation associated with Torah and holiness. This elevation is alluded to through the wheat offering of Shavuot, wheat being a food consumed by man. The two together, the natural faith innate to Israel, and their study of the holy Torah, fuse together during the days of counting between Pesach and Shavuot. Moreover, they exalt and elevate the Jewish People in the aggregate, and each individual Jew, for a supreme, united effort (see Orot 167).
Today, during these days of counting, we emerge from slavery to freedom. In the first stage, we emerge from political slavery to freedom, and in the second stage, we emerge from the forty-nine levels of impurity – from spiritual servitude and enslavement to our passions – to eternal freedom with the giving of the Torah. As our sages said, “Read not ‘engraved [charut] upon the tablets’ (Exodus 32:16) but ‘liberation [cherut] through the tablets’ (Avot 6).
Today, as well, we are gradually meriting these two types of freedom. In the blessing before the Shema we pray, “Make us walk upright [komemiyut] to our land. “Komemiyut” may be understood as “in two stages [komot].” The first stage is political independence, establishment of the State of Israel fifty-seven years ago. Later comes the second stage, a return to our roots, to Torah and to Jewish tradition, that reveals our essence: we are a “nation of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). The Jewish People and the State of Israel are different from other nations. We are a light unto the nations. The more our inner essence is revealed, the more we will realize that we are a nation for the world, whose purpose is to benefit and bring light to mankind. Then, through us will be fulfilled G-d’s promise, “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:3).
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom!


Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El
“The People of Israel are with Gush Katif”


Yes! The People of Israel are with Gush Katif and Northern Samaria. Since you haven’t asked us, since you haven’t listened to us, we protest. We will carry out marches to Gush Katif in order to join our besieged brethren until you will ask our opinion. Indeed, our esteemed Prime Minister has never received a national/social/moral mandate from our people to uproot a section of the Land. There are two reasons why this is so, and each reason suffices on its own:
1) Voluntarily and unilaterally handing over a section of one’s country to a foreign people and banishing its residents is something that has never happened in Jewish history, nor in world history. It goes beyond the moral authority of the government and Knesset. Regarding such a thing, the English political philosopher John Locke said:
“Citizens forego their natural state of freedom in order to take upon themselves established laws, but not in order to place their heads complacently in the lion’s jaws. They will not agree to lose their freedom. When the head of state uses his power for evil and does not honor his people’s rights, he forfeits his authority. Therefore, when a dispute breaks out between the ruler and part of his people regarding a matter in which the constitution has nothing to say, or in which it can be interpreted in several different ways, and the matter is one of great import, the final arbiter is the people. A people that foregoes its authority can take it back, because there is a limit to harmful rule.” The French political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau responded to his words, “Mr. Locke has said something very wise.” Would that our Jewish Prime Minister could learn from the British philosopher.
2) Our esteemed prime minister received an electoral mandate to strengthen Judea and Samaria. All concede that had he revealed his present plan up front, he would not have been chosen to head the nation. It follows then that there has been a theft of votes here. When the President of France, General De Gaulle, who had received a mandate to keep Algeria in French hands, changed direction, he left the decision up to the nation and prevented a rift. The same occurred in Canada regarding the question of Quebec’s independence. The same occurred as well in the countries of Europe as far as joining the European Union. Would that our Jewish general could learn from the French non-Jewish general.
Therefore, I will continue marching there with tens and hundreds of thousands of our Jewish brethren. If the police stop the buses, we will continue on foot. If there are police or soldiers along the way, we will not fight them, G-d forbid, for they are our flesh and blood. All will be without violence, without insults and without rancor. We also won’t flee. Rather, we will hug them, we will sing with them, we will dance with them. Surely everyone knows that we are a law-abiding public, and we are even very strict in this regard, and that is to our credit. If only the entire country were that way. We are a self-disciplined public. We hope and we imagine and we believe that no one will hit us. If that occurs, however, we will accept that lovingly as well. Surely that is what we learned, that a person must rebuke his fellow man, even if in response his fellow man hits him (Orach Chaim 608:2 in Rama). Yet there is no reason why they should hit us. This, after all, will be an innocent march, a protest of the people, declaring: Let the people decide.
That is what we ask: to let the people decide. Government for the people and not the people for the government. Please ask us!
We’ll all be there, young and old. Surely we teach our sons to love their people and land. Education isn’t expressed just through preaching but through deeds. We will be there with our boys and girls – obviously maintaining modesty between the sexes throughout. Thus the whole affair will be not only nonviolent but also refined. Yet if someone is accidentally arrested, we will say to him, “How fortunate you are that you were arrested for a Torah cause.” Sometimes there are mistakes, yet there is no reason why there should be unpleasantries of this sort.
Obviously, we have not shut down the channel of dialogue and we have not despaired of our people. Quite the contrary, we place our faith in our people and we are continuing our “Face-to-Face” project. Each day, new supporters join. Neither have we despaired of our Knesset members. We know that it is legal to purchase Knesset member votes in exchange for jobs or the flow of money to a given party, but it constitutes an act of villainy with legal license. We shall continue trying to persuade our Knesset members that it is not right nor morally proper to make such a weighty historic decision based on a single vote derived through manipulation.
We will march not as wild-men and not as black sheep; not as lice-smitten lepers, violent toughs or knife fighters. Rather, we shall be marching to our brothers! We have no intent of robbing or attacking, of turning over cars or committing mayhem, of extorting or embezzling. We have no illegitimate or inappropriate intentions at all. Our only wish is to attach ourselves to our besieged brethren. We won’t be shouting like Indians. We shall behave with self-restraint and dignity. We won’t be aiming pistols. We will be walking with open arms. We won’t be coming to preach or to brainwash or to steal souls. We will be coming as friends to visit friends. Marvelous friends, heroic and united, who have forged a covenant. All together, religious and irreligious, not one of us will be receiving any compensations. We all cling to our land! They are all marvelous people, of whom it says, “They believe in the Eternal One and they go on planting” (Jerusalem Talmud, Tosefta Shabbat 31a).


Rabbi Elisha Aviner
Education Corner: “Crisis Time is a Time for Clarification”


“How do we deal with the crisis that our youth are facing because of the Disengagement Process?” Many people are asking this question. Although it is hard to fathom the dimensions of the crisis or the direction it will take, it is worthwhile to address the question and to seek out some preventative medicine.
Yet we must first be aware that to undergo a crisis at the present time is entirely natural. From a certain standpoint, it is even a good sign. It is a sign of our youth’s love for Eretz Yisrael. It is a sign of their intimate attachment to ideals. It is a sign that religious youth are not the rubber stamp of secular society. Only someone who understands that the Disengagement Plan contradicts the basic values of Zionism and of faith is liable to undergo a crisis as a result. Therefore, the very crisis attests to the fact that axiomatic Torah and pioneering values have been fully internalized by our youth. Likewise, only someone who believed in the State, in its path, in its holiness, is liable to undergo a crisis in response to the government’s present actions. Whoever related to the State with scorn and attached no importance to it will not be overly disappointed by its present actions, because he never trusted it in the first place. The crisis that our youth are undergoing attests that they appreciated the State and its institutions. The result was their deep disappointment and frustration.
The crisis they are undergoing is to their credit. Therefore, it needn’t cause us undo worry. To panic over this crisis would be an exaggerated, superfluous reaction. If we want to worry about something, there are other things that one can really worry about. Our concern should not be over those youth who are evincing signs of crisis, but over those youth who are not. We have to be worried about those youth who evince apathy and non-concern regarding the present situation. They are apathetic regarding abandoning parts of Eretz Yisrael and handing them over to a cruel enemy. They are apathetic about the fate of their brethren. They are apathetic about the negative direction that the State is taking, and about the negative dynamics that are liable to be created within Israeli society.
If someone is not undergoing a crisis today, that is a sign that he is unfeeling. It’s him we should be worrying about. Where is his sensitivity? Where is the education that he received? Where are his values? If what is happening today does not wake him up from his slumber, where is his religious-Zionist spark hiding? Perhaps he has succumbed to the weaknesses of Israeli society at large?
One of the crises we can expect is for our youth to “despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10). That is, such youth are liable to despise the redemption process, the Jewish State and its institutions, because they are “small.” We shall have to deal with this crisis. Yet a graver phenomenon than this is that of those who do not “despise the day of smallness,” not because they have delved deep to clarify that despite everything, we are really in a “day of greatness,” but because they never expected a “day of greatness” in the first place. They never hoped for great and exalted redemption. They never honestly prayed for G-d to cause the offspring of His servant David to spring forth. They never dreamt about a “Torah State,” or about a Greater Land of Israel. The country as it is today, with its secular fabric and its eroded values suits them fine. Hence they feel no need to scorn the country. They are not disappointed or frustrated by it, because their pioneering ideals and their spiritual ambitions are so low that they scrape the floor. Apathy and shallowness are grave diseases that have to awaken our concern more than the sickness caused by an excess of unclarified expectations.
Returning to the crisis being faced by our youth, how do we deal with such crises as when youth “despise the day of smallness”? How do we prevent this? This answer is that a time of crisis is a time for clarification. As a form of preventative medicine, we have to clarify in depth our religious-Zionist doctrines. What is redemption? Which part of advancing redemption is to be left to G-d, and which part belongs to us? Is regression in redemption possible? How do we prevent it? What is the role of the secular Zionist movement in the redemption process, and what should our reaction be to the profound crisis that Israeli society is undergoing as far as Zionism? What value does a Jewish state have? What value do its institutions have? Why do we enlist and serve in the army? What place does the Land of Israel have within our worldview in its entirety? Why do we invest so much effort in it? What is the rule of settlement throughout our land? How should we relate to secularism and to secular Jews? This is but a partial list of issues that we must deal with.
Crisis times are a time for clarification! Obviously, we have to calm our youth, to cool them off and to break the tension. A change of atmosphere in the psychological realm is essential in order for us to make it through the approaching period in one piece. Nonetheless, taking action in the psychological realm is secondary to taking action in the realm of in-depth study. In order to engage in methodical clarification of the questions of the generation, it is not enough to make a one-time speech (even if that speech strikes flames of fire). Rather, what we need is consistent, consecutive study. Today, our youth are ready to listen to reasoned explanations. Hence we mustn’t miss the boat. In our educational institutions, it would be appropriate to devote an hour each day to elucidating these topics, at least until the end of the present school year.

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