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From the World of Rabbi Kook
“From the bottom spiritual rung we are being created anew as in days of old. All the spiritual baggage of the past is being swallowed up in its source, and taking on a new, fresher form…ready for great growth, full of vibrant life.” (Erpalei Tohar)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Founder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “Return the Myriads of Israel’s families!”
The Jewish People live in a state of flux. Sometimes their situation is dynamic, as when they face wars or other complications, of which it says, “When the Ark went forth, Moses said, ‘Arise, O L-rd, and scatter your enemies! Let your foes flee before you!” (Numbers 10:35). At other times they experience rest, unity and repentance, of which it says, “When it came to rest, he said, ‘Return, O L-rd, the myriads of Israel’s families’” (10:36).
These two situations are alluded to with the trumpet blasts. The “tekiah”, a long, simple blast, alluded to goodness, kindness, Jewish unity and the unity of the Israel’s leaders, as it says: “When both of the trumpets are sounded with a long note, the entire community shall assemble at the Communion Tent entrance…If a long note is sounded on only one of them, the princes, who are leaders of thousands in Israel, shall come together to you. However, when the community is to be assembled, the trumpets shall be sounded with a long note, and not with a series of short notes” (10:3-4,7).
By contrast is the “teruah”, a broken sound, a sound of loud sobbing and moaning (see Orach Chaim 504). The teruah alludes to complex situations, when the nation is marching off to war: “When you sound a series of short notes, the camps to the east shall begin the march….When you go to war against an enemy who attacks you in your land, you shall sound a staccato on the trumpets. You will then be remembered before G-d, and will be delivered from your enemies” (Numbers 10:5,9).
As far as these situations of approaching battle, on the one hand, alluded to by the teruah blasts, and rest, repentance and unity on the other hand, alluded to by the tekiah blasts, even though they seem like opposites, they are really all one, with one purpose, as finds expression in the tekiah-teruah-tekiah shofar blasts of Rosh Hashanah. First comes a tekiah, a simple blast that alludes to good thought and purpose in our world. After that come the teruah blasts, which allude to the hardships along the way, and in the end the tekiah again, a simple blast that alludes to G-d’s kindness and a happy ending.
Today, in our generation, we are simultaneously hearing tekiah blasts and teruah blasts. On the one hand, we are privileged to live in the generation of the ingathering of the exiles and political independence. The Torah is returning to its abode. The Land of Israel is turning into the center of Torah in the world, and G-d “is returning the myriads of Israel’s families.” The sound of the tekiah is being increasingly heard, and it will be heard more and more until we reach full repentance and solace.
At the same time, however, the sound of the teruah can also be heard, the sounds of war, as our sages said, “In the seventh year, there will be wars. After the seventh year, the son of David will come.” There are also the sounds of internal fighting, as Joshua said to Moses at the Golden Calf: “Joshua heard the sound of the people rejoicing, and he said to Moses, ‘It sounds as though there is a battle going on in the camp.’ ‘It is not the song of victory,’ replied [Moses], ‘nor the dirge of the defeated. What I hear is just plain singing’” (Exodus 32:17,18). Rashi comments, “‘Just plain singing’: The sound of cursing and blasphemy that afflicts the spirit of all who hear it.”
And how can we not weep and sigh when we see the moral and spiritual deterioration that is striking parts of our beloved, precious people. How can we not weep and sigh when we see how Jews are being expelled from Eretz Yisrael and how those areas are being handed over to our enemies? Yet we take solace in knowing everything will change for the better, as Maharsha said, “Why does the Hebrew letter “nun” appear upside down before and after the words, ‘When the Ark went forth’? It is to teach us that everything will be reversed for the better” (see Maharsha on Shabbat 116).
May the words of Moses be fulfilled: “Arise, O L-rd, and scatter your enemies! Let your foes flee before you!” regarding which Rashi comments, “So to speak, Moses told G-d, ‘Wait for us! Don’t go far! We shall return to You and to Your Torah!’” As then, now as well, the day is not far off when the entire nation will return to G-d and to His Torah throughout our land. And the sound of a great shofar blast will be heard, the shofar of the Messiah, and we will merit to see G-d return the myriad of Israel. Looking forward to complete salvation,
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
“With Love/War We Will Win”
Question: We said, “With love we will win,” but we were wrong. Apparently this slogan is lovely in lectures or articles, but in real life it doesn’t prove itself. We loved and we lost. Therefore, next time they come to expel us from our homes, we won’t be so nice. Rather, we’ll take a different tack: we’ll fight. We’ll stop them by force. Moreover, we’ll announce in advance that we won’t sit passively with hands folded. This will surely deter them.
Answer: 1. You are suggesting a “balance of terror”. Yet before we discuss whether that is good and right, we have to discuss whether it helps. We don’t need another destruction just to see if the idea is good or not. We need only examine our accumulated experience.
2. The concept of a “balance of terror”, or of deterrence, is taken from warfare. Since the development of long-range weapons of mass destruction, with the potential for dealing a death-blow to the enemy, the “balance of terror” has replaced the “balance of power,” has impinged on the relevance of defense strategies, and has put the spotlight on the threat of destructive acts of retaliation.
3. Yet in our own case, you have nothing with which to threaten. After all, the security forces are stronger than you are. If you plan “to break the Zionist’s teeth”, you’ll see who breaks who’s teeth. In other words, you won’t want to use weapons against them, and even if you do, they will overcome you. You also won’t want a civil war, and even if you do, you won’t win. So with what are you threatening? With vandalism – against army property! With the army’s removal from the settlements! With refusal to offer rides to soldiers. Such acts don’t threaten anyone.
4. If a handful of people want to plan an efficient balance of terror, they must adopt the stance of the lunatic willing to carry out the worst crime imaginable, such as actually throwing a grenade in the Knesset, and that you aren’t going to do.
5. And even if you do it, it isn’t efficient, because you are up against a generation that is as hard as nails, that is not afraid of anything. “Nothing frightens them… whether concrete or abstract, material or spiritual. The terrible suffering they have faced has rendered them so bold and callous that no fear can move them” (“The Generation”, Ikvei HaTzon, 111).
6. Besides all this, the balance of terror is inefficient except between enemy powers, such as between Russia and America during the Cold War, or between hostile groups within the same country. But we are one people, and we have many more joint projects to build together. This precludes our carrying out intellectual disengagement from the other side.
7. Don’t fall prey to the demagogic approach that believes in an illusory dichotomy that negates the middle, such that there are only two options, the balance of terror or sitting with hands folded. There is a solution and it is political power. Obviously, this requires persuasion, and without such persuasion it will collapse in time.
8. And here is the instruction Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook would constantly offer us: We shall not succeed by force, neither by pressure, neither by cursing and invective, but only by way of the two words beginning with alef: ahavah [love] and emunah [faith]. (By the way, the Government isn’t going to succeed either if it entertains the foolish thought that by force it will solve internal problems, and change the face of reality).
9. Certainly our nation is sick, but it can be cured. The cure is not divisiveness but to increase light, in order to restore our nation to its pure, Jewish nature. Not only in all other mitzvoth does faith precede action, but also in the mitzvah of settling the Land. Just as with the rest of the mitzvoth we have never achieved anything employing the balance of terror, so too with all the stages of Zionism, the rebuilding of the Land, the return to Zion and the establishment of the State, and of Judea and Samaria. Nothing has been achieved by way of the balance of terror, but only through basic willingness.
10. Yet for this we need patience, just as G-d said to that beacon of light, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai [when he emerged from the cave after twelve years, burning everything in sight with his gaze]: “Have you emerged to destroy My world? Go back inside!” (Shabbat 33b). Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook explains that G-d’s world becomes purer bit by bit, while a corrupt world order continues to reign. Yet from the evil and unseemliness itself, good slowly emerges. G-d therefore said, “Go back inside your cave,” as if to say, “Go, increase your wisdom still more, and then emerge full of satisfaction with life. Don’t try to foment a sudden revolution to destroy the world. Rather, improve it bit by bit” (Ein Aya, ibid., 273-274).
Rabbi Ya’akov Filber – Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir
“On Unity and Divisiveness”
Love leads to unity and hatred leads to divisiveness. Sometimes hatred leads to divisiveness and sometimes divisiveness leads to hatred, but the result in either case is ruin. In order to prevent this situation, the Torah warns us (Deuteronomy 16:22) when our nation is just starting out, “Do not erect a sacred pillar. This is something that the L-rd your G-d hates.” Sifri comments, “It was beloved in the case of the Patriarchs, but it is despicable in the case of their descendants,” and Chatam Sofer, in turn, explains Sifri: “Previously, pillars made of a single stone were beloved, because Abraham was one and so too Isaac and so too Jacob. Henceforth, however (following the birth of the twelve sons of Jacob, there would be (instead of a pillar) an altar made of many stones, all of which would be rendered a single stone through the altar’s construction. The theme would be that G-d’s children are His builders, clinging together in unity.” Chatam Sofer concludes: “If someone sets himself apart from the community, following his own path, even if his intent is for heaven’s sake, he is the stone pillar that G-d hates.”
Already with the altar’s construction the Torah wishes to educate us to worship G-d together. He does not wish divergent intelligences to set off on their own, for that bodes danger to the nation’s survival, as was proven over the course of Jewish history. Hatred between brothers and divisiveness have plagued our people from their very beginnings, even if we exclude Ishmael’s hatred for Isaac or Esau’s hatred for Jacob. After all, already amongst Jacob’s children we encountered hatred. Joseph brought evil reports about his brothers to his father, and they in response “hated him and could not talk peaceably to him” (Genesis 37:4). Here, as well, the hated was for heaven’s sake, as the Vilna Gaon explains (quoted in Kol HaTor, 2:151): “The original thinking of Joseph’s brothers was that when Abraham’s soul descended to the world, the impurity of the right clung to him, hence Ishmael emerged from him to separate that impurity from him. When Isaac’s soul descended, the impurity of the left clung to him, hence Esau emerged from him to separate that impurity from him. They thought that the middle impurity clung to Jacob, who is the middle strand. And after they saw Joseph conducting himself conceitedly, they thought for sure that Joseph was the middle impurity that had separated itself from Jacob. They were unaware of his holiness and his great destiny in preparing the redemption.”
The attempt to set oneself apart from the community “for the sake of heaven” is found in two other places in the Torah. The first is with Nadav and Avihu, the two sons of Aaron about whom it says, “I will be sanctified through those close to Me” (Leviticus 10:3). Our sages (the Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 1:5), said: “Why does the Torah mention the death of Aaron’s son on Yom Kippur? To teach us that just as Yom Kippur atones for Israel, so does the death of the saintly atone for Israel.” Moses said to Aaron (Vayikra Rabbah 12): “It turns out that your two sons are more precious to G-d than mine.” All the same, they died because they brought “a strange fire that G-d had not commanded” (Leviticus 10:1). And what was that “strange fire”? They did not make due with G-d’s causing His presence to rest upon the entire Jewish People. Rather, they “each took his fire pan” (ibid.). The Midrash comments (Torat Kohanim): “They too reveled in their joy. Seeing a new fire, they were ready to add love upon love.”
And what addition did they make? Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains: “At the very moment that the nation merited the revelation of G-d’s closeness, they felt the need for a special offering of their own. From this we derive that the genuine spirit of the priesthood did not beat in their hearts. The kohanim are null and void within the Jewish People. They possess no status of their own. Their whole being is as part of the nation, and from here derives their status before G-d.”
From his comments we may derive that there is no chance, even for the elite of our people, to cling to G-d when they are separated from the people. Yet our sages went further still (Rosh Hashanah 17a): “If he separates himself from the ways of the community [according to Rambam (Hilchot Teshuvah 3:11), this means even if he has committed no sins, only he has set himself apart from the Congregation of Israel and he does not fulfill mitzvoth as one of them], he has no portion in the World-to-Come.”
Another attempt at separation from the aggregate, which encountered a sharp response from G-d and Moses, was Gad and Re’uven’s request that they be given a permanent inheritance in Transjordan. Although their intent was for the sake of heaven, Moses still responded, “Now you are trying to take your fathers’ places as a band of sinners” (Numbers 22:14). In response to this episode our sages say (Midrash HaGadol): “Controversy is a harsh sin even where we just trying to put a fence around the mitzvoth, for we find that the tribes of Gad and Re’uven said to Moses, “Let this land be given to us as our permanent property” (Numbers 32:5). And why did they choose it? Because they had a lot of sheep and they wished to distance themselves from theft. And since they separated from Israel first, they were exiled first as well.” The Midrash concludes: “Surely it’s compelling logic: If someone who separates himself from his fellow men in order to distance himself from theft is punished this way, all the more so those who separate themselves from their fellow man out of hatred and competition.”
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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