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From the World of Rabbi Kook
“How can a person come to fathom G-d’s greatness? By increasing his store of knowledge, by giving his mind and imagination free reign, by increasing his knowledge of the world and life, and by living life to its fullest… The person with a profound spirit will know how to purify all of these things…” (Erpalei Torah 46)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh HaYeshiva and Head of the Machon
Message for Today: “The Wise Will Inherit Honor”
Korach and his assembly who were driven wild by their craving for glory, argue with Moses and Aaron saying, “You have gone too far! All the people in the community are holy, and G-d is with them. Why are you setting yourselves above G-d’s congregation?” (Numbers 16:3). Seemingly the claim that the entire Jewish People are holy is correct, yet this claim need not nullify the different spiritual levels within the Jewish People, and that every Jew, in accordance with his level and his role, must be honored. All the more so that Moses and Aaron, the nation’s leaders, deserved to be honored.
We have to show honor to Torah scholars, parents and leaders, as Rav Kook wrote: “What is chiefly responsible for the proper functioning of society is treating with honor those who deserve it: showing honor to Torah scholars brings love of Torah and of wisdom, good traits and the fear of G-d. From honoring parents comes good education with blessed results that show themselves in the young when they grow up. From honoring kings comes a true improvement in the life of the society and the nation.” (see Chavash Pe’er, Ch. 1).
Quite the contrary, when we show our Torah scholars, parents and leaders no honor, anarchy is created in society and destruction in the family. Korach and his assembly, through their pursuit of honor, worked to destroy the honor that the nation should appropriately have been showing its great leaders. Through them was fulfilled our sages’ words, “Jealousy, lust and honor remove a person from the world” (Avot 4:21).
Today, we greatly need to restore the value of honor to our society and culture, to honor our Torah scholars, teachers and educators, to honor our parents and to honor our leaders (despite our differences of opinion on political matters, etc.). And how can this be achieved? By a return to tradition and to our holy Torah, which views honoring and loving our fellow man as a great mitzvah which has to be fulfilled like any other, with great love and reverence. Through honoring our fellow man may we be privileged to see the glory of G-d, who fills the universe with His glory. Looking forward to complete salvation,
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Rabbi Ya’akov Filber – Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir
“Lessons from the Desert Stories”
The parshiyot of the Torah contain both mitzvot and stories. The mitzvot are eternal and were written for all time. Yet we have to ask regarding the Torah’s stories whether they are describing situations that only happened at that time, or whether they contain a message for future generations as well. Already regarding Creation, Rashi brought the exposition of Rabbi Yitzchak, who explains that the story was written to provide an answer to the argument of the nations against our right to Eretz Yisrael.
Regarding the entire book of Genesis our sages said, “Our sages’ deeds presage our own.” The Torah’s stories were written to teach us how to conduct our future lives. Also regarding the book of Exodus, which Ramban called “the book of the exile and the redemption”, the prophet Michah said (7:9), “‘As in the days of your coming forth out of the land of Egypt will I show him marvelous things.” This teaches us that everything that occurred to our forefathers in the redemption from Egypt will be repeated in the future redemption as well, such that the stories of the book of Exodus have something to say for the future as well.
What then is the great message to be learned from the book of Numbers for our future lives? Already in Abraham’s covenant with G-d was sketched out the path of Israel’s redemption, as it says, “Your descendants will be foreigners in a land that is not theirs for 400 years. They will be enslaved and oppressed. But I will finally bring judgment against the nation who enslaves them…And the fourth generation shall return here [to Eretz Yisrael]” (Genesis 15:13-14).
This route from exile to Eretz Yisrael is repeated also in G-d’s address to Moses at the Burning Bush. There G-d sketches out Israel’s route to redemption, as it says, “I have come down to rescue them from Egypt’s power. I will bring them out of that land, to a good, spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:8). It follows that the lesson we learn from the stories of the desert is that the nations cannot disrupt or delay the route of redemption, but we can. Thus, if there is room to fear that delays or disruptions in the redemption process will occur, it will happen only due to the omissions of the Jewish People themselves, as we see from the stories of the desert.
We shall now compare the attempts to prevent redemption in the stories of the Desert, one by the nations and another by Israel. A week after their exodus from Egypt Pharaoh regrets letting them go: “What have we done? How could we have released Israel from doing our work?” (Exodus 14:5). Employing his army, he tries to return Israel to Egypt, and ultimately, his army drowns in the sea. Later along their path, Amalek comes to fight Israel at Refidim, for no reason and without Israel having done anything to them, and they too were cut down by the sword.
Such things occur not only at the start of the desert trek, but at the end as well, near Israel’s entry into the Land. Sichon King of the Amorites and Og King of Bashan try to fight Israel, and they too are vanquished. To these attempts must be added Balak and Bilaam’s attempt to curse Israel and to chase them out of the Land, an attempt that failed. All the attempts by the nations failed.
By contrast, we see that the Jewish People themselves, even if they cannot nullify the path of redemption, possess the ability to disrupt the process and to delay its progress. The most prominent example of this is the sin of the spies. Had Israel not “scorned the desirable land” (Psalm 106:24) and not spoken evil of the Land, they would have entered it within a short time. Now that they did not wish to go there, not only did they delay the redemption by forty years, but were punished that the generation that left Egypt would not enter the Land at all.
The stories of the Desert teach us that the true threat to Israel’s redemption does not come from the nations but precisely from our own foolish omissions, such as the spies scorning the Land. The spies were leaders and the people were dragged after them. This scenario of a true threat repeats itself in the Second Temple period as well. There as well, it is not the threat from Haman or Antiochus that brought on the destruction; rather, the groundless hatred that reigned within the Jewish camp led to a loss of sovereignty, the destruction of the Temple, and the exile of Israel from their land.
This phenomenon is repeated in our own time, as well. We are privileged to have received two enormous gifts from G-d: in 1948 we received the State of Israel, and in 1967 we received the expanses of Eretz Yisrael. Here as well, attempts by the nations to destroy us have not succeeded. The Arab wars against us in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 ended in their defeat. Today as well, if the Land of Israel faces a threat to its future, it is not from the nations who try to destroy it but are unable to, but from the unrelenting effort by those feeble-minded and impatient people within our own ranks to impinge on our right to our land. We prayer that G-d will not cast off His people nor abandon His inheritance.
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
“The End of Secular Zionism?”
At one time there was cooperation between Religious Zionism and Secular Zionism. That’s over! They betrayed us at Gush Katif and Amonah. They are turning rotten, and we are no longer connected to them.
One has to ask about the timing of this statement. Why get so angry just about this subject, rather than over the problematic education system, the inferior legal system, missionaries, the trampling of Kashrut, Sabbath desecration, the destruction of the family, family purity and marriage? Why only about the destruction of the Land?! But to get to the heart of your question, there IS no secular Zionism. Whether people realize this or not, Zionism is divine and not secular.
It’s true that the secular and the haredim think otherwise, out of a strange sort of agreement. The former think so because they are afraid of religion, and the latter think so because they are afraid of Zionism. Yet neither approach is the word of the Living G-d. As Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote, G-d is a Zionist. Open up the Torah and see. Open up the Talmud and see.
By the way, what happened to Zionism happened to Theodor Herzl, in miniature. Both the secular and the Haredim united to deny him any spiritual affinity, the Haredim due to the worries about Herzl, and the secular due to the worries about spirituality. We shall yet discover who Theodor Herzl really was. Since, however, this is not the topic at hand, we shall make due with one short sentence of his: “Our nation is not a nation except through its faith” (Book of the Days 1:53)
Zionism is certainly not secular. Zionism is Torah, and the Zionist awakening comes from a holy source. Consider what Rav Kook wrote: “When we speak of the national will, the entire longing for freedom and for life, the entire desire to lead the life of a nation, and the entire hope for redemption all originate from this Living Source” (Orot, Eretz Yisrael 8). What does he mean by “this living source”? He means “the fire of holiness…that has been burning in the heart of the entire nation from time immemorial: ‘There shall be a constant fire kept burning on the altar, without being extinguished’ (Leviticus 6:6)” (ibid.).
Thus, the entire national awakening is truly about “living Jewish life to its fullest, without contradictions or limitations.” Indeed, just as a private individual has a subconscious awareness that directs his behavior without his realizing it, so, too, a nation has a national subconscious that prods it on without its awareness. And certainly there is a subconscious awareness stored away in the depths of the Jewish nation, namely the Divine Presence.
Why didn’t you read the article, “Al HaPerek” [“A propos”] written by Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook in 1913, in which he teaches how G-d, who orchestrates events, was precisely the one who established the Zionist movement along various channels: “ ‘Come from the four winds, O spirit’ (Ezekiel 37:9). Our [national] lives progress along their course… sometimes following twisted paths” (LeNitivot Yisrael 1:12). Yet all stems from “the inner light of soul” (ibid.), the divine inner vitality. “It is true that the new Zionism and Nationalism were chiefly motivated by external factors and drives, involving the situation of our exilic existence” (ibid., 13). Yet, “who can look now at our flourishing lives in Eretz Yisrael… and not recognize the great divine hand at work in history, the signature of Hashem, G-d of Israel, who knows what will happen in advance?!” (ibid., 13).
“The source of the great movement of the Jewish People is obviously deep within the nation’s spiritual being” (ibid., 13-14). Therefore, once and for all, there is no “Secular Zionism” and no “Religious Zionism”. There is only one Zionism, stemming from the holy source resting within the nation. And altogether, once and for all, there are no “religious” and “secular” Jews, but one people, a holy people, the people of G-d, the beloved nation, a people that have risen to rebirth, a people despite all of whose shortcomings are described as “total beauty, without a blemish” (Song of Songs 4:7), the people through whom G-d shall be glorified.
Watch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at www.israelnntv.com (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir).
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