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“From the World of Rav Kook”
“The force of genuine Jewishness within us is the exclusive bearer and protector of the holy oath we swore by the rivers of Babylon: ‘If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning’ (Psalm 137:5). That force ignites even the hidden, inextinguishable spark within every Jew.” (Ma’amarei HaReiyah, 334)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Founder and Head of the Machon
Message for Today: Jerusalem’s Perpetual Rebirth
For thousands of years, the Jewish People have been reciting in the Shemoneh Esreh prayer, the words, “Blessed are You, O G-d, who builds Jerusalem,” and in the Grace after Meals, “Blessed are You… who builds Jerusalem in mercy.” Seemingly we can ask, “How was it possible in the exile, with Jerusalem destroyed and desolate, to bless G-d for building Jerusalem in the present tense?”
Yet the truth is that Jerusalem is constantly in a state of being built, even when we cannot see and sense it. To what may this be compared? To a seed hidden in the earth or to a fetus inside its mother’s womb. We know with certainty that growth processes are going on that will ultimately lead to the sprouting of a plant or the birth of an infant with a good soul.
It is the same with Jerusalem. Despite our having been in the darkness of exile, and despite Jerusalem’s seemingly having been in ruin and desolation, we would still praise G-d who “mercifully builds Jerusalem, Amen.” Our sages interpret the “Amen” as an abbreviation for “E-l Melech Ne’eman,” “Faithful G-d and King.” In other words, we testify through our blessing that G-d is faithful to fulfill His promise, and that we are certain that Jerusalem is in a constant state of being built, both secretly and openly.
Today, in our own generation, we see with our own eyes the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Through us is being fulfilled, “The L-rd does build up Jerusalem. He gathers together the dispersed of Israel” (Psalm 147:2). Through the building of Jerusalem and the ingathering of the dispersed of Israel, we shall more and more be privileged to see how G-d “heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds” (Ibid., verse 3).
Yet the nations have not yet resigned themselves to Jewish control over Jerusalem, or to the rebuilding of Jerusalem. They are hatching evil plots such as the “Roadmap” and the “Disengagement Plan.” As it says, “Why are the nations in an uproar? Why do the peoples mutter in vain? The kings of the earth join ranks; the rulers take counsel together, against the L-rd and against His anointed” (Psalm 2:1-2). Edom and Ishmael still say of Jerusalem, “Raze it! Raze it to its very foundations!” (Psalm 137:7).
Today, Jerusalem’s line of defense passes through Gush Katif and Northern Samaria. Our settler brethren, renowned for their valor, who give of themselves totally in their struggle for Eretz Yisrael, are defending not just their own homes, but Jerusalem, heart of the nation. It is true that unfortunately those who hold the reins of leadership do not understand and do not wish to understand this. In their plan of disengagement from the land, not only are they weakening our hold on Jerusalem, but, to our shame and disgrace, they are building a concrete wall for the purpose of dividing the land of our life’s blood and Jerusalem.
Yet the day is not far off when those holding the reins of government will fall, with G-d’s help, and those concrete walls shall fall as well. Then all shall see revealed the words of Psalm 125:1-2: “They that trust in the L-rd are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the L-rd is round about His people, henceforth and forever.”
With blessings for a joyous Jerusalem Day,
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner – Chief Rabbi of Beit El
Funds for Gush Katif
Hats off to Gush Katif, which is manning the front. Surely you envy them and say to yourself, “When will I, as well, have the privilege of being at the front? Yet what can I do? I can’t move there.”
Great news! There’s a solution: Send money. Be aware that if a farmer has no credit, he can’t work. Here, the immoral Disengagement Plan has turned off the faucets. Similarly, small businessmen are down to their last shekel. The farmer faces pressure from all directions, and if, G-d forbid, he falls, the Gush will fall. The whole thing will collapse – and all because of a little nail. Yet if the farmer leads a normal, healthy life, Gush Katif’s power base will be maintained, and everything will remain in place.
Therefore, please! Answer the great and holy call of the illustrious rabbi of Gush Katif, HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Yigal Kaminsky, and send money! Every family should send 1,000 shekels (to the address: “Keren Ma’amin VeZore’a / Ganei Tal / D.N. Chof Aza 79792”. Contributions are tax-deductible). If you are wealthy, send a lot. If you are poor, send less, but in any event, send a conditional loan. If, with G-d’s help, everything goes well, you will get your money back. (See also Leaflet 469, about the “Katif National Fund.”) Quickly! Before another day passes!
You will certainly want to ask where you will get the money to send to them. Scrimp on nonsense and luxuries. Make due with little. What a wonderful thing money is! You can do all sorts of fine things with it. Blessed are You, O L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe, who creates all sorts of money! If you send money, you’re a partner. You’re there! Since G-d wanted you to be a partner, He created the lack of money there (see the words of Rabbi Meir in Bava Batra 10a).
Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi was asked, “When will redemption come?” He responded, “When the Jews make Jerusalem their greatest object of longing [Hebrew ‘kosef’]” (end of “The Kuzari”). “Kosef” means longing, but it also means “kesef,” money. When a person longs for something, the money materializes. Down through the ages, until this very day, Jews handed over their money for the sake of Zion. New immigrants lose a lot of money, but veteran residents and army reservists suffer losses as well. A thousand shekels is chicken feed compared to what the people of Gush Katif are sacrificing and risking.
The people of Gush Katif aren’t staying there just for themselves, their homes and their money. Rather, they are sacrificing themselves and their money as emissaries of the public. An emissary of the public needs a public, and that public has to answer “Amen.” In this case, that “amen” is a thousand shekels.
Eretz Yisrael is acquired through self-sacrifice, and that includes the sacrifice of money. Our sages asked, “When do miracles occur?” and they answered, “When there is self-sacrifice.” The example they then bring involves precisely the sacrifice of money (Berachot 20a). Our sages comment that the words, “Love the L-rd your G-d… with all your might [me’odecha]” (Deuteronomy 6:5) means, “with all your wealth.” The great preachers of the 19th century said, “Just as your love of G-d must fill up your whole heart, so must you love G-d with all your wealth.
If your money is there, you are there. Rabbi Tzadok HaKoken of Lublin said, “There is a significant connection between what a person spends money on and who he is” (Tzidkat HaTzadik 192; Remez Divrei Sofrim 3; Yisrael Kedoshim 34; and elsewhere). Maharal wrote that a person’s money is considered part of a person. As our sages said numerous times, “If someone steals a small sum from his fellow man, it is as though he has killed him.” They also said, “The money of the righteous is more precious to them than their own bodies” (Netivot Olam, Netiv HaTeshuva 5).
And on the same topic:
Don’t make money off of the expulsion of Jews!
I hereby inform you that I’ve got family and friends in Gush Katif and in Northern Samaria, and if you lack a human heart and you intend to make money off the expulsion from portions of our land and their transformation to refugees, obviously I won’t be able to buy from you and to benefit from your services. I am referring to any civilian body that seeks to earn unfair profits, via trucks, containers, cranes, buses, bulldozers, packing services, food services, etc. This is a free country and I a free individual, and no one is going to be able to force me to buy where I do not wish to buy. And whoever wants to force me, even verbally, is immoral.
Please! Don’t earn evil money devoid of blessing! If you refuse to be a partner in the expulsion of our brethren, I will be happy to publicize it so that people will buy precisely from you. And don’t you forget to send your thousand shekels to Gush Katif.
May He who blessed our ancestors, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov, Moshe, Aharon, David and Shlomo, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah, also bless everyone who sends money to Gush Katif. May the Holy One, Blessed be He, preserve him from all trouble and suffering, from every plague and malady, and may all the blessings inscribed in the Torah of Moshe, and in the Prophets and Writings, befall him. May he merit to see sons and daughters who live and flourish, going on to get married and to perform good deeds. And may they serve the L-rd G-d always, in truth and sincerity, and let us say Amen.
HELP SAVE GUSH KATIF!
www.savegushkatif.org : an excellent site for information about Gush Katif and the thousands of Jews living there, and what you can do to help. Visit the site; send a link to everyone you know!
Rabbi Elisha Aviner
Education Corner – “Does Your Community Have a Rabbi?”
In recent years, organized religious communities have proliferated. Many older religious communities have become well-established and young communities have sprung up as well. The enormous contribution made by the community to the individual and to the public was well-known in the Diaspora. Hence successful communal models were developed, and these became the focus of spiritual and social life for the communities’ members.
In the Land of Israel, it seemed as though this was superfluous. In the Diaspora, it was needed in order for the Jews to survive amongst a sea of non-Jews. Here, however, in Eretz Yisrael, we are all members of the same people. We are all one great Jewish community. Why form a community within a community?! Therefore, when a few individual communities were founded and gained renown, few followed in their path. With time, and as the result of various processes within Israeli society and religious society, it was discovered that the communal framework is likely to make a contribution even in a Jewish state. Thus an Israeli model of the religious community arose.
Today, many amongst the religious public seek to belong to a community. One of the criteria for choosing a place to live is the quality of the community: Is it active and lively, or sleepy? Is it progressive or stagnant?
The establishment of religious communities has to be accompanied by another step: the hiring of a rabbi by each community, whether that community is new or old. There is nothing new about this! In the Diaspora, it was an accepted, widespread phenomenon. In every community, there was a presiding rabbi. The responsibility for appointing the rabbis fell upon the members of the community. There was no one else to take care of this for them. In Israel, it was considered the job of the State to take care of hiring rabbis, through the appointment of town rabbis and neighborhood rabbis. This is one of the virtues and advantages of a Jewish State, that it assists in strengthening the Torah and in buttressing the institution of the Rabbinate. Therefore, there was a feeling that whatever the State provides in the realm of the Rabbinate should satisfy all of our needs. Any addition is superfluous.
Now, with the growth of the religious public in Israel, and with the establishment and flourishing of so many religious communities, we must complete the social process by means of appointing a rabbi to every community. What is the task of the community rabbi? To lead the community spiritually. This will have an influence on everyone, old and young, men and women, marrieds and singles. The rabbi’s center of activity is the synagogue, but his influence is recognizable in the life of the community, starting with the youth movement and continuing with marital counseling and various types of kind deeds. Torah, prayer and charity will all receive a significant emphasis thanks to the rabbi. The great experience accumulated over recent years has proven this: Numerous communities have changed for the better in every sense of the word, thanks to the rabbi.
Some say: “We heard about such-and-such a community, in which the fight with the rabbi destroyed everything good about the community, so we’re not interested in a rabbi.”
The answer to this is as follows: The possibility of failure always exists. This characterizes all social interaction. Even marriage can turn into Hell on earth. All the same, successful marriages are Paradise. The community’s communication with the rabbi is like a marriage. Sometimes the marriage works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. Yet the experience of recent years has shown that most communities are satisfied with their rabbis. Today there are organizations that have gained expertise at accompanying the community in the search for an appropriate rabbi, in planning out what his jobs should be and in preparing a suitable agreement with him that includes a section on disbanding the partnership.
Some ask: Are there suitable candidates to fill the posts? The answer is yes. There is a great pool of Torah scholars who have been educated in our yeshivot and who are ready to step into positions as community rabbis. Amongst them are broadminded scholars with social sensitivity, who are capable of elevating the community in numerous spheres. Some argue: “It is hard to find a rabbi capable of satisfying all needs: ministering to the elderly, to youth and to children, giving Torah lectures, providing marital counseling, making speeches at joyous occasions and talking with fringe youth, leading the community and tending to the needs of the individual.”
Yet the answer is this: (1) Many have the potential to fulfill most of the tasks. (2) The rabbi doesn’t have to do it all himself. His job is to ensure that every task essential to the spiritual growth of the community at large and of each individual member of that community will be carried out, either personally through him or by means of his emissaries. Does a community rabbi cost money? Certainly. He cannot devote his time to the community if he is busy morning until night earning a living. Leading the community has to be one of the central tasks in his life, and not a side task for his free time.
And where shall the money come from? The members of communities in the Diaspora did not ask this question when they hired rabbis for a salary. They understood the job’s importance. They also understood that the investment was worth it (in spiritual growth, the influence on the children’s education, in marital and social harmony, meaning improved quality of life, both spiritually and socially). They therefore collected the appropriate funds to cover the rabbi’s salary. What is done in the Diaspora we can do here in Israel as well. If members of a community recognize the matter’s importance, they will find the sources of funding. It also isn’t so farfetched for two nearby communities to band together to fund one rabbi for the two of them.
As a final note, the Religious Kibbutz Movement is a worthy object of praise in this regard. For many years they were opposed to appointing rabbis, for a variety of reasons. Yet from the moment they decided to appoint them, they have been enormously scrupulous in sticking to their decision. They have institutionalized the job, and even when one of their rabbis leaves his post for various reasons, within a short time a replacement is found who takes over fully.
Does your community have a rabbi?
Be sure to 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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