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From the World of Rabbi Kook
“All culture steeped in falsehood will necessarily perish from the world; in its place will rise a kingdom of the holy and sublime. The light of Israel will create a world with nations of a new spirit, nations that will not mutter in vain nor be in an uproar against G-d and against His anointed.” (Orot, HaMilchamah 15)
Rabbi Dov Begon – Rosh Yeshiva and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “All-Out War Against Our Enemies”
Twice Amalek fought Israel in the desert, first at Rephidim, and then at Arad. Regarding the first, it says, “Amalek came, and fought Israel at Rephidim” (Exodus 17:8), which our sages expound to be “where Israel became lax [rafu yedeihem] regarding the Torah.” The second time was after Aaron’s death, when the clouds of glory receded and Amalek imagined Israel had been weakened: “When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that the Israelites were traveling along the Atharim Highway, he attacked them and took some captives” (Numbers 21:1).
This time, Amalek disguised itself as Canaanites. They spoke Canaanite, but they were really Amalekites (Rashi, ibid.). The difference between the Canaanites and Amalekites is that the former fought Israel over conflicting interests. After all, Israel was coming to conquer the Land under their control. Amalek, by contrast, fought because they hated Israel and wished to annihilate the Jewish People.
The Amalekites at Arad succeeded in taking one single slave girl captive. In doing so, they succeeded in their goal of showing that it was possible to harm Israel in this way and to show that Israel was just like any other nation. Israel’s reaction was appropriate. They set out to crush Amalek, engaging them in an all-out war: “The Israelites made a vow to G-d, and said, ‘If You give this nation into our hand, we will render their cities taboo [chormah].’ G-d heard Israel’s voice, and He allowed them to defeat the Canaanites. The Israelites declared them and their cities taboo. The place was therefore named Chormah” (Numbers 21:2,3).
The Arabs have been fighting us for over 100 years, and their goal is to destroy the State of Israel. They, like the Canaanites, claim we conquered their land. Yet they are really fighting us because they hate the Jews like Amalek, as in their well-known cry, “Itbah el-Yahud” – “Slaughter the Jews!” Indeed, they are trying to kill us, and they do not distinguish between soldier and civilian, husband and wife, young and old, so great is their hatred. They understand that hurting one Jew hurts the entire Jewish People.
The State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces have to learn from the war on Arad. Just as the Israelites waged an all out war, even though the cause of the war was the capture of a single female slave, so too in our own day, for every Jewish loss, whatever it may be, we must wage all-out war against our enemies, who proclaim for all to hear that it is their desire to destroy our country. Only through strength and fortitude will the longed-for peace arrive, as it says, “The L-rd will give strength to His people. The L-rd will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). 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
“The Front: Sderot!”
Eretz Yisrael is acquired through devotion, each time somewhere else. One time it involves the settlements of the Negev, another time, those by the Sea of Galilee. One time it involves Beit She’an, another time Kiryat Shemoneh. One time it involves Jerusalem, another time Judea and Samaria. Right now, the front is at – Sderot!
We have to be aware that wicked nations surround us like bees, yet we mustn’t worry. They shall fall like all who tormented us in the past. The Master-of-the-Universe has begun to bring salvation to His people. The return to Zion began more than a hundred years ago. The dawn has arisen, even if it is still “red”. We are millions, facing hundreds of millions of enemies on the outside. Now is war, and in war heroism is needed.
Thank G-d, we are not afraid of them. Certainly we needn’t fear despicable terrorists who have no real power. All they know is how to frighten. It is thus forbidden to surrender to them. Indeed, we are not afraid at all. They are certainly less dangerous than traffic accidents, which kill six hundred per year, and smoking, which kills ten thousand per year. Fear itself is what is dangerous.
Once a wicked physician wished to prove to the Sultan that he was smarter than Rambam, so he suggested a bizarre competition: Whichever succeeded in poisoning the other would be the Sultan’s physician. Obviously, Rambam wouldn’t poison anyone, yet that physician was afraid, so he ate only what his faithful servants had bought for him, and later on, only what he had bought himself. As for Rambam, he led a normal life, ate regular food, yet he preserved a sample of every food and on his return home he examined it in his laboratory, and if it was poison, he drank an antidote. Still, the wicked physician was more and more afraid, until he finally ate only vegetables that he had grown in his own garden, and milk from a goat tied to his bed. By such means, he grew more and more gaunt and ill until he died. The Sultan said to Rambam, “You are the greater! You succeeded in poisoning him!” But Rambam said, “No, he didn’t die of poison. He died of fear!”
We understand that our Knesset and cabinet are afraid. Also when we left Egypt and stood before the Red Sea, we were afraid, and there, comments Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, we had 600,000 armed fighters. We committed the sin of the spies because we were afraid. We had to walk for forty years in the desert, says Rambam in Guide to the Perplexed, so that we could learn valor. Yet as then, so, too, now, we needn’t fear at all.
We love peace, yet if the enemy strikes us, we have to strike back twice as hard. Even if the enemy only plans to strike, we must ourselves take preventative action and attack the enemy full force (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 329:6, Rama). When the King of Amon cut off half of each beard and cloak of all of David’s men, David went forth against him in battle. Is that an exaggerated response? No! Because if you let the enemy do such things, matters progress from bad to worse. It is therefore very ethical.
The story is told of an Englishman, Frenchman and Israeli who were captured by cannibals. The cannibals tied them up and began to cook them. The Englishman asked, “Would you honor a last request?” and they answered, “Certainly! What is it?” He answered, “To see a picture of the Queen of England”. They showed it to him and he was at peace. The Frenchman said, “I would like a cup of wine from my homeland,” and he too received his wish. “I want the head of the tribe to give me a kick!” said the Israeli. It seemed an impolite thing to do, but the head of the tribe fulfilled his request. The Israeli then broke free, pulled out a pistol and wiped out the entire cannibal village. His companions asked him, “If you had a pistol the whole time, why didn’t you shoot before?” The Israeli answered, “I didn’t want them to say that I am immoral because I shot first…” If this joke wasn’t so sad, it would be funny.
Who are the heroes among us? The residents of Sderot! Their situation is unbearable. With all those Kassam missiles threatening man, woman and children every second, no one has left. That’s dedication! There is dedication in Torah learning and there is dedication in prayer. There is dedication in Gush Katif and there is dedication in Amonah. And now there is dedication in Sderot. Week after week, day after day, hour after hour. This is dedication for all of us, and we are all there. The dedication of heroes.
Rabbi Ya’akov Filber – Guest Lecturer at Machon Meir
Down through the ages, the Jewish family has always been the best guarantee of the survival of the Jewish People. Therefore, when Jacob and his children were going down to Egypt, the Torah remarks, “Each came with his family” (Exodus 1:1). When Pharaoh asked Moses who would be leaving for the three days of worship in the desert, Moses answered, “Young and old alike we will go. We will go with our sons and daughters” (10:9). There can be no freedom to the individual or to the nation as long as the family is broken. For that reason, when we were required to make a reminder of the Egyptian redemption, we were commanded to bring not a “korban yachid”, the offering of an individual, nor a “korban tzibbur”, a communal offering, but rather, “a lamb for each extended family, a lamb for each household” (12:3). The point was to emphasize the family element within the Pesach miracle. (Also in our publicizing the Chanukah miracle, the essential mitzvah is “one candle per person, in a family context,” and for the same reason. See the explanation of Ein Aya, ibid.)
Already as a child, Miriam understood the importance of a strong family unit. Starting then, she devoted herself to the preservation of the family and of happy marital relations. Four times we encounter Miriam in the Torah. The first is with the birth of Moses, the second is after the splitting of the sea, the third is when she gossiped about Moses, and the fourth is at her death. Do these four events share a common thread? When we examine each, we discern a common factor, namely “the Jewish family”.
In the first case it says, “A man from the house of Levi went and took a daughter of Levi” (Exodus 2:1). The Midrash, quoted by Rashi, wonders where the man “went”. The Midrash explains that the man was Amram and the daughter of Levi was Yocheved, his wife. Amram later divorced her to avoid producing sons whom Pharaoh would kill, but he then remarried her. The Midrash concludes that Amram “went” after the advice of his daughter Miriam, who told him, “Your own decree is worse than Pharaoh’s. If Pharaoh decreed upon the males, you, [by divorcing Yocheved], are decreeing upon the females as well.” The Jewish family unit was so important to Miriam that she even opposed her father, rebuking him that he must remarry his wife.
After the splitting of the sea, Miriam appears again, as it says, “Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the drum in her hand, and all the women followed her with drums and dancing” (Exodus 15:20). It is true that there is no direct connection here to family, but “the splitting of the sea” is philosophically connected to the Jewish family, as our sages said (Sanhedrin 22a), “It is as hard for G-d to make matches as the splitting of the sea.” It is thus possible to understand that Miriam celebrated with drum and dancing when “the splitting of the sea” was realized.
In Miriam’s third appearance, when she gossiped about Moses, there is already a direct connection to Miriam’s concern over the family unit. Regarding Numbers 12:1, “Miriam began speaking against Moses because of the dark-skinned woman he had married,” Rashi comments: “She was talking about Moses’s having divorced her. And how did Miriam know that Moses had done so? Miriam was with Moses’s wife Tzipporah when Moses was told, ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!’ (Numbers 11:27), and she heard Tzipporah say, ‘Woe to their wives! If they start to prophesy a lot, they will divorce their wives like my husband divorced me.’ That is how Miriam knew.”
Miriam feared that Moses would provide a personal example to all of Israel, which would bring about the collapse of the family unit. She then proceeded to rebuke her brother over this, doing so out of her worry over the Jewish family unit.
Miriam’s fourth appearance, her passing away, is also connected, if only indirectly, to the Jewish family unit. Midrash Shir HaShirim Rabbah (Chapter 4, Entry: “te’omei tzvia”) expounds: “Three fine leaders arose in Israel, Moses, Aaron and Miriam, and through their merit three gifts were given to Israel: the well, the manna and the clouds of glory. The manna was by virtue of Moses, the well by virtue of Miriam, and the clouds of glory by virtue of Aaron. When Miriam passed away, the well ceased.”
The well is where our ancestors found their matches: Eliezer introduced Rebecca to Isaac at the well, Jacob met Rachel at the well, and Moses met Jethro’s daughter by the well in Midian. Thus the well symbolizes the building of the family. Because Miriam was busy all her life with strengthening the family unit, it was through her that Israel merited the well that accompanied them on their wanderings through the desert. Still, we might ask why Miriam was punished when she spoke about Moses, but not when she rebuked her father. Seemingly, a daughter’s talking back to her father is worse than speaking against one’s little brother.
The answer, of course, is that Miriam rebuked her father in private. It was just between her and him. In the case with Moses, however, she rebuked Moses publicly, for all of Israel to hear. She wanted them not to learn from Moses’s example. As the Talmud teaches (Sanhedrin 101b), Jeroboam merited to be king of the Northern Kingdom because he rebuked King Solomon. He was punished, however, because he rebuked him publicly.” Here we can derive a lesson for all time. Even if we are working to advance a cause that affects the Jewish People, the ends do not justify the means. We mustn’t insult, mock or belittle anyone.
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