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PARASHAT SHELACH

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“From the World of Rabbi Kook”

“In Eretz Yisrael, man’s imagination becomes clear and pristine, clean and pure, capable of housing divine truth…” (Orot Eretz Yisrael 5)


Rabbi Dov BegonFounder and Head of Machon Meir
Message for Today: “We Must go Forth and Occupy the Land”


The spies carried out their mission. They were sent by Moses, who sent them to examine the quality of the Land and its inhabitants. They returned with the following report: “We came to the land where you sent us, and it is indeed flowing with milk and honey, as you can see from its fruit” (Numbers 13:27). Their sin, however, was in their interpretation of what they saw and the conclusion they derived from their erroneous interpretation:
“The land we explored consumes its inhabitants! All the men there are huge…We felt like tiny grasshoppers and that’s how we appeared in their eyes” (13:32-33). The bad conclusion that brought calamity upon their generation was this: “We cannot go forward against those people! They are too strong for us [mimenu]” (verse 31). In Hebrew, “mimenu” can mean either “us” or “him”. Rashi comments that the spies were saying the Canaanites were too strong even for “Him”, for G-d! Their faith in G-d’s power had been shaken!
In contrast to the ten spies who sinned and brought the people to sin, Calev ben Yefuneh stood, one man against everyone, in certain faith and said, “We must go forth and occupy the Land. We can do it” (Numbers 13:30). Nonetheless, the vast majority of the people fell prey to the spies’ sin: “That night the people wept” (14:1). They were smitten with despair: “All the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron. The entire community said, ‘We wish we had died in Egypt! We should have died in the desert! Why is G-d bringing us to this land to die by the sword? Our wives and children will be captives! It would be best to go back to Egypt!” (14:2-3).
Today we are at the height of an internal struggle regarding our relationship to Eretz Yisrael. We hear the same arguments made by the spies dressed up in different garb. The disengagement camp arms itself with rational arguments, that if we do not disengage from the Land, it will claim many victims (“a land that consumes its inhabitants”). They argue that unless we establish an Arab state in the very heart of our country, America and the world will be against us (“We felt like tiny grasshoppers and that’s how we appeared in their eyes”).
Opposing them are the settlers of Gush Katif and Judea and Samaria – akin to Calev ben Yefuneh. This population rids its heart of fear and delusion. They fill our hearts with faith and trust in G-d, who commanded us through the generations, but especially for our own generation: “Clear out the land and live in it, since it is to you I am giving the land to occupy” (Numbers 33:53). Today, those holding the temporary reins of leadership are following in the path of the spies by a readiness to cut themselves off from our land. Yet those who love Eretz Yisrael, those following in the path of Calev ben Yefuneh, will be victorious in the struggle to hold the entire length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael. May we be the living fulfillment of G-d’s promise, “For the L-rd will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance” (Psalm 94:14). Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom!


Join our English Dept. live on our website for a vibrant discussion on Halacha. Each Thursday at 2:25pm (Israel time) at www.machonmeir.org.il

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
“Paint the Country Orange”

Please! Wear an orange ribbon day and night. On your wrist, your coat, your belt, the antenna in your car, all the windows of your home. Wear an orange shirt, an orange yarmulke. Give it to your friends. Give it to everyone. Paint the country orange! This is how we proclaim, “Our land! You are ours! Forever! We love you. We’ve done all we could for you, and we will keep doing it. We came to demonstrations, and now we are involving the whole nation. We love you, because of what you are – our land. It isn’t easy for you. You must be sad. Yet know that your struggle is the struggle for everything.”
Orange is how we express our national protest against the prime minister and say: Please abandon this mental fixation with uprooting an entire section of the country. You remind us of the elderly Roman senator, Cato, who would end every speech, “Ceterum censeo Karthaginem esse delendam” [Besides all this, I think we have to destroy Carthage].
The people of Katif are not enemies, but a vital part of the nation you are tearing apart; as though peace with enemies were more important than peace between us. We are not being allowed to talk. We are not being allowed to express ourselves, so we are painting. We are like a poor man whom bandits wish to attack in broad daylight. They demand of us, “Don’t make noise. Don’t shout. It bothers us.” And for added measure they demonize and dehumanize us. They say we are going to shoot soldiers and throw them from the rooftops. They don’t let us shout, so we paint.
We are protesting the thought of faithful sons being thrown into the street. These sons are faithful to the nation and the Land, and lead lives of daily self-sacrifice. They are no different from the rest of the inhabitants of Judea and Samaria, who settle the Land with self-sacrifice and deserve that everyone should take off their hats to them, from North to South. They don’t deserve to have every minor shortcoming, real or imagined, placed under the microscope.
We are using the color of the smiling sun, because we love everyone. If someone says to us, “I dreamed that the Prime Minister went to bed one night and didn’t wake up in the morning,” or if he says that he dreamed this about anyone else in the government, in the Knesset, the army, the General Security Service or the police, we must castigate that person and say: Cleanse your brain of filth and evil thoughts! Be among the pure-minded who believe in the nation.
We believe the people can be persuaded. Perhaps they are becoming more and more convinced themselves. The number of supporters of the Disengagement has gone down from 65% to 48%, for how can we throw our brothers into the street? A high-ranking officer said, “If I have to evict settlers and they express opposition, I have no problem with that. I know how to deal with that. But if I come and see a mother taking her children to kindergarten and their father invites me in for a cup of tea, I will faint. I will melt.”
We are painting orange, the color of the sun, in order to illuminate the dark places of the earth. Unfortunately, among our brethren are many blind people. They are wonderful people, but are blind. They do not see that Gush Katif symbolizes our rebirth, and to leave it is a terrible crime and a profanation of G-d’s name, a source of suffering to the Divine Presence. It constitutes our having lost our way.
Yet we smile to our people and believe in the unity that will usher in our redemption. That unity transcends politics and mends rifts, working against the deterioration that jeopardizes our very survival. We loathe violence, humiliation and hatred. We smile and believe in the Jewish People and the Eternal G-d of Israel.


Be sure to catch Rabbi David Samson’s weekly Torah insight on “Israeli Salad” at www.israelnntv.com (produced in cooperation with Machon Meir).


Rabbi Elisha Aviner – Education Corner
Educating Towards Values


A controversy exists among educators in the secular world over whether they should educate toward values, and if so, how. Some hold that values should not be taught, because regarding most values there is no consensus, and an educator is not allowed to educate according to his own personal worldview. In our day, there is almost not a single value over which there is no controversy. Therefore, any educator who seeks to avoid controversy must refrain entirely from educating towards values. Even if an educator has not been influenced by the winds of Western society that question the validity of all values, and has succeeded in developing for himself a clear set of values, he will still have to deal with the need to establish priorities. There are many values and it is impossible to teach them all at once. Therefore, priorities have to be set. This is not an easy task. If it is hard to crystallize a set of desirable values, it is that much harder to order them according to importance or urgency. This difficulty is liable to dissuade educators from dealing with educating towards values.
Such uncertainties are not our lot. The Torah sets forth clear values and directs us to teach them. It leaves no room for hesitancy or doubt. Starting with Abraham, we are called upon to educate towards values. G-d says, “I have given Abraham special attention so that he will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep G-d’s way, doing charity and justice” (Genesis 18:19). Abraham was chosen for the task of educating towards values. This task was not imposed on him alone, but on “his children and his household after him,” i.e., the Jewish People down through the generations.
One might ask: Where do we find the values we must teach? Where in our sources does the obligation to educate toward values appear? The most prevalent answer is Pirkei Avot. Tractate Avot is replete with values and deals with teaching them. This answer is only partially correct, however.
No one will argue with the fact that Avot includes a long list of values. Yet this answer attests to a basic lack of understanding of what values are from a Torah perspective. In the eyes of many, from among the whole treasure of the Torah, only Avot deals with values, for only Avot focuses on moral instruction. This is a mistake. Our values begin with 613 mitzvot. All 613 mitzvot are values and educate towards values. This applies not only to those between man and man, regarding which it can be said, “Deeds influence the heart,” but to all 613 mitzvot. Therefore, even someone who is not commanded to keep a particular mitzvah receives reward for keeping it (Rabbenu Nissim).
A mitzvah has inherent value. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook calls mitzvot “mussar hakodesh” [the morality of holiness]. There is human morality and there is divine morality. Human morality is limited, because our scope of vision is limited. Divine morality, by contrast, encompasses the entire universe, plunging to the depths of human experience and soaring to the heights of the celestial realm.
What is the source of the idea that Jewish values are found solely in Tractate Avot? Its roots are found in a secular Western dialogue that relates to the mitzvot of the Torah as a “religious rite” and negates their inner meaning. At the same time, this approach admires secular morality and views it as superior. The moral instruction found in Avot is considered “values”. By contrast, the rest of the mitzvot are a “religious rite”, without the least trace of ethical value. This approach permeates us, and we must fight against it; it distorts the meaning and empties the inner content of the Torah.
The conclusion is simple: whoever wishes to educate toward values should educate toward keeping all the mitzvot of the Torah. Some argue: Our sages distinguished between Torah and values when they declared that “derech eretz kadma l’Torah” [proper behavior comes before the Torah]. This erroneously implies that proper behavior and Torah are separate entities.
Our sages teach us that from Creation and until the Torah was given, the world survived by virtue of proper behavior. Thus, proper behavior is, in fact, the basis of the Torah. After the Torah was given, however, proper behavior is included in the Torah and so become exalted, stronger and more powerful. Proper behavior changed from an isolated group of instructions to a wide ranging array of mitzvot. In the Torah, numerous values were added that were not included in proper behavior. Everything became sanctified through the holiness of divine morality. Therefore, educating toward values means educating toward Torah and mitzvot. One can stress particular aspects of the Torah, but the impression must not be created that Torah and proper behavior are separate entities.

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!




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