And Yehuda, Too, Will Fight Against Jerusalem

The prophet Zacharia (chapter 14) prophesizes on the gentile nations who will gather together in the end of days to come against Jerusalem. And then he says a frightening verse: “And Yehuda shall also fight against Jerusalem”. While most commentators say that the gentiles will force Jews to join them, the commentator Rabbi David Kimchi (“Radak”) interprets the verse in its simple understanding – that part of the Jewish People will join the gentile and fight against the Jewish Nation. Unfortunately, we are starting to understand this verse well. Through recent events we have seen overt cooperation between decadent portions of the nation and the enemies of Israel:

  1. The most blatant: The leftists, led by the Labor Party, joining the propaganda attacks of the Arabs and the world against Israel at a time when battles were taking place in the territories following the opening of the Kotel tunnel. This set a new height, because we cannot recall open cooperation with an enemy in time of war.
  2. Two weeks after the government was put together, a writer for “HaAretz”wrote: “155 American rabbis (at least they were reform and conservative) wrote a letter to Clinton calling for American aid to Israel to be contingent upon the freezing of the settlements.”
  3. For the first time since its inception, the organization “B’Tselem” (in the Image) has called to organizations throughout the WORLD to take action in order to put on trial ex-Shabak head Ehud Yatom for fulfilling the mitzvah of smashing the head of two Amalikites who kidnapped the bus no. 300 ten years ago, and was pardoned for “something which doesn’t occur in the most primitive republics”. Again, what we have here is the informing or handing over to the gentile in a matter directly relating to war between us and our enemies. The group “B’Tselem” even gives the gentiles advice: “..You can arrest him abroad for the charge of executing someone without a trial, which is against international law”. It is pointed out in the article that this was the first time that the organization turned to gentiles in an effort to arrest someone from the Israeli Security forces.
  4. The filth who calls himself Jonathan Gefen, who left Israel for New York (as the Torah states that the land vomits out its garbage) writes in the newspaper “Maariv” that he is looking forward to the Clinton victory and he fantasizes how Clinton, after the elections, “sits Netanyahu down” like a master to a slave, and says to him: “Mr Netanyahu, you have been playing foolish games and leading us on for too long…etc.” It is no wonder that the low life who fathered Aviv Gefen, is a lot worse, as it is written, “For out of the serpents root shall come forth a basilisk” -that is, evil can only produce evil (Isiah, 14:29) He informs us that he is not Jew, but an Israeli. He says that the land is not his, and calls for the youth to leave the country. With his putrid mouth he compares Yigal Amir to Hitler.

Tisha B’Av: The Holocaust That Is Overshadowed by the Destruction of the Temple

The revolution against the Romans and siege on Jerusalem which resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple, produced one of the worst holocausts in Jewish history. According to the testimony of Yosef Ben Matitiyahu (Yosefus Plabius), about one million Jews were killed in Jerusalem, and 100,000 prisoners were taken captive to Rome.

Despite this chilling fact, it is only a footnote in the history of this era. While every child knows that on Tish A B’Av the Temple was destroyed and we were exiled from our land, many Jews are less aware of the physical holocaust which accompanied it.

And how puzzling are the words of our sages, who tell us that that G-d had mercy upon the Jewish People, pouring out his fury on wood and stones (the Temple) instead of on the Jews themselves who had sinned. If this is so, the question is two-fold : 1. One million Jews killed shows us that “G-d poured his fury on wood and stones”? 2. Why has the death of so many Jews become marginal in our Tisha B’Av mourning? Is human life less important than the wood and stones of the Temple?

To answer these questions, we must free ourselves from our western mindset. For according to the Jewish idea, physical existence is NOT the ultimate value, but rather there is a purpose to the life of a Jew, and without this purpose, the reason for his existence becomes less significant.

This is the reason that the massive slaughter of Jews that took place during the siege is dwarfed in importance when compared to the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jewish People from their land. Because when the People of Israel are not in the land of the living, Eretz Yisrael, and when their Temple is destroyed, the Jew can no longer properly fulfill his destiny in the world. His life, so to speak, loses its meaning.

This explains the startling stories of many Jews who lost their faculties upon seeing the Temple burning in flames, and simply cast themselves into the fire, burning themselves alive! They could not grasp a reality of “Am Yisrael” without the Holy Temple.

After 2,000 years of exile, this idea seems a bit extreme. Is it really the end of the world when the Temple is burned down? Don’t we at least fulfill mitzvot in the exile? Can’t we fulfill our destiny as Jews without a Temple? The answer to this is clear: No. The entire reality of observing mitzvot in the exile is “B’diavad” – that is, it is undesired, but must be done because of lack of choice. For the Torah was given to the Holy People to be performed in the Holy Land, and in the exile we became a mere religion comprised of individuals. For this the sages tell us that the purpose of fulfilling mitzvot in the exile is only so that we won’t forget them when we return to the Land of Israel, where the fulfillment of mitzvot take on their full significance.

Now we can answer the two questions we posed: When Israel sinned,desecrating the Holy Temple and turning it into a “discotheque”, G-d wasreally supposed to destroy us all, G-d forbid. But since G-d loves us and ties His Name (His existence, so to speak) to the name of the Jewish People, He determined that we will never be totally wiped out. Therefore, he destroyed the wood and stones of the Temple instead of destroying those who desecrated it. But this does not negate the possibility that the Jewish People will be severely punished with the likes of holocausts and exiles (which is the harshest punishment of them all). Indeed, total annihilation will never be, and in the end there will be redemption, with the Jewish People returning to fulfill it’s destiny in a complete way in its land and Temple.

Now it can be understood how the massive killing of Jews in Jerusalem can be viewed as a marginal event in relation to the destruction itself. Because the moment the Jewish People are exiled from their land and there is no Temple – life itself becomes less significant. More than that, all the tragedies of the exile – the Inquisitions and Holocausts, are secondary to the exile and the destruction itself. In fact, the spiritual vacuum of the Temple is the reason for the physical tragedies that befall us, for one is dependent upon the other!

Therefore, all efforts for “Eretz Yisrael”, for the building of the Holy Temple and for the purifying of the Temple Mount which is the life-center for “Am Yisrael”, are not reserved just for “those interested in politics”. All those who fear G-d, love Israel and are pained by the exile of the Divine Presence must make these issues the center of their lives. For the fulfillment of the mitzvot are dependent on them. The return of the Jewish People to life is dependent on them!!

Tisha B’Av: Something Has Happened Since Napolean…

It is told of Napolean, that upon passing a synagogue during the Ninth of Av, looked inside and saw Jews sitting on the floor and weeping. When he inquired further he was told the Jews were mourning over the destruction of their Holy Temple. “How long ago did this occur?”, he asked. “About 1,500 years ago”. “In that case”, said Napolean, “there is no doubt that their Temple will be rebuilt. A people capable of crying for so long over its destroyed Temple and Land will eventually find its way home.”

While the Jewish People remained in the Exile, this was a nice story.Without a doubt, its optimistic message encouraged our people during times of severe hardships. Napolean was keen enough to realize that a people who relives its past will succeed in conquering its future. Indeed, our sages have already stated that, “He who mourns for Jerusalem will merit to share in her joy”. (Trachtate Taanit, 30)

However there exists one little problem. All this mourning was appropriate when we were forced into the Exile, being held at the mercy of the gentile nations and thus unable to forge our national destiny. In such a case, it was fitting to mourn “whole-heartedly” over our destroyed Temple and land. And today? One need not to have a Ph.D. in history to see how things have changed since the times of Napolean. Then – the land of Israel lay desolate; today it is rebuilt. Then – Jews dreamt about coming to Israel; today Jews not only live in Israel, but they rule over it. Then – all we could do was cry… but today???

Is mourning the only imperative for today? Is it not a bit absurd to lament in the synagogue of the Exile, beseeching G-d for a speedy redemption, when all one need do is pack one’s bags and board an eastbound El Al. Is it enough to stand down by the “Wall” of the Temple Mount wailing over the destruction when it is in our hands to erect the fallen city; in our hands to purify the site from the foxes who degrade it, and yes, even in our hands to rebuild the Holy Temple! The historic opportunity to rebuild and renew burns in our hands, and instead we find 101 excuses to disregard it.

Fellow Jews! Let us open our eyes and appreciate the wondrous miracles that Hashem has granted us – miracles we have not witnessed since the days of our exodus from Egypt! He who cried, and only cried in the days of Napolean did right; his tears were sincere. But today, he who only cries and does not combine his tears with real action – his lamentations leave much to be desired. His entreaties go unheeded, for G-d urges us on as he did to the Jews before their crossing of the Red Sea: “Why do you cry to Me? Speak to the Children of Israel – that they go forward!” What are you crying for? Go forward and determine your destiny! Arise and act to sanctify G-d’s Name!

Yes, something has happened since the day Napolean walked into that shteeble on the Ninth of Av. Let us join those who are ready not only to cry, but also to do!

Shavuot: Restoring the Authentic Glory

Though the sages tell us that the Torah will never be completely forgotten, they did, nevertheless, foresee a scenario of serious deterioration in Torah learning. Indeed, the long years of exile (galut) severed the Jew from any nationalistic development, and crippled his ability to observe the Torah properly. The original concepts of Torah could not be properly absorbed, as distortions infiltrated Torah learning, perverting the authentic Jewish idea beyond recognition. Foreign ideas were mixed together with holy Torah concepts, and when the smoke cleared, we were left clinging to no more than empty Jewish ritual. But the idea, which is in essence the soul of the Torah, – was unfortunately thrown by the wayside. We often discuss in this parsha sheet how the authentic Jewish idea is in exile. In essence, this is the “tikun” we have taken upon ourselves – to restore the pure and authentic Torah idea! And what time can be more appropriate than Shavuot, the time of “Matan Torah”, to raise this issue?

Tanach – the Key
This exile of the authentic Torah idea is expressed most distressingly in what has become an almost universal phenomenon: the abandonment of Tanach learning. The exile of our people has caused the Tanach, which is supposed to be the basis of our faith, to deteriorate into something less and less relevant to our everyday life.

The experiences our nation underwent in the Land of Israel in the days of the Tanach so drastically differed from our experiences in the exile, that it reached the point where we actually exiled the Tanach from the Torah halls!

But it is only the Tanach which provides us with a complete picture of what Judaism is all about. Only in Tanach do we grasp what it is like for the Jewish People to live in the Jewish land, and how a normal Jew is supposed to behave. Only in Tanach do we see how the entire nation is punished or rewarded as a single entity. All the concepts which top today’s national agenda are found in Tanach, which gives clear and unambiguous guidance. All we need to do is study it. He who is cut off from Tanach cannot possibly grasp what is the Jewish People, what is the Jewish state, and just might prefer living in Brooklyn, far away from the troubles of the Jewish nation, and further still from the redemption process.

In the Tanach, we are presented with the portrayal of the ideal Jewish leader. Behold Avraham Avinu, the father of our nation, who unassisted found his way to G-d: the paradigm of the man of loving-kindness, the paradigm of the man who made war for the sanctification of the Name of G-d, who subdued four kings.

Behold King David, the Sweet Singer of Israel, warrior and poet, who, while writing the Book of Psalms also slew the blaspheming Philistines and continued to fight, throughout his life, to enlarge the borders of Israel. We meet such heroic figures as Benayahu ben Yehoyada and Yoav, brilliant military leaders whom the Sages reveal as having been no less than heads of the Sanhedrin – the nation’s top religious leaders!

This is but a taste of the awesome richness and depth of authentic Jewish thought that is to be found in the Tanach. Nonetheless, while the Tanach is the world’s single most famous and influential Book, it has been banished from Yeshivot.

Tanach at the Age of Five
The teaching of our sages from Pirkay Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), 5:21, is well known: “At the age of five, the study of Tanach (should commence), ten for the study of Mishnah…fifteen for the study of Talmud..” To most, this is a nice saying, but without any practical implications. Whoever takes the the words of our sages seriously knows that they meant every word they said. The Torah is a structured edifice, with the study of Tanach being its foundation. If one begins at the age of nine to study what is really appropriate for a fifteen year old, he will bypass the study of Tanach and be left like a building without a foundation. The Tanach is the basis for all Torah study, and without it, the whole structure is left flimsy and begins to crumble later on.

It is told that when Rabbi Akiva began the study of Torah at the age of forty, he went and sat amongst small children, who were just beginning to learn. There is no doubt that his mind was developed enough to dive straight into the study of Talmud, however, he waited. The reason being that without a thorough knowledge of Tanach and Mishnah, his jump into the study of Talmud would not have produced one of the greatest Torah minds of all time, who fought with an intense love of his nation in the war to sanctify G-d’s Name against the Romans. All this, from his understanding of
the authentic Jewish ideas found in the Tanach.

Torah Study – In Need of an Overhaul
When the study of Torah concentrates almost entirely around a few choice sections of Gemora (as is the case in most yeshivas), then not only is there a deficiency in the knowledge of Tanach, there is inadequacy in the knowledge of the Mishnah and Talmud itself. Such a situation is most unfortunate. One can split hairs over particular sections of Gemorah, and remain an ignoramous when it comes to the most fundamental and simple concepts of Judaism. Certainly there is no doubt that a Torah scholar must possess a deep and thorough understanding of Talmud. However, without the knowledge of Tanach, is not his learning left lifeless and without feeling? Is it not comparable to a three story building without a foundation?

It is not us who began this cry for change. On the contrary, Rabenu Bechayay, the Maharal of Prague and many other great Torah leaders throughout the generations have called for an overhaul in Torah learning. Also today, many yeshiva leaders are pained by this sad state, however, most think that their calls for change will be in vain. But the truth that there is a thirst and an awakening amongst the masses, especially the young, to straighten out the path of learning to the authentic way in which our sages laid out for us and received from Sinai. With the help of G-d, the authentic glory of Torah study will be restored.

Shavuot: The Time to Get Things Straight

On the Holiday of Shavuot, we all celebrate the receiving of Torah which was given to us in order to bring to fruition the purpose for the existence of the Universe. Since we are speaking about so lofty a purpose, we have been commanded that: “This Torah will not subside from your mouth”; we are commanded to study it continuously in order to set straight in our minds what are the intentions of He who gave the Torah, without viewing it through the prism of our biased personal thoughts.

And this is what we must understand on Shavuot: It is far more difficult to cleave to the authentic ideas of the Torah than it is to fulfill its rituals. Therefore, both Greece and Rome passed decrees forbidding the teaching of Torah, since they understood that the internal thoughts, and not the external trappings, are what set the Jew apart from the gentile. This is the greatest protection from assimilation amongst the gentiles – authentic Jewish thoughts and concepts.

Having said this, in all the exiles, Jews, on the one hand did not want to abandon the commandments, but on the other hand were unable to reject the gentile cultures by which they were perforce influenced. Their solution was to present the Torah as though it were compatible with the spirit of the times in which they lived. Obviously, this is absurd. After all, if the Torah was compatible with Liberalism in 18th Century France, how could it also be compatible with Rationalism in 19th Century Germany and Communism in 20th Century Russia? But this was a convenient escape for the Jew who did not dare make the choice between the Torah and that particular culture by which he was influenced. Apparently even in the days of the Greeks, there were those who managed to convince themselves that there was no contradiction between paganistic Greek culture and the Torah…

Unfortunately, this trend which was once marginal has today become the norm. In practice, the majority of religious Jews believe, on a superficial level, that our Torah is more or less compatible with the ideas of democracy and western culture. We purposely said “on a superficial level”, because the majority of religious Jews have never delved deeply into the matter. They have been conditioned to think that the Torah, by and large, is compatible with “enlightened”, democratic Western culture. But there is no doubt that when push comes to shove, and they are faced with a specific, definite issue, most religious Jews will choose Judaism over Western democratic culture.

For sure, as opposed to other dark days in our history, it is not forbidden today to learn or teach Torah, as witnessed by the number of Yeshivas in Israel. But it is not so simple. An examination of the general trend of High Court decisions over the past 8-10 years reveals that there are significant parts of Torah whose practical applications are forbidden to be taught. For instance, any halacha that distinguishes between Jew and gentile is liable to be considered a crime under the anti-racism law. And so we see parties banned from running for the Knesset, rabbis imprisoned for halachic essays, and the writers for “Darka Shel Torah” harassed. Even if the “Darka Shel Torah” parsha sheet states the case much more bluntly than others, the harassment’s are a message being broadcast to the entire religious community.

We hope that the link between this article and Shavuot is properly understood G-d gives us the Torah – but we have to understand precisely what the Torah, which we receive, IS; and more than that, to accept it as it is.

There is no room for a “shatnez” of ideas; no room for truth mixed with democracy, which by its very essence rejects the concept of absolute truth. We call upon all members of the religious community to search their souls – to decide which Torah they celebrate. And through this soul-searching, cleanse their thoughts from the infiltration of foreign ideas.

Shavuot: Shavuot and the Cultural War

The key question regarding the Holiday of Shavuot today is: Do we simply look at this holiday as the commemoration of an event that occurred 3,000 years ago, or is it perhaps something more?

On Passover, we say “that in each and every generation, one must see himself as if he left Egypt!” That is, though the original event itself took place thousands of years ago, every Jew is obligated to feel that he himself left Egypt. If such is the case regarding Passover, all the more so regarding the Torah itself, for which the sages say that “each and every day, it shall be in your eyes as something new”. The Torah is not some antiquated burden we must carry on our backs, adjusting it “somehow” to today’s reality. No. Torah was given today and for today. Yes, it was actually given today, for this very moment!

One who sincerely wishes to receive Torah today and in its entirety, will find himself in the midst of a brutal cultural war. For in this generation more than any other, Jews are trying to prevent us from receiving Torah! What do we mean?

Lost in the muddle of all the campaign hoopla was a very significant event that dwarfs all others in importance. We are speaking of the declaration by the head of the Supreme Court of jesters, Aharon Barak, that any party which calls for changing the existing gentile laws of the state to Jewish law, is liable to be disqualified from running in the elections for the Knesset. (This declaration was made during a court decision concerning “Israel’s Right” party following a proposal by an Arab that the party be banned.)

In other words, any party whose platform includes the changing of Israel from a state of Jews to a Jewish State by making the Jewish halacha the law of the land instead of the present mixed multitude of British, Turkish, French and Swedish laws – any such party is liable to find itself tabooed! And all this despite the fact that one attempts to make such changes by attaining a majority in the Knesset! Even this is forbidden. Why? Because Jewish law “contradicts the fundamental concepts of democracy and equality” since it discriminates between men and women, Jew and non-Jew, and is therefore “racist”.

There is nothing new under the sun. This process began in 1988 when Rabbi Kahane was banned, since his platform included “racist” and “anti-democratic” halachot from the Torah. In 1992, the list was banned again for presenting the Tanach as its platform. In the appeal to the Supreme Court, endless sources from the Talmud and from the rabbis were brought down. The court determined that the sources brought down only strengthen the reason for disqualification!

When this occurred, we declared that the Torah was banned, and this matter will not end here with Rabbi Kahane and his students. And it did not. In systematic fashion, the Supreme Court has succeeded in delegitimizing any motion that would aspire to change the direction of Israel to that of a Jewish state. Due to Aharon Barak’s revolutionary legislation, the Supreme Court today can even ban religious laws (as long as a kosher majority is attained). There is no doubt that a change in the “undemocratic” marital and divorce laws is only around the corner. Afterwards, the “discriminatory” Law of Return will come under fire.

The “Racist Bill” whose entire reason for being is to negate the Torah is an established fact, and it is what sent Rabbi Ido Elba to prison for two years for a halachic essay that he wrote. Rabbis sitting in jail is a fact we have already gotten used to – Rabbi Levinger and Rabbi Ginzberg are just two of the more prominent examples.

Who Is Guilty?

The Torah world which kept silent when Rabbi Kahane was banned is the guilty party. Guilty are those who were silent when Rabbi Elba was arrested, and are quiet today when one of the great men of self-sacrifice in this generation, Rabbi Levinger, sits in jail. Let there be no mistake: This is a war waged against the Torah world, and no one else will fight our battles. He who sits by quietly can not complain when his turn comes up. And it will come up.

Aharon Barak knows exactly what his goals are. The religious parties return some fire in the battle, but they have much more important things on their minds. They are preparing themselves for a return to their rightful places near the jackpot – awaiting the funds that will flow to them if they play their cards right. Only the Torah which they supposedly represent will remain discarded and nonfunctional. For day by day the Torah is being cut up. A halacha today, another tomorrow, until eventually they will officially stamp “censured” on the entire Torah!

Shavuot is the holiday that celebrates the giving of all of the Torah, without “forfeiting” on the halachot that sent Rabbi Elba to prison, or banned Rabbi Kahane and his students, or turned Jewish law in this country into something in dispute. Receiving Torah can sometimes be a struggle. “Right”, “left” and all the rest is not where the battle lies. Even if the Likud wins the elections, they have made it quite clear that what was, will continue to be. Thus, the conclusion is that the real war standing before us is not between “right” and “left”, but rather between the Hellenists and the Jews.

“CHOOSE LIFE”

Question: For quite a while you have been preaching that there is no significant difference between Labor and Likud, as proven by their past records while in power, as well as their campaign messages this time around. But what you fail to tell us is – who SHOULD one vote for?

Answer: Our major goal is to bring forth the genuine Jewish Truth, the Jewish Idea – to the people. Not just a portion of the message, and not just a “realistic” part of the message, so to speak. Nor do we just convey ideas that the people will always grasp immediately upon hearing them. We are not politicians who have to try to show a pretty face before the public. And so we repeat that the election for Prime Minister is a race between Siamese twins. It is crucial to us that the people understand the painful truth that the Jewish truth was banned from participating in these elections, deeming these elections obscene from the very start. And part of the painful truth is that those who engineered the banning of Rabbi Kahane was not the left, but rather that “great hope” – the Likud!

As requested by many, we will bring the words of Rabbi Kahane, (May God Avenge His Blood), exactly as he said them immediately after he was banned in 1988. The Rav said that he is not a “guru”, and he doesn’t give orders to “Chassidim” (followers) how to vote. In any case, he RECOMMENDED putting an empty white slip into the ballot box, and for those who want to vote for someone, he suggested: Anything but Likud!

And let us add something else for those who want to vote for the Knesset. There is a party, a bit obscure, called “Israel’s Right”, which is a religious party with some good Jews in it. The very fact that the “Meretz” party tried to ban it for being “racist” is reason enough to identify with it. Its chances for success are not what interests us.

In any case, we must not despair. The salvation will not sprout from the Knesset ANYWAY, and we must start internalizing this fact. The alternative will come from outside that den of clowns, and it will overwhelm it. The salvation will come from those who do not nonchalantly accept the fact that the truth was banned, and life just goes on.

There is an alternative. And it won’t come from the Knesset, or anywhere near it…

Yom Yerushalaim: Should One Say Hallel on Yom Yerushalyim?

The Shulchan Aruch in chapter 697 brings down the halacha that if a miracle occurs, even for a specific individual only, he must make a celebration every year on the date that the miracle occurred, saying “Hallel” and praising G-d. From here stems the practice of saying the “Hallel” prayer on the anniversary of the Six-Day War victory, when all the Arab nations ganged up as one against Israel with the intention to obliterate the Jewish State. During those times there was no doubt in any rationally thinking person’s mind that it was only a matter of days before Israel went under. By any normal standards of logic, there was no way that the Arab nations wouldn’t be rolling into Tel-Aviv in a very short period of time to carry out their plans of slaughtering all the Jews.

But it did not happen. Within six days, we pushed back those very same armies (and if we only wanted to, we could have conquered their capitals), recapturing after 2,000 years the cities of Schem, Hebron, Jericho, and Gaza, as well as the Sinai (remember?), the Golan Heights, and most important of all – Jerusalem! During those days, only the blind could not sense G-d’s Divine Presence and the Messiah knocking on the door, crying, pleading, and perhaps even threatening, “Return to me, and bring the Complete Redemption”. After such an introduction, it would appear incomprehensible why so many Jews from various circles do not say “Hallel” on this day, and others are in great doubt regarding this matter.

And our answer to these people is: Just one “Hallel” should be said?! A thousand Hallels need to be said!! Hallel on the saving of Tel-Aviv, Hallel for Haifa, Hallel for the South and Hallel for the North; Hallel for the redeeming of Shchem, Hallel for the conquering of Jericho, and another Hallel for the stupidity of that dwarf king across the Jordan for entering the war despite the desperate pleas by the Israeli Government that he stay out – thereby granting us the opportunity for conquering Jerusalem and the rest of the territories.

But what do we do when despite these victories, we find ourselves floundering in this miserable reality of an Israeli government who do everything in their power to do away with the glorious miracles of 1967? How can we celebrate when they are ready to turn over to our enemies all the territories we gained? It is our obligation to honestly ask ourselves: Why say “Hallel” when the territory we conquered in 1967 are dissolving away, and we are about to return to a situation a lot worse than it was before the 1967 War?

Our answer to this question is the following: For the miracles that G-d granted us, we must thank Him no matter what, in the same way that we thank him for the miracles He performed for us in the days of the Macabees against the Greeks 2,500 years ago, despite the fact that the Temple was eventually destroyed. And we still thank Him for taking us out of Egypt despite the fact that we messed up pretty bad since then. But, But, But; if we want to be honest with ourselves, it is our obligation to combine our “Hallel” prayer with an all out war against all those who aspire to cast away the miracle we are saying “Hallel” for. We must act with great self – sacrifice against all those who are quite comfortable without G-d and without His miracles, and whose entire purpose in life is to rub elbows with the enemy and decide with them how to sell out the Jewish State.

On the other hand, all those who are not ready to gird their loins in the war against those who want to do away with the miracles and the country – for what are they thanking G-d? For the miracles that are about to be thrown away, which they do nothing to prevent?

Like anything else, the sincerity of our prayers can only be measured by how much we are willing to do to back our prayers up. Let us pay attention to these words.

Yom Haatzmaut: “Miracles of Galut” and “Miracles of Giula”

A few months ago, a flyer was distributed in the synagogues which commemorated five full years since the “miracles of the Gulf War”, describing how this day is worthy for the saying of “Hallel” and praise to G-d. This reminds us of how at the end of the same Gulf War, several communities said “Hallel”.

All this comes to mind as “Independence Day” approaches. For in so many of the circles who emphasized the miracles of the Gulf War, it was the first time in this generation that they praised G-d for saving us in a war situation. Is this not strange? Miracles indeed occurred in that war, but why is it easier for them to see the miracles of the Gulf War as something worthy of “Hallel” and gratitude to G-d, and not the miracles of the wars in 1948 or 1967, when the danger was so much more eminent, and all the experts predicted total annihilation. Even military predictions that had us winning were forecasting casualties of 50,000 in the Six-Day War, and all “realistic” forecasts for the war in 1948 predicted a total wipe-out. And in the end we scored awesome victories, conquering huge parts of Eretz Yisrael in both wars.

Yearning for the “Familiar” Kind of Miracles

The answer lies in the difficulty of so many to comprehend the new type of miracles which G-d has granted us in this era. They are “miracles of redemption”. The miracles of the Gulf War were of the classic “galut” style, and thus easy to comprehend. They were the miracles of the “familiar sort”, where the gentile tyrant decrees evil against the Jews, and the Jews sit passively praying to G-d, who cancels the decree, and the story finishes less bad than expected. This approach is probably what created the opposition to a preemptive strike against Iraq, for such a deed would “mess up” the usual script of the “galut miracle”, where the Jew cries and waits for the miracle, in this case scurrying into a sealed room like a roach with a gas mask.

The great miracles that took place during the first half of the State of Israel’s existence, belong to a new and different category of miracles; a category which we had not yet known since the days of the Hashmonim. They are “miracles of redemption”, or they can also be termed “miracles of Kiddush Hashem”. Not only does the bad decree get canceled, but as a result of the goy trying to wipe Israel off the map, the Jewish Nation performs G-d’s will, returning fire to the enemy, the enemy of Hashem – and we forge ahead! We attain sovereignty over our land, conquering huge parts of the Land of Israel, and sanctify the Name of G-d before the astonished eyes of the gentiles.

If we look at the Jewish holidays which have been set down as days forgiving praise and thanks to G-d , we will notice that all these holidays can be classified as “miracles of redemption”. True, according to “halacha”, one must give praise for any salvation from death. In any case, not every salvation was set down as a day of praise and gratitude like Chanukah, Purim, and even Pesach were. Purim, at first glance, belongs to the “miracles of galut” category, and even took place in the galut. But no. If the story of Purim had ended with the canceling of Haman’s decree, the story would have been defined as one of “miracles of the galut”, and probably would not have been celebrated for all generations. But actually on Purim, the decree was never canceled! Achashverosh simply allowed the Jews to strike back. And the salvation arose due to the acts of the Jews who took revenge against those who wanted to wipe them out, until “fear of the Jews fell upon them”! It was not just some passive salvation, but rather a very active vengeance against the enemy. For this we celebrate the holiday. The proof is that on the 15th of Adar, Shushan Purim, the holiday is celebrated only because of the second day in which Esther requested to continue takingvengeance against the enemy (after the salvation had already been achieved!) And so, we see on Purim a rare situation in which “miracles of redemption” occur in the exile, while in contrast to this, we saw during the Gulf War how “miracles of galut” can occur in the Land of Israel.

And so we celebrate Independence Day and Yom Yerushalayim, saying “Hallel”. Not only for the quantitative aspect of the miracles of 1948 and 1967 which were greater than the miracles that occurred in the time of the Hashmonim, but we also thank G-d for the qualitative aspect of the miracles, which were a sanctification of G-d’s Name, a redemption of the People and it’s land – that is, a forging ahead. Whose heart cannot grow warm from the memory of the Israeli soldiers marching forward in the Sinai Desert, the Golan Heights, Yehuda, Shomron; when the names Shchem, Hebron, Jericho, the Temple Mount became real again! The Messiah was knocking on the door, and a spirit of purity passed through the entire nation…

Enough Spitting on the Miracles!

Yes, we know that those last three dots we wrote above are not something to be happy about, for everything started going downhill from there. Since then, the grand spirit that had been injected into the people has been forcibly smothered out by the evil Jewish governments. In a short period of time, we saw the obscene spitting on the miracle, and an abandonment of the lands we captured. But G-d is not at fault for this, and so we can not quit giving Him praise for the miracles He granted. On the contrary, we must recall these great miracles, gather strength, and vomit out of power those betrayers of G-d’s miracles, thereby taking the reigns and going in the direction of those gates which Hashem opened for us, in order that we may bring the complete redemption!

Yom Haatzmaut: Potential for Independence

The 48th Independence day has passed. Forty-eight years ago we were granted the POSSIBILITY FOR INDEPENDENCE. But one year after another passes by, and we still refused, or are too frightened to be independent!

What is independence of the Jewish Nation? It is that we OURSELVES, ALONE, do not rely on any other nation. This is the deeper meaning of the concept, “a nation that dwells alone”. And how do we arrive at a situation where we become a nation that dwells alone? Only when we put our trust in God, and not in the gentile.

Certainly it is scary when one is surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs who want to wipe us out, and on each and every action we make, the entire world condemns! But it is only scary for one who is lacking faith; it is only frightening for those who deep in their souls are still slaves and not capable of being independent!

And so, how embarassing it is to hear from our “leaders” year after year on Holocaust Day, the same tired, empty phrases. Like a dog returning to his own vomit, they repeat, “that if the State of Israel and the I.D.F. had been around ten years earlier, it could have prevented a Holocaust”. Really? Then why doesn’t the same State and army of Israel dare return fire in a war against an enemy who sits within her, and who slaughters its citizens daily? They would have dared act against the Nazis? Why, that might harm “diplomatic relations”…

Without a doubt, Israel was supposed to be a State who defends Jews wherever they are! That is the rason detre of a Jewish State. And if she was really independent, she would be able to successfully do so. But the fact is that even her own agent, Jonathan Pollard, was thrown to the dogs out of fear! After all, the slaves need confirmation from Clinton on every bomb dropped in Lebanon, and on every action taken against the Hamas.

There is no Jewish independence without total trust in God. The Master of the Universe gave us the POTENTIAL for independence – but we still refuse to actualize it.

Let us finally do what must be done so that we can cry out real independence, “Lo it is a people that dwells alone, and among the nations shall not reckon itself”.

Lag BaOmer: Rabbi Shimeon Bar Yochai: the Scholar Warrior

As Log B’Omer rolls around, one is reminded of the holy Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi). The multitudes of Jews from all sects of Israeli life who flock to his grave site in Meron is testimony to the deep admiration that that the Jewish People have for this very special Jewish figure. The question may be asked: What makes Rashbi so special?

Rashbi was the prized student of Rabbi Akiva who was one of the Ten Martyrs of the Jewish Kingdom. Not for nothing did the Romans punish Rabbi Akiva with the death penalty and torture, for he played a central role in the organization of Bar Kochba’s rebellion. The Rambam, at the end of Hilchot Milachim even says that Rabbi Akiva was Bar Kochba’s “armsbearer”. The 24,000 students who went in Rabbi Akiva’s footsteps and fell in the war against the Romans, died during the “Sfirat HaOmer” period, and the traditional restrictions we practice today are an expression of the struggle of the Jewish nation for spiritual independence. Rabbi Akiva himself sat in prison for several years for denying the Roman decrees by holding public Torah rallys. For this he was eventually tortured and executed.

These were the two sides of the leadership of Rabbi Akiva: The willingness to go out and sacrifice for national sovereignty as well as the ultimate self-sacrifice for Torah. The fierce combination of nationalism and Torah that burned in his bones was passed on to his students, and the greatest of them all was the scholar-warrior Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who was ordained by his Rav after the rest of the students were killed in the revolution.

Rashbi established the basic Torah foundations of the Oral Law as we know them today. His Yeshiva put out the likes of Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi who arranged the Mishnah. But just like his “Rav”, Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi went beyond the learning and teaching of Torah. He never stopped trying to bring back Jewish sovereignty to Eretz Yisrael, and abhorred with all his soul the Roman occupation. His belligerent attitude towards the Romans he made no secret of, even when it meant putting himself in danger for just expressing such opinions. We are told in Trachtate Shabbot, 33: “Once Rabbi Yehuda said, ‘How fine are the works of this nation (Rome). They have made streets, they have built bridges, they have erected baths’. Rabbi Yossi remained silent (from fear). Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai answered and said, ‘All that they have made they have made for themselves; they built market places to put harlots in them; baths to rejuvenate themselves; bridges to levy toils for themselves’.” When these words got to the Roman authorities, a price was put on his head and he was forced to go underground for 13 years. During this time, he and his son Elazar were miraculously kept alive, and to them were revealed the wonders of the hidden Torah (which was collected in the “Zohar”). These difficult times did not break him, but only reinforced his hatred for this evil empire and he continued his struggle against the Romans to liberate the Jewish People.

Though Log B’Omer falls during the “sfira” where we mourn the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students, it is a day of rejoicing. For when all the other students of Rabbi Akiva were killed in war, Rashbi managed to survive. He symbolizes the vitality of those who fought the Romans. He represents the continuation of the scholar-warrior. He is the eternal flame that cannot be extinguished, and will remain enkindled until the final victory of complete redemption, may it come speedily in our days.

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