Land Day

“But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass that those whom you allow to remain shall be as thorns in your eyes, and stings in your sides, and shall distress you in the land where you dwell”. A verse in Parshat Masay. A verse in parshat “Land Day”. A verse in parshat Har Homa. A verse we refuse to listen to.

Twenty-one years ago (editor note: actually, in 1976), a day was determined as “Land Day” in the State of Israel. This important day was set down by the Arabs of the territories and the Arabs within the state of Israel – the “loyal” ones. They are so loyal, that they determined on “Land Day” that the land of Israel belongs to them. To them and not to us. But we learned nothing, and continued emphasizing how the Israeli Arabs are loyal to us. We forcibly covered our eyes. “Who is blind as my servant”, the prophet Isaiah already told us. We want to be blind. The Arabs say that the land they dwell in belongs to them, and it doesn’t interest us. What does land mean to us? After a 2,000 year exile andbeing cut off from our land, we don’t begin to grasp what land means to the Arab. We have lost our national instincts, even when we are talking about the only land we have.

This past week, Moshe Katzav, who is certainly one of the more worthless ministers in the Israeli government, got up and declared that the Arabs of Israel have lived with us for 49 years, and they will continue to live with us for hundreds of years. What does Katzav, who is considered a religious man, really think? Does he believe in the coming of the Messiah, for example? If so, does he think that the Messiah is some Mafdalnick who will leave the Jew-hating Arabs amongst us? Does he think that in the final war with Gog and Magog, when vengeance will be exacted against all those gentiles who distressed the Jewish People – does he think that the Arabs, who are the major enemy in this generation, will be let off scot-free for the “chesed” they have shown us? But such concepts are too deep for a shallow politician like Katzav, who is mainly concerned with his political standing.

This insanity is not a joke, but rather expresses the overall approach of the Israeli leadership. The time has come where we stopped kidding ourselves, and realize that the Arabs of Israel represent the most concrete danger facing the State of Israel. Each one sees himself as a Palestinian. Can we not understand that the use of the expressions “Land Day” and “We are Palestinians” signify that they believe all the land is theirs? And even if today they realize they don’t have the ability to actualize their dream and therefore adopt pragmatic political means, in the end they believe that the day will come where the State of Israel will be a passing episode. More importantly, the Arab understands that since Israel is a democracy, he can simply rely on his natural growth rate to eventually bring him to his destination. He need not be a majority. It is sufficient for them to be a third of the Knesset, so that they may team up with the treasonous left and cancel the Jewish State. And all this through “peace”, with the support of huge chunks of the Likud and other right-wing parties.

Obviously, we can go on and on. But we’ve said enough. For all this was said by my father, HY”D, twenty-five years ago, and they are obvious to any sane person. And he who doesn’t understand it, simply does not want to understand it, and any further discussion of the issue is a waste of time.

The real war is an internal one. It is between those who are willing to accept upon themselves the concept of “Havdala” between Israel and the nations, and those who are not willing to adopt this concept. It is interesting that in the past, when one spoke on transfer or expulsion, it was opposed by use of practical arguments. (“It isn’t realistic”, “We won’t get money from America”) But today the struggle centers around “racism”. That is, they are saying that even if you are right, it is forbidden since it is “racism”. This is where the war between the Jews and hellenists lies. Between those who believe in the gods of democracy and western culture, and those who believe in the G-d of Israel who gave us Torah and separated between us and the nations. As we come down to the wire, each one of us will have to decide where he is holding. We will no longer be able to straddle both sides of the fence.

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!

Pesach: Fifty Strides Toward Holiness

The fifty days between Pesach and Shavuot teach us the meaning of true in dependence; after fifty years of statehood, we should evolve from a “Nation”to a “Holy Nation.”

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the independence of the state of Israel, it is important to examine what the concept of independence is. This can be accomplished by studying the holiday of Pesach, since Pesach, in a sense, is our first Independence Day. Indeed, Pesach is termed, “Chag HaCherut” – the Holiday of Freedom. For on this day we were liberated for the first time, from the yoke of foreign rule and bondage. Subsequently we were able to proceed towards the actualization of our national destiny. However, this was only a beginning. Another fifty strides were necessary -the fifty days it took to reach Mount Sinai. Only then was our independence complete.

There are two conditions which must be met in order for the Jewish People to achieve true independence, and the fulfillment of only one will not suffice.These conditions are: 1) Liberation from the rule of the gentile – whether it is liberation from his land, or from actual slavery. 2) The acceptance of the yoke of Heaven, the G-d of Israel.

What is Bondage?

The first condition can be better understood when analyzing the essential part of the story of our exodus from Egypt which we read in the Haggadah.”We were slaves to Pharo in Egypt…Had not the Holy One Blessed is He, taken our fathers out from Egypt, then we, our children and our children’s children would have remained enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt.” Is this statement not a bit far-fetched? How can we be sure that in a later generation, a merciful king would not have arisen and “emancipated” us? The answer is, that it is indeed likely such a thing might have occurred, but this would not have been considered liberation from bondage. For the essence of bondage is living as a minority under the rule of gentiles in their land. Certainly there are various degrees of exile and bondage. Sometimes, the Jew is humiliated. At other times, he is an actual slave. Still, other times, he is sent to the gas chambers. But it is all just a matter of degree, since in each case he is in exile, lacking independence and at the mercy of the gentile. In other words, even if there is a certain period where Jews livein an illusion of comfort in the exile, this is still “bondage”, since they are prevented from fulfilling their destiny as the Nation of G-d!

No Pesach Without Shavuot

The second condition is expressed in the fact that although Pesach is the”Time of Our Freedom”, this only made us into a nation like any other. Another fifty days were needed until we became a “Holy Nation”, and this occurred on Shavuot, when we received the Torah. In order to teach us that our purpose is to be a holy nation and not merely a free nation, G-d connected our national liberation to the giving of the Torah. This connection was made by the counting of the Omer. By counting the days between Pesach and Shavuot, we are made aware of the connection between these two holidays.

A Jew needs two legs to walk. If he only has one leg, he is a cripple. That is, if he meets only one of the aforementioned conditions, he hobbles on one leg. Unfortunately, this situation is quite prevalent. On the one hand,there are those Jews who believe that Jewish independence is entirely realized through sitting and learning Torah. For them, it does not matter ifthis learning is done in Germany, Morocco, Israel, or a ghetto in Poland. It does not dawn on them that there can be no freedom – physical or spiritual -while under the rule of gentiles.

On the other hand, there is the other kind of cripple: those who seek only physical freedom. For them, the “Holiday of Freedom” suffices. They are not interested in holiness. But when you remove the “Holy” from the “Holy Nation”, what is left? A “nation”, no different than any other. And the situation gets worse. Today, we see that those who rejected holiness in order to be a free nation, are losing their physical freedom as well. Because of their lack of faith in G-d, they have become completely dependenton the gentiles! We hear from them how they must accept the dictates of the United States, as one of them recently said, “Our entire existence depends on America.” How tragic to hear this after 50 years as a state!

Moment of Truth

Fifty years! This reminds us of the fifty days which connect Pesach to Shavuot. Just as the freedom and independence of Pesach is meaningless without it’s connection to the holiness of Shavuot – so too the independence of Israel is meaningless without the faith that only G-d can bring us salvation.

This season should serve as a warning for us. We can no longer sustain a freedom which is detached from holiness and faith in G-d. We are nearing the end of the period of “Giula BiEta” (the slow, painful redemption), and we are approaching the moment of truth. Our very souls are at stake. Will we choose: “Repentance” and “Holy Nation”, which will bring a glorious redemption; or will we remain in our sorry state of lack of faith in G-d andtrust in the gentiles, which will lead to untold suffering until the redemption finally arrives?

Excerpts From the Hagadda of the Jewish Idea

Introduction to the Haggadah of the Jewish Idea
The purpose of the Haggadah of the Jewish Idea is not to add yet another Haggadah to the collection of Haggadot already available to the public. It’s purpose is rather to present the concepts of the authentic Jewish Idea in general, and in particular the concept of faith in G-d, on this holy night of the year: the Seder night, which was ordained as the night which would define the faith of the Jew. There is no task more important today than that of rectifying those most fundamental Jewish concepts, including – indeed, in particular – among b’nei Torah, Torah scholars. For indeed, on one hand the long exile has caused us to forget the very soul of Judaism and the Jewish idea; and on the other hand, foreign cultures have penetrated deep, including into the halls of Torah, and have emasculated our ideology. So widespread have these phenomena become, that few today are capable of differentiating between hametz and matza, between Jewish ideas and foreign ideas.

Similarly, at the core of the necessity for this Haggadah stands the fact that many Jews sit at the Seder table in order to fulfill the mitzvah of the night, to recount the Exodus from Egypt, but find themselves entirely dependent upon “vortim” which have only the slightest of connections with the message of Pesach, or indeed the teachings of Judaism in general. I hope that this Haggadah will serve to aid all who are interested in expounding on the Exodus on the Seder night. “And all those who labor in it greatly are praiseworthy.”

This Haggadah was written according to the principles which I learned from my father and teacher of blessed memory, may G-d avenge his blood. Having said that, I have cited as primary sources his various books (in particular The Jewish Idea and the series of commentaries on the Bible, Perush Hamacabee) only when I quoted from them directly, or when I set forth an idea according to a specific source in his writings; however, I have not cited my father’s works when I concatenated several different sources, nor when I expounded upon a general trend of thought which appears in his writings… Having said that, it is important to emphasize that almost the entire commentary is based upon his words, and of course upon the principles of his teachings. And I hope that my work will cause no one to stumble.

During the months of work writing this commentary, I was “honored” to be harassed by the authorities, especially when they chose precisely this time to carry out an intensive interrogation against me; I was accused of the “crime” of writing various commentaries on the Torah – “incitement” by their definition. Indeed, even this very work was saved from falling into their clutches by the grace of G-d; I was but a step away from being forcibly prevented from publishing this commentary in time for Pesach of this year 5757 (1997). However, it was precisely this fact which ultimately gave me the added strength and impetus necessary to complete this work, to publish this Haggadah, and to spread the authentic Jewish Idea among the Jewish People – in spite of those who desire to delegitimize and to ban the truth, and to prevent us from speaking that truth.

In closing, I hereby thank all those who helped me in this work: David Cohen, one of the outstanding Torah scholars in the Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea in Kfar Tapuach, who toiled unstintingly in preparing the practical and halachic sources for the Seder night so that every detail be written accurately; he neither slumbered nor slept until he prepared a complete addendum (which is at the end of this Haggadah), which gives in a concentrated form the sources for all of the halachot throughout the Haggadah, as well as additional halachot and glosses. I also thank two other members of our Yeshiva – Uri Amit for donating his time to check the entire commentary and to provide his enlightening comments; also of course to the artist Avinadav Vitkin who was good enough to place his unique talent at our disposal. I also thank the anonymous benefactor who placed at my disposal his personal computer for the specific purpose of compiling this work, after the Israeli police saw it fit to confiscate my own computer from my house during the preparation of this Haggadah.

I conclude with the prayer that all those who study and learn this work will be enriched, and will be brought closer to the clear and straightforward concepts of Judaism in general and of Pesach in particular. I also pray that it will encourage them to study and to relate to the authentic concepts of Judaism throughout the year.

Binyamin Zev Kahane

Adar II, 5757 (March ’97)

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“Why Is This Night Different?..”

If he has a son, the son asks. In contrast to Hanukah and Purim where we are commanded to “publicize the miracle” (and include everyone), on Pesach, the publicizing of the miracle starts first of all with the children. And this is for the reason we mentioned (in the introduction) – that here the goal of the publicizing of the miracle is that the father, at the first available moment, will pass down the principles of faith in the G-d of Israel and the exodus of Egypt to the small son, so as to continue the unbreakable chain. And how tremendous is the fact that the Emunah of Yisrael, despite it’s depth, is simple enough in its basis, that it can be conveyed from father to small boy, by means of a simple story appropriate for a child. This is the significance of the questions which appear here. And it is incumbent upon us to arouse each child, according to his ability, to ask more and more questions. Because the idea is better internalized if he asks and gets an answer, than if he just gets the answer (without asking). And from here one can learn that even if there are no children, the adult should provoke questions for himself and others, in order to sharpen the understanding.

On this night we add another link to the chain of our tradition, conveying the concrete basis of the faith through all the generations, because in such a way can the new generation ITSELF see things properly, despite the fact that “officially”, thousands of years have passed since the event took place. And, behold, he did not see it with his own eyes. But the passing down of the message from generation to generation in such a concrete and precise fashion makes it EXACTLY AS IF HE SAW IT. Just as no one doubts historical events which took place two hundred years ago, since everything is known and passed onward by humanity, so, too can the events of over 3,000 years not be doubted, because the people passed it down in the same way, each one to his children. And this is the difference between Hanukah, Purim, and Passover. For only on Passover was each one commanded to see himself as if he left Egypt, since this fact is the basis of our faith, and without it, our faith would not have survived in such a precise manner after so many thousands of years, hundreds of generations, and countless tragedies and exiles. In such a way, the child is not only connected to his father, but also to the father of his fathers who lived hundreds of years ago and thousands of years ago, each one being a special pipeline for this message which is intended PERSONALLY FOR HIM! On this night, the Jewish child will also receive upon himself his responsibility for the next generations, to continue the chain and the pipeline, and he will understand that if he does not connect himself to the Jewish People, there is no reason for his existence.

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Continue reading “Excerpts From the Hagadda of the Jewish Idea”

Hanukah: “And Yehuda Will Also Fight Against Jerusalem”

The war between the Hashmonim and the Greeks was characterized by the active cooperation between many Jews with the Greeks. It was not that these Jews were dragged along against their wills out of fear of the harsh decrees. Nor was it the people falling prey to the Greek propaganda and acting out of a desire to emulate Greek culture. Indeed, all this was true. But when we speak of the phenomenon of the “Hellenists”, we speak of something more serious — and that is active cooperation of Jewish Hellenists against Jews of faith. The Book of “The Macabees”, which documents the events of the Hashmonian wars, relates how the “Jewish criminals and wicked”, as the book puts it, were a major factor, and even provoked the Greeks in their war against the Jews.

For the first time since Chanukah, we again see this active and eager cooperation between the Jews and the enemies of Israel against the Jewish People. It is the first time ever where we see such a cooperation manifest itself as an organized movement, where everything has been initiated by the Jews themselves. The Hellenists have simply reached the conclusion that barriers between Israel and the nations is something outdated and primitive, and it only creates problems. In short, they want to wipe out the existence of the Jewish People.

The prophet Zacharia (Chapter 14) prophesizes on the era before the final redemption, and speaks of the final war where all the nations will come against Jerusalem. We then see a terrifying verse: “And Yehuda, also will fight against Jerusalem”. In other words, parts of the Jewish People will be on the side of the gentiles during this war! While Rashi softens the blow by interpreting that “against their wills they will fight Israel”, the Radak explains the verse according to its simple understanding: “Yehuda that came with the gentiles and fought with them against Jerusalem”. Similarly, in the midrash “Psikta Rabti” (Ch. 15), it says: Rabbi Shmuel Bar Yitzchak said: Even those from my congregation (Jews) will cling to your congregation (Gog and Magog), and they too will fall on the day of your defeat”!

And so, the curse which we first saw under the Greek rule where Jews switched their loyalties to that of the enemy has not gone away with thevictory of the Macabees over the Greeks and Hellenists. Despite the great victory of the wiping out of the Greeks and Hellenists and the return to Jewish sovereignty over Israel and the purification of the Temple – even still the Hellenists continue to rear their heads in this generation.

And so we see in this generation, which is the beginning of the redemption process, that two camps are slowly being formed: The camp of the loyal Jews and the camp of the Hellenists. The Hellenist camp is having more and more conflict as to where their loyalties lie. This camp less and less understands why one should stand separate as Jews, rather than simply as “human beings”. And so, in a very natural way, a growing partnership and common interest is created between these Hellenists and the haters of the Jewish nation, while the Hellenists and Jews have less and less in common. Thus, the following saying becomes quite true: “This area is divided up differently now: It is not Israelis and the rest, but rather the ‘peace camp’ (Jews and Arabs) versus all the rest” (The words of a Peace-Now leader)

In such a situation, the struggle between the two camps intensifies, andmore and more people are forced to decide where they stand. And so, every Jew must, even against his will, decide once and for all where he stands – on the side of the Jews or on the side of the Hellenists. By doing so, he is deciding once and for all the question he has avoided all these years: Who Is He?

Examples of “Yehuda Fighting Against Jerusalem”

Unfortunately, we have begun to understand the above verse all too well.Through recent events we have seen overt cooperation between decadentportions of the nation and the enemies of Israel. Here are some of them:

  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 “BeTzelem” (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 “BeTzelem” 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 groups 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 lowlife 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.

Rosh Hashana: “The Righteous Will Be Saved”

Our sages teach that there are two distinct ways in which the final redemption can occur: Either it will be a “hurried” (Achishena) redemption which comes with majestic glory and free of pain and tragedy, or it will be “in its time” (Bi-Eta). “In its time” means that the redemption will come despite our unworthiness, accompanied by terrible destruction and holocaust as the deserved punishment that precedes the final glory and salvation. G-d stretches the process out, one painful step after another. This suffering is known as the “birth pangs of Moshiach.”

End of Final Grace Period

These painful steps are actually periods of grace which G-d, in His abundant mercy grants us, in the hope that we will heed His warnings and do “Tshuva”. They are warnings intended to awaken us to repentance, so that we may prevent the final stage of “redemption in its time”, in which we will experience unprecedented suffering and holocausts. However, there is a limit to these grace periods. Our teacher, Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY”D, constantly warned in his speeches, classes and books, that we are extremely close to the final hour, after which there will be no more grace periods. In such a scenario, G-d will pour forth His wrath, and only afterwards will He bring the redemption. Only a few will remain to see it, and according to our rabbinical sources, the remnant will include only the righteous.

Who Will Be Written in the Book?

This is what the prophet Isaiah says (6:13): “And if one tenth remain in it, then that shall again be consumed… the holy seed will be the vitality ofthe land”. Rashi explains this passage: “And that remnant G-d shall cleanse one step after another, and it shall be barren until there will remain only the totally righteous, who will return to G-d with all their hearts.” (also see Ketuvot 112).

More words of the prophet (4:3-4): “And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remains in Jerusalem, shall be called holy (Rashi – they will all be righteous), every one in Jerusalem that is written
to life (Radak: it will be decreed upon them to live because of their uprightness and good deeds): when the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Yerushalayim from its midst by the spirit of judgment (Rashi – through suffering) and the spirit of burning (Rashi – to burn them out from this world).

On the verse 26:20 in Isaiah, Radak comments: “This is talking about the war of Gog and Magog, in which troubles will befall Israel for a short time…the righteous will cloak themselves with good deeds and complete repentance, because for a moment there will be fury and then it will pass -and the righteous will be saved, as it says – all that are there will be written in a book.”

And in Daniel’s awesome vision (12:1): “And at that time shall Mikhail standup, the great chief angel, who stands for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was seen since there was
a nation till that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered,every one who shall be found written in this book.” The Ibn Ezra comments: “They will only be salvaged because of the great heavenly prince Mikhail. Therefore, only those written in the book will be saved – and they are the righteous.” Rav Sadia Gaon explains it the same way.

Total “Tshuva”

Only those who sincerely believe in G-d will be saved. Only those who understand the obligation to stand up to the test of faith and trust in G-d during difficult times when external and internal enemies are poised against us will be salvaged. While Shabbat, Kosher food, and the laws of family purity are great mitzvot in which one can attain eternal life, they are simply not enough. Without genuine trust in G-d, then all these mitzvot have no real meaning. When G-d’s Name is being desecrated daily and we persist in perpetuating national Hillul Hashem by our refusal to fulfill mitzvot which may anger the nations, fulfillment of private mitzvot will not suffice. By not performing “difficult” mitzvot which express real faith in G-d, we remain mere practitioners of sterile ritual.

Who really believes in G-d? Who really says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will make mention of the Name of the Lord our G-d”,and means it? Does he really believe that the Syrian tanks, the Iraqi missiles, and most importantly, America’s money are not the least bit relevant in light of our obligation to fulfill G-d’s “national”
commandments? This is the true “tshuva”; this is “the return will all their hearts” which Rashi spoke of.

Let us not smooth things over, but rather take these words very seriously. We are speaking about facts which our prophets and sages warned about if we do not do complete “tshuva”. Just as all their previous words have come true to this day, there is no reason to believe that the rest of their words are mere “doomsday fairy tales.”

A Plea to Individuals

No one amongst us really knows the precise accountings of G-d and how much of an extension He will grant us before the final stage of the redemption. But one thing is clear: We know the tragedy the nation is facing, as they
follow their wicked leaders whose motto is “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” And so it is our obligation to at least turn to individuals who want to save themselves. Perhaps by pleading to individuals, who by nature want to save themselves and their loved ones, we can find hearts open to our words. Perhaps this reawakening, with G-d’s help, will effect the general populace.

Our sages made an additional comment on the passage, “And if one tenth remain in it, then that shall again be consumed”: “G-d said to Isaiah… I have created for them ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur so that they would repent completely during these days.” Incredible! Instead of punishing us blow after blow until “she is consumed”, G-d gives us a ten day grace period to repent and salvage ourselves from these horrors. It is our last chance to bring in the redemption with splendor and majesty. Today, if we will listen to His voice.

Rosh Hashanah: What Kind of “Tsh’uva” Do We Need?

Every schoolboy knows that Rosh Hashana is the time for us to do “Tshuva”. Yeshiva halls are bursting with such talk, and in the month of “Elul”, all religious newspapers have the concept of “Tshuva” plastered all over their pages. Every rabbi knows that “Elul” is the time to tell his congregation to do serious soul searching and find their way to G-d. Generally speaking, the concept of “Tshuva” is one of the few things that everyone agrees upon. And so, “Baal Tshuva” Yeshivas are in abundance, and the concept of “bringing someone to Tshuva” is accepted by all.

The question that arises is the following: If the Jewish nation is so involved in “Tshuva”, why is the Jewish State in the worst situation it has ever been in spiritually, socially and from the point of view of security? The answer is the following: Obviously the “Tshuva” we see today is a positive thing that must be encouraged, but it is far from adequate. We must strive for a different KIND of “tshuva” – one that is much more comprehensive and far reaching.

The time has arrived for us to be outraged at the cheapening of Jewish blood in the Jewish State. The time has come for us to open our eyes to the national disaster that hovers over the Jewish State and World Jewry as well, and to escape from the apathy of our tiny lives and the mud we are mired in. Anyone who has read the words of Rabbi Kahane, HY”D, concerning the period we live in today, cannot possibly remain indifferent. He stressed, especially before his death, the vicious hate and the awesome tragedies which will be unleashed against the Jewish People before the final redemption in the form of what the sages call “Bi-Eta” – the redemption that comes slowly at its fixed time.

This entire nightmare will befall us if we don’t wake up and “DO TSHUVA”!! We’re not talking here just about a “tshuva” of “Shabbos” and “tefilin”, but rather one of deeds that express genuine “Bitachon” in Hashem – acts of Kiddush Hashem that will change the slow, painful redemption to a speedy and glorious one. We must have enough faith in G-d to do those “painful” and “difficult” tasks that Jews of old considered “normal”. It is time for us to realize how terrible it is when Jews are murdered, and how much worse it is when the ones lucky enough to still be alive are too apathetic or fearful of the gentile or leftist reaction to do something about it. We must realize what “Tshuva” is in a broader sense. It is expressed in the belief that the Jewish G-d is stronger and more powerful than anything imaginable (even Bill Clinton!). It means not abandoning Jonathan Pollard and the rest of the Jewish political prisoners even though that is what the “boss” in the White House wants. Yes, a sweeping and global “tshuva” that transcends the personal “Mitzvot”, and expresses genuine belief in G-d’s Omnipotence.

G-d gives us a length of time to avoid catastrophe but this period has also come to an end. The time for “Tshuva” has arrived. May we merit to understand the type of “Tshuva” that is required of us, and to bring the redemption swiftly and gloriously without needless suffering.

Vayigash: Who Recognizes Yosef?

In Parashat Vayigash the drama and tension between Yosef and his brothers reaches its climax. And then Yosef blows everything wide open, revealing himself to his startled brothers: “I am Yosef”. Afterwards, the brothers rush off to their father to break the news: “Ode Yosef Chai”, Yosef is still alive.

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the parasha’s dealing with Yosef, we must pay attention to the fact that what lies at the center of this three parasha drama between Yosef and his brothers is the fact that on one side stands Yosef who knows that his brothers stand before him, while on the other side are the brothers who do not know that they stand before Yosef. This is summed up in the verse in Parashat Mikez: “And Yosef recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.”

What is Meant by “Recognize”

According to the simple understanding, the commentators explain that the brothers did not recognize Yosef because at the time they sold him, he was young and without a beard, and now he had a beard. On the other hand, Yosef recognized his brothers because at the time he was sold, they already had beards.

Rashi digs deeper, explaining that the difference between the two sides was not merely recognition of external appearances. When Yosef encountered his brothers on the fateful day in Shchem, they did not “recognize” him; that is, they did not act brotherly towards him and sold him to the Ishmaelites. But when the brothers were at Yosef’s mercy, he “recognized” them; he acted brotherly towards them and did not take revenge for all the pain that they caused him.

In these days, after Yosef’s tomb has been sold to the Ishmaelites, we must focus on this point, and to shed light on the present situation where Yosef once again is not recognized.

Mashiach Ben Yosef and His Role

In the Torah, when speaking of the redemption, Mashiach ben Yosef and the concept of “Od Yosef Chai,” play a central role. According to tradition, before Mashiach ben David’s arrival, Mashiach ben Yosef will fight God’s wars in the age of redemption preceding Mashiach ben David. The Atchalta DeGeula, the stage before the conclusion of redemption when all surviving nations accept Heaven’s yoke, is the period of Mashiach ben Yosef. The Gra (the Gaon R. Eliayahu of Vilna), in his work Kol HaTor, calls Mashiach ben Yosef the “Mashiach De’Atchalta”, the “Inaugural Messiah”. The Gra explains that Mashiach ben David and Mashiach ben Yosef live and endure in every single generation, functioning in their role…” Mashiach ben Yosef is involved in the whole physical side of the redemption, the actual return to Zion, and the fighting of God’s wars, while the role of Mashiach ben David is to complete the spiritual redemption. If the Jews do not merit the redemption in a particular generation, the roles of the Messiahs are passed down to someone else in the next generation.

Estranged From and Conspired Against

We will now return to the central verse we mentioned, bringing the words of the Gra in Kol Ha Tor. ” ‘Yosef recognized his brothers but they did not recognize him’. This is one of Yosef’s attributes. Not just in his generation, but in every generation, Mashiach ben Yosef recognizes his brothers and they do not recognize him. It is an act of Satan which conceals Mashiach ben Yosef’s attributes, such that the Jews unfortunately do not recognize his footsteps, and in fact scoff at them…If not for this, our troubles would already be over. If Israel ‘recognized Yosef’, Mashiach ben Yosef’s footsteps comprising the ingathering of the exiles, etc., we would already be completely redeemed”. (Ch.2, Part 1:39)

Is it even necessary to expound upon our alienation from “Yosef” today? And now the Gra comes and teaches us that it is this very estrangement, ridicule and opposition to Mashiach ben Yosef and his role – the role of reviving the land, ingathering of the exiles, the conquest of the land and the war against the “erev rav” – this is the reason why the complete redemption is being delayed!

Not only is there estrangement from Yosef, but a conspiring against him, as it is written on Yosef: “And they conspired against him to slay him”. Yosef’s brothers see Yosef and his dreams as a threat to them. “What?! You are going to lead the process of redemption? You, the youngest amongst us?” They decide that he constitutes a danger and must be killed. Ode Yosef Chai! Who more than we can testify to the estrangement and mistreatment of those who attempt to bring the complete redemption. Yet, just as Rashi explains that Yosef “recognized” his brothers, behaving brotherly towards them; so, too, does Mashiach ben Yosef and his followers, those who carry on the task of bringing the redemption to the Jewish People – so, too, are they willing to endure personal suffering for Israel’s salvation, all out of a burning Ahavat Yisrael. The Gra teaches us that only against a few, the erev rav, must we fight a war to the bitter end. (“The erev rav is our greatest enemy…Hence, the war against the erev rav is the hardest and most bitter, and we must gird ourselves with our last strength towards this end. Whoever does not actively take part in the war against the erev rav automatically becomes a partner to its impurity, and whoever he is, he is better off not having been born.. (Ch.2, part 2:2)

But the masses that still do not recognize Yosef, attaching little or no importance to his activities (partly due to the erev rav and its propaganda) – we must “recognize” them. In the words of the Ohr HaChaiim, (who, by the way, was alluded to by the Gra as a spark of Mashiach ben Yosef), on our verse: “He looked at them as one looks at brothers, and he behaved brotherly towards them”!

These days are critical ones. The war that broke out this past Rosh Hashana centered on Shchem and Kever Yosef during the first few days. Afterwards, Yosef’s tomb was abandoned and sold to the Ishamaelites like discarded baggage. Our answer must be the opposite: We must cling on to all those tasks of Mashiach ben Yosef – the conquering of the land and the war against the goyim and the erev rav. We needn’t worry about being popular or palatable in the eyes of those who are not willing to recognize Yosef. By so doing, those who are willing to recognize Yosef will see and understand that “Ode Yosef Chai”.

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