Ki Tetze: Spiritual Death – Worse Than Physical Death

There is an interesting halacha concerning which nations are permitted to marry into the Jewish People after individuals from these nations convert. The offspring of converts from the nations Edom and Egypt are permitted to marry into the Jewish nation after three generations. On the other hand, the offspring of Moabite or Ammonite (male) converts may never marry into the Jewish People. That’s right. The Egyptians who tried to drown all of the children of Israel and who caused us terrible suffering, and the Edomites who blocked our way in Horeb when we only asked to pass through their land are allowed to marry into the nation of Israel. However the Ammonites and Moabites whose sin was a passive one – that they did not offer us bread and water, are never allowed to marry into the nation of Israel. A topsy turvy world!

Something deeper must be going on here to cause this severe ostracization. Indeed, the midrash (Sifri, Bamidbar Raba, and brought down by Rashi) clarifies the issue: “The Ammonites and Moabites, since they looked for ways to cause Israel to sin were banished by the Torah forever. This teaches us that causing someone to sin is worse than killing him – since killing someone does not remove him from both this world and the next world, while causing someone to sin removes him both from this world and the next world.” The commentator Kli Hayakar also explains that “not offering you bread and water” was part of the overall plan which Bilam had suggested to Ammon and Moab in order to corrupt Israel. Due to their hunger, Israel went out and ate from the alters of the idols of Moab, and the daughters of Moab gave them wine and seduced them on the condition that they worship their idols first. Bilam understood that if they can cause Israel to sin, this would be the true blow, since sin is more fatal than physical death. By the way, this blow was actualized in this world as well, with the falling of 24,000 Jews.

A striking example of this concept is presented in our parasha in the unprecedented case of the “rebellious son” – the young man who has stolen relatively little from his father, and must be stoned. The rabbis explain there that is a message to be learned here: “The rebellious son is punished for what he is going to become – the Torah knows where he is leading – he will eventually wipe out his father’s property…stand on the roads and rob people. The Torah states: Let him die innocent and not guilty”. Obviously “being killed for what you are going to become” is not the general rule in our Torah, since normally a person is punished for his deeds as they stand at present. Yet the Torah give us here a commandant which according to one opinion in the Talmud, “never was and never will be”, in order to teach us an idea. “Then why is it written? To learn it and receive reward.” The meaning here is that even if the conditions for the rebellious son episode can never be met, one can still learn the essential lesson from it. And what is that idea? That death is better than a life with no direction and laden with sin. In Judaism, life is a means and not an end in and of itself. Without a rason detre, or a real purpose, there is no reason for life.

So what do we see? For the modern day hellenists who believe in foreign western culture, the idea of “causing one to sin is worse than killing him” is a denial of the essence of their beliefs. For them, “the sanctity of life”, this hypocritical Christian idea, is above all else. For this reason we find amongst them those who are against the death penalty for even the most heinous of criminals (such as the “humanists who protested against the hanging of Eichman). The deeper reason for this is that they do not accept the notion of “sin” as something objective. What is for you a “sin” may be for me a “mitzvah”. What today is considered criminal may be considered tomorrow the norm. If there is no G-d, and good and evil is determined by the ever changing values of man, than not only is life meaningless and “hefker”, but it must be “sanctified” by the hypocrites over all other values.

But we have a G-d who determined what is good and evil thousands of years ago. This has not changed one iota to this day. Therefore, we are commanded to remember and never forget the two nations who caused our fathers to sin gravely more than 3,500 years ago, and we hold them in contempt still today.

We cannot conclude a discussion of this topic without mentioning the most striking example of, “it is worth to cause one to sin than to kill him” in our generation. It is an example we must “remember and don’t forget” (an expression used for Amalek). We are speaking of the intentional and methodical spiritual destruction which took place 50 years ago against the Sephardic Jews by Ben-Gurion and “Mapai”, in order to prevent the young nation from becoming a majority of religious Jews. There is nothing which can undo this sin which according to the sages is worse than a physical holocaust. We are still eating from the spoiled fruits of this systematic de-Judaiazation of the Sephardic Jew. These Jews were ripped away from the Shabbat, family purity, and all the Jewish ritual which had kept them spiritually pure during 2,000 years of exile. In it’s place, they were fed the values of Dizengorf Street. Remember, and never forget!

In the Shadow of the Cross

“Pidyon Shvuyin (Redemption of the Captured) takes precedence over the sustenance to the poor and their raiment. There is no greater Mitzvah than that of Pidyon Shvuyim … and he who turns his eye from redeeming him, transgresses the commandment: Thou shalt not harden thine heart and shalt not close thy hand… Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor”(Rambam, Hilchos Matnos Aniyim, 8:10).

There are 100,000 of them. A tenth of a million Jews.A tenth of a million brothers and sisters. They come in terror and bewilderment, a million fears in their hearts and but one franc in their pockets. They come to the slums of Marseilles and Paris and Lyon; to the misery of ill paying, long hour employment; to the anarchy and wilderness of a non-existent communal life. They look for a synagogue and there is none, for a mikvah and none is to be found. They seek a school of Judaism for their children and their search is in vain, their call for the G-d of Israel falls on empty ears.

“They” are the Jews, refugees from Algerian terror. The land of religious anarchy they come to is France. Crushed by grinding poverty, caught within the urban slums that know no synagogue or mikvah or even kosher meat store, their bodies and souls, both hang by a thread on the market place of the common, there available to the first bidder.

Their children roam the streets. Not for them is the music of the Aleph Beis — for no Yeshiva graces their neighborhood; not for them is the melody of tradition — for no Talmud Torah has ever seen the grimy Light of the Parisian working district. Not for them is the helping hand of an established Jewish community — for they are “Shchorim,” darker skinned Jews, and wealth and assimilation flee from such “contamination”.

The Friend

But all hope is not lost. There is indeed a friend; there is still a compassionate neighbor; there is still one who seeks to help. The shadow of this friend is cast over each home; his beneficent hand is outstretched to every family; his overtures are extended to all who but desire them. Seek shelter under my shadow, it calls. Find help here, O Jews, it calls; find help and shelter beneath my shadow – the shadow of the Cross.

The missionaries of the Church, like birds of prey they, sensing intuitively the opportunities waiting for them in this morass of poverty, misery and isolation. From house to house they come, priests and nuns, offering aid. Your child wanders the streets? We have schools and shelters and play centers for him. He lacks friends and companionship? We have games and songs and guides. He knows nothing of his holidays? Come, come to our Shavuos celebration, our Hanukah party (and perhaps also our fete de Noel). Whatever you lack — come, find it here, here in the shadow of the Cross.

These words do not come easily and the phrases are measured. When the P’eylim organization, composed of young Bnei Torah giving of their time and energy and monies for the preservation of Torah especially among the youth, came with the story of the massive missionary efforts directed against North African Jews in France, the importance of finding the proper words, of painting the true enormity of the danger, was obvious.

How to tell of the missionaries, garbed in long black coats and dignified beards, looking for all the world like roshei yeshivas, and hoping by this to deceive naïve refugees.

How to write of the apostate Feldman, the traitorous Jew, who drags down souls of gullible Jews, to the depths of conversion?

How to inform American Jews that at this moment there sit thousands within the shadow. Jewish children sitting beneath the Cross; the children of Abraham celebrating the Mass; the children of Isaac praising Mary; the children of Jacob praying the Rosary.

How to cry out to Orthodox Jews, that at this moment a Jewish soul is being destroyed. That at this moment the Torah is spurned and the Gospel adopted, the rabbi forgotten and the priest begotten.

How to reach religious Jews, we who are so full of self-satisfaction with our piety and our generosity, with our Sabbath observance and yarmulka wearing, with our synagogue attendance and UJA donation, that these souls are within our hands. How to let ourselves know, we satisfied ones, who intend to spend a pretty sum at a summer resort this year that these souls are going by default.

If there were yeshivas in Paris — the missionaries would crumble! If here were Talmud Torahs in Marseilles — the Church would fail! If there were play centers and teachers in Lyon — the Cross-would fade! And above all, let us know, we satisfied ones, that the yeshivas and the Talmud Torahs and the teachers and the centers AND THE BEDEMPTION are ours for the giving!

Pidyon Shvuyim–the redemption of the captured, whether in body or soul, tales precedence over all. But it is of course more than merely a question of whether we will respond to a Mitzvah. It is more than a men test of the capacity of the community to meet a need.

It is rather, above all, a test. It is a test of our souls, of our image. Are we indeed of the seed of Abraham — merciful and men of charity? Are we indeed worthy of the obligation implied in the name “Jew”? Are we capable of the dignity and sacrifice and holiness, which is our inheritance? In short, it is we who an on trial; our souls, our worth are weighed in the balance. May G-d save him, who is found wanting in this most crucial of tests. May our share be with him who responds to this greatest of Mitzvahs.

An Exchange of Populations

In all the furor that has been created in Israel and the world Jewish community over the suggestion by certain “radical” Jews that Israeli Arabs be transferred from the country, there appears to be forgotten the fact that such an action would only be the second part of an ultimate exchange of populations.

The fact is, that with the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Arab countries, almost all of whom left behind all their property for which compensation was never paid. It is worth while to look at the record before we dismiss the concept of the transfer of Arabs from Israel.

Algeria had 150,000 Jews in 1948. Pogroms in that country had occured almost every 10 years since tha 1890’s, and during the 1930’s, many Jews of Constantine were massacred despite French intervention. In 1961, the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) attacked the large cities where most of the Jews lived and 100,000 were forced to flee the country, leaving behind all their belongings.The FLN desecrated the Great Synagogue at Algiers and the ancient Jewish Cemetary at Oran, and succeeded in driving out all but 900 Jews by 1973. And so: Algeria 1948: 150,000 Jews; Algeria 1973: 750 Jews.

In Morocco in 1948 there were 300,000 Jews. On June 7 of that year, mobs in Oujda sacked the Jewish quarter, killing and wounding hundreds of Jews, and in nearby Djerada, 30 Jews were massacred by Arab mobs the same night. The new revolutionary government passed anti-Jewish laws so severe that they drove out 300,000 Jews. With the return of the Sultan in 1961, there was some relaxation of the laws; but by 1973 only 25,000 of the original 300,000 Jews remained. Morocco 1948: 300,000 Jews; Morocco 1973: 25,000 Jews.

There were 23,000 Jews in Tunisia in 1948. Following the revolutionary government’s program of Arabization, Jews became “instant scapegoats ,” and many were arrested for “economic” crimes simply for being merchants or practicing any gainful occupation. By 1973, all but 9,000 Jews had been driven out of Tunisia. Tunisia 1948: 23,000 Jews, Tunisia1973: 9,000 Jews.

Syria had 45,000 Jews in 1948. They had prospered under the Turks and the French, but when the Arabs took over, they at once became the target for both official and unofficial violence. Anti-Jewish legislation froze bank accounts and confiscated property. New laws forbade Jews to sell their property or move more than three miles from their homes. Special identity cards were issued to them, and they were allowed to work only at certain jobs. Government employees and military personnel were forbidden to patronize Jewish shops. Today there are fewer than 4,000 Jews in Syria, and they are under constant attack. Syria 1948: 45,000 Jews, Syria 1973: 4,000 Jews.

There were 45,000 Jews living in Libya in 1948. In Tripoli in 1945, 120 Jews had been killed by mobs of Arabs. After independence, most of the others were driven from the country, many were murdered after the Six-Day War and numerous others were arrested. In 1976, there were only about 70 Jews remaining in the country ruled by Colonel Qaddafi. Libya 1948: 45,000 Jews, Libya 1976: 70 Jews.

Jews have been in Egypt since Biblical times, and Alexandria had once been, at least partially, a Jewish city. In 1945, the pro-Nazi “Young Egypt” group led anti- Jewish rioting in which many Jews were killed. In 1947, a new law for companies made it practically impossible for Jewish businesses to operate. Egypt had 75,000 Jews in 1948, when bombings, burnings and looting destroyed almost $50 million worth of Jewish property. After the overthrow of King Farouk by Nasser and his “Free Officers,” life for Jews became intolerable in that country. After the Suez War, 3,000 Jews were arrested and imprisoned without trial. Thousands of others were presented with deportation orders forcing them to quit the country within days and leave all their property behind. By 1967, Nasser had managed to force all but 3,000 Jews out of Egypt. There were fewer than 500 Jews remaining in the land ruled by the “moderate” el-Sadat in 1976; the rest were driven out to find new homes, mostly in Israel. Egypt 1948: 75,000 Jews, Egypt 1976: 500 Jews. ( Amnesty International reported in 1976 that there were only 350 Jews in Egypt.)

Iraq was the home of 125,000 Jews in 1948. Since then, the revolutionary government has conducted an almost incessant campaign of terror against them. Nine Jews were hanged in public and 68 tried as Israeli spies in January 1968 while chanting mobs moved through the streets beating up any Jew that passed their way, women and children included! By 1973, only 400 Jews remained in Iraq. Iraq 1948: 125,000 Jews, Iraq 1973: 400 Jews.

Yemen, where 54,000 Jews lived in 1948, had none in 1976. Hundreds were killed, and the rest found shelter in British bases until they were carried to Israel by Operation Magic Carpet. Before that, it was legal to stone a Jew to death, and the law decreed that ” fatherless Jewish children under thirteen be taken from their mothers and raised as Muslims.”Yemen 1948: 54,000 Jews, Yemen 1976: No Jews whatsoever!!

In Aden, there were 5,000 Jews in 1947, but in 1976 there were none. In December, 1947, Arab mobs attacked the Jewish quarter, killing several people and burning down buildings. Between 1948 and 1967, most Aden Jews fled to Israel. The 130 who remained fled after the riots in June 1967 to escape torture and certain death. Aden 1948: 5,000 Jews, Aden 1967: No Jews Whatsoever!!

A total of some 750,000 Jews fled Arab lands since 1948. Surely it is time for Jews, worried over the huge growth of Arabs in Israel, to consider finishing the exchange of populations that began 35 years ago.

Rabbi Kahane speaking at a Shul

Rabbi Kahane addressing a Jewish audience about Jewish assimilation, leftist fits of rage, and Arab terrorism

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