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…

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.

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”

Vayakhel-Pikudei: Turn to Me and I Will Turn to You

This is the time of year when the weekly Torah readings deal with thesubjects of the Temple, sacrifices, and ritual purity. But alas, for the vast majority of us these parshas seem irrelevant. But what are we to do? They appear in the Torah, and therefore we must read them. They do not inspire us at all. In fact, we feel detached and are bored by them.

The Red Heifer
And yet, even the subject of the red heifer cannot be kept inconsequential forever. Here we are, about to read “Parshat Para” which deals with the laws of the red heifer, another seemingly irrelevant topic. Or is it? Surely you have heard of the red heifer which was born in Kfar Chassidim, which caused great excitement. Recently, though, it was disqualified when it grew two black hairs on its tail at the age of six months. Apparently, only a very few people were truly devastated by this. Everyone else, obviously,dismissed it with the thought: Nu, we’ve lived 2,000 years without this sacred cow, certainly we can wait a little more… And thus they returned to their truly important affairs….

We have not the slightest doubt that this red heifer, like so many other events taking place in our days, is a sign from heaven. Everything is ready but we prefer to busy ourselves in the smallness of our day-to-day lives. Even the disqualifying black hairs are a sign from above: G-d may open the door, but it is still up to us to enter. And if not, then that door closes. In our generation, G-d has opened up many doors for us; we have had opportunity after opportunity. And us? King Solomon described this situation laconically in the Song of Songs: “my Beloved is knocking, saying, Open to me, my sister, my bride, my undefiled..”. And us? “I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I soil them?” And in the meantime – “But my Beloved has turned away”….

“The Divine Presence” – What Is It?
The real question is: Do the b’nei Torah of our time see this as irrelevant -or worse, contemptible? Do they understand that the red heifer is not merely one more personal mitzvah, but rather the pre-condition for the hundreds of mitzvot which are dependent upon the Temple and in fact – the pre-condition for the Divine Presence in Israel!

To our great sorrow, even the phrase the pre-condition for the Divine Presence in Israel does not arouse any great emotions. It is simply words. The truth is (and this is so hard to say) that the Torah world has grown accustomed to living without this. In fact, why not? As long as one occupies himself with Torah from morning till evening, is concerned with all the myriad details of halacha – what can be missing? The Temple? The Temple?! Forget that! Go learn another page of Gemorrah, and chill out.

But those who think this way are cut off from authentic Judaism. Through 2,000 years of exile a barrier was erected between the Torah and the HolyTemple. And this, in point of fact, is a barrier between the Torah and He who gave the Torah!

An Intolerable Situation
Indeed it is so. There is no Torah without the Giver of the Torah, and the connection to Him is through the Divine presence in the Temple. The essence of the temple is the ark in the holy of holies, where the tablets are kept. That is where the Divine Presence is found. And The Sages explained in Shemot Raba on Parshat Terumah (33:1): “G-d said to Israel: I have given you the Torah – I cannot separate myself from it; and I cannot tell you not to take it; so wherever you may be found, build a house for me to dwell in – asit is written “Build for me a temple”.

We must understand what is written here. G-d “could not” separate himself from the Torah – and He therefore asked us to build for Him a house. Andnow, since the destruction of the Temple, the reality is that G-d has been exiled from His house, and therefore it is as if He has been separated from His Torah. Is this only His concern? Of course not! We are in a situation where although we have the Torah – G-d is nevertheless far from us. This is an intolerable situation. It is a deficiency which damages the essence ofour connection to the Torah!

When we were in exile, it was out of our hands. After all, what could we do? But what can we say now when as we have the ability to build the Temple, are commanded to do so (see Rambam Hilchot Beit Habichira 1:1), yet despite this we say: There is time, there are other more pressing needs, the important thing is to sit and learn? It is as if we are saying to the Almighty: See how nicely we are managing without You, with the Torah that You have given us. And You can stay where You are!

This shows a lack of basic understanding in the nature of Torah and the nature of the Temple. The Temple connects us to the Giver of the Torah. Insuch a situation, the learning of Torah and its fulfillment are brought to an entirely different level. For this reason it is precisely the bnei Torah who are constantly immersed in Torah, who must take the lead the process of building the Temple.

And this must happen, as the Yerushalmi says in Tractate Maaser Sheini, before the coming the Messiah. If not, it raises doubts as to whether to some extent we are only clinging to the surface of the Torah, and not to its essence.

Yeshiva of HaRayon Hayehudi

Dear Friend,

After years of travelling throughout the country and, indeed, the world, I am witness to the terrible nightmare that threatens the existence of our people. I refer to the reality of assimilation, intermarriage and alienation that rips millions of Jewish youth from their people. I refer to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish youth who are anti-Israel, the millions who are simply indifferent to Jewish issues, the huge numbers who drop any ties to their people.

The worst of this is the fact that, except for a few, the bulk of major Jewish organizations are doing little or nothing to stem this awful tide. The programs that do exist are so pitifully inadequate and such sad failures. SOMEONE must do something to save our youth for the Jewish people.

I HAVE DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING. I am opening a school whose major purpose will be to create young Jewish leaders; young Jews who will be scholars in Judaism, knowledgable of Jewish affairs, with the ability to debate and triumph in confrontation with Arabs, leftists, missionaries, etc.; young Jews who will be skilled in mind. They will be strong in body and trained in defense.

Every student will be pledged to go out at the completion of studies and work on a campus and school for at least two full years. There he will combat the leffists, the Arabs and the missionaries. He will be trained to teach students the Bible; to argue with Arabs and beat them at it; to know how to defeat the missionaries at their own arguments. In short, that which Jewish leaders and campus groups have failed to do, this philosopher-warrior will accomplish.

He will be the Jewish leader on the campus and in school. He will give Jewish youth PRIDE and IDENTITY.

I am building a yeshiva but a very different kind of a yeshiva. IT WILL PRODUCE PHILOSOPHER-WARRIORS. These will be students who will be immersed in study of Torah but who will not merely learn trees: They will see a forest. They will learn CONCEPTUAL JUDAISM, and be taught to see every law and commandment as part of a greater whole, each with its own concept and part of the greater one.

And one more thing. The greatness of Jewish scholarship and spirit will go along with a strong Jewish body. Regular physical and defense courses will be given to the students. They will sanctify the Name of G-d, His people inmind and body.

We believe that this is such a magnificent concept that every Jew will wish to give of himself for it. Here is a sublimely simple way for you to do just that. May G-d grant you the wisdom and strength to do for our people. With Love of Israel, Rabbi Meir Kahane

Why Be Jewish?

    It was the Torah that made the Jewish family a warm and close unit where respect and love dwelt in necessary harmony. It was the Torah that turned out youngsters whose passion in life was not drugs and kicks and violent sadism, but the famous kometz, aleph-aw. And it was from the little Torah cheder that scholarly giants of the earth came forth to teach sweet morality and true goodness.

    If you want an answer, do not seek an easy one. If you want to be a Jew-be the one that always existed. Seize the mainstream of Judaism, no matter how difficult it may be. Let me suggest to you a few points of departure:

l. That life is short and meaningless if its purpose becomes the mere pursuit of pleasure. That unless we are to go mad, there must be something more to this brief candle.

2. The knowledge that the Jew is different and exclusive; that he has a role to play which will determine his and the world’s destiny; that the Torah turns him, his people, and in the end all humanity into a holy and meaningful entity.

3. That Torah cannot endure with simple practice, but is based upon deep and never-ending study, and that without scholarship, Judaism degenerates into the joke of the Long Island temple.

4. That only if we believe that the Torah is Divine will we submit to its will, for if it is just a product of “clever” rabbis, surely you will be convinced that you are as clever as they.

5. That the Jewish people is bound together by common destiny, and that this imposes upon each one an obligation to love and rush to the aid of each and every other Jew; that the Jew has no permanent allies except his own people; that for the Jew, Jewish problems come first; that we measure our responses by the yardstick: Is it good and right for the Jew?

    These are the principles; now go and study them. Study; learn. Learn Torah, for only Torah and Torah knowledge can make you the kind of Jew that you must be. “The ignorant Jew cannot be pious” – this is the deepest of all truths. So find yourself a rabbi, a teacher. But make sure that he believes in what he is teaching. Make sure he is an honest man who does what lie preaches and who can give you the truth that he has in his heart. Torah: go drink deeply from its waters.

    You are young and you have the choice that the Almighty gives to all, young and old: life or death, good or evil, truth or illusion. If you choose the transitory pleasures of your present chapter of life, you will awaken some day with the taste of ashes in your mouth. If you really believe that the things for which our people struggled and fought and died and then continued to live for so long, are so cheap that they can be thrown away for a job or a girl – surely you will awaken one day with a broken heart and a broken soul. And you will follow the path of all the foolish and disillusioned Jews who saw in Emanicipation and Enlightenment an opportunity for “freedom” and “growth.” Their paths led to the dead ends of Auschwitz or the bankruptcy of lives that give neither satisfaction nor permanence.

    Consider what you had and threw awayl You were people that was trampled upon, spat upon, burned and drowned, hanged and shot, gassed and buried alive. And they existed in spite of all these. You were part of a people that did not fall prey to the moral disasters of crime, immorality, and. cultural anarchy, but created geniuses and men of morality and ethics. While others beat their wives, Jews respected them. While others rolled in the gutter drunk with whiskey, the Jew raised his Kiddush cup to G-d. While others dabbled at Inquisitions and conquests, the Jew bent over his Tadmud and created warmth, kindness, and scholarship. While others worshiped idols, the Jew embraced the One G-d.

    In a sense, you live no right to run because you owe an obligation to the unborn child who will someday come from you, to remain with his people – the people of his grandparents and great-grandparents and ancestors from Poland and Russia and Yemen and France and Spain and Babylonia.

    We lose so many of our best sons and daughters. Some die as those in Munich, in a blare of publicity, but many more are buried quietly and we never even know they are gone until we suddenly find them missing. These are the ones who fall before the enemy called Assimilation. These are the ones who never knew or, worse, forgot that Jewish is, oh, so beautiful. The ones who sell their precious birthright for a few cheap coins and leasures. They think they are finding freedom and happiness; only later, too late, do they realize that they died in the bloom of youth.

    Young Jew whom I have never met, come home. Return to your people and their destiny. It is beautiful. You are young and for you, Return is simple. And know that your life can only be lived in one place. Home. The Land of Israel. It is a large land. Extending from the Mediterannean to the Jordan, from Hermon through Sinai to Sharm-al-Sheaykh. It stands, capable of absorbing millions, many millions of its sons and daughters who have not yet come. It is the land where one cannot move without colliding with the Jewish past. This is the land where Abraham walked and Isaac and Jacob traveled; where David and Saul fought the enemy and Deborah and Samson smote the foe; where the Prophets raised their eyes unto the heavens and spoke to the people; where the Maccabees preserved Judaism with the sword and where the Sanhedrin and Ben Zakkai continued it with the book; where Bar Kochba died and where his children will return. Here is Eretz Yisrael; here is your home.

    What a glorious challenge you have been givenl The gauntlet has been thrown down before you, and you must climb the heights of greatness! Aliyah, going up to the land, this is the task at hand. Leave behind the dust of Exile the terrible fate that awaits us, our enemies of the Diaspora who thirst for our blood and plan yet another Auschwitz. Make your plans to leave the graveyards of Galut and live in our own land – free, a majority, alive. Guarantee the preservation of your children and cliildren’s cliildren. Watch them grow tall and tanned, strong and proud, secure and sovereign.

    You need this land and it needs you, many of you. Millions of new Jews pouring into Israel will fill up its empty spaces, guarantee the retention of all the liberated lands of Judea, Samaria, Golan, Gaza, and Sinai; assure a vast Jewish majority despite the addition of a million new non-Jews; add Western democratic and technical skills to the land. Eretz Yisrael will never again be lost to us.

    What a moment in history! How wonderful it would be if we were to understand it, clutch at it, become part of it.

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