A Spiritual Revolution?

Question: With the growth of the religious parties in the Knesset, is it possible to bring about a spiritual revolution?

Answer: It must be understood that a spiritual revolution in Israel cannot occur simply by stressing the need to do “mitzvot”. Rather, the entire Jewish idea must be spread, and blatant contradictions between Jewish and western concepts must be dealt with.

Unfortunately, in the Torah world itself, the authentic Jewish idea has been so watered down, and so many have turned the Torah into a “mitzva” collection, taking the soul out of Judaism.

The source of this evil is the exile, which severed the Jewish nation from a vital and living Torah. When one lives outside of his country at the mercy of the gentile culture and mentality, it is virtually impossible to preserve the pure Torah concepts, which are in essence the heart of Torah. And so, even after we have returned to our land, the distortion has not been corrected, and the idea or soul of the Torah is missing. Today the concepts of Torah have become putty in the hands of the pervertor, and there is noone to counter.

And so, despite the steady increase of “Baal Teshuvas” over the years, there is no electricity in the air, and no special atmosphere which is the requirement for any revolution. Something is lacking. Learning partial messages of Torah, while turning the more vital messages into something “unimportant” because they are “controversial” or “politics” will bring minor changes, but will not create an explosion or revolution. The trend towards Judaism we witnessed these past elections and the blessed growth in the number of “Baal Teshuvas” is a reflection of the disappointment for the secular way. But this is not enough.

Reaction to Arab Terror Blasts

Following the progroms in Kishinev, in which tens of Jews were slaughtered and Jews sat and cried, Zev Jebotinsky said: “I don’t call what happened a”tragedy”. A tragedy is when a divine lesson is learned. Here, nobody learns a thing”. How true these words are! Jews love to cry. Jews are experts in funerals, and so proficient in “Yohrzeits” and remembrance candles. But they are such amateurs when it comes to learning from history, despite the fact that they have undergone the most agonizing history than any other people. Behold, after the assassination of Rabin, the left demanded that we all contemplate our ways, and in fact, many self-righteous and confused Jews did just that. So many started to question the justice of their cause, asking forgiveness from the left. And now, after such shocking tragedy where 60 Jews are murdered in a span of two weeks and we are finally able to regain our proper proportions, it is as if everyone looks at spilled Jewish blood as some irrevocable Divine Decree; a continuation of the Inquisitions, progroms and Auschwitzes which we have grown so used to. Because the bottom line is that we are willing to accept the following axiom: The gentile spilling of Jewish blood is a natural thing, and is not worthy of avenging. But the truth is that there is some serious contemplation and “Cheshbon Nefesh” (an accounting) that must be done. We are not talking about the”cheshbon” of Knesset seats and surveys that the corrupt politicians deal in as they calculate how much each dead Jew is worth to them in the polls. The following is the real “Cheshbon Nefesh” that must be done: Who is guilty for the 60 Jews who were slaughtered in the center of the two largest cities in the “independent” State of Israel? Who is guilty for the fact that the dream of 2,000 years has turned into a daily nightmare, where parents are afraid to send their children off to school in the morning, lest in the evening they have to bring their children’s leftover, collected bodyparts in nylon bags to the cemetery? All those who refused to heed the words, the warnings, and the pleadings of Rabbi Kahane, HY”D, who for 20 years courageously and with unbelievable self-sacrifice warned us that as long as we do not actualize the Torah commandment of “disinheriting the inhabitants of the land”, we will be recompensed with, “And they will be thorns in your eyes…and will distress you in the land.”All those who could not debate the Rabbi, preferring to defame him as a “racist” and a “fascist”, are guilty for the murder of those Jews. Guilty are all those who knew he was right, but instead of simply keeping quiet, had to denounce him because of fear of what the left would say. All the rabbis who behind closed doors told him: “You’re right, but I can’t say it, because I’ll lose my position”, murdered those Jews. What an awesome opportunity we had! G-d sent a messenger who was willing to do all the “dirty work” – to carry the entire weight on his shoulders, suffer the condemnations, and sit in prison on the way. All we had to do was stand by his side and lend a bit of a hand. But no. Fear overcame most. Most preferred to cooperate with his haters. Who is suffering for it? We are! Because we are truly the guilty ones.

    From Channel 1 News:
    Riki, 13 years old: “Why do they hate us so?”
    Reporter: “Maybe you hate them?”
    Riki (after a slight hesitation): “No. (Crying) If there was something Icould tell them, I would tell them to stop it. It isn’t fair!”

Riki is a girl whose friend was killed in the Dizengof bombing. We quote her so that one can learn what the REAL TRAGEDY is: Through the words of this poor little girl one sees the double tragedy, for she represents the typical alienated Israeli youth. “Why do they hate us?”, she asks. Only someone who knows the history of the Jewish People can give her an answer – someone who was educated about the uniqueness of the Jewish People, and learned that the hate of the gentile, which is an illogical hatred, is derived from Mount Sinai. It is a hatred that the Jew cannot flee from, no matter how much he assimilates and capitulates – for it is a irrational law of nature. But Riki’s assimilated Israeli school curriculum doesn’t include such teachings about the eternity of the Jewish Nation, and her educators don’t understand why Arabs are unwilling to give up their weapons, despite the fact that the Jews are willing to give up everything. She herself (after slight hesitation) is willing to do away with her natural feelings of hatred that she holds towards the murderers of her friend. She does not understand that it isn’t territory that interests them, but rather it is the existence ofthe Jews in the Land of Israel that bothers them. Every possible alternative other than the Torah solution that we have been preaching for the last 25 years has been tried and has led to nowhere. It must be understood first and foremost that the Likud will not save thesituation. Have we forgotten already? They started the process of theabandonment of the Land of Israel. Even the “intifada” was a direct resultof their willingness to make concessions, and it began under a Likudgovernment. Have we already forgotten those “bad” old days of “intifada” and stabbings where the Likud government stood helpless. Does anyone think that a Likud government will cause the Hamas suicide terrorists to return to thecloset and bring back the days of “only” knifings? We know that this may be difficult to hear, but this is precisely the point: The salvation will come only when all the illusions have been shattered and the false gods have crumbled. What must it take for the People to wake up and cling to the real alternative, the alternative that was banned (by the Likud!) from takingpart in the elections to Knesset? Many people need to apologize to Yigal Amir. One of those people is a journalist who, before the bombings, ran in his column a comparison between Yigal Amir and the “engineer” of the Hamas (Mahandes). Yigal Amir was labeled as a “vermin” while in the article on the “engineer”, one could detect admiration and “kavod” for this murderer of women and children. How can one begin to understand such pathological self-hatred? Without a doubt, the hatred for Yigal Amir has passed all bounds of logic. Even for one who doesn’t agree with him, unlike the “engineer”, he chose the specific target which he felt was bringing tragedy upon the Jewish People, and out of a real pain for his people, he was willing to pay the price, as he said in court: “It is good to sit in prison for our homeland”. Is there any kind of tragedy that can wake this people up, or will we have to wait for out Father in Heaven to do it all alone – meaning that the redemption will have to be accompanied by brutally awesome tragedy? The hour is already late. Time is running out. Return to Me and I will return to you!

Nitzavim/Vayelech: Free Will

See – I have placed before you today the life and the good, and the death and the evil, that which I command you today. To love Hashem, your G-d, to walk in His ways, to observe His commandments, His decrees, and His ordinances; then you will live and you will multiply, and Hashem, your G-d, willbless you in the Land to which you come to possess it…

I call heaven and earth as witnesses! Before you I have placed life and death, the blessing and the curse. You must choose life, so that you and your descendants will live. (Deut. 30:15,16).

 This warning was issued when the Jewish People were about to enter their land, to live there isolated from the nations’ detestable practices. Unfortunately, even in Eretz Yisrael, we sinned greatly and exile was decreed, such that instead of being a “nation that dwells alone” (Num. 23:9), we ended up among the nations, and most of the Jewish People became like them. As a result, large parts of our people, in effect, lost the ability to choose. The free choice that was their lot in Eretz Yisrael, their land and birthplace, became a farce among the nations where they were conquered by foreign culture; and countless Jews became spiritual captives.How can we expect Israel to repent as a people when they do not even have any questions? Why should G-d continue punishing His people for so long when not only is the punishment not beneficial, but, as we saw following the dreadful Holocaust, tens of thousands of believing Jews even became heretics? How can G-d draw near to Him a people that has lost its understanding to choose between good and evil, between life and death? Regarding the verse, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may you also do good, that are accustomed to doing evil” (Jer. 13:23), Redak comments, “You have so accustomed yourselves to evil that it cannot leave you, as though it were a second nature to you.”In this age of  great scientific and technological advancement, when materialistic, cosmopolitan “realism” makes assimilation seem acceptable, it is clear that the Jewish captive to foreign culture will not improve his ways. Quite the contrary, he marches along proudly, far from the camp, far from the idea of repenting, almost cut off from every link to his origins. He has lost, so to speak, the power of free choice. He who was earmarked to be like the stars of the heavens, wallows in the mire.

Continue reading “Nitzavim/Vayelech: Free Will”

Purim: The Hidden Hope Which Lies in the Hidden Messsage of Purim

Two points in Megilat Esther are not clear. Firstly, what brought on the decree to destroy all the Jews, and secondly, what suddenly happened that caused the decree to be canceled? To understand this, we will look at the story of Purim.

Like a bolt of lightning, the decree “to destroy to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day” fell upon Persian Jewry. The reaction of the Jews to this edict was quite puzzling. The Megilah says that the “City of Shushan was in consternation”. Consternation? Certainly, a more normal reaction would be to shout or cry. But “consternation”?

But if we take a glimpse at the of situation Persian Jewry at the time, we would see that consternation is the reaction we might expect after all. For it never entered their minds that such a thing could ever happen. They were the biggest patriots! They were the most loyal to Achasverosh! That is why when Achashverosh (nine months earlier) sent out invitations for the 180-day feast, the Jews were the first ones to confirm their attendance. All this despite the protests from the “extremists” such as Mordechai, who warned against their participation in such a feast, since it’s intention was to make the Jews assimilate. But the Jews wanted to prove that they are not different than the rest. Thus the reaction of consternation upon hearing the shocking decree.

But then the Megilah continues: “And Mordechai knew all that was done…” He had no illusions, and understood fully what caused the decree. He knew that the assimilation – precisely what the Jew thought would ease anti-Semitic tensions, was the very cause of the decree! For the rule was learned since our days in Egypt: Whenever the Jew tries to water down his Judaism and be accepted by the gentile, the latent hatred (which is always there) of the gentile towards the Jew outwardly manifests itself.

If so, why was the decree annulled? Because immediately upon receiving word of the decree, Mordechai, as we mentioned, knew the reason for it, and did not give up. He also did not go on a boot-licking campaign to plead the case of the Jews to the king or his cabinet, despite the fact that he was no stranger to the palace and had connections there. What he did was to undergo a last-ditch effort to awaken the Jews to understand the real cause of the problem – that precisely their effort to shed their uniqueness as Jews and to blur over their Jewish identity and be like goyim is what brings upon them bad times.

Indeed, it is not easy to convey such a message to a Jew, when he is socaught up in having the goy love him. Because such a message seems tocontradict all logic. But in Shushan, a great miracle occurred, and it is the real hidden miracle of Purim – the Jews did “Tsheuva”! And not just “Tsh’uva” of talking without backing it up, but rather one of deeds. Instead of continuing to grovel to the Persians and bring down barriers as most Jews naturally react, they made themselves subservient to the truth of Mordechai only, admitting to their original mistake of participating in the forbidden banquet. This was the significance of the mass fast which was declared. It signified a genuine “Tsheuva” to G-d.

By the way, now we can see why the Name of G-d does not appear in Megilat Esther, despite the fact that the theme of the story is “Tsh’uva to G-d”. It is to tell us that when there is distress, one should not just rely on G-d to solve our problems in some miraculous fashion. Rather, we must prove by our actions that we understand the reason for the distress, and then do the right thing, even if it appears to be “illogical”.

This should give us encouragement for today. For the problem of today is the same: Our need to copy the gentiles, to blur over our uniqueness as a people, and our absolute dependency on the world. At times it seems there is no hope. Can our people ever understand that America won’t save us? And behold, we have a precedent in our history where from great distress, the Jewish People were able to wake up and to cling to the truth of Hashem. May we see the same awesome “Naha-Fochu” (a turning of the tables) quickly.

Succot: Not Everyone is Included in the “Four Species”

Major functionaries at home joining the side of our enemy require us to take another look at the known midrash about how the “four species” symbolize different levels in Am Yisrael.

It is impossible to ignore anymore the growing and obscene phenomenon, where functionaries from home mobilize time and time again to further the cause of our bitter enemies. Whenever possible, they rise from within us, under the orchestration of the media, to demoralize the nation during its fight for existence, while furthering the interests of the enemy. The question is: How should we relate to these people? Are they one of us, or are they “beyond the pale”?

One of the famous midrashim in connection to Succot, compares the four species to the unity of Israel: “Just as the Etrog has both taste and smell, so too do the Jewish People have within it people who have Torah and good deeds: Lulav…has taste and no smell, and so too there are those who have Torah and no good deeds…Just as the Hadas has smell and no taste…(there are those) with good deeds and no Torah…Just as the “Arava” has no smell and no taste, so (there are those) who have no Torah and no good deeds. And what does the Almighty do to them? To destroy them would be impossible! But rather the Almighty said that he will tie them all up in one unit and they will atone for one another”. (Vayikra Raba, 30:12)

Considering our opening statements, there is a need for some clarification in light of this amazing midrash which mentions how the Aravot are held tightly together with the rest of Am Yisrael.

The worst kind of Jew spoken of here is the Arava, who is not destroyed, because the righteous atone for him. They are Jews “who have no Torah and no good deeds”. True, we are not talking about the cream of the crop – but we are talking about Jews who are ready to be part of the union of Am Yisrael, connected to them so that the righteous can atone for them. We are not talking about Jews, who G-d forbid, sever themselves from the collective and detest their own Jewishness. We are not discussing Jews who the sages spoke of when they said that in the days of Messiah, there will be Jews who will identify with and join forces with the enemy. About such Jews, the above midrash does not speak. On the contrary. The idea of the midrash is two-fold. On one hand, G-d does not desire to see the wicked of Israel destroyed. On the other hand, we are talking about only those who are willing to join part of Klal Yisrael. Only he merits this special atonement, reserved for one who feels belonging to the collective of the Jewish Nation.

It must be known: Relatively speaking, there really are only a few. But through all the generations, and especially in this final era before the complete redemption, there were always Jews who took themselves out of the collective, and deep inside of them, identified more with the goyim than with the Jews.

And so, it is a great mistake to identify such people as the “Arava” described in the midrash. For while the Arava is still an only an Arava, it still has a belonging to the Jewish collective. While it has no taste or smell, at least it does not give off a putrid or damaging smell. The Arava sees himself as part of the four species and does not nullify his Jewishness, nor does he want to be like a gentile. By this very fact, he is able to absorb within him the smell and taste of the others. We must also remember that there are certain things that disqualify the four species from being Kosher. And so, though we are never happy about disqualifying a Jew, there are those who are rejected, and not tied together with the rest of the four species.

The nation is willing to absorb the individual sinners, and to cover and atone for them so that they will not perish with their sins (even though this causes us great suffering as a people). It is ready to hold on tightly to them with all its might in order to unite them, for we Jews are all guarantors for one another. But the nation is not ready to carry under its wing he who in his very essence is an aberrant traitor. Such people remove themselves from the Succah of Israel, and as much as it hurts to say, they are beyond the pale for us.

Yom Kippur: Mission of the Prophet – in These Times as Well

On Yom Kippur it is the custom to read the Book of Jonah during the Mincha service, since the repentance done by the people of Ninve is supposed to awaken us on the current Day of Atonement. Many people forget, however, that before Jonah even arrived at Ninve to prophesize, he underwent an experience that carries for us an important example for today and for Yom Kippur as well.

The sages tell us that there are several types of prophets who are obligated to receive the death penalty. One of these is the prophet who “suppresses his prophecy”. That is, he has received a prophetic vision and is commanded to reveal it, but refuses to do so. Jonah came dangerously close to falling into such a category – fleeing the Land of Israel so that the “Divine Presence” will no longer rest upon him, and thus no longer be able to carry G-d’s message. The sages tell us that all this stemmed from Jonah’s love for the Jewish People. Jonah knew that the gentiles of Ninve would heed his call to repentance. Consequently, this might awaken the wrath of G-d against the Jewish People, since they, in contrast to the gentiles of Ninve, did not heed the words of the prophets and repent. He therefore chose to flee from his obligation to warn the people of Ninve, lest they “show up” the Jews.

Despite this love, and despite all his good intentions, Jonah was wrong. The role of the prophet is to speak the word of G-d, whether the message finds favor in his eyes or not, or if saying it endangers his life. It is irrelevant whether or not he has the most seemingly logical justifications for NOT saying the message. Speaking the truth can be very difficult, as Rabbi Kahane, HY”D, in his last article in the “Jewish Press” wrote, “You think it is pleasant to speak painful truths that cause pain to those who refuse to listen and who then react with pain and hate against the one who speaks? You think it is easy to be the messenger that brings forth the reaction, ‘Kill the messenger?'”

What this means is quite simple. A Jew who elevates himself to the level of a prophet has established a very special connection to G-d. But it is not enough. For a prophet to be a prophet, he must go out to the people and speak the word of G-d. Rabbi Kahane would convey this principle by quoting Eliyahu in Kings 1, chapter 10: “I am left all alone as Hashem’s prophet”. The Rav asked: Was it really so? Was Eliyahu the only prophet not killed by Achav and Izevel? What about the 100 prophets mentioned only a few verses before that were hidden in a cave? The Rav would explain by saying that Eliyahu was teaching a tremendous lesson for all to learn: A prophet hiding in a closet is not a prophet! The whole point of a prophet is to go out to the people and speak the truth without fear. Eliyahu WAS the only prophet around because he was out there fearlessly chastising the Jewish People at the time. Thus, Jonah, regardless of the reason he had, betrayed his special mission.

This is a vital lesson of Yom Kippur, for all the “Bnei Torah” and “Bnei Yeshiva” and rabbis who are also in a certain sense leaders or prophets of the generation. So many choose to sit quietly, afraid to attack the Hellenistic left and thus save the Jewish State from them. All these years they have refused out of fear to state the simple “Halacha” and real solution to the basic and burning Yishmaelite problem – whose status is so obvious according to Torah law that no honest rabbi could differ with it. The problem is that in public, everyone is suddenly silent. All these leaders are in a sense “prophets who withhold their prophecy” – for they know the Divine truth yet refrain from saying it. How we are now suffering from this silence!

May it be G-d’s will that on Yom Kippur the first to repent will be those who are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the nation. May they warn and chastise the Jewish People and no longer become a partner to the sins of the generation by way of their silence, and as a consequence, the Jewish People will repent and bring the Redemption.

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.

Ki Tavo: Should A Jew Be An Ostrich?

We all recognize that familiar picture before the reading of the parsha of the “Tochacha”. The “Ba’al Kore” shifts into high gear, lowers the volume of his voice, until he reaches the conclusion of his speed reading rendition of this “not so nice” part of the parsha. This custom was originally practiced so that the curses won’t G-d forbid fall upon the listeners. Today, though, there may be something else behind this custom – something quite dangerous and unfortunately very characteristic of Jews.

And what is that? Jews simply don’t want to think about unpleasant things! There is a tendency to think that if one looks away, the problem will go away. This allows people to continue to live in their illusions.

This is why the most popular expression in Israel is “Yiyeh Tov” – everything will be O.K. But those who say with such ease, “everything will be O.K.”, simply do not grasp a most basic tenet of Judaism: The world is not “hefker”. Judaism actually believes in such concepts as reward and punishment. The refusal to come to grips with this concept has caused many Jews to even doubt the existence of G-d throughout the years. When reflecting upon shocking tragedies in history, they wonder: How could G-d have been so cruel? This crisis in “emunah” reached its peak after the Holocaust, where so many Holocaust survivors stopped being observant Jews, saying that if something like this can happen, then G-d forbid, there is no G-d.

But if one takes a closer and objective look into the matter, without letting his emotions get the best of him, he should arrive at exactly the opposite conclusion! There is no greater proof of the existence of G-d than the fact that every one of His curses, warnings and chastisements in relation to the Jewish People which are conveyed in the Torah have been fully realized. It serves as proof to G-d’s awesome and precise supervision. It is evidence of His ability to fulfill His promises and threats.

Indeed, the sages tell us, “Anyone who says that G-d forgets, let his life be forgotten.” (Baba Kama 50). How does this jibe with the fact that Hashem is merciful and slow to anger? There is no contradiction. Of course Hashem is slow to anger – but he does not forget! He waits, sometimes for long periods of time, and takes into account all kinds of circumstances that may be. But eventually, if G-d forbid we do not do “tsheuva”, the curses of the “tochacha” will befall us. Have we not already witnessed the destruction of our Temples and the holocausts that accompanied it before the most recent Holocaust in Europe?

In these times this message is a vital one, for Rabbi Meir Kahane (may G-d avenge his blood) warned and urged world Jewry of the need to do “tsheuva” – to trust in Hashem, not to fear the gentile, and to sanctify G-d’s Name. When Rabbi Kahane said, “there is no time”, and if we do not do what G-d wants, then we will suffer greatly from the labor pains of “Giula Bi-eta” (The slow, painful redemption), there were always those who mocked him as a “prophet of doom”. They claimed that there IS time, and one should not be so pessimistic. This need to delude oneself is nothing new,as our prophets heard much of the same: “You say, because I am innocent, surely His anger has turned from me. Behold, I will punish you because you say, ‘I have not sinned’.” (Jeremiah, 2:35) And, “Behold the House of Israel say: the vision that you prophesied of is for much later days…(Ezekiel 12:27) These same prophets, unlike the Jewish leaders of today, warned and reproofed the nation, and were willing to sit in jail for it. This, after all, was their mission in life. Did Jeremiah back down after King Tzedkiyahu jailed him and almost killed him for his prophecies? Of course not.

In our parsha the Torah spills forth the awesome fury and the curses that Hashem has in store for us, without holding back a single detail. Not only does the Torah mention the possibility of tragedy, but it goes out of its way to expand upon it much more than it expands upon the blessings. What graphic and brutal scenarios are given: Sickness, breaking down of the social and economic fiber, exile, etc. For when it comes to choice between good and evil, or between truth and falsehood, the Torah pulls no punches, making it perfectly clear: If we will be good, numerous blessings will be bestowed upon us, and if we will do evil, there will be great tragedy. In these days before redemption, we must not evade this subject simply because it is uncomfortable to deal with. For years, we have unfortunately been walking in blindness and lack of faith, headed for tragedy, towards the actualization of the bitter prophecies, G-d forbid. We must say the truth clearly without trying to smooth things over. Only in such a way will the people be moved and shocked into action.

During this month of “tsheuva”, we must not forget about this national “tsheuva” which Hashem demands of us.

Vayigash: Mashiach Ben Yosef – Some Basic Concepts

For most people, the concept of “Mashiach” relates to “Mashiach Ben David”. In contrast, while most people may have heard of “Mashiach Ben Yosef”, they know little about his role and importance. There is probably no more appropriate time than during the Torah portions dealing with Yosef to delve into the concept of Mashiach Ben Yosef. Indeed, it is interesting to note that Yosef is the central figure in four Torah portions (VaYeshev through VaYichi), which is more than any of the three forefathers, and certainly more than his “counterpart” Yehuda, the father of David’s kingdom. There is a reason for this.

In this short article, we will touch upon the concept of “Mashiach BenYosef” basing ourselves upon the Gaon from Vilna (GR”A) in his book “Kol HaTor”, and on the writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane, HY”D, in his book “Ohr HaRaayon”. First of all, it must be known that in each generation, there is a person who has the potential to be Mashiach Ben Yosef. This creates free choice for every generation to bring Mashiach, and when the Almighty decides to, He actualizes this potential and unleashes the role of Mashiach (on one or both of them) in a particular generation.

Mashiach Ben Yosef is the one who starts the redemption. He is the central figure in the process preceding the final and complete redemption in which a king from David’s house is eventually anointed – and this is “Mashiach Ben David”. Mashiach Ben Yosef fights the wars of Hashem against the gentile enemies of Israel, and since it is he who STARTS the redemption, he is also called “Mashiach HaAtchalta” – the Mashiach who begins the redemption. He is responsible for the physical, material redemption which precedes the spiritual one. The physical redemption is the ingathering of the exiles, the conquering of the Land of Israel and wars against the gentile (and for this reason he is also coined by many midrashim as the “Mashuach Milchama” – the anointed for war). In contrast, Mashiach Ben David is responsible for the spiritual side of the redemption which comes afterwards.

It is well-known that Mashiach Ben Yosef is killed. But actually, this does not have to happen. For if the redemption comes the way of “Achishena” (swiftly and with glory) – that is, the Jewish People do “tsheuva” – then Mashiach Ben Yosef triumphs in battle. On the other hand, if the redemption comes “BiEta” (slowly, at it’s fixed time) – then one of the results of such a scenario is that he falls in the midst of a difficult and bitter battle, where great suffering and needless tragedy take place.

One of the things that is emphasized about Mashiach Ben Yosef is something that is said about Yosef himself: “And Yosef recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him”. While the potential Mashiach Ben Yosef of every generation brings the people the truth and presents before them the conditions for the redemption, the people deny and disrespect him. But because of his “Ahavat Yisroel”, he is willing to suffer. It is the people’s refusal to recognize the truth which brings upon them the needless wars and tragedies. For if the Jewish People had only accepted and understood Mashiach Ben Yosef’s message, he would bring the redemption swiftly, in the way of “Achishena”, with glory and without needless suffering.

But in the scenario of “BiEta”, only a handful understand, identify, and go with Mashiach Ben Yosef. And while the people continue to deny him, he continues his mission in any case, provoking the goyim and sanctifying the Name of G-d, and eventually falling, as stated above. It must be pointed out here that the major obstacle for Mashiach Ben Yosef is not the gentiles, but rather the destroyers from within. They are called the “Erev Rav” (mixed multitude). According to the Gaon from Vilna, the major battle of Mashiach Ben Yosef is against the “Erev Rav”, who prevents the Holy People from recognizing the truth which would bring the redemption swiftly, “HaGiulat Achishena”.

In conclusion, it must be remembered that what is written here is a general overview of the redemption process. But how things will actually turn out – depends only on us, just as it depends on us concerning whether or not Mashiach Ben Yosef will be killed. This is a heavy responsibility – to recognize the truth and to understand the conditions for redemption, despite the fact that the “Erev Rav” is trying to destroy and ban it. May G-d give us the strength to hold our own and fulfill the mitzvot of Kiddush Hashem, so that we may bring the redemption swiftly. Amen.

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