Who Respects Women?

The cultural war taking in place in Israel, which is one of the subjects wehave stressed for a long time now, has reached new heights. This time we aretalking about the event in Yatir Forest which was initiated by the army-preparatory schools. The moment the rabbis of the religious preparatory schools announced that they cannot participate in the event if women singers will be performing, the media geared themselves for attack.

This time they directed their vicious arrows at the “trampling of women’s honor” by the rabbis. Does the honor of women really concern them? Is there any connection at all between the prohibition in Jewish law of hearing awoman sing and the hurting of her honor? Obviously the very opposite is true. The prohibition stems from the idea to protect the honor and dignity of women, as the sages say: “So that the daughters of Israel won’t be’hefker'” (up for grabs).

But the sad part of this story is that the hellenists succeeded in portraying themselves as the protectors of the honor of women. They who fill the streets of the cities of Israel with pictures of abominations, whose very essence is the cheapening and degradation of women – they are the one stalking about honoring women? They, who over the last few years have cheapened and degraded the integrity of the daughters of Israel to such an extent that Jewish history knows no precedent? They speak of honoring women?

We have no qualms about speaking so harshly about the differences betweenthese two cultures. For we know that what is really taking place is not an argument between “religious” and “secular”, but rather a war between a handful of hellenists obsessed with western culture versus the heritage of our fathers which the gentiles never succeeded to destroy, and which Jews won’t succeed either.

Because of this, it was sad to hear one side speak so bluntly, while the religious side spoke out of the sides of their mouths. My G-d! What are you apologizing about! Nothing will convince the public more than a sticking to one’s principles and the halacha, without trying to sound “nice”. One does not have to be “religious” to oppose the drugs, violence, and pornography which plague Israeli society today. A strong and proud stance will not alienate the masses, who still seek values for their children, and know instinctively that hellenism is not the way.

Illogical compromises do not give honor to Torah, especially when the hellenists are not interested in compromises, but rather in a total crushing of Torat Yisrael.

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…

Rosh Hashana: Shana Tova (Good New Year)

In order for there to be a Shana Tova (a good new year), we first have to understand what is “good” and what is “evil”. After all, it is difficult to conceive how someone who thinks that good is evil and vice versa can really have a “good” year. As the prophet Isaiah admonished his generation: “Woe to those who call evil, good and good, evil; darkness light and light darkness.” Indeed, the basic problem during these times is the obscuring and confusing of the concepts of “good” and “evil”. Is “good” the mimicking of Western culture? Or perhaps “good” is the separation from foreign and non-Jewish ways. Is “good” the subduing of the haters of Israel, or is it giving in to them? Is “good” the protecting of the honor and modesty of women, or is it promiscuousness and immodesty in the name of “equality” and “women’s liberation”?

G-d desires with all His Might to bestow upon us true good. Therefore, the Sefer HaChinuch explains, “He paved for us the way of good and commanded us to follow it.” In this way, we would merit receiving an abundance of true
good. Indeed, the blessing of a “Good Year” is not some empty greeting to be uttered each year, but rather it is a task incumbent upon us, and well within our grasp. Shana Tova!

New Years Resolution #1: Overhaul In The Education System

Last week’s strike by the Israeli education department was quite difficult for the parents. But any parent will admit that what made things difficult was the fact that the “baby-sitters” were on strike. After all, not too many parents out there expect that the Israeli educational system will really educate their child. Indeed, it isn’t quite clear in which situation the children come out less damaged – with a strike or without one. This educational system, which never instilled Jewish values, has not succeeded in instilling basic human and social values either. Only the most degenerate and materialistic values have been instilled into the students of the Israeli education system, and as a result the schools are plagued by drugs and violence. The system is indeed in need of an overhaul.

New Year’s Resolution #2: Overhaul In The Justice System

The Supreme Court of Israel is in the process of accepting the decision to extradite a Jew who has been accused of murder. One of the great merits of Menachem Begin was the bill he drew up which forbid the handing over of an
Israeli citizen to the goyim. Begin understood that the basic obligation of the Jewish state must be the caring for even the lowest of Jews, and that he be tried and judged in Israel, and not handed over to the goyim, G-d forbid.
And now the judiciary system in Israel is determined to pervert the intention of this law, and to eradicate it. The court system continues its all-out-war against the Jewish character of the Jewish state. This de-Judaization process is now under the supervision of skullcap wearing Elyakim Rubenstein, who must prove he is holier than the pope

Ki Tetze: To See the Evil Growing – And to Uproot It

The sages in the Talmud (one opinion) tell us that there never really was a perverse and rebellious son. If this is so, the Talmud asks, why were we given a mitzvah which is impossible to fulfill. The answer: This mitzvah was given “to learn about and receive reward”. All this arouses the curiosity. After all, the Torah was given in order that we may fulfill it. If so, what is this strange mitzvah which was given to us, even though we will never be able to carry it out. Would the Torah bring something down which is solely theoretical and for the purpose of making nice “vorts”, but inapplicable in the real world? Would this not contradict the very purpose for what the Torah was given for?

The matter becomes much clearer when we realize that the Torah was given for a much deeper reason than for the sterile and rote carrying out of mitzvot. The Torah was not given so that we arise each morning and with our eyes half-closed put two black leather boxes called “Tefilin” on our arm and head, and then mumble half-heartedly incomprehensible words called “prayer”. The Torah was given with an idea. Behind every personal mitzvah stands an idea, and behind all of the mitzvot together, there stands a general idea. And a person who fulfills the mitzvah with the proper understanding is fulfilling a living mitzvah, with purpose and soul, and is not simply performing some sterile ritual like a monkey.

This is the purpose of the mitzvah of killing the perverse and rebellious son. In truth, it is virtually impossible that all the conditions will exist for us to actualize this mitzvah. In any case, G-d gave us this mitzvah to teach us that even though it might never happen, it is critical for us to understand the idea that stands behind the mitzvah – and it is an idea which is indeed a very practical one!

The idea here is the burning out of evil from the world, and to teach us that doing so is not only good for the world, but it is also for the personal good of the son himself. For the sages say that the perverse and rebellious son is punished for what he will eventually become, and not for what he is now. The Torah, knowing that the day will come when this impetuous lad will steal, rob, and pillage, has taught us in a very effective and powerful way an awesome lesson. Though this perverse and rebellious son has barely turned 13 years old and hardly knows his right from his left, we must kill him nonetheless before his evil starts manifesting itself. And so, despite the fact that the actual carrying out of this mitzvah is limited to almost impossible circumstances, we learn the idea that in our eternal and uncompromising struggle versus evil, there is such a concept of rooting it out before it actually reveals itself.

All this clearly contradicts western culture where even the most blatant evil is not given a death blow, and all for reasons of “ethics”. Judaism is truly merciful, to such an extent that it distances any potential evil that even threatens to do harm, in order to teach us the basic concept of hating evil, and the obligation of the Jew to burn it out.

Shoftim: Fulfilling the Mitzvot with Love – through “Religious Coercion”

When the Jewish People stood at Mount Sinai, they proclaimed without hesitation, “We will do and we will listen” before even receiving the Torah.

But if the Jewish People were so willing to receive Torah by their own free choice, the question that begs asking is: Why was it given to them through coercion? After all, Tractate Shabbat (88 ) brings down the following: “To teach that the Holy One Blessed Be He overturned the mountain (Sinai) upon them like an (inverted) cask and said to them: If you accept the Torah, it is well; if not, there (underneath the mountain) shall be your burial!”. But if they already accepted the Torah willingly, what was the need for all this?

The Maharal from Prague (in the book “Tiferet Yisrael”) answers upon this very basic question in the following way: Being that the Torah is the very essence of the Jewish People who without it have no reason for existence,
there is no way that the Torah can obligate us simply because we chose it to be that way. It must go deeper. It must be made clear that there is no connection between the personal decision of Am Yisrael to receive Torah (“We will do and we will listen”) and the fact that the Torah was given to us. It must be made clear that even if G-d forbid “we will not do”, the Torah was given to us against our wills! Therefore, G-d turned over the mountain upon us in order to convey to us that we must not think for a moment that we fulfill the Torah because we decide to, but rather we must realize that it is a Divine obligation – the yoke of heaven!

This concept is certainly pertinent today, since the basic western concept dominating society of “Live and Let Live” has become quite popular among a high percentage of religious Jews. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear
skullcap donning Jews throwing around the slogan “live and let live” as if it is one of the ten commandments. The fact is, many use this concept to dismiss themselves, so to speak, from taking responsibility for “Klal Yisrael”. By so doing, they on one hand give legitimacy to every Jew to choose the “faith” he wishes, while on the other hand they give themselves legitimization to dismiss themselves from the unpleasant obligation of “Tochacha” (chastising).

Indeed, one who has been exposed to a western culture for so many years will have great difficulty accepting the idea that the Torah was given under coercion, for it is an idea that stands in direct contrast to the basic democratic concept of “live and let live”. For the concept of “religious coercion” has become a dirty word today, even amongst an increasing number of religious Jews who really do not pay attention to the words they say. We will now cause them to pay attention.

Torah Without Coercion?

Did there ever exist a system of laws in this world that did NOT require coercion? Of course not. After all, such a system would lead to absolute chaos! Now – if we believe that the Torah is the exclusive system of laws for the Jewish People, how can we possibly say that there is no coercion necessary?! And if this is so, why all the guilt and inferiority complexes on the subject?! Is the system of laws brought down in our Torah somehow unworthy that less be demanded of them than from any other set of laws?!

Ours sages tell us: “If there are no police officers – there are no judges.” In other words, without a coercive body to enforce the law, there is no justice! And so the Torah is filled with punishments which the court system (and let us not even speak of the Heavenly Court) must impose to punish transgressors. If that isn’t “religious coercion”, than what is?

There is a popular self-righteous argument which says: “We must educate the people to love Torah, so that they may fulfill it with love and not under coercion”. Of course this is true! But it is true in the same way concerning
bankrobbers. It is important to educate muggers not to rob banks, but in the meantime, until everyone is educated, we have policemen and judges who punish the muggers, thank G-d. But isn’t that coercion? Nu, what can on do?
Sometimes one must take undemocratic measures such as preventing man’s basic right to rob banks….

The “Sefer HaChinuch” (Mitzvah 491, Shoftim) brings this down in a revolutionary manner. It explains that the way to educate man to fulfill mitzvot is through love, via coercion. Here are the words of the “Chinuch”: “..to appoint judges and police officers who will force the people to do the mitzvot of the Torah, and will return the strays from the true path against their wills.. and out of habit in going down the straight path out of fear, the people will learn in a natural way to be righteous out of love and through a recognition that it is the true way..”(see more).

Yes. Ironically enough, the way to fulfill mitzvot out of love is through: “religious coercion”!

Dvarim: This is Judaism and Stop Apologizing

By Western standards, the book of “Dvarim” would have to be defined as an ultranationalist doctrine. Its concepts are the very opposite of liberal Western concepts. Its laws are illegal by Western standards. The book is based on conquest. Stressed over and over again is the uncompromising commandment to conquer the land of “Canaan” from the gentile nations who have lived there for thousands of years, and to change the name to “Eretz Yisrael”. If this isn’t enough, we are even commanded to disinherit (to expel), and if necessary to annihilate the inhabitants of the land. This is an inseparable component of the positive commandment of “settling the land”.

The Book of “Dvarim” also centers around the chosenness of the Jewish Nation. The concept appears most prominently in parshat “Vaetchanan” (7:6-8), in parshat “Aikev” (10:15), parshat “Ree” (14:1-2) and in almost all other parshiot of the book. This “ultranationalism” continues right on through to the book of Joshua and beyond.

We want to now delve into the “morality” of all this. We do not do so in order to make the Torah more palatable for all the non-believers and Hellenists around who simply reject the book of “Dvarim” as they do the rest of the Torah, considering it primitive and racist. Rather we direct our words to G-d-fearing Jews who understand that the Jewish Nation is dependent on the Torah, want to fulfill it, and ask all the same: These are the enlightened traditional Jewish ethics and values that everyone speaks about? This is the Jewish morality we so often hear about? Conquering, expelling, chosen people?

The answer is yes. What can one do when the “traditional Jewish values” that so many Jews speak of SIMPLY DO NOT EXIST!

Don’t exist? Are there no such things as traditional Jewish ethics and values? Of course there are! But they are something entirely different. At the core of Jewish ethics and morality, setting it apart from the ethics of mortal man is the concept of the acceptance of the yoke of heaven. That is, we do not pick and choose the “merchandise”. First and foremost, we accept upon ourselves the values of Hashem without asking questions. Only then do we “check the goods”. While it is true that in the world of business one does not buy until he examines the product, the mitzvot and concepts of Hashem are not a business negotiation. They must be accepted unconditionally. Thus it is written, “It is better than all other goods” – for it is a good that one does not “check” before “buying”

The Book of “Dvarim” is the national policy guideline for the Jewish Nation. It is the morality that G-d conveys to us on subjects connected to Israeli nationalism. If someone wants to call it “ultranationalism”, so be it, for it is true Jewish ethics. It is not a system of values that is subject to change according to the whims of one generation or another as another passing fad, but rather it is an eternal morality that we, our fathers and our forefathers have clung to for thousands of years. This value system withstood all the passing tides of the past thousands of years, while modern Western culture which evolved during the last one hundred years will melt away as did its “enlightened” predecessors: Greek, Rome, Assyria, Babylon, east and west, of one generation or another…

Precisely today when the sabotaging of all Jewish concepts are intensifying; at a time when the so-called “national” camp, even after an election victory, refuses to give clear direction (we don’t recall the Left hesitating to lead us down the path of goyishkeit during their four year tenure), it is an obligation to read the parshiot in the Book of “Dvarim”, and in particular “Akev”, to strengthen our “emunah” in these authentic Jewish concepts. We must do so in order that we, the the spiritual right side of the spectrum, can speak our piece clearly, unequivocally, and without guilt: The Almighty is stronger than all the nations, and if we believe in Him and fulfill His difficult “immoral” mitzvot, so to speak, we shall overcome our enemies (both political and cultural), and re-establish the Torah Republic that we have dreamed of for 2,000 years.

Bamidbar: Confusion Instead Of Flags

“In the footsteps of the Messiah, impudence will increase… Youths will shame their elders, the elderly will rise for youths. Sons will denigrate their fathers, daughters will attack their mothers and mothers-in-law. A man’s household will be his enemies. The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, and a son will have no shame before his father…” This mishna at the end of Tractate Sotah depicts the sad state of affairs which will characterize the beginning of the redemption process – the period of “Atchalta De’Geula”. What is happening here? On the surface we see that there will be an increase of “chutzpah” and lack of respect by the young for the old. But these are only symptoms. What caused them?The common denominator of the above phenomena is that they are all deviations from the natural order. G-d created this world with a very specific order. According to this natural order, youngsters are supposed to honor their elders and sons are supposed to respect their fathers. But the sages tell us that during the period which marks the beginning of the redemption, this basic societal order will break down. (We must stress that all of the curses mentioned in the mishna only come about if the redemption is forced to come Bi-Eta, “in its time”.)

The sages describe a society in which any fool or child sees himself as a “big shot”, whose opinion is at least as important as that of his elders. The natural order which G-d set down in this world is distorted. And the result is chaos. Everyone – young and old, wise and foolish, moral and immoral, have an equal voice (“one person one vote”).

We, in these times, have grown accustomed to such a situation. But we must realize that all this results from a particular ideology. This ideology has several names: “freedom of expression”, “equality”, and of course – “democracy”. In the West and unfortunately in Israel as well, democracy is heralded as the supreme value. Some even give it the status of a “religion”.

It is interesting that we still hear political scientists teach that “democracy is the least evil of all forms of government”, and Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government ever devised… except for all the others”. How can they say this, yet at the same time worship democracy to the point where anyone who questions it is tossed out of their camp like a leper?

We see from this that the goyim are capable of taking a concept which they themselves acknowledge as only the “lesser of evils”, and raising it to the status of the supreme good which guides their entire lives. How? Because in their lower spiritual state, they do not even attempt to strive to live according to an absolute truth. They only seek to minimize the damages. But can Jews possibly accept this? We were given a very clear and lofty destiny. We were given Torah truth, which is the absolute good. We are not in need of something which is the “lesser of all evils”, nor are we permitted to suffice with such a thing. For in our possession is Torah, the ultimate good.

This concept finds full expression vis a’ vis the flags in Parshat BaMidbar. The flags represent a perfect social order for Am Yisrael, where each and every Jew is designated a specific place which befits him. “Every man to his camp, every man to his flag” our parasha begins, with Moshe and Aharon leading the way. Each of the children of Israel, 600,000 strong, stand in their designated stations. There is no ambitious “social climbing”. (And when someone like Korach tried it, we know what became of him). Every man, every family, every tribe knows his appropriate place and role in this impeccable social order.

In recent generations, democracy has achieved growing global popularity. After suffering from wicked monarchies and tyrannies, the world, as expected, bought into it in a big way. There is nothing wrong with that. But for us, it isn’t the proper way. We see the following in parshat Dvarim (1:22): “And you came near unto me all of you…” and Rashi says: “in confusion. And further on it states (Dvarim 5:20), ‘and you come near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes and your elders..’ That drawing near was proper; the young honored the elders and sent them before them, and the elders honored the heads by letting them go before them. But here: ‘and you came near unto me all of you’ – in confusion, the young pushing the elders and the elders pushing the heads.” Is not this description similar to that at the end of Tractate Sota? Does it not remind us a little of today?

We must at least be made aware of the fact that democracy is not holy or “kadosh”, and in a situation where anyone can become a king, or “vote”, so to speak, it becomes impossible to establish the ideal Torah society we should be striving for; a society based on absolute truth. Thus, we must rend our garments in mourning when we hear religious leaders sanctifying democracy as an ideal system.

Only an utter fool would say that the Torah was given on Sinai as G-d’s truth, and then subsequently say that one may vote on whether one must follow that truth. Democracy was given to societies and countries LACKING truth. For them, all factions of falsehood are equal; certainly, no one falsehood is preferable over another. For us, however, Moses is truth and his Torah is truth and we certainly should not transform the Kingdom of G-d into the anarchy of man.

Behar: For They Are Servants of the Lord

I write these words on the fiftieth anniversary of the State of Israel’s Independence, from behind prison walls, only a few days after being tossed behind bars after my sentencing of nine months in jail. In parshat Behar I will seize the opportunity to show a surprisingly similar connection between my situation and a teaching found in Midrash Raba on parshat Behar: “And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom throughout the land for all it’s inhabitants” (a passage referring to slaves).

What is so terrible about being a servant? One of the central themes of parshat Behar is the shame that exists for the Jew who is a slave. “To Me are the children of Israel servants, for they are servants of the Lord, who took them out of the land of Egypt.” We see that the Torah finds great fault with the idea of a Jew becoming a slave. Therefore, the Torah places boundaries on servitude, (both regarding a person who sells himself out of poverty, or because of thievery) and limits the time of servitude to a maximum of six years. A slave who wants to extend his time of servitude must have his master bore a hole in his ear as is described in parshat Mishpatim, and then he remains a slave only until the 50th Jubilee year.

What is the reason? The answer lies in our sages words (Kidushim 22): “Why is the ear different from any other part of the body? G-d said, the ear that heard My voice on Mount Sinai, when I said, to Me are Israel servants, and not servants to other servants” (i.e. other Jews). What is so awful about being a slave? After all, we are referring to a person who is more than likely serving an acquaintance of his, which is certainly not a sin in andof itself, nor does it cause him to sin in any way. If so, what prevents a slave from being a most righteous and G-d fearing man? What is so bad about being a slave?

The answer is that a slave is not merely a servant. Rather, he is a person who relinquishes his individuality in drastic fashion to another human being, flesh and blood. The desires of the slave himself become the desires of his master instead. He is completely nullified as an independent entity. He hands over his identity and individuality to the whims and desires offlesh and blood, and as a result, forfeits responsibility over his own life. And so the slave does not have the opportunity to work on his spirituality, or enrich it, and thusly he cannot advance towards the true purpose of being a Jew – sanctifying G-d’s Name and coming closer to G-d’s attributes. A Jew must be his own individual, a free man, submitting himself only to G-d’s will, and responsible for his own actions and his direction in life. A slave is neutralized from the very outset, and cannot achieve his goal as a Jew, since he his wholly subservient to his master.

The Jubilee year sets forth the notion that every Jew is truly free. True freedom, and not the decadent concept of “freedom” which is so prevalent in alien western culture. Rather it is a freedom of spirit in which the Jew removes from upon himself the yoke of foreign concepts and replaces it with the only yoke that he is allowed (and obligated) to accept – the Yoke of Heaven. As stated by Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi: “Slaves of the times (i.e.- the latest American craze) are slaves of slaves: Slaves of G-d are truly free”.

Though there is much disgrace in slavery, we see that the Torah, for a limited amount of time, prescribes this form of punishment. The Torah does not prescribe prison, despite the fact that today prison is considered the most humane, effective and “progressive” form of punishment. But anyone who understands prison life knows that it brings about a situation even worse than that of slavery. For while a slave may be nullified, he is at least in the shade of his master – something which gives him content and identity. In contrast, the situation of a prisoner is one in which a person loses all semblance of a human being. He is pushed into a small cell (and in so doing, the authorities think they have solved their problems), and treated like an animal. All concept of time is lost, as the prisoner lies on his bed all day, serving no purpose, bored to death and void of any content in his life. All that concerns him is the taking care of his most base physical needs. Most prisoners lose all hope in themselves and in their future. They abandon all sense of responsibility due to the lack of a daily regiment. This inactivity increases the prisoners feeling of emptiness, and so it is no wonder that there is such a high percentage of ex-prisoners returning to crime, a destructive and vicious cycle.

But for those few who possess a sense of self-worth and purpose, being behind prison walls does not hamper their individuality from shining forth. It is as if the prison walls and the prison guards do not exist. For them, it does not matter where they are. On the contrary, the experience of being behind bars serves as a catalyst, invigorating their spirit and confirming their inner sense of independence and conviction.

Tazria-Metzora: Unpleasant Torah Issues

Parshat Tazria-Mezora discusses all kinds of unpleasant subjects. One can even say they are “not nice”. Leprosy, plagues, scabs, semen and all different forms of uncleanliness are expounded upon in the greatest of detail. Why must the Torah deal with the most undignified of problems that trouble man? Would it not be preferable for our holy Torah to skip such subjects and discuss more spiritually uplifting matters? You know – concepts such as holiness and purity, grandeur and splendor, and similar religious subjects? Do we really need to read in such graphic detail about semen and scabs on a Shabbas morning? Should not this subject matter be dealt with modestly?

But the more we learn Torah, the more we reveal that just as Torah deals with spiritually uplifting concepts, so too it deals with matters which we would not categorize as spiritual. For example, at the very beginning of the “Tur” and “Shulchan Aruch” in section “Orach Haim” (the section dealing with day to day matters) are the laws dealing with going to the bathroom, elaborated upon in meticulous detail. Nothing more and nothing less!

And so we see a basic principle: The Torah is a “Torat Haim”, applying to one’s life in the fullest of senses. Indeed, it would be more comfortable for many if the Torah would deal with the “lofty” subjects, and that their spiritual world would only include the “nice”, “pure” topics that go down smoothly. It would be preferable to many if the trivial, everyday stuff would be placed outside the spiritual realm. But the purpose of the Torah is precisely the opposite: It is to bring holiness and spirituality to even the most remote and lowly of places, in order to sanctify them. It intentionally relates in great measure to the problematic areas of life, so it will not be mistaken for some nice “folklore” that requires a consensus and a distancing from controversy. It deals with the evil. And when the time comes where one must perform some painful surgery even at the cost of a certain amount of blood-letting, than even this must be done without undue hesitation.

One can not ignore the leprosy. It is an expression of man’s problems,and the sages tell us that the very word “Tzaraat” (Leprosy) is from the root “Motzi Shem Ra” (Slander). And so the world needs to be corrected. Sometimes, it takes serious surgery, and one can not ignore it by getting bogged down in all kinds of “lofty” and “nice” concepts, which are cut off from reality. That is a Christian outlook. The Torah, by contrast, separates between good and evil, and deals with the problems. It doesn’t run away from reality; it deals with it head on.

One of the problems with observant Jews is that there is all too often, a subconscious distinction between “nice mitzvot” and “not nice mitzvot” (this categorization being dependent on the “spirit” of that time!). Everyone, for example, loves the mitzvah of Shabbas – it has come to embody a concept pertaining to “social” and family values. (Once this was not so, and it was looked upon in a negative light, as we see that Haman tried to incite Achashverosh against the Jews, using the fact that the Jews rest on Shabbat). Everyone also loves the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents. Who can oppose such a nice mitzvah? (And this too isn’t an absolute, as we know of societies who cast off their elder citizens to die). On the other hand, people tend to distance themselves from the mitzvot of leprosy, as they do from the halachot of war, vengeance and the expulsion of goyim from the land, despite the fact that these subjects are such a central and basic theme in authentic Jewish thought. For these laws, too, belong to the category of “not nice” mitzvot in the Torah, since they contradict liberal western culture.

True, most observant Jews would not dare to admit they make such a categorization. But in their subconscious they do it all the time, due to the non-stop brainwashing, which like gamma rays, penetrates their mindsets. This is why many find themselves alienated from the Parsha Tazria-Mezora, and this is why they use all kinds of excuses to deny the parshas dealing with war and vengeance.

Like a pillar, the parshas Tazria-Mezora appear between the parshiot which express the height of holiness and the “beauty” of Judaism – Parshat Shmini in which the Tabernacle was consecrated, and Parshat Achrei Mot, which describes the service of the Cohen HaGadol on Yom Kippur. This teaches us a vital lesson: “Torat Hashem Timeema, Mishivat Nefesh” – the Torah of Hashem is perfect (whole), restoring the soul.” (Psalms 19:8). When does it restore the soul? When it is whole and complete, and not divided into different parts which we are more fond of or less fond of.

In the final analysis, the greatness of Torah may even stem from thefact that it relates to the “less nice” sides of life, offering clearsolutions to problems. Our Torah is not “parve”, but rather determined and unhesitating, carrying on its banner the need to cling to good and burn out evil. Without compromises.

%d bloggers like this: