Friday, February 24, 2006

Rav Binyamin on Mishpatim: Normal People Think Ahead


Normal People Think Ahead (1992)

Weekly Parsha Commentary by Binyamin Zev Kahane

Translated by Lenny Goldberg



On the verse in our parsha, "If a thief be found breaking in, and be smitten that he die, there shall be no blood shed on his account", Rashi brings down a gemorah that is certain to shock liberal Jews: "If one comes to slay you, arise and slay him first. And this man (the thief) indeed came to kill you, for behold, he knows that one will not stand there and quietly watch his possessions being stolen. Therefore, the owner, having this in mind that the thief is prepared to kill him, should arise and slay him first."

Absolutely amazing! In other words, the sages are telling us here that the rule, "if one comes to slay you, slay him first" does not exclusively apply to the situation where one has a knife being held to his throat. In the above Rashi we see a much more expanded application of this simple "halacha". We see that one is obligated to think a few steps ahead and anticipate what the likely result will be. If one sees a real potential that this person will slay him, this in itself requires one to "arise and slay him first". What the sages have done here is to enter the psyche of the housethief, who, knowing the likelihood of resistance, has prepared himself to kill the owner if necessary. The knowledge of the owner that the thief is ready to kill him, even if only potentially, allows him to kill the thief first.

How we have distorted the concept of "if one comes to slay you, arise and slay him first"! The average "moderdox" Jew thinks that one can only rise up and slay the Arab who is caught in the "pose" of throwing a molotov cocktail, or one is yelling "Allah Achbar" as he chases his victim with a hatchet. He believes that if the danger is not this very instant but rather one hour from now or one week from now, than certainly the law does not apply. What was obvious to the sages, that one must think a few steps ahead and not "stand there and quietly watch his possessions being stolen", is not obvious in todays society where "humanism" and distorted concepts of morality run rampant.

In Israel, Jews continue to passively accept being beaten and humiliated by our enemy, lacking the healthy and normal survival instinct to "arise and slay him first". This self-restraint is justified by the logic that the situation is not life-threatening. And so, soldiers and settlers shoot warning shots in the air after being attacked, since the danger, as they see it, is no longer imminent. According to I.D.F. guidelines, soldiers, upon seeing a terrorist must shout a warning, shoot in the air, and if the situation really gets hot, shoot at the legs. Only a Jew already dead is permitted to open fire, since one who reacts beforehand will find himself brought to trial on murder charges.

In short, we have learned two important ideas. Firstly, the rule, "if one comes to slay you, arise and slay him first", is not limited to a situation where one is pointing a gun to your head, but rather one is permitted to anticipate potential danger to one's life. Secondly, only a nation void of any self-respect won't rise up and fight back. After all, the above Rashi deals with fighting back for one's property. Shouldn't it be all the more so when one's life is being threatened?

We must cease to interpret and define the "halacha" according to what is comfortable to our western mentality and mind set. We must "rise up", as one rises early for the "vatikin" prayer, and think a few logical steps ahead so that we can kill the murdererous trespasser before it is too late.

Rav Kook on Mishpatim


Mishpatim: Revealing Our Inner Essence


The ultimate moment of glory for the Jewish people - their greatest hour - occurred as God revealed His Torah to them at Mount Sinai. The Israelites made an amazing proclamation: "We will do and we will listen to all that God has declared" [Ex. 24:7].

They promised two things: to do, and to listen. The order is crucial. They promised to keep the Torah, even before knowing why. The Midrash [Shabbat 88a] says that, in merit of this pledge of loyalty, the angels rewarded each Jew with two crowns. And a Heavenly Voice exclaimed, "Who revealed to My children this secret that is used by the angels?"


What was so special about this vow, "we will do and we will listen"? On the contrary, would not fulfilling mitzvot with understanding and enlightenment be a higher level of Torah observance?

Why is this form of unquestioning allegiance a 'secret used by the angels'?

While wisdom is usually acquired through study and reflection, there exists in nature an intuitive knowledge that requires no formal education. The bee, for example, naturally knows the optimal geometric shape for building honeycomb cells. No bee has ever needed to register for engineering courses at MIT.
Intuitive knowledge also exists in the spiritual realm. Angels are sublime spiritual entities who do not need Torah studies in order to know how to serve God. Their holiness is ingrained in their very nature. It is only human beings, prone to being confused by pseudo- scientific indoctrination, who need to struggle in order to return to their pristine spiritual selves.

For the Jews who stood at Mount Sinai, it was not only Torah and mitzvot that were revealed. They also discovered their own true, inner essence. They attained a sublime level of natural purity, and intuitively proclaimed, "we will do!" We will follow our natural essence, unhindered by any spurious, artificial mores.

[adapted from Mo'adei HaRe'iyah p. 486]

Parshat Mishpatim/Parshat Shekalim

BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT MISHPATIM/SHABBAT SHEKALIM
27 Shvat, 5766/24-25 February, 2006


IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

With the revelation of Sinai still fresh in the minds of the Jewish people, in this week’s parsha we are confronted with the particulars and the minute details of the laws. This comes after bearing witness to the unparalleled event of G-d Himself coming down to give over the Torah to the Jewish people, with the people themselves hearing the word of Hashem. Our Rabbis teach us that what the prophet Yechezkel did not see, the generation
of Mt. Sinai did.

Now after the "Big Bang", the greatest high imaginable, the Torah laws were beginning to filter down to the people. Our parsha opens up with the laws pertaining to the Jewish and non-Jewish slave: when they are released
from bondage and under what circumstances, and how the courts sold them. Punishment for murder follows next, whether by mistake or intent and where the murderer is allowed to flee to. Punishment for smiting or cursing one's parents, and then on to compensation for various types of damages, with all the details.

If this weren't enough for one parsha, the Torah goes on to teach us the laws of stolen property and prohibition of deceit. From there, it’s on to some laws applying to judges, witnesses and defendants. Laws of making false statements and capital punishment, etc. etc. etc. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg of all the many, many details of the laws that came down to us at Sinai.

Well, the people began looking at each other and then they started to back away. The Ramban explains that this was the beginning of their downfall and removal of the Divine Presence that dwelt among the Jewish people. This is like a school child who just can't wait for the final bell to ring so he can run away from school. So, too, the Jewish people at the time hit the road, to make sure that no more laws would be coming down to them.

With the removal of the Divine Presence from the Jewish camp, the road was very short indeed to the ultimate downfall of the nation. Not long after, the Jews sin by worshipping the golden calf, and then, of course, came the rebellion of listening to the ten spies and not entering into the Land of Israel. If only the Jews would have held out, gone the extra mile and not fallen victim to shortsightedness, the mistakes would not have been made and the complete Redemption of the Jewish people would have come at that time, at its peak when the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel, the Land promised to them, within a very short time.

It is this tiredness of the long haul - at a time of weakness - that important decisions should not be made. For out of weakness can never come strength. We must be ready to go the extra mile and go the full distance, for only in this way will we be able to stay on track, no matter what burdens we must carry - all the way to the end.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen


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Sunday, February 19, 2006

BS"D

To all friends and supporters,

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT:

Don't just sit around and complain - do something to help the Jewish people!

Levi Chazen, the English Director of the Jerusalem Women's Shelter, will be
coming to the U.S. at the end of March.

Now is your chance to help save Jewish lives, meet with Levi and lend a hand
and see how you can help!

The Jerusalem Women's Shelter rescues Jewish women from Arab villages. For
more information, please go to our web site www.thestoryofhope.org

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Parshat Yitro: Time to Climb the Mountain

BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT YITRO
20 Shvat, 5766/17-18 February, 2006



TIME TO CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN

Rav Kahane HY"D would frequently quote the Gerer Rebbi, who brought down the Rabbis' question of why the Torah was given on Mt. Sinai. Surely there were grander and higher mountains for the Torah to be given on?
For Mt. Sinai is certainly not the highest of mountains, but rather low. The answer, says the Rabbi, is that Hashem wanted to teach the Jewish people that a person must be humble. A Jew must not have his head in the sky and be haughty, but rather not think too highly of himself.

The Gerer Rebbi then asked: If that is so, if that is the lesson that Hashem wanted to teach us, then why did He not give us the Torah in a valley? For nothing is lower then a valley. He answered that there is another lesson to be learned here, just as important as the first one - and that is not to be too humble, as a valley, to let yourself be stepped on. That, too, is not the Jewish way. True, a Jew must be modest, for this is a great trait, but to be so low that people can walk over you - that, too, is not the Jewish way to go.

If this is true, about how an individual Jew must act, then how much more so is it true when it comes to how the nation of Israel must be in the eyes of the world. As we learn in this week's parsha, when Hashem tells us that we, the children of Israel, are a holy nation, a priestly nation and that we have been chosen from among all the nations of the world. Certainly in the long and bitter exile that we have been in for the last 2000 years, we were of a lowly spirit, more like the valley (the valley of death, that is) than any mountain. But, in our own home? The Jew must walk upright, resembling the mountain. For it is not his own image that he projects, but of the G-dly people whom Hashem cherishes and chose to be His guiding light in this world.

I thought of this Torah this week, when our beloved President of Yeshivat HaRa'ayon, Professor Herbert Sunshine, sent out the following quote by ouracting PM Olmert, at the Israel policy forum on June 9, 2005: "We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want to be able to live in an entirely different environment with our enemies".

An entirely different environment with our enemies??? What has the acting PM been smoking in his office? I suggest to the honorable actor that he go down to Gaza City by himself and ask Hamas what kind of a "new environment" they would like to see the Jewish people in! If he's tired, then that's fine with me, but his place is NOT in the big chair, with that kind of an outlook! I think we can all chip in and raise some money to send him and all the other tired people down to Florida to rest up, while we will make room for the Jews who still have spirit and that are young at heart, who know what kind of an "environment" one needs to deal with Hamas - certainly a different one that is seen today!

We are not in the valley any more; leave the valley in the pits, where vallies belong. The time has come to climb the mountain!



With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Chizuk for the Faithful



In these uncertain times, when the going has really gotten tough, especially for those in the front lines of Am Yisrael (Eretz Yisrael, and particularly the "settlements" of Yesha, etc), and for all Jews in general - we must remember that only from above will our help come. HaShem Hu Ha'Elokim! The L-rd is G-D!

Even though it seems He he has hidden his face from us, we should know that He is still watching over us and that He will mete out justice soon, and comfort His Nation with the Geulah Shelemah at the same time. It is as a tribute to those valiant Jews who have recieved the many blows of our enemies (be they from arab terrorists or hellenist soldiers and police) and perhaps feel that hope is so far off that I have decided to share this Devar Torah. Please G-D it will serve as a great Chizuk for the true Soldiers and Servants of HaShem: His faithful, who are unflinching in their loyalty to Him.

In last week's Parasha (Beshalach), we find something very strange. When first describing the Jews' crossing of the Yam Suf, it says in the Passuk (14:22): "Vayavo'u Bnei Yisrael Betoch HaYam bayabasha; vehamayim lahem chomah miminam umismolam." "And the Children of Israel came within the sea on dry land; and the water was a wall for them, on their right and on their left."

However, only a few Passukim later (14:29), it says: "u'Vnei Yisrael halchu bayabasha betoch hayam; vehamayim lahem chomah miminam umismolam." - "And the Children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea; the water was a wall for them, on their right and on their left."

How strange! The Torah - which our Sages teach us never wastes words or says anything superfluous - repeats the exact same thing twice! However there are two subtle differences which make things all the more puzzling, but yet at the same time serve to reveal the unique meanings of each passuk. In the first of the quotes (14:22), the passuk puts things in the following order: "And the Children of Israel came within the sea on dry land..." whereas in 14:29, the Passuk says "And the Children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea..." In addition to this subtle difference, whereas in the first example (14:22) the word "Chomah" - "Wall" is spelled with a "vav", in 14:29, it is spelled without a vav. What is the meaning of all of this?

The answer is given by the Kli Yakar, who quotes the Yalkut:

For those of you who know the story of the Bnei Yisrael's trial at the Yam Suf, you will know that things were not so simple as they first look. HaShem did not immediately split the sea just like that. First, Bnei Yisrael were in a state of panick: they were trapped! Paroah and his army behind them, the sea in front - surely they were doomed! And they cried out to HaShem to save them from this seemingly hopeless situation.

HaShem, for His part, promised Moshe that He would split the sea - if the Bnei Yisrael just showed that they trusted in Him. Yet noone had the courage to act. Surely it was madness to just walk into the raging sea, with no sign of hope! Noone, that is, besides for Nachshon Ben Aminadav from the tribe of Yehuda. We are taught that when he entered the sea (along with some others who, we are taught, followed his lead), he waded in deeper and deeper, unflinching in his trust in G-D, until the water actually began to reach past his neck and into his mouth. When HaShem saw his unstinting loyalty and trust in Him, and his will to walk firmly in the Path in which G-D directed him to do no matter how crazy it seemed, He caused a miracle the likes of which had not been seen since the Days of Creation! The sea split, the People of Israel went through and the Egyptians were drowned! Truly a miracle unlike any other!

Now let us refer back to the Passuk. The first quote (14:22), writes "chomah" with a "vav". This means "wall." Simple, plain pshat. However, in the second instance the passuk writes "chomah" without a vav. This spelling has the exact same letters as in the word "cheimah" - meaning "judgement". So now we can understand what this comes to teach us.

For those who FIRST went "...within the sea..." (that is: BEFORE it had split - without any garaunties other than the Word of the Almighty) and only then "...onto dry land..." (because it then split) - such as Nachshon and those who followed his lead - the sea was unwavering in its protection of them. But for the weak of faith, who first waited for it to be "dry land" (and thus subscribed to the faithless doctrine of "seeing is believing") and only then entered into "...the midst of the sea...," (that is, only AFTER it had split and they were assured of safety) when THEY walked in between the walls, Divine JUDGEMENT was upon them! The Satan accused them of being unfaithful, for they did not truly believe that in the Words of HaShem: that He would act on their behalf if they would only show their ultimate hishtadlut. It was only in the merit of the first group of faithful ones that the whole of Klal Yisrael merited to pass through the sea and the water did not drown them as it did the Egyptians!

We see from here a message that must stay with us always. Even if things seem insurmountable - even if the whole world is against us, and even many of our own brothers and sisters think we are crazy - we need only do what HaShem instructs us, and we will be untouchable. He Who Created all logic and nature and "reality" can surely turn them on their head to redeem the deserving ones of His People. We need only show our willingness to fulfil His Will and show mesirut nefesh in fulfilling His Word and He will do the rest.

Chazal teach us that "ma'aseh avot siman la'banim" - "the deeds of the fathers is a sign to the children." We are able to learn what the final redemption will be like simply by looking at te first - and it will be the same now as it was then. Those who will be redeemed will only survive by hanging on to the coat-tails of the righteous who knew the Truth all along. And that very group of loyal Jews who follow G-D's Word even into the kivshan ha'aish or the raging waters will be eternally rewarded - for it will be in THEIR merit - and noone else's - that we will be redeemed and not destroyed with the rest of this evil, corrupt world.

So the message is this: things may be tough now, and we may not see any obvious light at the end of the tunnel, but Chazal compare the Geulah to a deer. It darts behind the mountains and trees, but suddenly it appears in all its beauty! And the same will be here - it is a Promise from the Ultimate Source of Truth! All we need to do is hang tight and follow the Eternal Word of our Master and Creator. The cogs of history are turning and it is reaching the final stage of creation - but in these hard times the only ones who are GARUANTIED safety are the ones who seek shelter ONLY in the Wings of the Shechinah and who act only for the sake of HaShem!

May HaShem have mercy on us and bring the redemption now in the merit of all those who have sacrificed and who to this very day still sacrifice for the Sake of His Eternaly Holy Name!

Parshat Beshalach (2)

BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT BESHALACH
13 Shvat, 5766/10-11 February, 2006



OUR SECRET WEAPON


One of the repeating themes weaved throughout the story of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt is the great mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) that certain individuals displayed for the sake of the Jewish people, and their great reward for their selfless acts. Eventually, these acts of self-sacrifice would spread to the entire nation.

The story of the Exodus opens up with king Pharaoh ordering the midwives, Yocheved and Miriam, to kill all the Jewish male babies. Surely, the king of Egypt did not need police or advisers to put his wishes into action, for anyone who would dare disobey the king's order would certainly be put to death. Still, Yocheved and Miriam refused to lend a hand to Pharaoh's wickedness, for they feared the L-rd, so they did not do as the king had ordered. Their reward for this very courageous act? The Torah tells us that Hashem made houses for them. What kind of houses? From them would come forth the houses of the Kehunah (priesthood) and the houses of Malchut (kingship).

Next, we find the great acts of Moshe, in leaving the palace where he lived a life of luxury, where every request of his was fulfilled, to go out and see the pain of his people. All of this he gave up in an instant when he saw the Egyptian striking a fellow Jew, and killed him. He then went into exile, leaving all behind. For this, Moshe was chosen to lead the people out of Egypt.

We find that, after the decree went out that the Jews would no longer receive straw to make bricks but would still be required to produce the same amount as when they were given the straw, they were unable to come up with the daily quota. As the Torah tells us that the Egyptian overseers said to the guards: Why did you not complete your requirement to make bricks as yesterday and before? And the guards of the children of Israel were beaten. So unlike today's Jewish police, who frantically give out the beatings, these Jewish heroes received the beatings from the Egyptians and did not pass it on to their beloved people. They, too, were rewarded for their acts, for later on we find that these same Jewish policemen became the future Sanhedrin!

Even Pharaoh's daughter Batya was rewarded for her great act of self-sacrifice for saving baby Moshe. For surely she took great risks to herself when she brought Moshe into the royal palace. Our Rabbis teach us that Moshe prayed on her behalf, and so the 10 plagues did not affect her. She would leave Egypt together with the Jewish people and later convert. She also merited to enter the Land of Israel 40 years later.

The nation as a whole was also put to the test and passed with flying colors, when they were given the commandment to offer the Passover sacrifice. To pass this test, the Jewish people were sent to the limits, when G-d ordered to tie up the Egyptian god (the lamb) to their bedposts and, four days later, slaughter the lamb before the eyes of the helpless Egyptians. The Jews suggested to Moshe that maybe they could cook the lamb in a stew, chopping it up in fine pieces so the Egyptians would not take notice of it. No, answered Moshe, it must be whole. Not only that, but it must be roasted, for the smell of the burning lamb should go all over Egypt for all to smell. The Egyptians were still helpless in stopping the Jewish people, and had to watch them destroy their god. This took great self- sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish people, and it was in this merit that they were able to cross over the Reed Sea.

In our parsha, Beshalach, we find the Jewish people with their backs to the wall. With the mighty Egyptian army in front of them, and their back to the sea with nowhere to run, Hashem commanded them to enter into the raging
sea. The Jews were hesitant, and they formed a committee and a subcommittee (oh, how we love committees) to see which tribe would be the first to enter. At that moment, Nachshon from the tribe of Judah jumped in, and only
when the water started to enter his mouth did the sea open up for the Jewish people. Once again the day was saved through the great merit of self-sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish people. Nachshon was justly rewarded, as all before him, for his unselfish act to merit descendants who would sit on the throne of Israel!

Today, too, we see the great self-sacrifice of our children on behalf of the Jewish people and its Land. Last week's events at Amona showed the great love that our youth have for their Land and just how far they are willing to go to save it. The unholy and cowardly acts of the Israeli police showed their hatred for the strong and unyielding souls our
youths have for their Land. Even as the blood flowed from their unprotected heads, one demonstrator told me that they would be coming back again next time in spite of it all, for there is no other choice but to keep up the struggle. As in the Redemption in Egypt that came about only though acts of mesirut nefesh, so, too, in our day. As the blood of the Passover sacrifice went up to the Almighty and enabled us to pass through the raging waters of the sea, so, too, the blood of our children spilled for the Land of Israel should go up before the Almighty and bring Redemption to us all.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen


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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Rav Kook z"tl on tu BiShvat


Tu Bishvat: Emulating the Divine


When the settlement of Magdiel celebrated its establishment, Rav Kook participated in the festivities. The ceremony include the planting of trees, and Rav Kook was given the honor of placing the first sapling in the ground. The organizers handed the rabbi a hoe with which to dig the hole, but he threw it aside and began digging with his bare hands.

Rabbi Zeev Gold, who was also in attendance, noticed that Rav Kook suddenly became all impassioned. His entire body seemed to quiver and shake, and his face looked like a burning flame, as he placed the sapling in the ground with awe and trepidation.

Rabbi Gold was quite baffled by Rav Kook's behavior, and he asked him: 'What is all the excitement about? Thank God, people plant hundreds of trees every day in Eretz Yisrael!'

The Rav replied: 'When I held that tender sapling in my hand, I remembered the Midrash's interpretation of the verse, "You shall follow the Lord your God.. and cling to Him" [Deut. 13:5].

"Is it possible for flesh and blood to ascend to the heavens and cling to the Shechinah, about Whom it is written, 'For the Lord your God is a consuming fire' [Deut. 4:24]? .. Rather, [the explanation is as follows:] At the beginning of creation, the Holy One Blessed be He engaged in planting, as it says, 'The Lord God planted a garden in Eden' [Gen. 2:8]. Similarly, when you enter in the Land, engage in planting first, as it is written, 'When you shall come into the Land, and you shall plant all types of fruit trees' [Lev. 19:23]." [Vayikra Rabbah 25:3]


'When I was about to put the sapling in the ground,' Rav Kook explained, 'I remembered these words and felt as if I was clinging to the Shechinah. Thus, I was overcome by fear and trembling.'

[from "An Angel Among Men", by R. Simcha Raz, translated by R. Moshe Lichtman, pp. 273-274]

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Parshat Beshalach

The following is from a Devar Torah of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane z"tl h"yd. Despite the fact that it was written 10 years ago, the implications that these words have for us bow in our times are enormous - in a time where the national-religious camp is split as to how we should react to acts of agression from the arabs as well as the hellenists when they come to tear Jews from their homes. This Devar Torah will hopefully shed some Authentic Jewish Light on this subject - straight from our Holy Torah, and far from the impure mouths of the corrupt politicians...

"Don't Cry to Me - Go Forward" (1996)

Weekly Parsha Commentary by Binyamin Zev Kahane
Translated by Lenny Goldberg

It was exactly five years ago when the Gulf War broke out, and scud missiles started landing in Israel. Then, too, it was Parshat BeShallach, and it became quite popular to quote the verse in our parsha: "The Lord will fight for you, and you will remain keep silent" (14:14). Indeed, so many religious Jews found this verse both appropriate and symbolic of the Gulf War. After all, here were Israeli cities getting bombarded by Iraqi missiles, and the official government policy was one of "self-restraint", or as the Hebrew term goes, "havlaga". Jews equipped with gas masks and cages for their small children sat crouched in their sealed rooms, as missiles rocked the country. "Everything will be O.K.", they proclaimed. "Hashem will fight for us". That is, America and its president George Bush will take out those scud lanuchers and all will be fine.

A closer look at what the Torah and sages tell us regarding this verse reveal that those who interpreted this verse in the aforementioned manner took the words entirely out of their true context, and by doing so completely distort the awesome lesson that is to be learned regarding the splitting of the Red Sea.

"A Time To Do - Not to Pray"

Firstly, let us see what the Torah says. Immediately following the verse, "The Lord will fight for you and you will remain silent", is the verse, "And the Lord said unto Moses, Why do you cry unto me? Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward"! Already, without even delving into any of the commentaries, we see that the picture has changed entirely. The verse is not telling us that God will fight for you and so in the meantime you can "kick back" and let Him "worry about it". What is said here is that the Lord will fight for you if you prove to Him that you truly believe in His Omnipotence, and so instead of crying to Hashem, simply obey his commandment and "go forward" into the stormy sea.

The commentator the "Eben Ezra" writes the following: "You shalt keep silent" - to counteract the (verse) "And the children of Israel cried (to Hashem)!" For those whom this is not clear, the commentary on the Eben Ezra explains: "Do not cry anymore (to Hashem) because He will fight for you. And the meaning is not that you should refrain (keep silent) from fighting". Yes. The exact opposite of the distorted interpretation that is constantly given, where the verse "and you shall keep silent" means self-restraint and inaction. The Eben Ezra comes to tell us that "and you shall keep silent" means to stop crying to Hashem. What should you do instead? Act! -- with "Bitachon" in Hashem. This is in essence the idea that Rashi brings down: "This teaches us that Moses was standing and praying. The Holy One Blessed Be He said: Now is not the time to prolong in prayer, when Israel is placed in distress." This is also the meaning of the Gemorah in Sota, page 37: "Moses was engaged for a while in prayer, so the Holy One Blessed Be He said, "My beloved ones are drowning in the sea, and thou prolongst in prayer before me? He (Moses) spoke before Him, "Lord of the Universe, what is there in my power to do?" He replied to him, "Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward. And lift thou up thy rod and stretch out thy hand, etc."

Nachshon - Faith In Action

The sages tell us that the children of Israel stood trembling by the shores of the Red Sea until God commanded them that they "go forward". They remained paralyzed with fear and did not move. Only Nachshon did not hesitate to carry out Hashem's commandment. He sprang forward into the raging waters, but nothing happened. Nachshon was not taken aback. He descended deeper into the water - up to his ankles, knees, stomach - and still nothing happened. Nachshon continued until the water reached his neck, and then he cried to Hashem, "Oh God, save me because the water has come into my soul. I sink deep in mire where there is no standing..." Only then did the miracle of the splitting of the sea occur. (Ibid.)

The lesson is crystal clear. Together with prayer, Hashem demands maximal effort, for it is only through actual deeds where one's faith is tested. Was Nachshon's faith put to the test when he recited psalms on the seashore? No. Even jumping into the stormy waters was not sufficient, for he still had an opportunity to back out. Only by going all the way in fulfilling G-d's will did he prove he is a true believer. Nachshon understood that saying, "I believe" and then waiting for the salvation is not authentic faith. G-d demands of us that we prove our faith by way of our actions, and not just with our mouths. Only by being willing to fulfill difficult, and what may appear to be "dangerous" mitzvot, do we prove our faith is genuine.

This is the mistake of those religious Jews who sanctified the self-restraint policy during the Gulf Crisis. He who saw the Chosen People scurrying like roaches into their sealed-off closets while the modern day Goliath blasphemed Hashem and His people for 40 days (and 40-1 missiles), and viewed it as a positive thing, self-righteously proclaiming that "G-d will help" , does not begin to grasp the Jewish concept of what faith is all about.

Not only did we lose our deterrent factor and our dignity during the Gulf War, but we also proved our lack of faith. It is this same lack of faith that has prevented us from expelling the Arabs, and annexing the territories. And it is only a lack of faith that has brought us to the pathetic and desperate situation we now find ourselves in today. These national mitzvot were never "politics", but rather the true yardsticks for faith and redemption in this generation.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Plant a Tree in Yesha for Tu Bi'Shvat with "Trees4Yesha"



www.trees4yesha.org

The Charity of Light Fund Presents:

The Gift that Keeps on Growing
Our - Online Fruit Tree Planting Center

Planting a tree in Yesha is the perfect way to show you care. For $24 per fruit tree, you can show the Jews of Yesha that you stand together with them in these troubled times.

Our goal is to plant 10,000 new fruit trees adjacent to the settlements and hilltops throughout Yesha, enabling growth, security, and financial freedom to the people of Yesha.

The fruit trees of Israel have always represented prosperity, ownership and peace, and today it is no different.


The Talmud teaches us that when the fruit trees of Israel will once again give of their fruits, there is no surer sign that the Redemption of the Jewish people is at hand!

You, too, can take part in this tradition and at the same time help the settlements to strengthen themselves and expand and become financially independent!


With each order of trees a beautiful certificate will be mailed to the recipient with your personal message.
Plant trees for all occasions: Birth, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, Weddings, Graduation, Birthday, or in memory of a loved one.


What greater way is there to remember a loved one or to send a gift, then by
purchasing a fruit tree in the land of Israel- the symbol of strength, endurance and prosperity.


"But I am like an ever-fresh olive tree in the house of G-d,
I trust in the kindness of G-d forever and ever"
Psalms 52:10.


Over the past two years the Charity of Light Fund has planted thousands of
fruit trees in Yesha (Yehuda-Shomron-Gaza).

Help us to continue to grow and to strengthen our brethren who are on the front lines.

For pictures of last year's plantings, visit the trees4yesha website

Parshat Bo - The Paschal Lamb and Kiddush HaShem


Pasqual Lamb and Kiddush Hashem (1991)

Weekly Parsha Commentary by Binyamin Zev Kahane
Translated by Lenny Goldberg

In Parshat Bo we are introduced to the mitzvah of the Paschal Lamb. Unfortunately, like most mitzvot in the Torah, many Jews do not grasp the concept that stands behind this mitzvah. We must always remember that generally speaking, the mitzvah is a manifestation of a particular idea that G-d wants us to internalize. So let us examine this very special mitzvah so that next Passover when we partake in the eating of the "Afikoman" which commemorates the Paschal Lamb, we will hopefully be doing more than just practicing sterile ritual.

First of all, we must comprehend that the entire purpose of the plagues was to bring the nonbelieving Pharo, who upon Moses' arrival arrogantly proclaimed, "I do not know Hashem", to the recognition that Hashem, is indeed, the Almighty. When the gentile states that the Jewish God does not exist and that he does not know Him, and thus he can enslave and torture the people of this seemingly non-existent G-d, this creates the greatest "Hillul Hashem" (desecration of God's Name) that can possibly be. The devastation of Egypt via the plagues was to show the awesome power of Hashem - to prove that the God of Israel indeed exists. The plagues were, in effect, the process by which the desecration of God's Name, which was reflected through the weakness of His People, was turned into a sanctification of G-d's Name. After the heavy pounding the Egyptians suffered, it was impossible to deny the omnipotence of the Hebrew God. This is Kiddush Hashem.

But for the sanctification to be complete, something else must be done - the offering of the Paschal Lamb. This was the nail in the coffin. In Parshat Bo, chapter 12, we see that each Jewish house was commanded to take a lamb, bring it home for four days, and then slaughter it. The lamb, which was the deity of the Egyptians is taken, prepared and slaughtered before the horrified eyes of the Egyptians, who were helplessly forced to watch all this. As if this wasn't enough, the lamb had to be roasted whole - "eat not of it raw, nor broiled in water, but roast with fire; its head with its legs and with its entrails". The humiliation was now complete. The Hebrews, slaves for 210 years, had degraded their Egyptian masters, making a mockery out of their "religion". For the sanctification of God's Name to be complete, there is no room for "tolerance" of other deities. If Hashem is One, there can be no other! This is the Jewish idea of the Paschal Lamb.

The pity of the Jew today (including the religious practitioner of ritual) is his inability to perceive the Middle East crisis as a religious war -- a battle between Judaism versus Islam. While the Arab has always understood this and thus is ready to go to great lengths in the name of his religion (and for this reason they have the upper hand today), the Jew perceives events only through secular and pragmatic considerations. He does not realize that a stone thrown at a Jew is a stone thrown at the Jewish God, and a concession of any part of the Land of Israel is a declaration to the Muslims that our God is weak, God forbid. He cannot grasp that the lack of Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount and the presence of Arab mosques is a "Hillul Hashem" of outrageous proportions. It is only when the Jewish People comprehend that the "humiliation of Israel is a desecration of His Name" (Ezekiel 39:7 - Rashi) and that we are in a religious struggle with the Arabs, will we begin to get real help from Hashem, since only then will He have a reason to take action to defend his Holy Name.