Parshat Chukat: The Slave Women


BS"D YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI

Jerusalem, Israel

HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT CHUKAT
5 Tammuz, 5766/30 June-1 July, 2006

The Cana'anite king of Arad heard that Israel had come by the route of the spies, and he warred against Israel and captured a captive from them.

There is nothing new under the sun, and as our Rabbis have taught us, inevery week’s parsha we can see today’s current events unfolding. It is for that reason that this week’s news from Israel of the two kidnappings, of soldier Gilad Shalit and of yeshiva bochur Eliyahu Asheri, is so chilling.

The parsha teaches us that after the death of Aharon Hacohen, the clouds of glory, which protected the Jews in the dessert, disappeared, leaving them open for attack, and so, the king of Arad came to attack Israel. In reality, this was none other than the Amalek nation, but in order to trick Israel they changed their language so that Israel should pray to Hashem to give the Cana'anities into their hand, and being that they were the Amalek nation the Jewish people's prayer would not affect them. It was during this battle that the Amalakites were able to capture slave women from Israel. From here we see just how frightened the nations are of a Jew praying to His G-d.

The Response

And what was the response of the Jewish people, under the leadership of Moshe at the time, to the fact that a slave woman was captured? One might argue that it’s only a slave woman, not really someone who is part of the Jewish people. Yes, there were rabbis who tried to say that "pikuach nefesh" - danger of life - overrides the commandment of saving this slave. Why should Jewish soldiers have to die in battle for her? This, though, was not the response of the authentic Jewish way. "And He delivered the Canaanite and segregated them and their cities." Rashi tell us that the Jews segregated them through killing them all!

The Canaanites in their wildest dreams could not have foreseen such a fierce response by the Jews, the fact that the Jews would mobilize all of their forces just to save a slave, but such was the Jewish response. One thing was for sure, that the Cana'anite/Amalek would never again kidnap a Jew, since they were now all dead! But the mere fact that the Cana'anite had the gall to take a Jew, or in this case, Jewish property, was a great Chilul Hashem. When you have a Chilul Hashem you do not ask questions or sit around, but you immediately wipe it out.

And Today...

And today: What is the response of the Jewish government who sits in Zion, as they watch two good Jewish boys being kidnapped by the low-life Arabs? The army gathers its troops at the Gaza border, the Air Force is called in and bombs bridges, open fields are blown up and the electricity is shut down for a good number of hours. A far cry from what our ancestors did to the Canaanites, leaving them all dead.

One must understand that unless a strong response is brought upon them, it will only ensure that this will continue to happen in the future. As long as they all do not pay the price of this great Chilul Hashem, they will believe that they only have to gain from their actions.

This is what the Parsha is talking about, when it says this is the "Chukat" - the law - the law of purity, the laws of how to clean oneself from "tuma" - impurities- impurities that are on us, and impurities that we face in our Land. They must be removed from all of our sacks!

With love of Israel,

Levi Chazen

The "Legitimiate Rights" of the Ammonites


Parsha Commentary by Rav Binyamin Zev Kahane z"tl h"yd

Translated by Lenny Goldberg

The modern concept of "Jewish occupied territories" rears its ugly head in Parshat Chukat and in our haftarah, Shoftim(Chapter 11). We read in our parasha how Og ,the king of Bashan, and Sichon, the king of Ammon, try to prevent the Jewish people from passing through their borders to get to the Land of Israel. Both kings decide to wage war against The Chosen Nation and both kings lost. The children of Israel conquer their enemies and inhabit their land. Interestingly enough, no one at the time suggested that the Jewish people return the land that they just conquered to the nations that tried to annihilate them. No, such a proposal was never even considered. But, what if such a proposal was raised? How would a Jewish leader have reacted?

Land For Peace

To answer these questions we move the clock ahead 300 years until we arrive at the haftarah of our parasha. In the time of the Judges, the king of Ammon brazenly demands that Israel return to him the territories that were conquered, and if Israel refuses, there will be war. The king recounts some well-known history: "Because Israel took away my land when they came out of Egypt, from Arnon as far as the Yabok, and the Jordan." (Judges 11:13) Compared to the demands of today's Arabs, this demand is quite "moderate". The king of Ammon, unlike the P.L.O., does not call for the total destruction of the Jewish State. He only wants that which was taken from his people. In words that echo in the U.N. and in Washington, the king concludes his demand in the following manner: "Now, therefore, restore those lands peacefully." Peace - that magic word. What normal Jewish leader can refuse such an offer? After all, Ammon's claim is not an unreasonable one; the lands were taken from them. Ammon, unlike the P.L.O., once had a sovereign empire with a capital and an army on that land. And most importantly, here was a genuine opportunity for peace - no more war, no more bloodshed.

Not One Inch

The answer Yiftach returned to to the king of Ammon is far different than what Rabin and Peres told Arafat. Yiftach recounts all the past history, and then concludes: "So now the Lord of Israel has driven out the Amorites from before his people, Israel, and you should possess the land?! Will you not possess what your god, Kemosh, gives you to possess? And all whom the Lord, our G-d, shall drive from before us that we shall possess." (Judges 11:23-24) This is the reaction of a true Jewish leader. A reaction based on emunah - faith in the word of G-d. The land is ours not because of any historical claim or because we defeated the former inhabitants in battle. Rather, the land is ours because G-d gave it to us and we have no right to give it up...

How To Subdue the Enemy

Ma'ase avot siman labanim - the deeds of our fathers are signs to the children. One needs only to study our Torah to learn how to deal with our enemies who initiate wars and then cry "Jewish land for peace". The Arabs have attempted to destroy the Jewish State through four wars and much terrorism and when that failed the P.L.O. and the other Arabs went to the negotiating table and demanded Jewish land or else there will be no peace. Unfortunately, there are Jews who have little or no faith in the G-d of Israel who are (mis)leading the country today. These politicians are unfamiliar with the story of Yiftach and do not understand that our true right to the land of Israel is only because G-d gave it to his people as an eternal inheritance. May we, and our leaders, be worthy of having faith in the Al-mighty so that our enemies may be subdued as they were in the days of Yiftach.

Help Save a G-D Fearing Jew from Imprisonment by the Authorities

The following is an email that was sent out by the Hameir L'David organisation. Please read it and pass it on to whoever you can. The freedom of an innocent, G-D fearing man is at stake here.

David HaIvri is the founder of Hameir L'David, and the co-founder of the Revava grassroots movement.

He is currently in the middle of a 5 month community service sentence, which was issued to him by the courts for the "sinister crime" of printing t-shirts with the words "No Arabs = No Terror," and with a picture of Rabbi Meir Kahane on the back. Of course, besides for the fact that this statement is blatantly true, and it's banning thus shows the extent that the Israeli authorities will go to in order to cover up the truth, the fact is that this proves that the whole idea of a "free democratic Israel" is a farce. It's not that democracy is mandated by the Torah - quite the opposite - it's very idealogy is that of taking the power of deciding between what's right and what's wrong away from G-D and gives it to mortal man to change as he wishes every few years; but rather, if a country/state decides to take on such an ideology and makes a big show of being the "only democracy in the Middle East," it should at least have the honesty and dignity to be objective in applying those "freedoms," or else just drop the chirade!

(And as if this wasn't enough: as I'm writing this, another Jew - Efraim Hershkovitz - has been sentenced to 4 months in jail and 9 months suspended for wearing a "Kach" t-shirt under his jumper on Purim 2 years ago! I wonder where all the leftist liberals are now with their "human rights" and "free speach"...?)
*****


B"H



Fascism disease is spreading!

Ask these men to stop it from devouring David:

Rabbi Chananya Chollak
Ezer Mizion Founder and International Chairman
Yaakov Fried Building 5 Rabinov Street, Bnei Brak 51561, Israel Tel:
+972 3 614 4572
Chananya@ezermizion.org , ezermizion@aol.com

Dear Correspondents:

It seems that the fascist government is causing the ordinary citizens
to act similarly. To my amazement, there are Israelis who do not yet
assume that virtually all Jewish arrestees are false accusations.

I am asking for everyone to take one minute out of your day to send a
short email on behalf of David Ha'Ivri. As you know, David was found
guilty of wearing a tee shirt, and therein, in this Kafka-esque world,
sentenced.

He was released into a work program at a charity, therein being
deprived of his ordinary income, and generally not appreciated. A
supervisor got upset and promptly called in the authorities, putting
David at serious jeopardy. There is a hearing to be held on Monday,
and the State would love to imprison our much valued brother.

Please drop a line, or make a call, to the head of the organization,
asking that they do everything they can to support David. Beg that
they show mercy, and not cause a family man to be imprisoned for
wearing a politically incorrect a tee shirt.

Thank you. Please do this now or at least today.
Also consider posting the letters on David's website,
www.Revava.org/forum . Also, if you have a blog, please post a
directive similar to this.

www.revava.org

Reclaiming the Temple Mount:

www.hameir.org/temple

Lessons in Korach (The Insanity of False Righteousness)


BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI

Jerusalem, Israel

HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT KORACH
28 Sivan, 5766/23-24 June, 2006

It certainly was not going well at all. First there were complaints about the lack of water, then came the Golden Calf - an almost inexcusable sin. Next was the mad desire for meat, in spite of the fact that they all had their own cattle. Then the "grand slam" sin - despising the land, which caused 40 years of wandering. And now this, a rebellion on Moshe’s authority.

The first lesson that must be learned is the fact that, just like in last week's parsha, the spies were known as leaders of the tribes, men who were important. They misled the congregation of Israel in order to hold on to their high position, for it was known to them that they would not be rabbis anymore, upon entering the Land of Israel. So, too, in Parshat Korach we find that our Rabbis place an emphasis on the fact that these 250 men who rebelled along with Korach were leaders and important people of the community, so much so that they were the ones who calculated the Jewish calendar, certainly Torah giants. The Rabbis asked: Korach was a wise man and leader, what caused him to rebel against Moshe? A vision that he saw brought about his downfall, for he saw - but not clearly. He saw that greatness would come out from him (Samuel the Prophet), but he did not see clearly, for the greatness was destined to come from his sons and not from him. The glory of power clouded his eyes.

No, it does not always mean that our leaders are leading us down the wrong path, even though most times that is certainly the case. Just this week, Shimon Peres, to whom we owe so much spilled Jewish blood, came out and enlightened us by telling the press: "Missiles, shissiles: What is all the hysteria about? Why, what are a few Kassam missiles falling daily on Sderot? What are they, babies or something? Why, Kiryat Shmona had them fall for years!" Now that is a great leader! Aren’t we so lucky to have such visionaries leading us? Sure, give away more Jewish towns and have the Arabs rain down missiles in the heart of the country. Maybe this is all part of his sick plan to disengage from more of Israel.

And where is the call condemning this Chilul Hashem? Where are the voices of our Rabbis? First, they throw stones at us, and we were silent. Then they shoot at us, and now it's missile time. Why is there not a voice calling out about this horrible daily Chilul Hashem - letting Arabs freely rain missiles down on Jewish cities? How dare they go unpunished. tormenting the children of the living G-d of Israel!

Lesson # two - With rightesness like this, who needs sinners!

The rebellion was all set to go, with Korach and his men going from tent to tent and inciting the people against Moshe. The hour was getting late, so Korach told his people that they would meet tomorrow to confront Moshe. Yes, tomorrow would be the big day that they would take over. "On", one of the leaders of the rebellion, went home, but was not so comfortable with the whole thing deep down inside. He knew that this whole affair was just not right. His wife, Mrs. On, was a very wise woman who understood that there was nothing to gain by this whole mess, and she confronted her husband. After a few minutes, On himself knew that this was a dead end, but he saw no way to get out of his predicament, with Korach and his men just a few hours away from coming to his tent.

Just leave that up to me, said the wise Mrs. On, understanding all too well just how frum Korach and his men were. Later that same night, Mrs. On got On plenty drunk and she put him to bed. Sure enough, when the witching hour came for On to join up with Korach, Mrs. On sat outside their tent and let her hair down, just like that. Well, no frum man would look at a married woman’s hair (that’s how frum they were), so, unable to get past her and call on On, they moved on without him. And so, On was saved.

Lesson #2 is clear. Sometimes we get so caught up with the particulars that we lose sight of the whole picture. Korach and his men were so religious that they would not look at a married woman’s hair. All well and good, but to rebel against Moshe, thus losing both this world and the next, that was fine with them.

So we might just be losing sight of what Hashem really wants from us while we are bogged down with the particulars - if we check out the station too thoroughly, we just might miss the train.

With love of Israel,

Levi Chazen

Psalm 126: We Were Like Dreamers



This psalm offers an inspiring description of the redemption of the Jewish people and their return to the Land of Israel:

"A Song of Ascents. When God brings about the return to Zion, we were like dreamers. Then our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues with joyous song." [126:1-2]

The verb tense, however, is confusing. Presumably, this is a vision of the future redemption, when "our mouths will be filled with laughter." Yet the psalmist also speaks of the past - "we were like dreamers." Is this taking place in the past or the future?

Dreams of Redemption

We need to understand the significance of these dreams and their connection to our national redemption.

Several times in history, dreams served as a means to redemption. Joseph became viceroy of Egypt and saved his family from famine through the dreams of Pharaoh. Daniel attained his position of importance through the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar. What is the function of dreams in the world?

Every soul has certain special segulot, hidden talents or qualities that seek to be realized. The more intense the segulah, the greater it will struggle to be fulfilled. One of the ways in which these inner qualities express themselves is through dreams.

The nation of Israel also has special segulot - a unique potential for spiritual greatness. As it says [Ex. 19:5], "You will be a segulah among the nations." When the Jewish people are exiled and downtrodden, this segulah quality seeks ways to be realized. It is this inner drive for national greatness that is the source for our dreams of redemption.

Anticipating the Redemption

After death, the Talmud teaches, the soul is questioned by the heavenly tribunal: "Tzapita layeshua?" "Did you anticipate the redemption?" [Shabbat 31a] The fact that the soul is judged by this trait indicates the great importance of anticipating the redemption. We also find that the Sages spoke of the obligation to pray for our national return to the Land of Israel. Yet the logic of this approach is not obvious. What purpose is there in yearning for that which is beyond our control, dependent either upon the actions of the entire Jewish people, or a divinely-ordained hour?

To understand the significance of our dreams and prayers, it is instructive to recall the Talmudic saying, "Do not disregard any blessing, even that of an ordinary person" [Megillah 15a]. Why should we take note of the simple wishes of a neighbor or friend? The Sages, however, are imparting an important lesson: do not underestimate the power of a few encouraging words, for they may awaken and help realize our hidden potential.

The concept is valid for both the individual and the nation. Secreted in the national soul of Israel is a potential for greatness. By mentioning and anticipating this national destiny, we strengthen it and prime it to be realized. The value of looking forward to the redemption lies in its power to help bring it to fruition. This is not a mystical notion, but a plain historical fact. Without a doubt, the unprecedented return of the Jewish people to their homeland after thousands of years of exile could not have occurred without the continual yearnings and prayers over the centuries. The Zionist movement could not have convinced millions of Jews to uproot themselves if not for the people's deep-rooted longings for the Land of Israel. It is our faith and anticipation of redemption that enables the realization of the national segulah of Israel.

Now we can understand why the verse says that "we were like dreamers," in the past tense. This refers to our dreams of redemption during the long years of exile. "God brings about the return to Zion" because, throughout the ages, "we were like dreamers." Our dreams and trust in God's promises of redemption enable our return to the Land. Just as our private dreams are an expression of our inner talents, inspiring us to develop them, so too, our national dreams, even in the darkest hours, facilitate the return to Zion and the future fulfillment of our complete redemption.

[adapted from Midbar Shur pp. 226-227]

Shlach - The Unrealistic Men of Truth



by Rav Binyamin Zev Kahane (1996)

Translated by Lenny Goldberg

We tend to lump together all ten of the spies who spoke against the land as one cohesive group - an "evil congregation" which acted as one in rejecting the land of Israel. But this was not the case. There were actually several internal differences in the motives amongst the ten spies, who before their sin were considered by the sages as the most righteous of men.

The Different Factions

The most active group which set the pace and was most extreme in their stance of rejecting the land was ready to do anything to prevent entry into the land. Their agenda was to remain in the wilderness and eventually return to Egypt to the watermelons and garlic, or to the "land of milk and honey" (as Egypt was later coined by their pious disciples, Datan and Aviram in parshat Korah).

In contrast, there were more moderate factions for whom it was not so easy to suddenly reject what Jews had dreamed of for so long. But what? They too held doubts about making Aliyah. There was the fear of losing their prestigious positions, as well as the more simple fear of getting pummeled by the giants of the land. These spies were able to ease their consciences by "facing the reality". After all, it's impossible to defeat giants, and one is forbidden to endanger the entire Jewish People. Who knows? Maybe they came up with a "psak halacha" that "pekuach nefesh" takes precedence over the land of Israel. And the spies who were left probably "had no other choice" other than to go with the tide. They hadn't the courage to go against the flow, and thus were dragged along, accepting the "party line"...

While there is a huge difference between those who streamrolled the process and those who were simply dragged along or were just being "realistic", the Torah does not differentiate among the spies when meting out the punishment. All factions were put in the same boat, suffering a harsh death and non-entry into the Promised Land. The major inciters and those who may have LOVED Eretz Yisrael are ALL labeled as "and they despised the good land". All pleas for lighter punishment due to special circumstances would have to wait for the Heavenly Court.

The True "Gedolim"

To accentuate this point, we have the two "gedolim", Joshua and Kalev. In contrast to the pragmatists, men of small belief, and outright rejecters of G-d's will, we see two men who proved that one needn't buckle under to the pressure. We see two men who proved that precisely it is faith in G-d which is the REAL reality!

Behold, Joshua and Kalev found themselves in a new situation. Suddenly, they were a minority that stubbornly clung to an idea which was deemed as "unrealistic". Surely it was difficult for them not to succumb to the pressure of following the party line. But the harder test was when they returned to the Jewish camp - to the people who had been incited and brainwashed, and had to decide whether they would hop on the bandwagon and repeat the party line, or whether they would fight. Here, too, they stood their ground, clinging to the simple truth which overnight had somehow turned into something insane and unrealistic: "The land which we passed through is an exceedingly good land!"

Being a "Hebrew" - the Most Difficult Test of All

Joshua and Kalev stood the test. True, they endangered themselves: "But all the congregation said to stone them with stones". But this is what is required of a Jewish leader - not to make "cheshbonot" with God's commandment and not to accept the false reality. To be willing to be hated and to suffer helpless isolation versus overflowing falsehood. For this is the root of the word "Hebrew" - "Ivry", which means other side, where Abraham stood on one side, and the entire world stood on the other side.

When the dust finally clears, the masses who were mired in the temporary falsehood will try to understand where they went wrong. At that same moment, the men of truth who stubbornly clung to the simple truth will merit G-d's portion and receive the yoke of leadership.

Profiling the Jewish leader



by Rav Binyamin Zev Kahane z"tl h"yd

Translated by Lenny Goldberg

In Parashat BeHaalotcha, we are witness to a unique event: the choosing of leaders. The Torah even "lets us in" on which factors played part in how these Jewish leaders were chosen.

In our parasha (ch. 11), Moshe reaches his breaking point - "I can't carry the burden of this people alone, for it is too heavy for me", and asks G-d to find people who can share the burden of leadership with him. How does G-d pick these leaders? After all, there was no shortage of righteous and talented Jews around.

G-d immediately singles out a specific group from which the next Jewish leadership will be chosen: "Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people, and officers over them". Rashi explains: "Those whom you recognize, who were appointed over them as officers in Egypt during the rigorous labor, and they (the officers) had pity on them (the Israelites) and were beaten because of them." Though this may appear a rather surprising choice, a deeper probe into the matter will reveal to us a tremendous lesson, so pertinent for today.
The Criteria: "Ahavat Yisrael"

Who in the world were these Jewish police officers?

Let us back track to the book of "Shmot" (Chapter 5). Pharo lays down a rather heavy if not impossible edict on his Jewish slaves. They must produce a specific quota of bricks without even being given straw. The Jewish officers were ordered by the Egyptian taskmasters to oversee that this quota was met. If not, the officers would be blamed for it and beaten. Thus, they were in a dilemma. Either they turn over their brothers and by doing so save their own skin, or they can refuse orders, and be severely punished for it. In short, these "officers" were supposed to be Jewish "kappos". But these policeman, unlike others who have been placed in similar situations in our sad history, refused to bear down on their already suffering brethren, and did not hand over the names of Jews who could not meet the quota. The result? The Egyptian taskmasters thrashed the refusenik policeman instead of the Jewish slaves: "And the officers of the children of Israel, whom Pharo's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten.." (5:14)

If we take this seriously, and not relate to it like some fairy tale we heard in kindergarten, we would get goose bumps all over just contemplating such heroism. What can be a more inspiring description of "Ahavat Yisrael" and caring for a fellow Jew by someone in authority. Not only did they not exploit their power, but these officers understood that sometimes they must bear the suffering of their brothers. This is what God saw. And He did not forget. The minute there was a need for leadership, He knew whom to turn to. God did not seek out people with charisma, nor did he pick talented organizers or even the greatest Torah scholars. One thing: "Ahavat Yisrael".

The centrality of this attribute cannot be disputed. The two greatest leaders in Jewish history, Moshe Rabbeinu and David, were former shepherds. The sages teach us that God tested them through their ability to care for their flock and show mercy on those they are responsible over.

Today, everyone speaks of "Ahavat Yisrael". But too often it is merely a slogan. When selecting the leaders, God did not choose those who make nice speeches about "Ahavat Yisrael". God wanted people with a "previous record": a record of suffering for one's brothers; a record of placing one's personal welfare secondary to that of one's people. A record of m'sirut nefesh - going out on the line for a fellow Jew.

Joy and Martyrdom - on the Parasha



The story of the spies speaking ill of the Land of Israel is often compared to the modern Israeli political scene, and the common characteristics are obvious. It is indeed interesting why the commandment to settle the Land is such a difficult one, both today and in the Biblical account; what is so special about this mitzva that it so invites the scorn of the masses?

The Talmud (Shabbat 130a) quotes a Baraisa: "Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: Every mitzva received with joy, such as circumcision, ... continues to be observed with joy; and every mitzva received with altercation, such as the forbidding of illicit sexual relations, ... continues to be observed with altercation."

By lumping the nation's general attitude to individual commandments into two categories the Talmud also observes that these attitudes are not easily changed with time: As the elders treat the mitzva so do future generations. This is especially interesting when we note the Biblical reaction to the spies' malicious report: "And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron..." (Bamidbar 14:1-2). In the first verse they fail to rejoice in the mitzva as mentioned in the Talmud, and in the second they actively take the opposite approach.

The Talmud continues with another such classification of God's commandments and the impact of our attitude towards them: "Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: Every mitzva for whose sake the Israelites martyred themselves in periods of royal edicts, such as idolatry and circumcision, remains in their grasp; and every mitzva for whose sake the Israelites did not martyr themselves in periods of royal edicts, such as phylacteries, remains loosened in their grasp."

The Land of Israel is not won by compromise, nor by defeatism, nor by halfheartedness. It is won by rejoicing that we have such a mitzva and by readiness to martyr ourselves for its sake. Only by doing both will we ensure that it will remain forever, as the Talmud observes, firmly in our grasp as well as a cause of joy for generations to come.

In the words of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Berachot 5a): "Three precious gifts were given by God to Israel, and all are earned only through suffering: Torah, the Land of Israel, and the World to Come."

(Read and dicuss the original article here.)

A Lesson Still Not Learned!



BS"D YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI Jerusalem, Israel

HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT SHELACH LECHA

When one dwells on the apparently harsh punishment meted out to the ten spies and to the entire congregation, one wonders: Does the punishment really fit the crime? Our Rabbis teach us that the men who brought forth the evil report about the Land died in a plague before Hashem. Rashi explains that the plague was measure-for-measure; they sinned with their tongue, and so their punishment was that their tongues stretched to their navels and worms came out of their tongues and entered their navels.

The congregation was also punished harshly by being totally killed off from the age of twenty and up. The entire generation wiped out, and only because of the great Chilul Hashem that it would have caused if they were to be killed off all at once (what would Egypt say?), was the punishment spread out over a forty-year period.

Even more puzzling is that we find in last week's parsha that when Miriam spoke lashon hara - evil talk - about Moses, she was stricken with tzara'at and had to be removed from the camp for a period of only seven days. After that she returned to her former position as one of our seven prophets that the Jewish people had in our history. If so, why, because of the spies, were they and the entire congregation so severely punished?

The answer is just as relevant today for us as it was back then for the spies, and unfortunately, just as deadly. Firstly, the spies were men of little faith. Hashem had promised the Jewish people that He would bring them into a good Land, being able to remove the nations that lived here. They, though, did not believe that G-d had the capability to conquer the nations that lived here. To the spies, the nations living in the Land seemed stronger that Hashem Himself.

Being the Torah giants of their time, what we would call today the "Gedolei Hador", they gave a psak - a Torah judgment - that the danger to life outweighs the commandment to conquer the Land.

Little did it concern them that he who dwells outside the Land of Israel, is as if he worships idols; little did it concern them that over 300 times in the Torah, G-d states that He is giving this Land to the Jewish people; little did it concern them that over 300 of the commandments can only be done in the Land of Israel, that G-d's entire blueprint for the Jews and humanity was to have the Jews enter into their Land right away and set up a G-dly kingdom in this world.

And so they, the leaders of the Jewish people - the Gedolim of their time - fell, and took all of us with them. Their only wish was to return to the fleshpots of Egypt - what they knew as the "Goldene Medina". This, though, was not to be, because of their lack of faith in Hashem - that He could not bring them into the Land. A Land that they thought was dangerous, a Land in which they thought they could not make a living. So they were punished, and punished severely!

And the Torah wears sackcloth, for the sin of the spies runs after us and overtakes us and is still not corrected. In the time of Ezra, when the call came out to return to the Holy Land, we find that the great majority of the Jewish people had all kinds of reasons for not coming home. Too dangerous, cannot make a living, waiting for Messiah, who is this Cyrus, king of Persia, anyway, that he should be telling us to come back home - he isnot even Jewish, they're not religious enough for us - and on and on it went. Our Rabbis, though, tell us that because the Jewish people did not come back to their land en masse, G-d's Divine Presence also did not come back, paving the way for the destruction of the Second Temple. Resh Lakish, a leading Talmudic rabbi, yelled out in anguish over this and said: G-d, how I hate them, for they could have brought the Redemption to the Jewish people if they would have come home!

And what can we say today? Why do we not heed the call? Can anyone look over the past 60 years of history and not see the hand of Hashem bringing His people home? Is the G-d of Israel not great enough to give us a livelihood also over here? Sure, there are problems, but with a influx of three, four or five million good Jews into the Land we would be able to fix all the problems, ensuring that there would be no more expulsions like the one from Gush Katif. What will we answer our Maker on our Judgment Day, when we are called into account? Will we be able to say that our hands have not shed this blood?

With love of Israel,

Levi Chazen

Wanted: A National Order of Priorities

By Attorney Baruch Ben Yosef

For those of us who love the Land of Israel, there is no argument between us concerning our obligation and right to settle anywhere in the Land, build on it settlements and outposts, plant trees and flowers in its holy earth, partake of its fruits, swim in its rivers, walk in its green forests and behold its enchanting views.

However, we must ask ourselves the following questions: Is there not an order of priorities? Is there no order for what must be dealt with first and what must be dealt with later? Do we leave the order of priorities to our own discretions and whims, or are we obligated by a higher order?

It is apparent that the Zionist Movement from its inception had no master plan. From the outset, it has suffered from a faulty and confused order of priorities, based almost always on security contingencies instead of essential
national interests and values. Why beat around the bush? The most important part of the Land of Israel to the Jewish People as a culture, nation, and religion, is without a doubt the Temple Mount. But instead of this holiest site located receiving top priority, it has become the symbol of the demise and decay of Zionism.

Instead of the Temple Mount receiving the attention and treatment needed to remove the disgrace of 2,000 years of foreign rule, the Zionist Movement and its creation – the State of Israel – chose to eternalize the foreign rule by handing the management and control of the Temple Mount, de facto, over to the Islamic Trust (Wakf).

To display how low on the totem pole of prioritoes the Temple Mount is, one need only look at the Six Day War. After a miraculous victory of the Israeli Army in six days, whereby expansive parts of the Land of Israel were liberated including the Temple Mount, we handed the keys to the Mount back to the Arabs!

The same irreligious Zionists who condemned the haredi rabbis for preaching that "it is forbidden to return to the Land enforce", followed the lead of that same exilic mindset when it came to the Temple Mount. And so, by turning over the Temple Mount to the hands of our enemies, we have created a situation where instead of the Arabs living in fear of the threat of their mosques being destroyed, they draw hope from the building of a new
world center of Islam in lieu of Mecca.

It has been 39 years since we heard the emotional cry: "the Temple Mount is in our hands, the Temple Mount is in our hands". These words have become more and more faint and insignificant. As the People of the Book, we should know that periods of 40 years are significant, whether for positive reasons (the Land was quiet for 40 years) or negative ones (40 years of wandering in the desert). As we approach the 40th year of the liberation of the Mount, it should be clear to us that our time is running out.

We must internalize, remember and reinforce the concept that if we do not rule over the Temple Mount, there is no National Home for the Jewish People. In our struggle against the governments' plans of expulsion and destruction, we must remember that as long as the Temple Mount is not at the center of the campaign, nothing will help. As long as the Islamic Authorities control the Mount, there is no hope, for God will not let us succeed when such a huge Hillul Hashem permeates the land.

Those who believe in the Bible can find support for what I have written above in the words of the prophet Chagai. Those who don't believe can find evidence from the most unlikely source – the Israeli Secret Service (G.S.S. – Shabak) who constantly warn through its agents in the press about imaginary plans on part of Jews to conduct a violent attack on the Mount in order to stop the evil intentions of the government.

While there is no such plan, the G.S.S. has enlightened us to the importance of the Temple Mount. But thereis no need for violence - all that is necessary is a massive public campaign to close the Mount to non-Jews. Only thus can we can turn it into what it is supposed to be – the national center of the Jewish People. If we prioritize properly and focus on the Mount, everything else will fall into place.

Psalm 50: Torah from Zion


"From Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shined forth." [Psalm 50:2]

What is this unique radiance of Zion? According to Rav Kook, this refers to a special quality of the Land of Israel. An individual residing in Eretz Yisrael can connect to the Torah on a level that is not possible outside the land. The unique nature of Torah in the Land of Israel is illustrated in the following story, as recorded in the Talmud [Shabbat 53a]:

Rabbi Zeira Arrives in Israel

When Rabbi Zeira finally succeeded in fulfilling his dreams, and left Babylon for the Land of Israel (despite his teacher's opposition), he met Rabbi Benjamin bar Yefet. At the time, Rabbi Benjamin was teaching the laws of tending one's animals on the Sabbath. One is allowed to cover a donkey with a saddle-blanket, in order to keep it warm; but one may not place a fodder-bag around its neck.

Upon heard this ruling, Rabbi Zeira exclaimed, "Yishar! Well said! And that is how a king in Babylon translated it." The 'king' to whom Rabbi Zeira referred was Samuel, an expert judge and leading authority in third century Babylon.

Why was Rabbi Zeira so excited when he heard this ruling? And why did he say that Samuel 'translated' this law in Babylon?

Animal Care on the Sabbath

We must first analyze Rabbi Benjamin's ruling, which seeks to navigate a path between two great ideals. On the one hand, we have moral obligations towards our animals, to care for them and relieve them of any pain or anguish ("tza'ar ba'alei chaim"). On the other hand, if we were to spend our entire Sabbath tending the needs of donkeys, what would remain of the Sabbath's elevated holiness? Over-involvement in animal husbandry would destroy what should be a day dedicated to rest and spiritual pursuits.

For this reason, the rabbis made a distinction between a saddle-blanket and a fodder-bag. The blanket is permitted, as it prevents the donkey from suffering from the cold. The fodder-bag, on the other hand, is only for the donkey's convenience, making it easier for him to eat his food. Here the rabbis drew the line, in order to safeguard the sanctity of the Sabbath day.

Straight from the Source

Rabbi Zeira had already learned this law while living in Babylon. Nonetheless, there was a tremendous difference hearing it again in the Land of Israel. He felt a surge of energy in this teaching that he had not felt before. "Yishar!" he called out excitedly. The word yishar literally means 'straight.' He was able to feel the direct connection of this ruling with its vibrant source. What happened?

When the song of inner holiness pulsates in the heart, one may discern the spiritual and ethical source for each detailed law. Even when dealing with what appears to be dry, prosaic legislation, the soul senses a sublime poetry.

Sensitivity to this inner song is a function of one's situation. In particular, when the soul is exiled to foreign lands, the inner content of Torah becomes a mere shadow of its true self. Torah laws become detached from their living source. Torah study outside of Israel is like a translated poem, lacking the original vitality and lyric beauty.

When Rabbi Zeira fulfilled his life's goal and ascended to the Land of Israel, he underwent a great transformation. All matters were elevated. His spirit could now sense with greater clarity the inner essence of each detailed law. Yishar! he cried out. Now he could feel the inner vitality, the holy life-source revealed in this ruling. He was filled with awe, aware of how the Torah's lofty ideals are able to descend even into the lowest, most mundane depths, encompassing the needs of everyday life.

Torah Outside the Land

Samuel, the great Babylonian scholar, had ruled similarly. But there, outside of Eretz Yisrael, it was only a translation, lacking the original vitality. "And that is how a king in Babylon translated it." With his superior intellect, Samuel was able to distinguish between covering a donkey with a saddle-blanket and giving him a fodder-bag. But to truly feel this fine distinction - when is the descent into mundane living justified, and when is it detrimental - this may be experienced only in their origin, in the Land of Israel. In Babylon, it could only be grasped intellectually, as a faded copy of the original.

When Rabbi Zeira heard Rabbi Benjamin teaching this law, he suddenly realized the great difference between the dim light attained outside the Land, and the brilliant light when hearing the words in the place where they belong.

Thus King David wrote, "From Zion, the perfection of beauty, God (Elokim) has shined forth." The verse uses the divine name Elokim, indicating that in Zion, even the divine attribute of justice and law ("midat hadin") shines with a special light, as its original beauty is revealed.

[adapted from Ein Eyah vol. III, pp. 15-16]

Delusions of Grandeur (A Wonderful Short Story About Rav Kook)



Rabbi Nissan Zaks recounted:

A rather peculiar man lived in London during the time that Rav Kook served in the local rabbinate. What was so peculiar about him? He thought he was Mashiach (the Messiah). His relatives brought him to psychologists and even turned to Jewish 'miracle workers,' but to no avail. No one was able to rid him of his insanity.

Finally, they brought him to Rav Kook, and this is what the Rav told him:

"You should know that you are right. To a certain degree, you are Mashiach, for every Jew has a Messianic spark in him. Some have a small spark, and some - like you - have a large one.

"However, this spark is only valuable if it is kept secret. If you speak about it, you might lose it, God forbid."

[from 'An Angel Among Men' by R. Simcha Raz, translated by R. Moshe Lichtman, p. 354]

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