Friday, July 28, 2006

Devarim: "The Book that Moses Wrote"


Devarim: The Book that Moses Wrote


"Mipi Atzmo"

Already from its opening sentence, we see that the final book of the Pentateuch is different from the first four:

"These are the words that Moses spoke to all of Israel on the far side of the Jordan River ..." [Deut. 1:1]


Unlike the other four books, Deuteronomy is largely a record of speeches that Moses delivered to the people before his death. The Talmud [Megillah 31b] confirms that the prophetic nature of this book is qualitatively different than the others. While the other books of the Torah are a direct transmission of God's word, Moses said Deuteronomy "mipi atzmo" — "on his own."

However, we cannot take this statement — that Deuteronomy consists of Moses' own words — at face value. Moses could not have literally composed this book on his own, for the Sages taught that a prophet is not allowed to say in God's name what he did not hear from God [Shabbat 104a]. So what does it mean that Moses wrote Deuteronomy "mipi atzmo"? In what way does this book differ from the previous four books of the Pentateuch?

Tadir versus Mekudash

The distinction between different levels of prophecy may be clarified by examining a Talmudic discussion in Zevachim 90b. The Talmud asks the following question: if we have before us two activities, one of which is holier (mekudash), but the second is more prevalent (tadir), which one should we perform first? The Sages concluded that the more prevalent activity takes precedence over the holier one, and should be discharged first.

One might infer from this ruling that the quality of prevalence is more important, and for this reason the more common activity is performed first. In fact, the exact opposite is true. If something is rare, this indicates that it belongs to a very high level of holiness — so high, in fact, that our limited world does not merit benefiting from this exceptional holiness on a permanent basis. Why then does the more common event take precedence? This is in recognition that we live in an imperfect world. We are naturally more receptive to and influenced by a lesser, more sustainable sanctity. In the future, however, the higher, transitory holiness will come first.

The First and Second Luchot

This distinction between mekudash and tadir illustrates the difference between the first and second set of luchot (tablets) that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai. The first tablets were holier, a reflection of the singular unity of the Jewish people at that point in history. As the Midrash comments on Exodus 19:2, "The people encamped — as one person, with one heart — opposite the mountain" [Mechilta; Rashi ad loc].

After the sin of the Golden Calf, however, the Jewish people no longer deserved the special holiness of the first tablets. Tragically, the first luchot had to be broken; otherwise, the Jewish people would have warranted destruction. With the holy tablets shattered, the special unity of Israel also departed. This unity was later partially restored with the second covenant that they accepted upon themselves while encamped across the Jordan River on the plains of Moab. (The Hebrew name for this location, "Arvot Moav", comes from the word arvut, meaning mutual responsibility.)

The exceptional holiness of the first tablets, and the special unity of the people at Mount Sinai, were simply too holy to maintain over time. They were replaced by less holy but more attainable substitutes — the second set of tablets, and the covenant at "Arvot Moav".

Moses and the Other Prophets

After the sin of the Golden Calf, God offered to rebuild the Jewish people solely from Moses. Moses was unsullied by the sin of the Golden Calf; he still belonged to the transient realm of elevated holiness. Nonetheless, Moses rejected God's offer. He decided to include himself within the constant holiness of Israel. This is the meaning of the Talmudic statement that Moses wrote Deuteronomy "on his own." On his own accord, Moses decided to join the spiritual level of the Jewish people, and help prepare the people for the more sustainable holiness through the renewed covenant of "Arvot Moav".

Moses consciously limited the prophetic level of Deuteronomy so that it would correspond to that of other prophets. He drew back from his unique status, a state where "No other prophet arose in Israel like Moses" [Deut. 34:10]. With the book of Deuteronomy, he initiated the lower but more constant form of prophecy that would suit future generations. He led the way for the other prophets, and predicted that "God will establish for you a prophet from your midst like me" [Deut. 18:15].

In the future, however, the first set of tablets, which now appear to be broken, will be restored. The people of Israel will be ready for a higher, loftier holiness, and the mekudash will take precedent over the tadir. For this reason, the Holy Ark held both sets of tablets. Each set was kept for its appropriate time.

[adapted from Shemuot HaRe'iyah, Devarim 5689]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Rules of the Game


BS"D

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

PARSHAT DEVARIM
4 Av, 5766/28-29 July, 2006


RULES OF THE GAME

The book of Kohelet tells us: "Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die. . . . a time for war and a time for peace."

The Midrash teaches us that there is a time to kill - during war, and a time to heal - during peace. There is a time to break down - during war, and a time to build up - during peace. There is a time to seek - during peace, and a time to lose - during war. There is a time to rend - during war, and a time to sew - during peace. There is a time to love - during peace, and a time to hate - during war. There is a time for war - during war, and a time for peace - during peace.

The words of the Midrash ring so true, but what great insight are our rabbis conveying to us when they say there is a time for war - during war, and a time for peace - during peace? What else would there be in the time of war, if not war?

It seems that the Torah knew whom it was being written for, only too well. For we find in the book of I Kings, that Ahab, king of Israel went out to war against the all-powerful Ben-Hadad, defeating his army and killing a hundred thousand soldiers in one day! The servants of a worried Ben-Hadad told their king that it is known that "the kings of Israel are merciful, let us go out to him." And sure enough, when Ahab hears that Ben-Hadad is still alive, he calls out to him: "Is he still alive, he is my brother", and Ahab helped him into his chariot. He then released him back to his own land, Damascus.

It would be three years later, when the mercy of fools that was shown to Ben-Hadad by Ahab would be his own deathblow. The same Ben-Hadad and his now refurbished troops would come to battle Israel once again, this time killing King Ahab, and of course they would show no mercy to him.

This, then, is what we find when the Torah tells us: "When you go out to war against your enemy..." And does one ever go out to war against his friend, so that the Torah needs to tell us that you are going out to war against an enemy? Rather, it is teaching us to treat him as an enemy and have no mercy on him, for he will have none on you.

That is why the Midrash tells us: In the time of war - war. When one goes out to battle for the sake of the Jewish people and its Land, there can be no mercy at all on the enemy. One must wage the war to win for the sake of Kiddush Hashem, and know that the harsh enemy will certainly not have mercy on us if they, G-d forbid, win. In this war there cannot be any consideration of civilian casualties; the lot of them all is not worth the life of one Israeli solider! To endanger our soldiers for the sake of the civilians that the enemy hides behind - that is the mercy of fools which King Ahab died for.

One is just sickened to hear of the soldiers who were killed in the battle of Bint Jbil in Lebanon on Wednesday, because the terrorists left behind the civilians in the village, knowing all too well that we would not fire on them orthat the IAF would not fire on the mosques that they use to shoot from. It is time for us to learn the rules of the game - or continue to die.

And there is nothing wrong with winning, it is our only option! So let the world condemn us, as they will in any case, but for us, we must learn - and apply - the rules of the game to win!


With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Reminder - Please Give Generously! Emergency Campaign to Help Our Brethren in the North!


BS"D

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


Emergency Campaign to help our Brethren in the North!

Dear Friends,

Due to the many request for help which the Chasdei Meir Charity Fund (named for the late Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D) has received over the past few days, we have taken upon ourselves to supply food packages and other necessities to the Jews in the North of Israel who are under attack and have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to.

Please help, as Chasdei Meir Charity Fund tries to lighten the burdens of our brethren in these hard times. Just a small donation can go a long way and make a big difference to many people!

In the merit of your generosity, may Hashem bless you and yours with good health, prosperity and peace.


With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Your tax-exempt checks can be sent to:

P.O.Box 4581
Skokie, Il. 60077

or

P.O. Box 6918
Jerusalem, Israel

Or - for faster results donate on line NOW!!!! Go to: http://www.chasdeimeir.org/sos.htm

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Striving for Excellence


Psalm 128: Striving for Excellence


"The Toil of Your Hands"

The Talmud [Brachot 8a] makes a rather astonishing claim about the importance of self-reliance:

"One who supports himself from his own labor is greater than one who fears heaven.


"About a God-fearing individual, it is written, "Happy is the one who fears God" [Ps. 112:1], while regarding one who lives from his own work, it says, "When you eat of the toil of your hands, you are happy and it is good for you" [Ps. 128:12]. "You are happy" - in this world, and "it is good for you" - in the next world. But of the God-fearing person, it does not say, "it is good for you.""


Had the Sages remarked that fear of heaven is a valuable asset for the world to come, while self-sufficiency is an important trait for living in this world, this statement would have been understandable. But their claim is just the opposite: fear of heaven reflects a happiness of this world, while self-sufficiency relates to the ultimate good of the next world. How so?

Two Mindsets

We usually think of self-reliance only in terms of livelihood. Actually, it is a mindset, relating to all aspects of life, material and spiritual. The Talmud is not just contrasting the farmer who works with his hands with the yeshiva student who is supported by charity. The Talmud is comparing two basic philosophies of life.

The first attitude is that we should do our utmost to succeed, using our best efforts and talents. This trait may be found in industrious businessmen, world-class athletes, and dedicated scholars, all of whom enjoy the benefits of their hard-won labors. This work ethic is applicable to all areas, including the spiritual. When we devote our energies towards growth in Torah and wisdom, character refinement, good deeds, and so on, we exhibit the trait of self- reliance.

The second attitude, as typified by the God-fearing, ultimately boils down to a passive reliance on divine intervention. The pious mindset does not reject human effort; but it is willing to settle for the minimum exertion necessary. For the rest, one trusts that God will take care of matters.

This approach is expressed by a passive attitude not only with regard to one's livelihood, but also regarding spiritual aspirations. Such a person, unwilling to tax his brain, will settle for a superficial understanding of Torah knowledge and wisdom. He will not struggle to achieve excellence in Torah, nor in other spiritual attainments.

But what is so terrible with the 'fear of heaven' mentality? Why constantly struggle for excellence? Why not 'relax and enjoy life'?

Bread of Shame

Were one to believe the sales pitches of travel agents, life's ultimate pleasure would be a relaxing vacation on a secluded beach. This may be enjoyable, but our greatest pleasures come, not from resting, but from hard work. Our greatest satisfaction in life comes from the fruit of our own labors; our happiest moments occur when we finally attain our hard-gained goals. This deeply-felt sense of fulfillment is an innate aspect of human nature.

In fact, of all our inherent ethical qualities, this pleasure is the most elevated. Our free will to take initiative in order to achieve and perfect ourselves is a fundamental characteristic of the human soul. It is wrong to sit passively and rely on others to toil for us. Trust in God is a positive trait, but we should rely on divine assistance only in those situations when we are unable to help ourselves.

The ethical benefit to be found in self-reliance is the foundation of the entire Torah. We are judged according to our actions and free choices. This is the very purpose of the soul's descent and struggles with the body's physical desires. The Kabbalists referred to these efforts as 'fleeing' from "Nehama deKisufa" ('bread of shame,' the embarrassment felt when receiving an undeserved handout). True good is when we are able to elevate ourselves through our own efforts.

Good of the World to Come

Now we can understand the Talmud's comparison between one who fears heaven and one who supports himself. The essence of fear of heaven is to rely on divine assistance. Paradoxically, fear of heaven is a type of enjoyment - albeit, in its most elevated form - in that one 'relaxes' and relies on the current state of affairs. Thus, the Sages understood that the happiness of this trait - "Happy is the one who fears God" - is a happiness belonging to this world.

The good that comes from self-reliance, from growth through our own efforts, on the other hand, belongs to the absolute good of the next world, "yom shekulo tov." Only there will this trait be properly appreciated and understood.

Even in its lowest form, self-sufficiency is praiseworthy. It is fitting to honor one who has acquired this trait even in its simplest form, by supporting his family through his own honest labor. Such a person will continue to utilize this trait in all areas, including spiritual pursuits.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. I, pp. 41-42]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Number of Jewish Women in Israel Converting to Islam set to Double this Year


According to Israel's population registry (as quoted on Arutz Sheva), an average of 35 women have converted each year previously. So far, however, in the first half of 2006, 42 women have already converted!

THIS is the sickness that Rabbi Kahane warned us about - and we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg...

How many hundreds or indeed thousands of ostensibly Jewish children are running around Um El Fahem or "East Jerusalem," or Arab-occupied Jaffa, or other Arab-occupied areas in Israel, who don't even know it? How many boys and girls who shout "Itbach Al Yahud!" - "Slaughter the Jew!" are actually Jewish themselves, but don't know it?

And how many Jewish girls/boys take Arab partners and DON'T convert, but rather live secular lives, raising their children as Arabs?! And if this is the amount of Jews converting to Islam, then how many Jews are converting to the "more friendly" and "easier to swallow" Xtian religion as well? And how many more join the wierd and wonderful cults of idolatery and blasphemy who have flocked to our Holy Land in order to defile her? And how many Jews simply DO NOT CARE?! ... And all of this IN ISRAEL!!!

For this we came back from our nearly 2000 year exile? For this we prayed 3 times a day (and 4 times on Shabbat and Yom Tov, and 5 times on Yom Kippur) for? As Rabbi Meir Kahane z"tl h"yd said: we left the ghetto and the shtettle in Europe - and we recreated it in Israel! We left Poland and Lithuania and Iraq and North Africa and Britain and America... and we created Poland and Lithuania and Iraq and North Africa and Britain and America - RIGHT HERE IN ISRAEL!

Well one place we certainly didn't leave was "Chelm"...

The Hellenistic leaders of Israel wanted to stop Israel becoming a "Jewish State," and to stay as simply "a State of Jews." Well soon they may not even have THAT!

It's time to change this sorry state of affairs, where Jewish women leave Judaism in Israel, and where Arab "citizens of Israel" cheer on the Katyushas as they fall on Jewish heads - IN ISRAEL!

But even right now there is a way to help.

Please send in as much as you can and donate your money to this wonderful organisation: www.thestoryofhope.org, who have saved many Jewish girls and women from a gruesome and unbearable life in Arab villages.

But this is just one symptom of the bigger problem. Until all of Am Yisrael wake up to the fact that Rabbi Meir Kahane was right, I fear that we will see even more such tragedies in our Holy Land...

Dear World

This important piece is - as usual - just as relevant to us today as it was when it was originally written. Whether you like it or not, Rabbi Meir Kahane was right, and had his words been heeded we could certainly have saved ourselves from the terrible situation that we find ourselves in today...



Dear World,

It appears that you are hard to please. I understand that you are upset over us here in Israel. Indeed, it appears that you are quite upset, even angry and outraged. Indeed, every few years you seem to become upset over us. Today, it is the brutal repression of the Palestinians; yesterday, it was Lebanon; before that it was the bombing of the nuclear reactor in Baghdad and the Yom Kippur War campaign. It appears that Jews who triumph, and who therefore, live, upset you most extraordinarily.

Of course, dear world, long before there was an Israel, we the Jewish people upset you. We upset a German people, who elected a Hitler and we upset an Austrian people, who cheered his entry into Vienna and we upset a whole slew of Slavic nations - Poles, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Russians, Hungarians, Romanians.

And we go back a long, long way in the history of world upset. We upset the Cossacks of Chmielnicki, who massacred tens of thousands of us in 1648-49; we upset the Crusaders, who on their way to liberate the Holy Land, were so upset at Jews that they slaughtered untold numbers of us. We upset, for centuries, a Roman Catholic Church that did its best to define our relationship through Inquisitions. And we upset the arch-enemy of the church, Martin Luther, who in his call to burn the synagogues and the Jews within them, showed an admirable Christian ecumenical spirit.

It is because we became so upset over upsetting you, dear world, that we decided to leave you - in a manner of speaking - and establish a Jewish State. The reasoning was that living in close contact with you, as resident-strangers in the various countries that comprise you, we upset you, irritate you and disturb you. What better notion, then, than to leave you and thus love you - and have you love us? And so we decided to come home, to the same homeland from which we were driven out 1,900 years earlier by a Roman world that, apparently, we also upset.

Alas, dear world, it appears that you are hard to please. Having left you and your Pogroms and Inquisitions and Crusades and Holocausts, having taken our leave of the general world to live alone in our own little state, we continue to upset you.

You are upset that we repress the Palestinians. You are deeply angered over the fact that we do not give up the lands of 1967, which are clearly the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Moscow is upset and Washington is upset. The Arabs are upset and the gentle Egyptian moderates are upset.

Well, dear world, consider the reaction of a normal Jew from Israel. In 1920, 1921 and 1929, there were no territories of 1967 to impede peace between Jews and Arabs. Indeed, there was no Jewish State to upset anybody. Nevertheless, the same oppressed and repressed Palestinians slaughtered hundreds of Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Safed and Hebron. Indeed, 67 Jews were slaughtered one day in Hebron in 1929.

Dear world, why did the Arabs - the Palestinians - massacre 67 Jews in one day in 1929? Could it have been their anger over Israeli aggression in 1967? And why were 510 Jewish men, women and children slaughtered in Arab riots in 1936-39? Was it because of Arab upset over 1967? And when you, World, proposed a U.N. Partition Plan in 1947 that would have created a Palestinian State alongside a tiny Israel and the Arabs cried and went to war and killed 6,000 Jews - was that upset stomach caused by the aggression of 1967? And, by the way, dear world, why did we not hear your cry of upset then?

The Palestinians who today kill Jews with explosives and firebombs and stones are part of the same people who - when they had all the territories they now demand be given them for their state - attempted to drive the Jewish State into the sea. The same twisted faces, the same hate, the same cry of "idbah-al-yahud" - "Slaughter the Jews!" that we hear and see today, were seen and heard then. The same people, the same dream - destroy Israel.

What they failed to do yesterday, they dream of today - but we should not "repress" them. Dear world, you stood by the Holocaust and you stood by in 1948 as seven states launched a war that the Arab League proudly compared to the Mongol massacres. You stood by in 1967 as Nasser, wildly cheered by wild mobs in every Arab capital in the world, vowed to drive the Jews into the sea. And you would stand by tomorrow if Israel were facing extinction.

And since we know that the Arabs - Palestinians - daily dream of that extinction, we will do everything possible to remain alive in our own land. If that bothers you, dear world, well - think of how many times in the past you bothered us.

In any event, dear world, if you are bothered by us, here is one Jew in Israel who could not care less.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Emergency Campaign to help our Brethren in the North!

BS"D

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


Emergency Campaign to help our Brethren in the North!

Dear Friends,

Due to the many request for help which the Chasdei Meir Charity Fund (named for the late Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D) has received over the past few days, we have taken upon ourselves to supply food packages and other necessities to the Jews in the North of Israel who are under attack and have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to.

Please help, as Chasdei Meir Charity Fund tries to lighten the burdens of our brethren in these hard times. Just a small donation can go a long way and make a big difference to many people!

In the merit of your generosity, may Hashem bless you and yours with good health, prosperity and peace.


With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Your tax-exempt checks can be sent to:

P.O.Box 4581
Skokie, Il. 60077

or

P.O. Box 6918
Jerusalem, Israel

Or - for faster results donate on line NOW!!!! Go to:
www.chasdeimeir.org/sos.htm

$100 food package
$200 food for Shabbat
$150 toys for children in a shelter
$120. MP3 for a child locked in a shelter
$1000 feeds a whole shelter (10 families)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Peace?

By Rabbi Meir Kahane

Peace! Peace Now! Peace in twelve minutes if only we will give up the "occupied territories." Peace instantly! There will be no peace. There cannot be peace. The Stranger sees us as robbers and his national pride and soul will see him hating the Jewish "bandit" and "thief" forever. As long as there is an Israel, a Jewish state, there will not be peace. And let none of the sterile intellectuals and lamentable liberals and corpulent wealthy Establishment types leap to their feet in indecent indignation and shout: "The Kahanists do not want peace!" Foolish little gnomes. Those who live in Newton Center and New Rochelle and Westport and the Island and the Valley (and all other places that begin with a definite article) and who belong to the Temple (praying to G-d knows what, for surely it is not G-d), rail against the one who lives in Israel. Those who never served in the Israeli Army and whose sons and sons-in-law never did and never will, climb the barricades for "peace" and rail against the one who does and whose sons and sons-in-law do. Of course, we do not want peace. Of course, we enjoy seeing our children serve in the army. Of course, we want them to fight in a war. Not only are the gnomes tiny people with tiny minds, they are indecent, too.

Of course, we want peace and so does every Jew in Israel. The problem is that the Arab does not. He does not because he sees the peace that the Jews desire as being unfair, as being a legitimization of the robbery of his land and his country. Does any Jewish liberal know how many kibbutzim are built on land that was once Arab before they fled in 1948? That they want that land back? How many Jewish Establishment types know that the artsy-craftsy village of Ein Hod, in which sit and "create" Jewish artists and sculptors and writers of the leftist, humanist and universalist persuasion, stands on the ruins of an Arab village that was named Ein Chut and that some of its former inhabitants who were forced off are now asking that their village be given back to them? Are we prepared to do that? Are we that mad? What does peace mean to the liberal, leftist, humanist Jews and leaders of the Jewish Establishment? It means the existence of a Jewish state that stands on what the Arabs call "Palestine." It means that a large area, taken from the Arabs and now controlled by the Jews in a state that they call a Jewish state, will be legitimized. It means that the Arab in that Jewish state will be a stranger, albeit treated "fairly". Does anyone with a modicum of sense believe that the Arab considers this to be "fair"? Especially when - thanks to the Jewish lemmings of our time - he is convinced that time is on his side and that his staying power will far exceed that of the Jews who have a spiritual fifth column of self-hating, guilt-ridden Jews in their midst.

Peace? There is, to be sure, one peace plan that would be acceptable to the Arabs and if the Jews would agree to it, there is guaranteed to be peace between them and the "Palestinians". That plan is to give up the State of Israel, the Jewish State. Do we hear protests, even from the lamentable liberals? We should hope so, for none but the most demented of lemmings would agree to that. But that being so, know that there will be no peace. Unless, of course, the Jew returns to his Father in Heaven.

But that may be even more impossible than the thought of giving up Israel. In the meantime, for those who see Israel's existence at the center of their own, let there be no collapse before the blizzard of world sleet and the bitter cold hatred and pressure. The bitter cold grips a man and lulls him, in his terrible weariness, to seek rest, just a little rest. To pause and lie down and sleep - just for a moment. That moment is death. The warmth that creeps over him is the beginning of the most terrible cold of them all, the cold of death. Similarly, those who grow weary of the bitter cold, the ongoing struggle against the Arabs, can easily fall victim to the siren sound of those who raise the warm flag of "peace". Soothing and seductive proposals of a false "peace", the terribly false warmth that lulls the weary Jew - weary of war - to rest, for just a moment from the cold of hatred and battle. To rest and accept compromise and give up land for peace and to trust the Arab. It is such a warm moment. It is the moment that leads to death. It is the false warmth that leads to the cold reality of the destruction of Israel.

We are weary? We have been fighting the Arabs for 50 years? Nonsense! We have been fighting an entire world for more than 3,000 years and if our ancestors had been as weary and guilt-ridden and confused as so many of our time, where would we be today? We may, indeed, have to fight for another 50 years - or 500! We may, indeed, have to be a garrison state confronting vicious and cruel Arabs who seek our destruction. What of it? Do we therefore surrender to illusion and delusion? Do we therefore walk away from our state? Far, far better to have a state and an army and power that we must be prepared to use and guarantee Jewish survival, than to return to the state of conditions of the Exile that led to the Holocaust. Far better a garrison state than an emasculated state of destruction. All the Jews who have died in 50 years in Israel barely equal the number who perished in one day in the death camps. That is a far more warming thought than the warm death of "compromise" and giving up land. Better a Jewish state that the world despises than an Auschwitz that it loves. Of course, none of it has to be. However, it will be unless we choose that one path which will give us instant redemption and freedom from all this unnecessary tragedy: t'shuva, penitence, a return to G-d and His commandments. How sad that this seems to be the one thing that the Jews simply refuse to consider.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fight On My Behalf Against A Merciless Nation


Psalm 43: Fight On My Behalf Against A Merciless Nation

[The first ever aerial bombardment of civilians took place on January 19, 1915, when German Zeppelins dropped 24 high- explosive bombs over several English towns. Over the next three years, the Germans would drop 5,800 bombs over England, killing 557 people and injuring 1,358.

Rav Kook spent several of the war years in London, when he was unable to return to Eretz Yisrael due to the outbreak of World War I. He temporarily accepted a position as rabbi of the Machzikei HaDas synagogue of London. His private secretary, Rabbi Shimon Glitzenstein, recorded his experiences with Rav Kook in a booklet called "Mazkir HaRav," including the following description of a sleepless night in a London bomb shelter.]

During the aerial bombardment over London during the First World War, the residents of the city chose various shelters. The Jews who lived near Rav Kook took shelter in the cellar of the Machzikei HaDas synagogue. Against his will, Rav Kook would also go there, but only to alleviate the fears of his family.

The cellar was crowded and suffocating; the children wailed and the mothers complained. Some of the men gathered around Rav Kook and began reciting psalms together. As the noise and explosions increased, they stopped saying psalms. Those musically-inclined began to sing loudly in order to drown out the terrifying sounds from outside. Some people protested, but the Rav encouraged the singers to sing even more loudly.

After several hours of a long, sleepless night in the shelter, most people had fallen asleep. Only Rav Kook remained calmly in his spot, without a sign of fatigue or distress. In his hand he held his small Tanach (Bible), and he recited chapter 43 of Psalms, which opens with the request:
"Judge me, God, and fight on my behalf against a merciless nation."

I was accustomed to the Rav's recital of psalms when he was alone in his room. He would say them loudly, with bitter weeping and an outpouring of the soul. This recital of psalms, however, was much different. I did not listen to the words, which were said quietly, but to the unique melody which accompanied them. The tune was full of soul, permeated with a spiritual sweetness.

From the depth of his soul, Rav Kook poured forth his petitions before his Father in heaven. It was as if, through his voice, the entire Jewish nation was pleading for compassion. "Send Your light and Your truth; they will guide me. They will bring me to Your holy mountain and to Your dwelling place" [Ps. 43:3].

The Rav was completely focused on his recitation. Even when it was announced that the danger had passed, he remained oblivious to the commotion of those gathered there, and continued reciting the chapter to the end.

[from Shivchei HaRe'iyah by Prof. Chaim Lifshitz, pp. 129-130. Background information from Wikipedia, 'Aerial bombing of cities.']

Friday, July 14, 2006

PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS THROUGHOUT LAND OF ISRAEL!

We all have an obligation to shake the Heavens and plead with the Almighty to save us from catastrophe! May He turn this current terrible situation to our advantage and grant us the ultimate Ge'ulah Shelema through it - from darkness to light - speedily and in ours days!

*********************************************************************************

(IsraelNN.com) Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, the spiritual leader of Lithuanian hareidi-religious Jewry has called for the recitation of Psalms in light of the ongoing warfare against Israel from two fronts, from southern Lebanon and Gaza.

The leading Torah authority joined with Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who on Thursday called upon Jews around the world to recite Psalms as the situation in Israel becomes increasingly serious.

The Tzanzer Rebbe, Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech Halberstam called upon all his hassidim to recite Psalms today, Friday, at 6:30am, to join in around the world as he offers special prayers during this difficult time in the Holy Land.

Leading rabbis and kabbalists are calling on people worldwide to recite Psalms, especially Chapters 13, 70, 125, and 120.

In particular, the public are being asked to pray for the following four children, who are in critical condition after the terrorist rocket attacks on Tzaf:

Michal bat Reutal

BatTzion bat Reutal

Avraham Natan ben Reutal

Odel Hana bat Reutal

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

God Raises the Bowed


Psalm 146: God Raises the Bowed


When you conjure in your mind a picture of a sincerely religious, truly devout individual - what sort of image do you see?

Often we think in terms of the austere ascetic: weary from fasting, fatigued from study, bent over heavy tomes. Humble in spirit, weak in body.

Rav Kook rejected this stereotype out of hand.

Two Stages

During the ascent towards spiritual perfection, there is indeed a stage when it is necessary to humble oneself. But this is only a preliminary phase, needed in order to break bad habits and rid oneself of flawed character traits. It was about this level that the Sages noted, "Torah study weakens a person's strength" [Sanhedrin 26b].

The ultimate objective is true knowledge of God. At that level, service of God doesn't weaken the soul and its powers. On the contrary, it gives strength and fortitude. The goal is not to enervate the soul, but rather to reveal all its inner resources, allowing it to shine with a holy light, invigorated and joyful.

The energizing effect of divine service is based on the fact that the human soul - in its very essence - is good. Bad traits, on the other hand, are circumstantial, acquired through association with the body's material needs. Spiritual growth bolsters the innate goodness of the soul, after it has been cleansed and freed from incidental negative traits. Thus, the Midrash teaches, "The only true strength is Torah, as it says [Ps. 29:11], 'God will give strength to His people'" [Sifri Deut. 343].

Bowing and Standing Straight

The Sages expressed this idea when discussing the proper way to bow during the silent Amidah prayer. At the start of the prayer, when reciting the word Baruch, one should bow. When saying Hashem (God's Name), however, one should stand up straight. The Talmud [Berachot 12a] derives this from the verse,

"God raises up those who are bowed down." [Ps. 146:8]

This teaching corresponds to the two stages mentioned above. We bow only at the start of the prayer, an indication of the humility needed in order to overcome bad habits during the initial stage of divine service.

When we say God's Name, however, we raise ourselves up to our full height, secure and fortified. The ultimate goal - true knowledge of God - lifts us up. It strengthens the powers of the soul, supplying confidence and joy.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. I, p. 65; Olat Re'iyah vol. I, p. 267]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Action Stepping Up Against Abomination Parade in Jerusalem


Several news outlets (including Jpost, Ynet and others) have been reporting about some posters that have gone up all over certain Chareidi neighbourhoods in Yerushalayim.

The flyers (see below), offered NIS 20,000 to anyone who killed someone taking part in the "World Gay Pride event," which is scheduled to take part in the Holy City on the 10th of August. The parade will include such perversion as a "Youth Event" especially for "youths" aged 15-25, a "drag-queen" contest, and a "gay film festival."

The posters gave detailed instructions on how to construct weapons to use to attack the parade.

Although the police and authorities have gone into hysterics over this latest development, many people are saying that they are really of tongue-in-cheek or a joke. Certainly, there doesn't seem to be any way that someone could get hold of NIS 20,000 if they did kill some of the paraders (but then that's not the real point is it...). However, it doesn't really matter in practice, because they're up, and whether the authorities like it or not and whatever they say, it's still a threat to the parade thank G-D.

We must all continue praying that this terrible parade of abomination will not come to pass. HaRav Ovadia Yoseph, HaRav Elyashiv, HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, HaRav Shapira, and every other Rabbi of any stature (including the "Eida HaChareidis") have all come out against it and called on G-D fearing Jews to flock to Yerushalayim to stop the parade if it goes ahead (the police may still cancel it due to the security risks).

However, as has already been said, whether it takes place in Yerushalayim or in Tel Aviv is not the main point (although of course Yerushalayim would be that much worse). Either way it cannot be allowed to go ahead ANYWHERE in the Land of Israel!

Those of you who cannot make it to Israel for the date of the parade (August 10th), can still say tehillim and fax/email/telephone the various Israeli/Jerusalem officials and pressure them to hault this abomination and prevent it from taking place.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of the poster just for your amusement...





(The names of the "weapons" are "Shlissel Special," [firebomb], "Slissel Spike," and "Stamar Klapper."

Yishai Schlissel was the brave Jew who last year followed in the footsteps of Pinchas in this week's Parasha, and took it into his own hands to do whatever it would take to disrupt last year's smaller Gay Parade through Yerushalayim. He is currently serving 12 years for stabbing 3 of the perverts whilst they were in the midst of their Sodomite parade.

May G-D Bless Yishai Schlissel with a "Brit Shalom" the "Covenant of Peace," just as He did to Pinchas.

Yishai Schlissel (may he be blessed):

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Whether it is In Jerusalem or Tel Aviv - this Evil Abomination Parade Must be Defeated!


With many sources claiming that due to such pressure from so many fronts, and such a great threat of violence, the parade may end up being relocated to Tel Aviv, many people will be breathing a collective sigh of relief.

However, I think that this is not so much of a "relief," as a terrible opportunity for the national yetzer ha'ra to tell us "it's ok, we're fine now - it's over there in Tel Aviv, not over here in Yerushalayim!"

We can't afford to have that attitude. Does it say in the Torah that such things are only abominable in Yerushalayim? Is the rest of the Land of Israel not Holy?! That's like the Kohen Gadol in the times of the Temple telling a tuma person "stay out of the Kodesh HaKodashim!... But if you go in the Kodesh I won't mind that much..."

Moreover, if we have no right to give away parts of the Land of Israel physically, then how much more so do we have no right to give it away spiritually to the hordes of homosexual perverts and ultimate rejectors of the Divine Will!But there is even more. An Arutz Sheva article hit the nail on the head (quite by accident), when it said:

The coalition of opposition to the march comprises Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders, but it appears that only Jewish opposition will remain if it is held in
Tel Aviv.

Now I don't for a moment doubt that their thoughts on that are of fear and sadness.

("What will we do without those great xtian "zionists" and those useful muslim nutcases!? Oy vey!!!")

But in reality this is HaShem throwing us a line here! Now we have the perfect opportunity to show that WE care about His Holy Land more than any xtians, muslims or secular homophobes! We can show that we are the only ones who understand Him and the Way of His Torah, by driving these twisted perverts out of the Land in its entirety! If we do not, the accusing Angel may then (G-D Forbid) be able to say in front of the Heavenly Court "it was not the Jews, but the xtians and the muslims who drove the gays away from Your Palace's Inner Chamber. Just look at what happened when the Jews were left to fight them all alone - they didn't act!"

This is not just about Yerushalayim - it's about the Land in general! Sure it's a great victory if we can drive them away from Yerushalayim - but that's just one battle, and if we don't drive them from Eretz Yisrael completely we will have G-D forbid lost the war!

So, whether the abomination parade is held in Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv or anywhere else within the borders of the Land of Israel, it is our obligation to fight it however we can.

If we want to wrestle the entire Land from the evil forces/Sitra Achra, then surely we have to prove that we want it - and not just a little piece here and there, but the whole thing!

And it shouldn't be that the Satan should be G-D forbid able to wave infront of G-D's Eyes that THIS is the reason we "beat them" in Yerushalayim either:

Rabbi Amar wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, asking him to help thwart the
event, in the "hope that the combination of religious leaders' protests will
prevent the evil schemers from.. destroying the ways of mankind."


So wherever it is, it is our duty to do what it takes to stop this attack on the heart and soul of Eretz Yisrael - WITHOUT the "help" of our muslim and xtian enemies - one of whom wishes to take our lives and Land through murder, and the other who wishes to take our souls and Land through missionarising...

May G-D gaurd us and watch over us, and grant us success on the day of battle!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Try as They Might...



BS"D

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

PARSHAT BALAK
12 Tammuz, 5766/7-8 July, 2006


TRY AS THEY MIGHT

As the Jewish people began their approach to the Holy Land after being in the desert for forty years, the nations began to sense, both consciously and unconsciously, that the Redemption was at hand, and they all pulled together to try and stop the process.

At first, they thought that militarily they could stop the Jewish people from entering the Land, as we see at the end of Parshat Chukat: "Then Edom went out against him with a vast multitude and with a strong hand. So Edom refused to permit Israel to pass though his border and Israel turned away from him." The nations were in a panic to stop the Jews from entering the Promised Land and would do all in their power to stop her. Next came the king of Arad, who warred against Israel and captured a captive from her. They were then wiped out, as Israel came up against the king and destroyed them. It was then that Moav, too, like Edom, did not let the Jewish people pass though their borders, making Israel take a roundabout route and delaying us even further.

The Amorites were next up to bat against the Jews, as the Torah tells us: "But Sihon, king of the Amorites, did not permit Israel to pass and Sihon assembled his entire people and went out against Israel." And as the Jewish people passed into the valley by the border of the Amorites, they waited for them on top of the mountains and said: When Israel will enter to pass though we will come out of the caves that are in the mountains above them and kill them. Hashem then performed a miracle for His people and brought the mountains together there and killed off the Amorites right then and there. And Israel settled in all the Amorite cities.

And still, the nations had not learned the lesson that they could not stop the Jewish people and the Redemption process. "And Og king of Bashan went out against them, he and his entire people, to do battle at Edrei. They (Israel) smote him, his sons and all his people until there was no survivor left of him and they took possession of his land". No might could stop the will of Hashem, to bring His people into the Land that He promised to His children.

And then along come Balak, king of Moav and he was very frightened, and frantically he runs to the prophet Bala'am to help him stop the Jews from entering the Land. Here we see a new tactic by the nations, understanding only too well at this point that they could not defeat the Jews militarily. So they try a new approach: The weapon of the mouth. In the time of Bala'am it was by trying to curse us. But the nation of Israel is a blessed nation, and the words of a non-Jewish loser prophet had no effect on us; quite the opposite - all of his curses turned into blessings for us.

Today, too, as the nations of the world have begun to see the Jewish people returning to her Land just as prophesied by the prophets, they, too, have been doing all in their power over the years to stop us from returning to and settling the Land, knowing only too well that the Redemption of the world is at hand and that they then must face the bitter music. The music that they have been playing against us for so long.

At first they came against us in war, whether it was the War of Independence in 1948 or the wars of 1956, 1967, or 1973. At that point, like the nations before them, they also realized that they could not defeat us militarily, for the living G-d of Israel was fighting for His people, as He has done before. Seeing that they could not overcome us that way, they, too, have now turned to the weapon of the mouth, trying to destroy us in stages, to wear us down, to let us hear what we want to hear. Still, like Bala'am, their words will ultimately have no effect on us; the opposite, we will use their words against them. And, try as they might, the nations will not be able to stop the process which Hashem started some 60 years ago.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Crying Without Tears


Psalm 6: Crying Without Tears


The Tachanun prayer

This psalm, keenly articulating the author's pain and anguish over his shortcomings, is well known since it is included in the daily prayers. It even has a special name - "Tachanun" - and is recited after the Amidah prayer.

When we say the Amidah, we become highly aware of our true spiritual goals and aspirations. With Tachanun, we return to reality, and come to terms with our flawed traits and failings. The roller-coaster dive from the uplifting heights of the Amidah to the disheartening depths of Tachanun can be heart-wrenching. "Be gracious to me, God, for I am wretched" [v.3]. We recite the prayer with the bent heads and covered faces, a physical expression of our acute embarrassment at our inadequacies.

"I am weary from my groans. I cause my bed to float every night; with my tears, I melt my couch. My eye is hardened from anger. It has aged because of my tormentors. Go away, all you evildoers! For God has heard the sound of my weeping." [6:7-9]


A vivid picture of despondency and bitterness. For many years, the Midrash teaches, King David's pillow had to be changed every night seven times, as they were drenched with his tears. But what about us, who recite this psalm each day with dry eyes?

Hardened Eyes

The crying described here comes from a pure heart and refined character. It reflects the genuine bitterness of an individual distraught over his negative tendencies.

But as long as evil takes a hold of a person, it grabs the heart and hardens it, not letting it cry. Even though the heart is aware of the soul's bitterness, our eyes are like stone, unable to let loose a single tear.

Therefore, the psalmist relates, "I am wearied with groaning." If only I could cry, he exclaimed, this would at least ease some of my inner pain. Yet I can only sigh and groan, without tears. If I could cry, I would soak my bed with tears. But "my eye is hardened" [v.8] (or perhaps, weakened) with hatred and self-revulsion. It has become stiff and toughened by my bad traits, the tormentors of my soul.

Before the Holy One, however, all secrets are revealed. God accepts the sound of my weeping, even though it is without tears. He knows that the absence of tears is not because I lack a sincere desire to improve and reject evil, but because evil tendencies have hardened my heart. Therefore, the psalmist pleads, "Go away, you forces of evil, for God has heard the sound of my crying." Even though you prevent me from shedding tears, "God has accepted my prayer" [v.10], since it flows from a pure heart.

[adapted from Olat Re'iyah vol. I pp. 302-304]

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

No Hitchhikes? No Israel!

by Shmuel Sackett

International Director, Manhigut Yehudit

Tamuz 5766 (July, 06)

What's more dangerous in Israel? To walk? To drive? To take a bus? To hitchhike? All of the above? How do we break out of the vicious cycle that forces us to desperately change our mode of travel as the terrorists change their methods of murder?

Following a series of terror attacks in recent weeks all centered around hitchhiking, politicians and rabbis in Israel have called upon Israelis to stop hitchiking. Some politicians have even gone so far as to call for legislation making hitchhiking illegal. While I understand their concerns, I have several questions for them.

1. Instead of hitchhiking the people will be forced to use busses. In the last few years, over 300 Jews have been murdered on busses in Israel. Why is that not dangerous as well? As an aside, allow me to point out that when American Jews send their kids to Israel to learn in Yeshiva and Seminary, they forbid them from taking busses. Because of the dangers on Israeli busses, these kids take cabs all over the place. So what will be accomplished by taking busses instead of hitchhikes?

2. Since Israel abandoned Gush Katif, over 800 missiles have landed in Sderot. These missiles can -- and have -- killed many people. They are deadly. Why not issue a declaration against living in or visiting Sderot? Wouldn't 800 missiles -- and dozens more each day -- qualify as a danger?

3. Hundreds of Jews have been killed in Israeli hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and markets. The Park Hotel in Netanya, Sbarro Pizza shop in Jerusalem, Apprapo restaurant in Tel Aviv, as well as restaurants and coffee shops in Haifa, Afula, Karnei Shomron, and of course Ben Yehuda. These areas are still on high-alert and are considered significant risks. Should these areas be off limits as well?

4. Students on their way to school have been killed across the country. A good friend of mine's 17 year old daughter was killed outside her school in Kfar Saba. Yeshiva students were killed on school grounds in Itamar. Four boys were killed inside the Yeshiva in Otniel. Dozens were killed by the school in Ramat Eshkol and many were killed outside a school in Afula. Maybe we should call upon students to stop going to school? After all, it can be seriously dangerous!

5. And finally, with all the pain in my heart I must state the fact that today, for a Jew, the most dangerous place in the world is Israel. More Jews die, are wounded and are attacked -- because they are Jews -- in Israel, than anywhere else in the world. This is sad and my chest hurts as I write these words but it is true. So why not call upon all Jews to leave Israel and move to Monsey until further notice? After all, if our concern is safety and avoiding danger, why shouldn't we all just pack up and move en masse to New Guinea?

Based on this, you can see how this line of thinking is quite tragic. All people have to do is take the logic of "avoiding danger" to the next step, as I did in my examples above, and they will come to the conclusion that Jews in Israel had better run for their lives! Jews in America, prepare your homes! Millions of Israeli refugees will begin fleeing the country and you will need to take them in.

What our leaders should be stating is that the Israeli government and IDF are guilty of shedding Jewish blood! They should have called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz MURDERERS as they recently gave 1,000 automatic rifles and 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition to the enemy. These weapons have ALREADY been used against Jews several times. Every responsible Jewish leader should DEMAND that the Arabs be dealt a serious blow and that the IDF blow up all Arab villages that pose a danger to Jews. The only problem is hitchhiking? What happened to the core issue of letting a cancer grow in Israel with nobody seeming to care?

I work with people. I speak across the USA to tens of thousands of people each year on the topic of Israel. I never allow myself to focus on the negative because if I did, there is simply nothing but depression at the end of the line. I never focus on the dangers because if I did -- I would lose. I always focus on the positive and never allow myself to repeat the sin of the spies who slandered a beautiful, G-d given country.

Here, then, is what true Jewish leaders should be saying:

Israel is a beautiful country and every Jew must immediately come home. The tragedies suffered by our people in the past must never again be repeated. The IDF will begin to fight as the Jews did in the days of Joshua and King David. No peace-deals, treaties or compromises will be made and great amounts of pain and suffering will be inflicted on any person or village that attacks a Jew or his property. The government of Israel is obligated to sanctify G-d's Name at every moment of the day and all of its actions must be done to further this one-and-only goal. Only a government using these guidelines can ensure the safety and security of the Jews in Israel and throughout the world and we obligate all officials to act exclusively in this manner.

Dearest readers; I promise you that the day will come when Jewish leaders will speak of growth, not death. When they will lead with courage and not with fear and when little Jewish children will happily dance freely in the streets of Shechem, Hebron, Bet Lechem and on their way up to the Temple Mount.

Come to Israel and help build that kind of country. Join with us as we live freely, without fear, in all parts of the Land of Israel. Help us defend and grow in this land and watch it blossom right before your eyes! The future of the Jewish people is ONLY in the Jewish Land that was promised EXCLUSIVELY to the Jewish Nation. Be a part of the excitement. Don't let fear or danger cloud your mind. 70 years ago the Jews in Europe felt very safe but where are they today? Israel is our home and we will take over, not only all parts of the land, but all parts of the LEADERSHIP as well! We are just a short time away from turning Israel into a proud, mighty and REAL Jewish State! Don't be discouraged! Get involved and make this dream come to fruition. Am Yisrael Chai!