Monday, October 31, 2016

A trip to the Mount of Olives and the beginning of the redemption?

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Rabbi Yehuda Lave

The Wise, Kind, and Beneficial Thing to Say

It is common for people to be told, "Your problem is that you have a low self-image." Such statements usually lower a person's emotional state and make them feel worse about themselves.

It would be much wiser and kinder, and more beneficial, for people to say, "You have infinite value and worth. You already know you have strengths and inner resources. But you have even more strengths and resources that you are not yet fully aware of, and they will enhance your life as you become more aware of them. There are many more strengths and inner resources that you can gain and build up from now on. As you keep building your self-image, it will have a positive impact on all your future thoughts, words, and actions. You will be calmer, happier, and more self-confident."

Love Yehuda Lave

See the Mount of Olives in the background from the Jewish housing in East Jerusalem

Not An Inheritance By Rabbi Joshua Hoffman

As part of the preamble to Moshe's blessings to the nation before he died, he told them, "The Torah that Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the assembly of Ya'akov (Devarim 33:9). Rabbeinu Bachya points out that the word for heritage – morasha – is distinct from the word for inheritance, yerusha. An inheritance is something that is passively received, while a heritage, a morasha, requires an active role in order to maintain it. He says that we find this term in one other place, in reference to Eretz Yisroel (Shemos 6:3). He connects the two by saying that we will retain Eretz Yisroel by adhering to the Torah, and will go into exile for not adhering to it. Although he does not cite the Mishna in Avos, we are taught that the Torah is not an inheritance, equating our relationship with Eretz Yisroel to our relationship with Torah. They both require dedicated effort to retain them. My teacher, Rav Aharon Soloveichik, zt"l, would often speak of this theme common to Torah and Eretz Yisroel.   Rav Shlomo Goren, zt"l, in his Toras HaMikra, offers a different explanation. He demonstrates that both Torah and Eretz Yisroel were given to the Jewish nation as a whole, rather than to the collection of its individuals, and this is the meaning of morasha – a national heritage. Perhaps we can add to this definition by noting that Torah embodies the collective character of the Jewish people, as Rav Saadia Gaon writes in his Emunos VeDei'os: "our nation is a nation only though the Torah." In regard to Eretz Yisroel as well, Rav Kook writes in his work Oros, that Eretz Yisroel is not something external to the Jewish people, but part of its very essence, its national character. Both Torah and Eretz YIsroel then, serve to unite the nation. Perhaps this is also why the Sifrei, as quoted by Rashi and elaborated upon by the Ramban, says that the optimal place to fulfill the Torah is in Eretz Yisroel.   With Rav Goren's explanation in mind, we can better appreciate the subsequent verse, "And He became king in Yeshurun when the heads of the nation are gathered, the tribes of Yisroel in unity." According to one explanation, the king referred to is God, and we are being told that God is recognizable as our king when the tribes of Yisroel are united. It is Torah as a morasha, together with the morasha of Eretz Yisroel, that leads to this unity.

keep on going!!



The Wisdom of Rabbi Binyamin Kahane HY"D...

Kahane on the Parsha

Rabbi Binyamin Kahane



As the people and State of Israel sink to ever greater depths, we often hear the claim that there is nothing we can do since we are still in "galut." One gets the impression that this argument is an escape - a way of releasing feelings of bitterness and despair and a convenient excuse for passively accepting our condition without trying to change it. Whatever its motivation, it is to refute the argument that we are still in galut that the following article is intended.

Let's begin with an obvious question: When the Jewish people are living in the Land of Israel, have attained sovereignty over it, have scored awesome military victories, and have witnessed the land's miraculous agricultural blossoming - can they be said to be living in galut? After all, galut refers to a nation uprooted from its land. With all the problems we have - and we are certainly the last to ignore them! - the historical process we are living through is hardly one of galut. Indeed, it's the very opposite.

Of course, referring to our condition as galut is not entirely without basis. The spiritual, moral, and national deterioration of the Jewish people today is, indeed, terrible and unprecedented. And so, in order to clear things up a bit, it behooves us to remember that geula isn't merely a slogan. Geula is a very specific process which our Rabbis describe. It is comprised of several components: the rebirth of the land, the liquidation of the Exile, the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael, Jewish sovereignty over it, revenge against the enemies of Israel, the building of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the appearance of the Messiah son of David. If we wish to define the situation we are in today, we cannot do so based on our feelings or personal views. There are rules. There are specific components to geula.

And so: Can anyone deny that the land is once again yielding its fruits ("there is no clearer indication of the end of days than this" - Sanhedrin 98a)? Can anyone deny that Jews have gathered to the land from the four corners of the world (an ingathering of the exiles); that the Diaspora is self-destructing (either by emigration to Israel or, G-d forbid, via physical liquidation or assimilation); and that large parts of the land were conquered in wars (war is also the beginning of the redemption - Megillah 17b) and are under Jewish sovereignty? Indeed, since the days of Solomon, the hand of Israel has never been stronger. The fact that we refuse to use our strength is another matter.

These are all facts that only the blind refuse to see. What do they say in response? That this isn't the ingathering of the exiles we dreamed about. But what is the meaning of the term "ingathering of the exiles" if not a return of the Jewish people to the land? (Or perhaps it refers only to an ingathering of the Jews of Boro Park?) You are not pleased with the way it came about? Well, that's how G-d decided it would happen!

What else do they say? That this isn't the rebirth of the land which the Rabbis meant. But the fact is that for 2,000 years the land kept its promise: it lay desolate despite the efforts of various peoples to revive it. Only in the last few generations, when the Jews returned, did the land yield its fruit!

For those who say we are in galut, what has to happen to make the process kosher? Must we start again from the beginning? Must we all, G-d forbid, return to the Exile and must the land again become barren so that we can get it right the next time? Must we start over again so that things can go according to their script, the way they think the redemption should unfold?

Naturally, there are valid questions that can be asked. For example, how is it possible that the wicked continue to dominate Israel despite all the miracles we have witnessed? How can the Jewish nation be descending into unprecedented depths of decadence if it is living in midst of the geula process? Is there not a contradiction here?

On the contrary! The Rabbis discussed such a scenario long ago. Indeed, they told us (Sanhedrin 97a) that if geula comes b'ita, the government will turn heretical and an evil government will rule. Actually, the Rabbis tell us (Megillah 17b) that one of the stages in the geula process is judgment against the wicked! And so in the geula of b'ita, there will be wicked people, and these wicked people will be in power. But the Talmud also teaches us that at a certain stage they will be destroyed ("criminals and sinners alike will be broken, and those who have forsaken G-d will perish"). This stage, too, will come. When? THAT DEPENDS ON US! If instead of KVETCHING, G-d fearing Jews would take hold of the reigns of leadership to further the redemption, the geula process would accelerate and the Messiah son of David would come quicker.

What a pity that so few study these passages, yet so many speak about geula as if they were experts. This subject is no less important than the laws of Bava Kamma. What a pity to live through this unique era submerged in blindness, without trying to understand its greatness. If we would only understand our era's significance, we could advance the redemption and save ourselves from some of the suffering of the birth-pangs of the Messianic period.

In conclusion, the complete redemption has not yet arrived, but parts of it are already with us. The real problem is not that we are in galut, but rather that WE REFUSE TO REMOVE THE GALUT FROM WITHIN US!!

Darka Shel Torah, 1999


Staying isn't always right--the other side

See you tomorrow!!

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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