Thursday, April 26, 2018

Holy and Separate


by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

"You shall be holy" (Vayikra 19:2) – you shall separate yourselves (Sifra, Kedoshim 1). Sanctity requires separation; it does not come from nature itself. This goal is the essence of Judaism. Our aspiration to reach the greatest heights does not include an outlook of ignoring reality and does not cover up that which exists. Rather, we are to try to "uproot the weeds" that are damaging before the time comes to "plant the saplings of blessing."

Israel said "We will do and hear" and also experienced the mountain hung over their heads. There is no contradiction between the two. Both powers exist in man: the natural good side with special inborn qualities; and the side which is corrupt and caustic. Along with the good action that Israel performed (accepting the Torah enthusiastically), they also needed to accept upon themselves the element of "stay away from evil," the uprooting of the weeds. They could not ignore them or cover them up but had to hang a mountain above them to force them to do that which was incumbent upon them. Only when that was done was it possible for the positive action of saying "We will do and hear" to have its true positive impact.

Therefore, every generation must reaccept the Torah. For that reason every year there must be a reacceptance of the Torah, and every day it should be to one as new.

The refinement of one’s personal nature must come through man, and doing so for himself brings along an improvement in all of nature. All the world, as we know it, depends upon man – it is elevated when man elevates himself, and it is lowered when man lowers himself. "If not for My covenant, day and night, the rules of the heavens and the earth I would not have installed" (Yirmiya 33:25). If you do not accept the Torah, the corruption of nature will multiply and magnify, and you will be "buried alive" from a moral perspective.

We now also understand the statement of the mishna in Kiddushin (4:14): "Neither poverty nor affluence is a result of one’s profession; rather everything depends on one’s merits." This is difficult, asks Tosafot (Kiddushin 82a), as the gemara (Moed Katan 28a) says that children, life, and livelihood are not based on merit but based on mazal (predetermined fate). On the other hand, there is no mazal for Israel (Shabbat 156a).

The explanation is that mazal is a combination of natural causes. However, there is also a possibility of going beyond natural factors, and this happens if one realizes that riches and poverty do not come from one’s profession. While things such as children, life, and sustenance depend on mazal, merit can change the mazal. This is because when one fixes nature, then mazal, which is a foundation of "blind nature" within the world, is also changed and fixed.

Holiness As a Formula


by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

Among the many commandments and values that are represented in this week’s double parsha special attention seems to being paid to the intimate and marital relationships between people. The Torah lists for us those relationships which are considered to be incestuous, immoral and forbidden. There is perhaps no area of human behavior so sensitive and yet so dissolute and dangerously self-destructive as these liaisons and relationships are. According to the popularization of Freudian psychology it is the sexual drive more than anything else that is the energy source for human behavior. The Torah looks not to deny this basic drive, it never preaches celibacy, but rather it looks to channel and control this activity, turning it from something potentially illicit and harmful to something that is holy and creative. In order to accomplish this, the Torah imposes a set of limitations, inhibitions and rules to govern and sanctify such human behavior. In effect the Torah teaches us that our sexual drive is a neutral commodity. It is rather the circumstances and structure that surround the use of this drive that determine its probity, correctness and holiness. That is the key idea that lies behind all of the commandments that appear in these parshiyot - discipline, sensitivity, correctness of behavior and a sense of positive purpose. Be holy and sanctified the Torah tells us - that is our goal. How to arrive there is what the commandments, individually and collectively, come to teach us. And the road is paved with self-discipline, self-control and a devotion to duty and responsibility.

The parshiyot also emphasize to us the Torah’s view regarding the treatment of other human beings. The Torah bids us to love others, to respect others, to tolerate others, and to therefore become a holier person. Piety in matters that are so to speak between man and God are of prime importance in Jewish life. But of equal importance is the correct relationship between humans and their fellow human beings. One cannot be a holy person through ritual piety and scholarship alone. Ramban advances the idea that the possibility of being obnoxious and disgusting even within the confines of the Torah, so to speak, exists. How we deal with other human beings is a crucial part of being a holy person. It is far easier to deal with an unseen and inscrutable Divinity than to have to deal with a real human being standing face to face before us. Other people differ with us, oftentimes are not cognizant of our needs and desires, and can prove to be annoying and difficult. How are we to deal with such people? The Torah prescribes the same formula for dealing with others as it did for dealing with our innate drives as described above - patience, sensitivity, self-discipline and retention of the goal of being holy. An awareness of circumstances and situations that govern all of the commandments of the Torah also govern our interpersonal behavior one with another. The Torah is always to be viewed as a unity, as something whole and inseparable. That is the way to embark on the road to holiness.

Striking a Balance

Parashat Achrei mot - Kdoshim

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El


Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham ben-tziyon ben shabtai

The Zeal of Youth
"And God spoke to Moshe after the death of the two sons of Aharon in front of God..." Nadav and Avihu the sons of Aharon died specifically because of their desire to be too "close" to God; they symbolize the energies of youth, a younger generation motivated by raw, idealistic emotions. Occasionally, this energy manifests itself in the form of excessive haste not in keeping with the path of Torah.

Our sages teach us that Pinchas - who zealously killed Cozbi and Zimri for their illicit and threatening intimacy - was in fact a reincarnation of Nadav and Avihu. Similarly, Eliyahu the Prophet - we are taught - was also a reincarnation of Pinchas. In both the lives of Pinchas and Eliyahu, we find traces of pure energy, an emotion that prompts the people in question to accomplish "holy" tasks; such emotion, however, is not always balanced by a necessary dose of caution and cool-headedness.

Torah
In contrast, Moshe Rabeinu represents Torah, the orientation of "the elders" who, though they lack the enthusiasm of youth, behave calmly and cautiously, adhering to the Torah's guidance. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook [of blessed memory] cites sources indicating that both Moshe and Eliyahu are two key figures who in the future will announce the redemption of the Jewish people. According to Rav Kook, redemption will stem from a combination of wisdom deriving from age and learning - tempered by the enthusiasm of youth. Only a holistic approach that encompasses the two orientations - also taking into account the proper actions as indicated by Torah - will bring the redemption.

Channeling, not Suppressing
Rashi teaches that the meaning of the mitzvah, "You shall be holy" is: "Separate yourselves from sexual immorality". The commentary "Ohr Hachayim" explains that the inclination of sexual immorality (Yetzer d'Arayot) is entrenched in human nature, and is thus nearly impossible to overcome. If so, from where are we to garner the power to fulfill the mitzvah of "You shall be holy?" The response to this question, says the Ohr HaChayim, lies in the second half of the verse, "Because I, your God, am holy..." Since the Children of Israel are truly children of God, they possess a natural cleaving to Divine holiness.

There is no need to suppress the Yetzer d'Arayot. The Jewish person is expected to achieve spiritual perfection, and such perfection accomodates the Yetzer d'Arayot. Looked at this way, the prescription, "You shall be holy" is really a commandment to steer the inclination towards holiness and purity in a healthy direction. When we successfully do this, Rav Kook notes, we transform the Yetzer d'Arayot from a private, egoistic inclination to a universal inclination directed at the perpetuation of mankind and the furthering of God's plan for the world.

This observation - that we need not and should not suppress this inclination - has a calming effect; man realizes that he need not give up completely on his yearnings and drives. To be sure, it seems at times that it is easier to suppress the yetzer rather than to redirect it, since channeling this yetzer carries with it the possibility of failure and sin. However, suppressing the Yetzer d'Arayot is liable to produce a "boomerang effect" in which we confront the unruly, unhealthy bursting forth of the yetzer, unbridled by the guidance of Torah.

Our sages teach that after the first exile, Ezrah the prophet nullified the human inclination towards idolatry. At the time, he also tried to negate the Yetzer d'Arayot, but stopped short of doing so once he realized that it would lead to a situation in which there would be no chicken eggs in the entirety of the Land of Israel, as a result of the newly-celibate lifestyle of roosters and chickens!
From this observation, we can learn that the key to the redemption lies in the intensification of the Yetzer d'Arayot. It is possible that the way of overcoming this inclination is a long road, fraught with all sorts of personal challenges and mistakes. Yet, at the forefront of a person's thoughts at all times must be the realization that he is continuing down the path until complete victory over this yetzer.

We must overcome this yetzer in the same manner as we would overcome the tendency towards greed. Only when a person cultivates a sense of revulsion for money that is not his own, and a sense that money that is not rightfully his is a burden on him that will just not let him rest - is he considered to have overcome his greed. [Merchants in the marketplace know that there are people out there whom they can sell to on credit, since they know that the respective consciences of these people will not allow them to sleep at nights until they pay their debts.

A person must realize that each time he succeeds in a given struggle with the Yetzer d'Arayot, like the pushing off of a lewd thought or the like, not only has he refrained from committing a transgression, he has even performed a great mitzvah! Our sages teach that someone who remains idle and does not commit a sin, is considered by the Torah as if he in fact performed a positive commandment. This worldview generates a new sense of purpose to those who truly wish to vanquish this yetzer. The reason it is considered a mitzvah is that it requires an active struggle and an ability to draw upon one's spiritual powers.

Our sages teach that "according to the pain is the reward." Thus, one who exerts energies in these spiritual battles, and one who feels pain as a result of this exertion, receives great reward. We certainly do not serve God on condition of receiving reward, but the "reward" in this instance is the obtaining of new powers to aid in our service of God...

The Entire World is Filled with His Glory

by Rabbi Meir Goldvicht

Dedicated to the memory of r' Yosef ben Yaakov

At the end of Parashat Kedoshim, the Torah says, "And you shall be holy unto Me, for I, G-d, am holy, and I set you apart from the nations to be Mine" (Vayikra 20:26). Rashi explains: "And I set you apart from the nations to be Mine: To desist from sin and to accept upon oneself the yoke of Heaven." Let us attempt to understand what is unique about the level of kedusha that Am Yisrael has that makes it a higher level of kedusha than the standard kedusha every human being has. Certainly, we have 613 mitzvot, while the nations of the world have only seven. However, the fact that we have been given more mitzvot is only a quantitative difference, not a qualitative one. After all, in keeping their seven mitzvot, the other nations must also "desist from sin and accept upon themselves the yoke of Heaven." If so, how do we understand the true nature of the difference between us, according to Rashi’s definition that the difference between us and them is desistence from sin and acceptance of the yoke of Heaven?

To answer this question, we must open with the words of the Ramban in Parashat Bo. Commenting on the passuk of "hachodesh hazeh lachem," the Ramban writes that there is a mitzvah to count months without giving them names. The purpose of this is to remind us of the very first month, the month in which we left Mitzrayim, and all of the miracles performed for us in that month. Every time we mention the ninth month, for instance, it is the ninth month from Exodus. This is similar to the way we remember Shabbat, referring to the second day of the week, for example, as "sheini baShabbat." This is how the calendar was counted until Churban haBayit. When we returned to Eretz Yisrael from Bavel, however, we brought with us the names which we still use today: Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, and so on. However, in Tanach we find two months named even before Churban haBayit, despite the prohibition. The first naming appears in I Melachim 1:6, where it says that Shlomo began construction of the Beit HaMikdash in the month of Ziv, the second month (Iyar). The month in which he finished construction, the navi tells us in the eighth perek, was chodesh ha’eitanim, the seventh month (Tishrei). Why did Shlomo change the established halacha, giving names to the months when it was still forbidden to do so?

The word ziv appears in Uva L’Tzion as part of the translation of "the entire world is filled with His glory – malya chol ar’a ziv yekarei." Ziv is the light that shines from within nature, light that comes from daily service. Shlomo wished to teach, through the building of the Beit HaMikdash, that wherever we go in life, we must bring the Beit HaMikdash with us as an example of how to reveal the glory of Heaven through the physical existence. In the same way, we must try to reveal the glory of Heaven through our own daily lives. This is why Shlomo named the month in which the Beit HaMikdash was built Ziv, to remind us of our mission to spread the light of Hashem. One who remembers this lesson, and lives it, will merit true strength.

The day of the week in which we see a little bit of the light of HaKadosh Baruch Hu revealed through nature is Shabbat. This is why the gemara in Rosh HaShana says that the shir the levi’im sang over the mussaf of Shabbat was called "haziv lach." Tosfot explains that this refers to Shirat Ha’azinu, which, when divided into six parts, has the roshei teivot "haziv lach." This is the kedusha that is unique to Am Yisrael, which the other nations do not have. Through us, the glory of Heaven is revealed in every other object that exists in this world.

The month in which we left Mitzrayim has the zodiac sign of the lamb. The lamb is an animal that is led, rather than choosing its own path. In Nissan, Hashem led us out of Mitzrayim miraculously. But one cannot receive the Torah through nissim. In order to receive Torah, you must have the ability to make your own independent decisions. Therefore, the month of Iyar, which was a month of traveling through the desert, has the zodiac sign of the ox. The ox is an animal that moves on its own. After a month of learning to act like the ox, we could receive the Torah. This occurred in the month of Sivan, which has the zodiac sign of the twins, symbolizing our partnership with Hashem in Torah.

We were granted the privilege of perceiving Hashem’s light twice in the month of Ziv in our own times – on 5 Iyar and on 28 Iyar. And to the extent that we understand our mission, to bring glory to Heaven through all of our actions, we will merit kedusha, taharah, and to see the light of Hashem in our times once again, with a geulah shleimah speedily in our days.

The Source of Holiness

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh


"You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem your G-d." (Vayikra 19:2) Why does the fact that G-d is holy require us, too, to be holy? The concept of holiness is something so abstract and lofty, so how is it possible to command this? Furthermore, in Torat Kohanim it says, "You shall be holy -- be separate (or abstinent); be holy." What is the meaning of this redundancy?

In addition, the Zohar writes:

G-d says: Of all the nations -- I saw fit to cling only to Israel, as it says, "But you who cling to Hashem, your G-d." (Devarim 4:4) You and not the other nations. Because of this it says, "You shall be holy" -- specifically [you]!

Here, too, the question can be asked, if the idea of holiness is separation, can't the other nations also abstain from illicit relationships and the like?

A superficial view would say that the difference between Israel and the other nations of the world is that the other nations have only seven mitzvot, whereas Israel was commanded with 613. This outlook, though, is completely wrong. The idea expressed in the pesukim, "You shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples" (Shemot 19:5), and, "I have separated you from the peoples to be Mine" (Vayikra 20:26), is a separation that begins with the soul itself, not with free choice.

R. Yehuda Halevi writes in the Kuzari about the prayer, "Ahava raba ahavtanu" ("You have loved us greatly"): "We are required to believe that the beginning [of Bnei Yisrael's selection] is from Him, and not from us." The Divine choice of Israel should not be seen as the arbitrary selection of Israel from among the other nations, but rather as something predestined from creation. "This people which I created for Myself that they might declare My praise." (Yeshaya 43:21)

Tosfot, as well, writes this in Masechet Avoda Zara (5a). The Gemara there suggests that had Israel not sinned with the golden calf, they would not have returned after the Revelation of Har Sinai to their wives. The Gemara then asks, "But the [Messiah] son of David will not come until all the souls are depleted from the "guf"?! (Rashi explains that there is a kind of storehouse which is called "guf," and at the time of creation, all the souls that were destined to be born were formed and placed there.) Tosfot asks on this, that the non-Jews could deplete the collection of souls, since they would still procreate? R. Elchanan answers that the souls of Jews and the souls of non-Jews are not in the same "guf." They are two treasures, because they are two kinds of souls.

All of the ensuing distinctions in action and behavior are results of this distinction of the souls. Even Sefer Hachinuch, who repeats many times the principle that the mind is drawn after actions, does not mean to say that the actions form the mind, but rather that actions reveal what is already inherent in the soul. As proof, he himself explains in the mitzvah of milah that G-d wanted to instill in our bodies a sign, so that we will be separated from the nations in body just as we are separated from them in soul, because their source is not the same. The circumcision of the body just expresses the predetermined circumcision of the soul.

Holiness is something inherent in Israel. "I am holy," and since "You cling to G-d," we already have this trait in common. A person's obligation is only in action, to reveal the holiness.

This is what is says in Torat Kohanim, "Be separate (abstinent); be holy." If you will be abstinent, you will automatically be holy. Similarly the Zohar points out that it does not say, "Be holy!" (as a command), but rather, "You shall be holy." This is a promise that you will certainly be holy. This is the meaning of the earlier Zohar, that only you cling to G-d, and thus, only you have this quality in potential, and therefore actions have impact. This is not the case regarding a non-Jew who abstains from illicit relations -- he will not reach the level of holiness, since he is lacking in potential. The Ramchal writes in Mesilat Yesharim, "Holiness begins with effort and ends with a gift."

This is what it says in the end of the parsha, "You shall be holy for Me, for I Hashem am holy; and I have separated you from the people to be Mine." (Vayikra 20:26) Through the separation you became Mine, and through this you will be holy.

There is only one stipulation in this, that the actions be through a connection to the entire nation, since the Shechina does not exist in Israel detached from the klal. Thus, the Meshech Chochma writes, "G-d does not designate His Name on the individual, because the individual, without connection to the klal, is not at all the ultimate purpose." (Vayikra 18:4)

Learning Torah and fulfilling mitzvot, which is done in a private manner, detached from the klal, does not bring one to holiness. The Rambam writes that one who separates himself from the klal has no share in the world to come, "even though he does not transgress, just that he separates from the community of Israel and does not do mitzvot with them, does not share in their troubles, and does not take part in their fasts, but goes along his way like one of the nations of the land, as if he is not one of them." (Hil. Teshuva 3:11)

Therefore, Parshat Kedoshim was read at Hakhel, before all of Israel. So, too, an individual does not say "Kedusha." Similarly, Parshat Kedoshim is identified by the many social mitzvot in it, first and foremost, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," which R. Akiva considered the greatest general rule of the Torah.

“Turn away from evil and do good.”

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir


G-d commanded Moses to speak to the Israelites, admonishing and directing them before their entrance into the Land: “Do not follow the ways of Egypt where you once lived, nor of Canaan, where I will be bringing you. Do not follow [any] of their customs” (Leviticus 18:3).

Rashi explains that the deeds of the Egyptians and the Canaanites were more corrupt than those of all the other nations. He comments on the expression, “Do not follow any of their customs”: “What did Scripture leave [unsaid] which was not previously stated? Rather, this verse refers to their customs, matters which are [social] obligations for them, such as [attending] theaters and stadiums.”

These activities are in the class of “the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1), activities that lead one to neglect Torah learning. Well-known is the Rabbinic rule that whoever scoffs will be visited by suffering (Avodah Zarah 18b).

What precedes in the category of “avoiding evil” (Psalm 34:15). As far as the obligation to “do good” (ibid.), it says, “Follow My laws and be careful to keep My decrees, [for] I am the L-rd your G-d. Keep My decrees and laws, since it is only by keeping them that a person can [truly] live. I am the L-rd” (Leviticus 18:4-5). Rashi explains “Be careful to keep My decrees” as follows: “Don’t dispense with your obligation. Don’t say, ‘I’ve finished learning Jewish wisdom. Now I shall go and learn the wisdom of the nation.’”

Quite the contrary, we have to learn Torah in such a way that we learn it our whole life. That is how we fulfill, “Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the L-rd; and in His law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1; Avodah Zarah 18b).

What was true in Biblical times is true still. When Israel first set out on the stage of history, we were admonished, “Avoid evil and do good.” We were to “avoid evil” – not to do the deeds of the Egyptians and Canaanites, who were steeped in sexual sin, idolatry and theft; neither to develop a culture of theatres and stadiums, involving scoffing and frivolity, or competitions involving violence and cruelty. Today, as well, we mustn’t pursue that same culture which no matter how different it seems remains the same, that culture of scoffing, violence and cruelty. Yet today these sins are occurring not just in the new theaters and stadiums, but unfortunately almost everywhere that there are television and Internet. There, we find the wholesale display of sex, violence and evil, all of which can influence the psyche and behavior of the spectators. In fact, such content leads to unprecedented neglect of Torah learning and deterioration in morality, behavior and values.

We are also commanded to “do good.” The terrible crisis plaguing education and culture in our country requires that these frameworks engage in some deep and candid soulsearching, and that the entire public do so as well. All must ask whether the time has not arrived to return to our Jewish roots, to learn and to teach our holy Torah with love, not just on an individual basis, but on a governmental level. Surely, that crisis of spirit, morality and values which plagues Israeli society plagues almost every Jewish home, the education system and the entire governmental framework, and it requires us to make a fundamental change in order to imbue spiritual content and values into our country. As one of our heads of state said in our country’s infancy:

“The Jewish Nation is not just a national or political unit. Rather, it incorporates also a spiritual, ethical will and has borne a historic vision ever since it appeared on the stage of history… We cannot understand Jewish history or our people’s fight for survival if we do not envision the spiritual and philosophical uniqueness of the Jewish People.”

May there soon be fulfilled through us the words, “Who is the man who desires life and loves days, that he may see good therein? Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

The Inner Essence

by Rav Yehuda HaKohen 

“You shall not be a gossip monger among your people, you shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is being shed – I am HaShem. You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and not bear a sin because of him. You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the children of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself – I am HaShem.” (VAYIKRA 19:16-18)

At first glance the Torah appears to be teaching a series of precepts designed to improve our character traits and perfect Israeli society. But the fact that these commandments are listed in such detail indicates that they reveal a central tenet of authentic Hebrew thought. In verse 18, we are commanded to love our fellow as we love ourselves. While a precept such as this might sound pleasant in theory, some might argue the impossibility of such a decree. In today’s prevalent culture – where the individual’s wants and needs are given central importance – it seems doubtful that modern man could really be expected to love another as he loves himself. Perhaps one could attempt to treat his fellow as if he loves him to that extent but to actually feel this love in one’s heart seems as though the Torah is demanding not only a behavioral adjustment but also a complete revolution in human nature. The commandment is followed by the statement “I am HaShem” – a declaration found throughout the Torah which often serves to emphasize the great importance of a particular mitzvah. In addition to reminding us that HaShem is all powerful and aware of a person’s true inner thoughts, the statement “I am HaShem” is akin to the Kadosh Barukh Hu signing a contract. Laws carrying great consequence often include this Divine signature in order to guarantee that HaShem will treat a person according to his behavior, especially in regards to the fulfillment of these precepts.

By utilizing the statement “I am HaShem” following these particular laws, the Torah prompts the question of how such incredible weight can be placed on mitzvot so ostensibly alien to human behavior. Rather than merely dictating conduct, these commandments serve as a direct challenge to what many mistakenly believe to be their nature, which can only be properly understood within the context of Israel’s true relationship to our Torah.

The Torah is not a rulebook meant to coerce human behavior but rather the written expression of HaShem’s Divine Ideal, teaching us how to most successfully express our true inner selves. Our Sages teach (Yoma 28b) that “Our patriarch Avraham kept the entire Torah [even before the actual Torah was given to Israel in written form].”

Nefesh HaḤaim (1:21) expands on this idea by explaining how Israel’s patriarchs were able to perceive the positive impact of mitzvot on the metaphysical realm, therefore living Torah lives as an expression of their true inner selves. While most humans today are sufficiently healthy that our lungs breath and our hearts beat without external guidance or assistance, we are not yet healthy enough to live the mitzvot as a natural function. We still require the Torah’s written form in order to help us in successfully expressing our true selves.

Through a heightened awareness of Israel’s true inner essence, we can appreciate the mitzvot quoted above as just a few of the many liberating precepts intended to elevate our overall perceptions of reality. The Jerusalem Talmud (ninth chapter of Nedarim), for example, offers an explanation concerning the Torah’s prohibition against vengeance. It describes a man slicing food with a knife. As he is cutting, the hand holding the knife slips and injures his other hand. The Talmud then asks if the wounded hand would rise up to take vengeance against the hand that cut it. This rhetorical question comes to teach that just as each hand is a piece of one whole body, so is each individual Jew one piece ofKnesset Yisrael – the giant national soul that shines into this world through the earthly Jewish people. Therefore, one Hebrew taking revenge against his brother is no less absurd than a person’s left hand rising up against the right. The Hebrew Nation is not the sum total of every Jew but rather one colossal spirit that manifests itself in space and time through millions of bodies. While human beings each possess a personal soul, Israel shares one massive national soul – like a giant tree of which each Jew is an individual branch.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzḥak HaKohen Kook teaches that the highest level of Ahavat Yisrael (love for Israel) a person can achieve results from obtaining the belief, knowledge and deep understanding of Israel’s true inner essence. It involves more than merely loving individual Jews for their positive personal traits. These traits may not always be discernable and are certainly not what makes Israel unique. The Segula of Israel is the collective national essence that precedes the individuals. It is the inner Divine light planted within the Hebrew soul and revealed in human history through the Jewish people. Rather than attempt to love each and every individual Jew, one can learn to recognize and love the source of Israel’s essence – the Segula – which then allows this love to flow out to every distinct piece of that national collective.

A man who loves his son does not simply love the sum total of each limb. He loves his child as a whole person and therefore loves every individual piece of that person. He can see each finger, leg and ear as an expression of that one soul he knows to be his son. Knesset Yisrael is similarly one giant spiritual organism revealed through individual Jews scattered in space and time. The highest level of Ahavat Yisrael is therefore a deep Torah wisdom that must be studied and not merely emotionally felt. The base of this wisdom stems from learning about, understanding and recognizing the Segula in order to comprehend Israel’s true inner unity.

The Torah does not merely instruct us to love each Jew as much as we love ourselves. It actually informs us that each Jew is inseparably connected because Israel is essentially one Divine entity. Despite the Hebrew soul appearing fragmented in our world, Jews have the ability to recognize the objective reality of our inner unity – a unity that transcends far beyond the confines of what our eyes perceive. Once a person fully recognizes this truth, he becomes able to feel and express the required love for each individual. And he automatically becomes incapable of spreading evil gossip about – or holding grudges against – his brothers. He becomes incapable of taking vengeance against a fellow Jew and becomes unable to passively stand by as blood is being shed.

When Israel is finally able to appreciate our inner oneness, we will be empowered by true love and a sense of collective responsibility. A mature understanding of this lofty ideal arouses the highest levels of Ahavat Yisrael and allows the Jewish people to reach our inner potential and achieve our national goal of bringing this world to Divine perfection.

Be Holy

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Speak to all the congregation of the Children of Israel, and say unto them: “You shall be holy; for I, God your God am holy.” (Vayikra 19:2)

RASHI SAYS THAT the directive to be holy in this week’s parsha is a commandment to stay away from sexual promiscuity. The Ramban disagrees and says instead that it is a mitzvah to not overdo that which IS permissible. “Kashrus” does not apply only to things that are forbidden. It also applies, at least conceptually, to that which is permissible.

After all says the Ramban, we just spent the first half of Sefer Vayikra talking about forbidden things. It’s a little late to begin a discussion about how avoiding treif foods and certain treif relationships results in kedushah—holiness. That should have been the introduction to Sefer Vayikra, not the middle of it.

Rather, says the Ramban, it is a more natural progression if the Torah is saying, “Now that we have discussed how to behave with respect to that which is forbidden to you, let’s now discuss how to behave with respect to that which IS permissible to you. Too much of something ‘good’ is also wrong. Excessive physical pleasure is also destructive.”

Such behavior would fall under the category of what the rabbis call lack of “Derech Eretz.” It translates as, “Way of the Land,” and the phrase has a few connotations. But, in this respect, “derech eretz” refers to Torah-appropriate personal behavior, and it covers every aspect of everyday life.

The Rambam has a whole section about such behavior—Hilchos Dayos—and there are many details to learn and keep in mind. However, they all come down to one idea, to one central principle: self-dignity, the level of which should be fitting for one made in the “image of God.”

That is a discussion unto itself. Since God is not physical, then it obviously cannot be man’s physical reality that resembles God. Even our spiritual component doesn’t quite cut it, since it also has boundaries. It’s a far closer fit, but also far from exact.

The Sforno describes our God-image as being our intellectual capacity to discern. Humans can weigh ideas and determine their level of importance. They can decide to do the right thing instead of the easier thing. They can sacrifice physical pleasure for spiritual pleasure. They can pursue and live according to the ultimate meaning in life, and in THIS respect, they are like God.

When someone acts in an undignified manner, we say that they have acted “beneath themselves.” It means that their behavior was less than fitting for someone on their level of intellect and understanding. Having assessed their level of intelligence, we assume that their priorities in life would have excluded such inappropriate behavior, which would be more befitting for a person of a lesser IQ.

Society, especially in recent years, has challenged this idea. They have questioned whether or not the moral standard by which many judge their actions and those of others, is the result of “nature” or “nurture.” They have asked out loud if the accepted norm of moral behavior is intrinsic to man, or the result of ancient religious indoctrination.


If man is indeed hardwired to be moral, making it intrinsic to his nature, then self-discovery and moral realization are really the same thing. The more a person discovers about himself, the more he becomes aware of what he is capable of achieving and of the moral standard he is capable of living up to. His level of self-dignity increases.

If man’s moral standards were “nurtured,” or more to the point, the result of indoctrination, then moral sensibilities become personal hang-ups. They become like an overbearing parent, who is more concerned about what they want for the child than what is actually good for the child. At some point in time, the “child” will just ignore the “parent” and do what he or she wants instead.

This approach, of course, destroys all sense of objective morality. It states that there is really no objective level of right or wrong. It erodes a person’s self-dignity because there is none, only what a person feels “comfortable” doing based upon their personal objectives which, of course, are yetzer hara generated. Society becomes a moral free-for-all, which is exactly why the yetzer hara has man going down this path in the first place.

It doesn’t help that God does not verbally tell us otherwise. Prophecy is long gone, and history for thousands of years now has seemed quite random. It never is, but “hester panim” (hiding of God’s face) certainly makes it seem that way, and this has served to spiritually disconnect the spiritually weak, and weaken the once spiritually strong.

It sure FEELS as if God isn’t “here” today. People cheat and get away with it. Or it looks that way. The Talmud says that just because the Bais Din can’t administer punishment does not mean Heaven doesn’t. For example, a person who deserves stoning falls off a roof. Someone who deserves strangulation drowns. Etc. But, if no one notices or makes the connection, it does not seem like Divine retribution.

Recently an avowed atheist was brutally murdered. He even went out of his way to share his beliefs with others, and the way he dealt with people often reflected his lack of fear of Divine retribution. He probably made a lot of enemies, so when he was murdered, most people probably just assumed that one of them came back to make him “pay.” They won’t see it as God giving an atheist his due because who can know for sure that is what really happened, especially if so many other atheists live just fine.

So, as man revels in his accomplishments he does so without a sense of human pride. On the contrary, he is content to assume that he has descended from a lesser species, and that his intelligence and physical sophistication is random. If he lives in the image of anyone, it is himself. His self-dignity, for the most part, has died. R.I.P.

The further man goes down this path, the more extreme others, who do not do what he does, appear to him. He thinks of them as people who can’t let go of a delusional past, who cling to values that were nurtured as if they are nature. Feeling such disdain, they don’t notice that such people happen to have a lot of self-dignity as well.

And peace of mind, too. You see, if we were truly made in the image of God, if self-dignity is intrinsic to our being, then we can only be at peace with ourselves when we are pursuing and achieving it. Sure, it can be a lot more fun to just let go of conscience and do whatever makes our bodies tingle. But, at the end of the day, once the tingling stops, and it does, we have to look into the mirror and assess who we are and what we have accomplished.

It is frightening how, as society becomes more open, more people are taking anti-depressants. We’ve never had more to enjoy or more social freedom than we have today. Shouldn’t people have less problems with depression and anxiety?

Yes, if that is what life is about. But not, if it is about living up to a higher moral standard and doing your best to act Godly. It is ironic how openness can be so enslaving, proof positive that we are NOT just another animal. Animals benefit from openness, but humans require discipline to accomplish. This is necessary to give meaning to their existence. So, we HAVE to be holy because God is holy, and because it is the only way to truly be ourselves.

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Kedoshim: Loving ourselves and others

The 2000 Year Old Prayer

By Shmuel Sackett

Jews all over the world, have been saying these words for 2,000 years. Millions of tears have been shed clinging to the hope that – one day – these words would come true. Incredibly, after all that has happened to our Nation, Jews are still begging Hashem for this prayer to come to fruition. In English, its just 4 words and every child knows it by heart. What is this special prayer? Simple: “Next Year in Jerusalem”. The problem, however, is that while we all say it, very few actually understand what it means.

Without a doubt, the overwhelming majority of Jews will tell you that it is a prayer for the Bet Ha’Mikdash. 2,000 years ago the focal point of our service to Hashem was destroyed and since then, we have been begging our King to restore Jerusalem to its splendor and glory. This sounds nice and we definitely want the Bet Ha’Mikdash rebuilt as soon as possible, but I have bad news for you; that’s not what “Next Year in Jerusalem” means at all.

I will write it again so that this point is very clear. Yes, we want the holy Temple and without it, our Torah is incomplete. The Kohen Gadol, sacrifices, incense, Menorah, singing Levites plus all the laws of “Tuma and Tahara” (impurity and purity) are difficult for us to comprehend until we live them on a daily basis. Hundreds of pages in the Talmud - which discuss the intricate details of the korbanot, the gifts brought to the Bet Ha’Mikdash and concepts such as Teruma and Ma’aser - are merely intellectual exercises until our reality changes. We pray 3 times each day for Hashem to rebuild the Bet Ha’Mikdash and allow us to take these concepts and turn them into actions. However, while all that is true, I remain with my original point that the words “L’Shana ha’ba’ah b’Yerushalayim” – Next Year in Jerusalem – means something else.

So what does it mean? The answer is simple because the prayer is simple. For 2,000 years Jews have begged Hashem for one thing; to bring us back to Jerusalem. .. to kiss the holy stones and roll in its dust. Jews in Turkey, Yemen, Poland and Russia had one dream… to walk the streets of Jerusalem. That’s it. Yes, they also wanted the Bet Ha’Mikdash and the Sanhedrin and the return of the Davidic dynasty, but that would be steps 2, 3 and 4. The beautiful Jews who held on to the Torah despite the persecutions, crusades, blood libels, and pogroms did so because they hoped for something far simpler; that one day they would see the sun rise in Jerusalem. Even as these Yidden were thrown out of Spain, gassed in Auschwitz or beaten in the streets of Syria they held on to the dream that the day would come when they would breathe the air of Jerusalem. Those 4 words kept them going and – no matter what – they never let the haters and anti-Semites take it from them. The words “Next Year in Jerusalem” were their prized possession…

An excellent example of this came last week in a speech by Miriam Peretz, the mother of 2 IDF soldiers killed in battle. Despite the unimaginable pain of losing 2 sons, Uriel in 1998 in a battle in Lebanon and Eliraz in 2010 while fighting Hamas in Gaza, this incredible woman travels the world speaking and giving strength to others. Her positive message about Israel and Jewish unity is something we must all listen to and apply to our lives. Instead of focusing on the negative and the pain, Miriam Peretz motivates and inspires. Last week, the State of Israel awarded her with the Israel Prize and she delivered a powerful speech during the festivities on Yom Ha’atzmaut. She spoke about her childhood in Morocco (in the early 1960s), and how her father spoke about Jerusalem. Allow me to quote a few sentences from her amazing speech.

“Each night my father would tell me about a city he did not know, nor that he even saw in pictures, whose description passed from father to son. The city was Jerusalem. It had trees that dripped with honey and milk… Each time he pronounced the word ‘Yerushalayim’, my father would press 2 fingers to his lips and murmur its name with a sense of sanctity, while kissing each letter.”
She then said a line that gave me chills up and down my spine. “In 1964, my father’s dream was fulfilled and we came to Jerusalem; a transit camp in Beersheba where we lived until 1969.”

Let me summarize those few lines. Miriam Peretz’s father, never saw Jerusalem – not even in pictures!! Although he was living in Casablanca, Morocco he prayed every day; “Next Year in Jerusalem” and when he said that last word, he pressed his fingers against his mouth and kissed them! To top it all off, not only did the word “Jerusalem” not mean the Bet Ha’Mikdash (as I stated above)… it didn’t even mean Jerusalem!!! That word meant “Israel” – he was praying, dreaming, hoping and yearning that the day would come where he would leave Morocco and simply come to Israel.

That is exactly my point. For 2,000 years Jews begged Hashem, “Please, our Father – bring us back to your holy city. Yes, Father, even though that city does not have the Bet Ha’Mikdash – at this time - and even if that city is called Netanya or Ashdod, help us leave the lands of the goyim. We realize that things in the land are not perfect but bring us there and we will work the land to make it better! We will plant trees, build homes and return the greatness of Torah to Zion. Please, answer our prayer: Next year in Jerusalem!!!”

Dearest friends; only one question remains. What would our grandfathers and grandmothers have done if “Next Year in Jerusalem” could have meant simply purchasing an airline ticket? They cried while we play. They dreamt about Jerusalem while we dream about the Bahamas. They saved every penny to (hopefully) send one family member to Israel while we waste thousands on useless gadgets and golf outings.

The time has come for us to bring the dream to life! Say what you mean and mean what you say. “Next Year in Jerusalem”… for every Jew in the world! Its 4 simple words that can – and will – change Jewish history forever.

Has Europe Even Tried to Fight Anti-Semitism?

by Yves Mamou
  • Each time an anti-Semitic attack in Europe receives media attention, politicians rush to condemn it. But verbal condemnations alone change nothing. Anti-Semitism just gets bigger.
  • The European Union has adopted anti-Israel policies out of fear of upsetting Muslims, but this fear of upsetting Muslims has been fueling Muslim anti-Semitism.
  • When European governments refuse to accept Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and when they urge "restraint" instead of affirming that Israel has the right to defend itself, they are indulging in appeasement. On one side, they condemn anti-Semitism but on other, they are just whipping it up.

Pictured: A young Arab man attacks two young men wearing Jewish skullcaps in a Berlin street, on April 18, 2018. The attacker whipped the victims with a belt, while shouting "Yahudi" -- Arabic for "Jew". (Image source: CGTN video screenshot)

On April 18, 2018, two young men, both wearing Jewish skullcaps, were insulted by a group of Muslims and whipped with a belt in a clearly anti-Semitic attack in Prenzlauer Berg, one Berlin's most fashionable neighborhoods. The violent assault, partly filmed by one of the victims, sparked national indignation in Germany. One of the attackers can be heard on the video clearly shouting "Yahudi" (Arabic for "Jew").

"It is intolerable for young men to be attacked here just because they are wearing a kippah," said Heiko Maas, the German Foreign Minister. "Jews must never again feel threatened here. It is our responsibility to protect Jewish life."

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Bennett: ‘The Supreme Court has taken over Israeli government’

Education Minister Naftali Bennett blasts Supreme Court for judicial activism, says court now dominates executive branch.
(Ed. Note: Giving credit where credit is due. While I have often referred to Bennett as "Feiglin-lite" because of his "borrowing" and then gutting of Moshe's ideas, here he gets it right)
Naftali Bennett
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) slammed the Supreme Court over its judicial activism, accusing it of assuming the role of the executive branch.
In an interview Sunday evening with Channel 2, Bennett justified his recent efforts to push legislation to empower the Knesset to override Supreme Court decisions with a simple majority – a bill opposed by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
Earlier on Sunday, Bennett revealed plans to bring up his bill in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation next Sunday, despite efforts by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to delay a vote on the proposal.
While Mandelblit has suggested reforms which would limit the ability of the Supreme Court to nullify Knesset laws to rulings with a two-thirds majority and a minimum of nine judges ruling, as well as a clause permitting the Knesset to override court rulings with 70 votes in the 120-memebr Knesset, Bennett has pushed for a bill allowing the Knesset to override court decisions with a bare 61-vote majority in the Knesset.
The bill, popularly referred to as the “Override Clause”, would alter Israel’s Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty.
In the Channel 2 interview Sunday, Bennett explained the purpose of the bill, and why he believes it is critical to restore balance between the executive and judicial branches.
“The Supreme Court has taken the executive branch – the government. The Supreme Court doesn’t have the right to cross all the lines and grab power for itself, unless it’s an extraordinary situation.”
Bennett noted the unusually large number of laws passed by the Knesset which have been nullified by the Supreme Court in recent years.
“The court struck down the Infiltrator [Deportation] Law twice, blocking us from deporting [the infiltrators], and blocked us from expelling terrorists or demolishing their homes,” continued Bennett, referring to recent court decisions blocking the IDF from destroying the home of Omar al-Abed, who in July 2017 murdered three members of the Salomon family in their home in Neve Tzuf (Halamish) in Samaria.
The court also threw out in 2017 the first Infiltrator Law, aimed at deporting thousands of Eritrean, Somalian, and Sudanese illegal immigrants living in Israel. In 2018, the court froze implementation of a new Infiltrator Law, and in April, ordered the government to release more than 200 infiltrators who had been detained for refusing to leave the country.
“The Supreme Court has tossed out nearly 20 laws in the last few years, and that is outrageous,” continued Bennett.
“We want the Supreme Court to be able to nullify laws only in extraordinary circumstances. The Knesset will be able to pass laws a second time [after their nullification by the court] in a protected manner, with a special majority of 61 Knesset members. Only this way can we remove the infiltrators from Israel.”
Ordinarily, passage of new legislation requires only a majority of Knesset Members voting – typically less than 61 MKs, a majority of the full Knesset.

Area C is Strategically Vital for Israel

By Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen



BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 801

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The proposed transfer of significant parts of Area C to the control of the Palestinian Authority will be detrimental to Israel’s national interest, if only because these territories are almost completely devoid of any Palestinian population. As such, they afford not only a strong security grip but the possibility of extensive Jewish settlement without threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic character. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s meticulous and detailed demarcation of Area C in the Oslo Accords underscores the great importance he accorded to Israel’s continued retention of this territory.

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The Shamrak Report: "We’re Just Getting Started"

Israel celebrated 70 years since the state of Israel was. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is celebrating “70 years of freedom, 70 years of democracy, 70 years of bettering the world.”
Netanyahu welcomed what he called "real seeds of peace" he said were beginning to sprout among some of Israel's Arab neighbours.
"Our hand is outstretched in peace to all of our neighbours who want peace," Netanyahu said in Hebrew.
"And to our enemies who think that we are a passing phenomenon, I have news for you: In 70 years from now you will find here a country seven times stronger than what we have done so far. This is just the beginning!"
Forty ambassadors to the United Nations have arrived to take part in Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations. They hail from Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America.
A few days before, during the Memorial Day Israel was honouring the memories of 23,646 fallen soldiers, security forces members and terror victims last Wednesday, Memorial Day! (71 Soldiers, 12 Civilians fell this year)
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
In 2005, having a delusional hope that it would stop accusations of ‘occupation’, Israeli government forcefully removed 8,500 Jews from Gaza, arguably, in violation of the 4th Geneva convention. The move has not changed the Israel-bashing habit of international bigots, who have eagerly been financing the PA and Hamas since their inception a few decades ago! Gaza has a problem with raw sewage running on streets, but hundreds of million dollars, generously provided by international anti-Semites - with no accountability, are paid to terrorists and their families, and finance all sort of anti-Israel ‘protests’!
IDF reveals names of four new gas field-defending Sa’ar 6 warships, which is due to be delivered by the end of 2019. The 300-feet-long (90-meter) warships, which are currently being built in Kiel, Germany, will be packed to the gills with highly sensitive detection equipment - to monitor both the surrounding sea and airspace.
Flaming kite from Gaza sets Israeli warehouse ablaze. Gaza terrorists flew kites attached with firebombs into Israel. The kites - each with Molotov-cocktail-like bombs tied to their tails - were floated over border fences from Gaza City and other areas. (If it is not a declaration of war what is needed to realise Israel is at war and finish it? How many Jews must die again to prompt clearing Gaza from enemy population and annex it?)
Fifty-one members of Congress have signed a Forum-originated letter to President Trump. The letter asks to declassify a State Department report on how many individuals currently considered “Palestine refugees” by the United Nations fit the U.S. government definition of refugee. The United States has provided over $1 billion to these “refugees” via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) over the past four years. (Most likely, NONE!)
An Israeli court ruled that it is permitted for visitors to the Temple Mount compound to call out, “Am Yisrael chai” (“The people of Israel live”), because it is a patriotic slogan rather than prayer. Jews visiting the contested site are barred by Israeli law from praying there. (If this is "contested holy site", why are Muslims allowed to pray there? Jews are even discriminated against in their own country!)
The Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) accused the Palestinian Authority of preventing a rally it was planning to hold in Ramallah to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the destruction of the Islamic Khalifah (Caliphate).
The US State Department released its annual report on human rights violations around the world on Friday, and there was at least one discernible difference from past reports: It no longer refers to the West Bank as “occupied.”
An Israeli man who was beaten in an anti-Semitic attack while wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap in Berlin told German television night that he was not Jewish but wanted to find out whether it was safe to walk in the street dressed as a Jew.
Police on Independence Day arrested three Jews during an Israeli-Arab "march of return" (which was allowed to be) held near Atlit to protest Israel's Independence Day. While Arab participants carried PLO flags, Jews were not allowed to wave Israeli ones! Among those arrested was Lieutenant Colonel Avi Farhan, a Gush Katif deportee, and his wife Laura and his daughter Ganit.
QUOTE of the WEEK:
"Best wishes to Prime Minister @Netanyahu and all of the people of Israel on the 70th Anniversary of your Great Independence. We have no better friends anywhere. Looking forward to moving our Embassy to Jerusalem next month!" – President Trump twitted - He is right! Israel is the best friend the US have ever had.

The Other Side of Anniversary

Iran Tells Israel: ‘Our Fingers Are on the Trigger, Missiles Are Ready to Launch. (Who is having aggressive intentions?)
Israeli motorists were targeted by Arab terrorists in a drive-by attack on Highway 60 in Judea, near the junction leading to the Jewish community of Carmei Tzur. The attackers were riding in a passing vehicle bearing an Israeli flag flying from the window, with Israeli license plates.
A 44-year-old man was moderately burned after he was attacked with an ignited firebomb (Molotov cocktail) hurled at him in the Silwan section of Jerusalem, just outside the walls of the Old City.
Since 2013, 193 UN member states, two observer states and 11 territories have celebrated International Day of Happiness on March 20. Based on a yearly survey, Israel consistently scores as one of the best countries in the world in health and happiness. This year, Israel ranked fifth in healthy longevity and 11th in happiness.
“In spite of, or perhaps because Israel is a war-torn country, Israelis are deeply connected to their families, their friends, their land and God,” explained Roni Segal, an academic adviser for The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies,
A recently published National Geographic Travel article noted that Israelis have pioneered a lifestyle that cultivates feelings of fulfilment and promotes health and wellness. Additionally, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics found that the majority of Israelis (73.5%) describe their personal situation as good and believe that Israel is a good place to live (84%).

Rav Nachman Kahana: A Story of Deceit, Pleading with the Almighty, and the Essence of the last 70 years

Acharei Mot-Kedoshim and Yom Ha’atz’maut 5778
By HaRav Nachman Kahana


A Story of Deceit

Three penniless, unscrupulous Chassidim wanted to be with their rebbe in Lublin for Rosh Hashana, so they devised a plan to raise money for the journey.

They would go to one of the Jewish villages in the area. On arrival one of the three would pose as a great scholar while the other two would announce his presence in the town, inviting anyone in need to come and ask for his blessings.

Yankel was chosen to pose as the tzadik. He was to sit in the synagogue and wait for the simple, believing “clients”. And indeed, they came in search of help for their miseries.

The first was an elderly woman seeking a suitable chatan for her daughter. The “rebbe” blessed the daughter, and the woman placed several kopecks on the table. And so it went, with the money piling up to the glee of the three Chassidim. Soon they realized that this ruse could not last for very long, so they decided to escape town immediately after Shabbat. On Shabbat afternoon, a man came with desperation in his voice. He explained that his son was dying, and the doctors said that only a miracle could save him. “You, saintly rabbi, are the miracle that HaShem has sent to save my son. Please come now to my home”, pleaded the man. The three had little choice and followed the man home.

They saw that the boy was at the end of his life. The father and two Chassidim left the room, leaving the “rebbe” alone with the boy.

Ten minutes later the “rebbe” exited the room, saying to the father that HaShem would save the boy, and the three departed.

Right after nightfall the three gathered all the money and left the town as quickly as their feet could carry them.

While walking in their hometown six months later, they saw the boy’s father approaching. They began running to escape his anger and the physical beating they thought awaited them.

The father caught up and immediately pounced on the “rebbe” with embraces and kisses, thanking him for saving his son. When the father left, his surprised companions asked Yankel what he did in the room with the boy?

Yankel the rebbe took a deep breath and said, “I laid down and began beating the floor in desperation. I pleaded with HaShem, ‘Father in Heaven I am an outcast, a low life, every sin possible is in my life. But one thing I pray to you. Don’t let me be guilty of destroying this man’s pure and holy belief in You and in Your rabbis. Save the boy!’


Pleading with the Almighty

The souls of the generation of 70 years ago came before the holy throne and entreated the Almighty. “We are the worst generation in Jewish history. How can we face our forefathers when six million of our generation were murdered by the sons of Aisav in the most monstrous ways? The suffering of our generation is more overwhelming than the suffering at the destruction of the holy Temples and the exiles of our people from Eretz Yisrael. Woe to us, our sins and our punishment! How can we exist with this awful scar upon us and our leaders?

And HaShem replied, “My children, you are wrong. Wait and see how your generation will develop into the greatest of all in Jewish history. What you will soon accomplish will dominate all preceding generations; even that of the generation that left Egypt and received the Torah at Mount Sinai”. Not the self-defacement of Yankel the impostor, but pride in being HaShem’s sole chosen people.

HaShem continued: In the year 5708 (1948) three years’ time after the Shoah and after 2000 years of agony in the galut, your generation will open the gates of Eretz Yisrael to all My children. You will, in 70 years, bring the number of my children home to seven million, when never before had there been so many Jews in My holy land. Your land will be the envy of all the nations, where heart, mind and soul will come together to sanctify My holy name.

You will be praised by friend and foe alike. I will give you imagination and intelligence to show the wonders of my world. Torah will live in Eretz Yisrael in the way I have always wanted but did not get the co-operation of My people. You will create a Torah empire never before realized, where so many young men and women will thirst for the knowledge of my Torah. Never did a people survive 2000 years of suffering in My name, while I did not reveal Myself to you, not by prophet nor by open miracles. It is to your credit, your courage and boldness and resoluteness for My sake with no revealed reward. I coerced the generation to leave Egypt and to enter the land under threat of extinction. You have come home with faith while clinging to Me and Judaism.

Your generation is the greatest so far but will be surpassed by subsequent generations of your children in Eretz Yisrael.


The essence of the last 70 years

Chapter 20 of Tehillim contains 70 words, which capture the essence of the last 70 years of the Medina, as follows:

(א) למנצח מזמור לדוד:

(ב) יענך י’ ביום צרה ישגבך שם א’להי יעקב:

(ג) ישלח עזרך מקדש ומציון יסעדך:

(ד) יזכר כל מנחתך ועולתך ידשנה סלה:

(ה) יתן לך כלבבך וכל עצתך ימלא:

(ו) נרננה בישועתך ובשם א’להינו נדגל ימלא י’ כל משאלותיך:

(ז) עתה ידעתי כי הושיע י’ משיחו יענהו משמי קדשו בגברות ישע ימינו:

(ח) אלה ברכב ואלה בסוסים ואנחנו בשם י’ א’להינו נזכיר:

(ט) המה כרעו ונפלו ואנחנו קמנו ונתעודד:

(י) י’ הושיעה המלך יעננו ביום קראנו:

A psalm of David.

1 May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

2 May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.

3 May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.

4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.

5 May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

6 Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to His anointed. He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

8 They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

9 Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!






My Israeli brothers and sisters – be proud of who we are, of what we have accomplished, and what is still waiting for us to do.

I say all this in total recognition and sadness for the huge human sacrifices we have had to make to attain what we now have. However, the total number of military sacrifices is equal to just two days in the single camp of Auschwitz. At the end of the day, the lesson is that there is life in Eretz Yisrael, while galut means for the Jew both spiritual and physical death.

Shabbat Shalom and Yom Ha’atzma’ut samayach,

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5778/2018 Nachman Kahana