Rabbi Nachman KahanaRabbi Nachman Kahana is an Orthodox Rabbinic Scholar, Rav of Chazon Yechezkel Synagogue – Young Israel of the Old City of Jerusalem, Founder and Director of the Center for Kohanim, and Author of the 14-volume “Mei Menuchot” series on Tosefot, “With All Your Might: The Torah of Eretz Yisrael in the Weekly Parashah”, as well as weekly parasha commentary available where he blogs at http://NachmanKahana.com
There is no greater mitzva than to defend the lives of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel
Among the laws in the Shulchan Arukh, the Code of Jewish Law, governing the respect incumbent on a son and daughter towards a parent (Yoreh Dai’ah #240), there is one which prohibits a child from voicing support for the parent’s position, which could be construed as the parent’s inability to maintain his position independently.
In parshat Shemot, this week's Torah reading, Moshe requested that Hashem exempt him from the mission to free the Jewish people in order not to take away the honor and respect due to his older and more erudite brother Aharon.
We are about to witness a chillul Hashem, desecration of G-d's Name, of unprecedented proportions scheduled to take place in New York in the presence of 70,000-80,000 obviously religious-looking American Jews, and will be seen through the media by millions of gentiles the world over.
The victim of this chillul Hashem is so virtuous and beloved to Hashem, that I am totally inadequate to speak out in its defense – just as a child may not support the position of an honored and beloved parent who is perfectly capable of defending himself.
In this case, the victim is Medinat Yisrael, the Jewish State, and the accusation against her is “redifat hadat” – religious persecution. The perpetrators of this chillul Hashem include some leading religious figures in Agudat Yisrael who plan to go to the States in order to take part in an “orgy of hate” against the state. The grievance is that compulsory army service will interrupt Torah studies for a year and a half (like the Hesder arrangement) at the end of which the young man will be able to return to his studies.
I would like to believe that these learned and venerable rabbis who will soon depart to the Diaspora to participate in this less than honorable event are being manipulated and fed false information by “advisors” who personally have much to gain financially. I have a gnawing suspicion that the organizers are taking advantage of these rabbis in order to raise great sums of money. When I read the Hamodiah hareidi newspaper today, I could not believe that they are talking about my country. Page one describes some of the vulgar and false terms which will be used in the protest meeting’s manifesto such as “religious persecution,” “trampling of the Torah” and “anti-Torah decrees”. These phrases could have been copied from anti- Semitic manuals. T
he real issue is simply one of every citizen’s responsibility to contribute to society and not only to take.
A responsible government has two major obligations: To feed its people through responsible economic programs and to defend them with a formidable military force.
Government and private initiatives can provide work, but the basic premise is that each citizen must contribute his fair share in order to receive its benefits. And if the member wishes to be defended and protected, he must take part in the defense of that nation. Our government is willing to create military frameworks for haredim, but they prefer to view the Israeli government as the Jews, 100 years ago, viewed the Russians who would whisk off little boys for army service of 20 years as “Cantonists”.
Instead of running off to New York to sully the name of our holy nation and state, the rabbis would have done better to follow the examples of the illustrious Rav Kook and Rav Chaim Zonnenfeld who, in 1913, went to tour the agricultural settlements and draw them closer to Torah through love.
I, and all my sons and sons-in-law and older grandchildren are currently serving or have served in active duty units. Five are officers: one is a colonel, two are majors and two lieutenants. One of the most glorious days in my life was when I had the privilege to wear for the first time the khaki green uniform of Tzahal, the IDF, (where I served from the age of 28 to 50).
While buttoning each of the five shirt buttons, I was thinking that each one stood for 400 years of exile, and now Hashem has granted me the intense privilege to serve my people as a Rav in civilian life and as a combat soldier in the army. We returned from army service with a greater love of Torah and the land, and with the conviction that we are part of the greatest miracle Hashem has performed for His people in 2000 years.
To learn Torah is the breath of life of the Jewish nation. However, according to the rules set down by the Creator to our father Avraham, the Jewish people will have to struggle for life itself.
There is no greater mitzva than to defend the lives of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael. Take it from the great King David.
Part B: The Damage is Done
After writing this article, I learned that the rabbis who were scheduled to partake in the anti-Yisrael orgy of hate have postponed their trip. This does not change any of the negativism which their planned trip created, as we can learn from the following musar story.
A Rosh Yeshiva was informed that a young yeshiva student was considering visiting a questionable place. At the young man’s denial that he was ever at that place, the Rosh Yeshiva slapped him strongly on the face saying, “I am certain that you were not there. But you have to be punished for even considering being there.”
Part C: A Mental Challenge
A great heap of small wood shavings is mixed together with equally small bits of steel shavings, and you are required to separate the two materials. How do you it? As you ponder this matter, I will proceed with the parsha.
The Mechilta in parshat Bo records a discussion regarding the number of “Eirev Rav” (mixed multitude) who went out of Egypt. Rabbi Yishmael claimed there were 1,200,000 and Rabbi Akiva claimed the number was twice that at 2,400,000. These numbers are staggering when taking into account that the number of male Jews from age twenty to sixty numbered only 603,550.
Where are the Eirev Rav today?
Unfortunately, they are part and parcel of the Jewish nation albeit not recognizable. They continue to misguide the inherently holy Jewish nation in compromising and perverting the Torah in word and spirit.
Let’s return to the question of the wood and steel shavings.
Three methods can be utilized to separate these small particles: A powerful windremoves the lighter wood; fire burns the wood leaving only the steel bits; a magnetdraws out the steel.
From the time that Moshe Rabbeinu released the Eirev Rav, the three processes of wind, fire and magnet have been in effect. The strong winds of assimilation have removed countless numbers of people, far more numerous than those who were murdered for being Jews. This process is being accelerated in our time through the conservative and reform movements, which are busily at work (perhaps unwittingly) undermining the basic framework of our nation.
During the darkest times in world history, the second process of fire has been used by Christians and Moslems to decimate millions of Jews. And even though many pure and righteous tzaddikim were also murdered, the Gemara in Tractate Bava Kama states that when the heavenly decree is implemented in a specific place, all those who are there – righteous or not – fall victims.
The third method of the magnet powerfully attracts the authentic Jewish soul to return to Eretz Yisrael, while leaving the others to disappear in time in the galut.
One more process is running concurrently with weeding out the Eirev Rav from Am Yisrael.
The Gemara (Tractate Yoma 10:a) records two opinions regarding the distant future (which is now): 1. Persia (today’s Iran) will vanquish Rome (today’s USA, and Western Europe), and 2. Rome will vanquish Persia.
This is quite remarkable when considering that 30 years ago Iran was a third-world country and its ability to threaten anyone outside of its own citizens was highly improbable. Yet, today, the Iranians are building intercontinental missiles armed with nuclear warheads, capable of reaching North America.
The rabbis of the Talmudic passage cited above – who knew so much but spoke so little – were actually revealing two future scenarios which will be decided by the parties themselves. If the US acts in a way that endangers the State of Israel, the US will fall prey to the Islamic forces in the world. However, if they support the Jewish State, they will be the vanguard of the free peoples in the world.
At this juncture in world history, humanity is entering the phase of “Malchut Shadai” – the Kingdom of Heaven. It could take another 10, 50 or perhaps 100 years to resolve itself, while the forces which are creating the Jewish New World order are weeding out the Eirev Rav from among Hashem’s chosen people. Wind, fire and magnet – and the accountability of the nations of the world in their conduct towards Medinat Yisrael – will determine the kind of world our children and grandchildren will live in.