Rabbi Eliezer MelamedThe writer is Head of Yeshivat Har Bracha and a prolific author on Jewish Law, whose works include the series on Jewish law "Pininei Halacha" and a popular weekly column "Revivim" in the Besheva newspaper. His books "The Laws of Prayer" "The Laws of Passover" and "Nation, Land, Army" are presently being translated into English. Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be viewed at: www.yhb.org.il/1
The Arab Public’s Hatred
The Arab public is cynically and viciously exploiting the horrific murder of the Arab boy from Shu’afat. All the leaders of the Jewish community – from the President to the last Member of Knesset, from the Chief Rabbis to the last community rabbi – expressed their shock, grief, shame and condolences for the mourning family, a response unlike any other from the Arab public about any murder of Jews – even the most horrific.
And yet, the Arabs continue to blame the murder on all of the Jews – and in particular, the right-wing religious community.
Furthermore, it is clear the murderers will be punished to the full extent of the law, in accordance with the maximum penalty that exists under Israeli law. Nevertheless throughout the country, Arabs are rioting, smashing, burning, destroying, attacking with stones and Molotov cocktails, and blaspheming the State of Israel and the Jews.
Can anyone possibly believe that the reason for all this is the murder of the boy?!
The obvious conclusion is that the murder of the boy is merely an excuse and justification for uncovering of the intense hatred of Jews and the State of Israel by the Arab community. A hatred that has been going on since pre-State days when they wanted to throw all the Jews into the sea, till today, when rioters dare to proclaim that they will continue what Hitler started but did not finish.
When the State was established, the Jews agreed to accept the partition plan and concede the heart of the Land of Israel to the Arabs. However, the Arabs tried to continue what Hitler started, and failing to do so, want us to recognize their ‘nakba‘; in other words, we should compensate them for their failure to annihilate us as they originally planned.
Even though as individuals they were granted the status and rights they never would have received in any Arab country, they riot and murder, and what’s more, even accuse us that they are forced to do so because they don’t have more political rights and economic benefits with which to destroy us! As long as Israel exists, they will feel deprived. Their pride will be hurt.
Breaching the Walls of Jerusalem
It should be pointed out that most of the false allegations against Jews in general originate from the Israeli left. They taught the Arabs to claim discrimination, while completely ignoring the Arab’s failure to bear the burden of defense and the economy.
From the Israeli left, the Arabs learned to hurl the argument ‘why don’t you intend on destroying the homes of the families of those who murdered the boy from Shu’afat’, when the difference is so clear it shouts to the skies! The families of Arab terrorists support them, boast of their deeds, and elevate them to the level of saints, while the Palestinian Authority pays salaries to the families depending on the nature of the murder – the more appalling, the bigger the paycheck. In contrast, Jewish families oppose their actions and are ashamed of them.
But for the Arabs, and unfortunately also among the Israeli left, logic and facts are irrelevant – the main point is that the Jews are always to blame. Even when Arabs murder other Arabs, the Jews are to blame. This is akin to the breach in the walls of Jerusalem.
There are Arabs who want peaceful relations with us, and even appreciate all the good they enjoy thanks to the Jews and the State of Israel –particularly when they see what is happening in the neighboring Arab countries – the sea of flames and mass murder on the streets and in the mosques. However, they are threatened within their own society, and do not receive adequate backing from the Israeli government.
There could be more of them; they could live with us in respect, love and peace. Unfortunately, though, we have become accustomed to rewarding evil. This also is an expression of the breaching of Jerusalem’s walls – the walls of justice and peace.
The Europeans’ Position
In Israel, Europe, and all other countries, the Arabs have learned that it pays to be violent – to rant and rave, and constantly blame the government of discrimination. They discovered that making such claims yields monetary benefits and various rights, because they arouse the glands of European conscience, which became very sensitive after the horrific bloodshed they committed in the two World Wars and during their prolonged colonial rule.
Abandoning the Religion of Democracy
The situation today is complicated, considerably more than it was before the Oslo Accords. Yet, it is still possible to gradually reach a reasonable solution. But to do this, we must wean ourselves from the delusional illusory peace which they have been trying to sell us in various and sundry ways for years.
We must also wean ourselves from the religion of democracy, which demands full and immediate equal rights for all. We have seen the awful consequences of this position in the Arab countries and Africa. Masses of people are being slaughtered on the altar of this belief. In many countries, life expectancy has dropped on behalf of “equality now”. On the altar of the religion of democracy, Khomeini rose to power and turned Iran into the center of international terrorism. On this altar, Egypt was nearly destroyed and turned into an equivalent of Iran.
China and Russia
One can compare the process that occurred in the Soviet Union to what is currently happening in China. In the Soviet Union, they immediately switched over to full democracy, which was interpreted in the minds of the people as an anarchy of ‘might makes right’. Life expectancy has declined, and agricultural and industrial production has decreased dramatically. From being a well-developed country, Russia has turned into a marginal state with a large nuclear arsenal. Putin is currently attempting to restore order to the country by other than purely democratic means, but the fact is that life is improving and becoming more convenient for the majority of the citizens.
In contrast, China chose a moderate and gradual route of development which did not topple the power of the central government and did not damage economic development, rather, the opposite – it encouraged growth and prosperity. At the same time, new leaders are emerging who are more committed to the values of human rights, and the standard and quality of living is gradually improving, much to the chagrin of the ‘religion of democracy’ purists in the world.
Undoubtedly, there is a great deal of injustice in the Chinese and Russian governments today. Nonetheless, the lives of so many people cannot be sacrificed on the altar of some unrealistic ideals which cannot be realized at present.
The Only Solution to Restore Security
There is one path ahead of us against the Arab enemy – to recapture the entire Gaza Strip and impose law and order there; to disband the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria; to dismantle all armed militias; and to stop the rampant incitement in mosques and schools.
All of the Arab municipal administration should be subject to Israeli government institutions, while allowing them to organize within the framework of municipalities and local authorities, which will collect taxes and manage all the regular civilian issues.
Hopefully as time passes, a responsible Arab leadership will emerge that can take upon itself additional powers in managing Arab public life. This plan should include all Arabs living in Israel, without exception.
The Main Purpose of the Fast
The main purpose of the fast is repentance and national introspection. Indeed, each individual should also conduct a private reckoning, but the fasts were established primarily for the purpose of national reflection.
Our Sages of the Mishna said: “Five misfortunes befell our fathers on the seventeenth of Tammuz and five on the Ninth of Av. On the seventeenth of Tammuz the Tablets of the Law were shattered, the daily offering was discontinued, a breach was made in the city, and Apostomos burned the Torah and placed an idol in the Temple” (Ta’anit 26a).
The Illusion of Peace is Today’s Sin of the Golden Calf
The illusion of peace which entails retreating from parts of our country is today’s sin of the Golden Calf. The great vision of Israel’s’ return to their Land as God said in the Torah and through His Prophets seems too difficult, so instead, people search out a closer vision, as it were, more convenient for the Jews, and acceptable to the Gentiles. And in order to avoid confrontation with the people, even Aaron the Priest, the man of peace, participated in the sin of the Golden Calf.
The vision of peace is a lie, like the Golden Calf. Just as the Golden Calf did not take Israel out of Egypt, so too, the present vision of peace has increased hostility, and hurt the Jews and Arabs alike.
As a result of the Golden Calf, the Tablets of the Law were broken. In the wake of the imaginary vision of peace, the covenant between God and Israel in which He promised this good Land to our forefathers and us was broken. They shattered the mutual responsibility among Israel, creating a barrier and hate between left and right. And all of this for a futile dance around a vision of imaginary peace.
The Discontinuation of the Korban Ha’Tamid (Daily Offering)
The korban ha’tamid expresses the everlasting connection between Israel and God, and the eternal values of the Torah. These values are expressed in the overall unique character of the Jewish nation, such as the sanctity of the family, the Sabbath, holidays, and in particular, the education that has continued from one generation to the next.
It is not difficult to see how the rejoicing around the Golden Calf, while at the same time ignoring Israel’s heritage, is connected to the discontinuation of the korban ha’tamid.
Burning of the Torah
The concept that the Torah is not relevant today, but rather, its place is in the heavens with its letters floating in the air, or at the very least, concealed within the walls of the kollels, devoid of any contact whatsoever with reality, is similar to the burning of the Torah. The tikkun (correction) is the recognition that the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land) and all the other Torah instructions, penetrate from the heavens to the earth, and bring blessings to the people of Israel in all areas, both spiritual and physical.
Placing the Idol of Democracy in the Temple
Every idol is assigned a specific idea, however, it is only one idea out of a full range of ideas; consequently, when turned into “the supreme idea” – this is idolatry. Introducing the idol of democracy into the temple is analogous to inserting one idea into Israel’s sacred and moral sanctuary.
Instead of striving for the benefit and welfare of mankind, an idol was placed in the temple, and in face of the various difficulties, its’ priests’ prophesize: “Thus commanded the God of Democracy: No matter if the world is destroyed and people are miserable, the most important thing is to fight for democratic rights for all!”
Breaching the Walls of Jerusalem
The event upon which the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz was ultimately set was the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem, which expresses Israel’s grand vision.
The sin of the breaching of the walls in our times is expressed in the harsh libels against the Jewish nation, and in particular, against the settlers who are protecting Jerusalem and Israel with their very bodies. Unfortunately, radical left-wing Jews are also partners in these libels, however, the root of this stems from a lack of faith and recognition of our role – which ultimately is our responsibility. If we were to clarify for ourselves the grand vision of the connection between the heavens and earth, the unification of the various ideas and their implementation in the world, the walls would stand fortified.
Atchalta d’Geula (Beginning of Redemption)
After being privileged by the grace of God to atchalta d’Geula in the Ingathering of the Exiles and the settling of the Land of Israel, we must return and correct all the ills which brought about the destruction of the Temple. May it be God’s will that on the fast of 17th of Tammuz, we merit fixing the walls of Jerusalem, and thus merit the building of the Temple and the complete Redemption on Tisha B’Av, and the days of fasting and mourning will become days of joy and happiness.
This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.