Contributing AuthorA contributing author.
May I suggest an alternative to finding life through blood. It doesn't say anywhere that life is obtained only through blood. I cannot believe or accept that G-d, in his infinite mercy wants us to gain life only through blood. We are supposed to choose life. We choose life by observing the mitzvot.
There has been a call by our rabbis to be careful with the mitzvah of shmirat halashon as a way to prevent acts of terror. Of course shmirat halashon and acts of chesed and ahavas chinam will bring us closer to the Mashiach. But being silent when words need to be spoken is a lapse in shmirat halashon, as well. Such is the silence regarding the mitzvot hatluyot baaretz (commandments dependent on the land of Israel). Fulfillment of the mitzvot of Shmitta (both Shmittat Karka and Shmitat Kesafim), Yovel, Terumot and Maasrot, Leket, Shikcha and Peah - all bring kedusha - sanctity - to the land. Eretz Yisroel is a Holy Land. It is made holy by the fulfillment of mitzvot. Let us pray with our heart and soul on Shabbat, and ask Hashem, "Kadsheinu bemitzvotecha, veten chelkeinu betoratecha..." (?sanctify us with Your commandments and let our portion be in Your Torah?). Perhaps, in G-d's mercy, if we sanctify the land by striving with all our heart and soul to keep these mitzvot of Eretz Yisroel, and by rediscovering the halachot pertaining to these mitzvot - since as our rabbis state, Shmitta was not observed properly for over 2000 years - G-d in His mercy would not find it necessary for human sacrifices.
A more thorough analysis of keeping Shmitta and fighting terror can be found in the Arutz Sheva Torah Section dated November 19th. Here is a brief synopsis: Doesn't it say that the 70 years of exile between the First and Second Temples were as a result of not keeping 70 Shmitta years properly in the time of the First Temple? Keeping Shmitta requires tremendous acts of faith. When we keep Shmitta we demonstrate that the land rightfully belongs to G-d. G-d in turn, appoints us as the caretaker of the land. By fulfilling the commandments we bring kedusha, sanctification, to the land and that is what makes it holy. In the Shmitta year, we sacrifice our livelihood and put our trust totally in the Master of the Universe that He will provide for us.
Now I ask you dear readers. Is this sacrifice more difficult to accomplish than the willingness to sacrifice one?s own life? Rabbi Goren says, "This commandment of ?I will be sanctified by the People of Israel before the eyes of many nations? was always our supreme commandment...." Please G-d, let the sanctification come through living and not through dying.
The time has come to change the tune to our song, just as at the Pesach Seder we sing "Venomar lefanav shira chadasha..." After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jews laid down their stringed instruments at the banks of Babylon, saying, "Eich nashir es shir Hashem al admas neichar?" - ?How can we sing the song of G-d on foreign land??
Allow me to explain using an analogy: The Jews are the violinists. The land of Israel is the violin. The notes to be played is the Holy Torah. Does it make sense to give the violin to someone who hates music? Obviously, that's absurd. Let's take the analogy one step further. Does it even make sense to give the violin to a prestigious museum who will encase it and make sure it looks nice? Naturally, it's one step better than giving it to someone who will destroy the violin. Doesn't the world want to hear beautiful music?
Mr. Prime Minister Sharon, it is irrelevant to argue whether or not a Palestinian State can be something other than a terror state. It is irrelevant, that is, if you want to hear music. We have the Torah. Prime Minister Sharon - your name means song - how can you agree to give the violin to a prestigious museum?
Arutz Sheva recently report that: ?He [Sharon] then expressed Israel's acceptance of the principles of the Bush plan, emphasizing that nothing can proceed before a complete cessation of terrorism. He later said, however, that Israel would take measures such as ?creat[ing] territorial continuity between Palestinian population centers...? - i.e., withdrawing from cities such as Jenin, Shechem, and Hevron - even while the Palestinians were still engaged in making a ?sincere and real effort to stop terror....?
?Though Sharon emphasized that Israel need not make political concessions before an absolute cessation of terror, he does not see an IDF withdrawal from the cities as a ?concession.? This is because he feels that Israel's military presence in the cities is only temporary, as its handing over of parts of Yesha to the PA in the 1990's was ?irreversible.??
With all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister, are you implying that the Torah is reversible, but that handing over parts of Yesha to the PA in the 1990s is "irreversible"? What makes the Land of Israel a Holy Land? The Torah does. Keeping the commandments do. Traditionally observant and nonobservant Jews believe that there is a special kedusha (sanctity) in Eretz Yisroel. Even if Bush argues that the new Palestinian State will be like the prestigious museum, a nice democratic state, which is friendly to Israel and will be the nicest of neighbors, will this new Palestinian entity be able to create kedusha, the shir chadash for the world? They have no notes. They have no desire even to be musicians. They have no interest in keeping commandments. In fact, they themselves have not been on the land for a very long time. Didn't Mark Twain say that the land was barren in the 1800s? What is their claim to the land?
We have cried to the world that Jewish blood is being spilled. We have cried to the world, ?just you wait, you are next.? It has been making some impact, but not enough. Our message from Hebron is that Eretz Yisroel belongs to Am Yisroel.
Looking inward, let's focus on perfecting our tune. Certain Christians have been saying it all along: the world is blessed when the Jews play their tune. Let's get to work. Let's take this seriously. Let us convince ourselves that it is possible. Then the world will be convinced as well.
What should be our focus? In a recent edition of the Jewish Press (December 12, 2002), there is a reprint of the overview of the Prophecy of Yechezkel from the Artscroll Series (by Rabbi Moshe Eisemann and Rabbi Nosson Scherman): ?[T]he king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and took its king and its princes and brought them to him, to Babylon. Then he took from the seed of royalty and made a covenant with him and brought him into an oath, and took away the mighty of the Land. That he shall be a lowly kingdom, that he might not be lifted up. That he should keep his covenant in order that it might endure.? (Yechezkel 17:12-14)
Had they accepted Yechezkel's entreaties to consent to be a "lowly kingdom", a vassal state, Israel could have survived as an independent entity until they would have been entitled, spiritually, to return to the level of Solomonic days and beyond, to the heights of the Messianic era. Instead, Judah and her kings chose the "charade of prancing about with the lions of Babylon and Egypt as if it were indeed a world power capable of indulging in the sport of powerful monarchs."
From the overview: ?Again we must return to the refrain that Israel's ultimate purpose - No! Its only purpose - is to provide heaven and earth with spiritual content and meaning, to be the Adam of earth, the grapevine among the trees. To do otherwise is to ignore the purpose of Israel and deprive the nations of their own need, little though they may recognize the validity and indispensability of that need. ....Israel's role is to influence history through its allegiance to the Torah, thereby becoming the vibrant soul of the world. Should Israel meddle on the stage of world history when it has not yet perfected itself? Would not its entry into the arena of world powers distract its human and spiritual resources from their primary task? And would the forest best be served if the vine tried to take the place of the redwood?"
Our focus it the Torah. We need to put all energies into studying the mitzvot hatluyot baaretz, specifically, Shmitta, which seems to be a key.
("Yechezkel Overview" reprinted with permission from Sefer Yechezkel - ArtScroll Tanach Series - Artscroll Mesorah Publishing - Brooklyn, N.Y.)
[Part 2 of 2]
In Shmitta year 5747, Robin (Stern) Ticker, a single girl at the time, acted upon simple faith and attempted to understand and experience the Shmitta portions of the Torah, and she took a year Sabbatical, loaned out her money and attempted to live without really knowing where her food would be coming from. She can be reached at email@example.com.