<I>Re'eh</I>: The <I>Trempist</i>

This week's Haftarah portrays Israel, "afflicted, storm-tossed and not comforted," as it leaves the years of curse behind and returns to the Land of Israel. On "not comforted," the Oznayim L'Torah explained that there never was the option of coming to Eretz Yisrael and just sitting here like the Swiss in Switzerland.

Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Hirsch,

Aryeh Hirsch
Aryeh Hirsch
Last Saturday night, I finished seeing my last patient at 1:00 a.m. After putting a splint on her fractured foot, I started driving north from Talpiot and stopped at the "trempiada", the hitchhiking post, in French Hill to see if anyone needed a ride north to Beit El. Nobody did, but one teenager asked if I could drop her off at the gas station below the hill of Kochav Ya'akov. which I did. Along the road, we talked about the war and the general situation in Israel.

As we talked, I mentioned that there once was a time when you didn't have to pass by metal detectors to enter the central bus station of Jerusalem. She could barely believe it, having grown up in our "era of peace" (sic): "What? You didn't have to undergo a search when you entered a shopping mall or a restaurant on the Ben Yehuda Pedestrian Mall?"

"No," I answered, "and you didn't have to go through checkpoints that look like border crossings, sometimes backed up for two hours, to get from Pisgat Ze'ev to this gas-station, either (a distance of some three miles)."

" Re'eh Anochi notein lifneichem hayom et habracha v'et haklala." (Devarim 11:26) - "See I am placing before you today the blessing and the curse." In his discussion of this parsha, Rabbi Matis Weinberg (Frameworks, unpublished) quotes the Ramban and the Seforno. The Ramban says (11:29) that this means that the Almighty is giving us a choice of two alternative lifestyles, "derech bracha and derech klala", the road of blessing and the road of curse. No longer is God speaking of a covenant of individual commandments, like in last week's parsha (which dealt with Shema, prayer, Sabbath, etc.). Now God is revealing the core minimum necessary for the Covenant, so that it will work in the Land of Israel.

There is a clear choice between a good lifestyle and a bad lifestyle, for, "See I have placed before you life and the good, and death and the evil." (30:15) It's not necessary for you to follow every jot and tittle of the Law, as long as you line yourself up behind those who do uphold the Law.

And that's what is sorely lacking in this nation. Appreciation of the Law, even if one does not know or uphold it. Most Sefaradim have always possessed this basic Jewish "feeling". At a wedding, I once saw a non-religious relative of mine point with respect to members of the Chasidic branch of our family and say: "I don't know much about being Jewish, but they do." This feeling allowed Ephraim Kishon, zt'l, to proudly label the settlers "the generation of the knitted kipot," without being one of them, but feeling pride in their accomplishments.

The Oznayim L'Torah points out that this is what led King Achav to go to war against King Hadad of Aram. Hadad had asked for all kinds of tribute and Achav conceded. But when Hadad demanded the surrender of the "apple of the nation's eye," the national Torah scroll (Sanhedrin 102), so that Hadad could defile it, that was too much; and idolatrous Achav refused. This involved severing the last tie to the Covenant and to the Lord, and that, even evil Achav would not do. It is akin to the fact that 99%-plus of the Jews in this country are circumcised.

Instead of that warm feeling, our Achavs have made all out war against the covenant. They not only do not follow Jewish Law, but they attack kashrut, Sabbath observance, the rabbinate, fasting on Tisha B'Av, chametz on Pesach, etc. with relish. And in Gush Katif, Amona and other places they have attacked those still upholding Covenant, Land and Nation. They have an incessant call "to be normal, like other peoples." What this parsha is saying, though, is that life in Eretz Yisrael demands non-normalcy: we will never be like other peoples. Hence, the Seforno (11:26 and 30):
Your lives will not be average lives, like most peoples. For I give you either blessing or curse. These are two extremes. The blessing is success much more than sufficiency, far on the side of the Good. And the curse is a deterioration that you will not have enough.... From the moment you enter the Land, I want to make it clear that your existence will not be in the way of mediocrity, but will be one of either blessing or curse."
There is a clearcut choice here, between only two alternatives. Blessing and Life, Curse or Death.

We have witnessed 14 years of leftist rule, as the war on the Jewish way of life has led to terror, bombings, suicidal ruinations like that of Gush Katif, and now the closure of one-third of the country by Lebanese rabble. We can have that. Or we can return to the "good old days " of ruling in our Land, as from 1967-1992, and showing respect for Covenant and Nation. The Torah is saying that there is no in-between, that we cannot have our cake and eat it too. We must rule here, and that is not for softies and those seeking only the " good life."

Sure, as our populace wakes up from the leftist, Oslo years we welcome them back to sanity with open arms. But we must realize that there still remains a battle against the Jewish Benedict Arnolds who brought us Oslo, Disengagement, Convergence, etc. These leaders of the Left are not motivated by Jewish ideals and feelings. They have made war on the Covenant, Land and Nation in order to rise to money, power and favor with the Goyim. They are not fit to rule, and until we realize that they are infected by evil, we will not be able set this country back on the "derech HaChayim."

This week's Haftarah portrays Israel, "afflicted, storm-tossed and not comforted," as it leaves the years of curse behind and returns to the Land of Israel. On "not comforted," the Oznayim L'Torah explained, writing some fifty years ago, that there never was the option of coming to Eretz Yisrael and just sitting here like the Swiss in Switzerland:
See, there is no comfort for Israel even in its Land. When we were cursed in Exile we were like a lone sheep lost among the nations, seventy ravenous wolves ready to tear us apart. And now our Medina, our little country, is in the same situation, among seventy nations who seek its destruction. Against this danger the prophet says: "'See I have created the craftsman to make tools, and I have created destruction, in order that birth-pains bring on new life. Every implement forged against you shall not succeed, and every tongue that goes against you to law will be found guilty, that is the heritage of the servants of God, and whose righteous deeds are those ordained by Me,' saith the Lord. (Yeshayahu 54:16-17)."

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