Jewish World 12:13 AM 12/12/2013
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Best-selling author, speaker, and spiritual guide, Rabbi Lazer Brody came to Israel from the USA in 1970 after graduating from the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture. He is a veteran of an elite IDF Unit, having served for nearly thirty years in the regular army and in the IDF reserves. Rabbi Brody pens the award-winning Lazer Beams weblog, is the editor of Breslev Israel web magazine, and the author of The Trail to Tranquility. His English translation of Rabbi Shalom Arush's international bestseller The Garden of Emuna has sold over a million copies. Rabbi Brody is also a musical composer; his Calming Waters is a collection of his original relaxing instrumental melodies and Judean Dream is an album of "Land-of-Israel" music recorded together with Guy Tzvi Mintz and Yosef Karduner. Rabbi Brody spends considerable time traveling around the world spreading the light of emuna.
I certainly couldn't run for office after writing the following thoughts, for they won't garner popularity. But, these are things that need to be said and heard. Don't say in a few years, "we had no idea..."
Rabbi Shalom Arush said last year, “Those who don't come to Israel while they still can may be lucky to escape from the USA with a plastic bag and a pair of pajamas.” For the last two years now, Rabbi Shalom has been urging our brothers and sisters in the diaspora to come home to the Land of Israel. Following his recent call, which I echo on every forum possible including my weekly radio show on Israel National Radio, many of our readers and listeners in the USA and Canada asked their spiritual leaders – including some of North America’s foremost Rebbes and Rosh Yeshivas – if our urgent call to make aliya (move to Israel) should be taken seriously.
The worst form of blindness is spiritual blindness, where a person refuses to use the gift of his eyes for the purpose that Hashem intended. Hashem is bombarding us with messages, but the overwhelming majority fails to see. I don't enjoy being the wake-up megaphone, but there's no choice. It's time to put aside the iPods and the Chinese restaurants, and to realize that our people have entered a period of greatest danger.
The Holy "Ohr Hachaim" - Rabbi Chaim ben Attar - writes that the generation survives by virtue of its tzaddikim. When a tzaddik dies, it's not because of his own misdeeds, Heaven forbid; he dies as a korban chataat, a holy flawless sin-offering that atones for the generation, tantamount to a ritual sacrifice in the Holy Temple, may it be rebuilt soon, amen.
The above concept alone is enough to stimulate anyone from spiritual slumber. This past month alone, our people have lost 3 holy tzaddikim - the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, the Nodvorner Rebbe, and the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, all of saintly and blessed memory. And as we write these words, Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv - both spiritual pillars that this generation stands on - are fighting for their lives.
We the Jewish People defy nature. Hashem has shown his compassion by enabling Rabbis Scheinberg and Elyashiv - both over 100 years old - to remain with us and to continue leading our way. Both have crystal-clear minds. May Hashem lengthen their days in good health, amen. Yet, we can't be complacent. It's not the lives of Gedolei Yisrael that are on the line - it's the lives of every one of us.
We must ask ourselves - where's the deterrence? Just hours ago, a ruthless agent of the darkest evil gunned down Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, his two small sons, and 8-year old Miriam Monsanego on the streets of Toulouse, France. When there's deterrence in Israel, the gunmen outside of Israel think twice.
But in Israel, as even the secular media now laments, there is no deterrence. We're not even referring to Nasralla and the Hizbolla, who are arming themselves to the hilt with anti-aircraft, chemical and biological weaponry. Nor are we talking about the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, who are making life miserable on our cherished brothers and sisters there, with daily and potentially deadly rock attacks and carjackings especially against female motorists. In the very heart of our country, the ugly head of homegrown Arab terror has exposed itself recently in such places within the so-called Green Line as Hebrew University and Ramla.
So where's the deterrence?
The Torah gives us the secret of deterrence (Deuteronomy 28:10): "For all the nations of the earth shall see that the Name of God is upon you (literally, that the Name of G-d can be read from your countenance, in other words, that you reflect His Name) and they shall fear you." That's the entire doctrine of deterrence in a nutshell.
The smoke has barely cleared from the 220+ Grad missile attacks that we here in the south of Israel had to contend with all of last week. Has Gaza been deterred for their villainous acts? No way; ceasefire or not, the rockets still fall...
Non-emuna Israel fails to understand. The non-emuna government could care less. Civil Defense wanted to send our kids to school last week, with insufficient bomb shelters and no place to take cover. Our excellent mayor, a wonderful G-d - fearing physician named Dr. Yechiel Lasri, put his foot down and told the government "no!"; he is unwilling to risk even a hair on one child's head. Alarmingly, to the government's own admission (Home Front Command), 30% of Israel has no bomb shelters and 40% have no gas masks.
Hashem is showing us that there's no one to depend on but Him, just as our sages warned (see tractate Sota 49b).
So why do we still depend on a wobbly reed that has lost all its deterrence? Why do we depend on the morally bankrupt leaders that are much more concerned with their stock portfolios and their luxury apartments than they are with the security of our children in the south of Israel and on the northern borders? What legitimacy do they have when the handle the Hamas and Hizbolla with kid gloves yet destroy the homes of Jews in Migron?
Why are we silent?
Why aren't we tearing the Heavens open with prayers for Rav Scheinberg and Rav Elyashiv?
Why is it "business as usual" when our Bnai Akiva emissary to France is murdered together with his two little sons?
The terrorists are only disciplinary rods in Hashem's hands; Hashem wants us to wake up fast. If you love your family and your people. here's what you need to do right now:
1. Do your very best to strengthen your emuna and to talk to Hashem every day, begging mercy for our people. Our own politicians, with all their bravado, admit that the scenarios are not pretty. Iran is no joke; conflict is not "if", but "when." There is no room for complacency on either side of the ocean.
2. Men, take upon yourself the mitzva of tefillin. This way, the "Name of Hashem shall be upon you." The Lubavitcher Rebbe of saintly and blessed memory began his tefillin project worldwide right before the Six-Day War in 1967; according to the Kabbalists, this invoked the Divine Compassion that tipped the scales so miraculously in Israel's favor.
3. The fun and games of cheap thrills and meaningless games are over. Hashem wants us to return to Him in complete teshuva.
4. The transgressions of adultery, homosexuality, and violating the Sabbath carry the most severe spiritual penalty called ka'ret. We must all do our utmost to promote and preserve personal holiness and the sanctity of Shabbat.
5. We must make a massive effort to encourage aliya. Israel is the Land of Emuna. Please, start praying to Hashem to help you come home to the Land of israel soon.
6. We must cast aside the bad habits that we've picked up in Diaspora, and to start living lives of Torah-observant Jews.
Each of the above six points is critical in restoring true deterrence. Once we do, Hashem will deliver our enemies into our hands, preparing the way for the full and complete redemption of our people, speedily and in our days, amen!
Bibi is off to Washington tomorrow, visibly to convince the President of the United States that the Iranian threat is both acute and imminent.
Back in the time of Mordechai and Esther, the Jewish people faced an accute threat of annihilation. The ax had fallen, King Achashverosh's decree - initiated by his wicked vizier Haman, the great grandson of Amalek - had been signed, sealed and delivered to the four corners of the kingdom. The Jewish people were petrified with fear. Did Mordechai and Esther embark on a diplomatic mission to convince the heads of state? No. Did Mordechai stockpile arms and maybe plan a preemptive strike? No. The entire Jewish nation fasted for three days and made teshuva.
Where are we burying our heads as Israel is looking down the barrel of an imminently nuclear Iran? In Facebook? In our new IPhone? It's really scary.
How can any Israeli complain about apathy amongst our brethren overseas when here in Israel, the army is making life miserable for religious soldiers, Tel Aviv wants to uproot the Shabbat and official Israeli government ministries actively promote gay tourism? Will this invoke Divine compassion? Rather than building Hashem's Holy Land, every week, more homes in Judea and Samaria are destroyed. So many tragically misguided voices are clamoring in revolt against Hashem, when we should be doing the exact opposite, making Teshuva big-time!
Hashem has put the Israeli military establishment in check - logically, there is no chance for an Israel go-it-alone effort against Iran to succeed.
Oh yes, Mordechai and the Jews did pick up their swords in the end, but only after they made teshuva and reconfirmed their emuna and commitment to Torah. The subsequently wiped their enemies off the face of the earth.
I wish that our Prime Minister would realize that Jewish history always repeats itself. This is the week of Purim. If the Jewish People make teshuva, Hashem will arrange that even paper airplanes become bunker busters. Our national security depends on emuna and teshuva - that's all. With emuna and teshuva, David's pebble fells any mighy Goliath, any day of the week.
In the "good old days", The GRAD missiles would fall one be one. Earlier this week - this past Shabbat and yesterday morning - they've been falling four at a time, attesting to the new mobile rocket launchers that have made their way into Gaza via Egypt during the recent chaotic times of Arab Spring and Summer. The Islamic Jihad, as faithful proxies to their Iranian benefactors, have been testing how much they can get away with without. They've been getting away with quite a bit, for it seems that in the post-Shalit era, Israeli deterrence is at an all-time low.
People ask me, "Reb Lazer, you talk about emuna all the time; you say that Hashem does everything for the best. How can being on the receiving end of those deadly GRAD missiles be for the best?" I'm glad they asked.
Burnt Cars in the aftermath of a GRAD attack in Ashdod Emuna Outreach, Ashdod
Emuna means knowing that everything comes from Hashem, that everything is truly for our ultimate benefit and that everything is for a purpose. Emuna means a smile even when you're under the gun.
So what purpose did the recent missile barrages serve?
We saw big miracles. We saw how a GRAD missile landed on a school that has been serving as a makeshift synagogue on Shabbat for the last 40 years. This past Shabbat, for several "happenstance" reasons, the minyan was cancelled...
We saw how a GRAD missile landed between two 15-story condos, completely gutting six cars but not causing any human casualties.
Today, the man on the street in Ashdod is speaking differently; he's using words like "Hashem", "emuna" and "miracles." People that have no connection to formal observance are declaring, "Hashem is in Ashdod - He's right here with us! We love You, Hashem."
When we don't get close to Hashem on our own accord, He brings us close to Him. Sometimes a good sheep dog must give a lamb as little bite in the thigh to keep it from straying. The GRADs in Ashdod are to keep us from straying and to encourage us to strengthen our emuna so that we'll be spiritually able to receive the bright light of Moshiach and Geula, the full redemption of our people, speedily and in our days, amen!
Rabbi Lazer Brody is a resident of the port city of Ashdod, twenty miles north of Gaza
In Israel, there are two schools of thought. One is the material school, who sees Israel as a street-café extension of modern Europe or the USA, where one’s only concerns are high-tech, making money, having a good time, and self. If one has to step on others or even sell parts of the homeland for a few years of ersatz quiet, then so be it. This is the wolf school of thought. We’ll soon see where it takes us.
The other school of thought sees Israel through spiritual eyes, as our Divine inheritance and the hallowed homeland that is the most conducive place on the globe for learning emuna and fulfilling all of Hashem’s commandments. Such a holy land, with its center in the Holy Temple and Jerusalem, is non-negotiable. This is the deer school of thought, and we’ll soon see where it takes us.
The prophets Samuel, Ezekiel, and Daniel referred to our holy land as the Land of the Deer.
True spirituality brings people to truly love and respect one another. By the same token, material interests are devastating to peace, whether on a personal or national basis. Here's an example taken from chapter three of The Trail to Tranquility to show why:
Two Russian soldiers were once on a winter maneuver in the Siberian forest at midnight. The light of the full moon reflected on the snow, so the woods were well illuminated.
All of a sudden, they heard a thud. A distressed wild turkey with a broken wing had fallen from the treetops. Within seconds, two hungry wolves arrived on the scene. One grabbed the turkey by the wing, and the other sunk its teeth in the turkey's thigh. The two wolves began a tug of war. When neither wolf succeeded to free the turkey from the other's grasp, they attacked each other. Viciously and mercilessly, they literally tore each other apart, until one wolf dropped dead on the snow. The victor limped away, dragging the turkey between his teeth and leaving a trail of blood on the snow. A few minutes later, he keeled over and died too.
The gruesome but profound incident conveys a powerful message: The turkey weighed more than twelve pounds; it would have been a more-than-adequate dinner for both wolves. Their greed led them to anger, and their anger led them to violence. As a result, three corpses in were left in the snow - the turkey and the two wolves.
The Talmud teaches a consequent rule of thumb from situations like the wolf fight: Wherever you have peace, you have abundance; with no peace, starvation is prevalent.
Have you ever wondered why deer multiply so much faster than wolves? When a thirsty clan of deer arrives at a stream or other source of water, the bucks first allow the does to drink, and the does make sure that the fawns drink before they partake of the water themselves. The leader buck is the last one to drink - he won't take a sip until the entire herd is cared for. It's worth roughing the outback for an entire month just to witness such an inspiring sight.
Deer adults - both bucks and does - are extremely considerate of the young. When a herd of deer reaches a lush meadow, the fawns are first allowed to partake of the most luscious and tender greens; only after they've had their fill, the rest of the herd grazes.
Whereas the deer live in peace with one another, the wolves don't. Wolves are loners, each clan for itself. Get your day’s meat and the heck with everyone else. Not so with the deer.
To uproot the acute problems we face today in our holy and beloved homeland, we must become "deer" in the Land of the Deer. Instead of talking about peace with our neighbors who have no intention of ever making peace, we need to be focusing on peace among ourselves. The sooner that the Jewish people return the Land of Israel to the land of the deer rather than the land of the wolf, the better we’ll assure our security for posterity.
Peace is the true reflection of faith in The Almighty. People with faith know that The Almighty has plenty of resources to feed the entire world, so they don't have to use unethical means to obtain their livelihood. They know that G-d will provide for them without reverting to aggression or theft.
When there's peace, there's plenty for everyone.
King David teaches us that the humble shall inherit the earth (Psalms 37:11). Why? Humble creations – like the deer – get along famously with one another and therefore readily cooperate for the common welfare. Arrogant creations, on the other hand, want the whole world for themselves and therefore are constantly at each other’s jugular vein.
It’s no happenstance that the Land of Israel is nicknamed Eretz Hatzvi, or Land of the Deer (see Rashi’s commentary on Daniel 8:9). The Land of Israel is the inheritance of the humble and prolific deer, who by the way are a kosher species. Amazingly enough, the wolves are a dying breed. Today in Israel, the wolves need the intervention of the Society for the Protection of Nature to prevent them from becoming extinct altogether.
Let’s learn from the deer and live in peace with one another for the benefit of everybody.
Don't be mistaken, though: King David was as gentle as a deer with his own people. But, with the hostile neighbors on the other side of the border, he was the fierce lion of Judea. We should follow in his footsteps.
With national unity and mutual aid, we’ll certainly invoke Divine compassion to beat the rap of the impending threats and thereby insure our national independence and security until the day when Moshiach returns to take us to our rebuilt Holy Temple in Jerusalem, speedily and in our days, amen!
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We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams.