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Jewish World 12:14 AM 3/10/2014
The Jay Shapiro Hour
Torah Tidbits Audio
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
A reader asks how is it possible that I can spend time searching through Google pictures and not take the opportunity to look at immodest photos of women as well. The truth is that dealing with this temptation is not an easy matter. No one is immune from the yetzer hara. I wish I could say that the thought alone revolts me, but I am not on that exalted level. Our Sages tell us that a Jew should not say “I don’t eat pork because I don’t like the taste.” Rather he should say, “Though pork is tasty, I don’t eat it because of the command of my Creator.”
Thus, to please G-d, and to keep my soul, and my house, as unblemished as I can, I try to keep away from girlie pictures. For safety, our computer has two anti-porn filters, and we keep it in a central place in the living room so everyone can see what’s on the screen.
This week’s Torah portion of “Ke-Teze” states:
“When thou goest out to encamp against thy enemies, thou shall keep away from every evil thing. If there be among you any man who is not pure by reason of a spilling of semen at night, then he shall go abroad out of the camp…. For the L-rd thy G-d walks in the midst of thy camp to deliver thee, and to give up thy enemies before thee; therefore thy camp shall be holy, that He sees no unclean thing in thee and turn away from thee” (Devarim, 10-15).
This warning does not only apply to the Jewish army, but also to any Jewish encampment, dormitory, office, or home. As our Sages have told us, nothing drives the Divine Presence away from the Jewish People as much as immodesty and sexual transgression.
Referring to the warning in the verse we have quoted above, “Thou shall keep away from every evil thing,” the Talmud teaches: “This means a man should not gaze upon an attractive woman, even an unmarried one; nor upon a married woman, even if she is ugly (Avodah Zara 20A). This is because, “A man shouldn’t have sexual thoughts in the day and come to seminal impurity at night” (Ibid, 20B).
This injunction applies to looking at photos of women on the Internet as well. This type of sordid behavior pollutes one’s soul and one’s house with a terrible pollution that drives Divine blessing away.
For those who maintain, “I can look at girlie pictures and nothing results from it,” this is not true. Firstly, it clearly violates the Torah commandment, “You shall not stray after hearts and after your eyes which lead you astray.”
Secondly, gazing at immodest images triggers an automatic, even if unconscious, sexual thought which pollutes the brain, the heart, and the soul.
Because of this automatic response, the spiritual component of the seminal seed is automatically released from the brain and travels along the spinal cord to the lower glands where it will be jettisoned in one way or another, whether through a willful spilling of semen, a “wet dream,” or when a person urinates. As our Sages have taught: “Whoever gazes at women will eventually come to transgression” (Nedarim20A). They also have warned: “The eye sees, the heart desires, and the body finishes the sin.”
If a husband has relations with his wife after having looked at pictures of women on the Internet, G-d forbid, this is clearly forbidden, and any child resulting from such a union will be spiritually, and possibly physically blemished, as well.
Furthermore, since a man’s brain and thought process is connected to the highest spiritual worlds, googling at Google ladies pollutes the Holy of Holies in the uppermost world, just like setting up an idol in the Holy Temple, adding to the destruction of Jerusalem and prolonging the exile.
Each immodest image a person looks at causes him to violate, “You shall keep away from everything evil,” so that at one Internet sitting a person can transgress hundreds of Torah prohibitions.
The evil results of looking at pictures of women on the Internet are too numerous to list here. In summary, our Sages have said that gazing lustfully at women is worse than the forbidden act itself, since when a man commits a sexual transgression with another person, if his soul is not totally darkened within him, he afterwards suffers a feeling of revulsion and remorse which leads him to thoughts of repentance. However, the person who obsessively gazes at women convinces himself that he is engaged in permissible behavior, and because his heart isn’t saddened over this, he doesn’t think to repent, and continues to commit hundreds of transgressions each day (See “Taharat HaKodesh,” 3:3).
As King Shlomo taught: “There is a generation that is pure in their own eyes, and is not washed from their filth” (Mishle, 30:13). Because they fancy themselves pure, and don’t understand how their eyes drag them into a terrible pollution and cut them off from everything holy, they don’t think to cleanse themselves from their filth. Thus, King Shlomo writes after this: “There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes and how their eyelids are raised,” to go about in arrogance and contempt for the Torah, to allow their eyes to gaze upon whatever their hearts desire.
Studies suggest that up to seven out of ten Internet viewers (excluding INN surfers of course) spend a portion of each viewing session watching some porn. So for the health of you souls, and for the spiritual, moral, and physical health of your family, if you don’t yet have a trustworthy filter, download one now, let your wife be the only one who knows the code, and keep the monster in a central place in the house.
We missed devoting a blog to Rabbi Kook on his yortzeit last week. In addition to having been a master in all disciplines of Torah, and a great visionary, Rabbi Kook also wrote many powerful and inspiring poems which sublimely express his passionate yearning for G-d. Here for your enjoyment is a short fable he penned. Unfortunately, my translation can’t compare to the beauty and depth of the original Hebrew, with its rich imagery and multiple nuances. But the symbolism and message of the fable are obvious all the same.
THE CAGED LION
THE old lion is broken
Tired from his many hunters
Trapped in a narrow cage
He remembers times from his childhood
Memories of freedom
The valor of the forest.
His cubs were born in captivity
Their souls don’t feel his weariness
Yet their souls haven’t grown.
They haven’t been broken by the enemy
Because they haven’t seen battle
And the valor of the forest they don’t know.
Though the cage is narrow
It doesn’t oppress them so much,
It inhibits the wildness of their youth,
But the cubs don’t moan
Over this small matter,
And the glow in their eyes
Over this doesn’t darken.
The cubs are angry with their father,
Why is he so sunken in his thoughts
To have forgotten about life?
There still is room to frolic a little
Even in this narrow cage.
The children are astounded
When they look upon the aged lion
So stooped over and sighing.
ONCE the old lion awakened
And told his tale to the playful youngsters,
“There is a world filled with light
A place filled with liberty and freedom
A forest of great expanses,
And towering trees
How pleasant are those cedars of G-d!
The scents of the forest restore the soul
A myriad of living creatures dwell within
And everything is enlivened with the pleasures of freedom.
“And when I was your age, children,
It was there that I ruled with pride and strength
All of the forest’s warriors bowed before me.
And if not for my pursuers who shattered my bones,
And if not for this narrow cage
I would still now be ruling in the forest
And you too would be filled with freedom and pride.
These words came forth from the old one
And the youths ceased to frolic.
Instead of joy in their eyes
A flash of revenge shone in them,
Eyes filled with fire and blood,
And with an embittered spirit and hidden rage
They tried to break
The narrow cage.
THE soul of mighty lions roared inside the cubs
And their eyes also saw
With all the same force
The kingdom of the forest.
The longings in them grew stronger
To reach the open expanses,
To the place where their old father ruled.
They couldn’t keep still in the cage
The scent of the oak trees of the forest
Filled their nostrils and lungs,
The colors of budding flowers
Held their hearts captive
Their spirits didn’t fall
And they didn’t groan
Like the elder
Whose bones had broken,
And the light of his life turned gloomy
Because of the oppression of his captors
Who turned his world upside down.
And with a yearning of spirit
Like billowing flames
Their hearts yearned for the forest.
IF in sincerity and innocence
The forest is loved,
The old broken lion once said,
Then the soul of proud lions
Still beats within you,
And this the narrow cage
Won’t be your home
For you will always belong to the forest kingdom.
The words of the elder
Strengthened the hearts of the youth,
And with the power and valor of young lions
They began to smash at the cage’s bars
With their claws, their teeth, and their roars
Frightening the captors
From their routine guard.
And with a fierce spirit raging with love for the forest
They broke and shattered the walls of the narrow cage.
SEEING the boldness of the cubs
The old broken lion was filled with courage,
And a spark of the proud lion inside him was kindled anew.
Taking a place in the front of his sons
All of his being filled with valor,
And together with a spirit of freedom
They fled to a place with freedom and light.
Hearing the roar of lions, their captors trembled in fear,
And with a proud spirit the lions went on their way
Until they came to the place of the oaks
To the castle of the lions
As it had been from time immemorial.
It was as if the old lion regained his youth
And his broken insides
Became bonded together in joy.
And he together with his cubs
Spoke victoriously to their enemies at the forest’s edge
And all the lions returned
To raise up the forest kingdom.
This coming year, as we assemble to hear the shofar of our freedom, may the eternal spirit of the proud Lion of Judah be awakened in all of our hearts to shatter our cages and bring us home free once again to our Land.
You Owe It To Your Kids
I don’t mean to be rude. If you were to meet me in person, you would probably say that I am a very nice guy. But there are certain things that are so antithetical to common sense and healthy Jewish thought that a blogger has to speak out.
Can anyone imagine a Puerto Rican kid not speaking Spanish? Or a Japanese kid not speaking Japanese? Of course not. This is the natural, healthy, common-sense order of life.
But when it comes to the Jews, something gets very screwed up. You would think that, like in the above examples, every Jewish kid should know how to speak Hebrew. Just the way Spanish is the language of Puerto Ricans, and Japanese is the language of the Japanese, Hebrew is the language of the Jews.
Nothing could be simpler, right?
That’s the way it is in Israel. That’s the way it should be. Jewish children grow up speaking Hebrew. They also may know Yiddish, or English, or French, but they all speak Hebrew fluently.
But in the Diaspora, things get screwed. In the Diaspora, there are millions of Jews who don’t know Hebrew at all! Instead of speaking their own language, they speak an assortment of foreign tongues that are totally alien to their souls and their brains.
This alone should make everyone realize how damaging, mind warping, and insidious Diaspora life is for a Jew.
In the “Shema Yisrael” prayer, we say, “And you shall teach them to your children, to speak of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you walkest by the way, and when you lie down and rise up” (Devarim, 11:19). Rashi explains this verse by saying: “When the infant begins to speak, his father should speak with him in the Holy Tongue and teach him Torah, for if he doesn’t, behold, it is like he buries him, as it says, ‘And teach them to your children to speak of them.’”
Rashi is coming to tell us that if a father speaks to his child in a foreign language, it is as much as burying him in a foreign culture, alien to Jewish thinking, values, concepts, understandings, and traditions. If a Jewish child grows up with a foreign language as his main tongue, he will come to have a foreign identity, a distorted understanding of who he is, a goyisha kop, so to speak, meaning he will think like the gentiles around him and approach Torah learning with the headset of a foreign mentality. This is like feeding one’s child poison and leading him astray from his true life as a Jew.
Thank G-d, in Israel, this sick and tragic state of affairs is being healed. Immigrants come to the Holy Land from Russia, Morocco, America, Argentina, and a dozen other countries, all speaking foreign languages, and presto! Their children grow up speaking Hebrew! The way it should be. The way G-d intended Jews to speak. It’s a miracle!
Sure, the wise and saintly Yosef, and members of the Sanhedrin, knew 70 languages. No problem with that. But Hebrew should come first.
So if you don’t know Hebrew yet, start learning. It’s your language. It’s who you are. It may say on your passport that you are a Canadian, or Frenchman, of Englishman, or American, but that’s only a piece a paper. You are really a Jew. So start speaking Hebrew and be who you really are. Why live a life imitating others when you can be yourself?
It’s fun. It’s healthy. Besides, you owe it to your kids.
Ha ha ha ha ha! What a riot! Ha ha ha ha ha! That cracks me up! Ha ha ha ha ha! I’m sorry. If it wasn’t so funny, it could make you cry! The new excuse for not coming on aliyah. I never heard anything so funny! “As long as Yassamniks are beating up boys and girls and dragging families out of their homes, I’m staying put here.”
What a laugh! Ha ha ha ha ha! They’re hiding under their beds, ten thousand miles away in Brooklyn and Melbourne, and they’re complaining about the Yassamniks! Ha ha ha ha ha! It cracks me up!
Of all the people I know from Amona, Gush Katif, or Homash, now of them has packed up their belongings and left the Land. Some have stubbornly taking those same Yassamniks to court and won. Other determined and unbreakable Jews are establishing new settlements and hilltop outposts. Many tenacious idealists keep returning to Homash. Yet others are still in Amona, a few caravans down the street. No one is giving up in surrender. So when someone writes that they are not coming to live in Israel because of what happened in Amona and Gush Katif, it cracks me up! Ha ha ha ha ha!
Ha ha ha ha ha!
Ha ha ha ha ha!
I can’t help it.
Sure, we have lots of problems in Israel. Sure there are lots of things we still have to correct. But we aren’t running away from the challenge. We aren’t throwing up our hands in surrender and crying, “Let someone else do the work.” Not at all. We are here, come hell and high water, working to improve things, each of us working with G-d, in his or her own fashion, in order to transform Medinat Yisrael into the true Torah state.
I’ve written in the past how I would do it if I were Prime Minister. Since some of you asked to hear more of Rabbi Kahane’s teachings, here is what he says has to be done to bring us to the final Redemption:
(From the book, “The Jewish Idea,” Vol.2, Ch.39):
FROM everything stated previously, it is clear that the sudden, majestic, final redemption, redemption “in haste,” is in our hands to bring “today — if we listen to G-d’s voice” (Ps. 95:7). How greatly G-d wishes to give it to us in order to redeem us, and to redeem Himself, so to speak, from the Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d) of so many hundreds of years, the blasphemy and ridicule by the nations! Indeed, redemption is in our hands; and it is our duty to know how to bring it before the deadline arrives on redemption “in haste,” and we are condemned to redemption “in its time” with all the tragedies, suffering and Messianic birth pains this entails, Heaven help us!
Final redemption “in haste,” which comes to sanctify G-d’s name, cannot come as long as Israel profane G-d’s name, nor will it come unless G-d alone brings it. It says, “G-d shall guide them alone, with no alien power with Him/them” (Deut. 32:12). The word “alone” here relates both to G-d and Israel. G-d, alone, will help Israel, and they, Israel, will be alone, without help from any nation and without any ally. Only G-d will come to their aid, for “with them,” Israel, and certainly “with Him,” G-d, “there is no alien power.”
The great, lofty, awesome Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d) will come only when G-d stands alone against the whole world that schemes against Israel. Only then will it be clear to all, till the ends of the earth, that “the L-rd shall be exalted alone on that day” (Isaiah 2:11), and that He is the Supreme King of Kings, Omnipotent, “in Whose hands are the depths of the earth” (Ps. 95:4), Who does His will with the hosts of heaven and earth. Moreover, only when Israel cease to have even one ally from among the nations, will they, and the nations as well, understand that “Israel are saved by the L-rd” (Isaiah 45:17), and only by the L-rd. Then, all the earth’s inhabitants will prostrate themselves and accept in fear and holy trembling the yoke of G-d as their King. Israel’s isolation is an immutable precondition for final redemption.
Thus, the ultimate key to bringing final redemption in glory and majesty, and to obviating the need for terrible Messianic birth pains, is repentance based on “a nation dwelling alone” in isolation (Num. 23:9). This is impossible without real, complete faith and trust in G-d which direct the Jew toward seemingly dangerous mitzvot that incur the wrath of the nations. Only through such trust will we be able to exchange, even at this late hour, redemption “in its time,” with all the terrible suffering it entails, for quick, majestic redemption “in haste.”
Here is a monumental principle in the redemption of Israel, and had our sages not said it, we could not say it ourselves: The righteous believer, the person who trusts in G-d with complete and perfect trust, casting off all fear of mortal man and ready to do mitzvot which will isolate Israel, “forces” G-d to awaken and bring redemption. This is why King David concluded chapter 83, with the following: “That men may know that You, alone, Whose name is the L-rd, are the most high over all the earth” (v. 19).
One might ask: Why does G-d enable flesh and blood to dictate decrees to Him? The answer is simple: G-d fiercely longs to sanctify His name, profaned daily by the nations, but He demands that Israel sanctify His name first through complete and perfect faith and trust in G-d. They must take hold of dangerous, frightening mitzvot which leave them isolated and alone, with the nations opposing them, for only this can prove their real trust in Him. Then, when they have sanctified His name in this way, He will go forth in His wrathful revenge against the nations who profane His name, and will thereby save both Israel and Himself, so to speak.
Thus, complete and perfect deeds of trust in G-d sanctify His name, blot out the terrible Chillul Hashem inherently associated with fear of the nations, and pave the way for majestic redemption “in haste.” What, then, are these deeds? I shall enumerate them, dear friend, and you should engrave them on your hearts and proclaim them loudly in the streets to the Jewish People, before G-d’s great and awesome punishment visits us, Heaven forbid!
1. Those Jews who dwell in the impure exile, thereby scorning the Pleasant Land and its holiness, profane G-d’s name by their very habitation under the yoke and sovereignty of the nations. Through their dependency on the nations, they transform them and their false religions to masters over the Jewish People, to whom the Jewish People must lift their eyes. G-d will not bear this Chilul Hashem. He will not tolerate the assimilation and the influence of the alien culture on Israel. These destroy their souls and introduce foreign thoughts into the Jewish People and their Torah.
This conquest of Jewish bodies and souls is a Chillul Hashem, and also prevents the Jewish People from being a chosen, special people who dwell alone in their holy, special land. G-d, therefore, decreed that Israel had to leave Egypt and go up to Eretz Yisrael, and that otherwise, it would be their burial place.
The first exile is an omen for the last. G-d will not give in regarding Israel’s scorning the Land. When it comes time for G-d to punish the nations for their sins, raining down upon them His wrath, He will “turn their hearts to hate His people, to scheme against His servants” (Ps. 105:25). All this will be in addition to the tragedy He will unleash upon all Jews who live among the nations, when He takes revenge on the nations for all their sins through the collapse of lands and peoples. G-d’s liquidating the exile through Israel’s leaving it and going up to Eretz Yisrael is a major part of His removing the Chillul Hashem and sanctifying His name.
2. The impoverished regime, whose conception and birth occurred in the alien culture of the nations, and who denies the Torah of Moses, has refused to apply the authority and sovereignty of the people and G-d of Israel upon all parts of Eretz Yisrael for fear of the nations. This constitutes a Chillul Hashem, a rebellion against and degradation of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael, large parts of which have remained under the authority of the nations. A condition for complete redemption through Kiddush Hashem is control and sovereignty of the G-d and people of Israel over all portions of Eretz Yisrael in our hands.
3. For many hundreds of years, Jews lifted their eyes to the Holy Temple, about which was decreed, “Any alien who comes near shall die” (Num. 18:7). Here was the Holy of Holies where only the Kohen Gadol could enter once a year. The presence at this site of heathens who wholeheartedly hate the Jewish People is blasphemy.
The impoverished regime is handing over to the impure Ishmaelites ownership and authority over the Temple Mount and simultaneously preventing G-d’s people, Israel, from ascending to the permissible places. Let all ears be spared hearing about this! For this shall Zion sit in sackcloth, in somber mourning. Could any Chillul Hashem be more severe, more degrading? What can one say, knowing that the cause of all this is the heretics’ fear of the nations and absolute lack of trust in G-d? Israel are turning the Divine blessing and kindness associated with the beginning of redemption, which are a Kiddush Hashem, into an unprecedented nightmare, a sordid, abominable Chillul Hashem. G-d’s wrath looms over us, and woe to the insult to our holy mountain! We bear a holy duty to remove the cursed Ishmaelites from the site of our Temple and to remove the disgrace of their mosques which daily anger G-d, if we hope to save our souls from the day of wrath.
4. The call of the hour is to “drive out all the Land’s inhabitants” (Num. 33:52). Woe to us for having dealt treacherously with the Land and its owner, G-d! Through our fear of the nations, we have refused to conquer the Land by banishing the enemies and revilers of Israel, the lowly Ishmaelites.
How much innocent blood has been spilled in the Holy Land through murderers being allowed to remain in it! Even regarding a Jewish murderer, the Torah cries out, “Do not pollute [tachnifu] the land in which you live. It is blood that pollutes the Land. When blood is shed in the Land, it cannot be atoned for except through the blood of the person who shed it” (Num. 35:33). Sifri comments (Masa’ei, 161), “‘It is blood that pollutes [yachnif] the Land’: R. Yoshiah would treat yachnif as an abbreviation. ‘The blood will cause wrath to settle [yichan af] in the Land.’” (See the Jerusalem Talmud, Ta’anit 3:3, for a similar text.)
We see something extraordinary here. The Torah is talking about leaving a murderer alive in exchange for his paying some sort of indemnity; in other words, treating him with chanufah, flattery or hypocrisy — and the Torah uses that very root chanufah. The verse can thus mean: If you for any reason hypocritically indulge the murderer and do not kill him, then by poetic justice, the blood you did not avenge will bring G-d’s wrath upon you and the Land.
All this is said regarding even a Jewish murderer. Our sages derived that even his bloodshed “pollutes the Land and removes the Divine Presence” (Sifri, Ibid.). What, then, can be said to an ungrateful, unwise nation which rebels against G-d and His attributes, ideas and decrees, adopting the false “morality” of the alien non-Jewish culture? By flattering the cursed Ishmaelites, they give them an opening to murder Jews and shed innocent Jewish blood. Is it not poetic justice if such flattery “causes wrath to settle”? Who of the impoverished regime of the mixed multitude can proclaim, “My hand has not shed this innocent blood” of Jews murdered by non-Jews whom they allowed to live in our midst?
Who will stand up for the insult to the Torah when non-Jews are appointed over Israel and sit and judge them, and out of Ishmael go forth lawmakers to the legislature of the impoverished regime?
Who shall rise up like Pinchas and, spear in hand, execute zealous judgment against the alien culture and abominable concepts which have destroyed the uniqueness, holiness and separateness of the chosen, supreme people? The result has been assimilation and mixed marriage. Moreover, Israel have been contaminated by the nations with loathsome falsehoods, such as the equality of the heathen non-Jew and the holy Jew, and the non-Jewish concept of “Democracy,” which transforms evil and good, bitter and sweet, darkness and light, to equals. These people have introduced leprosy into the holy camp! “Their clothing must have a tear in it, they must go without a haircut and must cover their heads down to their lips. ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ they must call out’” (see Lev. 13:45).
Expelling the anti-Semitic gentiles is the call of the hour, before the arrival of that “day of wrath, of trouble and distress, ruin and desolation, darkness and gloom” (Zephaniah 1:15). It is a mitzvah for us to banish them from the Holy Land and to rid ourselves of every ounce of chametz, every vestige of foreign culture so beloved by the mixed multitude. This culture is an evil which murders the Jew’s body and robs him of his soul. The presence of the non-Jew who hates G-d and Israel, and the presence of that culture profane G-d’s name.
5. “You are a nation consecrated to the L-rd your G-d” (Deut. 7:6). Israel, both as individuals and as a people, must become holier through return to mitzvot. They must experience the holiness of the Sabbath. They must hallow the body by eating kosher foods and by leading chaste lives. Indeed, they must fill the Land with holiness, purity and Torah study, as it says, “For the Land shall be full of the knowledge of the L-rd, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Through all this, they will rid the Land of abominations, the idolatrous churches and cults which are to be “shunned totally” (Deut. 7:26), which arrogantly seek to influence the holy Jewish People to abandon the true faith.
Whoever is for G-d must sacrifice!
One might wonder whether the nations will not be incensed by this “provocation” against them and rise up against it. It is reasonable to assume that that is just what will happen, but should we be afraid because of it? G-d surely knew when He gave us these mitzvot that the nations would react with fury. Did that stop Him from giving them? Do we still live in the shame and lowliness of the exile, where the sound of a rustling leaf was enough to make us flee? Surely, G-d has returned us to our land as a first stage of redemption, and to sanctify His name and grant us the possibility of transforming grief to joy through our trusting in Him without fear. Whoever fears mortal nations, does not trust in G-d; and whoever thinks speedy, majestic redemption can sprout forth in the malodorous vineyard of such fear and Chillul Hashem, has studied no Torah whatsoever — and let him not teach it.
“Whoever is for G-d, join me!” (Ex. 32:26), cried Moses on seeing the Calf, and his enlisting the Levites was conditional on their being ready to sanctify G-d’s name through self-sacrifice. It says there (v. 27): This is what the L-rd G-d of Israel says: “Let each man put on his sword and go from one gate to the other in the camp. Let each one kill [all those involved in the idolatry], even his own brother, close friend, or relative.”
Imagine how hard it is, how cruel it is for a person to obey G-d with such self-sacrifice as this! Yet, only in this way will G-d sanctify His name and bring the redemption. Already above I quoted our sages in Berachot 20a: R. Papa asked Abaye, “Why did previous generations merit miracles while we do not? If it is a matter of learning, in R. Yehudah’s day only Nezikin was learned, while we learn all six orders of the Mishnah... All the same, R. Yehuda would no sooner remove his shoes [to pray for rain], and rain would fall, while we cry out and no one listens.” Abaye responded, “Our predecessors sacrificed their lives for Kiddush Hashem, but we do not.”
Such is the way of redemption.
At least 600 registrants are expected to stream into Reston, Virginia today to attend the fifth annual “National Jewish Retreat.” Held at the plush Reston Hyatt Hotel, not far from Vienna, Virginia, the several day Retreat has an around-the-clock lineup of dozens of dynamic lectures about all aspects of Jewish life. Well, almost all aspects. The most important lecture is missing – “The Elimination of the Exile.”
Too bad that no speaker has been invited to tell the truth, that every day that we sit in foreign lands and try to fit in with the gentiles, they hate us more and more.
Referring to the attitude of the Egyptians toward the Jews, King David wrote, “He turned their heart to hate His people, to deal craftily with His servants” (Ps. 105:25).
Why did Hashem suddenly turn the hearts of the Egyptians against the Jews?
Rabbi Meir Kahane explains that the Children of Israel arrived in Egypt by invitation of the Egyptians and were received with open arms. Pharaoh said, “Bring your father and your families and come to me. I will give you the best land in Egypt. You will eat the fat of the land... Be not concerned with your belongings, for the best of Egypt will be yours” (Gen. 45:18-20). He also told Yosef, “The land of Egypt is at your disposal. Settle your father and brothers in the best area” (Gen. 47:6).
“Israel lived in Egypt, in the Goshen district. They took possession of it and were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly” (Gen. 47:27).
Rabbi Kahane explains this verse by citing the profound commentary of the “K’li Yakar”:
“They became so completely settled that they did not wish to leave Egypt, and G-d had to remove them by force. Those who did not wish to leave died in the three days of darkness.”
Thus the Torah states, “Now you will begin to see what I will do to Pharaoh. With a strong hand he will let them go and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land” (Ex. 6:1).
Both Rashi and Rashbam interpret “with a strong hand” to mean that Pharaoh would “drive them out against Israel’s will.”
The children of Israel settled down in Egypt, sowed deep roots and proliferated, and became wealthy. They became possessed with possessing the land. Out of their love affair with Egypt, they cast off G-d’s yoke and wished to be like the Egyptians. As our sages said (Tanchuma Yashan, Shemot, 6): “‘The land was filled with them’ (Ex. 1:7): The theaters and circuses were filled with them.”
But why listen to me? From this point on, let Rabbi Kahane himself explain from this abridged section of his book, “The Jewish Idea,” Chapter 34:
HERE we see the perpetual process of Israel in the exile: G-d would decree exile for a particular reason; not, G-d forbid, so Israel would settle down there, but in order for them to fulfill a particular role, such as serving out a punishment, or, as in Egypt, publicizing a miracle and sanctifying G-d’s Name through their redemption.
Yet, they “sought to destroy their own souls” (see Psalm, 63:10). They did not grasp G-d’s ways and intentions, and they settled down in the exile for their own pleasure and benefit. It was this way with the first exile in Egypt, and so too, in Babylonia. Accordingly, every single exile was initially a refuge, yet they blindly turned it into a real “homeland.”
For that reason, when each deadline came, G-d had to drive them out of the exile against their will, as in Bereshit Rabbah, 33:6, on the verse, “The dove could not find any place to rest its feet” (Gen. 8:9): Had the dove found a resting place, it would not have returned.
Israel were rebellious children who loathed the Pleasant Land, turning their backs on the Holy Land and holiness. They scorned the Divine command to settle in Eretz Yisrael, seeking to dwell in tranquility and be citizens in the lands of the nations. This is why we were beset by so much trouble and grief and holocausts. These constitute nothing but the wrath of the king punishing a servant who fled to the cemetery to practice idolatry, when the possibility of returning to his master’s home where he is commanded to dwell stands open before him.
Israel will leave the exile — willingly or by force.
The very act of living in the exile, even the most comfortable, tranquil exile there is, under the authority and sovereignty of the nations, dependent on their benevolence, generosity and tolerance, is nothing but a Chilul Hashem, a desecration of G-d, an abandonment of G-d’s authority to that of the non-Jew. It is a Chilul Hashem to go from being a landlord in Eretz Yisrael to being a tenant and minority, beholden to the non-Jew for one’s protection and security. Only in Eretz Yisrael can G-d’s Kingdom and Kiddush Hashem (sanctification) be realized.
The source of impurity and foreign culture is the exile. That is where the gentile influence on a pure and holy people originates and where their corruption begins. It is through this that the nations ridicule Israel and profane G-d’s name, as it says, “They profaned My holy name, in that men said of them, ‘These are the people of the L-rd, and they are gone out of His Land” (Ezek. 36:20).
This is why G-d took the Jewish People by force out of Egypt, with those not wishing to leave dying in the three days of darkness. It is why G-d destroyed exile after exile, including a sizable portion of the exile just a short time ago, Heaven help us. G-d will do the same even in our own age, that of redemption “in its time,” unless we gird ourselves with strength to fulfill the mitzvah of the G-d of the Land in settling the Land of Israel:
“Go up and occupy it, as the L-rd, G-d of your fathers, has told you. Do not be afraid and do not be concerned” (Deut. 1:21).
The Jewish People have no choice. The exile will be eliminated, and they will leave it. They can do this of their own free will, with G-d’s blessing, as it says, “Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid” (Jer. 30:10). If, however, they stubbornly insist on being “like the nations, the families of the lands” (Ezek. 20:32), remaining in the exile, then, “As I live, says the L-rd G-d.... I will bring you out from the peoples... with a mighty hand, an outstretched arm, and with anger poured out.” (Ezek. 20:33-34). Countless Jews will fall on the mountains of the nations in their exilic homes, and only remnants will escape in fear from the exilic cemetery.
This last exile and its redemption will be like the first exile and its redemption: Just as there, when the time of reckoning came, G-d did not allow Israel to remain in the exile, the same here as well.
Yet no one listens or hears except for “one from each city and one from each family” (Jer. 3:14).
G-d proclaims to all the righteous of every generation: “Righteous of the earth! Although Torah study is dear to you, you have behaved poorly, for you awaited My Torah, but not My Kingdom. I swear that I Myself shall testify positively on behalf of whoever awaited My kingdom” (Pesikta Rabbati, 34).
I believe the point is that G-d rebukes the righteous of the exile throughout the generations, because they were ready and willing to accept His Torah, and they toiled over it to fulfill it, yet they did not await G-d’s Kingdom. That is, they did not toil or sacrifice to restore the Jewish People and G-d’s Kingdom to Eretz Yisrael and, thereby, to eliminate the Chilul Hashem of the exile and thus sanctify G-d’s name.
It follows that it is a mitzvah and duty for every Jew, especially in our day at the start of redemption, to cry out “The L-rd is King!” in order to crown Him King over ourselves, over Israel, and over the whole world now. Obviously, it is not just a matter of crying out these words. Rather, as with the first redemption at the splitting of the sea, we have to perform acts of faith and trust such as the deed of Nachshon, who, by jumping into the water, fearlessly endangered himself for Kiddush Hashem.
Whoever “utters the mighty acts of the L-rd” (Ps. 106:2) and crowns G-d King now through deeds of faith, trust and self sacrifice, will transform redemption “in its time,” which comes with terrible suffering, to an easy redemption “in haste,” such that no nation or tongue will ever control us. Lack of faith and trust is what separates us from being redeemed by our Father in heaven. It is this which leaves most of the Jewish People in the cemetery of exile, breeding ground for a future holocaust, G-d forbid.
Lack of trust in G-d’s Oneness, coupled with the fear of the nations, the alien concept that we must rely on them or we have no hope, and the calculation that one had better sit tranquilly in the exile “since earning a living in Eretz Yisrael must be harder than splitting the sea” — such petty lack of faith is what keeps the Jew in the exile. This mind set is hinted at in the Hebrew language ordained by G-d. In Hebrew there is no difference between “gola,” גולה exile, and “geulah,” גאולה redemption, except the letter aleph, with a numerical value of one. Thus, whoever remains in the exile, thereby postponing Eretz Yisrael’s redemption, is only doing so because he lacks the “One,” the complete belief in G-d’s being One and His Name One.
(Now that's what I call a lecture!)