Life Lessons with Judy Simon
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.
The following is a personal letter to Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Hayehudi party:
In Shakespeare's classic play, Julius Caesar is stabbed and killed by the person he considered to be his best friend, Marcus Brutus. As Brutus sticks him with the knife, Caesar says, "Et tu, Brute?" - or, "you too are betraying me, Brutus?"
Many people, including a substantial number of English-speaking immigrants, regarded you as a breath of fresh air in Israeli politics. You promised to bridge the gap between all sectors of the population. You promised to honor the Torah and the world of Torah learning. You promised to strengthen the Jewish settlement in every corner of our beloved homeland.
There have been political parties that have been staunch on Torah. There have also been political parties that have been staunch on our right to every square inch of our G-d given Land of Israel. Three great tzaddikim - the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Sadigora Rebbe, and the Bostoner Rebbe, all of blessed and saintly memory - were uncompromising in both areas, for in essence, the Torah and the Land of Israel are inseparable. All three tzaddikim had limitless love for every individual. Naftali, you had us believing that you were walking in their holy footsteps.
You and I both know the values that one learns in Israel's elite units - dedication, loyalty and reliability. We know that we are no better than the integrity of our word. We also know the values one learns in Torah - emuna, and once again, dedication, loyalty and reliability. No wonder that so many of us who grew up without Torah backgrounds found our way to Torah after serving in one the IDF elite units.
Naftali, where are those values in your pact with Yair Lapid? Why have you taken the cheap populist stance of drafting the Haredim, as if thousands of them aren't already serving today? Why are you strengthening Lapid's hand in limiting deferments to 2,000 Torah learners? The Mir Yeshiva alone has 3,000 students! Was it the Iron Dome that protected Israel in the recent round of hostilities, or all the Torah lerning in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot, Ofakim and Beer Sheva? How many Katyushas did the Iron Dome miss right here in Ashdod? Yet, rockets fell in parking lots in the middle of the city rather than on highrise condos, Heaven forbid. That was the power of Torah...
On Purim yesterday, we were required to drink wine until we can no longer differentiate between cursed Haman and blessed Mordechai.
Unfortunately, Israeli politics is now a Purim joke. Naftali, without drinking a drop, we can no longer differentiate between you and Yair Lapid. We have few expectations from Yair - the poor guy never tasted the sweetness of Torah. But you? And this is the chevruta (partner) you choose? And now, you too are sticking a knife in the world of Torah? Et tu, Naftali?
You could have been the individual that forced the IDF to be more sensitive to the needs of Haredi soldiers. You could have been the one who tripled the size of the Nahal Haredi and the IAF programs for Haredi hi-tech specialists. You could have been the one to make sure that a soldier doesn't get kicked out of officer's school for refusing to listen to women singing, or other ridiculous anti-religious excuses. You could also have been the hero that puts an end to the deligitimization of the holy Yeshivot and those who truly learn Torah.
Don't ruin your opportunity of a lifetime, Naftali.
Naftali, talk is cheap; your "unbreachable pact" with Lapid shows exactly who you really are. We all make mistakes. We can all correct them, too. I urge you, for the sake of Torah and Eretz Yisrael, to reassess your position. If you choose, you can be Hashem's messenger in bringing Moshiach. Sure, let's make sure that everyone serves the country; but Heaven forbid, let's not diminish one minute of Torah learning. I implore you to rethink your position. Go out to the field and talk to Hashem for an hour - ask Him if you are doing His will. Seek His help and He'll be glad to guide you. If you make your "unbreachable pact" with Hashem, you're bound to succeed.
With respect and blessings, Lazer Brody