Rabbi Zalman Melamed on Gen. Alon Dispute: Unity is Paramount

Beit El's Chief Rabbi made the rescinded invitation to Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon the subject of his Jerusalem Day speech. A lesson to us all.

Contact Editor

הרב מלמד
הרב מלמד
הלל מאיר

Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, Dean of Beit El Yeshiva, Rabbi of the town and a respected leader of the religious Zionist sector, strongly criticized residents whose vociferous protests led to rescinding the invitation extended to Major General Nitzan Alon, IDF commander of Judea and Samaria,  to take part in the festive Jerusalem Day prayer services in Beit El on Tuesday night..

Speaking at the holiday celebration, Rabbi Melamed quoted from the Midrash that says "[King] Ahab's generation were all idol worshipers, but since they had no nasty talebearers among them, they won every military engagement they fought."

"Who was King Ahab?" Rabbi Melamed asked. "The Tanach tells us that his deeds were wicked in G-d's eyes, that his wife murdered the prophets - she didn 't only issue orders banishing them from their homes (as General Alon did, ed.), but since they were united as a people, they still won every military operation."

"What can unity with wrongdoers help achieve?"  the rabbi asked. "In the Sermons of the Ran (a medieval scholar, ed.) it says that when the righteous of Israel and sinners unite, the righteous make up for the sinners - if their common goal is a positive one, that is. The sins are neutralized by the sum of the group's merits as a whole and the sinners' positive traits are part of that sum. The Talmudic sages said that any fast day that does not include the sinners of Israel has no effect. When there are no sinners in a group, the group is lacking, because there is no significant group that does not contain some amount of wrongdoing. When everyone is invited to be part of us, we can achieve perfection."

"Of course, if the unity is for a negative reason, the group will be scattered, as occurred in the story of the Tower of Babel," the rabbi explained.

"The Almighty wants us to unite", he continued, citing the generation of Mordecai and Esther of the Purim story.

"You ask me how we can unite, how we can ignore G-d's honor and join up with those who hate the Torah and eat non-kosher food? You, of course, try to tell G-d that you are only guarding the sanctity of His name – and what does He do? He takes off the ring (as Ahasueros did, ed.) and lets evil gain control. Removing the ring did more than 48 prophets and 7 prophetesses could do. G-d wanted to save the generation of the Megillah, even to redeem them, and by having Ahasueros' remove his ring, G-d got all the Jews to unite. Then He could save them."

Rabbi Melamed reminded his listeners about the Hand of G-d in the events of the 1967 Six Day War. "G-d wanted to redeem His people, but they were deeply divided between left and right, so G-d had Nasser put his army into the Sinai. Suddenly Israelis were united as never before, all discord forgotten, everyone helping each other – but it was not good enough because the government was still not pulling together."

"Then G-d saw to it that Hussein and Nasser, who hated one another, got together to try to destroy us. That made Israel's labor government decide to allow Menachem Begin's opposition party to join the coalition for the first time. And then, when there was perfect unity, the war broke out and G-d redeemed all the parts of Eretz Yisrael that had not been in our hands – Jerusalem, Sinai, Judea and Samaria and Ramat Hagolan."

"The Sage Rabbi Eliezer said that redemption is a function of repentance, but if the Jewish people are not amenable to repentance, G-d sees to it that a wicked king's decrees bring them together, as in the Purim story.

Rabbi Melamed's words served as a preface to his criticism of the cancellation of Nitzan Alon's participation in the Jerusalem Day celebration.

"G-d wanted to bring the redemption right now, He only needs an opening the size of a needle's eye, even a small awakening can lead to great repentance. So G-d put the idea to invite Alon in the mind of Moshe Rosenbaum, the head of the Binyamin Council.

"And what did Satan do? Saw to it that some people would be against inviting the general. After all, he has issued orders to banish some residents. Never mind that he expends his energies night and day for the sake of our security. He also does things we do not like.

"And Satan succeeded. The division remained and the redemption was postponed.

"[In the Song of Songs], it says 'my Beloved knocks at the door'. And if we do not open that door immediately, He will leave. G-d wanted King Hezekiah to be the Messiah, the time was ripe, but he did not praise G-d when he should have, and the redemption was postponed. None of us knows which small or major act of repentance can bring it", Rabbi Melamed said sadly.

The rabbi had this to say about the worldview of those who protested the proposed visit of Alon. "There are people of little faith with a limited view of the world. They are able to see only the present, the here and now, and are incapable of seeing the broad view that takes in all of our people and the situation we are in, our enemies and friends. They don't look past the community they are in right at this moment, they cannot and will not listen to those who take all the nation's needs into account. It's not the little problems that matter, but how we create the possibility for the state of Israel to handle all its economic and political challenges, as well as the Iranian threat."

"[Our sages said, that] Jerusalem, the city built as a symbol of unity, makes all Jews friends with one another. Jerusalem is willing to compromise so that we can all be united. That is what is important. May we succeed in uniting and merit the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in our lifetime."