A National Day of Introspection

Yom Kippur is a day for individual introspection, this year Tisha B'Av calls for national rethinking.

Tags: 9th Of AV
Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Hirsch

Judaism עשרות האלפים בכותל המערבי
עשרות האלפים בכותל המערבי

"How I wish (הלוואי) that we would have had an army like Tzahal (the Israel Defense Forces) to protect us during World War II”  (from Aznayim L’Torah, written by Holocaust survivor, Chareidi Rav Zalman Sorotzkin, who immigrated to Tel Stone after WWII).

“We don’t need an army; we’ve got Torah learning and prayers to defend us” (Rav Shalom Cohen, new spiritual leader of the Shas political party).

With another Tisha B’Av upon us, and in light of being in another war, it behooves us to have a national day of introspection: Why? How did it happen that this nation was in the position that Hamas could think it could pull of a wave of kidnappings and rocketing against the Jews? How could it be that, once again, anti-Semitic Jew-killers thought that they could get away with murder?

The Aznayim L’Torah has an interesting take on this, in his commentary on Devarim 1; 9-18. This section, the beginning of Deutoronomy, is always read before Tisha B’Av. It tells the story of how the Jews were poised to enter the land of Israel. בעת ההיא, “ at that time I said to you … to prepare righteous,  wise and insightful men, and I will appoint them as your leaders and… judges; to listen patiently their  brothers’ claims, judge righteously… do not show favoritism.. do not fear any man”.

The Jews were about to enter the land of Israel, and it was sure to entail war. Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses), explains the Aznayim L’Torah, was thus looking for the one mitzvah (Torah commandment) in whose merit the Jews would inherit the land without the loss of life.

In fact, the main claim that the Spies had against this entry into the land, was this issue of war. On Tisha B’Av, the year 2,449, they made the claim : let us stay in the desert, where we can follow the Lord’s commandments, learning the Torah and praying in comfort, with no need for wars (pshat of the Lubavicher Rebbe; on the issue of comfortable Jews, see my  article The Death of Gay Marriage, this website, 6/28/13).

Moshe Rabbeinu knew “that it is enough to ensure that Israel live (that there be no Jewish soldier casualties in the מלחמת הכיבוש, the War of Conquest of Canaan), if they appoint Kosher judges” (Sanhedrin, 32). This is echoed by Moses’ words later in Devarim (16; 20): “You should appoint judges …  do not pervert justice…Pursue justice, justice. In the merit of appointing judges you will live and settle upon the land your G-d is giving you”.

In contradistinction to the above assertion of Rav S. Cohen of Shas, Rav Ahron Soloveitchik has declared that “after the Holocaust, the Almighty saw that the Jewish people can have no survival in a modern world without a State and an Army”. Similarly, his brother Rav Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik added that: “G-d has paskened like Mizrachi” – He has, in the light of historical events of WWII and the subsequent founding of the State of Israel, decided Halakhically on the side of Rav Kook and the Religious Zionists, against the Rav Cohens of Shas.

Simply put, Rav Cohen is not being realistic, מציאותי : his thought processes are disconnected from reality. The thoughts he expressed are nice chloroform for the mind, but they’ll get this nation killed.

So what to do? Of course, in the long run, this battle is all about the heart and mind of the nation: Education. But Moshe says, for now, בעת עתה: look at your justice system. And he is not the only one saying this:

Every year, on the Shabbat before Tisha B’Av, we read the Haftorah of Parshat Devarim, in which Isaiah points to the main cause of the coming Churban (Destruction and Exile); again, it’s all about justice:

“Hear G-d’s word, you who resemble the nobles of Sodom ..  and Amorah..Learn to do good, seek justice, and support the oppressed. Demand justice for the orphan, and plead the cause of the widow. How (איכה ) has the faithful city of Jerusalem become as unfaithful as a harlot? Once full of justice and righteousness, but now a city of murderers. .. your rulers are corrupt, friendly with thieves, all loving bribes and running after favors. They do not judge the orphan, and the widow’s case does not reach them” (Isaiah 1; 9-23).

Finally, Jeremiah. We read his book, Eichah(Lamentations), every Tisha B’Av. We bewail our punishment for our sins and impurity, but what are they?  They are not listed in Eichah, but have a look at the book of Jeremiah, and find: “Comb the streets of Yerushalayim.. search its squares: see if you can find a man, if there is one doer of justice, a seeker of integrity- and I will pardon her” (Yirmiyahu 1;5). There was not even one honest man; and the result was destruction, exile and  the mourning of Tisha B’Av.

Where this leaves us in 2014 is to ponder: where is OUR justice system?

 Our Minister of “Justice” spent the first half of this year freeing Arab murderers and kidnappers, all in the name of some perverted “peace process” (sic). Where is the justice to judge her and her ilk?

We’ve been prosecuting this Gaza war on Hamas based on phony standards of war promulgated by the law departments of the Knesset and Army. These standards have placed our Jewish soldiers at risk time and again, in order to protect the lives of a Gazan civilian populace which wholeheartedly backs the Hamas killers. Where is the judgment and sentencing for these purveyors of phony standards?

One last example of falsified justice: our courts, especially the Israeli Supreme Court (Bagatz), and Eretz Yisrael itself.  Bagatz gives decisions based neither on legal precedents nor fairness, but on cunning political considerations. One typical story: two years ago, Bagatz evicted some 32 Jewish families from Migron, based on the disputed ownership claims of an Arab. Despite admitting that ten of those families did legally own the land on which their homes were built, those families too were evicted by Bagatz on the basis of the legal technicality that the Arab claim surrounded their own, leaving them no entry to their property.

A few months later, the same Bagatz decided in favor of another shady Arab claim, and evicted another thirty families from four apartment buildings of Ulpana Hill in Beit El. Before the buildings were destroyed, I went to Rav Zalman Melamed, Shlita, Rav of Beit El B, and told him that someone should present the claim to Bagatz that if their decisions had any consistency, the Arab claim to Ulpana Hill should be thrown out of court, as no one in their right minds would grant some Arab entry into Beit El to reach the property he was claiming.
Rav Melamed’s answer, given along with a sad smile, says it all about our corrupt, perverted “justice” system:

“Doctor, you don’t understand. This is not about justice, and the Israeli Supreme Court is not interested in consistent rulings. Their mission is to destroy, and destroy they will, no matter what reasoned arguments you bring to them”.

If Rav Sorotzkin is right, we unfortunately will be facing more human sacrifices, until we forcibly demand this Tisha B’Av, both from the Almighty and from our nation, the leadership and justice that the Jewish people deserve.