A group of youngsters were playing “hide-and-seek". A little girl was hiding in a bush and crying. When asked why she was crying, she replied: "no one is looking for me”.
In the challenges we face as Hashem’s chosen people, the Creator hides from us, and we have to search Him out. Most people live their lives not searching for the Omnipotent. However, there are those who long to understand the ways of Hashem despite the impossibility of the mission; for Hashem’s thoughts are above and beyond the comprehension of mortal man. Consider playing a multilevel interconnected chess game composed of 5 chessboards one above the other, all by heart.
One of the great intellectual dilemmas facing the “healthy” religious segment of Am Yisrael is the phenomenon of seemingly important rabbis in the galut who would rejoice at the dissolution of the Jewish State, Medinat Yisrael.
Their joy would extend to praising and even visiting Iran, which is close to achieving weapons of mass destruction to be used against the Jewish State.
There is a larger presence of rabbis and scholars who adamantly refuse to recognize that the post-1948 Jewish nation will never again revert to the situation of pre-1948 Jewry. The way Hashem related to His chosen people during the 2000-year galut has taken a turn from seemingly “hester panim” (concealment or apathy) to “gilui panim” (total involvement) in reconciling with His people Yisrael.
But these rabbis and scholars and their adherents cannot see the very clear handwriting on the wall. I would like to relate to this phenomenon.
States of Jews
I received a video of hundreds of children and their instructors at summer camps, chanting extreme anti-Israel slogans and hurling eggs at a car meant to represent the convoy of Israel’s Prime Minister. This scene is repeated every year at the summer camps sponsored by Hamas in Gaza and the PA in the liberated areas of Shomron and Yehuda.
However, this particular video was sent by Yeshiva World News! The children are attending summer camps affiliated with the Satmar movement (whose dynastic leadership was divided between R. Zalman Leib Teitelbaum of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and his brother R. Aharon Teitelbaum of Kiryas Joel, after their father's death).
There is in this world only one Jewish state, regarding which the Torah (Devarim 11,12) says:
It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
In contrast, there are many “states of Jews” dispersed throughout the world. A “state of Jews” has its laws and mores which determine who will be accepted as a citizen and who will be rejected. A “state of Jews” can be identified by its absolute conformity to all the important features of life: food, dialect, dress, gender control, marriage within the group, conformist education, absolute dictatorial leader and elitist self-image.
The Satmar adherents have two “states” of Jews in New York - one in Williamsburg and the other in Kiryas Yoel. Not to be outdone, the Lithuanian school of thought has a major "state of Jews” in Lakewood, New Jersey. And there are other “states of Jews” in the United States and Europe, not to mention a new city right outside of Mexico City being built exclusively for hareidim.
Despite the competitive differences between these “states of Jews”, the one dominant common feature is that they are all united in their opposition or apathy to the Jewish State.
The Jewish State is different from those “states of Jews” in every way. Firstly, it exists on the ancient soil of our God-given homeland - Eretz Yisrael. It is glaringly diverse, with people from over 100 lands speaking different languages, preferring different varieties of food, dress, values, speech, marriage outside of a closed group, and diversity in education. It is called Medinat Yisrael, and its challenge is to synchronize these “tribes” into one functioning nation dedicated to the advancement of the nation, Am Yisrael.
Although the goals and the challenges of the Jewish State are far different than those of the various “states of Jews”, each “state of Jews” fulfills an important role in shaping the future redemption of our people.
Medinat Yisrael - the Jewish State - has to unite in finding the common bond that exists among the six and a half million Jews who have come here to carry on Jewish history, so horribly severed 2000 years ago with the Temple’s destruction and the exile.
The Medina needs positive forces of love and optimism in our future, forces that join together in defending the land and toiling to strengthen our security, economy and political independence.
The Medina does not need negative, critical, and undermining elements within the Land that weaken the fabric of our society.
The Midrash states that when 80% of the Jews in Egypt refused to leave with Moshe and died during the plague of darkness, Moshe asked Hashem why it was necessary to take all these people away? Hashem replied that out of the 80% who died, He left two alive so that Moshe would understand the justification for such an extreme move. The two "survivors" were the infamous Datan and Aviram, who would “spill” Moshe's blood when opposing every move that Moshe made.
Hashem said to Moshe, “What would you do if I left a million Datans and Avirams? Then Moshe understood what Hashem had done for the future of Am Yisrael.
The various “states of Jews” in the galut play an important role as catalysts for the future of Am Yisrael in Eretz YIsrael. They attract the haters of the Jewish State and draw them away from us; thus, removing the impurities from our land. The Medina does not need people who sit on the sidelines and criticize, curse, and undermine what we are doing here.
These people, citizens of the galut “states of Jews” have made their peace with the golden lands of the exile, while Hashem and the healthy segment of our nation are proceeding in building the infrastructure of the Third Jewish Commonwealth.
With all my heart, I wish these “states of Jews” well. Let them prosper and add more and more electronic stores and be happy with their spiritual leaders.
But they should know, in the back of their minds, that when the sword is poised above their heads, the Medina will be there to save them, just as the “Zionists” saved the Satmar Rav, Harav Yoel Teitelbaum ob”m from the holocaust.
Life’s Blessings and Curses
Our parasha Devarim 11,26-28:
26) Perceive (comprehend)! I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse
27) The blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I command you today,
28) And the curse if you do not obey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other beliefs, which are foreign to you.
It is apparent from these verses that there are three possible situations in the Creator-Yisrael relationship:
Verse 27) “...if you obey...” - life will be a blessing.
Verse 28) “...if you do not obey...” - life will be a curse.
Verse 26) “Perceive! I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse” - when life is a blessing imbedded and disguised as a curse, as is transpiring today in front of our eyes. For example:
The Israeli public, and certainly our political leaders who are more privy to what is happening, are angry and frustrated at the double standard being applied by the “enlightened” peoples of the world toward the Jewish State.
Many Western European institutions and personalities are leading the movement to isolate Israel by boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. The problem is that they assert their moral indignation only against the Jewish State. Where are the demonstrations on behalf of the Tibetans, Syrians, Kurds, Armenians, and Ukrainians? Where are the boycotts against the Chinese, the Russians, the Cubans, or the Turks? However, if one has “Jewish eyes,” he will discern that the double standard is a blessing in disguise!
There is a powerful subconscious compulsion active behind the double standard which the Christian and Moslem countries are imposing against the Jewish State. It is their painful, destabilizing gut feeling based on the Jewish nation’s quantitative and qualitative survival record that we are indeed God’s chosen people. Therefore, they must make every effort to prove that the Jews and the Jewish State are immoral and non-spiritual; and not only are we not God’s chosen, but we are unworthy to be included in the family of nations.
The hatred shown to us by these anti-Semites is a glaring expression of their own awareness that we are indeed God’s chosen people. For the more they attempt to negate the historical fact laid down at Mount Sinai and isolate us, the greater is their frustration as the Jewish State goes from success to super success, from victory to greater victory.
Here is Hashem’s blessing - the visible truth - arising out of man’s attempt to curse, as the prophet Yeshayahu (54,17) said 2500 years ago:
No weapon forged against you will prevail, and every accusing tongue will be silenced. This is the heritage of the servants of God, and this is their vindication from me, declares the Lord.
One more example of man’s curse from which arises Hashem’s blessing:
The State of Israel is weary and fearful of every military acquisition made by an Arab country. Since we cannot acquire the quantity of arms that fill the facilities of our neighbors’ armies, we strive to maintain a qualitative edge. However, it is predicated on military circles that quantity becomes quality when the figures reach over three to one. A great pilot can expect to be victorious when combatting 2 or 3 enemy planes. Beyond that number, he is in serious trouble.
The total quantity of weapons given to our neighbors by powers such as the United States, Russia, England, and France is beyond 4 to 1 and, and in some cases, 10 to 1, compared to Israel. Here is the curse, but where is the blessing that arises from this curse?
These great quantities of weapons are used daily to fan the fires of hatred among the Arabs themselves in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sinai desert, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Every day, our Arab enemies murder their own Moslem Sunni and Shiite co-religionists and become less focused on Israel.
Even in times when large segments of the Jewish nation do not observe the mitzvot prescribed in the Torah and the quality of harsh justice (midat hadin) demands its full expression, our heavenly Father reluctantly decrees a curse upon His children. He very carefully and with great dignity imbeds a cloaked blessing in the decree.
What is happening today is a replay of sorts of what transpired in ancient Egypt, where the Torah (Shemot 1,12) states:
But the more they (the Jewish people) were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.
This will be the pattern of our history for the foreseeable future. We will face one danger after another, and in every case Hashem will extricate His children Yisrael, until the time when the cumulative miracles being performed for the Jewish nation in Medinat Yisrael will leave no room for doubt that we are, and always were, the exclusive nation of the Creator.
However, there is a reverse situation arising from verse 26) “Perceive! I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse”, when life is a blessing and also a curse.
-A beautiful, spacious home in a nice Jewish neighborhood in London, Buenos Aires, or Lawrence. Two cars in the driveway and an income of over a quarter million dollars a year. Children in day-schools, in universities. Daf Yomi with the chevra and a great talmid chacham teaching. Pesach in any one of the high-end hotels, which is not embarrassed to take from you $25k to $30k for the eight days.
-Or an adequate home or nice apartment in any one of the yeshiva communities in the galut, where your soul feels uplifted daily, especially under the tutelage of an outstanding rosh yeshiva who upholds the belief that soon the Mashiach will come and bring an end to the Jewish suffering by whisking every Jew back to Eretz Yisrael to the 10-room house with adjoining Olympic pool in the Rechavia neighborhood of Yerushalayim.
Here are two instances of blessings which conceal an extreme curse. The individuals involved, because of their comfortable circumstances have no motivation to leave and come on aliya, which was not of their Jewish education, hence they have been sentenced to life imprisonment in the penitentiary of galut, with little or no chance of parole.
Rabbi Nachman Kahana is a Torah scholar, author, teacher and lecturer, Founder and Director of the Center for Kohanim, Co-founder of the Temple Institute, Co-founder of Atara Leyoshna – Ateret Kohanim, was rabbi of Chazon Yechezkel Synagogue – Young Israel of the Old City of Jerusalem for 32 years, and is the author of the 15-volume “Mei Menuchot” series on Tosefot, and 3-volume “With All Your Might: The Torah of Eretz Yisrael in the Weekly Parashah” (2009-2011), and “Reflections from Yerushalayim: Thoughts on the Torah, the Land and the Nation of Israel” (2019) as well as weekly parasha commentary available where he blogs at http://NachmanKahana.com