Tisa - 5761
of 'Neged') Your Entire Nation
From Then Till Now, And
a Fool's Prophecy
I have a long history with this particular "passuk"/verse.
Back when I was in eighth grade (I won't say how long ago that was)
at Yeshiva Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik, in Washington Heights, I wrote a short
essay based on the verse for my class yearbook.
The theme of the essay was how the promise HaShem
makes here, was in fact fulfilled in Jewish History (I don't know how much
Jewish History I knew then, nor do I know how much I know now), but I
thought the essay was reasonably good.
Although I was ostensibly the editor, somehow the essay didn't get
in, which disappointed me. I
don't recall what facts I used then, but the "passuk" evokes the
same feeling in me every time I read it.
And this time, for good measure, I'll also throw in a fool's
Tisa tells of how, persuaded by the prayers of Moshe, HaShem forgives the
Jewish People for their act of
ingratitude and betrayal by which they worshipped the Golden Calf at the
foot of Mt. Sinai, an act compared by CHAZA"L
to a bride's unfaithfulness while still
standing beneath her marriage canopy.
HaShem makes the following promise to Moshe Rabbeinu, the "faithful
shepherd" of Israel, "…Behold
I establish a covenant, 'For/Against your entire nation, I will do wonders, that are unheard of in the world nor among any
of the nations - and the entire nation in whose midst you are will see the
acts of HaShem, that they are tremendous
and awesome and terrifying (all connoted by the Hebrew word,
"Nora"), that I will do for you'. " (Shemot 34:10)
How has this covenant been fulfilled throughout
tremendous historical insight (ha! ha!), I will attempt to analyze all of
Jewish History - pointing out, anyway, what seem to be some highlights.
From the Exodus till Entry into the Land of Israel
time of the administration of the Ten
Plagues through the actual Exodus, when the
Jewish People left Egypt "b'yad ramah," with "upraised
victorious arms," (Shemot 14:9) and
marched "into the sea on dry land" (Shemot 14:16), HaShem
performed one "nes nigleh," "open miracle" after
"open miracle," turning the so-called "Laws of Nature"
upside down, for them.
brought to Sinai, where HaShem revealed Himself in "Clouds of Glory, to
teach His People the Torah and the Commandments" (from Mussaf "Shemoneh
Esray" of Rosh
HaShanah). The mountain
caught fire and danced while Moshe went up to receive the Torah from G-d.
At first the
behavior of the Jewish People was splendid; they said, "We will obey
the Law even before we understand it" (Shemot 24:7).
But when they thought that Moshe was late in returning from the top
of the mountain, they performed their first major sin, worshipping the
thought to destroy them, but their great leader, Moshe, gained HaShem's
forgiveness. As atonement for
the "Calf," the People of Israel constructed the Mishkan,
the Tabernacle or portable Temple, many of whose utensils contained gold.
The Mishkan was the "residence" of the "Shechinah,"
the Divine Presence, Which remained with Israel.
approached "Eretz Yisrael," the Land of Israel, the People grew
fearful. They requested that
Moshe send scouts to spy out the Land.
Moshe reluctantly agreed, selecting the twelve best men for the job.
But when the scouts, the "Meraglim," returned, ten of the
twelve gave a discouraging report to the Jewish People.
When the People heard the report, they lost their faith in G-d, and
said, "Let us turn around and return to Mitzrayim" (BaMidbar
That loss of
faith occurred on "Tishah
B'Av," the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, and once again, it
was necessary for Moshe to pray that the nation not be destroyed.
Once again, HaShem forgave the People, but this time imposed a
punishment, that all those who had abandoned their faith would die in the
desert, as the Jewish People would have to wander for forty years in the
desert before HaShem would allow their children to enter the Land.
traveled in the desert, HaShem again performed numerous "open"
miracles, such as the daily (except for Shabbat)
provision of "Manna," the "Heavenly Bread," the Well of
Miriam that miraculously traveled
with the Jewish People, the Pillar of Cloud that led them through the
desert by day, and the Pillar of Fire, that provided light and
protection by night. And the
"Mishkan," with its sacred vessels, and somehow serving as the
"footstool" of the Divine Presence, remained with them as well.
Entry Into and Conquest of the Land - Period of the
"Shophtim," the Judges
3,000 years ago)
entry of the Jewish People into the Land of Israel, and their conquest of
the Land from the Canaanite
Nations under the leadership of Yehoshua, the disciple of Moshe, the
Miraculous "Bread from Heaven," the Manna, ceases to be provided,
for now the People have their own land
on which to grow produce. The
Jews are ruled in a loosely bound confederation of Tribes
by fifteen Judges, of various degrees of holiness, from the great Shmuel,
who was the last of the Judges
and a Prophet as well, and Devorah, also a Prophetess, to Yiphtach, who was
recruited by the Jewish People to be their leader, after he had assumed
leadership of a band of highway- men, because they could find no one else
with equal military prowess. Yet
the Talmud cautions that one
should obey "Yiphtach in his generation, as Shmuel in his
was moved from place to place, and the "Aron," the Sacred Ark,
would go before the People into battle, generally assuring victory, unless
the People had proved themselves unworthy of Divine aid.
The Period of the Shophtim is described by the "TANAKH"
as a period in which "each man
did what he saw fit to do" (Shophtim 17:8).
Early Monarchy - Shaul, David, Shlomoh; Golden Age;
"Beit HaMikdash," the Holy Temple, is
built by Shlomoh
2,850 years ago)
demand that Shmuel install a King, "in
order that they should be as the other nations." HaShem instructs Shmuel to anoint Shaul
to be the first King.
commanded by HaShem through Shmuel to wage war against Amalek, and destroy
that nation completely, all the people and all the cattle.
At the site of battle, Shaul has mercy on Agag, the King (from whom Haman
Ha"Agagi" is a descendant). The
people also spare the best of the cattle. For these lapses, HaShem commands Shmuel to strip Shaul of
the "Malchut" (Kingdom) and anoint one who is "better than
At a battle
between the Jewish People and the Philistines, a Philistine giant, Galyat,
taunts the Jewish People and the G-d of the Jews.
But no one has the courage to confront the giant.
David, arriving to visit his brothers, is outraged, and offers to
fight Galyat. Galyat mocks the
apparently ridiculous "champion" the Jews have chosen, but David
kills Galyat with a slingshot, as he'd slain a lion and a bear when they'd
attacked his flocks.
develops a love/hate relationship with David, who has become more popular
among the People. Shaul's son,
Yehonatan develops a relationship with David that is described in Pirkei
Avot (5:19) as "love that is dependent on no external cause,"
because indeed David's Kingdom would supplant Yehonatan's.
to build a permanent Temple for HaShem, but HaShem will not accept that
tribute from him, because he has been involved in war and has shed blood,
and HaShem is described as the "One Who Makes
Peace in the Heavens." But
he does allow David's son and successor, Shelomoh,
to build the Temple, and the Mashiach
will be a descendant of David. The
Temple is one of the most magnificent structures in the world.
Shelomoh's period of rule is "Golden Age" of Jewish People.
Split of the Kingdom; Yeravam ben Nevat Rules
Secessionist Kingdom of Israel
2,800 years ago)
the son of Shelomoh, makes a critical error, when he demands too much taxes
from the People. The Ten Tribes
secede from the united kingdom (not to be confused with Great Britain),
leaving the Kingdom of Yehudah (under Rechavam) and the Kingdom of Israel
(under Yeravam ben Nevat). This
Yeravam was one of the most arrogant individuals ever produced by the Jewish
gifted, he is approached, according to the Midrash, by G-d Himself, Who says
to him, "Yeravam, repent, and I, together with you and ben Yishai
(David) will dance together in Gan Eden."
To this Yeravam is said to have responded, "Who will be first,
ben Yishai or myself?" To
which HaShem responded, "Ben Yishai will go before you." At which point, Yeravam ben Nevat declined the offer.
two Golden Calves constructed, one in Beit El and one in Dan, to which he
commanded that the residents of his kingdom must go to worship instead of to
the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. And
he established checkpoints to intercept anyone on the way to Jerusalem.
Pirkei Avot lists him (5:21) as one of the individuals who will be denied
entry into the World-to-Come, because "he sinned, and he is responsible
for others sinning."
Fate of the Two Kingdoms
Kingdom of Israel: about 722 B.C.E.
Kingdom of Yehudah: about 586 B.C.E.
There were a
total of nineteen Kings in the Kingdom of Israel and twenty Kings in the
Kingdom of Yehudah. Due mainly
to the lack of unity among the People of Israel, each Kingdom went its own
way into Exile. As to the fate
of the Kingdom of Israel and its Ten Tribes; that is, as to the question of
whether they ever will return, that question is a dispute among the Tannaim
(they won't return) and Rabbi Eliezer (they will return).
In the prayers of the Jewish People, the optimistic viewpoint of
Rabbi Eliezer seems to have gained greater acceptance, for we pray, for
example, "and redeem, as per Your Word, Yehudah and
Most of the
Kings were less than ideal, with a few major exceptions, such as Yoshiyahu
and Chizkiyahu, about whom CHAZAL said that he could have been the Mashiach.
poured out His Spirit of Prophecy at this time on holy individuals, whom he
wanted to be His messengers to convince the people to rectify their behavior
in both of the Kingdoms.
A total of
forty eight prophets and seven prophetesses, according to RASHI
and seventy six prophets and
prophetesses, according to the Vilna
Gaon, tried to turn the Kingdoms back from
the corrupt behavior they had adopted: idol worship, social
injustice, and reliance upon foreign powers, rather than upon HaShem, the
"Tzur Yisrael V'Goalo," the Rock of Israel and its Redeemer,"
in times of trouble.
were many more prophets and disciples of prophets, numbered in the thousands
and tens of thousands, mentioned in the Bible.
And "Nevuah," Prophecy, G-d to Man Communication, itself is
an open miracle! In fact, it is
the twin open miracle of "Tefila," Prayer, Man to G-d
For who said
that communication is at all possible between a Being Who is Infinite,
Almighty and Eternal and His creation - who is finite, weak and whose days
are like "a dream that flies away?"
But hard as
they tried, the prophets basically were unsuccessful in bringing back the
People. Prophecy seems to have
been more effective in Yehudah than in Israel, most probably because there
the people had the spiritual center of the Holy Temple.
Longevity of the First Temple
time that it was built, in approximately 1000 BCE, till the time that it was
destroyed by the Babylonians, in 586 BCE, it stood for 414 years. It contained the holy vessels, and was the site for most of
that time of the "Avodat HaKodesh," the Holy Worship Service.
The Prophet Yirmiyahu,
who witnessed the destruction with tearful eyes, as recounted in Megilat
Eichah, had prophesied that the Exile of the Jewish People in
Babylonia would last for 70 years, and that that would be the interval
between the destruction of the Temple and the beginning of the rebuilding
effort. And wild
parties to celebrate erroneous calculations of those seventy years
marked the end of the Babylonian Empire, and the beginning of the Story of Purim.
A Capsule Summary of Purim
there was a wicked, wicked man,
we'll merry, merry be,
Redemption that was entirely a "Nes
Nistar," a Hidden Miracle, events fell into place like clockwork,
and the result was "v'nahafoch hu," the evil one's plans were
turned upside down upon him.
HaSofer," Ezra the Scribe
Scribe, together with Zerubavel, "went up" (in the sense of
"making Aliyah," literally meaning "going up," and
referring to the return to the Land of Israel), with a minority of the Jewish People, not necessarily the most religious, even
as in our days, but the bravest, to re-establish the Jewish
Commonwealth, and to rebuild the Temple, in Israel.
They had to deal with difficulties placed in their way by the
Shomronim, the "Not-so-Good" Samaritans, who attacked them
militarily and politically, again, even as in our days.
Ezra had to
make some radical changes in the composure of the "Jewish" People
because again (the last time I'll
say it) even as in our days, there was intermarriage and assimilation among
the immigrants, and those conditions had to be undone, in order to obtain
the help of G-d.
But Ezra was
equal to the task! The Talmud
says in fact that had the Torah not been transmitted to the Jewish People by
Moshe, Ezra could have done the job. In
any case, the Second Temple came into being, greatly diminished from its
previous form, but serving nevertheless again as the spiritual center of the
Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah
beginning of the time of the "Bayit Sheni," the Second Temple, and
lasting for about two hundred years, there was an organization known as the "Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah, the Men of the
Great Assembly, consisting of one hundred twenty Sages.
It included the last prophets: Ezra, Mordechai, Chaggai, Zechariah
and Malachi. In the words of
the Talmud, the "Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah" restored the crown of
the Torah to its pristine splendor."
Among many other things, they established a fixed text for the basic
liturgy (especially the "Shemoneh Esray").
There is a
legend that Alexander the Great, a world-conquering general and a student of
Aristotle, on a tour through the Middle East, during which he would impose
by the sword the Greek way of life on foreign populations, approached
Jerusalem with a large army. Shimon
HaTzaddik, identified in Pirkei Avot as one of the last members of the
"Anshei K'nesset HaGedolah," led a procession of Jewish leaders to
greet the Greek general. When
Alexander saw Shimon, he alighted from his horse and bowed to the ground. Since this was most unusual behavior for Alexander the Great,
his fellow officers inquired as to the reason.
Alexander replied that before each of his campaigns he'd seen the
rabbi's face, and had received valuable advice from him.
light brush with the world conqueror, we had another more serious encounter
with the Greeks:
gathered against me then in Hasmonean days,
Tzur," a song sung on Chanukah
after the lighting of the Chanukah lights)
speaks of the "hidden (that
is, not well-known)" open
miracle of the oil, while in the "Al HaNisim" Prayer we thank
HaShem for the "hidden miracle" of the military victory.
"Hu Esav, Hu Edom," Esav and Edom (Rome)
are "one and the same"
the world scene, came the Romans, who with their mighty legions attempted to
conquer nearly the entire known world at the time.
Between the "Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire," this
civilization came into violent contact with ours, spilled rivers of Jewish
blood, and destroyed the Second Temple in 70 CE. It stood for approximately 586 years (presumably only
coincidentally equal to the BCE date of the destruction of the First Temple;
namely, 586 BCE) making the total
number of years that a Holy Temple stood in Yerushalayim approximately one
thousand years. In about
315 CE, under Emperor Constantine, the Roman Emperor metamorphosed into the
Roman Catholic Church.
By the time
the Visigoths under Alarac I had sacked Rome, the Jewish people were
scattered throughout the world, with our weapons in hand to survive the next
two thousand years: the Mishnah,
the earlier "written" form of the "Torah she-Beal'Peh,"
the Oral Torah, the concise
summary of all of Jewish Law, with debates and discussions among hundreds of "Tannaim,"
over some five centuries, and the "Gemara," the continuing, more
expanded analysis and debate over another approximately three centuries
between hundreds of "Amoraim,"
"talking to each other" as if they were sitting across from each
other at a table in the "Beit Midrash," the House of Study.
The mind of
the "Talmid Chacham," the expert in the Oral Torah, has certain
aspects in common with the INTERNET, nearly instantaneous access to widely
varied items and types of information, but
in its spiritual and moral orientation, and its infinitely greater
depth of analysis, the comparison fades into nothingness.
Two Thousand Years
We will make
only very passing references to the events experienced by our People in the
next two thousand years, during which we triumphed by maintaining our spirit
and courage and creativity in the face of unremitting pressure mainly from
the Catholic Church and, to a lesser degree, from Islam.
Having rejected Jesus as being entirely devoid of divinity (at least having no greater degree of divinity than any other human being), the Jews came to be viewed by the Church as Christ-killers. They claimed that indeed we had once been G-d's Chosen People, but in rejecting His "son" (sic), we had lost that privileged status, and nearly lost the status, in their eyes, of being considered human.
"How odd of G-d to choose the Jews" to the background
"music" of the clank of torture devices, the roar of auto-de-fe's
and the hiss, ultimately, of gas chambers.
Christians contended with the Moslems concerning "ownership" of
the Holy Land, never imagining
that perhaps that title belonged to the Jews, rather than to either of them. In order to dislodge
the Moslems from the Holy Places, the transport of armed forces to the
Middle East would be required.
So the Church banded together groups of
knights and marched them from Europe
to the Middle East. If
they happened to encounter a Jewish Community on the way, that would be a
wonderful opportunity to pick up some dispensation points, for killing Jews
was a major source of heavenly credit in their eyes, and would help them
get into the heavenly precincts, and would save them from the torments of
hell, despite their grisly crimes on earth.
In 1096, the
First Crusade occurred, in the time of RASHI.
RASHI, the Master Commentator, lived during the time of the Crusades,
and had to have had confrontations with Crusaders because he lived directly
in their path. Yet, despite the
howling mobs outside, inside RASHI maintained his focus and serenity so that
one hears nothing in his works of the
mob, but only the still, small voice of HaShem and His Torah.
Among the Muslims
thereafter, in the somewhat milder, climate-wise and more importantly, from
the standpoint of our treatment
at the hands of the dominant culture of the region, which here in Twelfth Century Spain was the Moslem culture, lived and
flourished a certain great Jew named Moshe
ben Maimon, the RAMBAM, or Maimonides.
"milder" applied only to the moderate Muslims but not at all to
the Fundamentalist Moslems, known then as the Almohades, who, as we see
today, can be fully as violent as a Christian mob that could be found in
Europe at that time. The RAMBAM,
at a certain point in his life, was in fact persecuted by the Almohades and
had to flee, finally reaching Egypt where, in the capacity of a physician,
he became physician to the
moderate Muslims, it was possible to some extent to live together, and to
practice certain intellectual arts and sciences, as long as the Jew kept his
place. In the Muslim world,
this meant an unusually wide spectrum of intellectual disciplines, such as
philosophy, mathematics and poetry.
was the Torah-world's version of a "Renaissance Man."
A thoroughgoing genius, he absorbed and integrated every type of
information that was available in both the Torah world and in the secular
disciplines of the time. His
"magnum opus" was the "Mishneh Torah," A compendium of
all of Jewish Law, expressed in clear, precise Hebrew.
wrote a philosophical work, Moreh Nevuchim, Guide for the Perplexed, for the sake of his favorite disciple and other
readers to express his own version of Jewish philosophy and to make sure
that that everybody was aware that Judaism had a philosophy that was in no
way less sophisticated than that of Islam.
document, known as "Igeret Taiman," the RAMBAM wrote to his
brother Jews in Yemen not to give up their courage and faith and to refuse
to convert to Islam, as per the demands of the Almohades.
was roundly criticized by other scholars in the Torah world for leaving out
Talmudic references in the Mishnah Torah.
It was feared that this would have the effect of weaning students
away from study of the Talmud, which everyone agreed was the true source of
our national Torah knowledge. He
was also accused of not believing strongly enough in the basic tenet of
Judaism, "Techiyat HaMetim," the Resurrection of the Dead.
went so far as to burn the works of the RAMBAM in the public square.
But when King (Saint!) Louis IX took a cue from the Jews, collected all the copies
of the Talmud in Paris in 1242 and burned them in public, many of the
critics of the RAMBAM, such as Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerona, took this as a sign
from Heaven that their criticism had gone too far.
And Rabbeineu Yonah embarked on a campaign of lecturing everywhere he
went, recanting his previous statements about the Rambam.
Century Spanish Torah giant, named Rabbi
Moshe ben Nachman, the RAMBAN, or Nachmanides,
was the one who decisively put an end to the challenges to the greatness of
He proved from the texts themselves that the RAMBAM clearly
believed in the principle of
the Resurrection of the Dead, and also did not deserve to be criticized so
violently about leaving out sources; it was simply a device to make the
study of the Talmud more palatable to his generation, the "Art
Scroll," perhaps, of his time.
of the Jewish public was the inscription carved on the tombstone of the
RAMBAM, "From Moshe (Rabbeinu) to Moshe (the RAMBAM) there arose none
into his commentary on the Bible, which, as a result, became very popular in
the Jewish world.
He was also
involved in a historic debate, known as the "Vikuach," in
Barcelona in 1243, with representatives of the Catholic Church.
This disputation was nothing like a fair, balanced objectively judged
debate as currently understood, but was judged by a Christian official, and
if the Jewish representative won, that usually meant at least expulsion for
him. The RAMBAN decisively won
the debate, and he was in fact forced to leave Spain as a result.
went to the Holy Land, and was very disappointed at not finding a "minyan,"
or quorum for prayer, of Jews in the Holy City of Jerusalem.
He convinced Jews to come and pray with him in a synagogue that he
constructed in Jerusalem, which became known as the "Beit Kenesset
HaRAMBAN," the "Synagogue of the RAMBAN," which stood till
recently, when it was destroyed by the Jordanians, and only rebuilt after
the Old City was captured by Israel in the Six
In 1492, we
find an excellent example of the principle that HaShem always places in the
world the "refuah," the mechanism for healing," before he
delivers the punishing blow. On
Tishah B'Av that year, the very day that the decree came forth for the
expulsion of the 250,000 Jews
in Spain, Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World, where
opportunities for the Jews would open up even as they were slowly but surely
being driven from Europe.
nearly 500 years, which saw thousands of great Jewish leaders, we move to
the Twentieth Century, when the Jewish population in Europe is again
threatened, but this time, the aim of our enemy is not expulsion but
1933 - 1945
Hitler rises to power in Germany, with a dark, Haman-like desire to destroy
the Jews. From the Jewish
perspective, punishments are not imposed randomly, as we learn from the
Purim story, where the Jews were threatened because they celebrated with
their enemies their own supposed "abandonment" by HaShem, at
Achashverosh's feast. What the
sin or complex of sins in Europe was, we do not know.
We are permitted to ask why? We
are not permitted to demand answers.
For here we
find the fulfillment of the covenant in the sense of allowing the
performance of wonders "against
your people." Unfortunately,
for want of a Mordechai and an Esther, and for want of repentance on a
massive scale by the Jewish People, the Holocaust occurred and 6,000,000
Jewish souls were swept away, before Germany and Hitler were defeated by the
Allies in WWII.
Rise of the State of Israel
"Medinat Yisrael" is proclaimed as a refuge and a homeland for the
Jewish People. President Harry
S. Truman of the United States plays a crucial role in the United Nations.
The "Irgun," founded by Menachem Begin and "Lechi,"
founded by Avraham Stern, help drive the British out of the country.
Invading Arab armies are defeated by the outgunned, outmanned armed
forces of Israel, including the Palmach, who heroically resist the Arabs'
attempt, then as now, to throw the Zionists "into the sea."
Six Day War (June, 1967)
Nasser, President of Egypt, closes the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping,
in effect applying a strangle-hold on the Jewish State, a blatant act of
war. Israel warns Jordan and
Syria to stay out of the conflict that seems inevitable, but the warning is
ignored by both Arab countries.
In six days,
by a surprise attack (and a hidden miracle (?)), Israel destroys basically
the entire Egyptian Air force on the ground, and pursues fleeing Egyptian
forces through the desert to the outskirts of Cairo.
Syria and the Golan
confidently enters the war, but has its air force driven from the skies, and
its army ousted from their bunkers on the Golan Heights, by savage and
costly fighting by the Israel Defense Forces, who finally prevail, and
threaten Damascus, Syria's Capital.
Jordan, the "West BanK"
under King Hussein, also ignores Israel's warning and enters the battle.
Israel's armor outflanks Jordan's, and its army regains the so-called
"West Bank," that is an irrational border designation, because the
land in question is west of the Jordan River, Israel's natural eastern
border. In Jerusalem, in
fierce, street by street fighting, Israel pushes to the "Kotel Hamaaravi," the Western Wall, remnant of the Beit
Hamikdash, claimed by Israeli forces with a Shofar call by Rabbi
Moshe Goren, Chief Rabbi of Israel.
was astounded at the speed and completeness of the Israeli victory.
For a time, it seemed that a nearly "open miracle" had
"Terror and dread falls upon them;
"You bring them in and plant them in the
mountain of Your inheritance,
due to many factors - mainly the disunity within the religious Jewish
Community regarding Israel, rendered
Israel unable to make a clear case to its own secular leadership, who had to
be convinced that this was more than an ordinary military victory - and this
great victory almost
slipped from our grasp.
Russian Aliyah (early sixties till the Present)
Six-Day War, pressure had been building within the Soviet Union to release
the millions of Jews who had
become prisoners of the atheistic Communist regime.
But, there was a core of only several dozen heroic "refuse-niks,"
individuals of great moral and religious
strength who, like their ancestor, Mordechai, refused
to bow to Russian tyranny. Many of
them indeed spent long prison terms in the Russian "Gulag."
Standing out among these
leaders were individuals like Anatoly Sharansky, as a result of whose
efforts eventually hundreds of thousands of Russians did
finally make Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael or succeeded in leaving Russia
for lands of freedom.
as in the time of Ezra, many had been robbed of their religious heritage,
and those who made Aliyah were entering a "Holy Land" that was
rapidly shedding its self-image as a "holy" nation.
Unfortunately, there was no Ezra to turn the situation around.
Fortunately, the last word has not yet been spoken on this community
and on the holiness of the population of Israel.
Yom Kippur War (September - October, 1973)
holiest day of the Jewish year, Egypt launched a surprise attack against
Israel that caught the IDF almost completely by surprise.
Joined by Syria in the Golan Heights, this attack almost spelled
disaster for the State of Israel. Moshe
Dayan was nearly at a loss for how to respond.
Just looking at the military facts, President Nixon and Secretary of
State Kissinger re-armed Israel almost at the last minute.
several weeks, while the outcome lay in the balance, Ariel
Sharon, who has returned to lead
Israel, in a daring raid across the Suez succeeded in out-flanking the
Egyptian Third Army and was about to inflict punishing damage upon it, when
pressure from the United States and Europe forced Israel to pull back.
Peace Process (1993 - March, 2001)
attempt to "negotiate" peace with the Palestinian Authority, that
never had any interest in peace. As
David HaMelech said, "I am for
peace - but when I speak, they are for war!" (Tehilim 120)
In the wake
of the continuing violence in Israel, in which the Palestinians have never
budged from their hatred and belligerence, the Israeli public elects Ariel
Sharon, hero of the Yom Kippur war. Sharon,
a more clear-eyed leader, will hopefully put an end to the naïve hopes for
peace with this group and with the Arabs, in general, as long as they remain
in their present mindset.
For long ago
establishing the covenant with Moshe that guaranteed for us the
"Triumph of Survival,"
as per the title of Rabbi Berel Wein's great book.
For enabling us to outlast in the end
all the Empires who arose in History, most of whom did not look
favorably upon us, including the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians,
the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Islamic
(with whom we were in conflict in the past and with whom we are
currently again engaged), the Ottomans, the obscene Nazis (may their name be
erased!) who wanted to establish a thousand year Empire, but who did a
thousand years' worth of damage and inflicted a thousand years' worth of
pain in a decade, and the British, who claimed that the sun never set on
this point, Your Mercy has helped us, and Your Kindness has not forsaken us,
and do not abandon us, HaShem our G-d, forever…You save the poor man from
one stronger than he, the poor and destitute from one who would rob him.
Who is like unto You? Who
is equal to You? Who can be
compared to You? O great, mighty and awesome G-d, the Supreme G-d, Creator
of heaven and earth…" (from
the Prayer "Nishmat Kol Chai,"
"May the Soul of Every Living Being…," used on Shabbat
and the Holidays, and at the Pesach Seder, the Festive Meal that celebrates
A Fool's Prophecy
says that after the cessation of Prophecy from the great and holy prophets (Malachi
was the last Prophet), Prophecy remained in the world, but was transferred
to the domain of children and fools. I'm definitely not a child; my birth
certificate attests to that. There's
only one other possibility. I'd
like to offer a "Prophecy" that of course isn't really a Prophecy;
rather, it's an intuition and an optimistic prediction concerning the twenty
first Century that just began.
The First Third:
In the first third of the century, I'd hope to see the cumulative
effect of all the "outreach" efforts take hold in a "critical
mass" of Jewish souls. Rivulets of faith will gradually coalesce and produce waves.
The waves will reinforce each other, and form a "tidal
wave" of Teshuvah
that will sweep the world.
The Second Third:
In the second third of the century, we will see the fulfillment of
the verse "…For the world will
be filled with the knowledge of HaShem as the waters cover the bed of the
sea" (Yeshayahu 11:9), till the point is reached where knowledge of the Torah is as
extensive in the world as it was in the time of king Chizkiyahu, who
"could have been Mashiach," when they checked from Dan to
Beersheva, and every child knew the laws of ritual cleanness and uncleanness
backwards and forwards.
The Third Third:
The stage will be set for the arrival of the Mashiach, May he come soon and
in our days. He will build the
Third Beit HaMikdash, that will never be destroyed.
And all the Prophecies of the great Prophets will then be realized.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel