Parashat Shoftim: Eradicating God, Hidden Spaces and the Tefillinists

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16 Aug 2007

Parashat Shoftim 5767

Part One: Eradicating God

The ritual goes like this: The leftist-secular majority of ministers in the government raise their hands in affirmation of a proposal to expel Jews from their homes in Eretz Yisrael.

An appeal is then brought before the Supreme Court in the hope that the decision will be judged illegal, to which the learned judges knee-jerk their consent of the legality of the decision.

The order is then passed down to the police who have the hands-on job of peeling away loyal Jews holding on for dear life to a kitchen table or to a pipe on the wall and hurling them as far as our burly border police and regular police can fling a human being.

The victims are unable to believe what is in store for them, that is, until they feel the hard crack of the police baton of their bodies.

We who believe in the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael will never forget nor will we ever forgive the uprooting of ten thousand Jews from an area of the tribe of Shimon, called Gush Katif, and the Northern Shomron, Chavat Gilad and Chevron. And so it will be, God forbid, with the other Jews whom the government, the Supreme Court and implementing forces will decide that the presence of Jews in parts of Eretz Yisrael are hindering the understanding with our peace loving Islamic Hizbullah and Hamas and just plan Achmed and Fatima good neighbors.

The Torah begins “Shoftim ve’shotrim” – the nation is required to appoint judges who make the judicial judgments and the police who implement them, who will serve as the basis of the social contract between those who govern and those who are governed in a civilized manner.

Judges and police are the show cases of a society. If one wishes to learn of the Spanish government in the 15th century, let him review the decisions of the auto de fe and those who implemented the torture and murder. To study the Nazi regime one need not do more than research its judges and the Gestapo. The Soviet government’s soul can be bared when reading the judicial decisions and the protocols of the NKVD – today’s KGB.

The democratic philosophies of the American elders receive their reality in the judicial decisions and the manner they are implemented by the police.

One cannot escape the inevitable question: what makes the Israeli leftist politicians, academics, judges and law enforcement agencies scurry around in frenzy to escape behind what Abba Eban called the “Auschwitz borders” of the pre 1967 War?

On the surface they are mad. We all know that an area which is empty of Jews and tzahal becomes Hamastan land. Doesn’t the Israeli left see the missiles and rockets falling on Kfar Saba and indeed on Ben Gurion Airport? Is their intelligence so miniscule that the Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Ministers together don’t understand what every “man on the street” knows?

No! They are not handicapped mentally although they are totally crippled spiritually. Let me explain.

The thrust of the media is to emphasis the Shoa at the same time to bring about the character assassination of the holy people who have settled in the area liberated in the Six Day War – and both for the same reason.

No thinking person, with or without military background, can explain our unprecedented victory in the Six Day War. It was obvious that the hand of God was at work saving Yitzchak from annihilation at the hands of Yishmael.

As an aftermath of the six days of fighting, the area under Jewish control on Shabbat was more than three times larger then on the previous Monday, when the war broke out, including the re-unification of Yerushalayim.

Wars are not won in six days – it takes longer to bring troops, weapons food etc., into position to wage a battle. In our six days, the Biblical land of Israel on the western side of the Jordan River reverted to the control of its legitimate owners, the People of Israel.

The miraculous nature of the war and its result brought to light, once again, that God is the God of the People of Israel with whom He maintains a special relationship non existent with any other humans in the world. One could say that the war and its outcome were the most apparent appearance of the Creator in Jewish affairs since the destruction of the Bet Ha’Mikdash 2000 years ago.

The lessons of the war were not lost on the secular Jew here. It came across loud and clear, that if God is what Judaism has claimed for 3500 years – the God of Israel – then the Torah and its demands are incumbent upon every Jewish man and woman.

The thrust of the Israeli secular left is to disprove the lessons of the war, and to show that even if there is a God He is not the God of Israel by eradicating every semblance of historical change wrought by the war. If they can cause the land to revert back to the Arabs through negotiations or unilateral retreat, then the war was the result of a better army but not because there is a God of Israel.

Moreover, if there is a God of Israel, where was He at the time of the Shoah?

So the Israeli secular have engraved on their flag the giving away of all the Shomron, Yehuda, Gaza and the Golan even to the lowest bidder and emphasizes the tragedy of the Shoah in order to serve their anti-God agenda.

But the story does not end here.

The secular Israeli left deny that the Six Day war was the revealed hand of HaShem in the affairs of the modern State of Israel. But they have ready partners in this negative belief.

Does the Hareidi community here or any where in the world, believe that it was the hand of HaShem saving His people in Eretz Yisrael. Do they recite Hallel with a bracha on the anniversary of the war?

Do you, dear reader in the galut believe it was the hand of HaShem? Does your rabbi or rosh yeshiva believe it? Do they speak of the miracles which happen daily in Eretz Yisrael?

It would appear not. Because one who believes the hand of HaShem is at work here in Eretz Yisrael, would naturally wish to join in experiencing the miracles.

Politics, it is said makes “strange bedfellows.”

One need not make an active effort to eradicate the results of the Six day war in order to be included in the camp of the Israeli secular left, to be part of them it is sufficient to be indifferent, blase, aloof, unmoved, disinterested, unconcerned or apathetic towards the ongoing struggle to maintain the liberated areas.

Part Two: Concealed and Revealed (Hidden Spaces)

To keep a secret is one of the underpinnings of society. Attorneys are obligated to conceal admitted acts of “indiscretion” by a client, as well as physicians before whom a patient reveals the external and internal trappings of his body, and kal ve’chomer rabbis before whom people reveal their souls.

But the ultimate curator of secrets is the Almighty himself, who knows our deepest conscious and sub-conscious thoughts. When Yehosua asks who stole from the booty taken from the City of Yericho, Hashem replies, “Am I an informer!” And what better proof does one need then the fact that Hashem has not revealed himself openly since He spoke to Malachi, last of the prophetic period, 2500 years ago!

In this weeks parsha, as in last week’s, Hashem zealously conceals the location of the future bet hamikdash, by referring to it as “there” and “in that place”. And although it was known that Mount Moriah was where Avraham bounded up (Akeida) his son, Yitzchak, in preparation for being offered as a korban, it was not necessarily the place of the public Bet Hamikdash. It would take another 400 hundred years before David and Shmuel, the prophet, sat in the yeshiva in Naot, and based on certain halachic guidelines concluded that the place of the mikdash was Mount Moriah, har ha’bayit. And only then did Hashem appear to them confirming their conclusions.

The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim suggests three reasons for Hashem’s non-disclosure of the future place of the Bet Hamikdash. For had it been known then: 1) the nations of the world would have united to prevent the Jewish nation from obtaining possession of the area; 2) they would have physically destroyed the mountain, as was attempted by the evil Roman, Hadrian (Adrayanus) when he plowed up the Temple Mount and spread salt on it so nothing would ever live there again; 3) the tribes of Yisrael would have fought a civil war over who would be the custodians of the holy place.

On Shabbat we recited Birkat Hachodesh announcing the arrival of the new month of Elul. The next time we will announce the new month will be for the month of Mar Cheshvan. We do not announce the arrival date of the month of Tishrei, as chazal learned from the verse, “Te’ku ba’chodesh shofar be’keseh le’yom cha’gay’nu” – sound the shofar at the time of our concealed holy day” – Rosh Hashanah.

It is possible to explain the reason for concealing the pending arrival of Rosh Hashana along the lines set down by Rambam regarding the Temple Mount.

If the earthly bet din would declare the arrival day of rosh hashana, then the angels whose function it is to prosecute sinners would attempt to prevent the mitzvot of Am Yisrael from appearing before the heavenly court (Arachin 8b). Other angels who are appointed to care for the 70 nations of the world would attempt to destroy the good works of Am Yisrael. And if these things would happen, there would be deadly strife among Am Yisrael with each group blaming the other for the punishments wrought against us. The Satmarites would blame the Tzionim for the holocaust because of their attempts to bring the Jewish nation back to Eretz Yisrael, and the Tzionim would blame heaven’s fury on those elements who held back so many Jews from returning home.

Now since there is “nothing new under the sun”, as stated by Shlomo ha’Melech (Kohelet 1,9) these three reason are active today in all their virulence and vehemence. The members of the un-United Nations are united in one thing – their enmity and hostility to the Jewish people. This is expressed in their repeated condemnations and threats to the miniscule State of Israel, while oblivious to the background “music” of millions of people so cruelly massacred in all parts of the world.

They don’t hate Jews, they just oppose Israel’s occupation of a foreign country, which just for the record never existed. But like an anti-Semite said in a moment of lucidity, “I don’t believe Jesus ever lived but I believe the Jews killed him.”

The code word which refines this insane, unexplainable hatred towards Am Yisrael making it more palatable for their super sensitive consciences is “Yerushalayim”. The Christians hate the Moslems and vice versa yet despite their inability to concur on any issue, there is one to which all agree – Yerushalayim does not belong to the Jews. But what they really mean is that we do not belong in Eretz Yisrael.

While reading this, I am sure that you are thinking of the perfidious French, the treacherous British and hostile United Nations. All true! But, dear reader, are you aware of the fact that of all the countries in the world with whom the United States maintains diplomatic relations, there is only one city in which there are two US consulates – Yerushalayim. The US does not recognize Yerushalayim as the capital of Israel, so they maintain one consulate in west Yerushalayim and another in the eastern part.

The second reason of the Rambam that the Gentiles would destroy the city rather than permit the Jews to be its sovereign is in full force today. The Moslem Wakf, caretakers of the Temple Mount, are in the process of extracting unknown tons of soil containing Jewish articles from under the ground. They know full well that the creation of these empty spaces are endangering the entire platform of the mount, as testified by the weakened southern and eastern walls. Yet they go on undaunted in their “holy” crusade to destroy all vestiges of our presence on the Temple Mount.

And the third reason of the Rambam, that Hashem did not disclose the place of the mount lest the Jewish people indulge in fratricidal hatred, is also present. There are those who would fight for the right to ascend the Mount and pray. And those who scream “kares, kares” to all who would take a step on it (this is sheer ignorance, but I will leave this for another time).

The reality of our lives today is that Yerushalayim will assume an ever greater role in the consciousness of the world. The Temple Mount, G-d’s little acre, will become the focal point for the evolution of peoples and nations now and for all time. If Hashem, in His ultimate wisdom, saw fit to conceal the place which connects this world and the next, then today Yerushalayim is the unveiled, revealed, manifest, fulcrum of mankind, according to which all peoples will be marked, as stated by the prophet, Zecharya 14,17:

“And those of the family of nations who will not ascend to Yerushalayim to bow before Hashem the King, they will be punished with famine (and death)”.

The conclusion from all this is brutally simple: A Jew who wishes to be part of G-d’s great design in this world, let him come up to Eretz Yisrael where life has substance and meaning for eternity.

Part Three: I am not a Zionist

The month of Elul will begin on Wednesday. There is a saying in the “yeshiva world” that every month of the year should have an aspect of Elul (introspection and repentance), and certainly the month of Elul should be Elul.

Events of the past year (the war in Lebanon, corruption in government, etc.) have come together to create a national mood of introspection, with one of the primary objects under the public microscope being the mass media.

It seems that no matter what happens, their leftist outlook prevents the media from getting anything right.

A “catchy” headline in the paper of several months ago caught my attention. It read, “The Last Zionist”, relating an incident which occurred then at Ben Gurion Airport.

A religious man, who lives in Yerushalayim, passed through customs and entered the arrivals hall.

He suddenly turned around and requested to return to the customs inspector. He told the inspector that he had brought in a camera but was not charged the tax according to law. The inspector told him that he had detected the camera; but since the tax was only 180 shekels, he decided that the paper work was not worth his time.

To the astonishment of the inspector, our arrivee was adamant that they accept payment for the camera. The man then explained that the government does so much for the people, that it is our obligation to contribute to the expenses. He then quoted a ruling of HaRav Elyashiv shelita, regarding what a woman should do who had purchased a refrigerator without the store charging her the value added tax. The Rav told her that she must go back, inform them of the oversight and pay the tax.

The headline of this item was, as I stated, “The Last Zionist”.

Now for the real story behind the story.

What the gentleman did was not an act of Zionism, and HaRav Elyashiv’s decision was not based on Zionism, and contrary to what some people think, I am not a Zionist!

The man who insisted on paying the tax also keeps Shabbat, as do you, dear reader and I; but because of that are we called Shabbatians?

We wear tefillin daily. Does that make us Tefillinists?

We keep kosher. Does that make us Kosherists?

We are Jews, and Jews follow Hashem’s Torah. Shabbat, tefillin and kashrut are three out of the 613 mitzvot, as is living in Eretz Yisrael – although the mitzva of living in Eretz Yisrael is qualitatively equal to the sum of all the other mitzvot, as stated in Sifray, parshat Re’ay chapter 80:

Residence in Eretz Yisrael is equal to all the other mitzvot of the Torah

I am in Eretz Yisrael for the same reason I keep Shabbat, kosher and put on tefillin – because it is Hashem’s will as dictated in the Torah.

I pay my taxes and drive carefully because that is the way of the Torah.

I served in the army, as do my sons and sons-in-law today, and as shortly my grandchildren will, because it is a mitzva to defend the Holy Land and not because we are Zionists.

Zionism began with Herzl. Our devotion to Eretz Yisrael began 3500 years ago on a hill in the Golan, when Hashem said to Avraham (Bereishit 15:18)

I have given this land to your descendants from the river of Egypt (the Nile) up to the great river of Prat (Euphrates).

Here the Holy Temple was built to connect the spiritual and material worlds; here the Sanhedrin defined the Halacha, and here the national character of Hashem’s chosen people was shaped.

The book of Devarim is called Mishna Torah, which means review or repetition of the mitzvot already stated in the previous four books. But it can justifiably also be called the Book of Eretz Yisrael, because the Land is the focal point of every parsha.

As part of our effort of introspection and repentance in Elul, ask yourself a small question. When was the last time your rabbi or rosh yeshiva prayed shemoneh esray in English? Or for that matter kriyat shema or birkat hamazon in English? You would certainly be correct to conclude that they never did and never will.

We pray shacharit, mincha and maariv daily for a total time of about two hours; to this add three birkat hamazon for another 15 minutes. So what we pray to Hashem takes up a little more than two hours daily. Now, how much time of the day do we spend in the land where we live? Obviously 24/7.

The universally accepted Shulchan Aruch states that one may pray in any language (orech chaim 62,2); and may recite kriyat shema in any language (orech chayim 101,2) and birkat hamazon in any language as well (orech chayim 185,1).

The same Shulchan Aruch who lived in Tzfat deals with the case (even haezer 75:4) where one of a married couple wishes to move to Eretz Yisrael and the other does not. The halacha stated there that refusal to go to Eretz Yisrael is grounds for divorce.

Your rabbi or rosh yeshiva would never contemplate praying two hours in the day in any other language except Ivrit, despite the halacha in the Shulchan Aruch that states it is permitted. But your spiritual leader in Chutz L’aretz permits himself to be in the galut 24/7 when the Shulchan Aruch lets it be known that such conduct is unacceptable (understatement).

Elul demands first and foremost honesty. To fool another person is a sin. But to fool oneself is insanity.

Shabbat Shalom, Nachman Kahana

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.