Parshat Vayikra 5768

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Broken Heart
11 Mar 2008

Parshat Vayikra 5768

An Attack on the Heart

These were Rav Aviner’s opening thoughts on his Thursday night radio show a few hours after the terrorist attack at Yeshivat Mercaz Ha-Rav, followed by the questions from the show

The heart of our State has been wounded – the spiritual heart. Mercaz Ha-Rav is the mother of all National-Religious Yeshivot, Zionist Yeshivot and the largest of all of the Yeshivot. It was established by Maran (Our Revered Teacher) Ha-Rav Kook to spread a grand vision of the revival of the Nation of Israel in its Land. Any attack is dreadful and all the more so an attack on the heart. This is the yeshiva where I learned and everything within me is from this yeshiva. It is not by chance that they chose this holy place. The forces of evil wanted to attack the heart, even though they will obviously not succeed in their goal. The Nation of Israel is certainly stronger than the forces of evil, and Yeshivat Mercaz Ha-Rav is certainly the strongest of all.

We must remember that we are dealing with an enemy. We are at war. During war we are not merciful to the cruel. One who is merciful to the cruel is cruel to those who require mercy (Tanchuma, Parashat Metzora 1; Yalkut Shimoni Shmuel 1 #121). We are the merciful and they are the cruel, and when you are merciful to the cruel, you are cruel to your brothers and sisters. This is a war like any other war. There is a concept of the total war which means that, while we do not look for wars (we are a Nation which loves peace, searches for peace, and loves all people), if someone attacks us, we respond with all our might. When the enemy simply shaved half of the beards of some of King David’s soldiers and tore their clothes, he went to war. In a war, the most important aspect is deterrence. You cannot place a soldier on every square meter. The Rambam in the Moreh Nevuchim (vol. 1 #41) discusses his national philosophy and writes that the secret to security is deterrence. One must therefore strike his enemy with all his might. It makes no sense to provide terrorists, evil people and murderers with electricity, gas and weapons! Are you crazy providing terrorists and murderers with weapons?! The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (15-16) says that it is forbidden to provide regular murderers with weapons, and you give weapons to these people, not only in the past but now. Have you lost your mind?! This mercifulness towards the enemy is harming us. Other countries understand that we need to fight with all our might. Perhaps they will yell and scream, but they would do that regardless of what we do. I remember a joke – although it is certainly not a night for jokes – from Meir Uziel, a comedian and grandson of former Chief Rabbi Rav Uziel: in the competition for Ms. Ethical among the 200 nations of the world, we always come in last place, since we are the only ones who show up! We must certainly be ethical, but to our brothers, not the enemy. During the Second World War, the Allied power destroyed neighborhood after neighborhood in Berlin, because everyone understood that there was no other way to wage war. Did King Hussein of Jordan deal with Black September with child gloves? No, he killed 17,000 Palestinians and ended his Intifada once and for all. President Assad killed 21,000 Palestinians in one month when there was an uprising in Syria. And when Hamas wanted to take over Gaza, they killed many, many people. This is the language they speak and understand. This is how we must deal with them.

I remember that a terrorist once attacked a woman in Neveh Dekalim. She lay down on the baby carriage to protect her baby, and he stabbed her fifteen times in the back. By some miracle, someone came and shot him and saved her. Later, an unethical reporter interviewed the rescuer on the radio and asked: “How do you feel after killing a person?” He responded: “The thing which I killed was not a person.” I remembered this and quoted it various times. I once met someone and I said “shalom.” He said: “You don’t know me but you quoted me. I am the person who killed that thing which was not a person.” I said: “Yashar Koach – Way to go. Your actions followed what the Rambam says in Moreh Nevuchim (vol. 1 #7).” The Rambam discusses the “demons” mentioned in the Gemara. He says that a “demon” looks like a person on the outside, but is a wild animal on the inside. It is more dangerous than a wild animal in that it has intellect. People periodically ask me: Is the theory that we came from animals true? I answer: “I do not know. I was not there. The question, however, does not bother me. What bothers me is whether we have left being animals.” We must therefore wage war with strength and courage and strengthen the Nation of Israel in our Land.

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From the parashah sheet “Mayanei Ha-Yeshua #339 – Parashat Vayakel 5768

Don’t Let Him!

Don’t let him abuse you. Whether you are a girl, a young woman or a woman – don’t let him. Whether you are single or married – don’t let him. Not verbally, not with “light” abuse and not with severe abuse. Do not freeze in place. Yell out loud so that everyone can hear you. If he touches you, slap him. If he tries to do worse and there is no choice – kill him. Yes, kill him. And it happened – a disgusting man burst into a young woman’s apartment and wanted to have his way with her, and she killed him. Based on the law that it is permissible to use reasonable force to protect oneself, the court of the State of Israel ruled that her reaction was certainly reasonable.

Don’t let a man consider you as an object for his use and benefit. No, you are a person. If it has already happened to you, please turn to the police. Don’t worry. Don’t be embarrassed. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. He should be embarrassed. He is disgusting. Also, do not yield to pressure such as: “This will destroy the connection between him and his wife!” – Let it be destroyed! But it is okay to destroy you?? After he is rehabilitated, his relationship will be rehabilitated. Or: “This will destroy his high standing, since he is a respected person!” – Let it be destroyed! He is not a respectable person! He is foul! And if he is from your family and they begin to emotionally press you: “You would do this to your uncle? Or to your brother? Your grandfather? Your father?” Yes! You should certainly do this to them and it is a great act of righteousness which will have the effect of saving two things: Saving all of the future girls and young women who would suffer from him and saving this man from addition sins.

There are too many cases of abuse. Obviously, even one case is too much, but there are much more than just one. According to the estimates of women’s organization in Israel, during the last year there were 50,000 cases of harassment against women ages 25-40. You can add to this number the girls who are too young or the women who were too old and were not included in the report as well as many others who were embarrassed to make a complaint. A new study shows that 25% of religious women were subject to abuse to varying degrees. This is the same percentage as the general population.

A majority of the abuses were committed by people known to the women: Relatives (30%) or friends (40%) or teachers. The overwhelming majority of women who were abused (65%) do not tell a man. Only 15% tell their mothers and 6% tell their fathers. A girl or young woman who has been abused and does not relate it will walk around with a terrible wound – a guarded secret – she will be sad, fearful and racked with feelings of guilt – without justification.

I therefore suggest putting 50,000 men in prison so that others will hear, see, fear and will no longer act evilly. They will realize that when a woman says “no” – it means just that! Even if she does not say “no,” one needs only a little intellect to understand that she means no.

Obviously, not all men are like this, most are modest and gentle. And if you are not yet married, do not fear – you will find a gentle and pure man. To our distress, this lowly group exists outside all strata of society: men from high socio-economic standing and low socio-economic standing; Secularists, Religious-Zionists and Charedim (ultra-orthodox); Askenazim, Sefardim, Yemenite and Ethiopian. It is logical that the evil inclination is not racist, choosy and does not have a political affiliation.

Don’t let him. Don’t be afraid. Even if it is in the work place – don’t be afraid. Even if it involves a superior – don’t be afraid. The many women’s organizations will gladly help you, guide you and advise you. You will not be alone.

If you identify that this has happened to friends, encourage them to talk to you. If you are a teacher, please speak to your students about this and encourage them to speak to you privately. And if you work with the young, encourage them to confide in you.

But prepare yourself spiritually, since the harasser will not give in easily. He will say that you asked for it, initiated it, enticed and seduced him with provocative clothing, etc… Don’t worry, however, women’s group will help you through it.

The essential thing is that you should not feel guilt, you did nothing wrong. He is guilt and you are pure. If something happened to you in your youth, this will not affect you from marrying a pure and good young man. You are completely fine, you are pure.

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Text Message Responsa
Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text message questions a week. Some appear in the parashah sheets “Ma’ayanei Ha-Yeshu’ah” and “Olam Ha-Katan.” Here’s a sample:

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Stories of Rabbenu – Our Rabbi: Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

The Struggle Over the Land of Israel – Part 1

After the Six-Day War, our Rabbi placed the issue of the wholeness of the Land of Israel at the forefront of his public activities. He repeated over and over that it is a clear Torah prohibition to give any territory of the Land of Israel to non-Jews. He wrote and publicized hundreds of letters and proclamations, in calls to the public and the heads of the State – since he remained in close contact with them – to stand firmly for the wholeness of the Land and settling in all parts of the Land.

Our Rabbi distributed many broadsides on the subject of our holding on to the Land of Israel. He never based his argument on issues of security with the Arabs; the broadsides were always built on Torah foundations:

1. “Do not show them favor” (Devarim 7:2) – Do not give them a holding in the Land (Avodah Zarah 20a).

2. “The Land shall not be sold in perpetuity” (Vayikra 25:23).

3. Annulling the mitzvot dependent on the Land.

4. A legal argument that the Land not only belongs to those who live there now, but to all of the Jews in the past, present and future. Therefore no one has the authority to forfeit parts of the Land of Israel to the non-Jews, and there can be no referendum on Yehudah and Shomron, just as there can be no referendum on any mitzvah in the Torah. He also emphasized the need for self-sacrifice for the Land of Israel which should ideally be self-sacrifice in life.

The first broadside was “Do Not Tremble” after the Six-Day War. Our Rabbi told the students: “You are to close the Gemara now and go out for a few weeks to distribute this broadside in the entire breadth of the Land.” The broadside was distributed in thousands of copies throughout the world, translated into English and even Arabic. This broadside was written after the Six-Day War in light of the discussion of the Government about relinquishing parts of the Land which were conquered. Those who supported the idea of the Greater Land of Israel signed a different document, with the statement that now all of the Land of Israel has returned to our control. Our Rabbi refused to sign it because the East Bank of the Jordan was still not under our control. He therefore wrote his own document. (Sefer Eretz Ha-Tzvi, pg. 19)

To the claims that he placed exaggerated importance to the issue of the Land of Israel, our Rabbi responded, “The words of our Sages are holy that the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel is equivalent to all of the mitzvot of the Torah” (Letter, Iyar 5735).

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Shut She’eilat Shlomo – Questions of Jewish Law

“When Adar enters” and the attack on Mercaz Ha-Rav

Harm will not befall one on the way to perform a mitzvah

Birchat Ha-Gomel

Reciting Tehillim at night

Religious-Zionists harmed more often

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On Air

Every Tuesday and Thursday night Rav Aviner answers questions of Jewish Law and faith on the radio in Israel. On the Air presents a sample of these answers each week.

Visiting the Bahai Temple in Haifa

Kohanim in Ma’arat Ha-Machpelah in Hevron

Difficulty in reciting birkat ha-mazon

“Shehakol” for nursing baby

Sitting on the floor on Shabbat

Painting a mourner’s apartment

A non-Jew putting Tefillin on a Jew

An uncircumcised Jew

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Special thank you to Fred Casden for editing the Ateret Yerushalayim Parshah Sheet

Ha-Rav Shlomo Aviner is Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim. All material translated by Rabbi Mordechai Friedfertig. For more Torah:

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