Sunday, August 20, 2017

Greatness Is Humility

R' Sacks

There is a fascinating detail in the passage about the king in this week’s parsha. The text says that “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he must write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll before the levitical priests” (Deut. 17: 18). He must “read it all the days of his life” so that he will be God-fearing and never break Torah law. But there is another reason also: so that he will “not begin to feel superior to his brethren” (Kaplan translation). The king had to have humility. The highest in the land should not feel himself to be the highest in the land.

This is hugely significant in terms of the Jewish understanding of political leadership. There are other commands directed to the king. He must not accumulate horses so as not to establish trading links with Egypt. He should not have too many wives for “they will lead his heart astray.” He should not accumulate wealth. These were all standing temptations to a king. As we know and as the sages pointed out, it was these three prohibitions that Solomon, wisest of men, broke, marking the beginning of the long slow slide into corruption that marked much of the history of the monarchy in ancient Israel. It led, after his death, to the division of the kingdom.

But these were symptoms, not the cause. The cause was the feeling on the part of the king that, since he is above the people he is above the law. As the rabbis said (Sanhedrin 21b), Solomon justified his breach of these prohibitions by saying: the only reason that a king may not accumulate wives is that they will lead his heart astray, so I will marry many wives and not let my heart be led astray. And since the only reason not to have many horses is not to establish links with Egypt, I will have many horses but not do business with Egypt. In both cases he fell into the trap of which the Torah had warned. Solomon’s wives did lead his heart astray (1 Kings 11: 3), and his horses were imported from Egypt (1 Kings 10: 28-29). The arrogance of power is its downfall. Hubris leads to nemesis.

Hence the Torah’s insistence on humility, not as a mere nicety, a good thing to have, but as essential to the role. The king was to be treated with the highest honour. In Jewish law, only a king may not renounce the honour due to his role. A parent may do so, so may a rav, so may even a nasi, but not a king (Kiddushin 32a-b). Yet there is to be a complete contrast between the external trappings of the king and his inward emotions.

Maimonides is eloquent on the subject:

Just as the Torah grants him [the king] great honour and obliges everyone to revere him, so it commands him to be lowly and empty at heart, as it says: ‘My heart is empty within me’ (Ps. 109:22). Nor should he treat Israel with overbearing haughtiness, for it says, “so that his heart be not haughty over his brothers” (Deut. 17: 20).

He should be gracious and merciful to the small and the great, involving himself in their good and welfare. He should protect the honour of even the humblest of men. When he speaks to the people as a community, he should speak gently, as it says, “Listen my brothers and my people….” (1 Chronicles 28:2), and similarly, “If today you will be a servant to these people…” (1 Kings 12:7).

He should always conduct himself with great humility. There was none greater than Moses, our teacher. Yet he said: “What are we? Your complaints are not against us” (Ex. 16:8). He should bear the nation’s difficulties, burdens, complaints and anger as a nurse carries an infant. (Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2: 6)

The model is Moses, described in the Torah as “very humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth” (Num. 12: 3). “Humble” here does not mean diffident, meek, self-abasing, timid, bashful, demure or lacking in self-confidence. Moses was none of these. It means honouring others and regarding them as important, no less important than you are. It does not mean holding yourself low; it means holding other people high. It means roughly what Ben Zoma meant when he said (Avot 4: 1), “Who is honoured? One who honours others.” This led to one of the great rabbinic teachings, contained in the siddur and said on Motsei Shabbat:

Rabbi Yochanan said, Wherever you find the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, there you find His humility. This is written in the Torah, repeated in the Prophets, and stated a third time in the Writings. It is written in the Torah: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty and awe-inspiring God, who shows no favoritism and accepts no bribe.” Immediately afterwards it is written, “He upholds the cause of the orphan and widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing” … (Megillah 31a)

God cares for all regardless of rank, and so must we, even a king, especially a king. Greatness is humility.

In the context of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth the Second, there is a story worth telling. It happened in St James Palace on 27 January 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Punctuality, said Louis XVIII of France, is the politeness of kings. Royalty arrives on time and leaves on time. So it is with the Queen, but not on this occasion. When the time came for her to leave, she stayed. And stayed. One of her attendants said he had never known her to linger so long after her scheduled departure time.

She was meeting a group of Holocaust survivors. She gave each survivor – it was a large group – her focussed, unhurried attention. She stood with each until they had finished telling their personal story. One after another, the survivors were coming to me in a kind of trance, saying, “Sixty years ago I did not know whether I would be alive tomorrow, and here I am today talking to the Queen.” It brought a kind of blessed closure into deeply lacerated lives. Sixty years earlier they had been treated, in Germany, Austria, Poland, in fact in most of Europe, as subhuman, yet now the Queen was treating them as if each were a visiting Head of State. That was humility: not holding yourself low but holding others high. And where you find humility, there you find greatness.

It is a lesson for each of us. R. Shlomo of Karlin said, Der grester yester hora is az mir fargest az mi is ein ben melekh, “The greatest source of sin is to forget we are children of the king.” We say Avinu malkenu, “Our father, our king.” It follows that we are all members of a royal family and must act as if we are. And the mark of royalty is humility.

Holy Of Holies?

This is from the Sichos of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook z"l, Parshas Shoftim. He says that Medinat Yisrael is Holy Holies -  קודש קדשים. Big claim. Why? Because Hashem made it. 

O.K. But Hashem also made the U.S.A. Is that קודש קדשים? As a matter of fact, there were many revealed miracles that occured in order to create the United States. [Read Michael Medeved's "The American Miracle - Divine Providence In The Rise Of The Republic". ניסי ניסים!]

I mean - Hashem created EVERYTHING!!! Does that make EVERYTHING קודש קדשים???

Anybody out there can enlighten us??

A Double Bracha

לזכות ר' אליעזר יצחק בן בתיה וכל בני ביתו לשפע ברכה והצלחה 

What does it mean when we say in davening that when Hashem split the sea He was ברוך הוא ומבורך - Blessed is He and blessed. Why isn't one "blessed" enough?

Siach Yitzchak [Rav Yitzchak Gandman Pietrokov, Poland 1891] - Even though He is flowing with blessing, He still wants us to bless Him.

Bi-roomo Shel Olam [Rav Dov Kook Shlita] - ברוך is the actual blessing that He gives. מבורך is our perception of the blessing. Usually there is a gap between our perception and the actual bracha but at the splitting of the sea there was such a great revelation that the actual blessing and our perception were equal. 

דוד המלך said כאשר שמענו כן ראינו בעיר אלקינו - As we heard so we saw in the city of Hashem. Normally we can't see with our eyes what we hear from our ancestors about the greatness of Hashem, but in עיר אלקינו  - the Holy City of Yerushalayim, we can SEE what we hear. 

That is all I could find. Any other ideas??

[ועי' תפארת שלמה ליקוטים עמ' קס"א]

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Keep Believing!

Image result for images for hope quotes

The Neshama Praises

לזכות כ"ק מרן אד"ש 

We say in davening כל הנשמה תהלל י-ה - Every neshama will praise you.

The neshama praises Hashem. The body - wants more of that potato kugel and another helping of cholent. The soul wants the glory of Hashem, the body wants its own glory and pleasure. The more neshama-dik you are the more you will praise Hashem.

Dovid Hamelech was able to dance in a completely uninhibited way in front of the Aron [שמואל א ו י"ד] because he was living such a soulful existence that he didn't care what people thought. All that mattered was כבוד שמים.

I hope we can start moving in that direction!!:-):-)  

['עפ"י ואני תפילה עמ' י]

Find A Good Neighborhood

לישועת אלחנן בן הענא מרים 
Hilchos Lashon Hara chapter 9, section 3

One must be careful not to give praise that leads to loss. For example, to publicize that someone provided him with eat and drink and went to a lot of trouble for him, for through this many empty people will go to him and deplete his money. Regarding this it says, If who blesses his fellow with a loud voice early in the morning - it is regarded as a curse for him (Proverbs 27:14). From this we learn that if one got a loan, he should not publicize the lender's generosity. It is also dust of lashon hara to say things that make people suspect he is speaking lashon hara.

Hilchos Lashon Hara chapter 9, section 4

It is forbidden to live in the neighborhood of people who constantly speak lashon hara (baalei lashon hara), and even more to sit with them and listen to them even if one does not intend to believe what they say as we wrote earlier (6:2). If one's disciple speaks lashon hara constantly one should banish him if one knows rebuke will not help. 

If one finds oneself among a group of such people due to circumstances outside one's control and finds they are speaking lashon hara, if one estimates that rebuke will stop them, one is certainly obligated by Torah law to rebuke them. Even if one estimates that rebuke will not stop them but figures it won't make them speak more lashon hara, one is not allowed to keep silent. For people might say he is like them and agreed to what they said. One is also obligated to speak up and rebuke them for the honor of the innocent person they are speaking of. This is one of the reasons one is obligated to leave such a group, for one is punished if one listens and does not rebuke them.

Friday, August 18, 2017

King And Navi - Part 5: Some Zionism - Double Your Money - Happy Lights - Some Swahili - Super Geshmak

לזכות ידי"נ הרה"ג ר' ישראל אפפעל וכל בני ביתו היקרים
לזכות נעמי בת טובה 
נועם בן לאה

It says in the Rambam [Sanhedrin 4/10]  that we may only give Semicha in E.Y. [Eretz Yisrael] and all of E.Y. that was captured when we left Egypt [עולי מצרים] is considered E.Y.  The "Double Money" [Kesef Mishna] writes that the Rambam derives this from the gemara [Sanhedrin 5a] that says that having רשות to judge in E.Y. includes the border cities. If it includes the border cities then it certainly includes those areas that were captured by the עולי מצרים even though the עולי בבל did not capture them. 

The Minchas Chinuch [491] proverbially scratches his head. What has one got to do with another? The question of judging with רשות in E.Y. depends on how far the rulership of the Jews in E.Y. extends. If granted permission, one may judge until the border of where we rule. But the question of Semicha has nothing to do with how far our governance extends but rather whether it is considered halachically part of E.Y. or not. So how does the Rambam know that if the area was captured only by עולי מצרים  but not by עולי בבל it is considered part of E.Y. as far as Semicha is concerned?

Big kashya!! 

The "Happy Light" [known colloquially as the אור שמח] says that just as we follow the borders of עולי מצרים with respect to the law of חטאת קהל - bringing a korban when the majority of Jews [רוב קהל] in E.Y. sinned when they erringly followed the Beis Din [as the Yerushalmi says], so too with regard to Semicha we follow the borders of the E.Y. that were captured by עולי מצרים. 

But, as they say in the Yeshivos, SOIF KOIL SOIF, what does the קרבן חטאת have to do with the law of Semicha?? Or - מה ענין שמיטה אצל הר סיני??!!

Ahhhhh!! Says Rav Mann ztz"l - It would appear that the law of Semicha applies specifically in E.Y. because Semicha is the power of the Torah to govern in a place where the governance of Torah fully applies and everybody and their Aunt Bertha knows the Medrash that the Torah was meant to be kept only in E.Y. while outside the Land mitzvos are only practice for the future when we arrive home [עי' רמב"ן ואתחנן ד' ה' ואחרי מות י"ח כ"ה]. So it makes sense that Semicha which is about the power and rule of the Torah should only take place in the place where Torah was meant to be kept, namely in E.Y.!! That is also why רוב קהל depends on the population in E.Y., because that is where we were meant to keep the Torah [the Avnei Nezer explains differently - because there is no צבור outside of E.Y. only in E.Y. ואכמ"ל]. So the tzushetel ["comparison" in Swahili] the "Happy Light" makes between the חטאת של רוב קהל and Semicha is dancing - both depend on the place where we were meant to keep mitzvos!

Adds Rav Mann - We now have a new light on the Rambam [Sanhedrin 1/2]:

"We are obligated to appoint courts in every region and in every city only in Eretz Yisrael. In the diaspora, by contrast, we are not obligated to appoint courts in every region. This is derived from the continuation of the above verse: " all your gates which God your Lord is giving you for your tribes.""

The Ramban [at the beginning of Parshas Shoftim] understnds the Rambam to be saying that there is no obligation at all to appoint courts in the diaspora. Why not? Based on the forgoing - Since the diaspora is not the place to keep the Torah, there is no special mitzva to establish courts [unless they are practically needed]. Only in E.Y. must we appoint courts because there is the place where the Torah must be kept. And even according to those who understand the Rambam to be saying that even in the diaspora we must appoint courts just not in every region like in E.Y. - that is because Jews in the diaspora are no less the בני נח who are also commanded to establish a court system [as the Gevuras Ari says in Makkos 7a]. But the special mizva to establish courts in the place where Torah is the ruling authority is E.Y.


And now we can understand the Kesef Mishna who said that the source of the Rambam's ruling that Semicha may be given in all areas captured by עולי מצרים is  from the gemara [Sanhedrin 5a] that says that having רשות to judge in E.Y. includes the border cities. If it includes the border cities then it certainly includes those areas that were captured by the עולי מצרים even though the עולי בבל did not capture them. The M.C. [not "Master Of Ceremonies" but "Minchas Chinuch"] asked what one has to do with the other? 

The answer is that the Nasi can give רשות to judge as a מחוקק - meaning wherever Torah law applies [as opposed to the Resh Galusa whose rulership is inherent to his position - he is a שבט - and not a Torah position]. If we see that as far as keeping the Torah the border cities are considered E.Y. [which is why the רשות of the Nasi is effective there], then SOITAINLY ["בודאי"] areas captured by עולי מצרים are under the jurisdiction of E.Y. and Torah law. 

והדברים שמחים!!!

I hope bs"D that in our next installment we finally explain the enigmatic מלכות of Yehoshua. 


Re'eh - Vanquish Your Yetzer


It haasss beeeeeen tooo looooonggg!!! I have been so busy with my investment banker, my stock analyst, the various start ups I am running etc. that the weekly dvar Torah just got lost in the shuffle. I HAVE TO DO TESHUVAAAA!!! Elul is around the corner [where I live so are lots of A-rabs!!] As Shaquille O'Neil put it so well "Money, money, money. money! I am sick of all this talk 'bout money. All I want is to play bo', drink pepsi and wear Reebok!!" ME TOO!! Less about my stock portfolio and more about being a Jew [the Shaq isn't zoche to be a Jew so he is left with his cowhide, Pepsi and Reebok. But I am SOOOOO lucky that I have a Jewish mother and thus am a CHOSEN PERSON!!:-)]. Anyway I don't drink soda. 

In this weeks parsha we learn about the מסית, that evil fellow who subverts another Jew to serve idols. The Torah tells us [as goes the famous line from The Karate Kid lihavdil] NO MERCY. לא תחמול. He must be executed. 

The Sfas Emes says that this teaches us a lesson about the מסית we have within us. We have the power to execute our yezer hara instantaneously if we so desire. NO MERCY!!!

The pasuk also says that first the subverted person kills him and [if he doesn't do the job] then everybody else. ידך תהיה בו בראשונה להמיתו ויד כל העם באחרונה - Literally, first your hand will kill him and then the rest of the nation. 

This teaches us that if YOU overcome your yetzer hara then you give all of the other Jews the power. We are all one unit and have the capacity to impact others!!

In the words of the Master:

בפרשה של המסית צריך כל אדם להכין עצמו למצוה זו כי הוא ענין נכבד להיות מתפעל האדם להתהפך כרגע לשונא ממש ע"י ההסתה לקיים לא תחמול ולא תכסה. ומכ"ש שזה קאי על היצה"ר וסט"א שהוא המסית ומדיח. ואם נעשה האדם שונא ממש ע"י הסתה. יוכל להרוג אותו. כמ"ש אח"כ כי הרוג תהרגנו ע"י השנאה כנ"ל. הרוג הוא בפרטות מה שמסית לו. ותהרגנו הוא לגמרי שע"י נסיון אחד זוכה להתקדש בכל. ועוד ידך תהי' כו' ויד כל העם באחרונה. פי' כמ"ש כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה. א"כ מכ"ש שמה שגובר א' והורג היצה"ר שבו מזכה לכל ישראל שלא יהי' עוד כח להיצה"ר באותו דבר כמו מקודם. וזה עצמו צריך להוסיף כח לכל עובד ה' במה שיודע שע"י תגבורת שלו יחליש כח היצה"ר נגד כל ישראל כפי הכח של הנסיון:

We should be zoche to a sweet Shabbos and an Elul FILLED with simcha and teshuva from LOVE!!!


Leaving Darkness

לזכות כ"ק מו"ר שליט"א 

Image result for images seeing the light

We say in davening יוצר אור ובורא חושך. This is based on the pasuk that says יוצר אור ובורא רע. So in our tefillah we substitute the word "darkness" "חושך" for "evil" "רע". 

Darkness is called evil. The gemara compares this world to darkness ["עוה"ז דומה ללילה"] for it casts a shadow on the truth. It is like a person who goes to a king's banquet but since it is dark he spills the wine all over himself, cuts himself with the steak knife etc. etc.  and he thinks that all of this good is really bad. But he is mistaken - if there would be light he would be able to enjoy and realize how good it is. Many of the Jews died during מכת חושך because they thought that the geulah was bad for them. They were living - and died - in darkness. 

The way to "see the light" is to fix the blemishes in our personalities. Then we experience a new world. It is really the same world but since we cleansed our soul of all of the filth that attached itself, we start living a blessed existence. 

You can do that TODAY!!!  

[עפ"י ואני תפילה עמ' י"א]

All One

There are 248 words in Shema which are preceded by the words "Hashem Echad". This implies that all 248 limbs in our body [which correspond to the mitzvos] are really one organic unit - we just don't see it. The whole notion of "holistic medicine" where a disease in one organ or limb is perceived as a disease in the entire organism has a source in this idea. At the end of days we will see how all 248 [positive] mitzvos were really one, how our entire body is interconnected and how the the mitzvos relate to our bodies.   

Everything is One!!!

[עי' בס' ואני תפילה עמ' ט"ז]

Re'eh - A Rabbi's Public Conduct

Despite his prominence as the chief judge in Babylonia and head of the famed yeshiva of Nehardea, Rav Nachman came under attack from Rabbi Ammi of Tiberius. Or more accurately — Rav Nachman was attacked precisely due to his rabbinical prominence.

On two occasions, Rav Nachman instructed his servant to follow the accepted lenient opinion in Halakhah. The first concerned hatmanah — insulating food on Shabbat. The scholar requested that his food be insulated on Shabbat to keep it cold. This is in accordance with the accepted ruling that hatmanah is only prohibited when keeping food hot.

The second incident took place on a weekday, when Rav Nachman requested that a non-Jewish chef boil him some hot water to drink. The accepted opinion is that Bishul Akum (the rabbinic prohibition to eat foods cooked by non-Jews) does not apply to foods which may be eaten also uncooked, such as water (Shabbat 51a).

So why did Rabbi Ammi object?

Two Models of Personal Example

While we learn from great scholars through their lectures and classes, an even more powerful method is by way of personal example. There are, however, two different models for the way a scholar serves as an example and influences others. These two models are often contradictory. Acting according to one paradigm will frequently be misleading or incorrect in terms of the second.

The first model is for the rabbi to be seen as a practical example of normative Halakhah. People are drawn to the scholar’s nobility of character and great esteem. They see him literally as a living Torah. All of his actions are precisely measured by the Torah’s standards of holiness and Halakhah. People scrutinize his conduct in order to emulate his lifestyle of Torah and mitzvot.

In this situation, the scholar should take care to always follow accepted Halachic rulings. Then it will be clear that his actions are Torah practices applicable to all. If he were to publicly take on special acts of piety, others could no longer learn from him.

This principle is true even if the scholar is naturally drawn to higher religious observance beyond the Halachic norm — middat hassidut — due to deep inner aspirations to be close to God. Nonetheless, he must subdue this desire, so that the people will know that his actions are relevant for all to emulate and follow.

There is, however, a second model of spiritual influence. This is an inspirational influence, when the people see a great scholar as a giant of spirit and intellect. His breadth of knowledge and depth of piety is clearly on a plane far beyond the common man. The people recognize this distance and revere the saintly scholar. His punctilious observance of mitzvoth, even in the smallest details, is clearly not a lifestyle to be emulated, but an inspiring expression of a sublime love of God and Torah.

In this model of influence, it is proper for the scholar to act according to middat hassidut,observing extra stringencies when fulfilling mitzvot, consistent with his exceptional spiritual stature.

Guard against Extremism

The two areas in which Rav Nachman followed the accepted lenient opinion — the laws of Shabbat and Bishul Akum — relate to two fundamental themes in Judaism. Shabbat is an expression of Israel’s spiritual greatness. The Sabbath is “a sign between Me and you” (Ex. 31:13). And the laws of Bishul Akum are designed to emphasize the distinction of the Jewish people, so that the people will be aware and guard over the lofty segulah nature of Israel.

In both of these areas – the greatness of Israel and its separation from the nations — a zealous, unbalanced individual could distort the Torah’s intent, adding extraneous, disturbing, even xenophobic elements. It is necessary to prevent such excesses with qualifying parameters in order to maintain the proper balance. This is rooted in the Torah’s command,

“Carefully observe everything that I am commanding you. Do not add to it and do not subtract from it.” (Deut. 13:1)

For this reason, Rabbi Nachman publicly ordered that his cold food be insulated on Shabbat, limiting the extent of the Sabbath rest. And he requested that a non-Jew heat up his water, so that the divide between Jew and non-Jew not be exaggerated.

But the perfected individual — who fully grasps the wisdom and intent of the Torah — does not need such restrictions. There is no limit to the heights of elevated thought. Going beyond the norms of Halakhah and observing middat hassidut is thus appropriate — and even expected, as Rabbi Ammi forcefully noted — for a great scholar.

(Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, pp. 13-14, on Shabbat 51a)

Re'eh: The Place Of The Beis Hamikdash

Surprisingly, the Torah never spells out exactly where the Temple is to be built. Rather we are instructed to build the Beit HaMikdash “in the place that God will choose”:

“Only to the place that the Eternal your God will choose from all your tribes to set His Name — there you shall seek His dwelling place, and go there.” (Deut. 12:5)

Where is this place “that God will choose”? What does it mean that we should “seek out His dwelling place”?

The Hidden Location

The Sages explained that the Torah is commanding us, under the guidance of a prophet, to discover where the Beit HaMikdash should be built. King David undertook the search for this holy site with the help of the prophet Samuel.

Why didn’t the Torah explicitly state the location where to build the Temple? Moses certainly knew that the Akeidah took place on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, and he knew that Abraham had prophesied that this would be the site of the Beit HaMikdash.1

Maimonides (Guide to the Perplexed III: 45) suggested that Moses wisely chose not to mention Jerusalem explicitly. Had he done so, the non-Jewish nations would have realized Jerusalem’s paramount importance to the Jewish people and would have fought fiercely to prevent it from falling into Israel’s hands.

Even worse, knowledge of Jerusalem’s significance could have led to infighting among the tribes. Each tribe would want the Beit HaMikdash to be located in its territory. The result could have been an ugly conflict, similar to Korach’s rebellion against Aaron’s appointment to the position of High Priest. Maimonides reasoned that this is why the Torah commands that a king be appointed before building the Beit HaMikdash. This way the Temple’s location would be determined by a strong central government, thus avoiding inter-tribal conflict and rivalry.

"Between His Shoulders"

In any case, David did not know where the Beit HaMikdash was to be built. According to the Talmud (Zevachim 54b), his initial choice fell on Ein Eitam, a spring located to the south of Jerusalem. Ein Eitam appeared to be an obvious choice since it is the highest point in the entire region. This corresponds to the Torah’s description that

“You shall rise and ascend to the place that the Eternal your God will choose” (Deut.17:8).

However, David subsequently considered a second verse that alludes to the Temple’s location. At the end of his life, Moses described the place of God’s Divine Presence as “dwelling between his shoulders” (Deut. 33:12). What does this mean?

This allegory suggests that the Temple’s location was not meant to be at the highest point, but a little below it, just as the shoulders are below the head. Accordingly, David decided that Jerusalem, located at a lower altitude than Ein Eitam, was the site where the Beit HaMikdash was meant to be built.

Doeg, head of the High Court, disagreed with David. He supported the original choice of Ein Eitam as the place to build the Temple. The Sages noted that Doeg’s jealousy of David was due to the latter’s success in discovering the Temple’s true location.

The story of David’s search for the site of the Beit HaMikdash is alluded to in one of David’s “Songs of Ascent.” Psalm 132 opens with a plea: “Remember David for all his trouble” (Ps. 132:1). What was this trying labor that David felt was a special merit, a significant life achievement for which he wanted to be remembered?

The psalm continues by recounting David’s relentless efforts to locate the place of the Temple. David vowed:

“I will not enter the tent of my house, nor will I go up to the bed that was spread for me. I will not give sleep to my eyes, nor rest to my eyelids — until I find God’s place, the dwellings of the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Ps. 132: 3-5)

David and Doeg

What was the crux of the dispute between David and Doeg? Doeg reasoned that the most suitable site for the Temple is the highest point in Jerusalem, reflecting his belief that the spiritual greatness of the Temple should only be accessible to the select few, those who are able to truly grasp the purest levels of enlightenment — the kohanim and the spiritual elite.

David, on the other hand, understood that the Temple and its holiness need to be the inheritance of the entire people of Israel. The kohanim are not privy to special knowledge; they are merely agents who influence and uplift the people with the Temple’s holiness. The entire nation of Israel is described as a “kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6).

The Waters of Ein Eitam

Even though Ein Eitam was never sanctified, it still retained a special connection to the BeitHaMikdash, as its springs supplied water for the Beit HaMikdash. The Talmud relates that on Yom Kippur, the High Priest would immerse himself in a mikveh on the roof of the Beit HaParvah chamber in the Temple complex. In order for the water to reach this roof, which was 23 cubits higher than the ground floor of the Temple courtyard, water was diverted from the Ein Eitam springs, which were also located at this altitude.

Rav Kook explained that there exists a special connection between Ein Eitam and the High Priest’s purification on Yom Kippur. While the Beit HaMikdash itself needs to be accessible to all, the purification of the High Priest must emanate from the highest possible source. Yom Kippur’s unique purity and power of atonement originate in the loftiest realms, corresponding to the elevated springs of Ein Eitam.

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Shemu'ot HaRe’iyah (Beha’alotecha), quoted in Peninei HaRe’iyah, pp. 273-274,350-351. Shemonah Kevatzim I:745)

עין עיטם הוא המקום היותר גבוה שבא"י. והיה עולה על דעת דוד ושמואל לבנות שם בהמ"ק, עד שהוכיחו מהכתוב שצריך להנמיך מעט, לקיים ובין כתפיו שכן, ואין לך נאה בשור אלא בין כתפיו. ועין עיטם נשאר בצורה של חול לכאורה, אבל בית הטבילה לכה"ג ביוה"כ, מהדרא מיא מעין עיטם. והיא בעליית בית הפרוה, שבנה פרוה אמגושא, שהוא הצד היותר חשוך שברע, גדופי, שאין היתר ללמוד ממנו אפילו להבין ולהורות. ומ"מ יש גם ע"ז הכללה עליונה וצורך עולם, המטהר בהכללתו ומכין לעבודת הקודש היותר עליונה, הכובשת בשיא קדושתה את כל הכחות המהרסים, ומיסדת את העולם על בסיס קדושת טהרתו. אף תיכון תבל בל תמוט. ובדרישת רשומות - פר, יער אשר תרמוש כל חיתו טרף - שהם חוץ מבנינו של עולם הזה והבא שנבנה ביה, ורק מוה [?] הנם מקבלים שפעם, קודם שהאורה העליונה מופיעה בעזה והשמש לא זרחה עדיין, כ"א תשת חושך ויהי לילה. אבל המחשבה המטהרת, היא הצפיה לישועת חי עולמים של יום אשר הוא לא יום ולא לילה. והיה לעת ערב יהיה אור.

Re'eh: Open Your Hand

“When... any of your brothers is poor, do not harden your heart or shut your hand against your needy brother. Open your hand generously, and extend to him any credit he needs to take care of his wants.” (Deut. 15:7-8)

Below are two stories which illustrate Rav Kook’s remarkable generosity. Both incidents occurred during the years that he served as chief rabbi of Jaffa, from 1904 to 1914.

The Rabbi’s Salary

Rav Kook’s wife once appeared before the community directorate of Jaffa, headed by Mr. Meir Dizengoff, with a serious complaint. She had not seen her husband’s salary for months and had no means of support. The leaders of the community were shocked. After investigating the matter, however, they discovered that the rabbi himself was distributing his income to the needy.

The leaders asked Rav Kook how he could act in such a manner, caring more for strangers than his own household.

Rav Kook responded simply, “My family can buy food at the local grocery on credit. Others, however, cannot do so. Who would agree to give them what they need on credit?”

From that day on, the treasurer of the community was given strict orders to give the rabbi’s salary only to his wife.

The Disqualified Guarantor

In 1907, the Jaffa correspondent for the Chavatzelet newspaper published an article criticizing the Anglo-Palestine Bank (now known as Bank Leumi). Apparently, a man applied for a loan in the bank and was asked to provide eleven guarantors. The man managed to find fourteen people who were willing to sign, one of whom was Rav Kook. The bank, however, disqualified most of them - including the rabbi. The correspondent’s conclusion was that the bank deliberately discriminated against religious Jews.

A few weeks later, a rejoinder appeared in the paper. The author, almost certainly associated with the bank, argued that the bank was justified in its rejection of Rav Kook’s guarantees. He wrote:

“The rabbi is extremely good-hearted and gentle by nature. The poor cling to him. The only reason there are some beggars who do not knock on his door is because they know he has no money. If they only knew that they could get money in exchange for a small piece of paper, which he can always grant them, they would give him no peace.”

“Besides which, [if the rabbi would be accepted as a guarantor], he would unwittingly put himself under the burden of debts, from which he would be unable to escape. Large amounts of money would be lost, and one of the following would suffer: either the esteemed rabbi — and it would be highly unpleasant for the bank to extract money from him — or the bank itself. Therefore, the bank decided unanimously not to honor the rabbi’s guarantees.”

(Adapted from An Angel Among Men by Simcha Raz, translated by R. Moshe Lichtman, pp. 344-346)

Re'eh: Idolatry And The Land Of Israel

As a condition for inheriting the Land of Israel, the Torah demands that all forms of idolatry be destroyed:

“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you are driving out worship their gods.... You must tear down their altars, break up their sacred pillars, burn their Asheirah trees, and chop down the statues of their gods. You must obliterate their names from that place.” (Deut. 12:2-3)

The Torah stresses that this obligation to destroy idolatrous artifacts is primarily binding in the Land of Israel. As the Sages commented, “'You will obliterate their names from that place’ — in the land of Israel you are commanded to pursue idolatry [until it is totally eradicated], but not outside the land.” (Sifri; see Maimonides, Laws of Idolatry 7:2)

Idolatry is clearly the antithesis of Judaism’s message of monotheism. The imperative to fight idolatry should not be limited to a particular location. So why does the Torah confine the eradication of idolatry to the Land of Israel?

Opposing Worldviews

The conflict between monotheism and idolatry is a contest between two fundamentally opposing worldviews. Idolatry sees the world as divided and fragmented, a place where competing gods/forces of nature clash and struggle with one another. In this bleak worldview, the material outweighs the spiritual, and life is reduced to the pursuit of physical wants.

Monotheism, on the other hand, teaches that the world has an underlying unity. As one’s sense of the universe’s inner harmony deepens, one’s longing for the spiritual grows stronger. Higher aspirations take on greater significance; the world advances and is progressively enlightened.

The Land of Israel and Monotheism

The Sages wrote that “The air of the Land of Israel makes one wise” (Baba Batra 158b). EretzYisrael is bound to the spiritual life of Israel, the Torah; and the essence of the Torah’s wisdom is the inner truth of a united reality. The special atmosphere of the Land of Israel instills greater awareness of the world’s unified foundation. For this reason, obliteration of idolatry is especially important in the Land of Israel.

Outside the Land of Israel, the harmonious vision of a unified world cannot be fully revealed. There, a fragmented worldview reigns, emphasizing division and isolation. A grim sense of existential estrangement pervades all aspects of life. Any attempt to reveal the hidden unity of the world is hindered by the ‘impurity of the lands of the nations.’ The lands outside of Israel suffer from the foul odor of idolatry. The Sages wrote that Jews living outside the Land are “idol-worshippers in purity” (Avodah Zarah 8a). In other words, they are unintentionally influenced by the cultural environment of the foreign countries in which they live.

This distinction is also manifest in the difference between the Torah of Eretz Yisrael and the Torah of the exile. The Torah outside the Land excels in detailed arguments and the fine dialectics of pilpul. Its qualities reflect the general sense of divisiveness felt there. The Torah of the Land of Israel, on the other hand, is illuminated by a lofty wisdom which connects the details to their governing moral principles. “There is no Torah like the Torah of the Land of Israel” (Breishit Rabbah 16:7).

Only by residing in the Land of Israel can one be truly free from the influence of idolatry. The Torah explicitly links living in the Land and monotheistic faith:

“I took you out from the Land of Egypt in order to give you the Land of Canaan, to be your God” (Lev. 25:38).

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Orot HaKodesh vol. II, pp. 423-424)

Keeping Our Camp Holy

All of us are connected to Israel whether we are zocheh to live here or not. THE hot-button topic in Israel is who serves in the army. The non-charedi and irreligious world fumes at the Charedi world for not serving in the army. Why should we risk our lives and give 3 three of our lives to the army while you sit in your comfortable batei medrash and learn?

Sounds like a strong argument - and it is. 

And - cry the Dati-Leumi - What about the mitzva of serving? How can you not fulfill this great mitzva?? Learn Tanach and see that the Jews didn't sit and learn all day. Tanach is filled with wars fought by religious [we can even call them "Charedi"] soldiers.

Another strong argument.

Rav Aharon Feldman [Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael] and Rav Shlomo Miller [a well respected Rosh Kollel in Tornoto] wrote a letter telling American boys learning in Israel how to get their draft exemption. What aroused the ire of many is that they had the "chutzpah" to conclude by saying that the army constitutes a spiritual hazard:

That cuts to the crux of the issue: There is no argument between the Charedim and non-Charedim as to whether the army is spiritual hazard. EVERYONE agrees that it is. Anyone who says otherwise clearly doesn't know anything about either the army, avodas Hashem or both. There are tzniyus problems, kashrus problems, negative influences on young impressionable kids, Shabbos problems and the list goes on. I was in a Hesder yeshiva for 13 years and that was a very big issue for the boys: Remaining religiously strong despite the formidable challenges of the army. Today there are many מכינות קדם צבאיות which are less yeshivos and more spiritual preparation to remain religious in the army. So there is no question that serving in Tzahal is a religious challenge. [And despite the name, the Nachal Hacharedi is very very far from being Charedi. Some of the soldiers aren't religious at all but just came from religious homes]. 

The Charedim say that the value of being in a strong spiritual envoronment and learning Torah is greater than the value of serving in the army and the Dat-Leumi world holds that the value of serving overrides the potential hazards. 

Anybody who says that the Charedim are all sinners because they are not going to the army [BTW - many do but most serve shorter terms because they are already much older when they go] is saying that the Chazon Ish and just about all of the gedolim since the birth of the State don't know what they are talking about when they discouraged boys from serving. Only the bloggers and pundits really perceive the true will of Hashem. Quite a tenuous argument.

Here is an article from this weeks "Olam-Katan" pamphlet which is VERY far from the Charedi world view but they cite an article from the army magazine המחנה which features a picture of a boy with a yarmulke shaking hands warmly with a חיילת and interviews with the girls talking about how wonderful it is that the boys and girls are in the same unit and live in such close proximity "like brothers and sisters". It goes without saying that גילוי עריות is an aveirah that one must die before transgressing. 

So let us not be so critical of those who avoid the framework of Tzahal in keeping with the command of the Torah והיה מחניך קדוש.

[Of course we still have tremendous love and gratitude for those who do serve. This is not meant to divide us or convince anyone whether or not to serve but to explain the position most of us were educated against and dispel the hostility many feel towards Charedim. Halevai that someone reading this should care enough to try to do something to remedy the situation]. 

בעוד לדתיים די נמאס מהשיח הלא נעים עם הצבא, ובזמן האחרון הם הניחו לסוגיית השירות המשותף – בצבא דוהרים קדימה * ראו את הליהוק המופלא שנבחר לכתבה בעיתון 'במחנה' הפונה למתגייסים החדשים: גבעתי – פאסה, מעורב בנים-בנות – הדבר הבא! אבל זו רק ההתחלה: כוכב הכתבה חבוש הכיפה מצולם בלחיצת ידיים מחויכת במיוחד עם חיילות * כמשיחות לפי תומן, המרואיינות בכתבה מספרות על חיילות שסוחבות חיילים באלונקה, על הווי חברתי צפוף גם מחוץ לבסיס ועל זוגות רומנטיים בגדוד * לפי דובר צה"ל מדובר בבחירה אקראית והכתבה שלנו "נועדה לפלג את תפיסת צבא העם ולפגוע בצה״ל ובמשרתיו" * אתם הבנתם? מי שזה לא מוצא חן בעיניו כל הסיפור המעורבב הזה של הצבא, פוגע בצבא ומפלג

רועי אהרוני

כששלחו לי את הכתבה שהתפרסמה בגיליון האחרון של עיתון 'במחנה' הבנתי שהמערכה על השירות המשותף ממשיכה להתנהל הרחק מעין הציבור. בגיליון פורסמה כתבה עם מועמד לגיוס (להלן: מלש"ב) המגיע ליום אחד לבסיסו העתידי כדי לגלות איך ייראה שירותו הצבאי. המועמד שנבחר, חובש כיפה, עומד להתגייס לגדוד המעורב 'אריות הירדן'.

הכתבה, שמצורפים אליה תצלומים של דובר צה"ל שבהם נראה המלש"ב לוחץ יד לאחת החיילות בקורס, היא שיר הלל לשירות המשותף. הגדוד שנבחר הוא גדוד מעורב, והחייל חובש הכיפה מעביר מסר סמוי שאפשר להיות נאמן לתורת משה וגם להסתחבק עם חיילות ולסחוב אותן על אלונקה. המרואיינות כולן חיילות בגדוד שבפיהן ציטוטים המתמודדים עם הביקורות מבחוץ על השירות הזה – עמדה שכמובן לא הובאה בכתבה אפילו ברמז.

בכתבה מרואיינת מ"מית בגדוד המספרת בגאווה שהגדוד עתיד "לתפוס קו גם בגזרת חברון – וזה רק בזכותנו, כי הוכחנו שאנחנו יכולים". בריאיון נשזרות אמירותיה על טיב השירות המשותף: "יש פה לוחמות שהן פשוט מעולות", מצוטטת הסג"מ. "כשהייתי בקורס קצינים, וראיתי לוחמים מכל היחידות הקרביות – הבנתי שהלוחמות שלנו ברמה עוד יותר גבוהה ממה שחשבתי, והרמה שלהן לא נופלת מהרמה של לוחמים ביחידות אחרות[...] אם אני אעשה בוחן כזה או אחר, אני יכולה לא פחות מכל לוחם. כל מי שאמר שנשים לא יכולות, פשוט לא היה בגדוד 'אריות הירדן'". גם המלש"ב מציין שקשה לו להאמין שבקרוב יהיה כמו "הלוחמות והלוחמים שמרימים את הווסט ואומרים לי 'זה כלום'".

אחת הלוחמות בגדוד משווה בכתבה בין הגדוד של בן זוגה, לוחם בגבעתי, לגדוד שלה: "כשזה רק גברים יש הווי גברי מאוד, וכאן יש אווירה של משפחה, אחים ואחיות. זה מיוחד בעיניי, כי אם בגדוד רגיל זה ארבעה גברים שסוחבים אלונקה, אצלנו זה יכול להיות גם ארבע נשים. שיתוף הפעולה בין הגברים לנשים הוא מה שנותן לנו את הכוח להצליח במשימות". לדבריה, "הנשים מוסיפות הרבה צבע ושמחת חיים" – אמירה שבעולם לא צבוע הייתה מקוטלגת כסקסיסטית.

החיילת מעידה ש"יש גברים שבהתחלה לא מרוצים מהשיבוץ ובטוחים שיצטרכו 'לחפות' על הנשים החלשות בשירות, אך כשהם מגיעים, ורואים לוחמות שסוחבות גברים במסעות ומפגינות יכולות פיזיות מרשימות – הם חוזרים בהם".

כשחשפנו מעל דפי עיתון זה את פקודת השירות המשותף ומשמעותה מרחיקת הלכת, טענה בפניי אישיות בכירה מאוד בצה"ל כי העובדה שבגדודים המעורבים "שכולם לוחמים וכולם נמצאים באותו חול ומתלכלכים באותה המידה", מנטרלת מתחים על רקע מגדרי, כי הם לא נתפסים כמושא רומנטי. אולם נראה שהלוחמת אינה מאשררת בדבריה טענה זו: "אצלנו בגדוד אנחנו באמת חברים טובים, ואנחנו נפגשים גם בסופי השבוע והרגילות", מספרת הלוחמת. "יש אפילו כמה זוגות בגדוד, ואם שני אנשים הצליחו להתאהב אחרי שהם ראו אחד את השנייה סוחבים אלונקות ומזיעים – זאת כנראה אהבה".אפילו אם נאמין לדובר צה"ל שכל הכתבה הזו נעשתה בתמימות, שבמקרה המלש"ב שנבחר היה דתי ובמקרה בחרו מעשרות גדודי צה"ל דווקא גדוד מעורב, הרי שנורה אדומה הייתה אמורה להידלק בחדר העריכה של 'במחנה' ולא נדלקה. אילו הרשו לנו לדבר עם העורכים, אולי גם יכולנו לברר זאת

פנינו לדובר צה"ל כדי להבין מדוע הם ממשיכים בקמפיין האגרסיבי של עידוד הערבוב בין לוחמים ללוחמות, כפי שאפשר לראות בתקשורת המודפסת והמקוונת, באופן פורמלי ובלתי פורמלי. הסברנו שלדעתנו נחצה כאן גבול, ולמרות ההתנגדות הגורפת כל רבני ישראל לשירות בגדודים מעורבים, מכינים כתבה עם בחור בכיפה המתגייס לגדוד כזה. טענו שחוסר הרגישות המשווע הזה תוך המשך הקמפיין היחצ"ני של שירות הלוחמות מכריח אותנו לעסוק שוב בנושאים שחשבנו שנוכל לפתור באמצעות הידברות.

אקראיות מחשידה

בדו"צ טענו שאנחנו נטפלים לקטנות וכי הם חשבו שהטענות שלנו על הקמפיין הצה"לי כבר מאחורינו. ביקשנו לדבר עם העורכת האחראית של 'במחנה' רס"ן מרב סטולר או עם העורך בפועל סרן ניב דימור כדי לנסות להבין את השקפת עולמם. חיילים מהגדודים המעורבים, ממג"דים ועד טוראים ומלש"בים, מתראיינים ללא הרף בכל אמצעי התקשורת. כך גם יועצת הרמטכ"ל לענייני מגדר. לכן, לכאורה, מדובר בבקשה פשוטה ולגיטימית לשוחח עם עורכי העיתון, שהרי אפילו לא מדובר בקצינים בכירים.

לא הגבנו בתדהמה כשנענינו בשלילה. כבר כמעט שנתיים שאנו מבקשים מדובר צה"ל לראיין אנשים בצבא, אך נראה שכאשר מדובר בכתבה שלא מתאימה לאג'נדה שלהם – הם לא מאפשרים זאת. לא רק שלא מאפשרים לנו לראיין את הרמטכ"ל, את הרב הראשי לצה"ל (הקודם והנוכחי) ואפילו לא את היוהל"ם, גם תפקידים זוטרים יותר כעורכי עיתון 'במחנה' חסומים בפנינו. תחשבו לבד מדוע.

דובר צה"ל הסכים לתת רק את התגובה הכתובה הזאת: "לטובת הפקת הכתבה בוצעה פנייה יזומה לכלל מתגייסי גדוד 'אריות הירדן', המציעה להם להשתתף בכתבה. המלש״ב המדובר אמר כי מעוניין להתראיין לכתבה, ועל כן נבחר. שיוכו המגזרי לא היווה שיקול או נבדק בשום שלב ואף אין לכך אזכור בכתבה .צר לנו שבחרתם לקחת אירוע זה המבוסס על רצון החייל והפכתם אותו לכתבה נוספת שנועדה לפלג את תפיסת צבא העם ולפגוע בצה״ל ובמשרתיו".הכתבה, שמצורפים אליה תצלומים של דובר צה"ל שבהם נראה המלש"ב לוחץ יד לאחת החיילות בקורס, היא שיר הלל לשירות המשותף. הגדוד שנבחר הוא גדוד מעורב, והחייל חובש הכיפה מעביר מסר סמוי שאפשר להיות נאמן לתורת משה וגם להסתחבק עם חיילות ולסחוב אותן על אלונקה

לצערנו ניסיון העבר מלמד אותנו שלא להאמין מהר כל כך לתמימות המשתמעת מתגובות דו"צ. ואולם אפילו אם נאמין להם שכל הכתבה הזו נעשתה בתמימות, שבמקרה המלש"ב שנבחר היה דתי ובמקרה בחרו מעשרות גדודי צה"ל דווקא גדוד מעורב, הרי שנורה אדומה הייתה אמורה להידלק בחדר העריכה של 'במחנה' ולא נדלקה. אם היו לוקחים דווקא חייל חובש כיפה להצטלם בשבת או להכין מתכונים לא כשרים, היינו מרגישים שיש פה התרסה. כנראה שהעורכים לא מרגישים שמדובר בהתרסה כאשר הם לוקחים חייל חובש כיפה להצטלם בתוך גדוד מעורב. אילו הרשו לנו לדבר עם העורכים, אולי גם יכולנו לברר זאת.

בינתיים מה שברור הוא שמלש"ב שהולך לגדוד מעורב נעשה שותף לקמפיין התקשורתי בעד השירות המשותף גם אם אינו מצטלם בבסיס 'אריות הירדן'. הצבא כבר אינו סטרילי מהוויכוחים התרבותיים של עם ישראל, ואולי בעצם הוא מעולם לא היה אך רק עכשיו זה צף על פני השטח. החלטה ללכת לגדוד מעורב בכיפה על הראש, בלי קשר להקפדות ההלכתיות שהאדם בוחר בחייו הפרטיים, היא החלטה תרבותית ובחירה בצד מסוים במאבק על דמות החברה הישראלית.

כל חייל שקורא את זה עכשיו – אם אתה בוגר דייך כדי להחזיק נשק, נראה שאתה גם בוגר מספיק כדי להכריע במחלוקת הזאת ולבחור באיזה צד אתה: "וְהָיָה מַחֲנֶיךָ קָדוֹשׁ" או עריות הירדן.