The Wind, the Fire and the Magnet: HaRav Nachaman Kahana on Parashat Bo 5774
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
BS”D Parashat Bo 5774 Part A: There is no greater mitzva than to defend the lives of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel Among the laws in the Shulchan Aruch governing the respect incumbent on a son and daughter towards a parent (Yoreh Dai’ah #240), there is one which prohibits a child from voicing support for the parent’s position, which could be construed as the parent’s inability to maintain his position independently. In parshat Shemot, Moshe requested that HaShem exempt him from the mission to free the Jewish people in order not to take away the honor and respect due to his older and more erudite brother Aharon. We are about to witness a chillul HaShem of unprecedented proportions scheduled to take place in New York in the presence of 70,000-80,000 religious looking American Jews, and will be seen through the media by millions of gentiles the world over. The victim of this chillul HaShem is so virtuous and beloved to HaShem, that I am totally inadequate to speak out in its defense – just as a child may not support the position of an honored and beloved parent who is perfectly capable of defending himself. In this case, the victim is Medinat Yisrael, and the accusation against her is “redifat hadat” – religious persecution. The perpetrators of this chillul HaShem include some leading religious figures in Agudat Yisrael who plan to go to the States in order to take part in an “orgy of hate” against the Medina. The grievance is that compulsory army service will interrupt Torah studies for a year and a half (a la the Hesder arrangement) despite the fact that at the end of which the young man will be able to return to his studies. I would like to believe that these learned and venerable rabbis who will soon depart to chutz la’aretz to participate in this less than honorable event are being manipulated and fed false information by “advisors” who personally have much to gain financially. I have a gnawing suspicion that the organizers are taking advantage of these rabbanim and Israel bashing in order to raise great sums of money. When I read the Hamodiah newspaper today, I could not believe that they are talking about my country. Page one describes some of the vulgar and false terms which will be used in the protest meeting’s manifesto such as “religious persecution,” “trampling of the Torah” and “anti-Torah decrees”. These phrases could have been copied from a PLO manual. The real issue is simply one of every citizen’s responsibility to contribute to society and not only to take. A responsible government has two major obligations: To feed its people through responsible economic programs and to defend them with a formidable military force. Government and private initiatives can provide work, but the basic premise is that each citizen must contribute his fair share in order to receive its benefits. And if the member wishes to be defended and protected, he must take part in the defense of that nation. Our government is willing to create military frameworks for charedim, but they prefer to view the Israeli government as the Jews, 100 years ago, viewed the Russians who would whisk off little boys for army service of 20 years as “Cantonists”. Instead of running off to New York to sully the name of our holy nation and state, the rabbis would have done better to follow the examples of the illustrious Rav Kook and Rav Chaim Zonnenfeld who, in 1913, went to tour the agricultural settlements and draw them closer to Torah through love. I, and all my sons and sons-in-law and older grandchildren are currently serving or have served in active duty units. Five are officers: one is a colonel, two are majors and two lieutenants. One of the most glorious days in my life was when I had the privilege to wear for the first time the khaki green uniform of Tzahal (where I served from the age of 28 to 50). While buttoning each of the five shirt buttons, I was thinking that each one stood for 400 years of exile, and now HaShem has granted me the intense privilege to serve my people as a Rav in civilian life and as a combat soldier in the army. We returned from army service with a greater love of Torah and the land, and with the conviction that we are part of the greatest miracle HaShem has performed for His people in 2000 years. To learn Torah is the breath of life of the Jewish nation. However, according to the rules set down by the Creator to our father Avraham, the Jewish people will have to struggle for life itself. There is no greater mitzva than to defend the lives of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael. Take it from the gadol hador, the great King David. Part B: The Damage is Done After writing this article, I learned that the rabbis who were scheduled to partake in the anti-Yisrael orgy of hate have postponed their trip. This does not change any of the negativism which their planned trip created, as we can learn from the following musar story.
A Rosh Yeshiva was informed that a young yeshiva student was considering visiting a questionable place. At the young man’s denial that he was ever at that place, the Rosh Yeshiva slapped him strongly on the face saying, “I am certain that you were not there. But you have to be punished for even considering being there.”