"Religious Oppresion": HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Tzav and Purim 5774
Tzav & Purim 5774
Parashat Tzav 5774
On the words in the Megila, the Midrash states:
…בלילה ההוא. נדדה שנת גבריאל, שהיה מטרף לבו של אחשורוש, מפני תפלתו של מרדכי, אמר כפוי טובה, לך ושלם טובה לבעליה למרדכי,
The angel Gavriel disturbed the sleep of Achashverosh because of Mordechai’s prayers, and said to him (Achashverosh) “Ingrate! Reward the man who did you a great service.” (Mordechai who saved the King’s life)
In the last 10 days, we have witnessed two large demonstrations of observant Jews against “religious oppression” in the State of Israel.
The first was in Yerushalayim, followed by one in New York.
I don’t relate to the Jews who gathered together in the holy city of NY to beseech the Almighty (in full view of gentile lovers of Zion) that He bestow His infinite compassion on the downtrodden, repressed, and persecuted religious Jews in the Holy Land, whose only crime is that they want to learn God’s Torah to the exclusion of any other of life’s responsibilities.
And I am unmoved by their tears for two reasons:
1- As a group, the Jews of the USA have failed HaShem’s call to return to continue our national life in the Holy Land, which was interrupted by the Romans 2000 years ago.
2- There is no enduring, meaningful contribution to our spiritual life for which American Jewry can take credit; except for engendering the destructive Conservative and Reform movements.
When the history of our times will be written, American orthodoxy will probably be credited with no more than a footnote. Lakewood is not better than the Slabodka yeshiva, which is now a clothing factory. Ner Yisrael of Baltimore is not better than the Ponovezher yeshiva, which is now a non-Jewish school. Telz of Cleveland is not holier than the Telz yeshiva, which is now a dilapidated eroding shell. The Fifth Avenue Synagogue is not more sacred than the beit knesset of the Saba Kadisha of Ruzhin, which is now a carpentry shop. The central beit knesset of Brisk is now a theater, and the yeshiva building in Kaminetz now serves as a draft center for the Belarus army. This is the fate of all Jewish communities in the galut.
My heart aches because of the Chareidi groups in Eretz Yisrael.
I did not attend their demonstration in Yerushalayim. Not because I deny the validity of some of their claims. I understand the need to develop the next generation of their Torah scholars together with the Torah scholars of the religious Zionist yeshivot, where military service at the sensitive age of 18 to 23 could be detrimental.
I did not attend the demonstration because the discussion of military service is no longer an ideological issue between rational people. It has degenerated into feelings of hatred by the Chareidi side towards whoever disagrees with their view. And where there is hate between Jew and Jew – I am not there. I am willing to criticize, but not to hate.
My objection to the Chareidi conduct is derived from their insensitive, ingratiating attitude towards those who sacrifice so much in order that we can live normal lives in Eretz Yisrael. Without Tzahal, not only would there not be yeshivot here, no Jew would be able to live here for more than one day.
At the end of the Megila reading, we praise the evil Charvona for bringing to the King’s attention the gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordechai, and upon which Haman was hanged. Charvona was Haman’s man, but he changed sides when he saw that Haman was going down. After 2700 years we still praise this man, which proves that we do have the quality of gratitude within us. So why does it stop just short of the soldiers of Tzahal?
Of all the many Chareidi yeshivot in Eretz Yisrael, I am quite certain that there is not even one in which the prayer for Tzahal is recited. Where is the hakarat hatov (thankfulness, appreciation, recognition) for the hundreds of thousands of their age who give three years of their lives to keep our nation safe and the yeshivot open?
It is standard procedure in the army for new recruits to take an oath of loyalty to the Medina and to the army.
Things would be much better here if yeshiva students who are exempt from military service would undergo two procedures:
1- Upon entering the yeshiva, every new student must take an oath of loyalty to Torah study, where he declares his stated goal to be as erudite as he can, without laxness or laziness.
2- Hospital visitations to see and experience the pain that wounded soldiers endure for the nation, and military cemeteries to see the price that so many have paid so that life can continue here, including the privilege to learn Torah.
Perhaps then they would understand that the prayer for Tzahal is less about our soldiers than it is for the yeshiva students themselves.
The Gemara (Megila 7a) tells of Esther’s request that the miraculous salvation of the Jewish people and the events leading up to it be included in the TaNaCh (Bible) as its 24th book, to be an everlasting remembrance of our miraculous victory over the forces of Amalek.
The rabbis rejected her request, basing their rejection on a verse in Mishlay (Proverbs 24:20)
הלא כתבתי לך שלישים במועצת ודעת:
Have I not written three sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge
The rabbis explained to Esther that this verse is the basis of our oral tradition that victory over Amelek may be written in the TaNaCh only three times: – once in parshat Beshalach in the book of Shemot, the second in parshat Ki Taytzay in the book of Devarim, and the third in the Book of Samuel, where King Shaul vanquished Amalek. If we were to add the miracle of Purim to the TaNaCh it would be the fourth victory over Amalek, which is prohibited.
Eventually, Esther convinced the rabbis that the two victories mentioned in Shemot and Devarim are to be counted as one entry, since they appear in the Torah; the episode of King Shaul in the book of Shmuel as the second entry which appears in the Neviim; and the victory over Haman as the third which appears in the Ketuvim.
(TaNaCh is an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the three Torah subdivisions: Torah [Five Books of Moshe], Nevi’im [Prophets] and Ketuvim [Writings]).
The rabbis agreed; so today we have Megilat Esther as the 24th book of the TaNaCH.
The Gemara does not elaborate on the tradition stated by Melech Shlomo that only three victories over Amalek may be written in the TaNaCh, because herein lies the hermetically sealed secret of how the final redemption will come about and when.
I would like to share my thoughts on what is behind this tradition, with the hope that they will be verified in the very near future.
My premise is that the three victories over Amalek are recorded in the TaNaCh – but no more – is intended to inform us that when Amalek will be defeated three times in the time frame of a 70 year life span, the final redemption of Am Yisrael will have arrived.
(King David wrote in Tehilim (90:10):
ימי שנותינו בהם שבעים שנה ואם בגבורת שמונים שנה…
Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures.
It has never yet happened in the history of nations that three evil empires fell in the short span of 70 years; since it takes hundreds of years for an empire to develop, to peak, become corrupt and then die.
But it is occurring right now in our generation of 70 years!
The 70 year count began in 1945 and will conclude in 2015.
In 1945 the Nazi leaders of Germany, unmistakably Amalek personalities, were defeated. Ten of them – the same as the number of Haman’s sons – were sentenced to be hung; 9 were put to death by hanging with the tenth, Hermann Goering, escaping the gallows by committing suicide in his prison cell.
Forty six years later, in 1991, the leaders of the evil Soviet Union, also sons of Amalek, together with their anti-Semitic ideology, were discarded into the trash bin of history.
Seventy years later – the year 2015 – we shall BE”H witness the destruction of another Amalek power.
Who will it be?
Perhaps it will be the Haman of the Koran spinning his hatred from Persia-Iran; or perhaps world Christianity or Islam; possibly all of them.
What makes this projection ever more interesting is the fact that the year 2015 is a Shmitta (Sabbatical) year and corresponds to our calendar year of 5775:
Which means salvation.
I submit this in full knowledge that, at the end of the day, all human calculations could be proven false in the face of what HaShem has in store for us.