Thursday, June 08, 2017

Zionist Chassidism: A War in Your Land

By Rafi Ostroff
Head of the Religious Council of Gush Etzion

The following Torah insights were delivered by the Rebbe of Husiatyn in 5708 (1948), about one month after the State of Israel was established, in the midst of the War of Independence.

Because of the distress of the war, the Rebbe begins his words about the Torah portion with a note:

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One of the 48 ways to take possession of the Torah is happiness. It is therefore not easy to say words of Torah in our current situation. “For behold, Your enemies make a tumult, and those who hate You have raised their heads... They say, let us cut them off from being a nation, so that the name Yisrael will never be remembered again...” [Tehillim 83:3,5]. Therefore, I will say no more than a few words, in order not to cancel my regular custom. And when G-d helps us and Yisrael will be crowned with victory, the victory of the righteous, we will be able to expand our thoughts... When we hear the news of the victory of righteousness, my lips will no longer be silent.

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The Rebbe, who was always sensitive to the situation of the community of Yisrael, and certainly during the War of Independence, felt the difficulty together will all the other people, and this almost prevented him from speaking words of Torah. (In another place, he complains about the fact that he is not able to go to war himself and that he is therefore limited to prayers and Torah insights.)

The Enemy who Oppresses You

The use of trumpets at a time of war appears in this week’s Torah portion, and it should be obvious that at a time of war the Rebbe would comment on the relevant verse: “And if you are involved in a war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, you shall blow the trumpets, and you will be remembered before your G-d, and you will be rescued from your enemies” [Bamidbar 10:9].

The Rebbe asks why there is a need in this verse to mention “the enemy who oppresses you.” On one hand, the phrase is superfluous, and in addition it implies that there is only one specific enemy, even though the end of the verse explicitly mentions a number of enemies. The Rebbe explains:

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According to the Sifri, this verse is referring to the wars of the end of days, before our eternal redemption. It is thus possible that the verse is hinting at the current war being waged against us in Eretz Yisrael. The singular “enemy who oppresses us” is indeed only one – and it has incited a number of enemies to join the war (Egypt, Transjordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) ... It is clear that this does not imply that blowing the trumpets alone is enough to bring about our salvation and our victory. The main need is for repentance, about which the sound of the trumpet warns us and awakens our hearts towards G-d.

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The one who incites against us is a single person, and this is Gog and Magog (as the Rebbe already thought in the year 5700, 1940). And he incites many others to join him, including all the countries that fought against Israel in the War of Independence. The spiritual path to victory in this war is through the sound of the trumpets, which can lead to repentance.

Half and the Full Form

According to a tradition of the Maggid of Mezerich, the word “chatzotzra” – a trumpet – is made up of two words: “ chetzi” – a half – and “tzura” – a form. Here is how the Rebbe explained this concept:

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The community of Yisrael and their Lover (G-d) are each only half a form. The complete form takes shape only when the two are combined.

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As it were, G-d Himself is not complete until He is combined with Yisrael, which itself is not complete until it is combined with the Master of the Universe. Only then does the complete form of the “trumpet” come to exist.

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The same is true of us, now. As we prepare with G-d’s help to build and to develop Eretz Yisrael into a sophisticated Hebrew nation, while we are at war with the enemy who oppresses us, we must remember the hint of the two trumpets. That is, we must remember that the kingdom of Yisrael without its unique link to the King of Glory is only half a form. (“Blow the trumpets” [Bamidbar 10:9] – the word used is “vaharei’otem” – from “rei’ut” – meaning friendship and companionship. And it is written, “He has the ‘teru’ah’ of a king” [23:21]. The Rashbam explains that this too is from the root meaning companionship. “Blow the trumpets” – this is a hint that the two halves of the form must be combined – as it were – to create a single whole.) If we accept the way of Torah which leads to complete unification of the community of Yisrael with the King of Glory, we will quickly merit the fulfillment of the verse, “You will be remembered by your G-d, and you will be saved from your enemies” [10:9].

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In the midst of the war, the Rebbe of Husiatyn emphasizes the importance of the Jewish character of the country and the necessary link to the Master of the World. This combination is what will help us win the war. “Blow the trumpets” is a reference to companionship. It is necessary to enhance the link between the community of Yisrael and the Master of the Universe, so that we will win the War of Rejuvenation of the nation of Yisrael, and we can then establish a country built up on a foundation of righteousness.

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