Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Kohen, the Divorcee, the Holocaust and Aliyah: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Emor

Emor 5774

By Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Why is a Kohen Prohibited from Marrying a Divorcee?
Our parsha’s prohibition on marriage between a Kohen and divorcee has caused great consternation throughout the ages, especially in light of the Torah’s rationale that a Kohen is required to be “kadosh” (holy), implying that a divorcee is an inappropriate wife for one who is holy!
Indeed! Why does the Torah penalize a woman who had a bad marriage through no fault of her own, and has now met a Kohen who wants to give her a new life? Did not Amram, father of Miriam and Aharon, remarry Yocheved after divorcing her, who then gave birth to the holy Moshe Rabbeinu?
I suggest:
The Midrash states that prior to presenting the Torah to Am Yisrael, HaShem offered it to the 70 gentile root nations of the time. The descendants of Eisav, who comprise the majority of today’s European nations, rejected the Torah because of the injunction against murder. The descendants of Yishmael rejected the Torah because of the injunction against thievery; as did every other civilization reject the Torah which did not conform to the essence of their souls.
When this universal rejection of Torah occurred, HaShem expelled all the gentile nations from his spiritual realm; just as a man divorces an unsuitable wife. HaShem will never restore the gentile peoples to an eminent spiritual status, be they Christian, Islam, Hindu, etc. For once divorced, HaShem the ultimate “Kohen” (source of blessings) will never take back the divorced nations.
HaShem singled out the sons of Aharon to be “Kohanim” – His personal emissaries in this world. Kohanim were appointed to service the most intimate connections between the Creator and His nation Yisrael. Kohanim maintained the Holy Temple, offered up the sacrifices, redeemed the first born, and were restricted from coming into contact with the dead (because HaShem is the source of life in this world and the next). Kohanim traditionally comprised the majority of the Sanhedrin, and were the teachers and leaders of the nation.
HaShem prohibited a Kohen from marrying a divorcee not because of any blemish or flaw upon her, because there are none, but to serve as an everlasting reminder that HaShem, the ultimate source of kohanic blessings, will never restore the “divorced” gentile nations to His favor.
The Holocaust – Because Jews Were There
The Holocaust is the most barbarous calamity to befall the Jewish nation. Its devastation outranks even the destruction of the two Batei Hamikdash, as explained in Midrash Eicha 4 in its analysis of chap. 79 in Tehillim: “Mizmor Le’Asaf” – a song of praise (to Hashem) composed by Asaf (the Levi). The Midrash points out that this introductory sentence is totally incompatible with the text, which deals with the projected destruction of the Bet Hamikdash. It should read “Kina Le’Asaf” – a lamentation composed by Asaf not “Mizmor le’Asaf” – a song of praise composed by Asaf.
The Midrash explains that the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash is certainly a calamity of the first order. However, even within the context of this punishment, Hashem showed His mercy by venting His anger on the wood and stones of the structure rather than permit mass murder of His people.
So the inescapable question: How did it come about in Hashem’s world that six million Jews, including one-and-a-half million children and millions of God-fearing Torah Jews, were sent to Olam Haba (the next world) through the chimneys of Eisav’s death camps?
It would be flippant and irreverent to answer that the Shoah was punishment for our sins. For all Jews are mutual guarantors (kol Yisrael arayvim ze la’ze), but only the Jews of Europe and parts of North Africa suffered that fate, whereas the Jews of the U.S. and Eretz Yisrael were not only spared, but also prospered.
I wish to state my personal understanding of these events, which consoles me in some small way when facing the unspeakable horrors of the Shoah.
The Gemara (Bava Kama 60a) explains the underlying meaning of the verse (Shmot 22:5)
כי תצא אש ומצאה קצים ונאכל גדיש או הקמה או השדה שלם ישלם המבער את-הבערה

If a fire spreads to weeds (in another’s field) and devours bales of wheat or uncut wheat or the field, the negligent perpetrator must make payment.
The Gemara explains that “weeds” are the evil doers of the world and “the bales of wheat” are the righteous of Am Yisrael. When HaShem decrees that the “weeds” be destroyed, the free hand of the Angel of Death begins with the coveted “bales of wheat” – the righteous who happen to be there among the evil doers.
I reject any allegation that my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters sinned to a degree which justified the horrors of the Shoah. Some “experts” at counting other peoples’ sins place the blame on assimilation. But never has Jewish history encountered the numbers and rate of assimilation and intermarriage found today among the Jews of the United States, yet they continue to thrive. Other sin counters put the blame on Zionism, while others, on the lack of Zionism.
The Shoah was Hashem’s decree which began with the First World War, that the evil descendants of Eisav should put an end to one another; that Eisav should devoir Eisav. Russians should kill Germans, and Germans should slaughter Englishmen, the Ukrainians should kill the Americans, and Americans should kill the Turks etc. And it is common knowledge that the Second World War was a continuation of the First World War, after an extended cease fire.
The Jews were turned into smoke and soap, because the leash on insanity was released, and the Jews were caught up in it BECAUSE WE WERE THERE! And we were there because we did not understand that when Eisav kills Eisav, it is no place for Ya’akov to be.
When the inhibitions of hatred are released, then the ever-present hatred of Jews rises to the fore and Eisav seeks to put an end to Ya’akov.
If you reject the proposition that the two world wars were death sentences decreed on the goyim, and we were swept into it just because we were there, you are left with two very bad options: That the Jews of Europe sinned to the extent that 1,500,000 little children had to die; or the whole matter is beyond our comprehension, so let’s just continue building bigger and more expensive holocaust museums and go back to living.
If one lives in a depraved gentile society, then no matter how frum or how erudite in Torah, one could one day find himself swept up in the tsunamis and 9/11′s of that nation. The Jews were cast to the unbridled hatred of the Eisavic Christians because we were there.
Aliyah: The Saving of Jewish Lives
The basic message of aliyah to Eretz Yisrael in my writings is essential; however, there are those who are distracted from the issue because I present it in a blatant and strident form.
Permit me to explain why I wrap the beautiful gift of aliyah in sandpaper and not in a lace-topped package wrapped with a pretty ribbon:
1. Rabbis in every generation are required, as was Moshe Rabbeinu, to transmit to the Jewish nation the Torah we received from HaShem at Sinai.
In the uncompromising tug-of-war for the Jewish mind and heart, we, as the disciples of Moshe, are pitted against today’s disciples of yesteryear’s meraglim. If we should fail to convince the nation to go up to the “Land” in the way of Yehoshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefuneh, the matter will come before the beit din shel ma’ala (the Heavenly court) to the detriment of us all.
My messages, and those of many other rabbanim in Eretz Yisrael who see the hand of God in our present history, will appear as tolerant, benign, gentle, and pale when compared to the same message which HaShem has sent and will send through the tragic events of Jewish history.
Is our cajolery to leave the galut more strident than the same message sent by HaShem through the devastating Holocaust and cataclysmic assimilation of our people in the galut?
I believe totally in the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael and the uplifting spiritual effect it has on those who live here. But this is not the primary reason that I call for Aliyah. My reason supersedes even the most essential mitzvot in the Torah – it is the saving of Jewish lives. What would you say if passengers on a sinking ship refused to climb onto the life rafts because the captain did not say “please”?
In the face of the ultimate question of whether “to be or not to be”, style and form are relegated to secondary status.
Short of tying a rope around the collective bodies of Jews in the galut and pulling them here, I can only shout through the megaphone of words.
To return to the beginning of this week’s message. If HaShem ordered the Kohanim to serve as a reminder of His eternal rejection of all the other nations from His spiritual world, how can so many of the nation of Yisrael choose to live among those who HaShem rejected? Why do we wish to speak their languages, emulate their ways and eventually marry their daughters?
We have seen what happens when Eisav attacks Eisav and when Yishmael (the Arab states) attacks Yishmael. In the not far away future HaShem will decree that Eisav will attack Yishmael, and woe to any Jew who will be present among them at the time.
Now is the time to break away from the galut, and find deliverance and salvation under the “wing” of Eretz Yisrael.
It is incumbent upon anyone who can cajole, beg, implore, threaten and all else, in order to release the Jews in the galut from their psychological and spiritual incarceration, even at the risk of sounding “unfriendly”.
Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5774/2014 Nachman Kahana

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Spiritual Legacy of the Holocaust

Rabbi Eliyahu Brin

In our discussing to the Holocaust from the perspective of the Torah, we must remember that everything said on the topic must have dimensions of magnitude, of responsibility and of depth, which comes of long-term and comprehensive reflection. That being the case, we can say that we fall far short of being able to claim to be capable of speaking on the subject.

However, since the chief Rabbinate set the Universal Kaddish Day on the Tenth of Tevet, we must relate to the Holocaust Memorial Day, and this necessity is important, despite our lack in strength and lack in facilities to deal with the subject.

When we deal with the Holocaust, we confront a human phenomenon with no parallel, in any proportion. The accounts of the terribleness and the cruelty are known, and there are many stories which are unknown, and will remain unknown, of all the different weird and horrible forms of murders, tortures and terrible suffering, and all with such horrific proportions of victims. All this done so monstrously systematically and purposefully, phrased in "philosophical" and "scientific" terms, with the cooperation of so many people, of an entire state, and of other nations whose participation in this terrible and cruel bestiality was far from insignificant. All this is true from a universal human perspective. When we measure the proportions of the Holocaust with relation to ourselves, we can that it encompasses far more than that. We are talking about the destruction of such a great part of our nation, which included many of the best of our people, Yeshivot with their Rabbis and students and magnificent communities dating back hundreds of years, and which produced generations of giants in Torah and prayer. It is nearly impossible to find someone with no connection to the incredible scope of this terrible destruction, and to the awful psychological influence within us.

The Different Stages of the National Psyche toward the Holocaust over the Years
It appears that the renewed dedication of energies to the subject of the Holocaust springs from a new approach, that we can perhaps utilize in order to ascend to a new level in our ability to understand and comprehend the things, and this is due rather to the advantage of the passage of time. Generally speaking, the sentiment of the general populace in Israel after the Holocaust was to continue to escape, and this is connected with the establishment of the State of Israel - many of the energies of survival were channeled into the new rebuilding; this signified not only finding a relatively sheltered place, but also established manner of life capable of insuring that what had happened would never repeat itself. All attention and activity was focused not on the past, but on the future, how to get the Nation of Israel on its feet, and this was concentrated first and foremost with regard to the consequences of the Holocaust: making provisions for the survivors, the payments and the reparations, and all kinds of necessities encountered on the way out of the terrible Holocaust.

A significant part of this behavior was disengaging from everything surrounding the concept of Holocaust. In the opinion of many, the Holocaust came about as a result of the isolation of the Galut (Diaspora) Jew. In their eyes, temporariness and weakness were connected with the life of Torah and Mitzvot, which was concerned only with holiness and not with strength and valor, industry and success, and thus part of the escape from the Holocaust was building a different life. For many, this caused a complete disassociation from the former lifestyle; they didn't want to be reminded of the European communities and towns, but to see the renewed model, the full powerful form, emancipation and liberty, freedom from constraints, and happiness. They didn't want to see the wrinkled, humiliated and suffering form that many identified with Torah and faith. Therefore, many of the Jewish People had no desire to delve into the horrible experience, which for part of the nation caused a complete disconnection from G-d, since faith was accompanied by deficiency in health, progress, might, etc.

In a later stage, attention to the Holocaust renewed, with a personal emphasis - remembering the victims. Very many of the populace - obviously not only those in a public position, who were responsible for commemorating the lost communities and people - had relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust. I recently visited the memorial in Latrun for those soldiers of the Israeli Armored Corps killed in the line of duty. There, on one wall, are inscribed the names of all the dead of the Armored Corps of the State of Israel. On one wall they can all be written. But the proportions of the Holocaust - these are unbelievable numbers. The obligation to remember the individuals has produced continuing work of all kinds, and later on, the removal of the Iron Curtain opened up the possibilities to return to there, and to establish various kinds of memorials.

Nevertheless, all these things do not comprise the deepest thing, a comprehension of the Holocaust in its entirety. In recent years, we are more capable of reflecting upon it in a larger way, obviously without making any pretense to fully understand. But we must approach the significance of the Holocaust in a deeper way. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, of blessed memory, began to speak about this subject, and we will try to explain the direction, with certain emphases.

Distinguishing Between Private Accountings and Progressions, and Universal Accountings and Progressions
When we encounter a catastrophe of such massive proportions, the sensation which is capable of filling us is one of astonishment at this painful and terrible act of G-d. A feeling expressed by, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways, says G-d. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)" We cannot understand it in any way. On examination, we see that the Torah spoke of this kind of reality in the Parshiot Bechukotai, Ki-Tavo and Ha'azinu: "You will thus be destroyed among the nations. The land of your enemies will consume you. (Vayikra 26:38)" "Then G-d will strike you and your descendents with unimaginable plagues. The punishments will be terrible and relentless. And the diseases will be malignant and unyielding. G-d will bring back on you all the Egyptian diseases that you dread, and they will cling to you. G-d will also bring upon you every punishment that is not written in this book of the Torah, so as to destroy you. (Devarim 28:59-61)" In many additional verses, the Torah describes a situation of near-annihilation which the Nation of Israel is supposed to encounter in the Galut, and the prophets also speak of painful and drastic things. All of these things in their essence are relevant to the Galut in general, and in the Holocaust are highly and powerfully concentrated.

The Galut is something incomprehensible. The processes that G-d works, we never understand on the general scale; our thoughts tend to concentrate on the individual. In individual joy as well as individual sorrow, we are more capable of comprehending their dimensions. Despite our knowledge that there were sins which brought it about, it is difficult for us to understand the necessity a terrible Galut of such tremendous dimensions, which disintegrated the nation, as the Vilna Gaon compares the Galut to a cemetery, and the Redemption to the Revival of the Dead. It is difficult to understand how the Galut repairs and how it atones, why it is advantageous and necessary, and together with that we know that when G-d decides to create and change levels, to make internal, significant revolutions - He has different accountings.

At the beginning of the book Orot ("Lights") Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook opens with two important subjects: first that of the Land of Israel, so that we can understand the greatness and level of life of the Land of Israel, and afterwards the chapter "The War," which comes to give us the proper perspective to understand that when G-d builds worldwide systems, He puts events in motion in His own way - "Master of wars, sowing righteousness, blossoming redemptions." In all-encompassing processes of this kind, it is likely that there are things which we do not comprehend, like "there is (a situation) of one who perishes without trial (Bereshith Raba 49)" and "the deaths of the righteous atone. (Moed Katan 28a)" We don't understand how the demise of people without judgment, in such gigantic proportions, builds new levels. We do not understand, but that is the way the world is created.

Nevertheless, we are acquainted with something of this with regard to Torah and the Land of Israel, that they are also acquired by virtue of suffering (Berachot 5a). When this world interfaces with values which are above this world, as if "touching and not touching," sometimes its capability to grasp something of those values is only by way of suffering. As Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook writes in the book "Ein Ai"h" (regarding the aforementioned passage in Berachot), the afflictions purify the man and have the capacity to make him jump to a level beyond material downfall, and thus he can connect with greatness. And just as regarding an individual, the afflictions can make him jump spiritual levels, so we can say on a far greater scale regarding great devastations; this is what opens the eyes of the whole human race to ascend from level to level. The world must climb until the days of the Moshiach on the never-ending ladder, and the distance from rung to rung is so great, to the point that there is no possibility to advance in a smooth path and therefore crises are necessary. Already at the splitting of the Red Sea there are hints that there will be more Diasporas, in the verse, "Until Your people crossed, O G-d, until the people You gained crossed over. (Shemot 15:16)" Our Sages say (Berachot 4a): "Until Your people crossed" - this is the first entry into the Land of Israel, after the Egyptian exile; "until the People you gained crossed over" - this is the second entry, after the Babylonian exile. Additionally, "I Will Be Who I Will Be (Shemot 3:14)" - G-d said to Moshe, go tell the People of Israel that I will be with you in this bondage and I will be with you in the bondage of the kingdoms. Already Moshe Rabbenu knew that he would not be the last savior, because the redemption from Egypt could not be the final redemption.

The torments of the Galut spread over all its years, and it can be said that the terrible concentration of victims during the Holocaust are a kind of "final hammer blow" of the unfathomable function of the Galut with regard to purification and atonement for the entire Jewish People over the generations. Despite the fact that no Jew prays without recalling Jerusalem, and some of the Jews say Tikkun Hatzot etc. - nonetheless, within the Galut itself, there are destructions and rebuilding, like after the Expulsion which put an end to the Galut of Spain, and as a result the center of Torah was uprooted and rebuilt in another place. The Ohr Sameach writes that the purpose of this is so that we should not grow fond of the Galut, which is liable to become a substitute for the full Redemption. Beforehand were the terrible pogroms of the years "tach" and "tat," during which more than a hundred thousand victims were murdered and communities were wiped out. During all the years of the Galut, G-d uproots and builds systems, and we do not comprehend this.

In the wake of the Holocaust, the State of Israel is established, the Diaspora is uprooted, a great cultural clarification begins for the nations of the world, the internal roots of anti-Semitism are revealed, and the Nation of Israel gains momentum in its return to its foundations.

The Resurrection of Jewish National Independence in the wake of the Holocaust

In retrospect, we can see from several vantage points that it would have been nearly impossible for the Nation of Israel to build itself up in the State of Israel if not for the Holocaust. First of all, with regard to numbers: before the Holocaust there were about six hundred thousand Jews in the land, out of which over a hundred thousand came after the Nazi rise to power on the eve of the Holocaust. As a result of the Holocaust, the numerical scope changed entirely. Secondly, necessity dictated that there was no escape, and even opposite seven enemy armies, we had to proclaim the establishment of the State. Also the recognition of the State of Israel by the United Nations (which, to be sure, was not universal) came in the wake of the Holocaust - the world reluctantly agreed that they had to give the Jewish People a state with almost no chance of survival, but all the same the recognition of the State represented some degree of conciliation and obligation to the Jewish people after the Holocaust. Without that piece of paper, we would not have had the courage to take the step of establishing the State. During the Holocaust itself there were Rabbis who spoke in terms of their being the "Akeidat Yitzchak" (binding of Yitzchak, meaning sacrifice) before the Redemption, and this when all around them were multitudes of victims, and their own personal Kiddush Hashem (Sanctification of G-d's Name) was at hand. Even before the Holocaust, great Torah scholars spoke of this, among them the Vilna Gaon who instructed his students to come to the Holy Land, and said in "Kol haTor" that his students must come to the Land, and if not there will be catastrophes and suffering. The Vilna Gaon sensed this and therefore pressed his students to come to the Land; afterwards the Hafetz Haim spoke of this explicitly, and Rav Kook less explicitly.

The Balfour Declaration was also born out of the world's aspiration for purification after the First World War, which came as a slap in the face to the nations of the world, and revealed before them their cultural wickedness. In a number of letters, Rav Kook spoke of the fact that the War was founded entirely on contests of honor, while tens of millions of men perished uselessly and ill logically, on one battlefront which hardly moved, and despite that the belligerent nations continued to pour in more and more forces. The War was a resounding disgrace for Europe, and it created a need for something pure, and one of the important things in this respect was returning the People of the Bible to their land. Eventually the Balfour Declaration was short-lived, the British Mandate "swallowed" it, and nobody cared. The British felt that whenever it pleased them, they could allow or forbid the Jews to return to their land...

There are those who say that the Holocaust was the result of the sins of the Jewish People, but I think that the desire to attribute something so terrible in its severity to a number of offenses - minimizes it. Certainly there are many sins and punishments, but we must differentiate between different levels of reckoning: individual and national. On a personal level, the one who was killed was not necessarily the one who sinned. Certainly, universal reckoning doesn't contradict individual accountability, and there are those who G-d terminates their lives in this world in order to give them their reward in the next world; however it is exceedingly difficult for us to make this calculation. After the Holocaust we could also attribute all kinds of punishments to a variety of iniquities that our society needs to rectify. Our outlook has to come from a universal perspective: "Ponder the years of each generation" (Devarim 32:7). We have to realize that in G-d's processes, beyond the individual dimension there is also the universal dimension of His governing. All of the prophets also spoke from a universal perspective. The State of Israel is not a reward for a certain quota of mitzvot, just as the Holocaust isn't a punishment for a number of transgressions. There definitely is a reckoning at the individual level, but that isn't the only one that exists.

The Holocaust - the Uprooting of the Galut (Diaspora)Harav Tzvi Yehuda Kook considered the Holocaust the terrible uprooting of the Galut. On one hand, the Holocaust represents the terrible meaning of the Galut to its lowest depths - the most horrendous things the Torah and the Prophets spoke of were concentrated in such a terrible way. On the other hand, it has an aspect of "a king as harsh as Haman" (that, as a result of his harsh decrees, the Jews return to the path of righteous. See Talmud Sanhedrin 97b) and an aspect of "and He took me by the hair of my head" (Yechezkel 8:3), with no way out and no way back. The national attitude after the Holocaust was that the Jewish People must return to Zion, and we have to build ourselves up as a nation in the Land of Israel with all of the apparatus of fortitude, economy and strength. There is here a Divine command which echoes through different forms and methods, some more inspired by faith and others less, and this command says that the community as a whole must unite around the fundamentally Israeli entity, and not continue as appendages protected under the wing of one nation or another. This awareness entered the blood and the bones of every one of us, and it is attempting to take two thousand years of Galut out of us.

We see a similar thing after the exodus from Egypt: "When Pharaoh let the people leave, G-d did not lead them along the Philistine Highway, although it was the shorter route. G-d's consideration was that if the people encountered armed resistance, they would lose heart and return to Egypt" (Shemot 17:13). The slave mentality had been ingrained in the soul of the Jewish people, and when they see the Egyptians at the splitting of the Red Sea, they immediately become frightened. The fear of the gentiles had to be eradicated in order that we could return to our land on a national scale, walking tall and with our back straight. Today as well, the weaknesses and illogical lack of confidence are attributed to the Galut and its remnants, which we still haven't been able to break our addiction to. The Holocaust was the very depth of the Galut, and for that very reason it pushed us to our rightful place, to its rebuilding.

Cultural Clarification for the Nations of the World, and its Significance to the Nation of IsraelThe Second World War also brought about a penetrating and sharp cultural clarification, similar to the one Harav Avraham Yitzchak Kook indicated after the First World War, with regard to the evident failure of Western culture, and to what degree it can come to bloodshed and murder. This came out in the most horrifying and cruel way by far, in the terrible Amalek-ness of the German nation, with all of their helpers and accomplices. In some places, like the Ukraine and Lithuania, the local residents got a "head start" on the Germans: when they understood that their government was about to fall, they didn't repress their murderous inclinations. Nearly no civilized nation of the world, even those of the West, are clean of this outward expression as it appeared in the "enlightened and cultured nation" as it was then, in brains and science and scope of the population and efficiency. This reality dealt a deathblow to all of their spiritual "accomplishments." All of this cruelty, obviously, has its roots in Christianity, the "religion of love", which already revealed itself in the past in massacres and the Inquisition, and here it clothed itself in a more "respectable" and "cultured" attire. But when the Nation of Israel is not projecting its light - all the most progressive cultures, within and without, and full of beautiful words, can collapse.

This clarification with regard to the nations of the world has not been completed; the world dislikes it and tries to blur it and to mitigate the extent of the atrocities, but the truth is continually being revealed, and the time will come when they will reckon with it and with the resulting conclusions. In any case, this clarification is significant for us as well: it must compel us to stand on our fundamental cultural assets, to understand that we have nothing to seek or search for in foreign cultures, but rather to live according to our essence, and our intrinsic life can only be in the Land of Israel, "And on Mount Zion there will be deliverance and it will become holy" (Ovadiah 1:17). We must be worthy of being a reminder of all of the spiritual strengths of all these great casualties. So much can be recounted about every single person, and there is very much that we do not know. We have so great an obligation to continue their way, to reinforce ourselves with the strength they radiated, both individually, and in the powerful message emanating from this collective Akeidah. The Akeidah compels us to greatness in faith, to building up the Nation of Israel to be as it should be in the days of the Moshiach, and only this can be a response - if it is at all possible to speak of a response - to the terrible sacrifice.

The Internal Roots of Anti-Semitism An additional clarification that came by way of the Holocaust is the subject of racism. Hitler - may his name be blotted out - couldn't live with the knowledge that there is a single Jew in the world, and he won over millions of people with this concept. In his book, Chief Rabbi Lau (himself a Holocaust survivor) wrote that the Mayor of New York showed him a globe that had belonged to Hitler. On every country were written numbers - he counted how many Jews there were, down to the last one. On England, for example, he wrote the numeral "2." This "inventory" covered the entire planet, not only the countries he had conquered. He had a hatred of the Jews as a race, with no distinction between observant and nonobservant, or Eastern or Western, and he could have no peace of mind as long as there was a living Jew on the face of the earth. In Orot haTechiya (The Lights of Resurrection) Harav Avraham Yitzchak Kook explains the roots of anti-Semitism in terms of "they didn't see, but their Mazal (meaning motivating force) saw" (Talmud Megillah 3a). Similarly to beasts, who sense things which we, as possessors of understanding, perceive more slowly, the tormenters sensed that a worldwide spiritual revolution is at the doorway, that the world is approaching the days of the Moshiach, that the Nation of Israel is about to place on the stage of the world a mighty spiritual reverberation that will illuminate the entire world. We still need to learn these things, but the nations of the world sensed this with their animalistic and subconscious instincts, and this sensation stirs them up and incites them to oppose. Their war is not only against Jewish culture, it is against our very essence, down to the last one of us, G-d forbid.

The Legacy of the Holocaust - to Return to Israeli Essence We, "a brand rescued from the fire" from this satanic hell, must see how we are being reconstructed in the wake of the Holocaust, how we are giving a response to the Holocaust, and what G-d signaled to us by means of the Holocaust. Our purpose is not to explain the Holocaust, it is rather to understand what the Holocaust obligates us, what has to be the legacy of the Holocaust, and what is the remembrance appropriate for such a terrible blow to the Nation of Israel. The whole Nation of Israel must internalize the recognition that we are under a divine command which is an incomparable, awesome and terrible command. We must comply with what our soul urges us, to return our Israeli essence with full force, with a full faith-inspired, fundamental, deep-seated spiritual constitution. This, in our healthy, solid, whole existence in an independent, sovereign state, full of national pride and self-determination, confidence, healthiness and joyfulness, rooted in values and full of love and illumination. Our essence will eventually bring its blessing to the other nations as well, as Harav Tzvi Yehuda Kook quoted frequently from "The Israeli Responsibility" of none other than Nietzsche - who the school of racism claimed to be his disciples - that the victory of Nation of Israel will be in "the vengeance of its blessing." The Nation of Israel will, as it were, in the future, bless the nations in spite of their wrath and their indignation, with all of their wickedness; it will merit to survive and to illuminate its life, and the whole world will receive its blessing against its will.

There are people in whom the Holocaust engenders a revulsion against war and a great sensitivity to human life, and there are those for whom the Holocaust is associated with travel to foreign countries, foreign languages and a desire to return to the past and to their roots. Although some of these things have validity in their own right, in the large sense they are not the right direction. Our lesson from the Holocaust doesn't focus on the individual facet but on the universal one. We have to know that we have an eternal Judaism which is magnificent, spiritual, and rich; full of powers of direction-giving illumination which we have to recognize and fill ourselves up with. Obviously, the memory of each and every one of those lost is immeasurably precious and under no circumstances would we blur it, but beyond the individual view, we have to reflect with a large scope on the great task, to see, "for eye to eye they will see G-d's return to Zion" (Isaiah 52:8) - G-d wants us to direct our eyes to the G-dly "eyes," that we should see the direction, the demand and the requirement, and with G-d's help, the entire Nation of Israel will reach the full redemption, in a complete rebuilding.

The quotes from scripture are based on Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's The Living Torah and The Living Nach

Maybe Things Will Change Again

Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

In the Talmud we find in a number of instances that even though circumstances may have changed or that the halacha has apparently overruled a practice in one direction or another, the rabbis nevertheless did not change the original practice because "perhaps the matter will revert back to its original unacceptable state."

Thus even though the present does not exactly mirror the past any longer, nevertheless the problems and dangers of the past must be taken into account in formulating present behavior and halachic decision.

The concept in Judaism is that even though we may have computers and cell phones today and our ancestors were not so equipped, nevertheless the lessons of our ancestors and their safeguards in Jewish and general life should not be easily dismissed today.

The Gaon of Vilna, Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer, taught us that for every apparent reason used to explain why a rabbinic decree was originally legislated and enforced there are many hidden and subtle reasons that also exist that justify the existence of that decree.

Therefore, merely stating that circumstances have changed and that the stated reason for the decree no longer applies, in no way invalidates the decree itself since all of these unknown and almost prophetic reasons for the decree still exist.

One of these reasons is the idea mentioned earlier - perhaps the situation that exists today will somehow revert back to the same one that existed at the time of the original formulation of the decree.

The circumstances surrounding the Jewish people changed drastically sixty years ago after the Holocaust and the establishment of the state of Israel. Jews had a sense that the world would never allow another such Holocaust to recur. Israel and the Israelis were seen as brave, progressive, heroic and justified in defense of their lives and their land.

The state was granted legitimacy by the United Nations and by much of the world. It was a fairly heady time for Jews. Open anti-Semitism was no longer socially and academically acceptable and individual Jews rose in growing numbers to power, wealth and influence undreamt of a century earlier.

Jews in the United States felt so much a part of American society that they no longer classified themselves as belonging to a minority group. Thus forty million Hispanics and thirty million African-Americans are officially characterized as belonging to minority groups while five million American Jews are not!

The state of Israel grew and developed and was seemingly the strongest power, militarily and economically, in its area and amongst its immediate neighbors.

All of this allowed for a weakening of faith in ourselves and for complacency that minimized outside threats and internal betrayals of purpose and policy. People, especially in the media and academia, Jews and non-Jews, began to enter the "post" period of thought.

Post-Zionism, post-Jewish solidarity, post-anti-Semitism but present supposedly legitimate anti-Israel complaints, post-Torah observances, post Jewish uniqueness and choseness, in short - the past was gone and we now live in a new world where we don’t fear the pogroms, bigotry and dangers that once were our daily lot.

But a strange thing occurred in our brave new world. The old world, about which the rabbis of the Talmud warned us somehow returned. Existential danger to the Jewish state from Moslem fundamentalism, anti-Semitic verbal, physical and media attacks, have returned all over Europe.

It has again become fashionable in many circles to blame the Jews for all of the world’s ills. The rhetoric against Israel and Jews today has returned to the levels of the 1920’s just prior to Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.

There are many, including those in powerful governing positions in the Jewish world, who somehow still prefer whistling past the graveyard. But the rabbis of the Talmud in their wisdom always warned us that the old can and oftentimes does return again to haunt and confound us.

History has a bite and a sting to it, especially Jewish history. In this season of remembrance of the Holocaust and of commemoration of the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel sixty years ago we should view our current Jewish world through the prism of that past Jewish world.

Circumstances are never the same from one generation to the next. But problems, dangers and weaknesses have a tendency to be consistent and repetitive.

The wise and prudent will always heed the advice of the Talmud and remember that the past situations may yet occur again and we should therefore be prepared somehow to deal with such possibilities.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Rebuilding the Temple: We’re Getting Closer

By Moshe Feiglin

“It is a holy place for everyone,” Rajoub attempted to squirm out of the question. “Why can’t I pray there?”
“Not true,” another interviewer chimed in. “Arabs can pray there. It is actually the Jews who are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount.”
This interview was not taking place in the nationalist Arutz 7 studios; it was on the most  popular news show on the mainstream Channel 2. Why do they suddenly care if Rajoub does or does not believe that there was a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount and if Jews are permitted or prohibited from praying there?
PM Netanyahu insists on “Palestinian” recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.  “How can anyone claim that there was no Holy Temple?” he recently called out in the Knesset.
What is this Holy Temple thing anyway? Everyone says that only extremists care about it and suddenly we have the Channel 2 senior staff and Netanyahu standing up for the Temple? Are we witnessing a sea change, gone previously unnoticed?
The answer is a resounding yes. We are witnessing a change of consciousness that is going to change the world.
When the little neighbor comes over to play and Mother lets him play with a toy that had been gathering dust in a corner, her own son begins to cry. “But you never played with this toy,” Mother says in frustration. Son continues to scream. And he is right. As long as nobody competed with him for the toy, he could busy himself with other playthings. But as soon as a different child begins to play with the abandoned toy, his ownership and presumed easy access to his ‘property’ are threatened.
The same is true with the Israelis. As long as they felt that their national identity was ensured, that nobody was challenging it, that nobody was claiming that they are nothing more than a religion, that nobody serious was claiming that they have no history and that the Holy Temple in Jerusalem never existed – they allowed their prize toy to gather dust in an abandoned corner. They quite enjoyed the shiny new toy that they had built in its stead: an alternative/borrowed Israeli identity that concealed their Jewish identity, instead of being built atop it. Actually, they only allowed the religious to play with their abandoned toy, proving that Judaism is merely a religion, not a nationality.
But the ‘peace process’ has led Israeli society to a dead end. For in truth, if there is a ‘Palestinian” nation, that precludes the existence of a Jewish nation – and vice versa. And if this ‘Palestinian’ nation is sovereign in the Land of Israel, particularly on the Temple Mount – then the Jewish nation is not sovereign in any place in Israel. They are mutually exclusive. Than Land of Israel is one entity, which belongs to one nation. If you have recognized the existence of a different nation to whom the Land belongs, you have no choice but to admit that the history of this Land also belongs to them. In that case, you have no history here and in no other place, either. There never was a Holy Temple in Jerusalem, there never was a Jewish Nation and you are nothing more than a mere religion.
This understanding is seeping into Israeli consciousness. Alongside it, we are experiencing a sobering from our automatic worship of the US. Pollard made the Israelis understand that they do not have a sugar-daddy over the ocean, while here, we cannot expect some wondrous peace to break out with our neighbors. In other words, whether we like it or not, we will not find our place among the nations. We are not in Israel as a nation like the other nations. We always have been and always will be a separate and unique nation.
When there is no aspiration to build the Third Temple, the First and Second Temples melt away – and with them, our national history, which revolved around the Temples. Our entire national essence is erased when we flee our connection to the Temple. The Jewish return to history will only be possible when our Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem. Amazingly, Israeli-ness is progressing toward the point from which it so desperately sought to flee.
Israeli society is returning – from pain and despair – to its separate national identity. When it makes peace with its identity, Israeli society will progress to its universal significance, to the perfection of the world, born of uniqueness: “For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.”
This time, it will be a supremely joyous return.

Holiness 101: A Torah Thought for Parashat Kedoshim

By Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovitch

At the start of this week’s Torah portion, Moshe is commanded to speak to the entire Jewish people, and say: “You shall be holy”.   There follows a whole long list of commandments – fifty one commandments in all – an extraordinary amount for a single parashah, almost one-sixth of all the commandments in the Torah.
A quick perusal of the commandments in this week’s reading will show that many of them are inter-personal, “between man and his fellow”.  Thus, the Torah demands respect for ones’ parents, caring for the poor, honesty, and paying salaries on time.  It forbids misleading people, miscarriage of justice, and gossip.
All these and more are what constitute “holiness”.  Let’s think about that for a moment.  How many of us associate “holiness” with various ritual and ceremonial acts? Don’t we often think that the holy person is the one who takes the longest time to say his prayers, or who spends the most money on ritual objects such as a lulav or matzah?
But the Torah teaches otherwise.  True holiness is achieved only by giving at least the same attention to matters between “man and his fellow” as to matters “between man and G-d”. As Rambam teaches in his commentary to the Mishnah (Peah 1:1), regarding commandments between man and G-d vis a vis commandments between man and his fellow: If a person fulfills those commandments that are between man and his Creator, he will merit reward in the World to Come; but if he fulfills the commandments that are dependent on proper relations between people one to another, he is [not only] rewarded in the World to Come for having fulfilled a mitzvah ­– he will also achieve a benefit in this world for good behavior with his neighbor [in building and enjoying a healthy, moral society based on mutual love and respect.

This is why the Minister for Internal Security Should be Fired

By Moshe Feiglin

Over Pesach, I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, urging him to fire Internal Security Minister Aharonovitz because of the Arab riots on the Temple Mount. Here is a fresh example of how the minister safeguards the security of Israeli children in the holiest Jewish shrine in the very heart of our ‘sovereign’ capital, Jerusalem. Watch and share this.

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann to Speak at Manhigut Dinner

Israeli Deputy Knesset Speaker, MK Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit - the Jewish Leadership Movement - are proud to announce that United States Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) will be joining us as we celebrate our 11th Annual Dinner and the modern State of Israel's 66th birthday in New York on May 5th.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, known for her steadfast support of Israel, is one of the two featured speakers. She ran for President of the United States in 2012 and may run again in 2016. Congresswoman Bachmann is known for her strong support of Israel - she recently stated that "Judea and Samaria is the biblical, historical and cultural heartland of the Jewish People." Rep. Bachmann continued, "The Jewish citizens of Judea and Samaria are there to stay. They are not leaving and they won't be pushed from their homes - nor should they ever be."
MK Moshe Feiglin, who was recently labeled by former Knesset Speaker Avram Burg as "the most important and interesting man in Israeli politics today" will be the evening's other featured speaker. He encourages American Jews to be active participants in his straightforward program to transform the State of Israel from "a state of Jews" into "The Jewish State". Manhigut Yehudit, the largest faction inside Israel's ruling Likud party, and Mr. Feiglin are building alternative leadership for Israel - leadership based on Jewish concepts and values instead of on secular or globalist values.
In his 14 months in office, MK Feiglin has clearly shown himself to be the strongest supporter of the Land of Israel in the Knesset. In multiple Knesset votes he was the only coalition member to vote to end the disastrous Oslo Process, to oppose the terrorist releases, and to oppose giving away the Negev to the Bedouin. He has also developed a reputation as a maverick with many of his non-Oslo positions, and has won a tremendous following across the entire spectrum of Israeli society with his independent views.
The event will be held at Terrace on the Park, located at 52-11 111th St., Flushing Meadows Park (Queens), NY 11368, on May 5th at 6:00 PM. (For directions to the event, visit the following link: and then click on "Map & Directions".)
Manhigut Yehudit is honoring several of its outstanding supporters. The guest of honor will beDr. Shlomo Kalish of Israel. Dr. Kalish is the CEO of Jerusalem Global Ventures and a former IAF fighter pilot. Joining him as honorees will be: Sanford and Rosalie Goldstein of Fort Lee, NJ - Lifetime Jewish Activism Award, Sol Margolis of Potomac, MD - Jerusalem of Gold Award, Brian and Debbie Glick of Modi'in, Israel and formerly of New York -Aliyah Award, and Al and Lynne Dublanko of British Columbia, Canada - Lover of Israel Award. The entire evening will be dedicated to the memory of Jacob Heller, who passed away just one year ago.
After the Annual Dinner, Manhigut Yehudit will proudly welcome the acclaimed singer Yehuda Green and his band as they perform a one-hour set to celebrate Israel's Independence Day!
Advance reservations are required. For dinner reservations and/or to place an advertisement in our journal, visit or call (516) 295-3222.

To request Press Credentials for the event and/or to schedule a private interview with MK Feiglin, representatives of the media should contact Rob Muchnick at (516) 779-7420 or at .

For reservations and/or journal ads simply CLICK HERE

Top American Rabbi Evacuated from Temple Mount after Violent Riots

JERUSALEM– Rabbi Meir Soloveichik’s tour of the Temple Mount was cut short this morning when violent rioting broke out on the holy site. It was the first time that the Temple Mount had been open to Jews since the beginning of the observance of Passover. Riots forced the Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and his family, who were accompanied by Temple Institute International Director Rabbi Chaim Richman, off the site within two minutes of ascending. Two police officers were injured in the confrontation, and 16 arrests have been made.

The visit provided an opportunity for the influential American Rabbi to join the struggle for Jewish prayer and presence on the Temple Mount and to hear about the preparations that The Temple Institute has actively made for the Third Holy Temple.
Rabbi Meir Yaakov Soloveichik is a world renowned American Torah scholar, teacher and leader. Son of Rabbi Eliyahu Soloveichik, grandson of the late Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik and the great nephew of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik – all of whom are credited for founding what has become the Modern Orthodoxy movement of Judaism. After graduating from Yeshiva College in New York City, Soloveichik received his rabbinic ordination at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and went on to receive a PhD in religion from Princeton University.

Aside from his teaching and writing, Rabbi Soloveichik proudly became the first Orthodox rabbi to give the invocation at the opening session of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. He currently serves as rabbi of the Sephardic Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Rabbi Soloveichik was a rumored frontrunner to replace Jonathan Sacks as Chief Rabbi of the United

“We are honored to welcome Rabbi Soloveichik,” said Temple Institute International Director Rabbi Chaim Richman. “His visit to the Temple Mount this morning was both spiritual and emotional for all involved. Above all else, his visit sends a strong message to World Jewry that we cannot abandon our holiest site, emphasizing that visits to the Temple amount are not only Halachically acceptable but are a halachic imperative for all Jews.”

Rabbi Soloveichik was witness to the deteriorating security situation on the Temple Mount and saw, first-hand, Jews being ushered quickly and expelled from the holy site when Muslim rioters began throwing rocks. He expressed consternation at the desecration of the holy site.

“Under the current circumstances, even to go to the Temple Mount for two minutes was a tremendous privilege,” said Rabbi Soloveichik. “I am very much in favor of ascending the Temple Mount according to Halacha and after taking the appropriate halachic precautions. It is critical for Jews to understand the importance of the Temple Mount. I applaud the increasing number of Orthodox rabbis and heads of yeshivot that are going to the holy site, and I predict we will see even more Jews ascending in the future.”
Leading US Rabbi Meir Soloveichik's Sunday morning Temple Mount ascent with his wife and young children, escorted by the Temple Institute's Rabbi Chaim Richman, which was dramatically foreshortened after a Muslim mob attacked them with rocks, has been reported in major news outlets, both print and electronic, throughout the world. Following is a list of some of the online news portals that have reported the story:

Heroic Haredi Schoolchildren Face Down Raging Muslim Lynch Mob On Temple Mount

On Wednesday afternoon some twenty five haredi (ultra-orthodox) children led by their fathers, ascended the Temple Mount. Immediately upon entering the Temple Mount they were physically attacked by a charging mob of hundreds of Muslim men and women. The Muslims threw sticks and shoes at the elementary school aged boys and girls, as the Jewish group proceeded along the halachically prescribed path for visiting the Mount. The young children displayed incredible courage and presence of mind throughout the ordeal, as Muslims rushed them, spat on them, cursed them and even pulled on one boy'speyot (forelocks). Tens of policemen who were present throughout did absolutely nothing to prevent the ongoing attacks which lasted throughout the duration of the visit on the Temple Mount. The police made no effort to create a buffer between the Jews and the bloodthirsty mob of Muslims, nor did they lift a finger or raise a baton in order to prevent a single act of violence, nor did they make a single arrest. Jewish fathers can be heard telling their children to not be afraid, and the young children, holding one another's hands, proceeded calmly and orderly, despite the clearly life endangering situation that they found themselves in.

The police, on the other hand, appear to be on the edge of panic, running this way and that, but achieving nothing other than bringing great shame to the name of the Israeli police and creating a horrific desecration of G-d's name through their cowardly display of inaction in the place of G-d's Sanctuary.

After the completion of their stay on the Temple Mount a second group of children and parents entered the Mount where they too were subject to the exact same attacks. Again, the police did nothing. The Jews sang, prayed and concluded with the kaddish prayer before exiting the Temple Mount.

A five minute video exists documenting in shocking detail the unending attacks and rushing mobs of Muslims as well as the utter ineptitude of the police. The footage was presented to Israel's Channel 2 News who were promised exclusivity, but then did not air the footage, effectively killing the story.

Click here to see Arutz 7's account of the incident.
Click here to see The Algemeiner account.

"You shall be holy, for I, HaShem, your G-d, am holy."

(Leviticus 19:2)
Nisan 25, 5774/April 25, 2014

"You shall be holy, for I, HaShem, your G-d, am holy." (Leviticus 19:2) Before we even begin to try to understand how we are to fulfill this commandment to be holy because G-d is holy, let's ask an even more basic question: What is it doing here? We have been reading the book of Leviticus with the understanding that it is a book about the Tabernacle in the desert, and by proxy, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the nature of the Divine service and the various offerings, whether they be the Tamid daily offerings or the special Musaf festival offerings of Passover, Shavuot andSukkot, Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Rosh Chodesh, and the rules concerning the eligibility and special conduct assigned to the kohanimpriests. This all followed logically the conclusion of the book of Exodus which closed with the completion of the construction of the Tabernacle. Yet in the closing chapters of Leviticus we seem to be moving away from our declared central theme and have been touching upon all different types of subjects outside of the outer curtains of the Tabernacle. Leviticus has discussed the status of the person who has been stricken with tzaratdue to evil speech, the similar plague which can strike a person's house in the land of Israel as well as their clothing. Leviticus has discussed what we can and cannot eat. In this week's reading of Kedoshim the commandment to leave the gleanings of the corners of our fields in the land of Israel for the poor and the stranger is presented and soon Leviticus will introduce the concept of the shmittah seventh year sabbatical in which we are to leave fallow the fields of the land of Israel. Again, what do all these commandments have to do with the nature of the Tabernacle or of the Divine service? Why are these commandments included in the book of Leviticus?

"You shall be holy, for I, HaShem, your G-d, am holy." (ibid) is a commandment that takes under its wing all of the other "extra-Tabernacle" commandments that we have mentioned above. Each of these various and, on the surface, unrelated commandments are particular expressions of holiness that we must perform here in the land of Israel. And why must we perform them here in the land of Israel? Why is the imperative to let our fields rest once every seven years one not merely of personal responsibility but of existential responsibility on the national level? Because G-d also expresses His holiness here in the land of Israel and His Divine presence which rests in the Holy of Holies of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem will not abide a profane environment even beyond the parameters of the Holy Temple or the Temple Mount or even Jerusalem.

But G-d's instruction that we be holy is not merely a demand that we don't come to rain on His holy parade. G-d's very presence in the Holy Temple enables us to be holy as His holiness radiates beyond the Holy of Holies and beyond the Holy Temple and beyond Jerusalem and fills and saturates the entire land of Israel. In truth, G-d and Israel's coexistence here on this earth can only be complete if both partners are upholding their ends. If there is no Holy Temple and the immediacy of G-d's Divine presence is lacking from the land then the people of Israel can exist in the land of Israel, but only on a very diminished level. On the other hand, if Israel determines that being holy is an imperative and builds for G-d a Sanctuary so that Israel may be holy then the nearness of G-d's holiness will permeate and elevate Israel.

Ultimately, the holiness which emanates from the holy Temple and fills the land of Israel will increase and intensify and spill out filling all the world with G-d's holiness. This is the promise of the Holy Temple and this is the fulfillment of the commandment, "You shall be holy, for I, HaShem, your G-d, am holy."