Appointment of Judges: ‘Fear No Man’

The appointment of the judges in Israel is akin to the mitzvah “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns“, and their authority should be expanded beyond family law * The importance of prompt judicial appointments, and without delays * Appointment of judges according to ethnic grouping is not pertinent, and appointment by party affiliation is categorically improper * The imposition of a veto on certain Zionist judges because of their lenient rulings is contrary to the Torah * In the present case, it was important to expedite the appointment of judges, but in the future, representatives of the ‘Bayit HaYehudi’ party should stand firm on Torah principles, in opposition to the Haredi veto * The Seventeenth of Tammuz: The laws of the ‘Aneinu’ prayer

Choosing Judges

In the last year a path was found – partly through compromise, and partly owing to capitulation to the Haredi veto – and twenty-two judges were appointed to the regional Rabbinical Courts, and ten judges to the Supreme Rabbinic Court. This was not easily accomplished, and who knows if a decision on the appointment of judges to the Supreme Rabbinic Court would have been reached without the intervention of the secular High Court. Currently, however, a blessing can be recited over the successful completion: on a small-scale version, the State of Israel has merited fulfilling the mitzvah of appointing judges, as the Torah says: “Appoint yourselves judges and police for your tribes in all your settlements that God your Lord is giving you, and make sure they administer honest judgment for the people”(Deuteronomy 16:18). True, the judges have jurisdiction only over family laws, but if we are deserving, and the judges sanctify God’s name, the public will call for the expansion of their areas of jurisdiction, until the country is governed completely by Torah law.

Do Not Delay Justice

Thanks to the new appointments, the judges will be able to fulfill their job properly and decide cases quickly for as long as justice is delayed, disputes rapidly escalate, as our Sages learned from the verse: “Starting a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so stop before a dispute breaks out” (Proverbs 17:14): At first, a dispute is similar to a small trickle of water that drips out of a dam, and if it is not clogged immediately, it widens into a strong current, destroys the dam, and becomes a terrible flood (Sanhedrin 7a). Likewise, our Sages said in the Mishna: “The sword comes upon the world for the procrastination of justice” (Avot 5:8). Procrastination of justice is when ruling on a law is postponed and suspend for several days (Rashi and Rambam, ibid). This is why we were commanded to appoint judges in each city, so that people with quarrels could have immediate access to them to settle their disputes.

The Flaws in Electing Judges

After expressing satisfaction about the very appointment of the judges, it must be noted that the process of selection of judges and rabbis by their ethnic origin and party affiliation is extremely flawed. True, it is a mitzvah to appoint for each and every tribe judges from of their own tribe, because, coming from the same tribe, they can better understand their fellow kin. Thus, the court system should comprise judges of various ethnic groupings, because an Ashkenazi Haredi dayan (judge) can better understand an Ashkenazi Haredi litigant, and a Moroccan dayan can better understand litigants of older Moroccan heritage. But since the majority of various ethnic groups live together, reasonable judges who grew up in communities comprised of members of all the various ethnic groups should be able to understand the majority of the public, and consequently, there is no need to be so precise about ethnic assignment. Besides, even in cases where it would be fitting to refer litigants from a certain ethnic group to judges who understand them better, this is not done, because the composition of presiding judges is determined by region and surname. In any case, there is clearly no place for the appointment of judges according to political affiliation.

The Sin of the Haredi ‘Herem‘: The Uprooting of Torah

Even worse, during the election process it became clear that the Haredim imposed a total veto the appointment of Zionist rabbis who tended to rule leniently on certain laws. In this manner, the Haredim are destroying the Torah world, because judges and rabbis are commanded to be faithful to the Torah without fear of any person. This is the only way they can arrive at the truth. If rabbis who tend to rule leniently are afraid to learn and draw conclusions because of the price they may have to pay due to their decisions, their voices will be silenced. And when the voices of lenient rabbis are silenced, the voice of the machmirim (stringent) are also harmed, because they will not be able to thoroughly clarify their own positions. This is how the Haredi ‘askanim’ (wheeler-dealers) and rabbis who back them uproot substantial portions of the Torah from Israel.

This morally depraved position is not new. The colossal disputes between the different Haredi groups and sects, the derogatory terms used against rabbis from opposing Haredi camps, and above all, the practice of humiliating Zionist rabbis have turned the haramot (censures) and the uprooting of portions of the Torah into sins which they tread upon without remorse. As our Sages said: “Once a man has committed a sin once and twice…
it appears to him as if it were permitted” (Yoma 86b).

What to Do In the Future

The dilemma that reliable public officials faced was understandable. Had they insisted on the truth, the court system would have reeled and collapsed. Henceforth, however, they should never capitulate to the Haredi veto, but rather, place the principles of the Torah above all, and refuse further compromises on Torah positions which certain members of the Haredi public are mistaken.

It is advisable for public officials to announce that from now on they will totally oppose any appointment of a rabbi or dayan who is not faithful to the Torah, including things that the ‘askanim’ of the Haredi public and some of their rabbis disregard. Let us reiterate the positions upon which a candidate for the Rabbinate or Dayanut (rabbinical judge) should be clear:

1) His stated position that according to halakha (Jewish law), the conversion of any rabbi of an accepted Orthodox community who is recognized within his community as being faithful to Torah cannot be annulled, and he approves the conversion as valid. A candidate for the post, of course, is entitled to believe that l’chatchila (from the outset), such gerim (converts) should not be converted; he can also believe that the State of Israel has the authority to determine whose conversions will be recognized for civilian registry; but from a halachic point of view, he must admit that conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis cannot be annulled.

2) His stated position that settling the Land of Israel is a great and all-inclusive mitzvah upon which the future of Clal Yisrael depends, and consequently our Sages said that this mitzvah is equal to all the other mitzvot.

3) His stated position that there is a great mitzvah to serve in the I.D.F. This does not contradict the provision of postponement for yeshiva students, and does not contradict the position that as long as the army fails to allow a religious soldier the opportunity to properly observe mitzvot, it is reasonable, or even appropriate, to postpone army service. However, someone who says there is no mitzvah to serve in the army to protect the people and the country, denies the Torah and is not fitting to serve as a rabbi or a dayan.

4) His stated position that there is great value in learning secular studies both to understand the wisdom of the Creator, and for the purpose of earning a livelihood and bettering the world, and that there is no prohibition to study core subjects at an elementary age. Of course, one can argue whether it is worthwhile to learn secular studies at an elementary age, or for whom it is appropriate; but anyone who claims that it is forbidden, adds a prohibition to the Torah – in contradiction of the Torah – and is not fitting to serve as a rabbi or a dayan.

This is the most just response, balancing and correcting the sin of the Haredi ‘askanim‘ – disqualification in exchange for disqualification, and correcting the misrepresentations.

In my estimation, many Haredi rabbis agree to some extent with the principles I mentioned, realize that this is the position of the Torah, and therefore, such a position does not entail prior disqualification of all representatives of the Haredi public for rabbinical positions and dayanut.

The Likud’s Position

It turns out that in practice the Likud party, because of practical considerations, supports the position of the Haredim. With the support of the Likud, two judges who invalidated the conversions of Rabbi Lookstein were just elected to the Supreme Rabbinical Court – Rabbi Elimelech and Rabbi Nahari. They acted in contradiction to the position of the Chief Rabbis, and moreover, in contradiction to the position of halakha, and contrary to the Jewish tradition of generations. This is the evil phenomenon that has spread throughout the Haredi community. The Likud party supported dayanim who represent this phenomenon (afterwards, they claim it’s impossible to get along with the Chief Rabbinate, and support the recognition of Reform Jews).

And despite this being the position of the governing party, officials of the Bayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) party should publicly express their position, and let the Likud representatives make their own accounts. Should it please the Likud, let them continue selling the Rabbinate and the rabbinical courts to the Haredi wheeler-dealers; let the public see, and judge who to vote for at election time. In all likelihood, precisely a clear position such as this will straighten-out the Likud party. In the meantime, while positions are unclear, the Likud permits itself to support dayanim that invalidated conversions by recognized rabbis, such as Rabbi Lookstein.

The Position of the Yesh Atid Party

The voice of the opposition, and foremost the Yesh Atid party, has also been silent. They are making political calculations that it is better to curry favor with the Haredim, or at least, not to criticize them harshly. They fulfill the “mitzvah” of their “secular religion” in the meantime by denouncing Zionist rabbis, such as the Chief I.D.F. Rabbi-elect, Rabbi Eyal Karim, who formerly was an officer in Sayeret Matkal (General Staff Reconnaissance Unit), and commander of the Sayeret Tzanchanim (elite unit of the Paratroopers). It’s important to take note of this method of the Yesh Atid party and inform the public, so as to minimize their ability of deceiving voters and harming the State of Israel.

The Aneinu Prayer on a Fast Day

The Rabbis prescribed that we add a special blessing for the fast, called Aneinu, in our prayers.  The cantor inserts it in between the blessings of Go’el Yisrael and Refa’einu when he repeats the Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharit and Minchah.  He says it only if there are at least six people in the congregation fasting, and he has to be one of them (SA 566:5).

Individuals, however, do not say Aneinu as a separate blessing in their silent prayers.  Rather, they insert it in the middle of the blessing of Shomei’a Tefillah (Ta’anit 13b).  There are various customs as to when we say Aneinu.  Some say that one should recite Aneinu in all three prayers of the day.  And even though we do not fast at night, one should say it in Ma’ariv because the day as a whole is called a fast day.  Yemenite Jews and some Sephardic Jews follow this custom.  Most Sephardim say Aneinu only when the fast is in effect.  Therefore, on the minor fasts they say it in Shacharit and Minchah, and on Tish’a B’Av, they say it also in Ma’ariv (based on Ra’zah, KHC 565:17).  Ashkenazi Jews are accustomed to saying Aneinu in Minchah alone, because they are concerned that perhaps someone will say it in Shacharit, become weak during the day, and break his fast.  Then, his statement “on this day of our fast” will turn out to be a lie.  Therefore, they say Aneinu only in Minchah, because one who has fasted this long will most probably complete the fast (based on the Geonim and Rashi; Rama 565:3).

 

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and thought-provoking articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

Early Childhood Custody

Early childhood custody gives excessive preference to women in the case of divorce * If necessary, it is a mitzvah to divorce; but often, a marriage crisis can and should be solved to prevent suffering from the family * Through the regulation of the ‘ketubah’, Chazal established balance between husband and wife, and created a situation preventing either side from rushing into divorce * When children automatically remain with the mother and the father must pay their child support, it’s no wonder that almost 90% of divorce cases are initiated by women * Crowd sourcing: Halachic questions concerning the absorption of glass and metal utensils

Problems with Early Childhood Custody

There are two problems with early childhood custody where, in the case of divorce, the mother automatically gets custody of the children, and consequently, the father must pay her full alimony. In consequence, even when the children mature they usually remain with the mother after having done so for so long, and often, even develop a certain animosity towards their father.

The first problem with early childhood custody is that it encourages divorce by granting excessive power to divorced women, as will be explained below. The second problem is the absence of the father in the education of the children, who need both parents, even though they are divorced. In this article, I will deal with the first problem.

The Torah’s Attitude towards Divorce

According to the Torah when a couple cannot find a way of living peacefully together, in spite of all the sorrow, it is a mitzvah to divorce. Often, however, marriage crises’ can be resolved, and only if adequate efforts are not made to solve the crisis will it lead to divorce, resulting in great suffering for the husband, wife, and children.

Various surveys indicate that after five years, about half of the people who initiated divorce wish they had worked harder to restore their marriage. In all probability, even among those who say they are satisfied with their divorce, some regret it in their hearts, but lack the emotional strength to reach this painful understanding, and thus, say divorce improved their lives.

In order to avoid unnecessary divorce, our Sages enacted the ‘ketubah’. Additionally, couples finding themselves in a marriage crisis are advised to do their utmost to reach ‘shalom bayit’.

The Gradual Process of the ‘Ketubah’ Enactment

Human relationships are built on a certain sense of balance. When that balance is disrupted, relations are shaken. Even in the past when earning a livelihood involved hard physical labor, and as a result, men’s economic status was greater than that of women, it was crucial to find a balance between men and women. So we have learned in the Talmud, in the Tractate of Ketubot (82b), that in a gradual process, the optimal balance point was arrived at.

Initially, so that men would not take divorcing their wives lightly, our Sages enacted that every husband, even if he was poor, would have to pay his ex-wife at least two hundred zuz in the event of divorce. This was an amount of money a person could live on for an entire year, and this was the basis of the ‘ketubah‘. The more financially established a couple was, the higher the sum of the ‘ketubah’ was, seeing as it was determined in negotiations between the families of the bride and groom. It is important to understand: This enactment was not determined just for the benefit of women, but rather to reinforce the institution of marriage. For if it was easy for men to divorce their wives, women would also be deterred from marrying, because they would be nervous that perhaps in a time of crisis, men would divorce them. Therefore, our Sages enacted the ‘ketubah‘, and determined that its sum would be a significant figure, so that it would cause financial pain to a woman’s husband, and make him think twice before rushing to divorce his wife.

However, our Sages did not want to put in writing that all of a husband’s assets would be collateral for the ‘ketubah’, so as not to hurt real-estate transactions essential for maintaining a farm; for if buyers were aware that the land they wished to purchase was mortgaged to the ‘ketubah‘, they would be nervous about buying it.

The Search for Balance between Spouses

However, the Talmud in Ketubot goes on to say that since it was not determined that the husband’s assets were mortgaged to the payment of the ‘ketubah‘, there were women who refrained from marrying, preferring to stay single. They were afraid that despite the obligations of the ‘ketubah‘, if husbands were to fall into financial difficulties, they would divorce them, and throw them out of the house empty-handed, because in actual fact, they had no money to pay them. Thus, our Sages enacted that the sum amount of the ‘ketubah’ would be deposited in the home of the woman’s parents, and thus, even if the husband fell into financial difficulties, the sum of the ‘ketubah’ was guaranteed.

However, it turned out that when the cash money was deposited in the home of the woman’s parents, many men felt that it did not belong to them, and in times of anger, would tend to divorce their wives more frequently. Because in reality, during marriage, almost every couple experiences times of crisis; but since the value of marriage is understood, and the couple also realizes that divorce is an expensive and painful ordeal, they resolve their differences and get back to living agreeably. But when the ‘ketubah’ money was left with the woman’s parents, it was easy for an angery husband to divorce his wife in a time of a crisis, because there was no need to withdraw the money from his own pocket.

Therefore, our Sages enacted that the sum of the ‘ketubah‘ remain in the couple’s home, and be exchanged for fine vessels. Wealthy women whose ‘ketubah’ was substantial, bought silver and gold utensils while the poor purchased simple ones, and in the case of divorce, the woman would take the vessels of her ‘ketubah’, and leave.

However, it turned out that in this situation as well, husbands did not sense a significant financial loss in divorce, because they did not consider these vessels as belonging to them, and in a time of crisis, with relative ease, the husband would write his wife a ‘get‘ (bill of divorce) and tell her: “Take your vessels, and leave.”

The Balance Point of the Enactment of Shimon Ben Shetach

Therefore, Shimon ben Shetach enacted that all of a husband’s assets be mortgaged for payment of the ‘ketubah’. This was the optimal balance point, for on the one hand, the payment of the ‘ketubah‘ caused pain for the husband, since he had to remove cash from his pocket, or was forced to sell property to pay the ‘ketubah‘; on the other hand, the payment of the ‘ketubah‘ was assured, because all assets of the husband, including land he owned while married and later sold, were mortgaged for the payment of the ‘ketubah’ (this enactment was also a financial success, because by means of it, assets of the ‘ketubah’ were invested in resources that could bear fruit for the benefit of the family).

An Illustrative Example from the Kibbutzim

Among kibbutzim, as a result of their privatization, the probability of divorce significantly decreased (according to the thesis of Ro’i Bass, 2010 at Haifa University, under the guidance of Prof. Bar-Ilan, and Prof. Palgi). Beforehand, the kibbutz had taken care of all the member’s needs, and a couple’s decision to divorce carried no economic consequences. The kibbutz took pains to provide each one of them with an apartment, and continued providing for the needs of the children as before. However, after privatization, each one of the divorcing couple had to pay for his own apartment and continue providing for their children’s needs, which became more expensive after the divorce. In such a situation, couples thought twice before deciding to divorce, and some of them found ways to get through the crisis and remain married. Many of them are happy they did so.

The Damage of Early Childhood Custody

Early childhood custody granted excessive power to women and radically affected the balance between a couple, because it made divorce profitable for women – they were now confidant that no matter what, the children would remain with them, while the husband would have to pay their alimony, estimated at the average cost of child support – at least NIS 2,000 a month, per child. If a father fails to pay, Bituach Leumi (Social Security) pays in his place, and the husband is chased after by bailiffs, seizing his possessions and proceeds towards the payment of alimony. About half of all men earn less than 7,000 shekels a month, and if they have to pay child support for two children, they must pay about 4,000 shekels a month. Besides that, they have to pay rent for their own apartment, buy food and clothes, provide for their children when they come to visit, and assist them in special cases not included in regular child support. It’s no wonder that in such a situation, nearly ninety percent of divorce cases are initiated by women.

Women who detest men, provoked today by various organizations, argue that men are closed-minded, violent, evil, and deserve to be punished for what they, and their predecessors, have done to women for generations … However, reasonable folks, fond of people, understand that in both sexes there is good and bad. And when women are given excessive power in divorce agreements, the percentage of divorce rates rise. Presumably, many divorced women would argue that this is not true because, subjectively, they feel deprived. However, it seems that anyone who contemplates honestly divorce cases he is familiar with will find that in most cases, men have lost a lot more.

However, if we measure the situation of divorced women down the years, their situation may be worse off. But in times of crisis and anger, women who initiate divorce think only about the near-term, and within this range of time, they have the upper hand.

In all probability, after early childhood custody is annulled, the divorce rate will decrease. It’s too bad that good and decent Members of Knesset fail to understand this, and in the meantime, heighten the suffering of men, women, and children.

Halachic Questions for Experts in Metal and Glass Utensils

In this paragraph, I turn to experts and all interested parties with a request for help and assistance in clarifying a halachic issue. Recently, I have engaged in studying the laws of meat and milk and their mixtures. From the Talmud and Rishonim it appears that the sides of utensils made of metal absorb a great measure of the flavor of foods cooked in them, to the point where even if the utensils are cleaned, one can still taste the flavor of the food absorbed in the utensil in a subsequently cooked food. And because it is impossible to estimate just how much taste is released from a utensil, our Sages were ‘machmir‘ (stringent), and considered all sides of the utensil as if they are fully absorbed with the taste, unless a trustworthy Gentile tasted the cooked dish, and failed to discern the prohibited flavor.

About eight hundred years ago, halachic discussions concerning glassware arose, and the Rishonim were divided about their status – if they absorb, or not. In practice, according to tests conducted recently (by Rabbi Yair Frank and Rabbi Dr. Dror Fixler), it has been shown that metal and glass utensils absorb only a tiny bit, to the point where it is impossible to taste the flavor absorbed in the utensil.

My questions are: 1) Have there been significant changes in the composition of metal since ancient times, or perhaps the absorption in question also includes foods stuck to the utensil, which were difficult to remove without modern detergents, which were only invented some two hundred years ago? 2) Is it possible that the taste absorbed in the utensils or stuck to them could be stronger than its volume, i.e., the taste of one such gram of food stuck to the utensil could be ten times stronger than the taste of a gram of the cooked dish itself? 3) Why did halachic discussions concerning glassware begin only eight hundred years ago: were glassware utensils for use in kitchens not produced earlier? 4) Is it possible to say that the utensils made of glassware discussed were used only as a ‘kli sheni’ and not as a ‘kli rishon’ used to cook on fire, because if used on fire, they would crack? 5) When was fireproof glassware invented?

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and thought-provoking articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

No to Soldiers Bodies for Terrorists!

Lives should not be endangered for the return of a fallen soldier’s body * A person’s essence is his soul and not his body, and the souls of fallen IDF soldiers are certainly among the righteous * Refusing to release terrorists in exchange for soldiers’ bodies continues their heroism, and thus, elevates their souls * Actions to return the bodies should be directed against Hamas, and not convey Israel’s weakness * Expressions of weakness strengthen terror; in contrast, construction should be increased to make clear we are not budging from our land * As long as they are not buried, Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul H’YD are in a similar category to that of Moshe Rabbeinu, whose last resting place is unknown

The Bodies of the Fallen Soldiers

Following the agreement with Turkey which apparently benefits the Hamas terrorist organization who control the Gaza Strip, the just claim for the return of the bodies of our holy soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin, and Sergeant Oren Shaul, for burial in Israel, has emerged once more.

However once again, there are those who apparently prefer to turn the whole issue upside down, ignore the rest of the important ideals, and unwittingly be used as a tool in the hands of the wicked terrorists who take advantage of their naivety in order to damage Israel’s honor, security, and values.

Therefore, it is essential to remember that while it is a mitzvah to bury the dead in a Jewish grave, it is forbidden to harm the security of even one Jew to accomplish this. As we have learned, it is forbidden to desecrate Shabbat to bury a dead person, whereas for the doubtful saving of a human life it is a mitzvah to violate the Shabbat; kal v’ chomer (all the more so) is it forbidden to cause risk for even one person in order to fulfill the mitzvah of burial, and therefore it is forbidden to release any terrorists for the soldiers’ bodies. Similarly, we have learned that according to strict halakha, it is forbidden to remove casualties from the battlefield on Shabbat; nevertheless, because Rabbi Goren ztz”l saw that the leaving of the bodies damaged the morale of the soldiers in the battle, and consequently their success, he ordered the desecration of Shabbat for the evacuation of casualties from the battlefield.

The Soul and the Body

It is important to be precise: To our great dismay the soldiers have died, and thus, the issue is the return of their bodies, and not living soldiers. Moreover, saying that a dead body is the person himself is extremely hurtful to the dignity of the dead, because the essence of a person is his soul and life, while his body is only a utensil within which he lives. After death, the soul remains alive to the extent one clung to eternal values, while the body decays and returns to dust.

The Holy Soldiers

Our Sages revealed to us that people who are killed ‘al Kiddush Hashem’ (in sanctification of God) on behalf of all of Israel, merit a high level in Gan Eden (heaven), to the point where “no creature can attain to their place in heaven'” (Bava Batra 10b). The meaning is that all ordinary people, who are termed ‘creatures’, are unable to stand among them, because they have merited to be on the level of the tzaddikim (the righteous). And without a doubt, the soldiers who with their very bodies defended the people and the country, are also included in this level.

Souls in the Eternal World

The essence of a person is his soul, and not his body. It is explained in the Talmud that after the death of a person, he is judged in the heavenly court. The tzaddikim ascend to Gan Eden, the beinonim (intermediate people) are punished in Gehinom (hell) to the extent of their tikun (correction) and then rise to Gan Eden. The wicked are condemned to twelve months in Gehinom, and then “their bodies are consumed, their souls are burnt, and the wind scatters them under the soles of the feet of the tzaddikim” (Rosh Hashana 16b; 17a). We see that, come what may, even the wicked enter Gan Eden, on the basis of the feet of the tzaddikim with whom they had a positive connection in their lives. It is explained that after the completion of tikun olam (correction of the world), even these wicked people are resurrected in Techiyat HaMeytim (Resurrection of the Dead) thanks to those tzaddikim (see, ‘Takanat HaShavim’ 15, 76; 106). And as we have already learned, the soldiers who gave their lives are also considered on the level of the tzaddikim, and therefore, evil people who had a positive connection to them, after the completion of the tikun, will warrant Techiyat HaMeytim in their merit. The extremely evil people are punished for a longer period of time, to the extent of the effect of their wickedness in this world, and after their evil influence is over, they are lost forever.

How Can One Help Elevate a Soul?

As is known, it is a mitzvah to recite Kaddish (the mourner’s prayer), give charity, and increase one’s Torah study on the anniversary of the deceased, because on that same day, he is judged once again in heaven for his actions. Seemingly one could ask: The person has died and was judged for his actions, so why is he judged every year anew?

However, since there are people in the world who still remember him, he is judged according to the extent of influence he had on his children and acquaintances. If it becomes clear that due to the effect he had on them in his lifetime they continued to do good deeds, his virtue is even greater than that of when he died. But if the opposite is true, God forbid, it turns out that his negative influence continues to bear bitter fruits, and caused his children and friends to be negligent in Torah, mitzvot and good deeds; in retrospect, it becomes clear that his sins and failings were graver, and must be punished for this in Gehinom – or at the very least, his place in Gan Eden must be lowered. Therefore, when his children and friends say Kaddish, give charity, perform mitzvot and study Torah in his memory, they greatly assist in the elevation of his soul (iluy neshama), because all the good deeds are being done in his merit.

Do Not Blemish the Merits of the Holy Soldiers

This is also true concerning the holy soldiers killed in a milchemet mitzvah (defensive war). If their bravery is neglected by overemphasizing their physical bodies that have yet to be buried in Israel, this blemishes their merits. And if as a result of this the government surrenders to our wicked enemies and releases terrorists, it will severely blemish their merits – the exact opposite of all their aims in their self-sacrifice. For after all, what is the sorrow of the holy soldiers who have not yet been buried in Israel compared to the enormous reward for their devotion for the sake of Israel? The more heroism their relatives and friends add in their name and memory, thus the holy soldiers are further elevated. And, ‘l’fum tzara agra’ (according to the effort, is the reward) – as the torment of their not being buried in Israel grows, but nevertheless their relatives and friends stand up to the test, are not depressed, and do not give-in to the enemy, thus the holy soldiers themselves are further elevated in Gan Eden, and even their relatives living among us in this world, are elevated in the merit of their holy merits.

On the other hand, if the propaganda about returning the bodies causes cowardice among the public, and especially among soldiers, this will ruin all they worked for in their lives. They did everything they could to fight the wicked, and as a result, their souls merited supreme status in Gan Eden; but for the sake of their bodies, which are insignificant compared to their souls, the order of things is turned upside-down, and their sacred mission is undermined.

The Correct Message

At this point I must express my great appreciation for the open statements expressed by Prof. Simcha Goldin, in the name of the families of the holy soldiers. For example, I will mention a few things he said (3/18/16): “Steps should be taken against Hamas that will cause them to return the bodies.” “As long as we are active rather than passive, as long as it is clear to everyone that the State of Israel will determine the price that Hamas will pay for not returning the corpses, as long as we continue in this direction – we are doing okay.” “Hamas must pay the price for not returning the body of Hadar.” In other words, Hamas are the ones who have to pay the price, and not the State of Israel. Israel has to be active – on the offense, and not the defense, the ones to punish, and not the ones to be punished.

The public demonstration of the Shaul family against the transfer of “humanitarian aid” from Turkey to Hamas is also correct. They do not demand concessions from the government, but rather, that it not provide assistance to Hamas as long as it continues in its viciously despicable trade of bodies.

The Huge Test

Who knows if we would be able to withstand the challenges faced by the families of the holy soldiers and settlers who gave their lives for the sanctity of God, the nation, and the Land of Israel, who, in spite of the pain, are required to muster-up emotional strength, and take a courageous stand. Concerning this, we pray daily: “Do not cause us to be tested or brought to disgrace.” This test, in all its awesome intensity, now stands at the doorstep of the Goldin and Shaul families. And yet, the truth must be said: to the best of their ability, they should think less about the soldiers’ bodies, and instead, engage as much as possible in the heroism of their lives, their values,​and their legacy. This is the befitting stance which honors the memory of the holy soldiers. The more the parents adopt this position, the more they elevate the soul of their son in Gan Eden, because by remembering him thus, they add truth and holiness in this world.

It is worthwhile mentioning Miriam Peretz, who lost two of her sons, the heroic commanders killed in the sanctity of God, the nation, and the Land of Israel. Though her son’s merited burial in Israel, who would not have empathized with her had she sunk into sadness, and raised grievances against God, the government, and army commanders. But she chose the path of publicizing their exemplary bravery, and imparting their legacy to the young.

Disappointment with the Government

It is fitting to identify with the profound disappointment and sense of betrayal that the Shaul and Goldin families feel in view of the agreement with Turkey. They can be trusted when they say that the Prime Minister had made explicit promises, but did not keep his word.

Regrettably, we have felt the powerlessness of the government to punish or exact a heavy toll from our wicked enemies over the last few days, when they brazenly permit themselves to murder a 13 year-old girl and the father of a family, and what’s more, dare to celebrate all over Gaza, Judea and Samaria, and even in the villages that the murderers came from, which are allegedly under blockade.

Had the Prime Minister kept his previous promises, allowing tens of thousands of units to be built in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, this could have brought a bit of consolation. In the long-term, victory, peace, and security depend on this, because the entire war is about the Land of Israel, and victory depends on whether we are able to clarify in the most explicit terms that we intend to continue building and holding on to all parts of our holy land. And the more our enemies try to harm us, the stronger our grip on the country will be, so that all of our enemies understand that indeed, an iron wall stands in front of them, and they will never be able to break our spirit and stop the process of the return of Israel to its land.

The Holy Soldiers and the Merit of Moshe Rabbeinu

Concerning Moshe Rabbeinu, our nation’s greatest figure, it is written: “No man knows the place that he was buried, even to this day” (Deuteronomy 34:6). By means of concealing his burial place, a clear separation was created between his individual, physical body, and his great collective soul, and thus, the illumination of his soul and legacy continues in Israel with greater intensity. While it is true that we must act to bring the bodies of Hadar and Oren for burial in Israel, for now, to a certain degree, they have risen to the distinction of Moshe Rabbeinu, may he rest in peace.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and thought-provoking articles can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

Muslims and “Political Correctness”


The policy of Israel’s police on the Temple Mount is a continuation of the anti-Semitic, Diaspora course of action: No matter who is at fault, the Jews are punished * In the name of “politically correct” dialogue and talk about human rights, Obama and his colleagues in the U.S. fail to identify the problem of Islamic terrorism by name, and thus, cannot treat it * For the same reason of “political correctness”, media commentators fail to accept the fact that the majority of Britain’s who supported leaving the E.U. want to rid themselves of the dangerous Muslim immigrants and agitators * Jews who go up to the Temple Mount and live in Judea and Samaria are a moral example for the entire world * In Memory of Dr. Irving Moskowitz z”l

 

‘Har HaBayit’ (The Temple Mount)

 

On Monday, the Israeli police announced that the Temple Mount would be closed to Jews and tourists until the end of Ramadan. The reason: incessant violent rioting by Arabs against visitors to the site, and police officers. The rioters amass stones, bottles, iron bars and who knows what else in the al-Aqsa Mosque, in order to attack Jews, tourists, and anyone they define as enemies of Islam, from within the mosque.

 

Justifiably, this situation calls for the closure of the Temple Mount to all Muslims, but unfortunately, the Israeli government continues to uphold the long-standing tradition contrived during the cursed days of exile: if the Jews riot, the Jews are punished; if the Gentiles riot, the Jews are punished. In other words no matter what, and just to be on the safe side, the Jews must be punished because somehow or another, the Jews are always guilty. The next day, Jews were banned from going up to the Temple Mount, so instead, the Arabs threw stones down at the Western Wall and an elderly, seventy-three-old woman was slightly injured.

 

Why Isn’t the Al-Aqsa Mosque Closed?

 

When the Israeli police suspected there were some students in Yeshiva ‘Od Yosef Chai’ in Yitzhar who were allegedly conspiring to commit a crime, in the name of the law they broke in to the Yeshiva, removed all the students, meticulously searched every room, and took over the study hall for a year and three months, without taking into account it being a sacred place of prayer and Torah study.

 

If this is the way the police act in the name of law and justice towards a Yeshiva and a synagogue in a Jewish state and in a case of unproven allegations, kal v’chomer (by even greater force of logic) should they act similarly when it is certain that the Al-Aqsa mosque functions as a focal point for global incitement, where small arms and light weapons are stored, and serves as a regular shelter for rioters; how much more so should the police take over the mosque, remove all destructive weapons, arrest and imprison the rioters and inciters, and close it for a few years until it becomes crystal clear to all wishing to pray in its gates, not to dare incite or riot ever again. Instead, it was the Jews who were expelled from our holiest place in the world for no reason whatsoever – except our being Jewish, which is anathema to the Muslims who forcibly seized the Temple Mount with murderous violence.

 

Not only did the government not close the mosque, but they continue to allow Muslims to destroy the remains of the Temple, degrade the holy site with soccer games, parties, riots and voicing blasphemies. All this under the pretext that the status quo which the Israeli government undertook requires it. In the entire State of Israel the status quo concerning the laws of Shabbat, kashrut, weddings, the status of the religious courts, and anything to do with Judaism has been eroded and undermined in the name of human rights, but only on the Temple Mount is the status quo is preserved meticulously – contrary to all rules of justice and human rights. In short, we continue to accept the basic premise of anti-Semitism, that the status of a Jew and his rights will always be inferior to any other claim.

 

A Wonderful Illustration

 

Now is the time to relate a happy story I heard from an eyewitness to the event. A traditionally religious couple, both wise and educated, were unable to have children for a several years. They had undergone various tests, but could not find a cure for their problem. A relative of theirs’ suggested the woman immerse herself in a mikveh (a ritual bath), go up to the Temple Mount according to the laws of purity, and there – whisper a prayer in her heart – maybe she would be worthy to get pregnant. After a few months the woman decided to take his advice, and in that same month she became pregnant.

 

In truth, this is not surprising: after all, the Temple Mount is the holiest site in the world, the ‘talpiot‘ [a compound of the Hebrew words tel (hill) and piyot (mouths)], “the hill to which all mouths turn in prayer”, and therefore prayers on the Temple Mount have more of an impact than anywhere else.

 

From the Temple Mount to Orlando

 

The problem on the Temple Mount, the site of our Holy Temple, is the source and prototype of the problem facing the world in recent years. For example, in Orlando, a Muslim murdered forty-nine people, and wounded dozens more. During the attack, the murderer swore allegiance to ISIS and Islam, declaring that he had killed in their name. In response, U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama and those who think like him, saw fit to address the issue of gun control, hatred of LGBT, and mental health problems of those suffering from unemployment – but by no means did he agree to utter the words “Islamic terrorism.” When a problem is not identified, it cannot be solved.

 

It’s fair to assume that if Israel dealt properly with the difficult problem of the Temple Mount, closing the mosques and arresting inciters and rioters at the slightest trace of disturbances or agitation, we would serve as a moral and a practical example to the entire world about how to deal with riotous, violent, and murderous Islam. For in truth, the entire world looks to the State of Israel which has had to deal with Arab hatred and terrorism from its inception. But when we act feebly on the Temple Mount, several moral and conscientious people throughout the world think there is no way to deal with the problem, and the terrorist attacks continue, and are intensifying.

 

Britain and the European Union

 

The same problem (Islamist violence), whose name is forbidden to be mentioned according to a considerable number of world leaders, led to the majority of UK citizens to vote in favor of leaving the European Union. Even the pollsters and commentators are apparently prohibited from mentioning the name of the problem, and for that reason erred in all their assessments.

 

Out of a policy of multiculturalism, equality, and aiding the powerless, the leadership of the European Union in Brussels urges EU countries to accept millions of Muslim immigrants, ignoring the incitement voiced by many of the Muslim immigrants against European culture, while at the same time, adopting a tolerant approach towards increasing acts of Muslim violence. In practice, out of a belief in values they consider as liberal, the EU ignores the terrible moral injustices that breed hotbeds of crime, violence, exploitation, prostitution, drug trafficking and terrorism.

They fail to understand that the conflict is not a result of different types of food or music, or even because of the language of prayer or religious practices, but because there are numerous Muslims who hold a fundamental, religious position of hatred and contempt for those who are not Muslim, and this belief allows them to exploit non-Muslims without remorse. This was how they behaved in the past, and there is absolutely no reason for them to act differently in the future.

 

Blindness in Analyzing the Results of the Referendum

 

When I read the results of the referendum and the media commentaries surrounding it, I could not believe how “political correctness” had blinded the commentators, to the point where even the so-called “experts” are incapable of analyzing the results correctly. All of them mentioned that among the young voters and the residents of London, a majority were in favor of remaining in the EU, as though to say the marginal British population had decided for the “real” Britain’s – the Londoner’s – and adults had decided on the future of young people, without having to bear responsibility for their own decision.

 

I was forced to conduct my own search for various sources of information on the Internet, and I found that already in 2012, it had become clear that the white British population had turned into the minority in London, and their numbers stood at 44.9% of the cities’ residents. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of immigrants have moved to London. I found that the proportion of Muslims in all of Britain is approaching 5%, and I found that the percentage of young people among Muslims is much higher than among the British, such that the young Muslims total about 10%, while among adults, they number only a few percent.

 

Based on these facts it can be assessed that in London as well, the majority of Britain’s voted for leaving the Union, but for obvious reasons, Muslims and other immigrants voted in favor of remaining. However, “political correctness” has stupefied the commentators and politicians opinions, and as a result, they talk about a variety of different reasons – everything except the main problem – the EU’s attitude towards Muslim immigrants.

 

Israel also suffers greatly from the EU’s position, which does not recognize our national rights to our own land – similar to their not recognizing European peoples’ right to maintain their national character. For someone who finds this consoling – the first ones to suffer from this policy are most probably the EU citizens themselves.

 

The Settlers: The Vanguard in the Struggle for Morality and Justice

 

A reader might ask: What can I do in face of all this? There are a number of answer: First, to strengthen ourselves in the study of ‘Torat emet’ (true Torah); to continue fulfilling the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the land); to go up to the Temple Mount in purity according to halakha; and at election times, to vote for trustworthy representatives who are capable of advancing worthy causes.

 

The learning of ‘Torat emet’ is the type of study which aspires for ‘tikun olam’ (repairing the world), i.e., the realization of the values ​​of justice and truth – for the ‘clal’ (the collective) and the ‘prat’ (the individual), for Israel, and for all of the nations.

 

Through the mitzvah of ‘yishuv ha’aretz’, we fulfill the Torah’s values ​​in practice. For all the beautiful ideas in the Torah do not count if there aren’t Jews who are willing to fulfill them devotedly. In the face of lies, violence, terror and hatred of Israel stand the settlers – inhabiting the neighborhoods surrounding the Temple Mount and throughout Judea and Samaria, and in their very existence, declare to the entire world that there are still men of truth and faith who do not capitulate to terror, hatred, and boycotts. Their enemies falsely accuse them every type of libel in the world, but they remain true to their beliefs and values, continuing to work and succeed. They do not give up on the right, the mitzvah, or the obligation to settle the land bequeathed by God to their forefathers and themselves, but on the other hand, do not wish ill for any Arab or Muslim who is willing to act decently.

 

When the people of Israel, by way of its’ Torah scholars and settlers, succeed in withstanding all the pressures, and are able to expand the settlement of Judea and Samaria, this provides all the positive forces in the world the faith and power not to give in to terrorism and violence, and to be prepared to fight for justice and faith. The stronger we become in the mitzvah of settling of the land and recognizing its value, the more instrumental we will be in helping the entire world to fight the wicked, and to base their lives on justice, morality, and peace.

 

Dr. Irving Moskowitz, of Blessed Memory

 

This column is dedicated to the ‘ilui neshama’ (elevation of the soul) of the late philanthropist and physician, Dr. Irving Moskowitz z”l, one of the exceptional people who was worthy of accurately diagnosing the ills of Western society, and understood that the remedy for these maladies will come from the most holy places – from Jewish settlement surrounding the Temple Mount, and from the study halls of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael.

 

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at: http://en.yhb.org.il/

Milk and Meat in World Politics

In accordance with the principle of the prohibition to mix milk with meat, it is also forbidden to mix insignificant matters with important ones, and major and minor considerations * For the communists all ideals ​​were equal; consequently, they rejected important considerations in favor of economic equality alone * In the liberation of South Africa the value of life itself was overridden by the desire to correct discrimination; until today, death and crime run rampant * The I.D.F. Deputy Chief of Staff, Yair Golan, confused the killing of Jews and the killing of Arabs, ignoring the moral disparity between the two people’s attitudes towards murder * The world’s leftists must forgo the relatively easy question of individual rights, in order to save the world from the overall Muslim threat

The Idea Arising from the Prohibition of Mixing Milk and Meat

Last week I began developing the idea arising out of the prohibition of cooking milk and meat, according to which it is forbidden to mix considerations of different magnitudes. I will now attempt to examine the terrible damage this sort of mixing causes the state of affairs of various nations.

In order to understand the matter properly, we must first review some of the uniqueness of this prohibition: meat alone is kosher, milk alone is kosher, but together, they are explicitly and strictly forbidden, for not only is such a mixture forbidden to be eaten, it is also forbidden to cook milk and meat for a non-Jew, and it is forbidden to receive benefit from such a mixture. Our Sages went even further and added a ‘sayag’ (a safeguard, or ‘fence’) to this serious prohibition, and forbade eating milk after having eaten meat. They even went as far as to prohibit a person eating meat to have milk on the table at the same time, or vice versa, lest he forget and eat them together. We see, therefore, that our Sages found it necessary to strongly reinforce the separation of meat and milk.

As I wrote last week, meat is considered a food for adults. Its’ preparation to be eaten is complex and complicated involving ritual slaughter; milk, on the other hand, is basically considered a food for infants, whose preparation and consumption is simple. Meat represents considerable and complex existential considerations, while milk expresses relatively small and simple considerations. Each one of them in its place is good and proper, but a person who mixes them confuses judgment and destroys the moral capacity to examine the world appropriately and work to repair it.

The Left’s Concept of Equality

The major sin of the ideological Left is that it equates and mixes everything together – questions of lesser magnitude about the conditions of individual’s lives, with the big questions about the very existence of life and death. They also equate and mix relatively small questions about salaries and profits, with existential questions about the basic motivation of an individual to initiate and develop.

The first motivation is, of course, positive. There are many problematic injustices in the world – exploiters who earn more than they deserve, and hard-working people who are underpaid. But the attempt to solve all the problems in one formula that equates everyone’s rights and financial status, while doing away with all elements hindering this one-dimensional equality – such as religious faith, personal talents, and free enterprise – is a terribly simplistic solution with disastrous results.

Like in the sin of cooking milk with meat in which everything gets spoiled, also, countries that were ruled by an exceptionally problematic monarchy, received instead a dreadful dictatorship that damaged the lives and basic rights of the individual far beyond what they had previously experienced (similar to the spoilage of meat), and also affected the quality of life of all the residents (spoilage of the milk). This is still occurring in North Korea.

The Experience of Russia and China

For several years in Russia people began realizing that the attempt at communism had led to disastrous harm in their personal lives and rights, yet even upon taking leave of communism , the Russian’s erred by mixing considerations of dissimilar degrees. Instead of first worrying about life itself, preserving governmental and social stability and orderly economic life (in the sense of ‘meat’) and in a gradual and moderate process release more individual rights (in the sense of ‘milk’), they treated everything equally, and created terrible chaos. The result of the early years was appalling: Unemployment soared, all sectors of industrial and agricultural production plummeted, crime ran rampant, millions of children and youth became homeless and began roaming the streets searching for food and alcohol, and the ill failed to receive treatment due to a lack of medicines and medical equipment. Life expectancy dropped by nearly ten years. Although formally the situation of human rights was excellent, life itself was appalling. For more than ten years they have tried to reverse the damage caused by affording full and unchecked rights, and in most areas they have not been able to return to the general standard of living that prevailed in the Soviet Union before its dissolution.

By contrast, in China they also realized that the communist system had failed, but there, they are conducting a gradual process of unchaining the economy and burden of government. Life expectancy is on the rise, the economy is growing, people are not dying of starvation, and law is maintained (in the sense of ‘meat’ being kosher). True, China’s human rights record is awful (in the sense of ‘milk’ being spoiled), but it is in a constant process of moderate improvement, with the objective of developing a leadership that can lead the country to prosperity, freedom and liberty, in accordance with Chinese tradition.

South Africa

An additional example of the terrible consequences of mixing milk with meat can be learned from the experience of South Africa. Undeniably, the discrimination against black people there was awful, and the white regime should have worked vigorously and wisely to improve their situation until they reached complete equality. But it should not have been forgotten that the white government maintained law and order, and provided sustenance and healthcare on a relatively high level for all of the population. Rectifying discrimination is in the sense of ‘milk’, compared with life itself, which is in the sense of ‘meat’.

However leftist groups, with good intentions, provoked fury throughout Western countries to condemn and boycott South Africa. When confronted with the argument that a radical change would hurt the very existence of the organized and responsible regime, in the sense of what our Sages said: “Pray for the welfare of the government, because if people had no fear of it, they would swallow each other alive” (Avodah Zara 4a), they replied: ‘Nothing justifies prejudice and discrimination, and it is the duty of every moral person to fight against them with all their might to change at once and essentially, the legal status of the blacks.’ By doing so, they cooked meat with milk. The abysmal results were summarized by the journalist Adi Garsiel in his column in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, Dec. 12, 2013:

“Every day in South Africa 50 people are murdered. In other words, every three days more people are killed there than in Israel in a year. And even when comparing the statistics by population size (in South Africa there about 53 million inhabitants), the results are gloomy: The murder rate there is 15 times higher than in Israel. In a survey conducted four years ago, 25% of men admitted to having participated in a rape. According to one estimate, there are half a million rapes annually in the country. The AIDS epidemic is rampant there, with approximately 5.5 million residents suffering from the virus, or carriers of it. The unemployment situation is bleak: 28% of the work force in South Africa is unemployed (approximately 50% of young people are out of work). Rampant crime has caused a mass exodus of one million white residents. Many of those who remained, including the country’s Jewish population, live in fortified compounds and secluded neighborhoods.”

“For the past twenty years, life expectancy in South Africa has declined by about 15 years on average. In 1992, the last year of apartheid, life expectancy of the general population stood at 64.5; twenty years later, it stood at 49.5 – the second-to-last place out of more than 220 countries.

Everyone suffered, and still suffer, from the implementation of equality laws in an uncontrolled manner; however, the blacks were hurt more than the whites. First and foremost, life and order should have been maintained in spite all the problems (in the sense of ‘meat’), while at the same time, work to gradually improve the conditions and rights of the blacks (in the sense of ‘milk’).

The Obscene Words of the Deputy Chief of Staff

The remarks of the Deputy Chief of Staff on Holocaust Remembrance Day, according to which he sees developments in Israeli society that are reminiscent of the years before the Holocaust, also violated the mixing of milk with meat. One can criticize various symptoms in Israeli society, but to compare them to Nazi Germany is an appalling crime.

How can one compare, or even find a similarity, between the Nazi beliefs, which called for the need to eradicate an entire people from the face of the earth and subjugate scores of nations, fixed these evil positions in legislation and even mobilized the German people and its cronies to wage war for it –  to the situation of the State of Israel, which has found itself in a battle of survival against the Arab enemy for over a hundred years during which from time-to-time, a minute number of individuals break the law and carry out criminal acts against the Arabs.

Leftists like to equate everything by saying: “Murder, is murder, is murder.” This is not true! There is a difference between murder stemming from a systematic worldview and supported by a broad population, and murder stemming from violent individuals whom all of society condemns.

The Moral Abyss between Israel and the Arabs

The gap between Israeli and Arab society is beyond belief. The accepted leaders amongst the Arabs as being moderate (PA), award payments to families of terrorists and name city squares and streets after them. Key elements in Arab society support parts of the Nazi ideology. The Mufti, who became the role model for them, passionately joined in support of the Nazis and in a meeting with Hitler, may his name be blotted out, requested that when Germany conquered the Land of Israel, the Arabs would be given the right to kill and annihilate all the Jews. By contrast, in Israeli society there is not one group of people that supports the murder of Arabs not within the framework of the army, and a war of defense.

Nevertheless, the Deputy Chief of Staff uttered these slanderous remarks. He is probably used to reading such vile things in the ‘Ha’aretz’ newspaper, to the point where they have become standard for him, without giving thought to their awful meaning, and that’s why he said such despicable things in his speech. Had he understood the severity of what he said, he would have realized the need to apologize and resign, or at the very least, regret and apologize publicly and completely to the Jewish people.

The Left’s Mistake in Relation to Islam

The world is currently facing a severe threat posed by ideological and violent Muslim activism. In order to deal with it properly, we must realize that we are talking about a wide-ranging clash of cultures, which, to a certain extent, necessitates treatment similar to that of rules for times of emergency. In spite of this, leftist intellectuals still equate and mix-up between the overall threat and that of individual crimes, and as a result, attempts to protect the rights of individual Muslims impairs the ability of the West and the moderate forces in Islam to fight and curb extremist Islam, and consequently, the whole lot gets damaged and ruined. Islamic fighters are strengthened by this to continue to sabotage, harm, destroy and demolish, and in the meantime, the living conditions and individual rights in all countries suffer – it begins in Islamic countries, and is spreading with waves of immigration to Western countries, as well.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at: http://en.yhb.org.il/

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The Deeper Significance of Milk and Meat

The Torah prohibition of milk and meat is more stringent than other prohibitions * Our Sages added numerous “fences” to the prohibition, seeing as both milk and meat are found in the kitchen, and can be easily mixed * Meat is on a higher spiritual level, heavy, and more complex, whereas milk is simple and uncomplicated * Rabbi Natan of Breslov explains: Different levels should not be mixed – the eminent rabbis should deal with the big questions * Rabbi Kook magnanimously dealt with the issues of our generation; rabbis who opposed him dealt with trivialities and caused damage * Failure to differentiate between considerations of varying magnitudes is expressed in many areas, including Leftist organizations

In recent months, I have been fortunate to study the halakhas of milk and meat and mixtures of the two. This article shares some of the thoughts emerging from this study.

The Severity of the Prohibition of Milk and Meat and its’ Numerous “Fences”

At the outset, it is important to note that the Torah was especially strict about the prohibition of milk and meat, for not only is it forbidden to eat milk and meat that was cooked together, but it is also forbidden to cook milk and meat together for a non-Jew, or to receive benefit from such a mixture.

Our Sages went further and placed numerous ‘sayagim‘ (safeguards, literally fences) for the prohibition of milk and meat.

-The type of meat included in the Biblical prohibition consisted of the flesh of behemot (domestic animals), while our Sages extended the prohibition to also include the meat of chayot (wild animals) and poultry.

-Not only that, they forbade eating milk and meat even without their having been cooked together.

-Furthermore, they also prohibited baking bread with meat or milk products, lest one eat the dairy bread with meat, or vice versa.

-Moreover, they prohibited eating dairy food for six hours after eating meat (according to the majority of poskim).

-What’s more, they determined that when a person eats meat, he should not have dairy food on the table, and when he eats dairy, he should not have meat on the table, lest he forget and eat both of them together.

Reinforcing the Separation of Meat and Milk

Seemingly, one could ask: It is well known that our Sages did not make a gezerah (a decree) on another gezerah. Why, in the case of the prohibition of milk and meat, did they add one gezerah upon another in order to safeguard the Torah prohibition?

When it comes to the prohibition of milk and meat, our Sages were extremely concerned about potential stumbling blocks, because separately, milk and meat are both permitted and are regularly found in the kitchen, and thus, can be easily mixed together. Had our Sages not made one gezerah on top of another, the basic mitzvah would have been breached. Therefore, all the gezerah’s together are considered a single gezerah, designed to reinforce the separation of milk and meat.

The Difference between Milk and Meat

Meat is a heavy type of food with a very significant status, and our attitude towards it is complex and complicated. In order to prepare meat for eating, one must first choose a kosher animal; then one must slaughter it properly according to halakha, check that it is not treif (ritually unfit to be eaten), clean the flesh from blood, milk, and forbidden tendons, and even after the meat is declared kosher, preparing it for eating is arduous, usually involving cooking or grilling it over a fire. Even eating, chewing, and digesting meat is a demanding task.

In contrast, milk is a light and simple food. There is no need for any halakhic process in order to make it kosher for consumption, and drinking it is effortless. Even if cheese or yogurt is made from it, it is still much easier to digest than meat.

Meat is an adult food, whereas milk is for infants. Meat expresses a new stage in life, while milk expresses the growth and development from the previous stage.

Meat originates from a higher spiritual world, and therefore, receives its expression in this world in the form of an actual living animal, and its preparation requires the taking of life by slaughter. In contrast, milk emanates from a lower spiritual world, and its preparation does not involve the taking of life.

The Difference between an Eminent and an Ordinary Rabbi

Rabbi Natan, a disciple of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, in Likutei Halachot (Basar v’ Chalav 5) explains that meat is analogous to an eminent rabbi, and milk, to an ordinary rabbi. A person who goes to an ordinary rabbi in order to receive guidance in significant matters, is comparable to one who mixes milk and meat, rendering the entire mixture forbidden for eating or for benefit.

In his words: “For in truth, a person who draws close to an ordinary rabbi, even though he (the ordinary rabbi) is on a much higher level than himself, and in comparison, is considered a tzaddik (a righteous person), nevertheless, not only is the rabbi unable to cure his profound ills, seeing as someone of a lower status cannot heal the enormous ills of the soul – he even causes him great damage. All the more so when the ordinary rabbi is a ‘ba’al machloket (a person of strife), disputing the true tzaddik, who is on an exceedingly higher level… and the ordinary rabbi has no understanding of routes or pathways of drawing Divine knowledge into the world… for he himself has yet to reach even the simplest insights (in these matters), as one sees and understands from his speech and teachings, (when he talks about the big issues, he) says things that even school-children have a better understanding of…” and as a result he stumbles, and leads his followers astray.

Understanding the Difference

In other words, the eminent rabbi is one who understands the entire Torah, sees the big picture of the world, in the sense of ‘Olam Ha’Ba’ (the World to Come), and as a result, is able to tackle the big questions, and also instruct and educate people to find their ‘tikun’ and path in the world. In contrast, an ordinary rabbi knows how to teach Talmud, halakha and ethics, but does not understand the entire picture. His knowledge is in accordance with the limited ‘Olam Ha’zeh’ (the present world), and therefore, is unable to contend with the big questions. After learning the general path from an eminent rabbi, he can be extremely helpful in personal instruction and solving minor problems, but when he tries to solve the big questions with his limited understanding – he causes damage.

This damage is in the sense of a mixture of “milk and meat while cooking, for it is a very significant imperfection, because at that time (while cooking) the meat is intended to reach its final ‘tikun’ (perfection) which is meant to be drawn from a very high spiritual level, but when it is mixed with milk, which is in the sense of ‘life in this world’… which is in the sense of ‘mochin d’katnut d’yenika’ (literally, ‘the mind of a nursing infant’, or figuratively, narrow and immature consciousness), which is when the greatest level of evil is aroused in both of them” (ibid. 5:12).

In other words, providing small answers to big questions causes all the enormous spiritual forces contained within meat to be released in evilness, with the milk as well failing to achieve its ‘tikun’, and instead of arousing humility, gentle growth and development – what emerges is arrogance and zealousness.

Rabbi Kook and His Dissenters

This is exactly what happened to the people of Israel in the last few generations regarding the clarification of major issues that arose in recent times. Rabbis who indeed were exceedingly learned and sharp-witted, but did not attain the great knowledge of God, and the depth of the meaning of existence, attempted to solve the big problems using small ideas and caused enormous harm, in the sense of ‘cooking milk and meat’.

They caused people possessing enormous powers, in the sense of ‘meat’, to distance themselves from the path of Torah in heresy and wickedness, because they failed to find in the Torah any solutions to the major problems, since the rabbis presented them with a “small”, insignificant Torah. On the other hand, they caused those with lesser powers to become arrogant and zealous, and block the way of the true Gedolim from engaging in Torah out of greatness, and bringing perfection and healing to the world.

Our teacher and mentor, Rabbi Kook ztz”l, who was the Gadol (most eminent rabbi) in recent generations, engaged in clarifying the big questions while dealing with the essential spiritual issues, and out of this greatness, addressed topics that emerged anew, such as the value of man, society, nationalism, the Land of Israel, science and the economy. Other rabbis dealt with these questions – or some of them – out of an understanding of the magnitude of the task and the need of the generation, but none were like Rabbi Kook, who set forth a complete, profound, and lofty doctrine (the difference between them was somewhat like the difference between the Ari HaKadosh and the rest of the kabbalists in his time).

When ordinary rabbis who had not reached that level attempted to clarify the major issues with ‘mochin d’katnut’ (narrow, or constricted consciousness), while at the same time arousing dissent against Rabbi Kook, they caused immense harm.

This is exactly what happened when ordinary rabbis dealt with questions of human values, nationalism, the Land of Israel, science and parnasa (earning a living) ‘b’katnut’, or in other words, with a narrow understanding. Instead of seeing the magnitude of the Divine light revealed in these issues when dealt with through Torah instruction, they saw in them only problems.

The fundamental attitude towards these values must be determined ‘b’gadlut’ (out of greatness), whereas the practical means of achieving them requires detailed, provisional, and educational considerations.

The Sin of Failing to Differentiate between Matters of Various Proportions

In short, the prohibition of milk and meat comes to teach us that it is forbidden to mix matters of two different orders of magnitude. Every consideration is very import within its own framework, but when mixed – all of them are completely ruined.

For example, the color of one’s furniture and walls of his house are important, and for someone who is sensitive to beauty and form – it is fitting to invest time and thought as to what colors to choose. But if a person who is unemployed is offered a good, challenging, and well-paying job but refuses to accept the job offering because the walls of his intended office are painted bright green instead of light blue – then something is seriously wrong with him.

Similarly, if someone’s shirt-fringe gets torn, it is appropriate to sew it, or buy a new shirt; but if a person’s shirt-fringe gets torn while having to rush someone to the hospital, but nevertheless, he busies himself trying to fix it, or rummages around looking for another shirt – because, how could someone possibly go out with a torn shirt? – it is a sign that he lacks reasonable judgment.

Meat alone is good; milk alone is good; but mixing them together is strictly forbidden.

Leftist Positions – Mixing Matters of Different Magnitudes

In general, it can be said that the positions of the Leftists for generations have been based on comparing matters of different magnitudes, and mixing them together.

Attempting to correct economic injustices between the wealthy and the working class is important and commendable; but when coming to redress problems of minor magnitude by means of damaging substantial, ethical paradigms of a higher degree, involving an individual’s responsibility over his own livelihood and fate – they mix milk with meat, cause serious moral injustices, and cast entire nations into desperate poverty. And the very same manual laborers whom the Leftist activists sought to improve their conditions and integrity, are forced to lose ten years off their lives in shame and wretchedness.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

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The Laws of Chag Shavuot

There is a unique mitzvah of joy, both spiritual and physical, on Chag Shavuot* When Shavuot falls on Motzei Shabbat as it does this year, Seudah Shilishit should be eaten earlier, and preparations from Shabbat to Chag are prohibited *
Showering on Shabbat and Chag * When, and how to properly prepare and light the candles for Chag Shavuot * ‘Birkot HaShachar’ for someone who remained awake all night * Eating and drinking during the night of Shavuot and before the morning prayers
* The custom of eating dairy foods as an expression of the sweetness of the Torah, and its ability to turn impure to pure

The Joy of Chag Shavuot – Spiritual and Physical

Chag Shavuot enjoys an exceptional status above and beyond that of other holidays; therefore, even Rabbi Eliezer the eminent Tanna, who is of the opinion that men of virtue should primarily dedicate Yom Tov to Torah study, and eating for them on Yom Tov is only so they are not considered as having afflicted themselves, also agrees that on Shavuot, one must partake in an important festive meal since “it is the day in which the Torah was given” (Pesachim 68b). Nevertheless, the halakha goes according to Rabbi Yehoshua, who holds that on all the holidays there is a mitzvah to divide the day into two – half of the day should be devoted to the Beit HaMidrash (learning hall), and half to festive meals and rest.

The unique virtue of the Torah is that it is designed to instruct the path of undivided emuna (faith), and continue blessing and vitality into all walks of life, both spiritual and physical. Therefore, the joy of Shavuot must be expressed both in Torah study, but also in eating and drinking. This is the complete ‘tikun’ (perfection), which encompasses both the soul and body. At first, the revelation of Divinity through spiritual manifestations from above absorbed by the neshama (soul) which guides the body, and thus, the deep-rooted fabric of the human body and its sensations are revealed. Therefore, complete ‘d’veykute‘ (attachment) to God encompasses both the soul and the body, as will be the case after ‘techiyat ha’meytim’ (the resurrection of the dead), when the soul will return to the body, and Godliness will be revealed completely on all levels.

Therefore, the joy of Shavuot should be greatly enhanced, for through the Torah we are called upon to perfect the material side of life as well in all its diversity, physical sensations, and yearnings — even those which at first glance, appear to be undesirable. This foundation is alluded to in that on Shavuot, the offering of the ‘Shtei Ha’Lechem’ (the ‘Two Loaves’ of bread) that were brought in the Holy Temple, which were made of ‘chametz‘ (leaven) and as we know, ‘chametz‘ alludes to the character traits of pride and the evil inclination. But by means of the Torah, the evil inclination is perfected, and thus, it is offered as a sacrifice on Shavuot.

When to Eat ‘Seudah Shlisheet’

Since this year Chag Shavuot falls out on Motzei Shabbat, ‘l’chatchila‘ (ideally), it is best to eat ‘seudah shlisheet’ (the third Shabbat meal) earlier, before the last three hours of the Shabbat day. Preferably, ‘seudah shleeshit’ should be held a little after ‘chatzot Yom Shabbat‘ (midday), i.e., at 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon. If one did not do so, he should nevertheless eat ‘seudah shlisheet’, even during the hours close to the beginning of Yom Tov, but should try to limit his eating so as to have an appetite for the evening meal of Yom Tov.

Laws of Preparing from Shabbat to Yom Tov that Falls on Motzei Shabbat

When Yom Tov falls on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) as it does this year, one must be careful not to prepare anything from Shabbat to Yom Tov, since Shabbat is intended for holiness and rest, and not for preparations for another day. Therefore, a person who troubles himself on Shabbat by preparing something for a weekday or a holiday – belittles its dignity (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 22: 15-16).

Consequently, it is forbidden to wash dirty dishes from Shabbat to use on Yom Tov; only after Shabbat has departed can dishes be washed in order use them on Yom Tov. It is also forbidden to clean the table on Shabbat in honor of the holiday, but the table can be cleaned so that it is tidy on Shabbat, even though this will be beneficial for the holiday.

It is forbidden to place food on a ‘platta‘ (hot plate) on Shabbat to be eaten at the evening meal of Yom Tov, but only after Shabbat is over and one says, “Baruch ha’mavdil ben kodesh l’kodesh” (“Blessed be He who distinguishes between holy and holy”). Only then is one permitted to start organizing the needs of ‘ochel nefesh’ (food preparation allowed on Yom Tov), and to cook and heat the food.

‘B’sha’at ha’dachak’ (times of distress), on Shabbat one is permitted to perform routine actions that do not involve great effort, for the sake of the Chag. Therefore, when waiting for Shabbat to depart will cause a significant delay in the Yom Tov meal, it is permissible to take frozen food out of the freezer on Shabbat.

Candle Lighting

It is forbidden to light the holiday candles before ‘tzait ha’chochavim’ (nightfall), rather, one should wait until the stars have appeared in the sky and Shabbat has departed, and then say, “Baruch ha’mavdil ben kodesh l’kodesh“, and light the candles.

Since it is prohibited to light a new fire on Yom Tov, one must prepare before Shabbat a candle that will burn for more than twenty-four hours from which one can light the Yom Tov candles. If one did not prepare such a candle, he should transfer fire from one of his neighbor’s candles to light the Yom Tov candles.

It is permissible to push the candle forcibly into the candlestick holder, even though this causes the candle to be slightly crushed. Similarly, one may remove by knife the remaining wax in the candlestick which interferes with the placement of the new candle, and one is allowed to remove the metal disc stuck to the bottom of the glass cup in which ‘neronim‘ (candles that turn into oil) were used. It is also permitted to insert a floating wick into a floating cork.

But it is forbidden to heat a wax candle to attach it to a candlestick holder, lest one transgress the rabbinic decree of ‘ma’rey’ach‘(spreading or smearing), which is a ‘toledah‘ of ‘mi’ma’chake‘(scraping/sanding a surface to achieve smoothness). It is also forbidden to cut or file the bottom of the candle to insert it into the candlestick because of the prohibition ‘mi’cha’taych‘(cutting any object to a specific size).

Showering on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Since Shabbat and Yom Tov are adjacent, and many people are used to showering every day, those who feel the need to shower on Shabbat afternoon are permitted to wash themselves in warm water – i.e., water in which they do not suffer from its coldness, but on the other hand, is not hot. One should not wash in hot water because of the rabbinical decree of ‘mirchatz‘. But on Chag, since bathing is ‘shavei l’kol nefesh‘ (equal for all), one is allowed to wash even in hot water, provided the water was heated in a permissible way, such as by a ‘dude shemesh’ (solar heater), or by a Shabbat-timer (Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 14:8; Moadim 5:10).

In addition, after showering one should remember not to brush one’s hair, because brushing sheds hair, which is a Torah prohibition.

The Washing of Hands for Those Who Remained Awake All Night

Even a person who remains awake all night must perform ‘nitilat yadayim‘ (washing of the hands) before morning prayers, however, the poskim were divided on whether to recite a blessing over this washing, or not. According to the Ashkenazi custom, it is best is to relieve oneself before prayer, and to touch one of the covered areas of one’s body which had become a bit sweaty since one’s last bathing, and thus, be obligated to wash one’s hands with a blessing. However, according to Sephardic custom, one does not recite a blessing over this washing of the hands in any case.

‘Birkot Ha’Torah’ for those who Remain Awake all Night

According to the vast majority of poskim, even if one did not sleep at all during the previous day, since he comes to pray Shacharit (the Morning Prayers) of the new day, he must recite ‘Birkot Ha’Torah’ (Blessings over the Torah). However, since there are a few poskim who hold that if one did not sleep at all during the day, he should not recite ‘Birkot Ha’Torah’, ‘l’chatchila’, it is good to hear the blessings recited by someone who slept, and have ‘kavana‘ (intention) to fulfill his obligation by hearing them.

‘Birkot HaShachar’

Even those who remain awake all night recite ‘Birkot HaShachar’ (the Morning Blessings), because ‘Birkot HaShachar’ were fixed as prayers of gratitude for the general good in the world, and not just the self-interests of each and every individual. Therefore, even a blind person recites the blessing ‘po’kay’ach ivrim’ (‘Who gives sight to the blind’), and one who did not sleep recites the blessing ‘zokayf ke’fufim’ (‘Who straightens the bent’). However, regarding the blessings of ‘Elokei Neshama’ and ‘Ha’ma’avir Sheyna’, there are some authorities who hold that a person who did not sleep should not recite these blessings, because these blessings are recited in the singular, as individual thanks for the return of one’s soul, and the passing of sleep. Therefore, it is proper to hear them from someone who actually did sleep, and have ‘kavana’ to fulfill one’s obligation.

When there is no one to recite the blessings, according to the majority of poskim, one should recite the blessings himself, because although they are recited in the singular, they also contain thanks for the general good – that in the morning, God returns souls to those who have slept, and wakes them from their slumber. This is the custom of all Sephardim, and some Ashkenazim. There are other Ashkenazim whose custom is to be ‘machmir‘ (stringent), and due to the ‘safek‘ (doubt), recite the blessings without ‘Shem and Malchut’ (“Hashem Elokenu Melech Ha’olam). An Ashkenazi who does not know what his custom is, may act according to the custom of the majority of observant Jews, and recite all the blessings himself.

In summary, according to the custom of the majority of observant Jews, those who remain awake all night recite all ‘Birkot Ha’Shachar’ and ‘Birkot Ha’Torah’. The ‘mehadrin’ (those who embellish the mitzvoth), when possible, fulfill the obligation of ‘Birkot Ha’Torah’ and the blessings “Elokei Neshama” and “Ha’Ma’avir Sheyna” by hearing them from someone who slept at night.

When to Say the Blessings

According to halakha, ‘Birkot Ha’Shachar’ and ‘Birkot Ha’Torah’ are recited close to the morning prayers. According to kabala, ‘Birkot Ha’Shachar‘ are recited after ‘chatzot ha’layla’ (midnight), and ‘Birkot Ha’Torah‘ after ‘amud ha’shachar’ (dawn).

Eating and Drinking at Night and Prior to the Morning Prayers

During the night, one may eat and drink without limitation. However, from half an hour before ‘amud ha’shachar’, it is forbidden to eat a ‘seudah’ (a meal), lest one get over-involved in his meal. This includes the prohibition of eating bread or cakes whose size is equal to, or larger, than a ‘beitza‘ (an egg), however, one may eat without ‘keviyut seudah’ (setting a meal) fruits and vegetables and cooked ‘mezanot‘ foods without limitations. From ‘amud ha’shachar’, it is forbidden to eat anything or to drink coffee or juice, and even one who had started eating or drinking beforehand – should stop. One is allowed to drink only water after ‘amud ha’shachar’. (This year on Chag Shavuot, ‘amud ha’shachar‘ is at 4:06 A.M. in Israel).

Eating Dairy Foods

Many have the custom to eat foods made out of milk and honey on Shavuot. The source of this custom stems from Ashkenaz and France, and from, there spread to many Jewish communities throughout the world. However, there are Jews who do not have this custom, like many immigrants from Yemen, Libya, Djerba, Bukhara, and Persia.

Some say the reason for the custom is because the Torah is compared to milk and honey, and our Sages said: “As the Jewish nation stood before Mount Sinai and said: ‘All that the Lord spoke, we will do and listen (‘naseh v’nishma’), at that same time, God said to them: ‘Honey and milk under your tongue.” In other words, in the merit of Israel’s agreement to accept the Torah without doubt, the words of Torah would be sweet like milk and honey in their mouths. In order to remind us of the sweetness and pleasantness of the Torah, the custom is to eat tasty and sweet dairy cakes, and dishes made with honey.

Rabbi Kook further explained that milk and honey are two foods both produced from impure entities. Honey is produced from bees which are impure insects, and milk is produced from blood which is forbidden to be eaten. Precisely because they are turned from impurity to purity, they possess a unique taste, alluding to ‘tikun olam’ (perfecting the world). And this is the virtue of the Torah, which perfects the bad sides of the world and “seasons” the evil inclination, turning it into good. This is also the virtue of the Land of Israel, and therefore it is called “the land of milk and honey.”

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at: http://en.yhb.org.il/
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We Are All Priests and Levites

The Torah sections dealing with the Tabernacle, the Priests and the Levites should be applied in all areas of life * Each person in his field of work should be a like Priest, avoiding anything that might interfere with his work * People with senior and important positions, such as in the fields of medicine or in the army, should model themselves after the High Priest who was enlisted for the sake of the public, at the expense of family * All of us, in the synagogue, at work, or in family, are like the three sons of Levi – sometimes assuming matters of holiness ourselves, like the Kehati’s, sometimes climbing to higher levels like the Gershoni’s, and at other times, remaining like the Merari’s – which is also fundamental and indispensable

 

The Work of the Tabernacle – The Prototype of Our Task in Tikun Olam

In numerous sections, the Torah goes on at length describing the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its vessels, the work of the Kohanim (priests) and the Levi’im (Levites), because the Mikdash (Holy Temple, interchangeable with Mishkan) is the quintessence of entirety, from which, as a prototype, we can learn how to engage in yishuv and tikun olam (developing and improving the world). This can be learned from the laws of Shabbat: We were commanded not to do any work – but what type of work is forbidden on Shabbat? We have learned from the Torah that all the thirty-nine types of work that the Jewish nation performed in order to build the Mishkan are considered the significant tasks in the world, and are forbidden on Shabbat, while types of work that were unnecessary for erecting the Mishkan are considered less significant, and therefore, there is no prohibition of performing them on Shabbat. The idea emerging from this teaching is that all of our work during the six week days is intended to continue the idea of the Mishkan into the entire world, until the whole world turns into a Mishkan for the Shechina (Divine Presence) – for Divine values, such as the values of truth and kindness, charity and mercy; so that wherever a person works le’Shem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven), with honesty and kindness, to add and blessing in the world, the Shechina will dwell.

Continuing the Sanctity of the Mikdash to All Types of Work

Similarly, being that the mitzvoth of leket, shich’chah, and pe’ah (gifts to the poor from the fields) are mentioned in the middle of the Torah’s detailing of the Mo’adim (appointed holidays), we learned that: “One who gives leket, shich’chah, and pe’ah properly, is considered as if he built the Beit HaMikdash and brought his sacrifices in it” (Torat Kohanim 13:12). Thus, we see that a person who works in his field diligently and with integrity, continues the sanctity of the Mikdash into his field, and when he leaves leket, shich’chah, and pe’ah for the poor, he erects, as it were, a mizbayach (alter) in the middle of his field, and brings sacrifices to God.

Thus, for example, even a person who works in a bank, if he conducts himself honestly and diligently, in order to contribute his share to the economic development and improvement of the world, he thereby continues the sanctity of the Mikdash into the bank. And if he goes the extra mile and troubles himself beyond his obligation in order to benefit others with good advice, he builds there, so to speak, a mizbayach, and brings sacrifices to God on it.

All Work is Similar to the Service of the Kohanim

Just as the Kohanim must consecrate themselves for the service in the Mikdash, and avoid things that may distract them from their work, so too, each person must find moral value in his work, and like the Kohen, purify and sanctify himself for it. If he is a teacher or a doctor, he should take care to sleep well, so he can fulfill his duty properly. If he is an engineer, he should not rest on his laurels, but expand his knowledge and direct his energies in order to add benefit and blessing in his work. This is true for all types of work.

The Mesirut of the Kohanim Gedolim

There are special individuals who are similar to Kohanim Gedolim (High Priests), such as a doctor with a rare life-saving capability, who must sanctify himself like the Kohen Gadol entering the Holy of Holies, and not leave the sanctuary of his work, even for the purpose of his relatives. And even if in the middle of his son’s canopy, he is suddenly called to the hospital, he will quickly excuse himself from his son, wife, and guests, and everyone understands why he must leave; they will escort him with prayers for success in fulfilling his mission, to save the patient presently fluttering between life and death.

The commander of an elite army unit should also be ready at all times for any call, and if while accompanying his wife to give birth he is suddenly called to save Jewish lives from the hands of our enemies, he will calmly part from her. And just as all of Israel would pray for the Kohen Gadol to exit the Holy of Holies peacefully, so too, while giving birth his wife prays for her husband, that he return from the battle in peace, to see their new-born child.

Kehat – Bearers of Sacred Values

Likewise, we can learn from the order of the carrying of the Mishkan by the three Levite families – Gershon, Kehat, and Merari – as a prototype for all types of work in the world.

The B’nei Kehat (sons of Kehat) merited carrying the holy vessels used in the Mishkan, which expressed the entirety of essential ideas: the Ark in the Kodesh Ha’Kodashim (the Holy of Holies) meant the Torah. The Shulchan (the Inner Table), indicated parnasah (livelihood), whose source originates from holiness. The menorah, which alluded to the various chochmot (knowledge), also originating from the holy. The mizbayakh ha’penimi (Inner Altar), symbolizing prayers and longing for God, and the mizbayakh ha’chitzoni (Outer Altar), which expressed Israel’s misirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) for their faith in God.

In all frameworks of work, there are those who warrant being involved with the central function, and then, those who assist them. B’nei Kehat merited engaging in the central function – bearing the holy vessels, which expressed all of the sacred values.

Indeed, from the family of Kehat came Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen – from whom all the Kohanim emanate.

Gershon – Bearers of the Outer Covering, Ohr Makif

B’nei Gershon carried the outer covering of the Mishkan – its tapestries, the over-tent and roof, and the enclosure’s hangings. The outer covering of the Mishkan carried great importance because all of the vessels, each one with its specific significance, received inspiration from its surroundings.

To put it differently, the Mishkan’s vessels allude to ohr ha’penimi (the inner-light), and its tapestries allude to ohr ha-makif (surrounding light). In order to understand this matter, it must first be explained that Divine Light which God shines on us, is divided into two components: ohr penimi, and ohr makif. The perceptible component is the ohr penimi, which we are able to assimilate through our thoughts and emotions, and which, in practice, guides our lives. The component that is beyond our ability to absorb, acts as an ohr makif, which, although unable to encompass, envelops our beings and gives us inspiration, and has a decisive influence on our lives.

One of the tasks of the Levites was to sing and play music while people brought their sacrifices. Songs give expression to a longing for something beyond our perception. Kehat engaged in the comprehensible, whereas B’nei Gershon expressed the longing for what is beyond the surface. Even their name, Gershon, alludes to this: Gershon stems from the Hebrew word ger (stranger), alluding to a person who lives his life as a foreigner in this world, his soul longing for closeness to God and the Divine light. Such longing is expressed in songs filled with yearning for a return to Gan Eden.

Merari – The Arduous Burden

B’nei Merari were left with the hard work – bearing the heaviest burden: to carry the beams, crossbars, pillars, and bases of the Mishkan, through all the difficult and arduous paths of the desert.

Seemingly, the lives of B’nei Merari were bitter; their job was hard, backbreaking, and unrewarding. The important vessels, symbolic of the ohr penimi, were in the hands of B’nei Kehat; the beautiful tapestries, suggesting the ohr makif, were in the hands of B’nei Gershon; B’nei Merari were left to carry the heavy beams which were hardly seen, since the tapestries hid them from the sight of anyone standing outside the Mishkan. Only the few Kohanim who entered the Mishkan to perform their tasks with the vessels carried by B’nei Kehat could see the beams that B’nei Merari bore with the sweat of their brow.

The beams, however, were the foundation of the Mishkan; upon them, everything stood.

B’nei Merari represents all those seemingly unpretentious people who, in truth, are the foundation of the world. They are willing to do the tough, dirty work – to stand against all the detractors. Other’s reap all the glory, but without B’nei Merari, nothing would exist. Concerning such people, it is said: “For evildoers will be cut off, but those hoping in Hashem will inherit the land…But the humble will inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace
” (Psalms 37:9-11).

Three Types of Jews in the Synagogue

The Kehat’im are indicative of people who are able to pray with total concentration, paying attention to every single word they say; they also are the ones who set the pathway in determining halakha. The Gershon’im are those who pray with great emotion – they sing with yearning and devotion, and among them number the deep-thinkers and followers of HassidutB’nei Merari, on the other hand, find it difficult to concentrate on every single word of their prayers; even the melodies don’t stir them that much. Nevertheless, they show-up to synagogue day-in and day-out, reciting all the required prayers. Sometimes they find it extremely difficult; their thoughts wander in all directions, and they fail to concentrate on their prayers. But they fulfill their duty, and say all the words of the prayers devotedly. They are the foundations of the world.

When synagogue dues must be paid – they pay. When the synagogue needs to be cleaned – they offer to do it. When prayer books need to be returned to their place, and chairs need arranging – they come forward. If a volunteer is needed to prepare tea for those learning in the evenings – they will prepare the tea. If someone needs to wake up early to open the synagogue – they will agree. On the surface, they appear simple; but in the Upper Worlds, they are highly esteemed (Pesachim 50a). There, the true level of these people is well-known, for upon them, the world exists. They express the emunah (faith) rooted beyond all the profound comprehensions of B’nei Kehat, and beyond all the emotions of B’nei Gershon.

These three types of people can be found in every society, company, family, and community. The Kehat-type people define the core, the Gershon-types, the aspirations for what is beyond obtainable, and the Merari-type people bear the burden of the entire system on their own shoulders; without them, the system would collapse.

Every Person Has These Three Features

To a certain extent, each person embodies these three features. Every so often, one is able to gain understanding of something significant, resulting in a feeling of contentment – in the sense of Kehat; occasionally, one experiences an emotional awakening, and is flooded with feelings of bliss, in the sense of Gershon. But most of the time, one has to be like Merari – doing the hard and arduous work. While doing so, one does not feel a sense of happiness. However, in the long term, a person receives the greatest satisfaction and joy precisely from the hard and demanding work.

On occasion, a person runs out of strength of being a Merari; his back becomes bent out of shape with age, and he begins to go downhill. If he does not pull himself together – he will collapse, and pass away. Without pillars, even the most important and sacred tabernacle collapses.

Three Sides of Childcare

Every mother taking care of her children definitely has moments of deep understanding with her children, in the sense of Kehat, and then there are also magical, emotional moments, in the sense of Gershon. But most of the time, caring for them is routine and demanding, devoid of understanding, or exceptional emotions, in the sense of Merari. However, without this type of care, the children will grow up wild, and all their parents’ deep understandings and emotions will not be of any help – the children will hate their parents, and themselves. The devoted care of a mother who takes attends to her children’s needs, and raises them to be good people, expresses her unending love for them. This is what the children never forget; this is what they cling to in difficult moments in their lives – even in their old age; and this is where they draw strength and emuna (faith).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

Concerning Former Minister Ya’alon

Criticism of military and security matters must be voiced because of the life-threatening concerns involved * For years, Ya’alon worked devotedly and courageously for the sake of Israel’s security, and even assisted in Jewish settlement, but failed in three fundamental areas * Complacency and unpreparedness in operation ‘Tzuk Eitan’ and in the period prior to the Second Lebanon War * Alienation of national values reflected in the onslaught against the soldier Elor Azaria, and in Ya’alon’s encouragement of the Deputy Chief of Staff * The harming of Torah values ​​and emuna in the IDF, while left-wing groups are allowed in undisturbed * Since the Oslo Accords the moral level of senior officers has declined, and this should be criticized

A Personal Preface

After the insulting directive was issued by the Defense Minister’s office calling for my banning a number of months ago, I thought to write the following article. However, I refrained from writing it, and even avoided dealing with related matters, lest I be overcritical due to my having been humiliated. At present, I feel I’ve “cooled off”, and yet I would not have published this article, seeing as it is not proper to cast a stone on someone who has fallen. However, in light of the flood of praises that have been showered on the former Defense Minister as a symbol of military success and a paragon of morality, I find myself obligated to publish it. As described below, such criticism is essential because of pikuach nefesh (the saving of lives) – physical and spiritual alike.

The Former Defense Minister

Former Defense Minister, Mr. Moshe Ya’alon, is a professional person with extensive experience, who worked dedicatedly and courageously over many years for the sake of Israel’s security. There are few people who are as intimately acquainted with Israel’s defense establishment as he is. Despite having been educated in leftist movements, he managed awakening to a certain extent from the Left’s delusions of “peace”, and even assisted in the building of Judea and Samaria. Nevertheless, unfortunately, he failed in three fundamental areas: in leading the defense forces in face of imminent threats; in causing damage to national morals, ​​and in undermining the values ​​of emuna (faith) and Torah.

Defense: The Disappointing Results of Operation ‘Tzuk Eitan

Since the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Gush Katif, the IDF was forced to conduct four rounds of fighting in Gaza (the data below was taken from Wikipedia).

The first conflict, ‘Geshmei Kiyetz’ (‘Summer Rain’), began in the summer of 2006 following the Second Lebanon War, and continued in low intensity for five months, during which daily life in communities surrounding the Gaza Strip was disrupted. Prime Minister – Ehud Olmert; Defense Minister – Peretz; Chief of Staff – Halutz; GOC – Galant. We suffered five casualties, and the enemy approximately 394 – 79 times more.

The second, ‘Oferet Yitzuka’ (Operation Cast Lead), began in the month of December 2008. Lasted 23 days, severely damaging daily civilian life in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, and causing slight damage to the economy of the South. The Prime Minister – Olmert; Defense Minister – Barak; Chief of Staff – Ashkenazi; GOC – Galant. We suffered 12 casualties, the enemy approximately 1,100 – 91 times more.

The third, ‘Amud Anan’ (Operation Pillar of Defense), in November 2012, lasted eight days while during that time, most of the communities in the South were completely paralyzed. The Prime Minister – Netanyahu; Defense Minister – Barak; Chief of Staff – Gantz; GOC – Russo. We suffered six casualties, the enemy approximately 223 – 37 times more.

Please note: now we come to the stage where Moshe Ya’alon served as Defense Minister.

The fourth, “Tzuk Eitan” (Operation Protective Edge), in the summer of 2014, lasted 50 days, causing severe and prolonged damage to daily life in all of the South, moderate damage in the Central region, and a severe blow to tourism, including the cessation of flights to Israel for two days, and an extremely heavy cost to Israel’s economy. Prime Minister – Netanyahu; Defense Minister – Ya’alon; Chief of Staff – Gantz; GOC – Turgeman. We suffered 73 casualties, the enemy approximately 2,100 – 28 times more.

Besides the heavy loss of life of our soldiers, and the severe damage caused to daily life and the economy, it became evident that the leadership attempted to ignore the threat of the tunnels, the army was unprepared for the challenges it faced, did not devise offensive plans for operations to eliminate Hamas or destroy their ability and leadership, and suffered heavier losses, over and above those suffered in previous operations and compared with enemy casualties.

The Second Lebanon War

The Second Lebanon War took place in the summer of 2006 and lasted 34 days, completely paralyzing the entire Northern area, with the majority of residents either in shelters, or evacuated to the center of the country. We suffered 165 casualties, the enemy approximately 900 – 5.4 times more. War costs were extremely heavy to Israel’s economy.

After the war it became evident that army leadership had acted with extreme complacency and negligence, and failed to identify the enemy’s capabilities. Thus, the war began without the military command having any operative programs – they even lacked updated maps. The soldiers were sent to the frontlines without proper equipment, and endangered their lives to save what the High Command had neglected. As a result of the severe conclusions of the Winograd Committee, the Defense Minister and Chief of Staff resigned, and along with them, numerous other officers.

Seeing as Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon concluded his tenure as Chief of Staff but a year before the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War, ultimately, he also was a partner in the failures of preparing the army to face the threat of Hezbollah. The same thing happened in operation ‘Tzuk Eitan‘, when it became clear that those responsible for Israel’s security had not perceived the threat, and as a result, were not adequately prepared for it.

Apparently, when presented with a framework and clear objectives – Ya’alon excels; but as the head of a system, responsible for setting objectives, he is a failure.

National Values

In a series of events, the Defense Minister placed himself in a position hostile to basic, national values. It may be that Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot dead the wounded terrorist in Hevron, made a mistake according to army regulations, and he should bear responsibility for this. But we must not forget that his intentions were good. He was fighting the enemy, and wished to protect his comrades. He is not a murderer. When the Defense Minister dishonors his name in all of the media, denounces him as a murderer, and directs the legal battle against him, he causes damage to the people of Israel. Not only does he betray the soldier Elor Azaria, but all the troops he sent into battle, for they too are liable to make the same mistake on occasion.

After the Deputy Chief of Staff, Yair Golan, compared Israel to Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, Ya’alon should have fired him, or at the very least, demanded that he retract his words and publicly apologize for having said them. Instead, he chose to defend him, and moreover, encouraged other commanders to voice such blasphemy.

Underlying such an appalling attitude there has to be an overflowing degree of ignorance and wickedness. Despite everything, compliance with army law is constantly improving. Compared to the current situation, the behavior of the Palmach fighters and IDF combat units in its nascent days was infinitely wilder and crueler. Now of all times, the Deputy Chief of Staff detects symptoms reminding him of the Nazis?! And the Defense Minister marvels at his honesty and wisdom, and calls for officers to continue voicing such hideous and baseless things?!

Emuna and Torah Values

Under the tenure of Ya’alon, the status of the Military Rabbinate eroded. The ‘Jewish Awareness’ Department was transferred from the Military Rabbinate to the Department of Manpower, impairing its activities. Even the right to grant permission to grow a beard for religious reasons was taken away from the Rabbinate, and given to the Adjutant Corps. Meanwhile, with encouragement of the Defense Minister, and with infuriating audacity, female singers are increasingly participating in military ceremonies, and religious soldiers are required to take part in them, contrary to the ruling of the majority of rabbis.

Parallel to the directive banning me because of my basic position that orders to expel Jews from their homes should be refused, the IDF funds courses given by institutes with distinctly leftist positions, such as the ‘Hartman Institute’ and ‘Machon Bina’, for all army officers. If the lecturers speaking on their behalf were asked what a soldier should do if he receives an order to expel an Arab from his home, the majority of them would say that he should refuse the order. Yet, Ya’alon chose them to educate IDF officers to the values ​​of the extreme left, rather than heightening Jewish national awareness.

The command to take over the yeshiva in Yitzhar for a long period also reflects a severe blow to Israel’s sacred values. Ya’alon did not dare do that to any mosque, where violence, murder, and the destruction of the State of Israel is preached a thousand times more.

This coincides with his disgraceful treatment of his Deputy Minister, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan. Rabbi Eli is known as an affable person, able to cooperate with various parties. Despite signed agreements however, Ya’alon chose to ignore and humiliate him, and by doing so, demean his constituents, the religious Zionists.

The Connection between the Three Areas

These three areas are intertwined. True, there may be individuals who are highly successful in leading the army against the enemy yet neglect national ​​and faith-bound values, whose long-term impact on Israel’s security is crucial. If there are others who complement what they lack in the area of values, their professionalism in the field of defense can cover for their shortcomings. If there is no one else to complement their deficiency, then over a period of time, the lack of values ​​will prevail and lead to severe consequences, such as the Yom Kippur War.

As the functioning of Mr. Ya’alon in the field of defense was not particularly successful, his shortcomings in the field of values ​​makes things all the worse.

Left-wing Viewpoints

Despite understanding the impossibility of implementing Leftist aspirations to establish another Arab country, Mr. Ya’alon still clings to the values ​​of the Left, whereby national and religious factors are marginal or a hindrance. However, seeing as nationalism and religion in truth are the power base of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, it is preferable for a Defense Minister who does not understand this, to vacate his seat.

The Importance of Criticism of the IDF

It is important to examine another aspect. As a result of the Oslo Accords, the moral level of senior officers suffered a tremendous blow, and they were forced to associate with the most heinous murderers. Their loyalty to their own people and country became muddled. Devoid of a moral compass, advancement through the ranks became the most important thing. They began understanding and empathizing with the enemy more, and even took pride in this, because, as they learned from the Leftist lecturers, such understanding indicates a clarity of mind, and a purity of their hearts and weapons. So it happens that they often function like British Mandate officers, standing as an intermediary between the Jews and the Arabs.

On the battlefield, this is manifested in more casualties among our forces, as occurred in Jenin and the Second Lebanon War. Thanks to sharp public criticism of the army after the Second Lebanon War, senior commanders in the early rounds of war in Gaza who saw their comrades dishonorably discharged, began worrying more about the welfare of our soldiers. Instead of sending them on dangerous missions to avoid harming enemy civilians, they ordered to bombard and strike. This is why in the first operations the death toll was greatly to our advantage and deterrence against our enemies increased, as indicated by the data I mentioned above.

Over time, the fear of public criticism declined, and once again, senior officers returned to their sinful ways. This is how we reached the bitter results of operation ‘Tzuk Eitan’.

Therefore, when the defense establishment emerges from a war with poor results, it must be criticized. Failure to do so takes its toll in human life.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

The Vision of Yovel for Our Generation

The mitzvah of tzeddaka teaches that the responsibility for making a living  lies with the individual, and only if one is unable to take care of himself, the responsibility passes on to others * The mitzvah of Yovel  complements this, determining that natural resources be divided equally among all * Thus, the Torah integrates both socialism and capitalism * Today as well, there is room to explore the equal distribution of resources and allotting a certain percentage of the capital to all citizens, once every Yovel * In mankind’s present situation competition is necessary; however, when the Divine light is revealed in the world – people will realize they are not competing with one another, but rather, improving and complementing each other

Choice and Equality: Yovel

Must society provide for all the needs of each and every individual, or is this the private responsibility of every person? Is it right to divide profits equally among all the people? Which economic system is correct: socialist, or capitalist? It seems the basic answers to these questions and inspiration to solve them can be found in the mitzvoth of Yovel (Jubilee year) and tzeddaka (charity).

The mitzvah of Yovel is for the Jewish nation to count seven years, seven times, and make the fiftieth year the Yovel year. In this year, Jewish slaves are freed to return to their homes, and fields are returned to their original owners and left to lie fallow as in the shmitta year (seventh year).

Ownership of Land and the Mitzvah of Yovel

God commanded Israel to divide the land among the tribes, and the inheritance of each tribe to be divided among the families and households of that tribe. Seeing as each individual has his own special mission in life – and in order to reveal that mission, he must live freely and independently – it is imperative for every Jew to reside on his land, and make a living from his own inheritance.

Nevertheless, God created man with both a good and an evil inclination. The tzaddikim (righteous people) who choose good, overcome their evil tendencies, work diligently in their fields, and prosper from their harvest; those drawn in pursuit of their evil inclinations seeking lust and laziness become addicted to various desires such as alcohol and other pleasures of idleness, and neglect their fields. They waste a great deal, earn little, sink into debt, and forfeit their future for the sake of the fleeting moment. Scarcity increases until they are forced to sell their crops and homes, thus decreeing a life of hardship upon their families, seeing as one’s fields was his main source of income. If they failed to pull themselves together and work diligently as a salaried employee, they would sink further into debt to the brink of starvation, and be forced to sell themselves into slavery.

True, some people became impoverished as a result of a disaster or illness beyond their control, but when our national situation was sound, the mitzvah of tzeddaka helped sustain such people without them having to sell their land, or themselves. However, it was difficult to assist those who became enslaved to greed and laziness, because even after receiving help, they continued to plummet. This is how some Jews ended up selling their fields, and themselves, into slavery.

God had mercy on them – and especially, on their families – and determined the mitzvah of Yovel in the fiftieth year, when we were commanded to free the slaves, and return the fields to their owners or heirs. By this means, the verdict of poverty did not haunt the families of Israel for generations, but every fifty years, each family could start a new life, begin to act responsibly, get out of poverty, and contribute to the improvement of society.

The Circles of Responsibility in Helping the Poor

From the mitzvah of tzedakka we learn that there are circles of responsibility, and only when the inner circle is unable to function does the responsibility of the outer circle come into play.

In the inner circle is poor person himself; he is primarily responsible for his own situation and that of his family. Therefore, if a person who was able to work but chose not to, throwing himself instead on the public, the gabba’ei tzedakka (charity managers) would make sure that he worked. Only on the condition that he worked as hard as possible, but nevertheless, it was still not enough, would they give him tzedakka. As it is written in the Torah: “Ha’kim ta’kim imo” (“You must ‘help him‘ pick up the load”) (Deuteronomy 22:4) – ‘together with him’ there is a mitzvah, but when he shirks his responsibility, there is no mitzvah to help him.

When a poor person is unable to take care of himself, the responsibility shifts over to the next circle which includes his relatives and the rule of “ha’karov, karov kodem” i.e., one’s closest relatives should be given priority in receiving tzedakka (as in redeemer’s of the field).

If family members are unable to help their relative, the responsibility is transferred to the third circle of neighbors and fellow residents of their town, with the responsibility of close neighbors preceding that of the overall residents of the city. And if the townspeople alone are unable to help the poor, responsibility is transferred to the fourth circle, namely, that of society as a whole in the country, as it is written: “When, in a settlement that God your Lord is giving you, any of your brothers is poor…do not harden your heart or shut your hand against your needy brother” (Deuteronomy 15:7). And it is also written: “To the poor man among you” (Exodus 22:24), those who close to you (‘among you’), precede those who are less close (Baba Metzia 71a).

And if there was a poor person whose family was able to help him, but evaded their duty and did not help, the gabba’ei tzedakka would have to force them to take care of him, and only if they were unable to meet his needs would they give the poor person charity from the public coffers of the city (Sh. A., Y. D., 251:4).

Empowerment of Personal Responsibility

Thus, we find that family, neighbors, and members of the community bore responsibility to help the poor, sick, elderly and frail who were unable to earn a living. But poor people who were able to make a living but due to laziness, negligence and greed had sunk into debt, would be helped to a limited extent, up until the point where if they continued to sink into debt, they would be forced to sell their fields and themselves. Such a position educates people to bear responsibility for their livelihood. In this way, the number of poor declined precipitously.

Choice and Equality

Thus, we find that it is essential for these two ideas to be expressed in parallel. On one hand – responsibility and free enterprise, and on the other, basic equality. From one standpoint, all human beings are created in God’s image, and consequently – one rule for all; from the beginning, lands, which are the means of production, had to have been divided equally. On the other hand, the main expression of God’s image in man is his ability to choose and initiate. If a person works diligently and skillfully, he will profit; if he is lazy, he will lose. How much more so is this true on a spiritual level: If one fulfills the Torah and mitzvot – he will be blessed in the present world, and receive good reward in the Hereafter. But if he chooses to sin – he will not see blessing in this world, and will be punished in the next.

Yovel’s Vision of Equality for Our Times

In the past, ninety percent of people made their living from agriculture. Land was the main means of production, and as a result, dividing it equally formed a basis of equality for everyone. Today, land is no longer the primary means of production, and earning a livelihood is dependent on numerous factors. Nevertheless, it seems we can learn two fundamentals from the mitzvah of Yovel: First, just as the Torah commanded that farmland be divided equally among all, in a similar fashion, we should equally divide other natural resources which God created, including land for construction, water, oil, gas, beaches, radio waves, air, and the sun. Secondly, just as the Torah commanded dividing the means of production equally, likewise, we should attempt to provide education for all young people that will procure for them, as best as possible, an equal opportunity to earn a living from their talents and diligence. With effective planning, these two foundations can be mutually integrated by diverting the money obtained from natural resources towards the best professional education for all.

 

Thus, we will be able to realize the fundamental idea of dividing the land among all of Israel, together with the tikun (correction) made in the return of lands to their original owners in the Yovel. For indeed, granting quality education for everyone also gives the children of poor parents the opportunity to obtain a respectable profession, according to their talents and industriousness.

 

In other words, resources are divided into two groups: the land and all other natural resources; and man, with his talents and knowledge. Thus, we find that Yovel liberates natural resources by way of returning lands to their owners, and human resources in the emancipation of the slaves.

A Proposal to Reduce Gaps between the Wealthy and the Poor in Yovel

Perhaps a further suggestion might be made: Just as in the Yovel the fields returned to their original owners and slaves were released to their homes, there is room to suggest that Torah scholars explore in-depth the structure of modern economy, and consider whether it would be appropriate that in the Yovel year, a certain percentage of accumulated wealth be divided equally, and returned to the public. For in addition to laws designed to prevent monopolies that harm free competition and stifle industry and trade, we should also avoid creating overly large gaps between the extremely wealthy and the remainder of society. This idea also includes a measure of justice, because sound public institutions are what enable the super-rich to become wealthy, and consequently, perhaps it might be fitting that once in fifty years, a portion of their accumulated wealth be distributed once again towards education and public needs. This will not affect the quality of their lives – they will still have hundreds of millions of shekels, but all the same, it will reduce socio-economic gaps among society and provide a more important status to the value of equality, without damaging the personal responsibility of each individual earning a living.

The Light of Yovel

At present, jealousy and competition are needed to a certain extent for the purpose of the world’s existence, so man can learn to bear responsibility for his fate, and conversely, learn not to be manipulative, a liar, and a thief. Rivalry is also needed to create incentives for development and prosperity, as has been explained by capitalist philosophers. Without it, society would sink into moral degeneration, poverty, and scarcity. However, as the light of Yovel is increasingly revealed in Israel, and the higher levels we achieve in Torah and emuna (faith), the need for competition will decrease, until there will be no more necessity for envy and rivalry, and world peace will spread from the Land of Israel to the entire world. This does not mean that an oversimplified equality between the various talents and equal distribution of all wealth and functions will be created, to the point where all living beings will be exactly the same. Rather, each creature will persist in its own character: wolves will remain wolves, sheep will remain sheep; but nevertheless, owing to the abundance of Divine light which will pervade in the world, the Divine light in each and every creature will be revealed, and all will live together in peace. At that time it will become clear that differences between living beings does not cause competition and envy, but on the contrary, creates between them a deep connection of friendship and camaraderie, leading to enrichment, blessing, and reciprocity.

And then, we will fulfill the words of the prophet: “The wolf will live with the lamb; the leopard lie down with the kid; calf, young lion and fattened lamb together, with a little child to lead them. Cow and bear will feed together, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.  An infant will play on a cobra’s hole, a toddler put his hand in a viper’s nest.  They will not hurt or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain, for the earth will be as full of the knowledge of God as water covering the sea… Efrayim’s jealousy will cease — those who harass Yehudah will be cut off, Efrayim will stop envying Yehudah, and Yehudah will stop provoking Efrayim… On that day you will say, “Give thanks to God! Call on his name! Make his deeds known among the peoples, declare how exalted his name is.  Sing to God, for he has triumphed — this is being made known throughout the earth.  Shout and sing for joy, you who live in Tziyon; for the Holy One of Israel is with you in his greatness!” (Isaiah 11-12).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at: http://en.yhb.org.il/ 

by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed