All posts by Yonaton Behar

To the Right of Europe

As the sons of Abraham chosen to be a blessing to all humanity, we are obliged to think of ways of helping Europe face the threat of Islam * Western experts fail to understand the root of the problem * In which direction will the conflict between the West and Islam go? Two possible scenarios * Right-wing movements in Europe support Israel, and stand firm on the right of Europe to maintain its identity and culture * Israel is able and should make contacts with Right-wing movements in Europe that attempt to rid themselves of their anti-Semitic past * Muslims can integrate in European countries according to the Torah’s model of ‘ger toshav’ without harming the identity and culture of their host country

Europe

Jews are concerned about Europe. Since the days of Abraham, we, the Children of Israel, are accustomed to worrying about all nations and all peoples. Our forefather Abraham even sought to defend Sodom. This is the task God intended for us, from the moment He commanded Abraham, “Go away from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. And I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you great. You shall become a blessing … all the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3). To paraphrase – leave your narrow, national life to go the Promised Land, so as to establish a global, universal nation that will spread the word of God to the entire world from the Land of Israel. Similarly, God said to our forefather Jacob: “I will give to you and your descendants the land upon which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. You shall spread out to the west, to the east, to the north, and to the south. All the families on earth will be blessed through you and your descendants” (Genesis 28:13-14).

Furthermore, seeing as for generations numerous Jews were exiled to European countries, we are concerned about what is happening there. And although on the whole our lives in Europe were not easy, there were some good times. And the Torah teaches us that even the Egyptians who enslaved us with hard labor should be treated in a positive manner because we were strangers in their country (see, Deuteronomy 23:8-9). What’s more, events occurring in a neighboring and powerful Europe are liable to affect us as well.

The Problem of the Western Experts

Western countries invest a fortune funding thousands of researchers on the topics of history, religion, society, and mass-psychology. They employ thousands of ambassadors and foreign relations consultants. Despite all this, they have difficulty understanding the threat currently facing them.

Their problem is a fundamental one. They attempt to view the situation from an objective approach, devoid of religious faith and national identity. But it is precisely this position that prevents them from penetrating a complete understanding of human motivations, and all the more so, those of religious people and entire nations.

A Realistic Prognosis

Anyone not afflicted by the conceptual blindness of the “experts” understands that a confrontation between Islam and the West is currently in progress. The blindness of Western “experts” provides Islam with a huge advantage at the opening of the battle.

It is difficult to assess how it will all end. If the West’s blindness continues, Europe will gradually become Muslim. At first, by means of Muslim immigration to Europe, while exploiting the human right of natural population growth, and the dissemination of Islam – which poses a moral and religious alternative to the gaping secular abyss created in Europe. All this, combined with violence to reinforce the Muslim communities and intimidate their neighbors. In the end, everyone will be driven to convert to Islam by force, because the law of Mohamed is by the sword.

In a more realistic scenario, life will gradually become more difficult. Governments will stand helpless opposite Islamization and rioting. The countries’ economic situation will deteriorate. Violence and street crime will increase up until the hatred for Muslims becomes so strong that nothing will be able to prevent European barbarism from erupting once again. At that point in time the Europeans will begin killing Muslims, as was their custom of fighting and killing for over a thousand years. The police will try to prevent it, but will be unsuccessful. Even Muslim-haters around the world will have pity on them, because they will be slaughtered, raped, burned alive, deported, and drowned in the rivers. From a historical point of view, the Europeans were no less professionals in the field of bloodshed than the Muslims.

In the two scenarios, as well as a combination of both, Europe will sink morally, socially, scientifically and economically.

Specifically, it is the extreme Right movements that have a better understanding of the situation, and perhaps with their inclusion in various governments, a reasonable solution to Europe’s serious problem can be found. However, this poses a difficult dilemma.

The Extreme Right Movements in Europe

I approach the question of proper relations between Israel and Right-wing nationalist movements in Europe with trepidation. On the one hand, the prevailing view among many Jews and moral people maintains that we should loathe these movements, because they are guilty of racial intolerance and anti-Semitism, and history has taught us that such hatred is liable to lead to the most terrible consequence of all – the Holocaust. Even after the Holocaust, there were Right-wing movements in Europe that continued totally supporting the Nazi’s, or at least partially. And although most of their leadership and members repudiated the Nazi’s and the Holocaust, Right-wing movements continued serving as a hotbed for the wicked who justify the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust, deny its extent, or diminish its severity. One can still find young, violent, neo-Nazi skinheads, haters of foreigners in general, and Jews in particular, who support the idea of ​​the superiority of the White Aryan race that justifies all types of discrimination or harassment of members of other races, regardless of their views or actions.

On the other hand, over the years the extreme Right-wing movements have undergone a process of change. Leaders arose who openly renounce the racist Nazi legacy, and openly support the State of Israel. They unashamedly removed neo-Nazi anti-Semites from their movements. Today, Right-wing movements have a better understanding of the Muslim problem than others. They understand it is a comprehensive, cultural war versus Islam, and not the terrorism of extremists who happen to be Muslims. The Right-wing movements are also justified in their demand to maintain the national and religious-cultural identity of European countries. Just as it is forbidden to steal the property of a private individual as did the Communists in the countries over which they gained control, it is also forbidden to deprive people of their national and religious identity.

Leftist Movements

The Leftist movements deny the significance of national and religious identity. Accordingly, they support the absorption of foreign refugees and their right to publicly express their identity, even when it opposes and undermines the national identity of the locals.

As a rule, Jews who lived in European exile recognized and respected the national and religious identity of the native citizens. True, we must admit that in modern times throughout all of Europe and particularly in France, assimilated Jews and those alienated to the values of Judaism ​​as a people and as a religion, were the leaders of the left-wing liberal and cosmopolitan movements that attempted to blur national identity and emphasize the universal, human values ​​of individual rights and equality.

We, the Jews, are also victims of the positions of Leftist movements. Their representatives blatantly criticize Judaism and the State of Israel. Representatives of leftist movements here in Israel also gnaw away at our national and religious identity, oppose the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, and object to granting special status to the Hebrew language, and Jewish heritage as its cultural and legal foundation. This, despite the fact that for some strange reason, they recognize the fictional identity of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel, not unlike the way their friends in Europe are more willing to support Islam than the majority culture.

The Correct Relationship with the National Right-Wing

In light of the reality facing us, it would be fitting to examine networking with the Right-wing movements in Europe, with each case being scrutinized individually. A movement which completely repudiates anti-Semitism and racism is deserving of respect and cooperation. The consensus should be that the just struggle against Islam or anyone who threatens their national identity is defined as a struggle for maintaining law and order and for establishing a clear national identity for the state, and definitely not due to xenophobia.

Marine Le Pen

Unfortunately, the State of Israel has failed to lead an appropriate dialogue with national Right-wing movements in Europe. Instead of supporting the reasonable national and moral positions, and strengthening the policy rejecting racism and hatred, we have chosen to support those who blur identities. Those who are unable to deal properly with any problem, and also harm the State of Israel, standing at the very same frontline in the war for its existence and identity.

For example, the leader of the French right-wing party, Marine Le Pen, sought to make contacts with Jews and the State of Israel, and instead of conducting a respectful dialogue with her, she was ignored. The National right-wing party in France ousted its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine’s father, because he refused to retract his anti-Semitic statements denying the Holocaust. Doesn’t that prove the party’s intentions? The bond that Jews and the State of Israel can tie with this party will enable it to strengthen its moral position, for the good of both France and Israel.

The ‘Resident Alien’ Prototype

The contribution that Judaism can offer Right-wing movements in Europe is adopting the model of “ger toshav” (resident alien) as a condition for obtaining the rights of a citizen, without compromising the national identity of the majority.

There are two principles the ‘ger toshav‘ must accept upon himself: 1) recognition of the national and religious identity of the natives, and bearing the burden of national challenges facing the enemy. 2) acceptance of the Seven Noahide laws, comprising of proper moral behavior. These are the seven commandments: a) monotheism and the prohibition of idolatry, b) prohibition of incest, c) the prohibition of murder, d) prohibition of blasphemy of God’s name, e) the prohibition of theft, f) respect for the law and the judicial system, g) prohibition against eating a limb of a live animal, i.e., acceptable behavior of good manners (Maimonides, Laws of Kings 9:1).

Inspiration for our Times

A person who accepts upon himself the rules of a ‘ger toshav‘ should be granted full rights, and regarding him the Torah says: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34). Nevertheless, when the absorption of an excessive number of resident aliens poses the danger of obscuring the identity of the state, the state is entitled to limit the number of those absorbed, even if they are willing to accept the principles of ‘ger toshav‘.

It is noteworthy that Jews in the Diaspora behaved towards their host countries as ‘gerim
toshavim‘, with the exception of modern leftist Jews who scorned the natives’ religion, and undermined them by establishing revolutionary movements.

But those who are unwilling to accept the rules, to respect the culture of the majority and its moral policies and not to preach against it in the mosques – all the more so, those engaged in theft, the selling of drugs, false reporting to the authorities, and obstructing police activities – are not entitled to the rights of citizens, and deserve to be respectfully returned to their countries of origin.

In the meantime, until the status of immigrants already granted civilian rights is determined, it would be fitting for Europe to abstain from absorbing additional immigrants. The desire to help them is positive, but should be implemented in their countries of origin.

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

 

Rectifying Europe

The evil attacks in Paris are deplorable, but not surprising * Europeans sinned in the past through colonialism and anti-Semitism, and sin today in their attitude towards Israel * The corrupt European concept of morality, which sanctifies individual rights while neglecting obligations and justice * Granting of rights without obligations leads to corruption * The distorted attitude of the West towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict caused the rise of worldwide terror * Muslims believe that European culture is morally decadent, therefore, it is permissible and even desirable to attack it * Support for Israel is a prerequisite for Europe’s ability to deal with terrorism

 

Europe

With great sorrow we heard about the vicious attacks perpetrated by Muslim terrorists in Paris. However, we cannot say we were surprised – for years, we knew that this would be the result of misguided policies of France and most European countries (as I will cite from an article I wrote fifteen years ago). Nevertheless, the fulfillment of the first part of the predictions is horrifying.

The truth must be said – the Europeans are not blameless. For generations they ruled many nations by force, including Arabs and Muslims, exploiting their labor and their country’s natural resources to increase their wealth and esteem. Today, immigrants from those very countries are coming and exploiting them and their countries, justifying it by saying they are simply returning to themselves what was stolen from them in the past.

Mention must be made of the terrible suffering we, the Jews, endured in Europe. Undeniably, on many occasions we were treated decently by rulers and ordinary people in the various countries. But it is difficult to count all the pogroms, expulsions, rapes and robberies and we went through in Europe, leading to the worst of all – the Holocaust, in which six million of our brothers and sisters were murdered by German Nazis and their collaborators from other European countries. True, we indeed insisted on keeping our faith, and it’s not always pleasant to live with a people of different faith and culture. However, our contribution to the economic, scientific and cultural development of Europe was undeniably far greater than the unpleasantness caused as a result of our living amongst the peoples of Europe in our exile. Instead of gratitude, we got pogroms, expulsions and the Holocaust.

And even today, instead of understanding the terrible war in which we find ourselves facing the Arabs surrounding us who literally wish to destroy us, they accuse us of violating the Arabs rights, killing them, and other false accusations. Maybe it is important for them to believe the Arab’s accusations in order to justify themselves, thinking they’re not the only ones who kill; when given the chance, the Jews also kill as many non-Jews as possible. And some may even have no need for self-justification – they simply hate Jews and Israel, and that’s reason enough. And maybe now, all of a sudden, they decided to repent and stand up for human rights, and just fell on the wrong people.

Either way, Europe’s actions in the past and their present official position which denies the State of Israel the right to defend its security and ancestral lands of Judea and Samaria, is leading to a situation in which they lack the courage and moral justification to fight the Muslim position threatening their safety and existence.

To whom are These Observations Directed?

These observations are directed first and foremost to us, the Jews, for it is our duty to understand what is going on around us, as it is written: “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations;When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:7-8).

Ideally, the lesson is meant to educate the nations of the world, but when they fail to understand, then the same problems in which they stumbled in, arrive at our doorstep. Secular Israeli leftists stumble in them willingly, in the mistaken belief that it’s the proper and ethical approach, and politicians stumble in them out of a sense of helplessness against global public opinion.

These observations are also are directed at the Europeans, because since the end of World War II the position prevalent among moral European’s is that the time has come to conduct a deep self-examination about the damage caused to people by European colonialism, nationalism, and religion. Therefore, there is room to appeal to the Europeans, that they should direct their thoughts honestly.

Self-Examination

European champions of morality superficially thought that the more they reinforced human rights, the more ethical and better the world would become, and discrimination between people on the background of sex, race and religion would vanish. The more they fortified the rights of the individual, whoever and wherever he may be, the wars between nations and religions would decrease. However, by forsaking all other values of morality, and the moral obligations of every individual, they erred and caused severe injustices, and this is reflected in the serious crisis they are now facing.

This is because there are no rights without obligations. And when people are given rights without obligations, you nurture within them the natural evil inclination which has a propensity to exploit, lie, steal, rape and murder. And when weak people are supported no matter who they are, you encourage them to demand rights that they do not deserve, and when they don’t receive them – this encourages them to attack and sabotage in order to achieve by force what was not given to them agreeably.

Consequently, there is a need to earnestly integrate the values ​​of the conservative right-wing movements that are more connected to the values ​​of the Bible, which, in addition to the value of human dignity, emphasizes the value ​​of justice, and demands from an individual to take responsibility for his actions.

Israel’s War is the Yardstick of Global Evil

In this context, I found it appropriate to go back and quote what I wrote in this column on the 10th of Adar 5763 (2003), and the main points were written for an article in the newspaper ‘Makor Rishon’, towards the end of Elul 5761 (2001), a few days before the attack on the Twin Towers in New York.

“The more we erred in the false belief that the Oslo Accords would lead to peace, a reduction in terrorist attacks and the war against Israel, the more evil our Arab enemies became. They wasted and stole from the billions of dollars given them by various countries through awful corruption. And the money they did not steal, they invested primarily in arms and ammunition to kill, injure, demolish and destroy. There is no criminal or terror organization that does not have a connection to them and learns from their involvement. It is no coincidence that the mentor of Bin Laden is a Palestinian (at that time, all the murderous organizations that were created in recent years had not been founded).

“The only thing that the various terrorists understood from the Oslo process is that terrorism pays. And the more of a liar, and the more evil a terrorist is ready to be – the more consideration he is given, in the same manner as the way Western countries relate to the Palestinian Authority.

After the head of the largest terrorist gang in the world at the time, Yasser Arafat, gained international status and was even assured a state, international terrorism raised its head. Even entire countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, Syria and Iran, Libya and Sudan, permit themselves to support terrorism (today, support for terrorism has expanded and encompasses most of the Muslim population in all countries, as evidenced in every place where they are permitted to hold free elections). Even if in the coming days Saddam Hussein is subdued, calm will never return to the world. As long as the Palestinian Authority is not punished, the world will be exposed to increasing dangers. There won’t be a country in the world which is not forced to invest the best of its manpower and money in the daily struggle against terrorism. If they are not stopped today, all public facilities in every country of the world will have to be constantly guarded so people don’t get blown up there, and to make sure the terrorists don’t poison the water systems, and to prevent them from scattering epidemic-spreading bacteria, and so they won’t lay their hands on advanced technology that could endanger the entire world. States will have to constantly increase their police forces, and nevertheless, terror will continue to strike, both in rich and poor countries. Every third person will have to be a policeman, in order to protect homes and citizens. At every street corner, people’s bags and clothing will have to be checked, lest they be carrying bombs on their bodies or various poisonous materials…

And consequently, instead of fulfilling the prophecy ‘out of Zion shall go forth Torah and the word of God from Jerusalem’, out of Palestine will come terror, death and bereavement. All this will happen to them because the Western leaders failed to discern between the righteous and the wicked in Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.”

This is essentially what I wrote, as noted, 15 years ago.

The Problem in Europe

Mistakenly, the various experts and analysts think that the problem is terrorism, and therefore, increased security will solve the problem. Others are ready to admit that the problem is broader and concerns the struggle with radical Islam, and that by waging war against their senior leaders, terror will be eliminated.

However in truth, this is about a clash of civilizations. For example, the various experts were astonished to find out that before carrying out their acts of terror, the terrorists managed a bar which sold alcohol and drugs, goods forbidden by Islam. But had they understood that this is a conflict with a religious background, they would have realized that although young Muslims frequently take pleasure in the promiscuity, alcohol and drugs of European nightclubs, they accuse the Europeans for luring them adversely. As a result, they agree with the preacher at the local mosque that the European’s evilness is vast and dreadful, so much so that it is even able to trap the Muslim youth in its net, and cannot be overcome, but must be destroyed because it is diabolical.

This is how the overwhelming majority of Muslims view Europe, as disintegrating morally, and all the talk about human rights are seen in their eyes as capitulation to the evil inclination, permissiveness, promiscuity, and the uprooting of family values. They may benefit from the welfare system and freedom in European countries, but in their hearts they believe that it is a culture of Sodom and Gomorrah, and thus, it is permissible and even desirable to attack it. This gives them justification to open crime centers in their neighborhoods.

If the people of Europe do not realize the full extent of contending with Islam, terrorism and crime will increase until reaching guerrilla warfare in the streets. This could end in the downfall of the European countries, or in a dreadful eruption of bloodshed by the Europeans taking out their anger against the Muslims.

The Tikun

The beginning of the solution is the return to the values ​​of the Bible, including support for the State of Israel which is at the forefront in the war against Islam. Consequently, the Europe nations will be able to put forward a moral, ideological position that speaks in the name of justice. An ideology based on the right of the peoples of Europe over their own countries, on their right to express their identity and their religious values ​​in public, and their right to protect their identity from immigrants wanting to change it. Then it will be possible to start thinking about ways of coping with the growing Muslim threat.

Apparently, only the right-wing movements understand the full scope of the problem. Next week, I will attempt to continue discussing our relationship to the extreme right in Europe.

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

Minimum of Six Hours

Is determining that one should study Torah on Shabbat for a minimum of six hours a new innovation? * The Jerusalem Talmud on Shabbat being given to Am Yisrael for the purpose of Torah study * The Gemara and Rishonim explain that time on Shabbat should be divided – half for physical pleasure, and half for Torah study * The difference between Torah scholars and working people in the division of time * Does the division of time have to be accurate? * In the past there were fewer temptations interfering with Torah study on Shabbat, consequently there was no need to speak about it at length * A letter from a Bat-Mitzvah girl about the Melave Malka meal on Moetzei Shabbat

 

Q: Rabbi, you have written extensively about the obligation to study Torah on Shabbat. How can it be that such a mitzvah is unknown to the public, and does not appear in any books on halakha? Not only that, rabbi – you have devised a ‘chiddush‘ (a novelty) – that one must learn at least six hours on Shabbat. Shouldn’t such a ‘chiddush‘ require firm sources?

The Obligation of Torah Study on Shabbat

It is not ‘chiddush‘ that one must study Torah on Shabbat, as our Sages said in the Jerusalem Talmud (Shabbat 15:3): “The Sabbaths and Holidays were given to Israel in order that they might study Torah.” Our Sages further said:
“The nature of man being what it is, the Holy One said to Israel: My children! Have I not written for you in My Torah, ‘This book of Torah shall not depart from your mouth (Joshua 1:8)? Although you must labor all six days of the week, the Sabbath is to be given over completely to Torah. Accordingly, it is said that a man should rise early on the Sabbath to recite Mishana, and then go to the synagogue and academy where he is to read in the Five Books and recite a portion in the Prophets. Afterwards, he is to go home and eat and drink, thereby fulfilling the verse ‘Eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart’ (Ecclesiastes 9:7)…” (Tana d’Bei Eliyahu Rabbah

1). There are other numerous sources in the words of Chazal, Rishonim and Achronim, which deserve to be collected into a separate book in order to strengthen this sacred matter.

Dividing the Shabbat: Half for Torah, Half for Meals

According to the Talmud, time on Shabbat should be divided up – half for the sake of God through Torah study in the Beit Midrash (learning hall), and half for oneg Shabbat through eating, drinking and sleeping (Pesachim 68b). In the book Ohr Zaru’ah it is written: “Half of Shabbat or Yom Tov is for eating and drinking, and half for the Beit Midrash. An appropriate custom is that upon leaving the Beit Knesset after Shabbat morning services one goes home to eat, and after eating, takes a pleasurable Shabbat nap, and after sleeping, learns Torah.” Thus it is written in the following books: Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (הלכות יו”ט כז, ע”ג), Rabbeinu Yerucham (נתיב יב, דף סה ע”ג), Sefer Ha’Itim (קצח), Hamanhig (נה), and Maharshal (יש”ש ביצה ב, ד).

And according to Bach (רמב, א), indeed on Yom Tov one should divide the day into two equal halves, but on Shabbat, one should dedicate most of the day to Torah study, as implied by the Gemara and Rambam (שבת ל, י). And this was also agreed upon by the author of Havot Yair in his book Makor Chaim (או”ח סוף סימן רצ).

Distinction between Torah Scholars Working People

Some poskim (Jewish law arbiters) believe that beyond the general dividing of Shabbat – half for spiritual delight, and half for physical pleasure – there is an additional directive: that Torah scholars who are accustomed to self-sacrifice during the week as a result of diligent Torah study, should add a little extra physical pleasure on Shabbat, while working people who are not able to study Torah properly during the week, should add a little extra Torah study (ירושלמי שבת טו, ג, פסיקתא רבתי סו”פ כג). Some Rishonim also concluded similarly, among them: Shibolei Haleket, צו Tanya Rabatiיח ; Meiri, שבת קיח, ב; and thus wrote R’ema (שו”ע רצ, ב): “Ba’alei batim (working people), who do not engage in Torah study every day during the week should learn more Torah on Shabbat than Torah scholars who do learn the entire week. Torah scholars should slightly increase their eating and drinking pleasures, for they indeed take delight in their learning throughout the week.” So concluded the Beit Yosef (רפח, א), Maharikash (ערך לחם סימן רצ), Shela, Shulchan HaRav, and many more.

Must the Division of Time Be Precise?

However, a question remains: seeing as the poskim did not set a precise number of hours of Torah study one must learn on Shabbat, perhaps we can learn from this that time devoted to Torah study on Shabbat need not be divided exactly in half, rather, the intention is to devote an significant amount of time for Torah, and for the meals as well. This, indeed, is the opinion of Pri Megadim (או”ח א”א רמב ס”ק א) and Sefat Emet (ביצה טו, ב).

On the other hand, we find that some of the eminent poskim of later generations wrote that the division of time should be accurate, among them: Bach (או”ח ר”ס רמב) P’nai Yehoshuaביצהטו, ב) ), Sha’agat Aryeh (סי’ סט). The same emerges from Maharshalיש”ש חולין) א, נ), who wrote that the time spent by cantor’s singing melodies during prayers should not be considered part of ‘half for God’. And Rabbi Chaim ben Attar determinedly wrote: “One should not over-extend the morning meal, for if so, he steals time from the half belonging to God, blessed be He” (ראשון לציון ביצה טו, ב). He also wrote in his book Kaf HaChaim (תקכט, ב) in regards to the time of the sermon and meals, “Every place should act according to their custom, provided they do not deduct from ‘half the day to the Beit Midrash’… especially trade and craftsmen, who do not have time to learn during the week …”

How a Minimum of Six Hours was Decided

If half the time of Shabbat should be devoted to Torah, one should seemingly learn about twelve and a half hours, given that the duration of Shabbat including ‘tosefet Shabbat’ (additional time added onto the start and end of Shabbat) is approximately twenty-five hours. Apparently however, it is possible to be lenient and not take into account the seven hours of sleep a person needs each day; this leaves eighteen hours, of which about nine hours should be devoted to Torah, and nine hours to eating, drinking and an additional oneg (pleasure) rest.

And although the primary spiritual idea of Shabbat is intended for the study of Torah, it appears that in the opinion of some poskim it is possible to be lenient and include prayer times within the nine hours of Torah as well, provided the prayer services are not over-extended.

As a result, it ends up that in practice, a minimum of six hours on Shabbat should be devoted to Torah, so that together with three hours of prayer time, it will add up to nine hours.

How Come in the Past the Rabbis Did Not Stipulate How Many Hours to Learn?

Apparently, the lure to sit idle and not study Torah on Shabbat in the past was far smaller. First of all, a person today has numerous reading materials, such as newspapers and secular books, which did not exist in the past – particularly before the invention of the printing-press. Secondly, the meals were much shorter because people did not have as much money to purchase so many various dishes. Third, since nowadays people eat a lot, they become more tired, and need to devote more hours to sleeping. Fourth, in recent times a culture has arisen where many people devote their Shabbat to friendly get-togethers and conversations, something which apparently was less popular in the past.

The primary lure rabbis had to deal with was that people preferred to read the words of wisdom in the Holy Writings, such as the’ Book of Proverbs’ and the like, instead of coming to the Beit Midrash to hear the words of halakha, and consequently the rabbis decreed not to read from the Holy Writings during time dedicated to study in the Beit Midrash “because of neglect of the Beit Midrash” (Shabbat 115a), and this was codified by Rambam (Shabbat 23:19). Today, since a prescribed time for the Beit Midrash no longer exists, the prohibition of reading the Holy Writings at the same time has been canceled (ר”ן בשם רז”ה, ב”י שז, יז).

A Parable

Should one ask: ‘Do you really think the rabbis intended for us to be stressed-out all Shabbat, splitting hairs and counting the hours of study?’ I will respond with a parable about a man who wished to buy food at a grocery store owned by his friend. Since they had been good friends from early childhood, the owner said to his friend: ‘Listen. After all is said and done, we’re like brothers, and it’s not fitting for us to settle up on each and every item as I do with my other customers. Let’s act like friends: you take anything you want from the store, and from time-to-time when you want to pay – we’ll reckon the prices of all the items you took, and you’ll pay. The friend thought it was a good idea, but subsequently, he noticed that the store owner always mistakenly over-charged him. He probably did so in good faith, without any bad intentions. Yet, in practice, it turned out that the shopkeeper had always thought that his friend had taken more products than what he actually took, to the point where his monthly food costs doubled, and on account of their great friendship, he suffered losses. Upon seeing this, he turned to his friend the grocer, and requested that henceforth, they register everything he took, and stick to a precise accounting.

The same is true with regards to Torah study on Shabbat. If the general situation was that sometimes one learns more than half of the Shabbat, and other times, when special occasions arise he learns less than half – but overall, half our Shabbat’s are devoted to Torah – there would be no need to be precise in calculating the hours. But when we see that the time devoted for Torah always comes up on the short side – calculating the hours precisely is necessary, until the notion that half of Shabbat should be devoted to Torah becomes the norm.

A Gradual ‘Tikun

Indeed, for many people switching the order of Shabbat is very hard, but we must not be discouraged by this difficulty in view of the extraordinary task of Shabbat. Everyone must try to add Torah study according to his ability, until our Shabbat’s become ‘may’ain olam ha’ba‘, (a resemblance of the next world) – a synthesis of soul and body, spiritual pleasure of Torah and prayer, together with the delight of meals and sleep.

The ‘Melava Malka’ Meal

About a month ago I received a copy of a speech given by a Bat-Mitzvah girl that contained some nice thoughts in regards to the mitzvah of the ‘Melava Malka’ meal:

“… In the past year, I learned with my father “Peninei Halakha: Laws of Shabbat.” True, we weren’t able to finish the two volumes before the bat-mitzvah, but maybe it’s better that way, so we can continue our ‘chevruta‘ (learning pair) afterwards.

I want to mention some of the halachot we learned, which I particularly enjoyed.

One of the halakha’s I really liked was the ‘Melava Malka’ meal. As Rabbi Melamed explains, there is an important idea of accompanying the Shabbat in its departure, because we do not want to depart from the Queen so fast. Therefore, those who are meticulous in mitzvoth prepare a special dish in honor of the meal on Motzei Shabbat.

And here, I would like to relate what happened in our house. After learning the laws of ‘Melava Malka’, I requested we eat the fourth meal every Motzei Shabbat together as a family, and that I would even make a special dish for this purpose. This happened for only a short time, because my parents wanted me to go to bed at a certain hour. Now that I am bat-mitzvah, and Motzei Shabbat is longer, I would like to start preparing food on Motzei Shabbat, in order to continue honoring the Queen, and nourish the Luz bone…”

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/

 

Sanctifying God in Life and Death

Seventy-two years ago my grandfather, Rabbi Chaim Yehudah Weil ztz”l was murdered, ‘Al Kiddush Hashem’, in Auschwitz. He was the scion of the famous Ashkenazi ‘posek’, Mahari Weil, Rabbi of the communities Czerniaków and Dusseldorf in Germany * He was a member of the Torah and ‘Derech Eretz’ movement, a great Torah scholar and God-fearing man respected by secular Jews as well * Five of his children survived the Holocaust, most of his descendants live in Israel, and recently, his youngest daughter, my Aunt Hanna aged 96, merited donating a Torah scroll in his memory in Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv, whose members combine a life of Torah, work, and settling the Land

On Chol Ha’Moed Sukkot, my mother’s aunt, Hanna Paltiel from Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv, merited donating a Torah scroll in memory of her father, my great grandfather, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Aryeh Weil, may God avenge his blood, who was murdered in Auschwitz on the 20th of Mar-Cheshvan, 5704 (1943), at the age of seventy-eight.

The Torah scroll was written by my aunt’s grandson and placed in the synagogue of the kibbutz, which she and other Holocaust survivors helped establish.

In honor of my great-grandfather’s yahrzeit, I will relate what I said at the event.

His Family’s History

The roots of the Weil family stem from the Spanish Expulsion. Many years before the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 5252 (1492), riots and religious persecution against the Jews had increased. Following one of these riots, roughly in the year 5120 (1360), family ancestors fled to the city of Weil in southern Germany, whose leaders sought to attract Jews to their city so they could develop its economy. The family took on the name of the city that accepted them, Weil. The father of the family’s name was Yehudah, and his son or grandson was the famous rabbi, Rabbi Yaacov Weil, who in his religious law books is called Mahari”v, was one of the great disciples of Mahari”l. His son and grandson were also important rabbis in Askenaz, and they are the forefathers of our family.

His Father, Rabbi Meir

His father’s grandfather, Rabbi Meir Weil, studied for years with the famous Gaon, Rabbi Akiva Eiger. He served as a dayan (judge) in his hometown Rogozin, and made a living in commerce.

Thirteen children were born to him, but as usual in those days, only five survived and raised families. The youngest of them was my great- grandfather, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Weil.

His Education

Initially, he studied Torah with his father and in a Talmud Torah in his hometown. Nevertheless, as was the custom of German Jews at that time, he also studied secular subjects. Afterwards he studied at a rabbinical seminary in Berlin with Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer ztz”l and Rabbi David Tzvi Hoffman ztz”l, and received his ordination. Because he was a diligent and talented student, deep, possessing a phenomenal memory, he knew the Talmud inside and out, and would go over it each year from a very young age.

In addition, he studied secular subjects in university and attended lectures on the study of Semitic languages. He did a major work on legal matters appearing in the books of Josephus, comparing them to halakha, and for this he received a Ph.D. from the University of Bern in Switzerland.

People had already spoken of him being appointed rabbi, but his father lived to be ninety and required assistance; subsequently, proposals for the Rabbinate were deferred, as well as his getting married.

In 5661 (1901), a few years after his father’s death, at the age of thirty-five, he was elected rabbi of the congregation of Czerniaków in the province of Poznan, and married Rosa, the eldest daughter of his friend Asher Horowitz, a descendant the  Shela HaKadosh. She was thirteen years younger than he was.

His First Sermon as Rabbi of Czerniaków

It’s not easy being a rabbi, especially in recent times when a major crisis has occurred in Jewish communities, and a great number of the younger generation have left the path of Torah and mitzvoth. It is possible to discern echoes of this perplexity in his first sermon.

Rabbi Dr. Pozner, who has studied the history of the Czerniaków community, wrote: “The first sermon in the synagogue excelled in its language and content. The motto of the sermon was the words ‘to learn, and to teach, to preserve, and to practice’… Although within the communities’ institutions tradition was maintained adequately, the Rabbi knew that not all the members supported him, seeing as the new spirit of the times had found its way to into the hearts of some members of the community. In order to bring them closer, he stressed that he would be careful not to fight them with words of blasphemy and bad-mouthing, for that’s not the way to draw close those who are distant, but would like to see them as friends and ask for their help, because without it, he would not be able to fulfill his duties. As Moses said, ‘But how can I handle all your troubles, burdens, and disputes by myself’, so too, he would need the assistance of all the congregants who knew all the shortcomings, the gaps, and crevices. And these were his guidelines: ‘to study’ – by means of constantly delving into the Jewish sources to tirelessly prepare for carrying out his functions. ‘To teach’ – everyone: adults, youth and children, and to be a guide for living. ‘To preserve’ – to be a faithful guardian of the Torah that was given to him, to defend it from any external attacks, not allowing foreign concepts to ‘enter the sanctuary’. ‘And to practice’ – to observe the Torah in an exemplary manner himself, and to show everyone the path of truth, which acted as a guiding light for the people of Israel in all the numerous stages they experienced in their land, and in the Diaspora.”

At the end of his speech, the Rabbi had two requests from the audience: 1) – that they view him as a friend and member of the community. 2) – that they not to do things in front of their children which contradict the Torah they are taught in school.” And Rabbi Dr. Pozner concluded: “And for his entire tenure, Rabbi Dr. Weil proved his words were true, and what he had promised on the day of his commencement, he kept all his life.”

His Work in the Community of Czerniaków

His duties included the supervision of community affairs and kashrut. Once, there was a difficult case in which he had to remove the kashrut of a butcher who had betrayed the faith put in him, and he even went as far as publicizing it in the local newspapers. In general, he was considered a lenient posek (Jewish law arbiter), especially in trying times, but for himself, he was machmir (strict).

He was responsible for the charitable and goodwill societies of the living, and also tending to those who had passed away. Over the years, his young wife the Rebbetzin joined in the work of chesed, and was chairperson of the “Women’s Society for Clothing Poor Children and Supporting the Needy.” She also joined with one of the long-standing women in the community for the purpose of chesed shel emet for women.

His Sermons

According to testimony of Czerniaków residents (some of whom made aliyah and lived in Herzliya), Saba (grandfather) was a brilliant speaker. In his sermons he presented the audience with the ideals placed before the people of Israel to be a moral example to the nations, and in this way they would be redeemed.

Just as he stressed the dedication required to fulfill the commandments between man and God, he also strongly emphasized the observance of the mitzvothbetween man and his fellow man.

Regarding charity, he stressed the mitzvah to place the needy on his feet so he could support himself, this being the highest level of the mitzvah. However, he also stressed that when impossible to place a person on his feet, he should be helped with tzedaka (charity), and not be given loans with interest, and anyone who has mercy on his fellow human being, will be shown mercy from heaven.

The sermons of Shabbat Nachamu and Shabbat Chazon were very special for him, in which he expressed the tremendous sorrow over the destruction of the Temple, and the hope of the resurrection of the people and building of the Temple.

Many of the young people did not understand the Hebrew language prayers very well, and consequently Saba introduced somewhat of a novelty, fashioning a prayer in German for a young couple who came to the synagogue on the first Shabbat after their wedding, and for a mother who came synagogue after giving birth. In this manner, even people removed from religion desired to attend prayers.

During the First World War, dozens of members of the community joined the German army – some of them received medals of bravery and excellence from the German army, and five of them were killed. Upon returning home, he welcomed the soldiers with an important and stirring sermon, accompanied with words of motivation for the soldiers to build their lives anew from a higher spiritual level, stemming from a higher sensitivity towards the personal property and honor of others. The sermon was interlaced with numerous verses from the Torah and the prayers which he translated into German, for world peace and the salvation of Israel.

His Regional Activities

He was an easy person to get along with, and cooperated together with his fellow rabbis on matters pertaining to all the communities in the area. He also participated in the ‘Society of Jewish History and Literature’, which aimed to strengthen the connection of the communities’ members faced with the temptations of assimilation, to their Jewish heritage. In the framework of this organization, Saba gave lectures in the areas of Jewish law contrasted to common law.

His Public Standpoint

Generally speaking, Saba leaned towards the Agudat Yisrael movement as it emerged in Germany – a Haredi movement extremely concerned about the influence of secularism, however, supported integration of secular studies, in the sense of “Torah with Derech Eretz.”

Many do not know this, but in the Agudat Israel movement there were many who supported yishuv ha’aretz (settlement of the Land) – provided the settlements were within a religious framework. In 5678 (1917) Saba encouraged his parishioners to contribute large amounts of money through Agudat Yisrael to Israel. His daughter Flora was an activist of the Agudat Yisrael youth organization, with the goal of making aliyah to Israel through this framework.

However, Saba refused to be an actual member of Agudath Yisrael or the Mizrachi movement, because he thought that as a rabbi, he should belong to all members of the community, and not be involved in political controversies.

Leaving Czerniaków

Following Germany’s defeat in World War I, Czerniaków was annexed into to Poland. At that time, the German government was far more tolerant than Polish rule, who were more anti-Semitic and more corrupt. The Poles behaved towards the German Jews annexed to their country with extreme vulgarity. As a result the Jewish community in Czerniaków dwindled greatly, and most of the Jews emigrated to Germany and other Western countries. At that same time, the leaders of the Polish underground who were working to annex additional areas of Germany to their country, demanded a large sum of money from Saba for operational purposes, but he did not want to give it to them, saying that it was forbidden for him to ‘spit into the well from which he had drank’ (the state of Germany). Instead, he contributed twice the amount of money to the Polish Red Cross organization who treated patients. However, the Poles looked upon this severely, and subsequently denied his family the ration of coal they were permitted to purchase based on the number of household individuals. Coal was nearly the only means for heating and cooking at the time. Not wanting to buy coal on the black market, my grandfather decided to leave Czerniaków.

The Transition to Dusseldorf

After various searches, he found a new Rabbinate in the Haredi community of Dusseldorf. On Hanukkah 5680 (1919), at the age of 54, he began serving as rabbi. After a few months, the family also joined with its five children, the oldest being fifteen, and the youngest, our Aunt Hannah, one year old.

As Rabbi

Although Saba was a man of the book, constantly brooding over his studies, he fulfilled all his rabbinic roles diligently. He gave lessons to adults and children, and under his supervision was a restaurant, meat shop and an orphanage in a nearby town.

People would come to his house with various halachic questions; even from surrounding cities, people would often come to ask questions and seek his advice.

His honesty and devotion were evident his ways, so that even people far away from Torah and mitzvoth had great respect for him. No one could claim that Rabbi Dr. Weil was unfamiliar with the sciences or mood of the new times, for he was quite familiar with them, yet he clung to the Torah and the mitzvoth with all his heart, soul, and body. One of his friends testified: ‘He was the truest God-fearing man amongst the many religious leaders of all faiths I’ve ever met.”

Cantor on Yom Kippur

He had a pleasant voice, and occasionally led the prayer service. Every Yom Kippur he was the cantor for the Ne’ilah prayer, and sometimes was also the cantor forKol Nidrei or Mussaf. He once told his daughter Hannah that for him, the most beautiful day of the year was Yom Kippur.

The Death of My Grandmother

At a relatively young age Safta (grandmother) became ill. Saba, who loved her dearly, worried tremendously about her health. He used to say that a woman becomes more beautiful as a result of the love of her husband, and indeed Aunt Hanna testified that he always considered her as being beautiful.

On the sixteenth of Tammuz 5691 (1931), Safta died at the age of 51 years old.

Some of His Customs

Saba had a good sense of humor, and knew how to hold a conversation with anyone – with the most common of people, and with the greatest of thinkers. In his home, he always embellished his meals with words of Midrash or parables.

He did not bless his children on Shabbat eve, but only on erev Yom Kippur, and would cry while doing so.

Aunt Hannah wrote me: ‘He would make-do with the minimum, and ate very little. He would not vacation, did not go to concerts or outings, but only left the house for important purposes, such as going to synagogue, or visiting the sick. He did smoke cigarettes, as was the custom of many people at the time.

He was extremely studious, and would learn all the time. He used to go to bed late at night, sometimes at one or two o’clock in the morning – but never before midnight. He woke up every morning at six. In the afternoon he would sleep for about a half an hour to an hour on the couch, only taking off his shoes.

He would read the daily newspaper every morning for half an hour.

He was meticulous about the education of his children. When his eldest son Meyer wanted to study engineering, he assessed that engineers could not keep Shabbat in the framework of their occupation, and therefore, his son had no choice but to work in his uncle’s business. Thus, amid difficult concessions, the family continued to keep Torah and mitzvoth.

Devotion to Torah Observance

His nephew related that once as a child, when the world was still relatively calm, his uncle Rabbi Weil visited them at their home. To teach them Torah, he told them about their common great-grandfather, who was murdered in the pogroms of Poland ‘al kiddush Hashem’ (as a martyr). He also spoke about the Tanna Rabbi Akiva who was murdered ‘al kiddush Hashem’. All of the story he told in German, but the words “al Kiddush Hashem” he said in the holy tongue, Hebrew, and reverently, and as a child, those words shook him to the bone.

Saba could not know how things would end up.

Safta’s Wedding

At a teacher’s Seminary in Berlin his fourth daughter, Rivka, my grandmother of blessed memory, met my grandfather, Prof. Yosef Volk, who came from the community of Breslau where Torah studies were only on a basic level, and almost no one studied Gemara. Saba, Rabbi Weil, was amazed at the ignorance of his son-in-law in Gemara.

Before their marriage, Rabbi Weil studied Talmud with his future son-in-law for over a month, every day for a few hours. He also asked his son-in-law to promise him that he would learn at least one page of Talmud a day. And indeed, this is what my late grandfather Yosef did until a ripe old age.

There was another “problem”: the groom (Saba) Yosef was from a very Zionist family, a member of the HaPo’el Mizrachi through and through, and it was perfectly clear that immediately after getting married the couple would move to Israel. And Saba, Rabbi Weil, was worried lest they be negatively influenced by the secular pioneers. However, over time his fears were placated seeing that his son-in-law’s beliefs were firm, even though he was not a Torah scholar and as meticulous inmitzvoth as he had hoped.

The Opportunity to Immigrate to Israel

In 5696 (1935) my grandparents married, and immediately thereafter immigrated to Israel. At that time the Nazis were already in power, many German Jews began to flee to other countries, and the Dusseldorf community also dwindled. From Eretz Yisrael his daughter, my grandmother, sent an invitation to immigrate to Israel. However, Saba said that the community still needed him, and that the captain must be the last one to leave the sinking ship.

Kristallnacht

Shortly afterwards the Nazis carried out the pogrom titled “Kristallnacht.” At five o’clock in the morning five Nazi hooligans broke into Saba’s house. He was nearly seventy-two at the time. They pulled him out of his room and house, and beat him in the street. They broke the furniture, smashed the beautiful glass and porcelain dishes and glasses used on holidays, and threw the holy books out of the window. Initially, they thought to take Saba with them. In the end they had had second thoughts. But the Torah scroll he had inherited from his father, they stole.

He was pained over all of this, but was especially worried about the Torah scroll. His youngest daughter, Aunt Hannah, who was then about nineteen years old, with great self-sacrifice and devotion went to the police several times, until she was finally able to get the Torah scroll back.

Escape to Holland

The community was destroyed, the Jews of Germany realized they had to flee, and thus Saba joined his daughter Flora, who years before had fled with her husband to Holland. They rented him a small apartment above their home.

In Holland, his eyesight weakened greatly till he could hardly see. Nevertheless, he never stopped his routine studies. He would sit all day at an open book, and with the help of his fabulous memory, learned by heart. Occasionally, when he needed to complete a word that he did not remember, he would bring the book close within an inch of his eye, read a few words, and once again continue learning by memory.

He conducted himself humbly and modestly, keeping his independence, so as not to need the aid of his daughter and son-in-law. He learned to get along alone in a foreign country, and using a walking cane of the blind would find his way. Twice every day he would leave his house – first, for the morning prayers, and then later, for the Mincha and Ma’ariv prayers. After the prayers, he would remain to hear a Talmud lesson, and once when the rabbi who was teaching accidentally skipped a line, Saba pointed it out. It then became clear to the worshipers that not just another rabbi had arrived in their community, but an illustrious Torah scholar who knew the Talmud by heart.

Refuses to Hide

When the Nazis, may their name be blotted out, occupied the Holland and began to persecute the Jews, they suggested that Saba hide. But he knew that for this purpose a Dutch family would have to endanger their life, and did not want this to happen.

He also said that he was not more entitled to be rescued than the rest of the masses of Israel, and whatever happens to everyone, should happen to him as well.

He added, that perhaps being a rabbi, he could offer help and assistance to his brothers in the camps.

Kiddush Hashem

In 5702 (1941), at the age of seventy-six, he was taken to a concentration camp. With the help of his cane, he would feel his way around the camp and fend for himself. There were probably good Jews who helped him as well. Every week from that very camp, a train full of Jews were sent to the murderous Auschwitz concentration camp. After about a year, when it was his fate to be sent to the death camp in Auschwitz, he had no illusions. He knew where he was being sent. Testimony remains that he parted his neighbors with an “important and serious speech.”

Out of his strong faith, he courageously accepted the judgement of heaven, and with sacred dignity, went to sacrifice his life ‘al Kiddush Hashem’ on the 20th of Mar-Cheshvan, 5704 (1943).

Beit El

Exactly on the same date, the 20th of Mar-Cheshvan, the day which he was murdered ‘al Kiddush Hashem’ at Auschwitz, the community of Bet El was established in 5378 (1977), with his granddaughter, my mother, Rabbanit Shulamit Melamed, taking part in its founding. In the community of Beit El, many of his ambitions are coming to fruition: Torah-based people who combine work and science, are meticulous in mitzvoth, do a lot of charity and engage in yishuv ha’aretz. Even Aunt Hannah’s daughter, Shoshana Weinstock, raised her extensive family in Beit El.

Continuity

Saba and all his children managed to survive the Holocaust, and despite all the upheavals and wanderings the family endured, nearly ninety percent of his descendants are Torah observant, and the vast majority of them live in the Land of Israel.

Meyer, his eldest son, managed to escape to England, volunteered for the British army, and fought against the Germans.

His second son, Shalom, managed to escape to Canada, and became a professor of languages. His only son, Rabbi Mordechai, immigrated to Israel, where he established his family.

The third daughter, Flora, passed through the camps, eventually survived, and joined her husband who managed to escape to Canada. Some of their offspring immigrated to Israel.

The fourth daughter, my grandmother, Rivka, as previously mentioned, immigrated to Israel before the Holocaust.

And his young daughter, Aunt Hannah, who is now ninety-six, merited dedicating a Torah scroll in his memory.

The Torah Scroll

Seventy-eight years after Aunt Hannah his youngest daughter, as a courageous young girl, managed to save Saba’s Torah scroll from the Nazis, she merited dedicating a Torah scroll in his memory.

Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv

The Torah scroll is dedicated to the synagogue in Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv, the kibbutz she merited founding together with other dear and righteous friends, Survivors who immigrated from the depths of hell-fire in the Diaspora to Eretz Yisrael, to redeem the land and make its deserts bloom.

Back then, when they came to the Beit She’an Valley, did they believe that the place would become green and so beautiful? Did they believe they would merit participating in the establishment of the State of Israel? Did they know that here, they would merit raising generations of native-born Israeli’s, farmers and soldiers, lovers of Torah, the people, and the Land?

This synagogue on the kibbutz serves as a spiritual center for the lives of people of faith. People of Torah and avodah, who for three generations have merited waking up at dawn, praying the morning service, and going to work in the fields of our beloved country. With the sweat of their brows they grow the country’s holy fruits, engaging in the betterment of the world in the cowsheds, chicken coops, and all the other kibbutz enterprises. At this point, I would like to mention the husband of Aunt Hannah, Abraham Upp z”l, who in his great talent and hard work merited making a significant contribution to the development of agriculture in the kibbutz and the region, and to some extent, throughout the country.

“Make us Glad for as Many Days as you have Afflicted Us”

When Saba walked, groping blindly, to the crematoria at Auschwitz, could he have imagined that his little daughter would live a long life, sit at her home in Ein Hanatziv, with tremendous amounts of sheets of paper spread out on her table, sketching the family tree that continues to branch out in constantly growing circles? And as the years pass, the large sheets of paper with the additional pages pasted on to them, are too narrow to contain all the hundreds of names of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren.

In Saba and his family, the words of the prophet Isaiah were fulfilled: “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God”; “Lift up your eyes around and see; they all gather, they come to you. As I live, declares the Lord, you shall put them all on as an ornament; you shall bind them on as a bride does. “Surely your waste and your desolate places
and your devastated land—surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away. The children of your bereavement will yet say in your ears: ‘The place is too narrow for me; make room for me to dwell in.’ Then you will say in your heart: ‘Who has borne me these? I was bereaved and barren, exiled and put away,
but who has brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; from where have these come?'”; “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

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

The Temple Mount in Israel’s Sovereignty

The Temple Mount is the place all Israel yearns for, and where all prayers are directed *Only a few people are involved with practical preparations for building the Temple. Why? * The spiritual process required to build the Temple * As long as the Temple Mount is open to the Arabs, it is a mitzvah to go up in order to express Israeli sovereignty * Hold fast to the vision of building the Temple, even if its implementation is still far off * Islam and Arabs respect the ruling power and accept its sovereignty, provided it demonstrates strength and authority * Prevent the rights of ungrateful East Jerusalem Arabs

Temple Mount: The Focus of Prayers

The Temple Mount, site of the Holy Temple, is the place all of Israel yearns for, and where all prayers are directed (Berachot 30a). In connection to the building of the Temple and Jerusalem, we recite two prayers out of the nineteen blessings of the Amidah prayer: 1) “…and to Jerusalem Your city, return in mercy, and dwell therein as You have spoken”; 2) “…and restore the service to the Holy of Holies in Your abode… and may our eyes behold Your merciful return to Zion.” Upon completion of our prayers, we once again ask: “That the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days.” Additionally, at every wedding we pledge our vow to Jerusalem and its rebuilding.

Similarly, in the Birkat HaMazon (the blessing over food), an entire blessing is dedicated to Jerusalem: “Have mercy, Lord our God, on Israel, Your people, on Jerusalem, Your city, on Zion, the dwelling place of Your glory… and on the great and holy House upon which Your Name is called… Rebuild Jerusalem, city of the Holy Sanctuary, speedily, in our days. Blessed are You, Lord, Builder of Jerusalem in His mercy. Amen.”

This is the right moment to praise the “Temple Institute” and all the rabbis and people engaged in the study of the laws of the Temple, who are restoring Temple consciousness and its significance ​​to the Jewish People and the nations of the world.

The Spiritual Level Required for the Temple is Still Far-off

On the other hand, although building the Temple is the pinnacle of the Jewish people’s national aspirations, the majority of us do not see an obligation to engage in direct preparations for its building. The reason is that we still have a long way to go – in building the Land of Israel in its entirety, in absorption of new immigrants, and in returning the Jewish nation to its faith, study of Torah, and observance of mitzvoth, so the Torah can illuminate Israel’s society, economy, sciences and culture. These processes are entrusted to our own free choice and are not dependent on Divine inspiration or the laws of ritual purity, whose observance is far from us. Also, it appears that prior to reaching the level required for the Temple, we will observe Shmitta (Sabbatical year) and Yovel (Jubilee year) as Biblically obligated, which is dependent on all of Israel residing in their land, each tribe in its inheritance (see, ‘Peninei Halakha: Shevi’it’ 11:5). It also appears that prior to building the Temple, the Sanhedrin needs to be established in order to decide questions related to the construction of the Temple, and the order of its service. To do this, the Torah must first return to be the spiritual focus of the majority of Jewish people’s lives, and all the rabbis, from all ethnic groups, must unite to form a joint Beit Din.

The Process

A miracle could happen, and the eyes of the blind be opened, and we could achieve all this in a short time. However, under normal circumstances, we still have a great amount of progress and spiritual elevation to accomplish. The religious community needs to be a society of exemplary moral individuals imbued with Torah, who work for a living and possess ‘derech eretz‘ (good character traits), and merit Divine blessing through raising praiseworthy families and contributing to society, until the multitudes of Jews will want to come closer to Torah and mitzvoth. Then we can move forward towards building the Holy Temple. May we merit being full partners in bringing the Redemption closer on the one hand, and on the other – merit it speedily.

Sovereignty over the Temple Mount

Although we are far from the appropriate spiritual level required to establish the Temple, it is forbidden for us to relinquish sovereignty over the place of our Temple under any circumstance, for this is the obligation of fulfilling the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land of Israel), as it is written:Take possession of the land and settle in it” (Numbers 33:53), and also, “and you shall possess it and dwell in it” (Deuteronomy 11:31). The meaning of the Hebrew word ‘ve’yerashtem‘ (“and you shall possess it’) refers to sovereignty, as the Ramban wrote: “We were commanded to take possession of the Land which the Almighty Blessed Be He, gave to our forefathers, to Avraham, to Yitzhak, and to Yaacov; and to not abandon it to other nations, or to leave it desolate” (Supplement to the Sefer HaMitzvot, Positive Commandment 4).

The most important place in terms of the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz is the Temple Mount, as we have learned that the sanctity of ‘mitzvoth ha’teluyot ba’aretz‘ (commandments dependent on the Land) did not apply to areas of Syria which King David conquered, because he conquered them before conquering Jerusalem (Sifri, Ekev), and this was codified in Jewish law by Rambam (Terumot, 1:2-4). Thus, a delay in Jerusalem’s sovereignty harms the mitzvoth of settling the Land, and the sovereignty of the entire country.

Ascending the Temple Mount Nowadays

If it were possible, it would be better to close the Temple Mount to all, to be guarded and separate in its sanctity until the Holy Temple is built. But as long as the Temple Mount is open to the Arabs, it is a mitzvah to ascend the Temple Mount in order to express Israeli sovereignty over the mountain. True, during the British Mandate the position of the rabbis, led by Rabbi Kook ztz”l, was to forbid entrance to the Temple Mount. However, this was after three centuries during which Jews were forbidden to enter the Temple Mount, and as a result, an uncertainty arose concerning the exact location of the Temple (whose area is ​​less than ten percent of the Temple Mount compound). However, following the liberation of the Temple Mount in the Six Day War, a number of rabbis, led by Rabbi Goren ztz”l, returned to measure the areas of the mountain, and determined where the site of the Temple was, and in which areas one is permitted to enter while observing the Halachic purity laws. And thus we can return to the minhag (custom) practiced by gedolei Yisrael (eminent rabbis) for more than a thousand years, whereby after immersion in a mikveh, one ascends to the areas permitted on the Temple Mount, and prays for building the Temple and Israel’s Redemption.

Moreover, the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz
requires us to do so. Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, due to the pressing situation we could not fulfill the mitzvah. At that period in time we were dependent on the mercy of the British, who, in addition to betraying the mandate assigned to them to build a home for the Jewish people, also claimed that if the Jews ascended the mountain, they would not be able to guarantee the security of Jewish lives’ in the country. But today, with the grace of God, we have security forces that have the ability to protect our people and country.

Blessed be those who ascend the Temple Mount, fulfilling the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz in the heart of our holy land.

The Importance of the Vision

And if one should ask: Since the building of the Holy Temple is remote, why is it so important to preserve its memory, and the sovereignty of its location? The answer is, because the vision is the foundation driving the entire process forward. When the vision is forgotten, the whole process comes to a halt.

Hold Fast to the Vision

When we were in the dreadful Diaspora, despite the difficult conditions we managed to survive and hold onto our faith, enduring all the persecutions and killings because, in the end, we would return to Zion, the place of our origin. Today, our duty is a lot more modest: to hold fast to the place of our Holy Temple.

Even if it appears to the Prime Minister that because of our security and international situation it is impossible to allow public, Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, at the very minimum he is obligated not to say anything implying a waiver of our sovereignty over the Temple Mount. He must refuse any limitation of entry of Jews to the Mount, and not agree to any expressions of incitement or degradation of Jews on the Temple Mount.

Even members of the opposition, headed by MK Yitzhak Herzog, the grandson of the Chief Rabbi, the Gaon, Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog of blessed memory, are obligated not to abandon the place of our Holy Temple.

The Realistic Consideration

Even from a realistic, political-security consideration, it is forbidden to abandon any signs of Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount. After all, the goal is to deal with the Arab enemy, and Arabs in general ascribe great importance to honor. In their eyes, a people who are prepared to spurn their values ​​and dignity are considered a contemptible, spineless nation that can easily be defeated. Any objective and impartial person who listens to what the credible Arab leaders are saying, immediately understands this.

Presumably, if Israel’s leaders related to Judaism’s sacred traditions with more respect, we would have been spared a number of wars and conflicts.

The Arabs in East Jerusalem

The Prime Minister’s initiative to examine the revocation of residency rights of Arab residents of hostile East Jerusalem neighborhoods, and the economic benefits associated with them, is deserving of praise.

Unfortunately, except for a few righteous people such as the wonderful Annette Haskiya, the Arabs demonstrate ingratitude for the benefits they receive from the Jews – financial assistance that costs State coffers billions of shekels each year. Instead of speaking the praises of the State of Israel and the Jews who granted them rights and a standard of living found in no other Arab state, their leaders and elected representatives spread wicked libels throughout the world about the “countless evils” that Jews supposedly cause them, to the point where currently, they are the most abused, oppressed, poor and miserable people on earth! Only thanks to their “legendary valor” from the days when they conquered the Land of Israel, slaughtered Jews and Christians, and destroyed the synagogue that was on the Temple Mount, they are able to withstand the cruelty and wickedness of the Jews.

Therefore, it is justified to deny them these benefits. Rights entail obligations. And in no way does this affect our striving to expand sovereignty on as much area throughout the Land of Israel as possible.

The Duty of Muslim Loyalty to the Ruling Authority

In principle, the ungrateful behavior of Arabs toward Jewish rule runs contrary to the accepted law of Islam, which requires loyalty as subjects to the governing rulers. Consequently, during the riots in the days of British rule, the Arabs shouted: “Itbah al-Yahud, Al-Dawala ma’ana” – “slaughter the Jews, the government is with us.” However, this loyalty is conditional on the government demonstrating enforcing its power with all means at its disposal. But if when the Arabs riot they are given into, without enforcing upon them fully and resolutely the laws of building, driving, marriage, theft of property and payment of taxes, they despise the government.

Enforce the law on Muslim society, and many of them worldwide will praise the State of Israel.

A Story from Professor Tavger

Professor Ben Tzion Tavger, the pioneer credited with the restoration of Jewish history in Hebron after the Six Day War, told the story about how he and a few friends redeemed and cleaned-up the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron:

“When we got to the cemetery, we found that the Arab who was paid a salary from the State of Israel to guard the cemetery had planted a vineyard in it, and was using the cemetery as his private courtyard.

“We started to uproot the vineyard and clean-up the cemetery. The Arab “guard” came out towards us shouting threats, claiming that it was his land, and we had to leave. Without saying much, we gave him a good pounding and continued cleaning. On the second day, the Arab walked towards us once, more shouting and threatening, and once again, we beat him up, and continued working.

“The third morning, the Arab greeted us with a tray of tea and coffee, and said: ‘How could there be a vineyard in a cemetery, a sacred place?!’ He also asked to be photographed with the ‘wise Jews’, so he could hang the picture on his wall. From then on, the Arab helped us work cleaning the cemetery.”

This is how Professor Tavger related the story, in a dry manner, similar to the way a physicist speaks about a field-tested theory proved to be correct.

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://revivimen.yhb.org.il/

Concerning a Decisive or Partial Victory

Our enemies war is against the very existence of the State of Israel which runs contrary to their Islamic beliefs * A decisive victory will be achieved through strengthening the Jewish character of the state and expanding settlement in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria * Political analysts and academic scholars misunderstand the motives of Arab terrorism * The government is too weak to pursue a decisive victory, but the fortitude of the public may lead to a partial victory * The reality of settlements on the ground and the mood of the public requires the government to fight and not give in * Moral, economic, and social strengthening of the country brings victory closer * Demographic trends have shifted in favor of the Jews, and to the disadvantage of the Arabs

 

How to Win the Struggle

Israel can emerge from the current struggle with a great victory, provided we thoroughly understand the ambition and goal of our enemies. The merciful among our enemies are willing to settle for the destruction of Israel, killing the Jews who oppose them, and leaving the remaining ones as humiliated subjects having to pay high taxes to the Muslim rule, according to the tradition of moderate Islam. The cruel ones hope to murder most of the Jews, according to the militant Islamic tradition. That’s what the influential Sunni and Shiite leaders in the world are saying, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian rulers. They have no reason to lie, that’s why they speak the truth.

In contrast to the honest and candid Muslim leaders, Palestinian Authority leaders do not speak about abolishing the State of Israel because they fear if they reveal their cards too early they will lose their status in Israel and the world. But this truth crops up in their statements from time to time.

The War on Faith and the Land

Thus, from our enemies’ point of view, the war is not about one piece of land or another, but rather the very existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, a reality radically opposed to the fundamentals of their faith. Therefore, anything weakening the State of Israel is considered a victory for them and our defeat; anything strengthening the sovereignty and Jewish identity of Israel is considered a defeat for them, and a victory for us.

Strengthening the Jewish Identity of the State

Today, the majority of the elected representatives of Israeli Arab citizens are conducting a war of incitement and provocation against Israel and gnawing at its potency. If as a result of the wave of terror the government changes the situation in which Israeli Arabs have rights without obligations; if it denies the residency status of over 100,000 Arabs who infiltrated the State of Israel under the cover of the law of ‘Family Reunification’; if it encourages the emigration of those hostile to the State of Israel – then, the results of the current struggle will be a great victory, transmitting a clear message to all our enemies that we are the victors and becoming stronger.

The War is Over Sovereignty

If out of this struggle the government of Israel approves plans for expansion of Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and annexes the territories on which Jewish settlements exist in Judea and Samaria – it will be clear to all the Arabs that the war against us led them to defeat, and their urge to fight us will decrease.

The Idiocy of the Political Commentators and Analysts

However, the political commentators and analysts and their “guru’s”, the academic scholars, are confident that mankind’s sole ambitions are democracy, freedom, and economic prosperity. Thus, in their opinion, the motive for terrorism is the “occupation” the Arabs are subjected to, and the despair gripping them in the absence of a political process that will bring an end to the “occupation”. But surprise! Each additional hint of sovereignty given to the Arabs only increases their hatred and assaults against us! The “experts” are confident that the more money and education the Arabs have, the less they will want to engage in terrorism and wars. But once again – surprise! The majority of the killers do not come from poor and uneducated families – on the contrary! Bin Laden was not a poor and uneducated person.

It is no wonder that all the predictions of the “experts” were proven false. They fail to understand what a nation is all about, what religious belief is all about – and in fact – what human beings are all about! In this manner they plunged the United States and Europe into a mistaken Middle East policy, as well as causing European countries to have to deal with Muslim immigrants, thus leading their countries to disaster.

The Weakness of the Government and the Courage of the Public

Unfortunately, the government and its leader lack the faith and determination required to act boldly to strengthen Israel’s sovereignty and settlement, therefore it is difficult to expect a clear victory. But with God’s help, we may be able to take comfort in a partial victory – thanks only to the devotion and determination of men of faith and action within our midst.

The situation our nation is that we have a weak government with good intentions. The same holds true for the majority of the public, who indeed would prefer that all of Judea and Samaria remain in our hands and who side with the settlers in their hearts, but lack the faith and courage to demand an absolute victory over our Arab enemies.

It could be said that in their worldview the public and government are captive to the erroneous assumptions of the majority of academics and political analysts, namely, that if we compromise and don’t offend the Arabs’ feelings, we will achieve peace, security, and a good life. On the other hand, in their hearts they aspire to victory, the expansion of settlements, sovereignty and Jewish identity, and feel that no compromise will bring peace.

The public, bearing no responsibility, is willing to express patriotic and faith-based positions, whereas the leadership, who do bear responsibility and is exposed to international pressures, does not dare give these views expression, because they lack an alternative policy which they can present to the world rationally, confidently, and with conviction. Only at election time is the country’s leadership more attuned to the sentiments of the public’s heart, for example, the Prime Ministers’ pledge before the elections to amend the law of citizenship and expand settlements.

The Fate of the Struggle Can Go Either Way

In such a situation, the fate of the struggle can go either way – for better, or for worse. If we listen to the failed political commentators and world leaders – we will then decide to withdraw and bring upon ourselves a catastrophe, as happened as a result of the cursed Oslo Accords. If we listen to the murmurings of our heart – we will progress, settle the Land, and achieve victory.

A Cautious Evaluation: Partial Victory

Seeing as Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria already numbers hundreds of thousands of people, and in the words of the Left “is stuck like a bone in the throat” hindering plans of further withdrawal, it is difficult to assure the Arabs further withdrawals. Even the freezing of settlements is difficult, because life in them is pulsating strongly. Thus, with our own bodies, we merit obstructing the “throat of the devil” wishing to swallow us.

And since the citizens are unwilling to give-in to terrorism, demanding that the government retaliate, it is difficult for the government to appease the Arabs with money or further erosion of Jewish identity in the State of Israel. The only remaining option for the government is to activate the police and the army, to strike the terrorists and their infrastructure, and weaken the ability of our enemies.

In addition, since many Arabs support the terrorists, there is no choice but to exercise caution and suspicion towards the entire Arab population – within the “Green Line” and beyond – a measure that embitters the lives of the good Arabs and the bad ones alike, and in practice, encourages the continuation of Arab immigration abroad.

People of Faith and Deeds

Hence, it is the believers and men and women of action – the rabbis and educators who strengthen Jewish identity, the settlers of Judea and Samaria, and the various dedicated security personnel who refuse to surrender to terrorism – they are the determining factor. Thanks to them, we will hopefully continue defeating our enemies, expand settlement in Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem our holy and glorious city – in particular, in areas surrounding the Temple Mount, where “the precious sons of Tziyon, as precious as fine gold” reside – men of equal faith and action.

Thanks to all the good Jews from the left and the right, who advance the State of Israel both morally, socially, and economically, the State of Israel marches forward and new immigrants continue knocking at her doors – nearly thirty thousand last year.

Jewish immigrants from Western countries bend down on the tarmac of the airport and kiss the ground of Israel, realizing the words of the Prophet: “I will also allow the house of Israel to ask me to do this for them: that I increase them like a human flock.  Like the holy flock, like the flock of Jerusalem at its festivals…Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36: 37-38).

Therefore, any strengthening in Torah and Jewish faith, in building and settling the land, in strengthening of society, the army, economy, sciences, and arts related to Jewish culture, draws us closer to victory over our enemies.

Optimistic Fertility Figures

This is the time to share with you the important summation of the notable researcher and former diplomat, Yoram Ettinger, regarding our demographic state of affairs.

By the grace of God, the Jewish fertility rate in Israel is rising from year to year. Fifteen years ago it stood at 2.6 children per woman, and is now 3.11. This rate is far higher than the fertility rate in all developed countries. It is also higher than all Arab countries, except for three.

In contrast, the fertility rate among Muslim women who have Israeli citizenship is steadily declining. Fifteen years ago it was approximately 4.5 per woman, and last year declined to 3.15.

The Arab fertility rate in Judea and Samaria dropped to 2.76 births compared to 5.0 births fifteen years ago (according to the C.I.A. annual report).

The reason for the high birth rate among Israeli Arabs as compared to Arabs of Judea and Samaria are the child allowances and other social benefits that Israeli Arabs receive from the state – the well into which most of them spit.

The Status of the Population

The Arab population in Judea and Samaria numbers approximately 1,700,000 and the number of Arab citizens of Israel is also 1,700,000 – though the Palestinian Authority publishes false demographics, for example, counting people who were born 170 years ago, and more than 400,000 people who emigrated abroad.

In conclusion, 6.6 million Jews currently reside in Israel, alongside 1.7 million Arabs within the “Green Line”, and 1.7 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria – a majority of 66% which also benefits from a ‘tailwind’ of fertility growth and immigration.

The Aging of the Arab Population opposed to Jewish Rejuvenation

The future continues to bode well for the nation of Israel. In contrast to the Jewish population which is getting younger thanks to increased fertility and the absorption of many young immigrants, Arab society in Judea and Samaria is aging rapidly: the average age rose to 22.7, compared with 17.0 fifteen years ago (C.I.A. annual report).

The average age is rising because in addition to a decline in fertility, there is a constant negative emigration of Arabs from Judea and Samaria abroad (20,000 in 2013, 25,000 in 2014, etc.). The waves of terror resulting in the closure and blockade of cities and villages and the rest of I.D.F. actions that follow in their wake, continue to encourage emigration. The majority of those emigrating abroad are young, thus the Arab population in Judea and Samaria will continue to age and diminish.

The Present Leadership

The Prime Minister and the majority of his administration are aware of these gladdening facts. Therefore, from their point of view, as long as we continue progressing, the situation is fine. However, if we had a leadership that could generate a substantial victory from this struggle, we would spare ourselves a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and the State of Israel would progress and flourish spiritually, demographically, socially and economically at a faster pace.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting articles by Rabbi Melamed, and all of his highly acclaimed books in the ‘Peninei Halakha’ series of Jewish Law and Thought (in Hebrew, and in the meantime, a few in English) can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

Concerning a Decisive or Partial Victory

Our enemies war is against the very existence of the State of Israel which runs contrary to their Islamic beliefs * A decisive victory will be achieved through strengthening the Jewish character of the state and expanding settlement in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria * Political analysts and academic scholars misunderstand the motives of Arab terrorism * The government is too weak to pursue a decisive victory, but the fortitude of the public may lead to a partial victory * The reality of settlements on the ground and the mood of the public requires the government to fight and not give in * Moral, economic, and social strengthening of the country brings victory closer * Demographic trends have shifted in favor of the Jews, and to the disadvantage of the Arabs

 

How to Win the Struggle

Israel can emerge from the current struggle with a great victory, provided we thoroughly understand the ambition and goal of our enemies. The merciful among our enemies are willing to settle for the destruction of Israel, killing the Jews who oppose them, and leaving the remaining ones as humiliated subjects having to pay high taxes to the Muslim rule, according to the tradition of moderate Islam. The cruel ones hope to murder most of the Jews, according to the militant Islamic tradition. That’s what the influential Sunni and Shiite leaders in the world are saying, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian rulers. They have no reason to lie, that’s why they speak the truth.

In contrast to the honest and candid Muslim leaders, Palestinian Authority leaders do not speak about abolishing the State of Israel because they fear if they reveal their cards too early they will lose their status in Israel and the world. But this truth crops up in their statements from time to time.

The War on Faith and the Land

Thus, from our enemies’ point of view, the war is not about one piece of land or another, but rather the very existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, a reality radically opposed to the fundamentals of their faith. Therefore, anything weakening the State of Israel is considered a victory for them and our defeat; anything strengthening the sovereignty and Jewish identity of Israel is considered a defeat for them, and a victory for us.

Strengthening the Jewish Identity of the State

Today, the majority of the elected representatives of Israeli Arab citizens are conducting a war of incitement and provocation against Israel and gnawing at its potency. If as a result of the wave of terror the government changes the situation in which Israeli Arabs have rights without obligations; if it denies the residency status of over 100,000 Arabs who infiltrated the State of Israel under the cover of the law of ‘Family Reunification’; if it encourages the emigration of those hostile to the State of Israel – then, the results of the current struggle will be a great victory, transmitting a clear message to all our enemies that we are the victors and becoming stronger.

The War is Over Sovereignty

If out of this struggle the government of Israel approves plans for expansion of Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, and annexes the territories on which Jewish settlements exist in Judea and Samaria – it will be clear to all the Arabs that the war against us led them to defeat, and their urge to fight us will decrease.

The Idiocy of the Political Commentators and Analysts

However, the political commentators and analysts and their “guru’s”, the academic scholars, are confident that mankind’s sole ambitions are democracy, freedom, and economic prosperity. Thus, in their opinion, the motive for terrorism is the “occupation” the Arabs are subjected to, and the despair gripping them in the absence of a political process that will bring an end to the “occupation”. But surprise! Each additional hint of sovereignty given to the Arabs only increases their hatred and assaults against us! The “experts” are confident that the more money and education the Arabs have, the less they will want to engage in terrorism and wars. But once again – surprise! The majority of the killers do not come from poor and uneducated families – on the contrary! Bin Laden was not a poor and uneducated person.

It is no wonder that all the predictions of the “experts” were proven false. They fail to understand what a nation is all about, what religious belief is all about – and in fact – what human beings are all about! In this manner they plunged the United States and Europe into a mistaken Middle East policy, as well as causing European countries to have to deal with Muslim immigrants, thus leading their countries to disaster.

The Weakness of the Government and the Courage of the Public

Unfortunately, the government and its leader lack the faith and determination required to act boldly to strengthen Israel’s sovereignty and settlement, therefore it is difficult to expect a clear victory. But with God’s help, we may be able to take comfort in a partial victory – thanks only to the devotion and determination of men of faith and action within our midst.

The situation our nation is that we have a weak government with good intentions. The same holds true for the majority of the public, who indeed would prefer that all of Judea and Samaria remain in our hands and who side with the settlers in their hearts, but lack the faith and courage to demand an absolute victory over our Arab enemies.

It could be said that in their worldview the public and government are captive to the erroneous assumptions of the majority of academics and political analysts, namely, that if we compromise and don’t offend the Arabs’ feelings, we will achieve peace, security, and a good life. On the other hand, in their hearts they aspire to victory, the expansion of settlements, sovereignty and Jewish identity, and feel that no compromise will bring peace.

The public, bearing no responsibility, is willing to express patriotic and faith-based positions, whereas the leadership, who do bear responsibility and is exposed to international pressures, does not dare give these views expression, because they lack an alternative policy which they can present to the world rationally, confidently, and with conviction. Only at election time is the country’s leadership more attuned to the sentiments of the public’s heart, for example, the Prime Ministers’ pledge before the elections to amend the law of citizenship and expand settlements.

The Fate of the Struggle Can Go Either Way

In such a situation, the fate of the struggle can go either way – for better, or for worse. If we listen to the failed political commentators and world leaders – we will then decide to withdraw and bring upon ourselves a catastrophe, as happened as a result of the cursed Oslo Accords. If we listen to the murmurings of our heart – we will progress, settle the Land, and achieve victory.

A Cautious Evaluation: Partial Victory

Seeing as Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria already numbers hundreds of thousands of people, and in the words of the Left “is stuck like a bone in the throat” hindering plans of further withdrawal, it is difficult to assure the Arabs further withdrawals. Even the freezing of settlements is difficult, because life in them is pulsating strongly. Thus, with our own bodies, we merit obstructing the “throat of the devil” wishing to swallow us.

And since the citizens are unwilling to give-in to terrorism, demanding that the government retaliate, it is difficult for the government to appease the Arabs with money or further erosion of Jewish identity in the State of Israel. The only remaining option for the government is to activate the police and the army, to strike the terrorists and their infrastructure, and weaken the ability of our enemies.

In addition, since many Arabs support the terrorists, there is no choice but to exercise caution and suspicion towards the entire Arab population – within the “Green Line” and beyond – a measure that embitters the lives of the good Arabs and the bad ones alike, and in practice, encourages the continuation of Arab immigration abroad.

People of Faith and Deeds

Hence, it is the believers and men and women of action – the rabbis and educators who strengthen Jewish identity, the settlers of Judea and Samaria, and the various dedicated security personnel who refuse to surrender to terrorism – they are the determining factor. Thanks to them, we will hopefully continue defeating our enemies, expand settlement in Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem our holy and glorious city – in particular, in areas surrounding the Temple Mount, where “the precious sons of Tziyon, as precious as fine gold” reside – men of equal faith and action.

Thanks to all the good Jews from the left and the right, who advance the State of Israel both morally, socially, and economically, the State of Israel marches forward and new immigrants continue knocking at her doors – nearly thirty thousand last year.

Jewish immigrants from Western countries bend down on the tarmac of the airport and kiss the ground of Israel, realizing the words of the Prophet: “I will also allow the house of Israel to ask me to do this for them: that I increase them like a human flock.  Like the holy flock, like the flock of Jerusalem at its festivals…Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36: 37-38).

Therefore, any strengthening in Torah and Jewish faith, in building and settling the land, in strengthening of society, the army, economy, sciences, and arts related to Jewish culture, draws us closer to victory over our enemies.

Optimistic Fertility Figures

This is the time to share with you the important summation of the notable researcher and former diplomat, Yoram Ettinger, regarding our demographic state of affairs.

By the grace of God, the Jewish fertility rate in Israel is rising from year to year. Fifteen years ago it stood at 2.6 children per woman, and is now 3.11. This rate is far higher than the fertility rate in all developed countries. It is also higher than all Arab countries, except for three.

In contrast, the fertility rate among Muslim women who have Israeli citizenship is steadily declining. Fifteen years ago it was approximately 4.5 per woman, and last year declined to 3.15.

The Arab fertility rate in Judea and Samaria dropped to 2.76 births compared to 5.0 births fifteen years ago (according to the C.I.A. annual report).

The reason for the high birth rate among Israeli Arabs as compared to Arabs of Judea and Samaria are the child allowances and other social benefits that Israeli Arabs receive from the state – the well into which most of them spit.

The Status of the Population

The Arab population in Judea and Samaria numbers approximately 1,700,000 and the number of Arab citizens of Israel is also 1,700,000 – though the Palestinian Authority publishes false demographics, for example, counting people who were born 170 years ago, and more than 400,000 people who emigrated abroad.

In conclusion, 6.6 million Jews currently reside in Israel, alongside 1.7 million Arabs within the “Green Line”, and 1.7 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria – a majority of 66% which also benefits from a ‘tailwind’ of fertility growth and immigration.

The Aging of the Arab Population opposed to Jewish Rejuvenation

The future continues to bode well for the nation of Israel. In contrast to the Jewish population which is getting younger thanks to increased fertility and the absorption of many young immigrants, Arab society in Judea and Samaria is aging rapidly: the average age rose to 22.7, compared with 17.0 fifteen years ago (C.I.A. annual report).

The average age is rising because in addition to a decline in fertility, there is a constant negative emigration of Arabs from Judea and Samaria abroad (20,000 in 2013, 25,000 in 2014, etc.). The waves of terror resulting in the closure and blockade of cities and villages and the rest of I.D.F. actions that follow in their wake, continue to encourage emigration. The majority of those emigrating abroad are young, thus the Arab population in Judea and Samaria will continue to age and diminish.

The Present Leadership

The Prime Minister and the majority of his administration are aware of these gladdening facts. Therefore, from their point of view, as long as we continue progressing, the situation is fine. However, if we had a leadership that could generate a substantial victory from this struggle, we would spare ourselves a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and the State of Israel would progress and flourish spiritually, demographically, socially and economically at a faster pace.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting articles by Rabbi Melamed, and all of his highly acclaimed books in the ‘Peninei Halakha’ series of Jewish Law and Thought (in Hebrew, and in the meantime, a few in English) can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

Coping with Terrorism through Faith

The goal of terrorism is to sow panic and cause the public to give up on its assets and interests * The difference between Leftists who respond to terrorism by capitulating, and Rightists who mobilize to defeat it * Today, the majority of Israeli’s have sobered from the delusions of peace; consequently, terrorism will not achieve its goal * Fear of death leads to helplessness which only increases the danger * The religious public fails to convince despite its accurate claims because they are perceived as operating out of irrational considerations * In addition to presenting the overall vision of the Torah a rational, gradual, and realistic means of achieving it must be proposed

The War on Arab Terror

Many people are extremely worried about the Arab terror raging in the streets. This is the goal of terrorism – attacking a few people and sowing panic among the public at large, causing them to surrender their assets and interests in hopes of gaining peace and quiet. Even in recent weeks in which terror has raised its evil head, more people were killed in traffic accidents, many of which could have been avoided. Despite this, the fear of terror is far greater than that of road accidents, because the terrible evilness of acts of murder ensnares the mind and arouses fear and horror.

The Effect of Terrorism on the Left and Right

The goal of terrorism is to weaken our hold on the country, in practice however, its influence branches in different directions, according to the state of mind and moral fiber of those attacked.

There are some people who weren’t interested in living in Israel in the first place, and fled here only because of the Holocaust and other troubles in the Diaspora. For them, terror petrifies and paralyzes. They would be willing to accept any withdrawal or humiliation, as long as the fear of terrorism is withdrawn from them. Some go a step further – their hearts are drawn in a sick way to the figure of the killer, striving to understand and justify the motives for his wickedness, hoping that perhaps in this way they will find a solution to the situation. For the sake of this they are forced to modify their moral outlooks, as one can hear from various Leftists.

And then there are people with a healthy moral consciousness for whom justice is important, and are not willing or able to surrender to terrorism. Just the opposite – it spawns within them an opposite reaction, and a strong will to fight back.

The Division between Right and Left

In order to analyze things properly, it is important to first define the basic essentials. In practice, the dividing line between those for whom terrorism overcomes and impels to concessions on land and rights, and those who terrorism triggers a desire to fight back – is based on one’s attitude towards the Land of Israel.

Those Tending to the Left

Jews who tend to the Left never really wanted to immigrate to Israel in the first place, and only when the troubles of the Diaspora were about to drown them, did they decide to go. Some chose to immigrate to Israel and not move abroad to America or other foreign countries, and some had no choice but to immigrate to Israel because no other country agreed to accept them. Consequently, the Holocaust for them is the supreme justification for the existence of the State of Israel. Their descendants live in Israel because they got used to the country, and their friends and family also live here. Most of them also have a certain connection to the Bible, the People and the Land, but they wouldn’t shed a tear if fate somehow transported them to the West. For them, annual visits to Israel would suffice.

These are the people willing fall for any “peace” proposal. Even for the slightest chance of quiet they are willing to give up parts of the homeland. In exchange for a temporary lull in the international arena, they are willing to give up the basic fundamentals of sovereignty and Jewish identity.

Those Tending to the Right

Those tending to the right view immigration to Israel and the blossoming of its wilderness as a process of redemption for the People and Land of Israel, based on the mitzvoth of the Torah and Prophetic visions, or at very least, based on a national and historic mandate. True, most of them unfortunately immigrated to Israel only after the troubles in the Diaspora increased dramatically. But after being forced to flee, they saw in the settling of the Land a phase of redemption. The supreme justification of Israel’s existence for them are the mitzvoth of the Torah, or at very least, a national historic right.

These people are willing to sacrifice and pay the price in order to secure Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Only in a situation of absolute coercion would they be prepared to retreat; short of such circumstances, they would prefer suffering international condemnation and terrorism, and not retreat. Arab terror spurs them to fight back, and expand Jewish settlement.

Those in the Middle

The majority of the public is somewhere in the middle; they understand both the Right and the Left. Ideally, they would prefer the approach of the Right, but for more security, would be ready to tilt to the Left. When successfully deceived that withdrawals will bring peace, they are enticed to support the retreat. When failed to be deceived, they will oppose withdrawals and violation of sovereignty.

A Cautious Assessment: Terrorism Will Fail

At present, it appears that most of Israeli public leans to the Right – unfortunately, not thanks to a deepening of Jewish identity, but mainly because reality refused to conform to the delusions of peace. Consequently, chances are the current wave of terror will not achieve its goal – on the contrary, it will strengthen Jewish identity and harm the Arabs rising up against us.

The Security Question and Its Roots

It’s interesting that when the two side’s debate, they often gear themselves with security, economic, social and moral arguments, without being aware of the roots of their arguments. In practice, those who are more firmly connected to the Torah, People, and Land of Israel find realistic arguments for settling the Land, while those who are distant find realistic claims for withdrawal.

The Path to Security

From time immemorial, those who worried only about not dying were harmed more than those who tried to live. For example, Jews in Europe were extremely worried for their lives. They felt the growing anti-Semitism, and tried to do anything to survive. However, since their main concern was how not to die, they were afraid to make aliyah to Israel, because a person whose main wish is not to die, is afraid to face reality and have the courage to do what it takes to increase his chances of survival. Therefore, when the Jews in Europe heard about Arab terrorism taking place in Israel, they were afraid and remained in the Diaspora, and ultimately were harmed sevenfold.

In contrast, a person who wants to live, and has meaning to his life, dares to act even under risk and self-sacrifice, to fulfill his life’s purpose. And if his actions are carried out within the framework of rational considerations, he merits surviving longer.

The same is true concerning illnesses: someone who is always worried about getting sick is usually more ill. In contrast, a person whose life is full of content is usually healthier.

When the primary hope of the Left is that the State of Israel not be harmed, it brings upon the country far more security, economic and social troubles than the Right, who are not willing to give up on our national identity.

The Problem of the Faith-based Right

Recent years have proven that the Right was correct. Withdrawals did not increase security, rather, the exact opposite. The Arab world did not mollify their views towards us, but instead became more radical. The Western world also stepped-up its delusional demands of us, despite all the concessions we already made.

Representatives of the faith-based Right foresaw all of this. So why is it that the public at large does not accept the positions of the faith-based Right? Why is the public still willing to listen to the nonsense of all the commentators and experts from academia and graduates of the intelligence community, chattering incessantly in the media? After all, it has been proven time and again how they embroiled governments in complicated and dangerous concessions, and have never been able to predict the future.

It appears the reason is because often, the faith-based Right proposes implausible suggestions based on wishful thinking and beliefs, rather than on reality. The public fears that these irrational positions are liable to endanger their existence. For all one knows, faith-based leaders might suddenly decide to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount and provoke a world war. Or maybe they’ll apply sovereignty over territories in Judea and Samaria while giving full citizenship to the Arabs living there. Or alternatively, maybe they will emerge with a program of instant deportation of the majority of Arabs, while bringing the entire world against the State of Israel.

In contrast, the various commentators indeed are always wrong, because they fail to understand the meaning of national identity and faith, and therefore do not understand the motives of the enemy, and the source of strength of the People of Israel. However, the information they provide is factual and solid, and their arguments are drawn from the realistic domain, without relying on miracles. Consequently, the public is willing to listen to them, even though they do not trust their suggestions.

In such a situation, the public prefers the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Although he deals mainly with survival, and only occasionally merits us with little flickers of faith, national achievements, and settling the land, nevertheless, his considerations are rational and based on solid reality, lacking the grave errors of the failed commentators.

A Proposal for a Gradual, Faith-Based Approach

We can fix this situation when we present a comprehensive and idealistic vision as written in the Torah and the Prophets, while at the same time offer a gradual way to achieve it, taking into maximal account reality, including Israeli public opinion and that of the international community, and the powers they represent.

For example, concerning the Temple Mount I suggest that from now on, every preacher who incites and speaks out against Israel or Jews, and any Muslim who disturbs those ascending the Temple Mount by screaming or other actions will not be allowed to go up the Temple Mount. This is a proportionate measure, whose reasoning can be understood by any normal person in the world.

Similarly, in regards to the continuation of settlement in Judea and Samaria: It is possible to expand the settlements on State-owned land without depriving any Arab who has property rights. In this way, friction will be reduced in all respects. Settlement will be regulated by law without any complaints of discrimination and dispossession, and all the positive energy of the settlers will be directed to perfectly legal areas of the State of Israel, without an attempt to grab land that is not regulated or privately owned.

It is also possible to gradually apply Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements and empty areas in Judea and Samaria, while proposing regional autonomy to the local Arab leadership, and likewise with respect to the demand for loyalty from Israeli Arab citizens.

This gradual process does not demand concession of any rights of the Jewish people, but only exercises our rights incrementally, in the sense of: “I will drive them out from before you gradually, until you have grown in number and can take possession of the land” (Exodus 23:30).

Learning Logic from Within the Torah

To be able to put through such leadership and approach, Torah must be studied in a more complete and truthful way, so that its’ practical logic will shine forth as the sun in the afternoon. Today, many people fulfill the mitzvoth for mystical reasons, while at the same time declaring that practical considerations indeed indicate the opposite, but nevertheless, faith trumps logic and nature. Many even take pride in this, because in their view, the absolute believer must ignore practical considerations. But they are gravely mistaken, uprooting the Torah and the meaning of its study; for indeed, the roots of Torah and Jewish faith are in the Heavens, but the entire revelation of the Torah is logical and practical, as is the way of halakha (Jewish law).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting and informative articles by Rabbi Melamed and his highly acclaimed series of Jewish law and thought “Peninei Halakha” can be found at:
http://en.yhb.org.il/

The Death of the Righteous

The recently murdered Jews in Arab terrorist attacks clung to the frontline of settling Eretz Yisrael despite the danger, fulfilling the words of our Sages “with all your soul – even if He takes your soul” * The settlers of Judea and Samaria are the floodgate preventing disastrous withdrawals, therefore the answer to the wave of terrorism is to strengthen settlement which thwarts the establishment of a terrorist state in the heart of our country * Torah study on Shabbat as the key to Redemption and true integration between sacred and secular * Oneg Shabbat, whose virtue our Sages spoke highly of, is not only enjoying sumptuous meals, but a combination of physical and spiritual pleasure * The importance of Torah study on Shabbat specifically in the Land of Israel

Terrible sorrow filled our hearts following the ruthless murder of the beloved and holy Jews, ‘the precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold‘ – Rabbi Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi, and Aaron Bennett, may God avenge their blood. They died ‘al Kiddush Hashem‘ (in sanctification of God’s name) in the struggle for the return of Am Yisrael to its Land – in the heart of Jerusalem, and in the heart of Samaria.

When waves of terrorist murders escalate, it is essential to remember that the settlers living on the frontlines of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria are the floodgates preventing catastrophic withdrawals. The weakness in the heart of many of our fellow Jews leads them to believe time and again in a delusional peace. Only the continued presence of communities in Judea and Samaria, in particular in Gav Ha’Har (the area of Schem), prevents the establishment of an Arab terror state in the heart of our country, whose goal is the destruction of the State of Israel. Therefore, in addition to usual security measures, the proper answer to the wave of terror is the expansion of settlement in Judea and Samaria which impedes the existential danger of an additional front opening along the entire length of the State of Israel, as is already the case with Gaza and Lebanon. And, as we have learned from the Torah and Prophets, Kibbutz Ha’galuyot (the Ingathering of the Exiles) and settling the Land of Israel is the key to security, prosperity, and ultimately, the final Redemption.

These righteous and holy individuals who in their lifetimes clung to the frontline of Jewish settlement despite understanding a certain amount of danger was involved, thus fulfilling the words of Rabbi Akiva, “with all your soul – even if He takes your soul”, will be melitzei yosher (advocates) for all of us, that we merit continuing to settle the Land, and in the building of Jerusalem and the entire country, we will be comforted.

The Foundation of Torah Study on Shabbat

Today, we realize that in the long run, the building of the Land is also dependent on a connection to the Torah, and the leaders in building the country in our times are those who cling more firmly to the Torah.

The important question confronting us is how we, the religiously observant, can elevate our lives and serve as an example to all Jews, to the point where all those who see us will want to adhere to Torah and mitzvoth, and thus, the entire People of Israel can serve as an example to all nations, to perfect the world in the Kingdom of God, corresponding to the role assigned to us by the Lord our God.

Apparently, Torah study on Shabbat is the key to everything, and this is what our Sages meant when they said: “If Israel were to keep two Sabbaths according to the laws thereof, they would be redeemed immediately” (Shabbat 118b).

Torah in the Lives of Working People

Without Torah study on Shabbat, the verdict of every Jew would have been to choose between the sacred and secular: or to learn Torah all his life in kollel, as many members of the ultra-Orthodox community do, or go to work in a number of jobs, even academics – but one’s connection to spiritual life would be weak. Indeed, there are righteous individuals who are able to create different types of combinations, and are able to connect spiritual life with the secular. But as a rule, the rift is clear and painful, and many are forced to choose between the two options, neither of which suit them perfectly, and none of which bear tidings of tikun olam (perfection of the world).

Torah study on Shabbat is designed to solve this difficult dilemma.

The Role of the Torah in the Life of a Jew

Without constant Torah learning, a proper Jewish life cannot be maintained, as our Sages have already taught us that Torah study is equivalent to all the mitzvoth. There are two reasons for this: first, the mitzvah of Torah study is performed by the use of one’s intellect, this being man’s loftiest talent. Second, because Torah study leads one to the most complete fulfillment of the mitzvoth, as our Sages said: “Torah study is greater, for it leads to action” (Kiddushin 40b).

Therefore, one must set aside time for Torah study every day, as it is written: “This book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8). Therefore, each individual should study a chapter in the morning and in the evening (Menachot 99b). However, such studying is only beneficial in maintaining one’s continual connection to the Torah, but it cannot elevate a Jew to the appropriate level of Torah knowledge in order to illuminate life and perfect the world.

Regular Torah study on Shabbat is intended to solve the problem.

How to Achieve ‘Oneg Shabbat

Our Sages said: “He who delights in the Sabbath is saved from the servitude of the Diaspora” (Shabbat 118b). They also said: “He who delights in the Sabbath is granted his heart’s desires”, and “He who delights in the Sabbath is given an unbounded heritage.” Additionally, they said a person who delights in the Sabbath merits wealth (ibid, 119a).

From our Sages statements, we can understand that delighting in the Sabbath is not an easy matter, and consequently, someone who is fortunate and succeeds in doing so, merits all of these enormous blessings. But seemingly, what’s so hard about doing it? All it takes is to prepare some tasty dishes, and eat them at three meals?!

In truth, though, ‘oneg Shabbat‘ (delighting in the Sabbath) is an extremely refined and deep mitzvah, requiring a combination of both soul and body together. As our Sages said, one should divide the Sabbath “half of it to eating and drinking, and half of it to theBeth Hamidrash (study hall)” (Pesachim 68b). These two halves are meant to be complementary – the meals should be coupled with learning, and the learning should be coupled with the meals –and everything with pleasure.

‘Mayain Olam Ha’Ba’

The uniqueness of Shabbat is that it is ‘mayain olam ha’ba‘ (a resemblance of the pleasure in the World to Come), sort of like a funnel of holiness, light, and blessing stretching from the World to Come into this world. The more illumination of the Shabbat we are able to receive, the greater our ability is to draw the Great Light of the World to Come into our world.

And what is the World to Come? Not ‘Olam HaNeshamot‘ (the World of Souls) – Gan Eden (Paradise) for the righteous, and Gehenom (Hell) for the wicked – this is where the soul goes after the death of the person; rather, the following stage, after the completion of tikun olam (perfection of the world) with Techiyat HaMeytim(Resurrection of the Dead), when the souls of the righteous return to reunite with their bodies, and as one, experience eternal ascent.

Resembling this, Shabbat connects the soul and body in an enhanced manner. However, if a person eats, drinks, and rests without devoting half of Shabbat to Torah study, the soul is absent, and he is unable to truly delight in the Sabbath.

When we achieve observing the Sabbath properly, delighting both soul and body, we will discover for ourselves and for the entire world, the ultimate way of life. After that, we will be able to declare to one and all: “Taste, and see that God is good. How blessed are those who take refuge in him!” (Psalms 34:9).

The Purpose of the Sabbath: Torah Study

Our Sages said in Tana d’Bei Eliyahu Rabbah, Chapter One: “The nature of man being what it is, the Holy One said to Israel: My children! Have I not written for you in My Torah, ‘This book of Torah shall not depart from your mouth (Joshua 1:8)? Although you must labor all six days of the week, the Sabbath is to be given over completely to Torah. Accordingly, it is said that a man should rise early on the Sabbath to reciteMishana, and then go to the synagogue and academy where he is to read in the Five Books and recite a portion in the Prophets. Afterwards, he is to go home and eat and drink, thereby fulfilling the verse ‘Eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart’ (Ecclesiastes 9:7)…”

The Stipulation to the Virtue of the Land of Israel

It is particularly important to be meticulous about Torah study on Shabbat in the Land of Israel, as our Sages said: “The Torah said before God: ‘Master of the World! When Israel enters the Land, this one will run to his vineyard, and this one will run to his field. What will be with me’? God said to the Torah: ‘I have a partner for you, whose name is Shabbat, and on that day they will be free from their work and will thus be able to engage in the study of you.”  (Tur, Orach Chaim 290). Several ‘poskim‘ (Jewish legal authorities) cite this Midrash in their halachic decisions, coming to teach us that indeed, one must devote the Shabbat to Torah study (M.B. 290:5).

Truthfully speaking, this poses a difficult question: Why did the Jewish nation have to enter the Land of Israel? God could have kept them in the desert, in order to learn in the ‘kollel‘ of Moshe Rabbeinu and the Seventy Elders. No economic crisis would affect their government benefits – in the morning, they would eat ‘manna‘, and at night, quail; their clothes and shoes never wore-out and they were able to engage in the study of the holy Torah day and night. However, the Torah is revealed in its completeness only when it sanctifies all spheres of life, both the spiritual and the physical.

Nonetheless, the penetrating question still remains: What will become of the Torah?! Torah study must be done seriously, and how can this possibly be done concurrently with working to develop the world? God’s answer was to study Torah on Shabbat, and thereby people’s practical lives will be illuminated and guided by the Torah, and thus, we will be able to understand the Torah in its completeness.

Six Hours

True, our Sages did not fix a specific amount of time one should learn on Shabbat, but certainly, they intended we invest a significant amount of time. They would not have said “the entire Shabbat day should be devoted to Torah” in regards to four or five hours of study. And seeing as our Sages said that at least half of the Shabbat should be devoted to Torah study (Pesachim 68b) clearly, it is impossible to say that four or five hours is considered half a day. Several of the ‘poskim‘ have written this as halakha,such as ‘Ohr Zarua’ , Smag, Rabbeinu Yerucham, Maharshal, (see, Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 5:1 and harchavot).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

 

 

The Meaning of Shemini Atzeret

Our Sages said: The seventy bulls the Jewish nation sacrificed in the Holy Temple during the holiday of Sukkot corresponds to the seventy nations, and the singular bull sacrificed on Shemini Atzeret corresponds to the one, unique nation – the People of Israel.

This may be compared to a mortal king who said to his servants, ‘Prepare for me a great banquet’; but on the last day he said to his beloved friend, ‘Prepare for me a simple meal that I may derive benefit from you.’

The Midrash also explains:

‘This may be compared to the case of a king who made a banquet for seven days and invited all the people in the province during the seven days of the feast. When the seven days of the feast were over he said to his friend: ‘We have already done our duty to all the people of the province, let us now rejoice together, you and I, with whatever you can find – a pound of meat, fish, or vegetables.’ In a similar manner the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: ‘On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly; let’s rejoice together with whatever you can find; with one bullock, one ram’(Bamidbar Rabbah 21:24).

Likewise, in the Zohar, it is also written that this day, Shemini Atzeret, is a day for the King himself – his day of joy together with Israel.

“This is analogous to a king who invited guests. The household people entertained them. At the end, the king said to his household, ‘Until now, I and you all entertained the guests. You offered sacrifices for the other nations every day, that is, the seventy bullocks. From now on, for one day, let me and you rejoice. This is the meaning of the verse ‘On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly’; “you” means offering sacrifices for yourselves” (Zohar 3, Emor 104:2).

“And when Israel heard this, they began to exalt God, saying: ‘This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalms 118:24). Rabbi Avin said: ‘We do not know in which to rejoice: in the day, or in God? King Solomon came and interpreted: ‘We will exult and rejoice in you’ (Song of Songs 1:4) – ‘in you’, in your Torah, ‘in you’, in your salvation … “(Yalkut Shimoni Pinchas 782).

This is the special and unique meaning of Shemini Atzeret, which contains no distinctive mitzvoth, other than the mitzvah of rejoicing in God, His Torah, and His salvation.

Taken from Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s book, “Peninei Halkha: Sukkot” and translated from Hebrew. All of Rabbi Melamed’s books can be found at: http://yhb.org.il/