'V'Nafachu' (On the Contrary)

When the Month of Adar Enters

Our Sages have said (Ta’anit 29a): “When the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy.” Everyday joy is over the good in the world; however, this happiness is threatened due to the evil and pain which remains in the world. Nevertheless, when the evil itself becomes good, joy increases. This is what happened on Purim – God turned the evil into good and saved His nation, Israel. It became clear that, precisely in the merit of Haman’s harsh decree, the Jewish nation repented, Mordechai was appointed viceroy to King Ahashverosh and was able to continue the building of the Second Temple, and the Jewish nation became established in the Land of Israel. From all this we learned that everything that happens in this world, even seemingly bad, in the end, will turn into good. And since the unique quality of the month of Adar is to turn evil into good, “when the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy”.

Judea and Samaria – Purim-Style

Our present situation in Judea and Samaria can also be viewed with a Purim-style outlook, seeing how things that seem bad, turn into good. Take for example the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel. To our great dismay, many Jews are not aware of the full validity of the Heavenly guarantee of God’s promise of the Land of Israel to our forefathers and us, and that by means of this promise, redemption and blessing would spread throughout the world, as the Prophets have said. Consequently, facing Arab threats of war and pressure from the rest of the world, many Jews are ready to retreat from parts of our holy land in return for promises of a halting of international pressure on Israel and the prevention of future wars. This, in spite of the fact that history has proven that such promises carry no real guarantees, and that the most important factor that prevents war is the acknowledgment of the power of the State of Israel, and that, conversely, withdrawals are likely to increase the appetite of our enemies to continue striving towards their final goal – the destruction of the State of Israel, God forbid. And although it is clear to almost everyone that even if we sign the agreements offered by the nations of the world, we will not see true peace in the near future, nevertheless, the hope that the State of Israel will be able to remove from itself the pressures and threats causes many Jews to agree to up-root settlements and endanger the deterrent force of the State of Israel.

And lo and behold, we find left-wing people who, indeed, are relatively small in number, but carry significant weight in the worlds of academia and the media, both in Israel and throughout the world, many of whom convincingly claim that all of the State of Israel’s problems stem from the establishment of the settlements. Thus, in their opinion, the Government of Israel must freeze the building of all houses in Judea and Samaria, not only to achieve peace, but also to prevent the occupation and expulsion of the Arabs. Some of the left-wingers even claim that the State of Israel must compensate the Arabs for the mere fact of our own existence, and to allow a significant number of refugees to return to within the ‘Green Line’ borders. In such a situation, it is almost impossible to reach any type of an agreement with the Arabs. What Arab would agree to receive less than what even the left-wing Jews agree they should receive? As we know, a proud Arab is always meant to demand more. And Netanyahu and Olmert, who would have loved to already sign on a withdrawal agreement, realize that the proposals up for discussion are so dangerous to the security of Israel, that they cannot be accepted. Thus, every attempt for an agreement on withdrawal crumbles before it reaches the final stage.

The Influence of the Left – ‘V’Nafachu’

Even if the cunning politicians, Israeli and American, succeed in creating a smokescreen to cover up the true demands of the Arabs, and promise the Jews that, in the merit of their withdrawal from parts of their homeland, they will be able to guard the Jewish identity of the State, immediately the left-wingers appear on the stage, fighting for the rights of the Israeli Arabs citizens. They blame those who speak out against Arab crime as being racists, attack the Jewish National Fund for not selling land to the Arabs, attack rabbis who want to protect the unique Jewish character of Israel’s cities. They fight for additional allocations of resources and extra rights for the Arabs, despite the fact that the Arabs don’t share in the security burden. Your average person asks himself: “If this is how the leftists attack the rabbis and public figures who try to protect the Jewish character of our cities, what exactly do they mean when they promise that by withdrawing, we will be able to guard the Jewish character of the State?” The answer is clear: Withdrawal from Judea and Samaria is also capitulation from the Jewishness of the State.

Jewish Spiritual Independence – ‘V’Nafachu’

The spiritual independence of Judaism is also in danger, facing the tremendous potency of Western culture, which like a giant river, washes away various standpoints. If we were in complete agreement with our Torah, we would be able to scrutinize this wonderful culture honestly, to praise its good aspects, and criticize the bad, thereby improving the world and being a light unto the nations. The Torani public, which strives to improve the world (‘tikun olam’), does not attempt to erect a sealed wall between itself and Western culture; but currently, in the absence of a deep and broad Torah doctrine which draws its essentiality from the ‘Torah of the Land of Israel’, it finds itself struggling to guard its spiritual independence. Without this independence, we will never merit making the Torah great and glorious, and fulfill our mission. And lo and behold, in the ‘merit’ of the difficult and painful attacks in the name of ‘liberal values’ on the Torani public and its rabbis, a defensive wall is created, guarding from the influence of the Western culture. Consequently, the religious public, and to a certain extent, also most of Israeli society, is immunized from the influence of the media and non-religious culture.

The Authors Boycott

For example, according to the basic position of the religious and Torani public, which supports openness and the acceptance of good from all people — all the more so from Jews, even if they are not religious – the left-wing authors could have had a tremendous influence. However, when the majority of them joined the boycott on the city of Ariel, and makes every attempt to condemn the rabbis and the settlers, a protective barrier is created from their influence. The religious and traditional public is personally acquainted with the rabbis and settlers, and knows that they are quite ethical people. When they hear the authors condemning them as being terrible, they say to themselves: “These leftists are totally out of their minds; their hate has driven them crazy”. Thus, the authors influence on the public dissipates.

Indeed, it is true that from the outset, it would have been beneficial to learn from the good within these authors. However, under the present circumstances where the majority of the public lacks the ability to select the good from the bad, the authors came and damned themselves in such a way that, even those who continue to read their books do so with grave hesitation. Once again, we have found ‘nafachu’ (on the contrary): how the authors boycott benefits the independent development of the Torani public.

Skepticism towards the Holiness of the Nation and Land

Even the irritating skepticism of the non-religious left towards the holiness of the nation and the Land has its good side, for by means of it, students of Torah are required to delve deeper in the Torah and various areas of knowledge. Without this, we would be satisfied with trivial, insufficient explanations, which, as we see, lack the ability to elevate the entire nation.

Best Possible Scenario

Nevertheless, we must remember that the idea of ‘nafachu’ is not enough. Even after the miracle of Purim, the complete redemption did not arrive. We still remained the slaves of Achashverosh, for when we arrive at the good only because we have run away from the bad, the redemption remains a partial one. Still, it enables us to continue to build ourselves spiritually and physically, to make the Torah great and glorious, to settle Judea and Samaria, to build a moral society, to investigate the various cultures with a positive and critical eye, to choose Torah and the Land of Israel not only for means of survival, but to bring redemption to the world. In this manner, we will merit, with God’s help, the building of the Holy Temple and the coming of the Mashiach, speedily in our days.

'V'Nafachu' (On the Contrary)

When the Month of Adar Enters

Our Sages have said (Ta’anit 29a): “When the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy.” Everyday joy is over the good in the world; however, this happiness is threatened due to the evil and pain which remains in the world. Nevertheless, when the evil itself becomes good, joy increases. This is what happened on Purim – God turned the evil into good and saved His nation, Israel. It became clear that, precisely in the merit of Haman’s harsh decree, the Jewish nation repented, Mordechai was appointed viceroy to King Ahashverosh and was able to continue the building of the Second Temple, and the Jewish nation became established in the Land of Israel. From all this we learned that everything that happens in this world, even seemingly bad, in the end, will turn into good. And since the unique quality of the month of Adar is to turn evil into good, “when the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy”.

Judea and Samaria – Purim-Style

Our present situation in Judea and Samaria can also be viewed with a Purim-style outlook, seeing how things that seem bad, turn into good. Take for example the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel. To our great dismay, many Jews are not aware of the full validity of the Heavenly guarantee of God’s promise of the Land of Israel to our forefathers and us, and that by means of this promise, redemption and blessing would spread throughout the world, as the Prophets have said. Consequently, facing Arab threats of war and pressure from the rest of the world, many Jews are ready to retreat from parts of our holy land in return for promises of a halting of international pressure on Israel and the prevention of future wars. This, in spite of the fact that history has proven that such promises carry no real guarantees, and that the most important factor that prevents war is the acknowledgment of the power of the State of Israel, and that, conversely, withdrawals are likely to increase the appetite of our enemies to continue striving towards their final goal – the destruction of the State of Israel, God forbid. And although it is clear to almost everyone that even if we sign the agreements offered by the nations of the world, we will not see true peace in the near future, nevertheless, the hope that the State of Israel will be able to remove from itself the pressures and threats causes many Jews to agree to up-root settlements and endanger the deterrent force of the State of Israel.

And lo and behold, we find left-wing people who, indeed, are relatively small in number, but carry significant weight in the worlds of academia and the media, both in Israel and throughout the world, many of whom convincingly claim that all of the State of Israel’s problems stem from the establishment of the settlements. Thus, in their opinion, the Government of Israel must freeze the building of all houses in Judea and Samaria, not only to achieve peace, but also to prevent the occupation and expulsion of the Arabs. Some of the left-wingers even claim that the State of Israel must compensate the Arabs for the mere fact of our own existence, and to allow a significant number of refugees to return to within the ‘Green Line’ borders. In such a situation, it is almost impossible to reach any type of an agreement with the Arabs. What Arab would agree to receive less than what even the left-wing Jews agree they should receive? As we know, a proud Arab is always meant to demand more. And Netanyahu and Olmert, who would have loved to already sign on a withdrawal agreement, realize that the proposals up for discussion are so dangerous to the security of Israel, that they cannot be accepted. Thus, every attempt for an agreement on withdrawal crumbles before it reaches the final stage.

The Influence of the Left – ‘V’Nafachu’

Even if the cunning politicians, Israeli and American, succeed in creating a smokescreen to cover up the true demands of the Arabs, and promise the Jews that, in the merit of their withdrawal from parts of their homeland, they will be able to guard the Jewish identity of the State, immediately the left-wingers appear on the stage, fighting for the rights of the Israeli Arabs citizens. They blame those who speak out against Arab crime as being racists, attack the Jewish National Fund for not selling land to the Arabs, attack rabbis who want to protect the unique Jewish character of Israel’s cities. They fight for additional allocations of resources and extra rights for the Arabs, despite the fact that the Arabs don’t share in the security burden. Your average person asks himself: “If this is how the leftists attack the rabbis and public figures who try to protect the Jewish character of our cities, what exactly do they mean when they promise that by withdrawing, we will be able to guard the Jewish character of the State?” The answer is clear: Withdrawal from Judea and Samaria is also capitulation from the Jewishness of the State.

Jewish Spiritual Independence – ‘V’Nafachu’

The spiritual independence of Judaism is also in danger, facing the tremendous potency of Western culture, which like a giant river, washes away various standpoints. If we were in complete agreement with our Torah, we would be able to scrutinize this wonderful culture honestly, to praise its good aspects, and criticize the bad, thereby improving the world and being a light unto the nations. The Torani public, which strives to improve the world (‘tikun olam’), does not attempt to erect a sealed wall between itself and Western culture; but currently, in the absence of a deep and broad Torah doctrine which draws its essentiality from the ‘Torah of the Land of Israel’, it finds itself struggling to guard its spiritual independence. Without this independence, we will never merit making the Torah great and glorious, and fulfill our mission. And lo and behold, in the ‘merit’ of the difficult and painful attacks in the name of ‘liberal values’ on the Torani public and its rabbis, a defensive wall is created, guarding from the influence of the Western culture. Consequently, the religious public, and to a certain extent, also most of Israeli society, is immunized from the influence of the media and non-religious culture.

The Authors Boycott

For example, according to the basic position of the religious and Torani public, which supports openness and the acceptance of good from all people — all the more so from Jews, even if they are not religious – the left-wing authors could have had a tremendous influence. However, when the majority of them joined the boycott on the city of Ariel, and makes every attempt to condemn the rabbis and the settlers, a protective barrier is created from their influence. The religious and traditional public is personally acquainted with the rabbis and settlers, and knows that they are quite ethical people. When they hear the authors condemning them as being terrible, they say to themselves: “These leftists are totally out of their minds; their hate has driven them crazy”. Thus, the authors influence on the public dissipates.

Indeed, it is true that from the outset, it would have been beneficial to learn from the good within these authors. However, under the present circumstances where the majority of the public lacks the ability to select the good from the bad, the authors came and damned themselves in such a way that, even those who continue to read their books do so with grave hesitation. Once again, we have found ‘nafachu’ (on the contrary): how the authors boycott benefits the independent development of the Torani public.

Skepticism towards the Holiness of the Nation and Land

Even the irritating skepticism of the non-religious left towards the holiness of the nation and the Land has its good side, for by means of it, students of Torah are required to delve deeper in the Torah and various areas of knowledge. Without this, we would be satisfied with trivial, insufficient explanations, which, as we see, lack the ability to elevate the entire nation.

Best Possible Scenario

Nevertheless, we must remember that the idea of ‘nafachu’ is not enough. Even after the miracle of Purim, the complete redemption did not arrive. We still remained the slaves of Achashverosh, for when we arrive at the good only because we have run away from the bad, the redemption remains a partial one. Still, it enables us to continue to build ourselves spiritually and physically, to make the Torah great and glorious, to settle Judea and Samaria, to build a moral society, to investigate the various cultures with a positive and critical eye, to choose Torah and the Land of Israel not only for means of survival, but to bring redemption to the world. In this manner, we will merit, with God’s help, the building of the Holy Temple and the coming of the Mashiach, speedily in our days.

Consolation in the Building of the Land

Comfort in the Purchase of the ‘Cave of the Patriarchs’

After successfully passing the trial of the ‘Akeda’ (the binding of Isaac), Abraham our forefather returned home and had to cope with another trial. Sarah our foremother, Abraham’s loyal companion, who accompanied him on all his journeys, experiencing together the great revelations — and also the sufferings and disappointments — passed away. None of his contemporaries remained alive. He had left his family and friends behind in Ur Casdim and Haran in order to follow in the ways of God. Together with Sarah, they drew people closer to God by inspiring them with faith and morals, but they really didn’t have very close friends. He was called ‘Avraham Ha’Ivri’ (Abraham from the other side) – for all the world was on one side, and Abraham and Sarah on the other (Bereshith Rabba 41). And now, he remained grief-stricken and alone. He could have sunk into remorse and lost his senses, but instead, Abraham receives consolation in the deepest way a Jew can be comforted – in the building of the Land of Israel. He channels his personal grief towards the purchase of the first inheritance in the land.

The Canaanites, the children of Heth, show great respect for him; they are willing to allow him to bury Sarah wherever he wants. However, under no circumstances are they prepared to sell him a plot, lest he take hold of the land. Therefore, when Abraham approaches Ephron, Ephron raises the price to a ridiculously high figure, assuming that Abraham would prefer to bury Sarah without charge. However, Abraham immediately agreed to pay the set price. Ephron, embarrassed to change his mind and his lust of money overcoming him, sells the Cave of the Patriarchs and the surrounding field to Abraham our forefather.

There, in the Cave of Machpela, he buried the righteous Sarah, thus determining the Jewish nation’s possession of the Land of Israel for eternity.

Ever since, mourners are consoled by the traditional Jewish expression of condolence: “May God comfort you amongst the other mourner’s for Zion and Jerusalem”. For if a Jew merits contributing something to rectify the world, his life was not in vain, and he thereby joins the universal stream of life, which strives towards the building of Zion and Jerusalem, and bringing closer the Redemption. There is no comfort greater than this.

The Promise and its Actualization

The Land of Israel has belonged to the Jewish nation since the time when God promised it to Abraham and his progeny: “I will give this land to your offspring” (Genesis 12:7), “I will give it to you and to your offspring forever” (ibid, 13:15). However, “God desired to grant merit to Israel; that is why He gave them the Torah and the commandments in such abundance”. Therefore, the promise is actualized only through the fulfillment of the mitzvah of settling the Land, which obliges us to make an effort with all our might to conquer the Land and settle it.

Just as God gave us the Torah as a gift, but nevertheless, in order to learn and acquire the Torah we must study it diligently and with great effort, similarly, we must work diligently and strive to fulfill the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel. The greater the mitzvah, the more effort is required to fulfill it. This is what Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said: “God gave three precious gifts to Israel, and they are all acquired through trials and tribulations. They are: Torah, the Land of Israel, and the World to Come” (Talmud Berachot 5a).

“The actions of the father’s are a sign for the son’s”. From the actions of Abraham our forefather, who, even in difficult and complicated times, invested a fortune to take hold of the Land of Israel, we also must learn a lesson for our own times – not to spare money or efforts in order to purchase the Land of Israel and build more houses. How great are the actions of the settler’s living on the mountains of Judea and Samaria who merit fulfilling this mitzvah – causing the desolate mountains to blossom, and realizing the vision of the Redemption which the Prophet’s spoke of. If only they knew just how great this mitzvah really is, they would double their efforts to build more houses and increase the number of families and children.