Monday, August 29, 2005
quotes Artscroll which quotes Seder Hadorot which quotes Sefer Meirat Eynayim:
Quote:The classic work on Jewish history, Seder HaDorot, by R' Yechiel Halperin, records the following observation in his entry for the year 5380 (1620):
The author of the commentary Sefer Meirat Eynayim (SMA) on the Shulchan Aruch explained why the Jewish community of Worms suffered far more persecution, pogroms and evil decrees than other congregations. That kehillah was founded by Jewish exiles who made their way to Germany following the Destruction of the First Temple. After seventy years of exile, many Jews returned from Babylon to Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem, but none returned from Worms. The community in Jerusalem wrote to the kehillah in Worms and urged them to join their new settlement in Jerusalem... but the complacent Jews of Worms dismissed this invitation out of hand. Instead, they responded, ‘You stay where you are in the great Jerusalem, and we will continue to stay where we are in our little Jerusalem!' This arrogant response was due to the prosperity and prestige the Jews of Worms enjoyed in the eyes of the local gentiles and their princes.The success of Worms was its undoing! The prosperity of the Jew in exile is nothing more than a Divine test to see whether it will cause the Jew to forget his homeland and his heritage. Worms and the Rhineland failed and suffered bitterly. In our own times, the vast majority of the German kehillah failed, because, as Meshech Chochmah (Bechukotai) observes, ‘They began to call Berlin, Jerusalem!' (The Artscroll Kinos pp 272-273)
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that we must constantly search for the Divine message in all the events of our lives, since Hashem speaks to us by way of our environment.
At the time of this writing, hurricane Katrina has been declared a national emergency in the USA; her winds now exceed 175 mph (nearly 300 km/hour). She's a mere one hundred miles from the US coast, and approaching at a foreboding 13 miles per hour. Authorities in Louisiana have ordered hundreds of thousands of people to flee from their homes.
Katrina is hitting just as the bulldozers are completing the destruction of Gush Katif. The Talmud teaches that Hashem administers the world according to the "ATFAT" principle, in other words, "a turn for a turn" (for an elaboration of the ATFAT principle, see Chapter Six of The Trail to Tranquility). My heart tells me that there's a link between the forced expulsion of 8500 people from their blood, sweat, and tear-soaked homes in Israeli Gaza and between the nearly 850,000 people who are forced to flee from their homes in Louisiana. Sharon, at the prodding of the American government, has destroyed hallowed centers of prayer, Torah learning, and settlement in the Land of Israel. Hashem isn't wasting much time in showing His wrath. In fact, Katrina has chosen Ms. Rice's home state as a target; I humbly believe that the unfortunate people of Louisiana can blame Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice for their misfortune. This is a classic ATFAT situation: He who creates exiles in the Holy Land, will have a hundred-fold exiles in his own land.
A bizarre turn of events - for weeks, the media was savoring over the confrontations between Jewish settlers and Jewish soldiers; now, similar pictures are pouring over the wire from New Orleans. In the above photo, courtesy of Reuters, a National Guardsman holds back people seeking refuge in the Louisiana Superdome, Sunday afternoon.A coincidence? I don't believe in coincidences.
Katrina, written קטרינה in Hebrew, has a numerical equivalent of 374. Two relevant passages in Torah share the exact numerical equivalent of 374 also: רעה גמלוך, or "They have done you evil" (see Gen. 50:17), and ים ביבשה, or "The sea upon land" (see Exodus 14:15). The former passage may be an indication as to the spiritual cause of Katrina, while the latter passage describes the physical manifestation.
Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice, I implore you to repent, to ask Hashem's forgiveness for destroying a flourishing part of Israel. Cancel all your demands for further territorial concessions in Israel. If by your initiative more Jews are rendered homeless, G-d forbid, I shudder to think of what could happen. Please take Katrina very seriously, for she is a no-nonsense messenger from The Almighty
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Were it not for his age (he is already 60), Yohanan Ben-Yaakov could have been a "poster boy" for the classical-official religious Zionism that was once the partner of all Israelis. At least this seems true when one looks at his biography: He was born in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion before the 1948 War of Independence, the descendant of a family all of whose members, except for his father and uncle, were exterminated in the Holocaust. His father and uncle were killed in the battles for Gush Etzion in the War of Independence (he eventually chose the name "Ben-Yaakov" after his late father, Yaakov Klapholtz), and he became the scion of the family. In 1967, Ben-Yaakov was part of the first group of Kfar Etzion "natives" who returned to reestablish their community. . .insisting that they not establish it on their own initiative, but only after an official government decision was taken (which it eventually was) in favor of such a moveFor years, Ben-Yaakov was a guide in the local field school and was active in the Bnei Akiva religious Zionist youth movement. From 1982-1988, he even served as its secretary general; during some of that time he was the chair of the Israel Council of Youth Movements as well. On Independence Day 1986, he lit one of the torches at the annual ceremony, thanks to his "unique contribution to Israeli democracy."In terms of his political outlook, Ben-Yaakov seems to be a classic representative of the term "moderate right-wing": He supports the basic right of settlement in Yesha (Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip), but believes that we should not have accepted the ongoing lack of civil rights for millions of Palestinians. In his opinion, the desirable solution would be to impose Israeli sovereignty on the territories, and to grant citizenship to any Palestinian who accepted the condition (that he suggests presenting to Jews and Israeli Arabs as well) of taking an oath of loyalty to the state, and doing national service.Nevertheless, in practice he believed that the settlements should be located according to the Israeli consensus, which is why he was opposed to settlement in the Gaza Strip, even when the Labor governments initiated it. . . Ben-Yaakov was active, along with his friends in Bnei Akiva and in the Religious Kibbutz Movement, against the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) tendencies that have become widespread in religious Zionism.
. . .And now, this week, even this statesmanlike man is furious. In effect, it was surprising to discover how "orange" he is - not only in what he says, but mainly in his fervor and fury. He is so angry that he is having second thoughts about the alliance with the secular world.. . .he definitely does speak of the fact that "on the axis between Jewishness and Israeliness, we have to turn more in the Jewish direction, to conduct a dialogue with the Haredi community, even at the expense of the dialogue with the liberal-democratic elite." When these words come from a man such as Ben-Yaakov, they testify to the fact that the fury and the harsh conclusions are not limited to the rabbis and to those identified as "Hardalim" (Haredi religious-nationalists).
Ben-Yaakov explains that his greatest crisis of faith today does not stem from Sharon, but from the "knights of democracy in Israel": "Blatantly anti-democratic steps were taken here - Sharon campaigned on a certain platform, and turned to a totally different policy. He in effect gave all his voters a slap in the face, and said: You don't interest me ... I'm the only one who counts! He didn't even feel a need to explain to the nation the change that had taken place in him. Afterward, he was pressured to ask for the agreement of his electorate, and when he failed in that, he simply ignored them. He removed ministers who interfered with him from the cabinet, and when the chief of staff and the head of the Shin Bet [security service] expressed reservations about the moves, he got rid of them, too.
"In the face of all this, where are those who spoke of democratic decisions? Of brotherhood and unity? Where are all the partners to social pacts? How are they letting such a thing take place in a country that is called democratic? I want to see them going to the schools now and preaching democracy; who will believe them? Their hypocrisy hurts me more than anything else in this process, just because all these years I have felt committed to this partnership and to democratic decisions. This is an exposure of their nakedness in the most contemptible way possible. At the moment of truth, it has turned out that their support for evacuating settlements causes them to abandon all the rules they preached, and that everything is hollow and empty."
.. . . he has reached the conclusion that there is a historical rupture: "In 1911, there was a split in religious Zionism, and some people left and founded Agudath Israel. From that day to this, a line has been drawn, which maintains that the central axis that divides the Jewish people is the Zionist axis - either you go with Zionism or without it, even if not necessarily against it. And all along, religious Zionism has unequivocally gone with Zionism. With deep sorrow, I say that this axis has now been broken, because those who speak in the name of Zionism on the left, are operating in the name of a hollow and false value system. So today I define the axis not with the question of who defines himself as a Zionist, but who really takes Jewish values into consideration. And the Haredi community does in fact take Jewish values into account - and I differ with many of them - but in their community there is no possibility of such a total trampling of values, because they are so strongly anchored. Democracy was supposed to serve as the parallel for secular society, and it turned out that this is not the case."
. . . The practical significance of this conclusion is "a greater closeness than in the past to the Haredi community, a desire for dialogue with it, without giving up my identity and my views," and less dialogue with the liberal-democratic elites. . .he sees a possibility that the national religious camp will increasingly become closer to the Hardali position.. . .There will be a birth here of a new identity; religious Zionism that will become more `Jewish' in orientation, even at the expense of its `Israeli' aspect. And we should recall that historically speaking, the descendants of the kingdom of Judea were the only ones who survived, and not the descendants of the kingdom of Israel."