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24 Cheshvan 5761 - November 22, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
There is No Solution

by Rabbi Nosson Zeev Grossman

Part II

The first part explained that many commentators say that the cause of the violence among the Arabs is Prime Minister Barak's approach that tries for a comprehensive solution, while they believe that no such solution is possible. It explained that one of the urges behind the Zionist movement among all the different approaches is the conviction that people can themselves bring about a stable solution for Jewish life. "Let us take our lot into our hands." Torah Jewry always assumed that until the final redemption there is no point in looking for any substitutes.

The above has been true throughout all the years of our golus and suits much more our catastrophic situation when we confront the Arab Nation, the offspring of Yishmoel. A tradition has been passed down to us that we will have no way to save ourselves from their hatred and conniving ways until we merit the advent of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

What the Rambam (Igeres Teiman, ch. 4, pg. 183-185, Mossad HaRav Kook Publisher) writes serves as a lesson for us today: "And you, our brothers, you know that HaKodosh Boruch Hu threw us in the pits of our sin within this people, the nation of Yishmoel. The evil that they do to us is oppressing and they seek ways to harm us and make us disgusting, as Hashem has decreed, `Even our enemies themselves being judges' (Devorim 32:31). No nation more hostile will rule over Yisroel, and there is no nation whose entire aim is to impoverish us and humiliate us, and to make us disgusting as they.

"Even when Dovid Hamelech a'h saw with his ruach hakodesh all the future hardship for Yisroel he began to scream and lament about the evil of the offspring of Yishmoel, and said as if our nation is speaking from his throat: `Woe is me that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!' (Tehillim 120:5) . . . Although we are silently suffering their ruling over us, accepting it with love, without complaining, their lying to us is more than we can bear, more than a person can tolerate. It is as Dovid a'h writes: `But I, like a deaf man hear not, and like a dumb man that opens not his mouth' (Tehillim 38:14).

"Our Mentors (Midrash Hagodol, Bereishis 25:14) guided us to tolerate the lies of Yishmoel and remain silent. They inferred this from the posuk that writes the names of Yishmoel's sons: `Mishmo, Dumo, and Masso' (Bereishis 24:14). [The posuk means shema (hear), dom (be silent) and sa (suffer their burden).] All, both the most eminent and the lowest, have agreed that we must suffer their subjection. This is what Yeshaya has written: `I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I did not my face from shame and spitting' (Yeshaya 50:6). Nonetheless (although we were silent) we were unable to be saved from most of their evil and recklessness. When we pursue making peace with them they run after us to wage war, as Dovid Hamelech a'h writes: `I am a man of peace, but when I speak, they are for war' (Tehillim 120:4). Surely we endanger ourselves and might be killed if we awaken their anger on us, and without any basis falsely proclaim Yisroel's kingdom and the coming of the Moshiach."

HaRav Chaim Vital zy'a, the renowned Kabbalist and talmid of the Ari z'l, writes similarly in his commentary Eitz Hadaas Tov on Tehillim (124). He explains that after the four Goluyos of Bovel, Modai, Greece and Edom, at the end of days bnei Yisroel will live during the golus of Yishmoel. "As is mentioned in Pirkei DeRebbi Eliezer and in Midroshim of Chazal and in the Zohar at the end of parshas Lech Lecho about Masso and Dumo."

This golus will be different from the previous ones. The four Goluyos are compared to animals as written in sefer Doniel but Yishmoel the son of Avrohom was circumcised and is considered a man. He is called a `wild man' and not a complete `man' since he was circumcised but his orlah was not completely turned back (periah) as by Jews.

"Dovid Hamelech a'h said nevu'ah with ruach hakodesh in this chapter of Tehillim (124) about all that is going to happen in the mentioned golus. When Yisroel are in the four Goluyos they will say in the future, `If not for Hashem Who was with us, let Yisroel now say' (v. 1). This means that now in these four Goluyos we would have been lost altogether, as is written afterward (v. 3), `Then they would have swallowed us up alive.' Rearrange the posuk as if it reads, `Let Yisroel say if not for Hashem Who was with us now,' meaning now in these four kingdoms.

"But there is an additional fifth and final golus that is more difficult than them all. It is the golus of Yishmoel who is called a `wild man' as mentioned beforehand and is not compared to the animals. Then Yisroel will say differently: `If not for Hashem Who was with us when men rose up against us' (end of v. 1). Since he is a man, because he is the son of Avrohom and has the zechus Ovos, as we find that the Torah says, `If only Yishmoel will live before You.' He also has the merit of the mila and because of this reason he is called `man.' For this reason his golus is more uncompromising than the other four kingdoms. Chazal say he is therefore called Yishmoel, because in the future Yisroel will cry out loudly during the time of his golus and then yishmo'eim Keil (Hashem will hear them) and answer them."

He afterwards explains that this golus will be exceptionally difficult since Yishmoel is a lowly nation, not accustomed to royal pomp and sovereignty but it suddenly achieved greatness. "Other nations always controlled different nations, but Yishmoel were always Arabs living in tents and in deserts and never dealt with others. They are compared to bandits who deprive other people and afterwards return to their tents, as is written, `He will be a wild man, his hand will be against every man' (Bereishis 16:12), but are later to rule over the world and Yisroel.

"Dovid therefore writes (v. 2), `If not for Hashem Who was with us, when men rose up against us.' `Men rose up against us' means as the Zohar explains on the posuk, `Now there arose a new king over Egypt' (Shemos 1:8) that `originally he was more ignoble than the rest of his nation and now he rose to kingdom.' Dovid Hamelech is explaining what Yisroel will be saying during the golus of Yishmoel when the Arab, their prophet, will arise from extreme ignobility to the height of importance, as everyone knows. They will then say, `If not for Hashem Who was with us, when men rose up against us,' men meaning Yishmoel, then `they would have swallowed us up alive.'

"The fifth golus in which we live today is different from all that we experienced in the past. They now want to swallow us up alive, similar to what is written, `When they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them' (Bereishis 41:21). Because of their anger they want to, chas vesholom, erase the name of Yisroel from the world like something swallowed, that its reality is not known at all and is as if it does not exist.

"In the first four Goluyos we find that `then the waters would have overwhelmed us' (v. 4). Those Goluyos were easier and were similar to someone overwhelmed by water but his body remains intact since he was not altogether swallowed. `The stream would have gone over our soul' (v. 5), only our soul suffered and not on our body. The golus of Yishmoel will be different. We will then be swallowed alive with the body and soul connected together."

He explains at length that Dovid Hamelech a'h is telling us that initially only our souls would suffer and not our bodies. "Then the proud waters would have gone over our soul." Other nations mainly wanted us to convert to their religion, that we will not be engaged in Torah study and not fulfill mitzvos, as happened in times of shmad. These were incidents of "the stream would have gone over our soul" but not on our bodies. Their intention was only to trap souls so they would convert, although that also physically hurt us since they would kill Jews who refused to convert. "Because of this, on the contrary, HaKodosh Boruch Hu would have pity on us. This is what Dovid Hamelech a'h writes (v. 5) `Blessed be Hashem who has not given us as a prey to their teeth,' like the story of Daniel . . . that Chananya, Mishoel, and Azarya did not bow to the idol and many other stories about individual tzaddikim.

Also the Jewish Nation in general did not forsake Hashem and were not chewed up by their teeth and still exist. This is because we saw that their intent was for us to convert our faith from the Holy Torah and its mitzvos. What they tried to do for their benefit, ruined their plans. They wanted to snatch our souls, which would kill our souls since `reshoim even when alive are called dead' but we were `not given as a prey to their teeth.' "

(He continues that these pesukim allude to the immersion in water when accepting the Catholic religion. "It alludes to the satanic tomei waters that the priests of Edom would sprinkle on Yisroel. They would convert them by force without their consent." Since we were compelled, Hashem had pity on us and never allowed us to be destroyed by them. "This concerns the Marannos of Spain and Portugal of which multitudes returned to be Jews, escaped from the church, and did not remain lost among them.")

The main intent of the nations to damage our souls was only in the previous Goluyos. "This is different in the golus of Yishmoel. They want to kill both our souls and bodies and to consume the Jew's money and swallow them alive, not allowing anything to remain . . . In the future they will inflict on Yisroel difficult and different types of suffering that we have never seen before, and as Chazal write, they are therefore called Yishmoel."

Anyone who discerns the eternal truth in what the Rambam and Rabbenu Chaim Vital write, will understand that we cannot possibly delude ourselves about a "total solution" to the Arab problem. Neither physical power or military conquest on the one hand, nor dreams of "a new Middle East" on the other, will free us from the gezeira of living in golus under the yoke of Yishmoel. We must realize that when we call out to them for peace they will continue wanting to destroy us. "I am a man of peace, but when I speak, they are for war" (Tehillim 120:7). But as the Rambam writes, surely when we proclaim war on them we will much more awaken their hatred. What is therefore the solution?

No solution exists!

This is the true conclusion about our situation that a Jew should reach. This is no new, current conclusion, nor has it been formulated only because of resent developments. Jews throughout history knew that until the Moshiach comes we have no "permanent solution" for our being subjected by the nations. We must actively engage only in temporary efforts just as a person puts out fires that suddenly start burning.

In our situation, Maran the Rosh Yeshiva shlita has directed us to beware of provoking other nations. We must try to arrive at any temporary arrangement (even if we have no choice and it involves giving up parts of Eretz Yisroel), as long as the leaders of the country are not pushing us into a life-threatening danger.

We have one principle: No permanent, conclusive, and eternal solution exists. We are only attempting to peacefully pass over one wave after the other during the years of our golus until we merit the future Redemption that will bring us to safe shores.


In the past I have cited what R' Shimon Moshe Diskin zt'l of Chaslevitz, the av beis din of Luachavitz, who was one of the eminent speakers in his generation, wrote. He discussed this very topic in one of his essays that appear in Midrash Shimoni.

He quotes what Chazal write that the Moshiach sits among the poor and sick at the gates of Rome. They are bandaging all of their wounds simultaneously but the Moshiach is "untying one and tying another," each wound being bandaged separately (Sanhedrin 98).

HaRav Shimon Moshe Diskin explains this in an original way: "We have a kabolo from the nevi'im, something engraved in the blood, mind, and heart of every Jew: Golus is not accidental. This truth has been tested during our difficult and painful path of life. Even writing about this at length is superfluous since it is an obvious axiom: accidents do not persist. Our golus followed many warnings from the nevi'im, and during all our years of golus this truth was always clear to every Jew. The sins of our fathers caused the golus and our own sins prolonged it.

"This knowledge obligates us to arrive at a logical conclusion: to abolish the golus, to free the Jewish Nation from it in natural ways similar to the way other nations free themselves, is simply impossible. Although it is imaginable that we can alleviate the golus, sweeten its bitterness, cancel some of its decrees and strict enforcement, it is beyond the bounds of possibility to become free from it and naturally revive the Hebrew kingdom for our whole nation.

"All the movements that wanted to redeem the Jewish Nation are liable to make us lose doubly: (1) They endanger multitudes of Jews when they are deluded to think their redemption is soon. Do we not see from past experience that in the times of the false Moshiach Abulafiah and the times of Shabsai Tzvi many destroyed their previous social status when they prepared to immigrate to Eretz Yisroel? Thousands of Jewish homes were destroyed. (2) They endangered us spiritually. After the failure of the Messianic movement-- composed of all of our energy, power, golden dreams, and ultimate heart's desires--a period of terrible despair and horrible disappointment must come. We therefore saw that these false Moshiachs caused shmad and Frankanistic decadence. Any popular movement that allures the multitudes and promises that success will soon come, causes an ethical and spiritual destruction of those who followed it when it fails."

HaRav Diskin writes afterward that this is the reason we have seen that gedolei Yisroel have always intrepidly fought against all movements that could endanger Klal Yisroel. During all the many years of our golus the gedolei Torah constantly interested themselves in alleviating both the spiritual and physical conditions of the nation. They employed all measures to remove difficulties, to regulate our life in golus, and to build Torah centers throughout the Diaspora. They have, however, always been careful not to urge people to forcefully leave the golus.

"All of the slogans of the nation's freeing itself, the entire fervor of emancipation and auto-emancipation of the Jewish Nation, came upon us from outside [influences] and not internally. We saw shtadlonim, leaders of kehillos, toiling to lighten or annul decrees for each individual or for the general public, but we did not see any experts to annul the whole golus. These shtadlonim lived among the nation and came in contact with live individuals, those in pain and suffering. These who felt the need to serve the community neither soared to the heavens nor pursued gigantic and obscure remedies. They tried to do what is simple, to relieve the burden of hardship from the individual, and concerned themselves with his affairs as much as they could. From R' Yosef of Rosheim and all other intercessors who concerned themselves with the public's benefit until R' Itzeleh of Munstirshetizna who saved the victims of Wheliz and Amtsitzlev, until the gaon R' Eliyahu Chaim Meizil zt'l and the Baron Rood Ginzburg--each one according to his way and his ability -- did not bandage collectively all the wounds of our nation, but invented medicines that would help for every decree, mishap, and sort of calamity.

"Before they knew the concepts of `national genius,' `national ambitions,' and `national demands' they were aware of the presence of a constant whip of decrees and unfortunate mishaps, and those who wanted to protect themselves and others, tried to find ways to evade the snipping of this whip. We cannot air arguments and demands to this whip. In this point those of the previous generation, those who felt the people's pain and tried ways to intercede, disagreed with the polished people who yearned for the various tunes of `beis Yisroel will be like all of the nations' and endeared themselves with the both tragic and ludicrous game of politics, employing Jews ministers and Jewish parliament representatives. They wanted to easily heal our nation's suffering with a common bandage taken from other oppressed nations, but these remedies did not help us at all."

He later adds the famous saying of Chazal: "R' Gamliel said. Once I was traveling in a ship and saw a ship that broke. I was disturbed about the talmid chochom, R' Akiva, who was sailing on it. After I arrived at the shore, [R' Akiva] came over to me and discussed halachic questions. I asked him: `My son, who took you out of the sea?' He answered: `I happened to grasp hold of a plank of wood from the ship and I nodded my head at every wave that came' " (Yevomos 101).

HaRav Diskin describes at length how during that difficult period in which Rabban Gamliel and R' Akiva lived, the ship of Klal Yisroel was thrown among the angry waves, and the gigantic yeshiva of R' Akiva with twenty-four thousand talmidim crumbled since no one could withstand Adriyonus's decree of shmad. Rabban Gamliel was filled with sorrow about the bitter fate of this ship in which R' Akiva transported the klal through an ocean of suffering. "But with a few planks R' Akiva saved all of our ship. With another plank, his talmid R' Shimon ben Yochai saved generations from floods and drowning in the ocean. When Rabban Gamliel asked him how he was saved, R' Akiva answered: `I did not find any general remedy against an angry ocean. I only tried to pass every wave peacefully. At each wave I would bend down my head until it passed me by and I held on to the plank that had remained. Hashem took me across the waves and brought me here.' We do not have a general remedy for the afflictions of our nation and the mishaps of the golus as each other nation has. We only search for a remedy to dress each wound, each decree. The general bandage is the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu."

In this way HaRav Diskin explains the saying of Chazal that enumerates the signs of Moshiach's advent: "All nations have one way for their existence: either conquering and threatening other nations, independent existence in their own country, or their existence becoming nullified, becoming assimilated and becoming part of the conquerors. All of the sick (at the gates of Rome) untied and tied their bandage with one knot, and with one bandage they are cured. But the bandages on the wounds of our nation, whose days are like those of the heaven and the earth, are tied and untied with individual knots. Perhaps the Moshiach will come, the day of Yisroel's salvation will come, and then each wound will be dressed and softened. We are saving the nation from becoming nonexistent, so it will be prepared and await the Redemption. We do not have one general bandage that will bandage all our wounds and cure us.

"When R' Yehoshua ben Levi asked the Moshiach when he will come. The Moshiach answered: `Today.' Any day when you will uproot the reason for your golus, `if you shall listen to My voice,' if you will return to Hashem with a whole heart."

This is our one hope. Only in this do we have confidence at such a time when we see what an entanglement we find ourselves caused by those false illusions of a "total solution" intended to alleviate the hardship of the Jewish Nation. A Jew who believes in Hashem knows that during our golus we have only temporary solutions, partial and local shtadlonus. The complete salvation will only be at the future geula, and until then no tactics will help remove the decree of golus--also not the last and most difficult golus of Yishmoel.

We will conclude with what R' Chaim Vital writes afterward, "They will in the future inflict on Yisroel difficult and different types of suffering that we have never seen before, and as Chazal write they are therefore called Yishmoel" that "If so, we do not know what we should do. We have no other hope than to trust in His great name that He will save us from them." He concludes that we will eventually be saved through the merit what we learn from the first posuk in the Torah, and it is therefore written in the end of that chapter in Tehillim, "Our help is in the name of Hashem, Who made heaven and earth." "This means we have faith in Hashem because He made the heaven and earth, and it was made known to us that He only created them for Yisroel so they would fulfill the Torah, as Chazal write on, `In the beginning Hashem created . . .' for the Torah that is called a beginning and for Yisroel that is called a beginning, as is written `If I have not appointed My covenant with day and night, the ordinances of heaven and earth . . .' (Yirmiyahu 36:25). Since the heaven and earth only exist through Yisroel, He is forced to save us from them and redeem us with a complete geula in the future speedily in our days."

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