Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Teves 5761 - January 17, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Who is in Charge?

By HaRav Boruch Medan

Anyone who takes the trouble to consider history and the events we are currently experiencing from a deeper perspective, will discover that our situation today in Eretz Yisroel is better than at any time since the State was founded. We have a prime minister, a leading army personality in the past, fighting a war against the Palestinians in a clumsy and helpless way, as if he were the "sergeant-major" of a kitchen. Arab children throw petrol bombs at Jews, and their youths shoot at us with guns, whereas the Israeli army withholds fire and abandons its posts.

We have reached the situation where we have absolutely nothing left to lean upon; everyone is filled with fear and despair. As I see it, this situation is the best we have found ourselves in since the Jewish people started building up its State. Why?

Upon entering Eretz Yisroel we were commanded to "set up a king over you." Accordingly, the people went up to Shmuel Hanovi and said to him, "Give us a king."

"But the thing displeased Shmuel." Why?

Hashem told Shmuel, "Listen to the voice of the people, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them."

The Kli Yokor asks why the request of the Jewish people to fulfill one of the mitzvos of the Torah was interpreted by Hashem as a rejection of Him. He says that the people had been commanded to "set up a king over you," but their request here was, "give us a king." There is a fundamental difference between the command and the request.

Hashem abhors the human urge to possess, to own, because when a person feels that he is the boss, he rejects Hakodosh Boruch Hu. "Set up a king over you," implies the acceptance of ol malchus Shomayim. "Give us a king" implies my king -- "My" lawyer, "my" rebbe, "my" party, "don't touch my son": "I am in charge!"

I am sometimes invited by some people known for their hospitality. My host stands over all the guests, making sure that they eat properly. Sometimes I have the feeling that I have to eat, because if I do not, my host will be offended. "You are `my' guest." I say, "Thank you, I am full." He insists that I eat, otherwise he will be offended. And so I force myself to eat, since my host has me under his control. "You are my guest" -- "I am in charge!"

The establishment of the State of Israel was fiercely opposed by the gedolim for two reasons:

1. Because the state was established only in order to uproot the Torah. If the Torah would never have been given to us, the Zionist leaders would never have dreamt of establishing a State. (This refers to the philosophy of the left). 2. The essence of the State is founded on a philosophy of "I am in charge," which leaves no room for Hakodosh Boruch Hu. (This refers to the philosophy of the left, the right, and even to some extent the national-religious).

The Diaspora Jew of pre-State days is called galuti. He is depicted as a man who works hard to make a living and when he comes to the poritz to ask for his wages, the rosho makes the Jew dance around him and kiss his feet in front of his friends. This scene is meant to be very demeaning for the "ghetto" Jew. The poritz throws the Jew some coins while he makes him lick his feet. The Jew "crawls on all fours" to the merriment of the gentile onlookers just to get his daily bread. After this ordeal, he goes home, opens the gemora, and finally feels a deep sense of relief and satisfaction as he converses with His Father via the daf until he falls asleep.

Did this "golus-Jew" feel humiliated while being forced to dance before the poritz and his friends in order to be able to support his family? The answer is a definite no!

From the time the Torah was given until the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jew looked at the goy (or at least at those who persecuted them like that) the same way we look today at a dog or a cat. Nobody would feel demeaned at having to dance in front of a dog in order not to be bitten by him. Only a fool would fight a pack of fierce dogs who are out for his blood.

This is what a Jew felt after having being forced to dance for the poritz. The holy Torah was his whole life and he paid no attention to the goy.

The founders of the State wanted to create a new type of Jew, different from the "galuti" one: a proud Jew! A Jew who would rather die than lick the goy's feet. Their aim was to win the admiration and respect of the non- Jewish world. As a result, they formulated a new philosophy according to which there was no greater "sanctification of the divine name" than the victory of an Israeli football or basketball team in the World Cup, or the fact that the Israeli army was the "strongest" one in the world.

Up until recent times, the goy was considered insignificant, so that it did not bother the Jew to have to lick his feet. Today the new Israeli Jews are out to impress the goy, and force him to grant us recognition and respect. The greatest happiness for an Israeli is to receive some certificate of approval or sign of admiration from the poritzim of today.

The galuti Jew feels that besides the Torah and his siddur he has nothing. The "Zionist" Jew feels that without his national pride, his army, and his popularity with the goyim, he has nothing.

@Big Let Body=Holocaust Remembrance Day was fixed by the "leaders of the State" on the 27th of Nisan, the day of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. This day was chosen by the Zionists as a sign of protest against those galuti Jews who had been killed without any resistance on their part "as sheep going to the slaughter." A Jew, according to them, had to be proud of the Warsaw Ghetto heroes who demonstrated such self- sacrifice in fighting to the last man.

I do not know if anything constructive came out of the uprising. The rebels did kill thirteen Nazis, but they did not manage to halt the machinery of death in Europe. It is possible that if there would have been no uprising, some "rebels" would have survived for another few months, and some might even have survived the whole war.

In the opinion of the leaders of the State of Israel, it is preferable to be slaughtered by the Nazis and to die a hero's death than to survive as a coward. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising is looked upon as a watershed in Jewish Diaspora history; its heroes taken as symbols of the "new" Jew, the antithesis of the old galuti type. "I am in charge."

@Big Let Body=The election of Menachem Begin as prime minister was the cause of much satisfaction to many religious voters. The Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Shach shlita, on the other hand, spoke out against his arrogant nationalism and his philosophy of "the might and the power of my hand." What disturbed the Rosh Yeshiva most was the admiration felt for him by the people who had voted him into power, including some of the chareidim.

We should prefer to have a clumsy prime minister with a weak army, rather than an adored one with a strong army. That way every citizen would realize what was taken for granted by every galuti Jew of pre-State days: we only have our Father in Heaven to lean upon.

This idea that Tzahal watches over us guided by Hashem, with the prime minister conducting the affairs of state with wisdom and discernment, is nothing but a delusion!

Many years ago I heard in the name of HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein zt"l that many bnei Torah are infected with the kefirah of Yom Haatzmaut. The atmosphere of "independence" affected them in that they unknowingly developed a desire to discard the feeling of dependence on their Father in Heaven -- an "oppressive" feeling -- in favor of a feeling of independence. This new atmosphere resulted in yeshiva students lacking that deference and subordination to their rabbonim which characterized the golus Jew. Even their singing and dancing had acquired a different quality.

I never really understood this point until a friend told me about his trip with his young children to the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv. He related how, on the second floor, they saw color photographs of Jewish children who were later killed in the Holocaust Hy"d. They had sweet, radiant faces, but there was a noticeable fear and sadness in their eyes. However, beyond that look you were struck with the piercing purity of their soul.

On the first floor they watched a short movie which showed an Israeli military parade which had taken place twenty years earlier on Yom Haatzmaut. My friend remembered how in his youth he had watched these parades in Yerushalayim. It was then an amazing experience for a teenager like him from a Mizrachi home to see the pride on the faces of the Army, "the guardian of Israel."

Now he is looking at the last parade held in Israel in 5719 (1959). The soldiers are wearing red berets, the symbol of the paratroopers, their heads held high, marching along. They can be heard singing native Israeli songs brimming with confidence: "We shall build up our country, our homeland!" How proud the onlookers are of "the guardians of Israel!" The message of these events may be summarized as: "A new type of Jew has come to our country! Zionism has given birth to a new son of Avrohom Ovinu. He may be secular, but he is `nationalistic' and `proud.'

Next you see the "national-religious" Nachal corps marching along, their heads held as high as their secular friends. We cannot help but ascribe to them the posuk, "He will drink of the brook (nachal) in the way; therefore will he lift up the head." They too sing the same patriotic songs. Through all the hullabaloo, the message is clear: "With the help of Hashem, we will manage -- without You," Rachmono litzlan. The whole Torah and all the mitzvos are "illuminated" by the light of nationalism. The galuti and "dark" Torah of the Yeshivos belongs to the past. It is a leftover of a bygone era when Jews used to lick the feet of the poritz. This is a "new generation" with a "new Torah." It is the "aschalta degeula!" We are here!

Would they listen to a rational demonstration of their terribly distorted views? The arrogance of the Zionist education makes its victims deaf and blind. They feel superior to "Diaspora Jews" such as Abaye and Rovo. Could they ever appreciate what it is like to live as a galuti Jew who trusts and leans absolutely upon his Father in Heaven? They do pay lip service to topics related to emunoh and their "Jewish philosophy" classes are full of it, but they are very far from a genuine feeling for the light of the Torah and closeness to Hashem. Their emunoh is that of a baal ga'ava who receives a deep sense of satisfaction from the greatness of his handiwork. Is there a chance that such people can repent? In order to repent, you need to have some realization of having sinned. Who can unmask the Zionist fraud? "They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me."

"Give us a king!"

I have another friend who received a religious Zionist education. He tells me that since he entered the Torah world, he has been in conflict with his uncle, who is an important rov of the national-religious camp. My friend never knew how to explain to his beloved uncle why bnei Torah have such a strong opposition to Zionism in general and to religious Zionism in particular.

One Pesach he went to visit this uncle, and found him looking affectionately at photos of his young grandchildren. In his room there were two photos on a shelf. One was of his chareidi grandchildren, the other one of the Mizrachi ones.

There was a third photo in a magazine of some sweet non- Jewish children with beautiful faces. My friend went up to his uncle who was looking at the photos of his grandchildren and asked him, "What is the difference between the photo of the children in the magazine and this one of your grandchildren?" his finger pointing to the photo of the chareidi grandchildren.

His uncle replied, "These are Jewish children with intense Jewish faces, whereas those are just some Swiss non-Jewish children."

My friend then pointed to the photo of his national- religious grandchildren, and asked, "Who do these resemble more, the children in the magazine or your chareidi grandchildren?"

The rov thought for a moment and said nothing. He was shocked by the question, which he seemed to find difficult to answer. Finally, he replied, "They are something else, they're somewhere in the middle."

My friend demurred: "I don't agree with you. I think that they were born the same as these children," pointing to the chareidi grandchildren, "but they tried to turn them into the same sort of children as those in the magazine. They didn't manage! And so something new came out of them, they are children sui generis."

"You know what, I think you've hit the hammer on the nail!" His eyes lit up, and after thinking for a while, he added, "Now I understand your opposition to the national-religious path."

@Big Let Body=Since the day the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed, the gates of prayer have been sealed, but although the gates of prayer have been sealed, the gates of tears have not."

The language of golus is tears. Tears come to a person when he recognizes that he is not in charge, and that everything is in the hands of Heaven. The Zionists wanted to do away with our tears.

The Six Day War strengthened the belief of the religious Zionists that Hakodosh Boruch Hu was helping the Zionist sabras. The near disaster of the Yom Kippur War made them think again, but they still managed to come up with far- fetched explanations (see the book, Hamaalot Mima'amakim by Amital). The Gulf War, during which the army's hands were tied, also did not do much to boost the self-confidence of the aschalta degeula camp.

Today, when we see a prime minister, a former army chief of staff, behaving like a very fragile, vulnerable ruler, trembling from the Palestinians, and the Israeli army beginning to look like a paper tiger, everybody is beginning to realize the great miracle that is taking place here in Eretz Yisroel: the fact that the Arabs are not slaughtering all of us Rachmono litzlan, and only little children provoke officers somewhere in Yehuda, Shomron and Aza. Slowly but surely everybody is beginning to realize that the "Zionist" doctrine is collapsing, and we all have to become frightened galuti Jews once again. A Jew who is proud of his fears, who sees the goy as a mere dog, and not as someone that he has to impress.

@Big Let Body=In the Shiras Hayom it says that some Egyptians "sank as lead in the mighty waters," others "went down into the depths like a stone," and yet others were consumed "as stubble."

Rashi comments that the best amongst the reshoim died a quick death: they sank as lead. The ones of medium character went down like stone, and the most wicked went down like stubble: they were made to go up and down, and die a slow, painful death. We usually take this to mean that each Egyptian received a punishment commensurate with his behavior, but this is not what Rashi is coming to tell us!

Hakodosh Boruch Hu is a compassionate and loving G-d. In His great mercy, He wanted every living being, including the Egyptians, to recognize before his death that Hashem rules the world, thereby achieving its tikkun. The traits of pride and arrogance prevent a person from recognizing Hashem, but as soon as he receives a severe punishment, such as the makko of an Egyptian drowning in the sea, his pride disappears and it becomes easy for him to believe in Hashem. Therefore, the least wicked amongst the Egyptians recognized Hashem immediately, and they had the merit of dying as soon as they had this recognition, because they had already thereby achieved their tikkun. Since their recognition came so quickly, they sank as "lead."

The ones in the medium category were more stubborn, they did not give in so easily, and needed to be thrust up and down several times until they recognized Hashem's sovereignty. They sank like a stone. The most obstinate amongst them, who had decided to fight Hashem with all their strength had to be hurled in the water like stubble, hundreds and thousands of times, until their pride broke and they completed their tikkun. Punishment and suffering educate and uplift the sufferer. There is no other way.

Many times when we see a righteous person lying in bed racked with pain, we cannot understand what the purpose of his suffering is. After all, he is unable to learn Torah, keep mitzvos or pray. However, we have to understand that suffering humbles everybody, and makes it easier for the sufferer to become submissive and closer to Hashem.

@Big Let Body=Just before the Six Day War broke out, mori verabi, HaRav Yissochor Mayer of Netivot said that he was sure that the Jewish nation would be saved. He recalled the message of the Chazon Ish before the War of Independence. He explained that the reason for the terrible punishment meted out during the Holocaust years was our great indifference to Hitler's y"sh threats against the Jews. The Jewish people during that period said, "I shall have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart" (Devorim 29:18). When the Jewish people are apathetic, and do not engage in introspection and become submissive, Hashem certainly does not forgive them.

By way of contrast, before the outbreak of the War of Independence, the Jewish population in Eretz Yisroel was in a state of fear. Nobody relied on his own strength and that was why we were saved.

Similarly, just before the outbreak of the Six Day War, HaRav Yissochor Mayer said that people were petrified of the danger from the Egyptian army, and when we are afraid, we rely on the Creator, Who saves us. Before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli public was indifferent. The government had promised that after the elections there would be "civil marriages," "drafting girls into the army" and "drafting yeshiva students." If the war had not broken out on the day our sins are atoned for, who knows?

During the current period, the public is beginning to see its idols for what they are: the army, the government of Israel, aschalta degeula. Everybody feels that we are facing the danger of destruction R"l. There is no time that we are closer to Hashem than when we have this feeling of idols being smashed.

Since we were expelled from our country, that was always how Hashem dealt with us. Every two hundred years or so, when our sins became too much, Hashem sent an enemy from "the north," and because of His great mercy we always found somewhere to run away to in "the south." Now, for the first time in history, there is nowhere to run to. Antisemitism is everywhere. And when there is nowhere to run, we run towards Hashem.

There is a tradition in the name of the Chazon Ish that before Moshiach comes, four-fifths of the Jewish people will perish, and only a fifth will survive (based on "the Bnei Yisroel went up armed [chamushim -- can also be read as "one fifth" -- see Rashi] out of the land of Egypt"). Tzaddikim will have the merit of being amongst this fifth. A tzaddik is someone who strives to serve Hashem properly, who knows how to grow in Torah, and understands that there is nothing as important as Torah.

Chazal have assured us that during the ikvesa demeshicha every person who deals in Torah and chesed will be saved. We must wake up from our slumber! We have to learn Torah and run to do chesed!

We must appreciate the fact that in the current situation of "the uncovering of idols," when we still have something to eat and the enemy has not yet sharpened his sword -- how much love the compassionate and merciful Creator bestows upon us! Let us wake up and make the most of every moment of life to serve Him.

The stories of suffering during our history in the Diaspora frighten us. We have become spoiled. But now "my beloved knocks," the great moment has arrived.

"We can't cope with it." "This is not for us."

Hashem in His compassion and love is about to bring Moshiach. It is difficult to welcome Melech Hamoshiach, but Hashem in His kindness will assist whoever wants to succeed. The main thing is to have a clear outlook of "one thing have I asked of Hashem, that I will seek after."

HaRav Boruch Medan is rosh yeshiva of Bircas Yosef, Kiryat Herzog.

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