Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Ellul 5762 - August 14, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
To Preserve the Intellect

by Yisroel Spiegel

Part II

The first part quoted HaRav Moshe Blau saying that despite the trials and difficulties experienced, the key is not to lose our wits and our intellect. If we have our wisdom, our daas Torah, then we can hope for better days and we will know how to deal with what confronts us. The Ponovezher Rov, speaking in the middle of the War, said that Am Yisroel and Eretz Yisroel are permanent features of Creation.

"Losing one's sense", as defined by R' Moshe Blau, is a different matter altogether with regard to the Jewish people, as opposed to all other nations and certainly from the secular viewpoint which sees everything as natural and circumstantial. What appears today to be in deep crisis, on the brink of disintegration, is not the Jewish faith in the Redemption and a heaven-sent salvation, but that secular strategy of "taking our future into our own hands," both from the aspect of a military confrontation or that of a supposed peace settlement.

The Zionist movement sprang forth and was nurtured from the foreign source known as "emancipation," which was rooted in the French Revolution. This called for an abolishment of all social classes, and imposing equality between workers and the ruling aristocracy. It served its purpose to those nations who sought to shake off the yoke of their titled masters and to grant equal rights to all men. Some succeeded, to a lesser degree.

But none of this was relevant to the condition of exile for the Jewish people, since the Jewish exile had a spiritual background. Similarly, its redemption will have to have a spiritual nature. Emancipation from slavery and oppression is the end purpose of the nations of the world, whereas with Jews, it is only the beginning of the process.

When the Jews left Egypt and ceased to be slaves unto Pharaoh, they were only at the beginning of the road to their true destination: receiving the Torah from Hashem as transmitted through Moshe at Mt. Sinai. Only at that occasion did they finally become a nation. "On this very day you have become a nation unto Hashem your G-d" (Devorim 27:8). Only then was the way prepared for them to enter Eretz Yisroel and possess the Promised Land. And then, when they sinned by abandoning the Torah -- they consequently forfeited the land.

"Wherefore was the land lost?" asks Yirmiyohu. "For their having abandoned My Torah" (9:11,12). For other nations, losing their homeland is the factor that causes their speedy and ultimate decline. But for the Jewish people, the loss of the homeland, which is only a temporary condition, is not a cause but a result of its having abandoned the Torah, since the Torah is its primary foundation and institution, without which it cannot continue to exist.

Therefore, losing one's wit or sense for the Jewish people does not mean losing one's common sense, one's normal human mind. Quite the opposite: it signifies employing natural intellect instead of daas Torah which is the supreme wisdom of this nation, by which alone it must conduct itself. It must not conduct itself according to what is the accepted norm among other nations, for what is good and beneficial to all the nations does not serve the Jewish people at all. On the contrary: the reality in which we find ourselves today proves that the fifty-odd years of statehood during which Israel adhered to all the rules that govern modern developed states only brought it to the brink of a very difficult crisis. This crisis has resulted from abandoning the sense of direction, abandoning the path which the Jewish people are destined to follow.


Perhaps we can find a hint for this in this week's haftorah: "You, the afflicted, tempest-tossed and not comforted . . . " (Yeshaya 54:11). The first verse of this chapter is all good tidings: "Roni akoroh, Rejoice, the barren one; you who did not bear, burst forth into singing and cry aloud . . . for more are the children of the desolate than those of the married . . . Enlarge the place of your tent . . . Have no fear for you shall not be put to shame, nor be confounded . . . "

What, then, is the meaning of the verse that follows later, "You, the afflicted, tempest-tossed and not comforted"? If the barren is being bidden to rejoice, wherefore is she "not comforted"?

The Malbim comments as follows: "After he prophesied about the barren one who will have plentiful progeny, which is a paraphrase for the ingathering of the exiles, [the prophet] depicts that at that time, Zion will not yet be fully rebuilt. Thus this tortured one, which is Zion, will still be distraught in spirit for not having been completely comforted. The barren one will be filled with exuberance for the exiles will have returned. But the afflicted Zion will still be dis- comforted. The land will fill up with exiles but Zion will still mourn."

The meaning of this, as we see later on as well, shows clearly the division of two states of being. In the physical state, the sons of the desolate one will have returned and the land will be repopulated, but in the spiritual sense, Zion will still be desolate and unrequited, unconsoled. This, says the Malbim, is clear from the words, "`Lo, I shall lay your stones with fair colors and lay your foundations with sapphires' -- the stones upon which the foundations will rest will be the nofach-puch, or turquoise, which is the Ephod gem representing the tribe of Yehuda, which is royalty. The foundation itself will be made of sapphire, which is the stone of Yissochor, which symbolizes wisdom and Torah. These two will constitute the foundation of the building: the crown of royalty and the crown of Torah."

He writes further: "The controversy and dissension within the nation will come about from four sources, two of them internal and the other two, external. The internal reasons are: 1) poverty -- and to denote the reversal of this, he first stated the contrast to the wealth and success they would enjoy. And 2) there will be friction in faith, meaning there will be different factions with conflicting approaches to religion, as happened in the time of the second Beis Hamikdash with the factions of the Tzedukim and the Baysusim.

"Alluding to this, the prophet said, `And all your sons are learned of Hashem.' In the times of the Ultimate Redemption, the sons will accept their faith and wisdom from Hashem to the point that there will no longer be any dissenting factions amongst them and subsequently, `Much peace shall be unto your sons.'

"But then there shall be two kinds of enemies threatening from without: 1) Those who oppress economically and 2) enemies who threaten the spirit. Alluding to the latter, he says, `In righteousness shall you be firmly established.' The building which will be built in Zion and founded upon turquoise stones will be completed through acts of righteousness which are the good deeds between man and G-d. In their merit will we be spared from the enemies who seek to destroy us from without."


In summing up, we see that the prophet speaks of two stages: first the physical one, which is necessary to pave the way for the later spiritual redemption. This redemption, however, will not come about in the manner of an "emancipation," nor in any way resembling the natural path of the nations, but via the unique process determined by the Pacemaker of all history, through a complete spiritual repentance and return to Hashem and His Torah.

This, we can happily say, is already evident as the buds of the teshuva movement, in the swelling numbers of yeshivos, shiurei Torah, the increased ranks of sons and daughters attending Torah institutions even from families that considered themselves removed from religion, children that are being saved from spiritual perdition, from the whirlpool of material overindulgence, violence, licentiousness and crime.

Furthermore, we can already witness the overt signs of acknowledging the pure truth of the Torah outlook which our Torah leaders establish. Witness the incident of the veteran kibbutznik who has publicly admitted, albeit decades too late, that the Chazon Ish was so right when he likened the secular public to an empty wagon, which raised many hackles at the time. He now sees how farsighted was that Torah leader and seeks to reject the empty wagon of secularism, as well as its wagon drivers. This was aptly expressed in an article appearing in a popular secular newspaper as words emanating from an aching heart.

It is up to us to strengthen our ranks from within and to increase our activities from without, to do our utmost to bring close the wayward and to show them the path of truth, for then we will also extricate ourselves from the sorrowful state of "An afflicted and tempest-tossed one, uncomforted . . . " Metzudos Dovid explains this as referring to "Jerusalem, who is like an afflicted one, shivering from the stormy wind, with no one to comfort her."

May we merit the realization of Hashem's promise to the prophet: " `And I shall be unto her,' says Hashem, `a wall of surrounding fire, and in honor shall I dwell in her midst' " (Zecharya 2:8).

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.