03 January 2008

Jerusalem, Front and Center

In an article from the National Council of Young Israel's winter edition of their publication Viewpoint, there appears the following question:

"Will we, the generation that G-d graced with the gift of A United Yerushalayim, protect her, or G-d forbid, fail her?"

I suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the failure already took place forty years ago and continued every day that the mosques remained and the Beit Hamikdash was not rebuilt. And this is why she is now being ripped from our guilty hands. For does it not say that in every generation that the Temple remains unbuilt, it is as if it was destroyed in that generation?

This is another case in point. Suddenly people have awoken to the fact that a big problem exists (that happens when the status quo is shaken by unexpected forces), but for some reason they can't seem to connect the dots. They don't appear able to follow logically from problem to solution even with 4000 years of Jewish history as their guide. As Shlomo Hamelech was wont to say, "There's nothing new under the sun."

Haggai, Perek 1: "...the word of the Lord came to Haggai, the prophet ...saying: This people has said, "The time has not come - the time for the house of the Lord to be built." And the word of the Lord came through Haggai the prophet, saying: Is it [an appropriate] time for you yourselves to sit in your ceiled houses, when this house is in ruins?

And now, so said the Lord of Hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much and you bring in little. You eat without being satiated. You drink without getting your fill. You dress, and it has no warmth. And he who profits, profits into a bundle with holes.

So said the Lord of Hosts: Consider your ways. Ascend the mountain, bring wood, and build the house-and I will accept it, and I will be honored, said the Lord. You looked for much, and behold, it became little. And you brought it home, and I will blow into it. Because of what? says the Lord of Hosts, Because of My house that is lying in ruins. Yet you run, each to his house.

Therefore because of you the heavens have kept back, so that there is no dew, and the earth has kept back its produce. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the grain, and upon the wine, and upon the oil, and upon everything that the ground will bring forth-and upon man, and upon beast, and upon all the labor of their hands."

This was at a time when few had answered the call to come home from Babylonian captivity. Enemies surrounded us and dwelt among us. When we first began to rebuild Yerushalayim with the permission of our foreign master, we had to post guards for protection from those who did not want to see the Jews returning and rebuilding the Holy Temple. A new master replaced the more benevolent one and based on false accusations against the Jews (see, nothing new at all), our foreign master ordered the building stopped. We were poor and few in number and not masters of our own Land, yet Hashem held us accountable and not after forty years but after only eighteen!

How our guilt cries unto Heaven!! Hashem granted us great military victories over our enemies. We grew in strength and numbers and wealth. We ruled over ourselves with no one to answer to but Hashem Himself! Look how the city has grown and prospered and spread out. Luxury apartments are being sold for literally millions of dollars. And where is the House Hashem made us promise to build for Him???

Yerushalayim does not exist to become simply another world capital, another tourist destination, a place for Jews to face while in prayer and mention at the end of the Passover seder. It is the very gateway to Heaven and the dwelling place of the Shechinah! By leaving it in ruins, we have disrespected and disgraced the Makom!

What does the Council of Young Israel counsel us to do?

•We will cry out...
•We will take to the streets worldwide on her behalf.
•We will pray...

Do they proclaim to all the world---the Jews are going to rise up en masse to lay the cornerstone of the Third Beit Hamikdash---and then organize to accomplish it? Why not??? For this is the ONLY solution. If we don't do it, then we will lose her. Mark my words!

Yes, it will be temporary, but woe to us for even the "temporary" loss of Holy Yerushalayim and the shame and pain and degradation which we will suffer along with the Holy One, blessed be He!

Read it and weep! Your forefathers knew how to respond to punishment. They knew how to do teshuvah!!

Haggai, Perek 1: "...And Zerubbabel the son of Shaltiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak the High Priest, and all the remnant of the people heeded the command of the Lord their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people feared the Lord. And Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, said in [fulfilling] the Lord's mission to the people, saying: I am with you, says the Lord. And the Lord inspired the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shaltiel, the governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak the High Priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people, and they came and performed labor in the house of the Lord of Hosts, their God."

We can do no less and have any hope of salvation. Hashem have mercy!

01 January 2008

How Do You Do Teshuva When You Don't Understand What You Did Wrong?

...We were talking about the need for real, effective teshuvah to bring about an end to the suffering of the Jewish people. If we did real teshuvah, we could bring Mashiach immediately. But it is clear to me from my own interactions with Jews in Eretz Yisrael, that the vast majority of people are nowhere near ready to do so.

Take for example those expelled from Gush Katif, their supporters and rabbis.

After forty years of "settlement," of living amongst the Arabs, of providing them with employment and health care, of befriending them and sharing their lives with them, they went into shock when it began to appear that they would be ousted from their homes and businesses and communities.

But why should this have come as such a surprise to a predominately religious, Torah-reading and Torah-observant crowd?

Bamidbar, Perek 33: "Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their temples, destroy their molten idols, and demolish their high places. You shall clear out the Land and settle in it, for I have given you the Land to occupy it.

... But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you, then those whom you leave over will be as spikes in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will harass you in the land in which you settle. And it will be that what I had intended to do to them, I will do to you.
 [i.e., drive us out of the Land.]

There you have the reason it happened. Need I explain why it could not be stopped? Let's look at how the Jews chose to respond to the decree when it came down. These are some of the things that were done:

•A human chain was formed from one place to another.
•A three-day march from one place to another was organized.
•Celebratory rallies were held at which politicians pontificated.
•A mass "hug for democracy" was carried out as a crowd made a circle around the Knesset.
•"Settlers" visited their secular brothers to explain their position
•Cake and coffee continued to be offered to the soldiers while both the leadership and the rank and file declared their firm opposition to any real opposition, i.e. they would resist peacefully, but nothing more.
•Prayer rallies took place at which no one repented because no one thought they had done anything wrong. And the situation remains so to this day.

At no time did anyone ever suggest during all the desperate davening in those final days that they had erred in not driving the Arabs out at the very beginning or at the very least not to have employed and befriended them. They even hired them to build the batei knesset for crying out loud!

The Jews would never have dreamed of tearing down the mosques as Hashem commanded us to do, but their own houses of worship were burned and demolished. And who cries over it today?

And the worst part of it is that nothing has changed. After the thousands of rockets which have rained down upon Sederot, one of their English-speaking spokespersons was interviewed on the radio recently and declared that it has not changed her opinion about how to deal with the Arabs---"If they will stop making war, we can all go back to peaceful coexistence just like before."

Hashem will never allow us to go back to maintaining the status quo, so if this is the goal, we can look forward to an escalation of the rocket warfare raining down upon us until a people arises that is willing to bend its will to that of Hashem and do as He has commanded us.