(Originally written in 5764)
CALLING ISRAEL'S LEADERS
Listen! Is that really what we are hearing or is it rather, "Sharon, you promised us peace, you promised us security. Give us revenge against the terrorists!" Calls are going forth to deluge the Prime Minister's office with faxes. The gaze longing for deliverance does not extend higher than Paris Square.
Am Israel rises and falls on the strengths (or conversely, the weaknesses) of her leaders. The people have always been alluded to as "sheep"---most often "like sheep led to the slaughter", but also "like sheep blindly following their shepherds." Hashem's eyes are searching out faithful leaders for his desperate people; for his blind and bleeding people. Someone, somewhere, must give them direction. One would think that the Torah scholars of our time would be the most logical choice. Is that really asking for too much?
We dare not excuse ourselves by saying, "We aren't at the level of the tzaddikim of our past." Quite right, we stand taller than all of them. We are "like a midget standing on the shoulders of a giant." The ancients saw the miracles of Egypt and ate the manna and drank the water which came from a rock, but we have all of that and more! We have the benefit of looking back over the entire 4,000 year road by which our ancestors came and which has brought us to this place in our own day. We have seen the miraculous return after 2,000 years and the resettlement of Eretz Israel so richly blessed by the hand of Hashem that we support ourselves and all of our enemies as well.
We have a right and even an obligation to demand of each other that we all live up to our highest potential. If a leader exists somewhere today, let him arise and lead the people back down the road to where we took a divergent path which has now brought us to the edge of a precipice and not to Gan Eden as we had hoped. Let him make it clear to all of us where exactly we went wrong. Many people realize that teshuva is called for but how can we repent properly if we don't know the exact nature of the transgression?
A national accounting must be made. First, we must ask ourselves, "For what purpose did Hashem create of us a holy nation at Har Sinai?"---something we should have done when we commemorated this awesome event only one week ago. Was it not in order to go into Eretz Israel, destroy the nations who refused to bow to Hashem's will, and there to be sanctified through the performance of mitzvot (how many of which can only be performed in the Land and in the Beit Hamikdash) and to serve Hashem in the "place that He will choose?"
When we returned as if from the dead, out of the pit of hell which we call exile, we were so very weak and Hashem took pity on us and kept us alive and standing after the onslaught of everything the Arab hordes could throw at us. Hashem was patient, waiting for us to gain strength and to decide for ourselves to put into practice the Torah precepts which we had 2,000 years to internalize.
The Land came back to us in stages, as to one who has been ill and slowly increases his intake of food as his body gains strength, until in 1967, we appeared to have reached some kind of pinnacle and the crown on the head of Holy Jerusalem, Har Habayit fell back into our hands, most unexpectedly. How could it have been that the very thing for which Jews had ceaselessly prayed for centuries, even millenia, could have come as a complete surprise?
What a faithless people we have been, not to have believed after everything we have seen in our long past. We did not believe enough or care enough and we were most unprepared. In the hesitation of incredulity, an unrecognized enemy stole the gift; the prize that we had undervalued. Har Habayit was stolen from under our noses and its desecration which worsens until this day is a putrid, running sore in the eyes of the Heavenly host and the most obnoxious affront to Hashem and His glory that exists in this world.
We learn from the failure of the first generation to enter the land as commanded that Hashem's plan continues, but that generation lost its chance and the honor and the blessings went to the next. Another opportunity will arise because Hashem's plan continues to unfold, but we must guarantee success where the last generation failed!
In The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition, (pgs. 61-4), Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Shochet, of Humber College, Toronto, Canada writes:
True belief in the Messianic redemption is reflected and verified in sincere anticipation, in eagerly looking forward to the coming of Mashiach. In turn, the sincerity of this hope and awaiting it is tested by what is done to achieve it. For something truly desired one will ask and beg, demand, and do everything possible to attain it....G-d insists that we prove the sincerity of our claim to want Mashiach by doing everything in our power to bring it about, including storming the Gates of Heaven with demands for the redemption:
' The children of Israel shall sit many days without king and without prince, and without sacrifice...Thereafter, the Children of Israel shall return and ask for G-d, their G-d, and for David their king, and they shall be in fear before G-d and (hope) for His goodness in the end of days.' (Hosea 3:4-5)
"Ask for G-d" refers to the restoration of the Kingdom of Heaven; "David their King"---the restoration of the Kingdom of the House of David, through Mashiach; "fear before G-d...His goodness"---the restoration of the Beit Hamikdash. For Israel will not see the redemption until they shall return and ask for these! (Midrash Shemuel, ch. 13, cited by Rashi and Redak on Hosea 3:4-5)
"Israel shall not be redeemed until they will confess and demand the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of the House of David, and the Beit Hamikdash!" (Bet Yossef on Tur-Orach Chayim, ch. 188 from the midrash cited above, as quoted by Shibalei Haleket, sect. 157)
R. Shimon bar Yochai taught a parable of a man who punished his son. The son did not know why he was being punished, but thereafter his father said to him: "Now go and do that which I had ordered you many days ago and you ignored me."
"Even so, all the thousands that perished in battle in the days of David, perished only because they did not demand that the Beit Hamikdash be built. This presents an a fortiori argument:
' If this happened to those in whose midst there had not been a Beit Hamikdash, which, therefore, was not destroyed in their days, yet they were punished for not demanding it, how much more so then with regards to ourselves in whose days the Beit Hamikdash is destroyed and we do not mourn it and do not seek mercy for it!' (Midrash Tehillim 17:4; Midrash Shemuel, ch. 31; cited by Redak on II Samuel 24:25, see there; and in Halachic context in Roke'ach, Hilchot Tefilah, sect. 322. See also Responsa Chatam Sofer VI:no. 86.)
We pray for the redemption several times every day. Even so, requesting by itself is not enough. One must demand the redemption, just as with the wages of a hired worker: the law stipulates that if the worker does not demand his wages, there is no obligation to give it to him on the very day that he completes his work. (Baba Metzia 9:12 111a) So, too, we must demand our redemption. Failure to do so shows that this matter is clearly not that urgent to us! (Sichot Chafetz Chaim, par. 14; quoted in Chafetz Chaim al Siddur Hatefilah, par. 168, p.80)"
How could we have allowed ourselves to believe the Zionist myth that Eretz Israel was the "means to the end" - Jewish survival - with no purpose for our continued existence being specified? How could we have allowed ourselves to take rest as if the job barely begun had already been completed?
If we can manage to arouse ourselves from the entwining arms of lethargy and paralyzing despair, which is nothing more or less than a sinful lack of faith in our Father and King, once we have demanded only what has been promised to us forever, we must plan for the move to the next stage.
Just as the dancers in the ballroom of the grand Titanic had no clue as seconds ticked down to the inevitable collision with an iceberg and the dancers at the wedding in the Versailles Hall had no hint that only moments separated them from a fall into an abyss of terror and as those awaiting their turn to dance at the Tel Aviv disco never even made it through the door, we have no idea what force of nature or enemy Hashem will use to bring His plan about or when it will happen.
Our tasks are these:
1) Do teshuva for not caring enough about Har Habayit and for not doing enough to rescue it from its desecration and the concomitant desecration of Hashem's name.
2) Demand that Hashem open the window of opportunity for us NOW to make the tikun for that gross error of the past generation.
3) Waste no opportunity to teach these principles to all of Am Israel--to make it understood that this is what lies at the root of the ills of our nation and only its rectification will bring relief.
4) Plan and work actively to remove all obstacles to the realization of this goal---the full liberation of Har Habayit--with all that it entails, knowing what steps lead up to it as referred to by Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook and the Rambam.
5) Be prepared to fill the void that Hashem will soon create, or if not, something else will and we will have brought only further disaster and grief upon Am Israel and Eretz Israel through our inaction and faithlessness.
If we think that we have time, we are being arrogant because we cannot second guess Hashem. One of the thirteen articles of faith is to believe that redemption can come any day. If we are not acting with the same urgency as we would if this were the day or tomorrow was the day, then we are in error. The Chafetz Chaim believed so much in the imminent arrival of Mashiach that he kept a packed bag under his bed so as to be ready the moment he heard the shofar announcing his arrival.
I was taught that a Jew takes action to do the right thing even when he doesn't feel like it and after beginning to act, the feelings come. Sometimes, we just need a little push to get started. Nothing has been said here that is news to anyone. We all need to be given perspective and encouragement at times. The exile is ended!! Be strengthened to persevere and be resolved to complete the tasks which have been entrusted to us in this---our time of return!