12 February 2014

Who Was "Yair"?

12 Adar Alef 5774

Avraham Stern, who went by the code name "Yair," was the founder and leader of Lehi - an underground movement for Jewish independence in the Land of Israel. He was born in Poland in December 1907 into a Zionistic family who, when they saw the rising antisemitism in Poland, sent their son to Eretz Yisrael to finish his schooling.  He arrived in Haifa with a friend on 1 January 1926.

Avraham excelled exceedingly at his studies both at the Gymnasia in Jerusalem and at Hebrew University, but his destiny kept calling louder and louder until its insistent voice could no longer be ignored.  Avraham Stern was a Zionist, but not a secular Zionist.  He was a Zionist in the tradition of the Maccabees and the heroes of Masada.  In fact, he took the name "Yair" from the leader of the rebels at Masada.  And knowing what we know today of gilgulim, it is quite possible, and I would even say highly probable, that he was a gilgul of Eleazar ben Yair. It can not be a coincidence that the number of Lehi fighters matches the number of those who gave their lives al kidush Hashem on Masada.

This "Zionist" carried two things with him wherever he went - a set of tefillin and a Tanakh.  He made frequent mention of G-d in such phrases as "thank G-d," "G-d willing," etc. He wrote of "...merit[ing] the establishment of the Hebrew Kingdom in the land of the Hasmoneans and the establishment of the Temple on the Temple Mount." And he viewed the struggle in which he was engaged as a war for "redemption."

According to Zev Golan's book, there were then, as well as now, several forms of Zionism.  He breaks it down like this:

1) Practical Zionism - emphasizes "creating facts on the ground" (i.e., settlements)
2) Political Zionism - seeks political recognition and solutions (through Zionist congresses, etc)
3) Revisionist Zionism - focuses on shleimut ha'aretz and preserving the homeland as a safe haven from antisemitism
4) Revolutionary Zionism - its goal was to liberate the land from foreign rule and restore the "Hebrew Kingdom" in accordance with "messianic longings"

We can clearly see all of these groups still in action among us today. It's noteworthy that now, as then, those who identify with Revolutionary Zionism are a significant minority.

Zev Golan says in his book about Avraham Stern and the Stern Gang that one of their biggest problems was that they could not get their message out to the masses. As a result, the Jews only knew of Stern and his followers what the British-controlled media wanted them to hear and it portrayed Stern as an outlaw, a robber and a murderer. The mind of the public was poisoned against him before they even knew what he stood for or why he advocated doing the things he did.

We saw a situation very similar to this with Rav Meir Kahane, of blessed memory.  I've met Israelis who knew much of Rav Kahane, enough to never read a word he wrote, because of the indoctrination they received in Israeli public school. And yet, this is the crux of the entire matter - the message.

It's certainly no coincidence that Rav Kahane entitled his magnum opus, The Jewish Idea. Settlements and hasbarah campaigns and harping on security issues only go so far, but The Jewish Idea that the complete redemption must be the end goal is the key to everything - to success and to victory!

To be continued...