25 November 2016

With Every Tragedy We Ask "Why?" and Rightly So

24 Marcheshvan 4777
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Chayei Sarah
...Now these are the generations of Ishmael the son of Abraham, whom Hagar the Egyptian, the maidservant of Sarah, bore to Abraham.
And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael by their names, according to their births: the firstborn of Ishmael was Nebaioth, and Kedar and Adbe'el and Mibsam, And Mishma and Dumah and Massa, Hadad and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedmah.

These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names in their open cities and in their walled cities, twelve princes to their nations.
Whenever there is a tragedy like the one Israel is currently undergoing, we immediately look for reasons, whether it is to prevent more suffering in the future or just to make sense of the world around us. And this is good, because the Jew knows that nothing happens unless the Creator ordains it and He does nothing without a reason.

Whereas other cultures believe in a vengeful God who punishes for pleasure, the Jew knows that HKB"H is a Father teaching lessons to His children. So, if we want to understand events, we have to ask the right questions. We should not ask "Why is God punishing us?" We should ask rather, "What does HKB"H want us to learn from this?"

The first place a Jew looks for answers is the Torah and specifically the parshah of the week where hints to current events can always be found. (See above.) 

But, when one searches the parshah, what one will find is that there is some hint to what is most prominently being publicized in the world. And what do we see when we look to the news of the day? What is the biggest story next to the fires raging across Israel? 

That the sons of Ishmael are burning down the country as an act of war against us!

Some examples of the news and headlines...

Arab World Celebrates Fires In Israel
Palestinians, Arab World Rejoice Over Fires
12 Arrested So Far For Nationwide Arson
Wildfire Intifada Is Burning Across Israel

Three Arabs caught overnight trying to start fire near Ariel
Security cameras caught three Arabs trying to start a fire near the city of Ariel using a Molotov cocktail. The fire department got there in time to put it out and the pyro-terrorists were caught and arrested as they fled into a nearby Arab village.
[This is just one of many such reports.]

One University of Haifa professor, an expert on the Middle East, reportedly said
"This is what 'co-existence' looks like."

Our sages explain that the reason Am Yisrael had to drive out the inhabitants of the Land was because they would forever view us as thieves who had stolen it from them and this belief would be passed down to their progeny. Consequently, we would never have peace from them. History bears witness to this truth if we have the courage to face it. 

Furthermore, HKB"H made us a promise that if we did not drive them out, He would drive us out and here we have tens of thousands of Jews running out of their homes across the land!!

The lofty idea of 'co-existence' is only a dream with no basis in reality. Every so often a situation develops which slams us hard up against the reality which the Torah has tried to teach us and which we conveniently ignore. 

Well, there is no ignoring it today. As we enter Day Four with no end in sight, the lesson HKB"H wants us to learn from this event refuses to be ignored. And we have to learn it once and for all. 

When Mashiach comes to power, one of the first things he will have to do is finish the job that Yehoshua started - to remove the enemies from within. And it would be a real shame to see some Jews clinging so much to their dream of 'co-existence' that they would attempt to stand in his way. 

I had a conversation with Rav Yehudah a little while ago and he brought up an interesting point. We've had many opportunities, he said, to recognize the true nature of the Yishmaeli threat in our midst - missiles, tunnels, knives, etc. It makes one wonder how many more opportunities there will be. 

So, the follow-up question then is, why this particular method? Why fire? Again, Rav Yehudah provides the answer: 

"...if you do not listen to Me, to sanctify the Sabbath Day...then I shall set a fire to [Jerusalem's] gates, which will consume the palaces of Jerusalem and not be extinguished." (Yirmiyahu 17.27)

"Wherever there is desecration of Shabbat fire is prevalent." (Tractate Shabbat)

Ask anyone what is not allowed on Shabbat and the first thing they will think of is the prohibition of lighting or extinguishing a fire. Of Israel's large cities, Haifa, even more than Tel Aviv, is most associated with public desecration of the Shabbat. 

Haifa: Israel’s only city with buses on Friday and Shabbat

Buses burn gasoline in order to run! And there are voices arguing strongly for it to be extended to the other major cities, even including Jerusalem!

I am sure that there are many levels of interpretation on these events, but these are the ones that I think make the most sense on a national level.

May it please HKB"H to help us do complete teshuvah for every violation of His Holy Torah and bless us with abundant winter rains even now, bringing healing to our charred land as well as our charred souls. Shabbat Shalom!