The magazine of the authentic Jewish Idea
Cheshvan 5737 – November 1976
(This article was written when Rabbi Kahane was incarcerated in Federal Prison, Manhattan, May 7, 1975)
What is It All About?
The problems of Israel are many; that us a thing that is hardly new to the Jewish people. What is new is that for the first time in 20 centuries, Jewish leaders have not the slightest concept of why these problems exist and what the only solutions are. They are totally and absolutely off the track; their frame of reference is completely wrong! They have not the slightest understanding of the historical process that is taking place; they are intellectual goyim of the first class; they wander about hopelessly lost, with no sense of direction and not the foggiest notion of what the Jewish crises today is all about.
Their plans, their programs and their ‘solutions’ are impotent and irrelevant and, above all, tragic because they bring down with them the Jewish people. Once cannot find answers if he does not understand the questions; one cannot find solutions unless he perceives the problems. One cannot understand the Jewish destiny if he is, intellectually, a gentile.
All that is happening today – the problems afflicting the Jew in Israel and the problems that envelope the Jew in the Exile – all these are one. It is time that we understood what it is all about.
“Who is the L-rd that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not the L-rd…”
The course of human history has been that of G-d’s effort to make man “know the L-rd.” The purpose of man is to rise to holiness through the bending and subjugating of his will, his ego and his self to the L-rd. Man, the animal, becomes man the creature “a little lower than the angels” only through humbly making his will subordinate to his Maker. The knowing of G-d, the recognition that there is a G-d and that he is the L-rd, the G-d of Israel, is the first step to the smashing of one’s ego with all its ugly and sordid selfishness and its obsession with self and self-gratification. To be free, and to do “one’s thing” and to cast off restraint is not to know G-d but to place oneself on a divine pedestal from which one can be worshipped.
To know G-d and to know specifically the L-rd, the G-d of Israel, is the way – the only way – to create a human race which is humble and small, holy and good. It is the only way to understand the concepts that comprise holiness, the ultimate goal of man. It is the only way to understand the methods that lead to the attainment of that holiness which will put an end to the self-centeredness from which stem all the evils of the world.
The Jewish people is the instrument of G-d, chosen by Him to teach the world to “know the
L-rd.” It is the Jews who were directed to practice the theory of holiness, to bring into reality the Man that is just “a little lower than the angels.” Jewish history begins with the election of the Jew, with his selection as the Chosen People. Jewish history is the story of the success and failures of the Jew in his mission, and the rewards and punishments of G-d. It is a history that is filled with the tragedy of both gentile and Jew seeking to escape from the yoke of heaven, denying the existence of the authority of the L-rd, stating: “I know not the L-rd…” and choosing self-gratification over humble holiness, with all the selfish and sordid evils that stems from this.
The end of this historical trek is told a thousand times over in the Bible and the Talmud. The end of days will see the earth “filled with the knowledge of the L-rd.” The ultimate future will be one of, “on that day, the L-rd will be One, and His name One.” The destiny of man is to ultimately know the L-rd, G-d of Israel, as the Omniscient and Omnipotent, and conversely to know himself – at long last – as the created, the finite, the humble being who stands eternally at the mercy of His Maker. How that will come about is dependent on the Jew understanding his historical and immutable destiny
“I am the L-rd, in its time will I hurry it (the redemption).” The words of Isaiah (60). And the rabbis explain: “If they, the Jews, merit it, I will “hurry it.” If they do not merit it, it will come “in its time.” (Sanhedrin 98).
The final redemption can come in one of two ways. Either through the Jew meriting it and acknowledging the L-rd, shouting out “I know the L-rd” and “I accept His will and His commandments,” or refusing to. In the case of the former, redemption will come swiftly and with majesty and G-d will show His truth and reality and Omnipotence before the world as He brings awesome and speedy victory for His people Israel, a victory that will lead the nations of the world to acknowledge and “know” him and His sovereignty. In the case of the latter, of the refusal to bow to G-d; in the case where the Jew will not merit redemption, that redemption will, nevertheless, come but not before the wrath of G-d will bring tragedy and disaster upon the Jewish people – terribly and needlessly. The moment of truth and the time of choice are at hand. The final era is upon us.
The end of days, the era of final redemption, shows its signs all about us in our time. What is happening today is part of a Divine plan, part of a directed destiny. The Jew has entered the period of atchalta d’geulah, the beginning of the final redemption. It is an era that has seen great prophecies begun to be fulfilled. The terrible holocaust, the incredible resurrection of a Jewish State, the breathtaking return of Jews from the four corners of the earth, the awesome military victories and liberation of Jewish lands, east, north and south. These mark the determination of the All Mighty to make His name known and His power felt and His truth evident.
The Jew must understand that everything that is happening today is part of the Divine decree. Everything!
The crises for Israel and the Jewish people, the worsening situation in the world, the turmoil among the nations, the ascendancy of the forces of aggression and despotism, the movement of the brink of nuclear warfare, all these are coming to make a mockery of the plans and certainties of man. All that he proposes begins to crumble as the One whom he refuses to “know”, ultimately disposes.
The Jew must “know the L-rd” and know what the L-rd demands of him in these days. We have an America committed to the Roger Plan and UN Security Council Resolution 242 to force Israel to give up all the liberated lands; a Lebanon which will be free of PLO pressure only because it has become a Syrian protectorate, which is a far greater menace to Israel than the PLO could ever be . An Israel which sees its own people split on the issues of foreign policy and which knows that American Jewry – fearful of the fallout from anti-Semitism in the event of an Israeli-Washington clash – will pressure the Jewish state to make concessions; and Israel with a growing problem of Arab rioting and bloodshed in the liberated lands and demonstrations against the state by Israeli Arabs which will bring Israel to the brink of a Northern Ireland; and Israel in grave danger.
Reality is the Exile growing ever more untenable – a graveyard for Jewish hopes, Jewish souls, Jewish bodies. Assimilation and alienation rage even as the Jew sups noisily from the fleshpots of Galut. And overhead, the skies darken and cloud grows bleaker as the threat of physical anti-Semitism becomes more real with every passing day. Whole communities face the threat of elimination; Rhodesia, South Africa, Argentina. They are the next dominoes in the inevitable and immutable process of the liquidation of the Exile and MUST be because it is ordained in the Book of the Righteous. And America? Bicentennial or not the Jew will not escape the fate of the others. This is the reality.
But how swift is the possibility of redemption! How near it is to us and we need only touch it, open the door for it. It seeks to embrace us. As a bride seeking her lover so does salvation seek the Jew who need only give her the dowry, the dowry that shall bring salvation. That dowry? The payment? Faith, “And thou shalt be betrothed unto me with faith, and thou shalt know the L-rd.” Faith. Such as simple thing, such a difficult thing. Real faith; the one that demands of us courage and strength and the ability to throw off our fear of man to do the bidding of theL-rd.
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