Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stop Being Defensive Arshat Bereshit

Kahane on the Parsha 
Rabbi Meir Kahane- Parshat Bereishit

The most famous of all the commentaries of the great Rashi is, undoubtedly, the very first one. Concerning the verse, "In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth..." (Genesis 1:1), Rashi quotes the Midrash that asks: Why did the Almighty begin the Torah with the story of creation? After all, the Torah is essentially a book of laws and statutes. Surely, it should have begun with the first mitzvah the Jews were commanded to keep.
The well-known answer is, of course, that the Almighty wished to underline the fact that "He told His people the strength of His deeds in order to give them the inheritance of the nations" (Psalms 111:6). Meaning: Should the nations come to the people of Israel and complain, "You are THIEVES! You have STOLEN the land of the seven Canaanite nations!" the Jews can reply, "The land belongs to the Almighty who created it. By His will He originally gave it to the Canaanites, and by His will He took it from them and gave it to us."

Thus the words of Rashi. Nevertheless, a look at the verse from Psalms that is cited gives rise to a question. If the verse is to be an answer to the nations, it should have read, "He told the nations the strength of His deeds," not "He told HIS PEOPLE the strength of His deeds."
The answer is, however, that the most serious problem when it comes to the Jewish claim to Eretz Yisrael is not the fact that the nations do not recognize it. The nations are no problem for a Jewish people with faith in G-d. The real tragedy is the fact that so many of the Jewish people THEMSELVES do not believe or have grave doubts about the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to the land. In order to make the nations believe, it is the Jews themselves who must first be convince! And that is why the verse emphasizes, "He told His people the strength of His deeds." If the Jews believe it, they will have the strength and self-confidence to tell the nations.

Yet another question is raised by the Siftei Chachamim. In Parshat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:6), Rashi writes, "[The Canaanites] were capturing the land from the descendants of Shem since Noah had given it to Shem when he divided the land." If that is true, what claim do the nations have on Eretz Yisrael? How can they accuse the Jews of stealing the land? After all, if Noah originally gave the land to Shem and the Jews are his descendants, it is only right for them to retake the land from the Canaanites who stole it in the first place.

It appears to me that the answer to this question contains an important lesson for today. Yes, the Jew ONCE lived in Eretz Yisrael and the land ONCE, originally, belonged to Shem, but the nations of the world can always say, "What does it matter what happened centuries ago? People come and people go. What matters is that now, TODAY, the Canaanites live here, and you cannot come after so many years claiming it's yours." Indeed, this is exactly what the Arabs say to the Jewish people today!

How do we reply to this claim? The lesson of the first Rashi in the Torah is that, in the end, there are no "logical" or "political" answers to the world. The ultimate answer is only the one: The Almighty created the land. He is the owners and in Him vests all title. He decreed the Jewish people to be His inheritance, and the land to be theirs. Let us believe it and shout it forth joyously.
The Jewish Press, 1979
Shabbat Shalom!

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Think Jewish Parshat Bereishit

Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Kahane- Parshat Bereishit

The Midrash declares that the Torah preceded the creation of the world by 2,000 years (Bereishit Rabba 8:2). This same Midrash also compares the world's creation to the building of a palace and states: Just as a king of flesh and blood consults with an architect before constructing a palace, G-d looked at the Torah and created the world (ibid. 1:1).
What is the Midrash trying to teach us? What does it mean by its strange statement that the Torah existed before Creation?

To answer these questions, we must remember a fundamental principle of Judaism- one which we are liable to forget immersed as we are in the mundane physical matters of this world. This principle asserts that all the ritual mitzvot were given to us by G-d as symbolic expressions of particular ideas. If we distort the ideas, the mizvot lose their significance since they no longer symbolize their essence.

Many of us have lost sight of this principle. Two thousand years of exile amongst the gentiles have transformed us from a nation into a "religion." We have become practitioners of Jewish ritual without grasping the inner concepts. We perform rituals by rote, paying little attention to the meaning of our actions and words. We have become the type of people who declare
G-d's omnipotence in synagogue and immediately afterward ask, "How can we survive if America won't give us money?" The religious world has come to believe in mitzvot rather than G-d!!!

The Rabbis in the Midrash, therefore, emphasize that the "ideas"- that is, the Torah- preceded the existence of the material world. The ideas are crucial. Without understanding the mitzvot's inner significance, they are sterile - like a body without a soul. And a Jew fulfilling the mitzvot without reflection is nothing more than a robot, a practitioner of ritual.
This message is also evident in G-d's instructions a millennia later in regards to building the Tabernacle, which is compared to a "small world." G-d first commands Bezalel to build the ark - symbol of the Torah - and only afterward does He command him to build the altar - the symbol of deed, or the mitzvot. If one does not start from the basics, from the Torah in the ark, one's sacrifices on the altar are of no significance.

It was with this premise in mind that my father, HY"D, called the school he founded "The Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea." He wanted a yeshiva devoted not only to studying "religion," so to speak - Talmud and halacha - but one that also connected the rituals to the concepts they symbolize. Thus, in addition to "regular" subjects, this yeshiva also stresses Tanach and Midrash, the sources of authentic Jewish ideas and concepts.

Not for nothing did the Rabbis set down the rule that five-year-olds should study Tanach. Before a Jew learned the rituals, he must learn to THINK LIKE A JEW. Only in that manner will the Torah he observes be authentic.
Darka Shel Torah, 1992

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Shabbat Shalom!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Special Destiny Calls

Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Meir Kahane- Parshat V'zot HaBracha
Moses begins his last speech- delivered right before his death- with comments meant for the entire Jewish people. As the Ibn Ezra writes, "This parsha begins with a general blessing for all of Israel, followed by specific comments addressed to each tribe, followed by general comments once more."
Essentially, Moses tells them: Israel, remember who you are! Remember how you became a nation. Remember your purpose, your task as G-d's chosen people. He reminds them of Mt. Sinai and the "fiery law" they received there, "an inheritance for the congregation of Jacob" (Deuteronomy 33:2-5).
All this recalls Exodus 19:6 and the strange comment of Rashi on that verse. The verse reads: "You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; these are the words that you should speak to the Children of Israel." Rashi writes: "No more and no less." An enigmatic statement, indeed.
A thought by Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, however, makes the matter clear. The Rabbis inform us that the Second Temple was destroyed because the Jews "neglected to say the proper blessing before studying Torah" (Bava Metzia 85b). Rav Kook explains that they forgot the blessing's core- the words "who chose us from among the nations." They forgot that the Jewish people's raison d'etre is to serve as a holy nation, a beacon of truth for the rest of humanity. They forgot that there is no point in their existence- and certainly no point in their having a state and a Temple- if they ignore their G-d given task.
Before giving the Jews the Torah, G-d wished to make this principle crystal clear. He wished them to understand a single point- their mission as a holy people and a kingdom of priests. "No more and no less." Only after Moses underscored this foundation to them and attained their consent did G-d give them the Torah.
This is the essence of Judaism- holiness, chosenness, life as a nation with a unique destiny defined by G-d. It is with this essential idea that Moses begins his very last speech to the Jewish people in Parshat Zot HaBracha.
Peirush HaMaccabee
Chag Sameach!
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Beginning Of The Redemption? Rabbi Binyamin Kahane

The Wisdom of Rabbi Binyamin Kahane HY"D...
Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Kahane

As the people and State of Israel sink to ever greater depths, we often hear the claim that there is nothing we can do since we are still in "galut." One gets the impression that this argument is an escape - a way of releasing feelings of bitterness and despair and a convenient excuse for passively accepting our condition without trying to change it. Whatever its motivation, it is to refute the argument that we are still in galut that the following article is intended.
Let's begin with an obvious question: When the Jewish people are living in the Land of Israel, have attained sovereignty over it, have scored awesome military victories, and have witnessed the land's miraculous agricultural blossoming - can they be said to be living in galut? After all, galut refers to a nation uprooted from its land. With all the problems we have - and we are certainly the last to ignore them! - the historical process we are living through is hardly one of galut. Indeed, it's the very opposite.
Of course, referring to our condition as galut is not entirely without basis. The spiritual, moral, and national deterioration of the Jewish people today is, indeed, terrible and unprecedented. And so, in order to clear things up a bit, it behooves us to remember that geula isn't merely a slogan. Geula is a very specific process which our Rabbis describe. It is comprised of several components: the rebirth of the land, the liquidation of the Exile, the return of Jews to Eretz Yisrael, Jewish sovereignty over it, revenge against the enemies of Israel, the building of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the appearance of the Messiah son of David. If we wish to define the situation we are in today, we cannot do so based on our feelings or personal views. There are rules. There are specific components to geula.
And so: Can anyone deny that the land is once again yielding its fruits ("there is no clearer indication of the end of days than this" - Sanhedrin 98a)? Can anyone deny that Jews have gathered to the land from the four corners of the world (an ingathering of the exiles); that the Diaspora is self-destructing (either by emigration to Israel or, G-d forbid, via physical liquidation or assimilation); and that large parts of the land were conquered in wars (war is also the beginning of the redemption - Megillah 17b) and are under Jewish sovereignty? Indeed, since the days of Solomon, the hand of Israel has never been stronger. The fact that we refuse to use our strength is another matter.
These are all facts that only the blind refuse to see. What do they say in response? That this isn't the ingathering of the exiles we dreamed about. But what is the meaning of the term "ingathering of the exiles" if not a return of the Jewish people to the land? (Or perhaps it refers only to an ingathering of the Jews of Boro Park?) You are not pleased with the way it came about? Well, that's how G-d decided it would happen!
What else do they say? That this isn't the rebirth of the land which the Rabbis meant. But the fact is that for 2,000 years the land kept its promise: it lay desolate despite the efforts of various peoples to revive it. Only in the last few generations, when the Jews returned, did the land yield its fruit!
For those who say we are in galut, what has to happen to make the process kosher? Must we start again from the beginning? Must we all, G-d forbid, return to the Exile and must the land again become barren so that we can get it right the next time? Must we start over again so that things can go according to their script, the way they think the redemption should unfold?
Naturally, there are valid questions that can be asked. For example, how is it possible that the wicked continue to dominate Israel despite all the miracles we have witnessed? How can the Jewish nation be descending into unprecedented depths of decadence if it is living in midst of the geula process? Is there not a contradiction here?
On the contrary! The Rabbis discussed such a scenario long ago. Indeed, they told us (Sanhedrin 97a) that if geula comes b'ita, the government will turn heretical and an evil government will rule. Actually, the Rabbis tell us (Megillah 17b) that one of the stages in the geula process is judgment against the wicked! And so in the geula of b'ita, there will be wicked people, and these wicked people will be in power. But the Talmud also teaches us that at a certain stage they will be destroyed ("criminals and sinners alike will be broken, and those who have forsaken G-d will perish"). This stage, too, will come. When? THAT DEPENDS ON US! If instead of KVETCHING, G-d fearing Jews would take hold of the reigns of leadership to further the redemption, the geula process would accelerate and the Messiah son of David would come quicker.
What a pity that so few study these passages, yet so many speak about geula as if they were experts. This subject is no less important than the laws of Bava Kamma. What a pity to live through this unique era submerged in blindness, without trying to understand its greatness. If we would only understand our era's significance, we could advance the redemption and save ourselves from some of the suffering of the birth-pangs of the Messianic period.
In conclusion, the complete redemption has not yet arrived, but parts of it are already with us. The real problem is not that we are in galut, but rather that WE REFUSE TO REMOVE THE GALUT FROM WITHIN US!!
Darka Shel Torah, 1999

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rabbi Binyamin Kahane Sukkot Not Everyone Is Included In The Four Species

The Writings of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane HY"D- Dvar Torah in honor of Sukkot דבר תורה לכבוד חג הסוכות
Organs of power at home joining the side of our enemy requires us to take another look at the known midrash about how the "four species" symbolize different levels in Am Yisrael.
It is impossible to ignore the growing and obscene phenomenon, where Jews in the upper echelons of Israeli society mobilize time and time again to further the cause of our bitter enemies. Whenever possible, they rise from within us, under the orchestration of the media, to demoralize the nation during its fight for existence, while furthering the interests of the enemy. The question is: How should we relate to these people? Are they one of us, or are they "beyond the pale"?
One of the famous midrashim in connection to Sukkot, compares the four species to the unity of Israel:
Just as the Etrog has both taste and smell, so too do the Jewish People have within it people who have Torah and good deeds:
Lulav...has taste and no smell, and so too there are those who have Torah and no good deeds...
Just as the Hadas has smell and no taste...(there are those) with good deeds and no Torah...
Just as the "Arava" has no smell and no taste, so (there are those) who have no Torah and no good deeds.
And what does the Almighty do to them? To destroy them would be impossible! But rather the Almighty said that he will tie them all up in one unit and they will atone for one another". (Vayikra Raba, 30:12)
In view of how we opened this article, this amazing midrash mentioning how the Aravot are held tightly together with the rest of Am Yisrael, seems to shed light on the subject, and must be further analyzed.
The worst kind of Jew spoken of here is the Arav, who is not destroyed, because the righteous atone for him. They are Jews "who have no Torah and no good deeds." True, we are not talking about the cream of the crop - but we are talking about Jews who are ready to be part of the union of Am Yisrael, connected to them so that the righteous can atone for them. We are not talking about Jews, who G-d forbid, sever themselves from the collective and detest their own Jewishness. We are not discussing Jews who the sages spoke of when they said that in the days of the Messiah, there will be Jews who will identify with and join forces with the enemy. About such Jews, the above midrash does not speak. On the contrary. The idea of the midrash is two-fold. On the one hand, G-d does not desire to see the wicked of Israel destroyed. One the other hand, the wicked mentioned here are those willing to join and be a part of Klal Yisrael. Only they merit this special atonement. It is an atonement reserved for one who feels belonging to the collective of the Jewish Nation.
It must be known: Relatively speaking, there really are only a few Jews who seek to cut themselves off from Am Yisrael. In Israel today, this miniscule band of haters, though they wield tremendous control, are a tiny minority. Through all the generations, and especially in this final era before the complete redemption, there were always Jews who took themselves out of the collective, and deep inside of them, identify more with the goyim than with the Jews.
And so, it is a great mistake to identify such people as the "Arava" described in the midrash. for while the Arava is still only an Arava, it still has a belonging to the Jewish collective. While it has no taste or smell, at least it does not give off a putrid or damaging smell. The Arava sees himself as part of the four species and does not nullify his Jewishness, nor does he want to be like a gentile. By this very fact, he is able to absorb within him the smell and taste of the others. We must also remember that there are certain things that disqualify the four species from being Kosher. And so, though we are never happy about disqualifying a Jew, there are those who are rejected, and not tied together with the rest of the four species.
The nation is willing to absorb the individual sinners, and to cover and atone for them so that they will not perish with their sins. (Even though this causes us great suffering as a people). It is ready to hold on tightly to them with all its might in order to unite them, for we Jews are all guarantors for one another. But the nation is not ready to carry under its wing he who in his very essence is an aberrant traitor. Such people remove themselves from the Sukkah of Israel, and as much as it hurts to say, they are beyond the pale for us.
Chag Sameach!

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Rabbi Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane Mission Of The Prophet - In These Times As Well

The Writings of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane HY"D- Dvar Torah in honor of Yom Kippur דבר תורה לכבוד יום כיפור

On Yom Kippur it is the custom to read the Book of Jonah during the Mincha service, since the repentance done by the people of Ninve is supposed to awaken us on the current Day of Atonement. Many people forget, however, that before Jonah even arrived at Ninve to prophesize, he underwent an experience that carries for us an important example for today and for Yom Kippur as well.
The sages tell us that there are several types of prophets who are obligated to receive the death penalty. One of these is the prophet who "suppresses his prophecy". That is, he has received a prophetic vision and is commanded to reveal it, but refuses to do so. Jonah came dangerously close to falling into such a category - fleeing the Land of Israel so that the "Divine Presence" will no longer rest upon him, and thus no longer be able to carry out G-d's message. The sages tell us that all this stemmed from Jonah's love for the Jewish People. Jonah knew that the gentiles of Ninve would heed his call to repentance. Consequently, this might awaken the wrath of G-d against the Jewish People, since they, in contrast to the gentiles of Ninve, did not heed the words of the prophets and repent. He therefore chose to flee from his obligation to warn the people of Ninve, lest they "show up" the Jews.


Despite this love, and despite all his good intentions, Jonah was wrong. The role of the prophet is to speak the word of G-d, whether the message finds favor in his eyes or not, or if saying it endangers his life. It is irrelevant whether or not he has the most seemingly logical justifications for NOT saying the message. Speaking the truth can be very difficult, as Rabbi Kahane HY"D in his last article in the "Jewish Press" wrote, "You think it is pleasant to speak painful truths that cause pain to those who refuse to listen and who then react with pain and hate against the one who speaks? You think it is easy to be the messenger that brings forth the reaction, 'Kill the messenger?'"


What this means is quite simple. A Jew who elevates himself to the level of a prophet has established a very special connection to G-d. But it is not enough. For a prophet to be a prophet, he must go out to the people and speak the word of G-d. Rabbi Kahane would convey this principle by quoting Eliyahu in Kings 1, Chapter 10: "I am left all alone as Hashem's prophet". The Rav asked: Was it really so? Was Eliyahu the only prophet not killed by Achav and Izevel? What about the 100 prophets mentioned only a few verses before that were hidden in a cave? The Rav would explain by saying that Eliyahu was teaching a tremendous lesson for all to learn: A prophet hiding in a closet is not a prophet! The whole point of a prophet is to go out to the people and speak the truth without fear. Eliyahu was the only prophet around because he was out there fearlessly chastising the Jewish People at the time. Thus, Jonah, regardless of the reason he had, betrayed his special mission.

This is a vital lesson of Yom Kippur, for all the "Bnei Torah" and "Bnei Yeshiva" andrabbis who are also in a certain sense leaders or prophets of the generation. So many choose to sit quietly, afraid to attack the Hellenistic left and thus save the Jewish State from them. All these years they have refused out of fear to state the simple "Halacha" and real solution to the basic and burning Yishmaelite problem - whose status is so obvious according to the Torah law that no honest rabbi could differ with it. The problem is that in public, everyone is suddenly silent. All these leaders are in a sense, "prophets who withhold their prophecy" - for they know the Divine truth, yet refrain from saying it. How we are now suffering from this silence!!!
May it be G-d's will that on Yom Kippur the first to repent will be those who are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the nation. May they warn and chastise the Jewish People and no longer become a partner to the sins of the generation by way of their silence, and as a consequence, the Jewish People will repent and bring the Redemption.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Next Year In Jerusalem - Maybe 1971



WRITINGS 5732-33   1971 -73


 December 24, 1971

The synagogue if filled from end to end.  Every seat is reserved, every inch of space taken up.  The Yom Kippur Neila service is drawing to an end.  A day of repentance, prayer and charity fades to a close.  A congregation, elevated for a day at least, watches as the Shofar is raised and a long clear, vibrant blast fills the hall.  Five hundred voices cry out spontaneously –

L’Shana Ha’Ba’ah B’ Yerushalayim!  “Next year in Jerusalem!”

The crowd files out to begin yet another year of bitter exile amidst television and Miami Beach.

The synagogue is dark and hushed.  A few candles flutter in the corners, their flickering flames lighting the pained and saddened faces of the congregation sitting on low benches waiting for the Tisha B’Av services to begin and the mournful tune of the Eycha – Lamentations – rises softly, punctuated by the sobs of the mourners for Zion.  Every mind is shattered as the picture of the beloved homeland, bereft of its children, comes to mind.  Every pious Jew sitting in the room sighs and dreams of the day - may it soon come - when G-d will allow him to, once again, kiss the soil of the homeland – courtesy of a three-weeks American Jewish Congress guided tour, and then back home again to the painful fleshpots.

The dream of settling in Israel is a basic part of the Jewish faith.  It is an obligation but it is more than that:  “It is a dream.  How many seas would the tears of our ancestors have filled as they wept for the privilege of returning to Zion?  How piercing would have been the totality of their cries as they prayed to the yoke of nations and bring us upright to our land!”

Who can begin to fully quote the letter of the obligatory law to settle in the Land of Israel as expounded by our rabbis and who can adequately describe the acceptance of the spirit of that obligation by our ancestors, the dreamers of Zion?  What would they not have given for the opportunity of returning and walking four cubits on its soil?  How they would have flocked to the airports and harbors as the great vision approached fulfillment!

I write this as a traditional, observant Jew.  For myself I have written and spoken and pleaded a thousand times over to all Jews of America to leave and return to Israel – not for religious reasons – but for the elementary need to save their lives.  I believe in the marrow of my bones that the days of the Jew in the Untied States are numbered and that there is coming a storm of physical brutality that portends a holocaust.  What 48 prophets could not convince Jews to do, says the Talmud, Haman’s ring accomplished.  There is a Haman’s ring in the American Jewish future and for the sake of our children and grandchildren the time to evacuate is now.  I have said this and will continue to say this to all Jews.  But, for the observant ones there is another, an added; perhaps, an even more important reason.

Every traditional Jew must take a long and deep look at himself.  He must ask difficult and painful questions.  How is it possible to honestly pray three times a day to the Almighty to restore us to Zion when that restoration is ours at a cost of a few hundred dollars, courtesy of El Al?  What rationalizations can we invent to answer those who question our lamentations for Zion when the Jewish Agency is prepared to grant long-term loans for housing and transportation for those who wish to settle in Israel?  What can hide our shame as we fervently proclaim “Next Year in the Land of Israel” when next year has already come, when the gates of the Holy Land stand open, when the obligation to return can and demands to be fulfilled?

All this has nothing to do with the particular religious Jew’s attitude toward the government or State of Israel.  We speak here, not of political Zionism, but of the original and permanent obligation to go up and settle the Holy Land – an obligation that is clear and binding upon all - from the Mizrachi through the Agudat Israel to Amram Blau and the Neturei Karta.

What kind of Jews are we who profess a Judaism that builds up a dream in ritual and prayer – until it is at the very center of our aspirations – and then make a mockery of it in practice?  Those who are able to return and do not must cease to weep salted tears and put an end to insincere lamentations.  Let us rather admit that we have eaten too long at the fleshpots of galut – exile – and that the bribery of the good life has compromised and blinded us.  When a famous Rosh Yeshiva chided Ben Gurion on the secularism of Israel, the then Prime Minister cunningly replied: “Let the American religious Jews come here and put me out of office.”

He could well afford to be clever for he knew that most would not come.  The Catskills have overshadowed the hills of Jerusalem and the Rockaways conquered the Jordan and the Mediterranean.  Electric appliances have replaced the flame of sacrifice and the television set the Book of Lamentations.  In a sense it is symbolic of a general loss of ability to sacrifice on the part of the American Jew – and the religious one is little different.  It is a sad and dangerous thing.

From the religious point of view there is a double tragedy here.  What power lies in the hands of a dynamic religious immigration!  What a noble impression and Kiddush Hashem – Sanctification of the Name – it would create in the young Israeli mind if religious Jews showed the courage of their convictions!  What a Jewish State could be shaped out of a State of Israel!

Certainly it is difficult; to be sure there would have to be sacrifices in the economic standard of one’s life.  Yes, there is a language barrier and no doubt employment would be a problem for a time and life would not be quite as materially sweet as back home with the good life and the American Nazi Party.  But, since when has a religious Jew assumed that life was made to be sweet and that the Almighty placed him here so as to be comfortable?  Is the excuse of economic difficulty enough to justify, in the religious Jew’s mind, the rationale given him by the non-observant for violating even the rabbinical laws of Sabbath?  Is the Jew who tells us that economic need makes it imperative that his store remain open on the Sabbath since that is by far his busiest day, given dispensation?  Do we calmly accept the decision of people not to send their children to yeshivot because of the economic difficulty involved or do we call upon them to make that sacrifice that is needed for the great commandment of Torah study?

Yet, here, on a question that every authority in the past has conceded is a religious obligation we find the religious Jew ready to join behind the Hadassahs , the ZOA’s and the Bnai Births in their shabby attempts to transform the galut - the exile – of America into such tortured sophistry as “chutz l’aretz” (outside the land).  The very one who girds his loins for battle against all who seek to lighten some other halachic burden now suddenly descends into the intricacies of pilpul to explain that in reality Maimonides believes that the settlement of the land is only a rabbinical injunction (thus “merely” putting it on the same level as eating chicken with milk or doing business on the Sabbath); that one is free of the obligation if there is danger; that there are economic difficulties, ad infinitum.

No argument will blot out the shame of our craven surrender to materialism.  The words we mouth in our daily prayers; the slogans we shout at the conclusion of Yom Kippur and at our Passover Seder all become empty and meaningless words when we have no intention of following them.  It is up to the yeshivot to teach and to emphasize the religious obligation of a Jew to live in the Land of Israel.  It is up to the traditional congregation to take steps to implement it.  Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisroel (the commandment to settle the Land of Israel) becomes more than merely another of the laws.  It becomes a mirror reflecting our weakness and hypocrisies.  Next Tisha B’Av it would do well for us to weep – not for the land but for ourselves.

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