Friday, February 03, 2006

Le-Dorotekhem, Huqat Olam

Thank God for Shabbat, even here in the cold, rain drenched galut. This past week was just too much to comprehend. We need a break, a taste of the next world.

The week started with the death of Rav Kaduri, זצ"ל. It continued with the horrors of Amona. Then there was the blood dance in the media on the wounds of the demonstrators, and the profound wound in the souls of the Army and Police, the overwhelming majority of whom are ehrliche menschen. Finally, and horrifically, the tragic death of our neighbor Yosef Goodman זצ"ל in a training accident, in circumstances too terrible for words.

My family, people all around are asking: What does God want from us? How much are we supposed to take? We are an orphaned generation, taunted by the lack of guidance. We have no leaders, either secular or religious. We have no one to look to for inspiration, and those we do have go to Him. The enemy is open about its desire to destroy us, while we are busy destroying ourselves. The pathological festival of destruction is beyond my comprehension. For years, I've been asking myself an obvious question. When the various factions in besieged Jerusalem burnt each other's supplies, and thereby condemned the Temple to the flames with their own hands, what were they thinking? Why did God make them mad? Similarly,

The Rov, זצ"ל, was certainly correct that asking this kind of question gets you nowhere. We are too small, too limited to understand why Providence acts as it does. There are only two things we can do. The first is to act. We need to determine what we, in our very modest way, can do to respond to the evil and the reverses that plague us. I'm not referring to some vague type of introspection in order to satisfy the cynical accusations of our opponents. Again, as the Rov said, if we do that 'we won't get their love but we'll certainly lose their respect.'

So, what do we do? First, we look ourselves in the mirror and remind ourselves that we are the servants of HaQadosh Barukh, Hu. We are privileged to bear the Torah and fulfill His Will through the commandments. 'He who gave us this Torah, will never forsake the Torah.' Torah is what makes us what we are and it is Torah that allows us to claim our beloved country. Nothing else. It is Torah that turns Western Amorite/Canaanite into Hebrew/Lashon Qodesh. It is Torah that lets us defy the laws of historical causality and to survive. It is the abandonment of Torah, in its widest sense, that brings disaster upon us collectively and, incomprehensibly, upon those who did not sin.
So, we must first believe profoundly that the covenant between us and the Ribbono shel Olam is, as it says in today's sedra, לדורותיכם חוקת עולם, 'for all future generations, an eternal statute' (Ex. 12, 17).

This means that we will survive. It also means that the extent o our survival depends on our actions. It depends upon the extent to which we take responsibility for ourselves and our fellow Jews. It means that if there are moral and social evils, and we pat ourselves on the back because of superiority, that we are as responsible for the results as the perpetrators. וְלֹא תָקִיא הָאָרֶץ אֶתְכֶם בְּטַמַּאֲכֶם אֹתָהּ כַּאֲשֶׁר קָאָה אֶת הַגּוֹי אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵיכֶם 'That the land vomit not you out also, when you defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you' (Lev. 18, 28). It means that whether we see Eretz Yisrael as an absolute value, or as a means to an end, it is never an end in itself. We must never forget that even mitzvot can become a form of Avoda Zara.

God did not give us a country after 2,000 year of exile, to see us (God forbid) destroy it in less than sixty. What shall the sufferer do and live with his travail? He must find a way not to disengage from Torah, from the Jewish People or from Eretz Yisrael. How does one do that? One does that through a combination of stubborness and creativity of which only Jews are capable.

יידן! זאל ניט זיין מיואשים! ס'וועט זיין בעסער, מיט גאט'ס הילף!
שבת שלום


Yael K said...

Sometimes it does seem as if the world has just gone crazy (just ask the Danes and Norwegians) and one terrible thing follows another. It is when the terrible things come in waves that we really sit up and notice. As I'm writing this I'm thinking that perhaps we should all sit up, notice, and be a lot more thankful for the strings of days and weeks when nothing happens or when good follows good. Myself, I'm very guilty of taking the good for granted and letting it pass unnoticed.

Jeffrey said...

Thank you for your lovely observations.