Online Torah

Beit Hamidrash

" Have You Longed for Salvation?"

By: הרב רונן נויברט

In light of the difficult tear in society in Israel, and in light of the way the government has been relating to our community, the will naturally arises within us to question anew our faith in Zionism and in the State of Israel...


"Rava said: when a man is brought to be judged, they say to him: Did you deal faithfully? Did you set times for Torah? Did you involve yourself with the mitzvah of "pru urevu"? Did you long for salvation? Did you analyze wisely? Did you understand things by inference?" (Shabbat 31a)

In light of the difficult tear in society in Israel, and in light of the way the government has been relating to our community, the will naturally arises within us to question anew our faith in Zionism and in the State of Israel. Again and again is heard the suggestion: perhaps we need to disengage from parts of the nation that don't seem to be interested in us? Perhaps we need to build our community similar to the way the Charedi community does, with minimal interaction with our secular neighbors, in order to create an alternative Zionism?

Especially in light of these powerful feeling which are certainly being felt, and the difficult questions which are being asked, I find it appropriate to sharpen the meaning of a number of values that we have all grown up with.

A state of despair is the most dangerous state in which an individual, society or nation can find itself. To our chagrin, we will not be able to conquer or maintain all of the borders of the land by ourselves. We must convince the majority of the nation, and the only way to do this is "kiruv" to the sources, to our source. We cannot fall into the mistake of "Shalom Achshav"- "achshav-ism",  the idea that if we don't achieve everything we want to now (Eretz Yisrael HaShleima), then it's the end of the story, chalila. This dangerously impatient, "achshav-ist" approach is wont to bring to extreme acts of despair which will distance the general community from Torah and from belief in kedushat Eretz Yisrael. It can lead to desecration of God's name, as defined by the gemara

" One who learns, and serves scholars, but doesn't deal honestly, and doesn't speak acceptably with others, what do people say about him: Woe to this person who learns Torah, Woe to his father who taught him Torah, Woe to his teacher who taught him Torah. This person who has learned Torah- see how rotten his deeds are, and how ugly are his ways..."(Yoma 86a)

In our situation, the only real solution is a long-term one, a solution of education and kiruv of the nation to values of our tradition, and to our roots.

We find ourselves in the midst of a difficult process, a process of birth. No one ever promised that birthpangs would be easy. In fact, the opposite is true; Chazal envisioned a long, complicated and difficult process. We must remember that in previous redemptions, the process of geula also hit many potholes. On the path to building the first Beit HaMikdash, we experienced 400 years of terrible downfalls, the governmental corruption of " Ish hayashar b'einav ya'aseh"- everyone doing what is right in their own eyes, civil war that took the lives of 70,000 etc.

We must adopt the "achshav" of Rabbi Akiva, as those who follow his path in Bnei Akiva. Against the " achshav- now foxes run through it" that didn't allow the Rabbis to see the light at the end of the tunnel when they saw a fox coming out of the place of the Kodesh HaKodashim, Rabbi Akiva saw his own "achshav"- "Achshav- Now that the prophecy of Uriah has been fulfilled, certainly the prophecy of Zechariah will be fulfilled!" Rabbi Akiva knew how to look with patience and to see even when everything is in crisis, the shining future, the redemption that will take place in another 2000 years when "od yeshvu zekeinum uzekenot birchovot Yerushalayim" "again will old men and women sit in the streets of Yerushalayim."

"Penetration to the inner depths, and joy in the future, and to withhold through them the logic of the present- these are the holy works that spread the sparks of the light of Rabbi Akiva's soul. The deep expectation of " If you see a generation which curses and blasphemes- expect the footsteps of the mashiach" is not simply something to expect, but rather it is a great and holy task to learn how to wait with an eye that penetrates to the internal dimension of every thing and to bring it out, to negate the external level of cursing and blaspheming through the revealing of the inner praise and holy levity, which is the trait of Rabbi Akiva. Not only does this not lead to any negligence of obligations of holiness of action...but just the opposite, it brings added power and strength." (Rav Charlap, Tovim Me'orot)

Part of the mitzvah of "tzipita l'yeshua", regarding which we will be asked when the day comes, is about the ability to penetrate to the depth of reality with all of it's impossible difficulty and to "to negate the external cursing and blaspheming through the revealing of the inner praise and holy levity." The above does not suggest, chalila, to sit with crossed arms. This is not the restraint to which Rav Charlap refers. From time to time, especially in very complicated situations, we must focus on long-term actions, and even if it appears that these are not responding to the needs of the now, this is the real "now", the real "achshav."  This is the perspective that the  eternal nation, the "am hanetzach" needs to adopt for itself. It's not one of negligence or apathy, but rather "an addition  of power and strength."

     It seems as if the words of Rav Kook that were said tens of years ago were written yesterday:

" We have a tradition that there will be a spiritual rebellion in the land of Israel and the people of Israel... the spiritual tranquility that some of the nation will enjoy, who will imagine to themselves that they have already completely achieved their goal will diminish the soul, and there will come days where it will be said " I have no desire for them any longer," the desire for lofty and holy ideals will weaken, and the spirit will sink, until there comes a storm and a revolution will occur, and it will be seen clearly that the power of Israel lies in the Kodesh Olamim, in God's light and Torah, with the desire for spiritual light"

(Rav Kook, Orot Techiya 51)

Especially in these days, days where we hear it said " ein li bahem chefetz", days where it seems as if ideals are running out, it is our responsibility to bring about the spiritual revolution that is needed. Raba and Ulla have already said about Mashiach " May the day come without me being there to see it." They believed that as sages, they would not be able to stand the terrible spiritual downfalls. Only Rav Yosef said "Let the day come, and let me merit to sit in shade of the dung of his donkey." We are now deeply immersed in the height of the filth of the refuse of the donkey of mashiach, and for this very reason, as educators and spiritual leaders, we are forbidden from planting despair in our community. We cannot despair from the process of redemption, from Zionism, from the State of Israel and the nation of Israel. We must safeguard the words of Rav Kook, written in reaction to the idea of separating communities:

" There is no end to the physical and spiritual evils of dividing the nation into parts, and even if the attempt to cruelly cut apart the nation won't succeed, the mere thought of it is unacceptable and is literally a thought of collective avoda zarah, because the imagined division undercuts the entire foundation of holiness, and is comparable to the act of Amalek who attacked weak ones, the refugees from the cloud of glory, and about them the verse says: " He has sent his hand against those who were at peace with him, he has profaned his covenant"

(Orot HaTechiya 20)

We do not expect for one second a simple path. Let us compose ourselves, collect our spiritual energies and lead the nation of Israel to the end of redemption, to spiritual redemption from deep understanding, rather than from bitterness and despair.

" From the straits we will redeem the nation with teachers that are armed with spiritual strength, that do not need to use rods that strike" ( Rav Kook, Meged Yerachim, Tamuz)

This is what we'll be asked in the day of judgement- "Did you long for salvation?"

I will end with an optimistic midrash, a midrash that describes the ability of an individual to change the reality of the entire nation through a firm and consistent approach.

"Elkana and his wife and children, together with his sisters and all of his relatives would go up on aliyah laregel, and they would come and sleep in the streets of the city. And the entire city would be affects and ask them "Where are you going?" And they would answer " To the house of God in Shiloh, from where comes Torah and mitzvoth. And you- why don't you join us and we'll go together!" Immediately, their eyes would become wet with tears and they would say to them "We will go with you." Until the next year, 5 families would come, and the next year 10 families, until everyone would go up. The way he would go up one year, he wouldn't go the next year, until everyone was going up. HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to him " Elkana, you brought Israel to the side of merit, and taught them mitzvoth, and many people gained merit from you. So I will bring forth a son from you that will bring Israel to the side of merit, and will teach them mitzvoth." So you see that in the merit of Elkana, came Shmuel."

(Yalkut Shimoni, Shmuel 77)

In the days of Elkana, a general weakness reigned in Am Yisrael. Although the mishkan in Shiloh stood, no one took the trouble to do aliyah laregel. Elkana decided this wasn't the way it should be, and through a calculated "marketing campaign" in the street of the cities, by pursuing different paths, he succeeded in a planned, long term process to bring the nation back to the right path. This wasn't a process that took months, or even a few years. This was a long term process, exhausting and sometimes even hopeless, but this was the only process that could have succeeded. There is no "Peace Now." The path is long, but we have received a tradition from our fathers that "The eternal nation is not afraid of a long path" "Am hanetzach lo mefached miderech arukah."

With hope for good news and speedy salvation,

Ronen Neuwirth