Judaism: Transcript of Rabbi Reisman's talk Jan 3 2009 on War in Israel
http://www.s213209882.onlinehome.us/r01039dist.wmvhttp://tinyurl.com/9pucbpRabbi ReismanMotzei Shabbos 3 Teveson theWar in Israel
Today Klal Yisroel finds itself again in the matsav of danger, in the matzav of sakana, in Eretz Yisroel are once again at war. They are Yiddisha kinderlach. Don’t think that because they wear army fatigues and have big tanks behind them –they are soft, kind Jewish youngsters who are being pressed into an environment they don’t want, that we don’t want them to be in, once again in a tremendous sachana.
And we, concerned as we are, our lives go on, everything around looks the same as it did yesterday, the same as it did last week. I think we all feel that we want to be able to do. But it is difficult, it is hard. We have been through in our lifetime and we struggle to find the right attitude. Once again we struggle to find the focus, the right attitude, to have the focus to see klal yisroel instead of our own lives. Again, most of the things we are going to do today and tomorrow are things that focus on our individual lives. To be able to have the gadlus of focusing on klal yisroel rather than on ourselves is something very difficult especially because we are at a loss to know what to do.
I want to do tonight , in seeing sakanas of Yisroel, is to go back to Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz shmuessen during the 1973 war, during the period of the Yom Kippur war. These shmuessen were not printed in the original Sichos Mussar; however, an additional sichos mussar that has a section in the back, notes from 6 or 7 shmuessen, that were given during the 1973 war. It is hard to get ourselves motivated, to know what to do. Rav Chaim Shmeulevitz was gifted in this.
I want to take four of the nekudos that he mentioned during that period of great danger to Klal Yisroel and I would like to use them myself to help me focus in the coming days on proper davening, on the proper focus in general on the nitzrachim of Klal Yisroel, especially in Eretz Yisroel.
In the first shmuess he mentions what is called a hakdama, something we should bear in mind always. The Gemara in Baba Basra daf yud amud bais mentions two individuals called the Harugei Lud. The Harugei Lud were people who lived in a community which was accused of killing the son or daughter, child of the king and this community was in danger now, the Jewish community, the king was furious and was convinced that someone in that community had killed his child and the entire community was in danger. And these two individuals, the Harugei Lud, came forward and although it was not true, they said they were the ones who did it, who did it and the king’s fury was taken out on them and they were tortured to death and the community was saved.
And the Gemara says the Harugei lud – where the Harugei Lud are in the olam haemes is “ayn kol bereyah yaachol laamod” a very special place because they were moiser nefesh. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, writes, after quoting this Gemara, and he tells his Talmidim, this is the way you should think about the soldiers who are fighting. Picture the concept of the Harugei Lud, and the obligation for us, you talk about Harugei Lud, it is an image, a picture of bravery, of caring about the tzibbur , that’s the image we should have, and the picture should rip us up inside. It should throw us into tremendous desire to do whatever little we can to be helpful in shemayim, to feel the tzar. It is far away.
We have a friend who told us that her sister’s son was called up to the army and he can’t tell where he is and they don’t know where he is. And suddenly when it was an individual that we know, that we had a connection to, and we felt it more. And that feeling, that image of the Harugei Lud, will hopefully bring us a certain awakening, a hisorerus.
I once asked Rav Moshe on behalf of a Talmud in the Yeshiva whose mother was undergoing a very dangerous surgery. And I had taken this Talmid to Rav Moshe for a bracha and I asked Rav Moshe if it was appropriate to say tehillim in the middle of seder, Everyone is learning in yeshiva and the surgery is at 10, should we interrupt the learning to say tehillim. He said yes. Learning is one type of refuah and tehillim is another type. And so I asked how long should we say tehillim and for how long to interrupt seder. Rav Moshe said, for the amount of time that people are still thinking about the meaning of the words they are saying. Which is not a great interruption of the seder at all. Rav Moshe says that the power of tehillim is when you think about the words you say.
We are going to say tehillim in the coming days. To think about the words we say requires an awakening. Perhaps if we picture Harugei Lud, we picture the concept, it will awaken within us the ability to do what we have to do.
The second – a very powerful image from those Shmussen --is the image of Iyov. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz writes very strongly, what happened to Iyov? Pharoah said come let’s plot to put Klal Yisroel in danger. Iyov was quiet. Klal Yisroel is in danger and Iyov is quiet? Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz points out that had he spoken, it would not have helped. Yisro spoke up and it didn’t help, he had to run away. Had Iyov spoken up it would not have helped. But Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz says to us – to be quiet? To be inactive, to not put effort during that time of tzara? The Baale Mussar say on the kasha that Iyov was quiet and is punished but even if he said something, it would not help anyhow – they say, even if it doesn’t help, if someone is in pain, you scream, you raise your voice. And if he was in pain he would have raised his voice.
Certainly we are all in pain over the matzav in Eretz Yisrael and we have to raise our voice in tefillo to the Ravono Shel Olam. Chazal tell us that Eretz Yisroel nikna b’yesurim, -- is (acquired ) with suffering, the land of Israel,. What can a person do? Can we go to Israel to avoid the trouble of Israel? Chazal tell us - It is decreed in heaven that a person has to work hard, that there are difficulties in this world. If he has the zechus, if he breaks a sweat, he can’t fall asleep -he struggles, becaause he worries about a kasha in learning, that is a zechus. That is what we are taught. Talmide chachamim marbim shalom b’olom– the more the talmidei chachamim are in the battle of learning, the battle of arguing with a chaverusa is one battle. There is another battle more shayich to all of us, the battle with the Yetzer hara, to get up and learn, to be on time for learning. That’s also milchamta shel torahThe more that a person has yesurim for Torah, the more talmide chachamim are marbim shalom b’olam shel olam - most of us are not capable of changing our lives overnight, but that we should be quiet ? rather the davening and the learning should not be the same. Add a few minutes to the seder in learning. Don’t be quiet, G-d forbid.
So we have the image of Harugei Lud and the image of Iyov. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz gives us another image -- Chushim, the son of Dan, kills Esav. It is in this coming week’s parsha-Vayechi. Chushim says Naftali was sent back to Egypt to bring a contract which gave his father the rights to be buried in maras Hamachpelah? Yaakov should lay b’bizayon --waiting to be buried? And he killed Esav.
Why didn’t Yehuda kill Esav? Yehuda was stronger than Chushim. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz said because Yehuda got accustomed to the situation a little at a time. Esav was there. Perhaps he thought Esav was coming to accompany Yaakov to Yaakov’s burial. He got accostomed to the situation toYehuda could live with it. Chushim had no idea what was going on around him. Suddenly he sees his father is not being buried – they are talking and then they sit down and Naftali goes running and they tell him. He was struck with horror – because of Esav? They will sit on their hands? And bang! He cut off Esav’s head. He had the feeling, the feeling, the shock, the horror of what was taking place.
We have gotten accustomed to a lot of things that we don’t adequately appreciate. I don’t mean only the idea of Jewish boys sitting in a tank and the danger, G-d forbid, of it turning into an incinerator that they can’t get out, but the whole idea of Israel,. We have grown up knowing that we can go to Eretz Yisrael, that there are Jews there. We have a rule that –Hakadosh Baruch Hu is Oseh Tov to the one who is Makir Tov. If you want Israel, you have to appreciate it, and if we don’t appreciate Eretz Yisroel it is in danger. And all of us, in golus have gotten too accustomed to the tremendous bracha of Yisrael. The gedolim of 100 years ago never dreamt that there would be millions of Jews in Yisroel. The chidushei harim never dreamt that there would be gerrer Chasidim in Yerushalayim. The Brisker, the Derech HaTeva – I don’t know what ruach hakodesh they had, but the Teva a 100 years ago was that it could not be.
In Hakodosh Baruch Hu’s kindness, it is here. It is true that most Israelis are not frum. What is a a irreligious Jew in America – he is disappearing, he barely knows he is Jewish, he is assimilating. In Israel, they know they are Jews, they marry Jews, they know Hebrew, they know Moshiach will come. Moshiach will have to set up yeshivas to teach these millions of Jews to learn. But at least they’ll know loshen hakodesh. From where are they going to learn in America? They have to start with Alef bais. In Israel, at least they know the language. The blessing of Yeshivas and frum Jews in Israel is great . Perhaps that non-religious Jews are there is a greater blessing for the tzibbur of Klal Yisroel. We have gotten used to it, we appreciate it too little. Vacations that are elsewhere are mindboggling. If your grandparents heard that you were planning a vacation to somewhere besides Israel -- or vacation to Eretz Yisrael --he would not dream that you would question it. Jews going to Pesach in the Swiss Alps is a joke that it is a choice – to go anywhere but Eretz Hakedosha? Why choose that over this? It is a lack of appreciation of what we have. We have to be more of a Chushim, if we appreciated eretz yisrael more, it would be dearer to us, it would mean more to us, the problems would touch us more strongly.
The Kuzari writes regarding about the Jews who returned, only 42,000 Jews returned to Bais shaini, the lack of appreciation of Eretz Yisroel caused that the 2nd Bais Hamikdash was not the geula shelama. Hashem’s help in E”Y only comes to people according to the individual’s connection to it. This is the Kuzari writing centuries ago – when we daven regarding Eretz Yisroel, it is like the chirping of a bird, without an appreciation, without the feeling, without a hergesh for Israel. We had that feeling but we lost because of Hashem’s kindness in making E”Y so available to us. In a time of tsara, if someone holds something at arm’s length away, we want it more. A time of trouble can be used to bring out that feeling.That is the lesson of Chushim.
Picture the Harugei Lud, Iyov that stayed quiet, Chushim ben Dan and his feeling, and try to emulate that.
The fourth figure is Esther HaMalka who tells Mordechai: “Have the Jewish people fast f three days and nights consecutively because I will go make an attempt to save Klal Yisroel.” Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz makes an incredible halachic point from Rambam, 8th perek of Yuma that it is assur to be mechalel Shabbos or any mitzvah for a segula, for something that works in a supernatural way. It is only okay to be mechalel Shabbos to save someone in the derech a teva, in a natural way. To fast 72 hours they did not eat matzah. They violated two laws. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz says the koach of a prayer on the day of fasting is a natural yeshua in this world, it is cry for help and to that degree it is something we can be awakened to. Our generation is not a generation that grows in ruchnius from fasting, the way perhaps they once did. But remember, not everyone fasted 72 hours in the time of Esther. For those for who it was a danger, they did what they could. In a time of tsara we should do something according to our ability. You should deny yourself some type of a pleasure, something meaningful. If you are not makpid on Cholov Yisroel, for the duration of the war, to limit yourself. Limit your entertainment or sports or pleasures in this world.
Thousands of Yidden are in harm’s way – we aren’t going to change our lives totally, but some emulation of Esther’s request for a fast is certainly called for.
These are the four figures to try to remember, whatever gives you inspiration. Tzidkiyahu the pathetic individual who didn’t see tsarchei tsibbur, he didn’t see he could be the hero of Israel, let me tell you what Rav Pam said…Rav Pam said that those who seek to harm us are like the frogs in mitzraim. Every time you hit them they turn into more. Two turned into four, four into 8. The truth is, as much as the people in Israel have to make effort by nature, when we kill a terrorist, there end up being two more. What does that do? You kill and double tomorrow. It is a very small consolation when a few die but it won’t save the day. Paro thought if you killed the tsfardeya you’d be safe, until he got smart. You want to get rid of them? Daven! Not many years ago,the secular government struggled with terrorists on buses and there were no logical plans to stop it. Why did it stop? Nothing political or military made it stop. Klal Yisroel davened and it stopped. The same is true with the problems with the rockets. Everyone can have political and military aytzas and At the end of the day it is up to us.
Today I heard a Vort - someone asked a kasha on the parsha. It says that Yosef wept on Binyamin’s neck and Binyamin on Yosef’s. And Rashi says Binyamin saw the nevuah of Mishkan Shilo which would be in Yosef’s chelek would be destroyed and he wept and Yosef wept on Binyamin because he saw the two bais hamidoshs in Binyamin’s chelek destroyed and he cried. Why do they cry for the loss of the other’s chalek. Why don’t they weep for what is in their own chelek. The answer is, what is in your chelek, in your corner, you roll up your sleeves and do. If it is someone else’s tzar you have to weep. And the fact of where the tzar is, that is something else. Here, we are distant from that hishtadlus, we have to weep and cry and beg Hashem. And that is our goal, that’s what we want to do. That is what we want to do and certainly with prayer will do.
I would like to learn a pasuk from Yirmiyahu and tell you the medrash. The pasuk said they pulled Yirmiya out of the pit with ropes and he went back to the old prison in which he had been. The medrash in Bereshis Raba parsha mem answers - I would think that tzaddikim become greater at the time they are teaching and doing great things. Then I know they are growing. What about when they are thrown into a pit, shiflus, in the mud, how do you know they grow as well? Yirmiyahu knew how to grow from that experience, from the shiflus of being thrown into a pit of mud by his brothers, by Jews.
In 1967 a Ben Torah was pressured to come back to America by his parents and asked a shaila. Raav Nachum in the Mir Yeshiva, said you are going to lose an opportunity to continue to shtieg, stay here. At the end of the day the pressure was too great, his parents told him to come back to the States. Baruch Hashem in June of 1967 there was an incredible yeshua which we hope will repeat itself b’karov in our tsaros,And he returned to Eretz Yisrael, and he told Rav Nachum he should know that in America, he kept up with the shteiging, with whatever they were learning. But Rav Nachum told him no, I didn’t mean the shteiging in the Gemara, you missed the opportunity to shteig from the air raid sirens, the shteiging from pachad missah (fear of death), from fear and using it to bring yourself closer to the Ribono Shel Olam, you missed that type of shteiging.
It is a time of tremendous difficulty for Klal Yisroel. It is our hope and our prayer not only that the yeshua will come quickly but that we will have kavanah in our davening, that sim shalom will mean something in our shmonah esrai tomorrow.
“Re’eh (Nah) V’Anyainu”…I have mentioned numerous times, that is the brocho in which to add a bakasha to be saved in a tsara in the midst of Galus. Take your siddur and insert a little piece of paper, so that even if you daydream it should wake you up when you get to that bracha.
Insert the words (before “Baruch ata” at the end of the 7th bracha of shmonah esrei – the bracha “Re’Eh Na V’anyeinu”)“Ana Hakadosh Baruch Hu, Hagen al acheinu bnai yisrael sheb’eretz Yisrael, u’bephrat b’Aza, bedarom Eretz Yisrael “
(please HaKadosh Baruch Hu, protect our brothers the children of Eretz Yisrael, and particularly in Gaza and the South of Eretz Yisrael.)
Add those words! Preferably in Hebrew, it can be in any language if you are davening b’tsibbur.
Let’s have an aliyah (v’yaal oso min habor)
The experience will pass, the yeshua will come. Let’s hope that we will grow from it , acheinu bnai yisrael in Eretz yisrael will grow from it.
It should be a guteh voch for all of us and for Eretz Yisroel.