I thought I would share the following reply to one of my Rabbis in the UK where I travel on business.
The Blog exposes a raw nerve or some of my thoughts about the public apathy of the Jews in the Diaspora, in this case, the UK. It also includes the Letter which this thoughtful and kind Rabbi shared with me – YOU WERE WRONG”: A Letter From Yehuda Meshi-Zahav To His Uncle, Rav Amram Blau, Founder Of Neturei Karta, and a reference an extract to the classic Shofar Drasha by Rav Kook in 1935 .
Thank you for sharing this with me. Why is this e-mail this only to me? It should be to all the members of the Shul. I will use this as an opportunity to finally write the Blog that I have been pondering over the last few days.
The last few days have been very difficult for me. Across the board (In the UK) there are no visible signs of celebrating the successes and modern miracles of the State of Israel from Leftists to Chareidi’s. Some examples from the Jewish press. The worst was the Jewish Weekly who ran an anti-Israel Headline, about ” Russia and Syria accuse Israel – International pressure mounts on Israel after latest Airstrikes”. (sic!! – both terrorist states !!) . How does UK Jewry tolerate this? The headline should be – Israel celebrates its 70th Independence. There should be articles like – 70 things to celebrate about Israel. Instead, you get this headline and no articles about Israel except in the Parsha section. In the Jewish Chronicle, there are many left-wing anti-Israel Articles including by Arabs here is a supplicant in the Jewish Chronicle – Israel at 70 with many big adverts. So not sure what is the motive here is – commercial reasons. or support of Israel.
ln the Jewish News, it looks it was a paid advert by the Mizrachi movement that enabled the front page dedicated to Israel. Where are the letters & articles from the Chief Rabbi, and other Jewish Organisations and other UK Jews (not going write Zionists)? Where is your letter to your Shul Members? Where is your Yom Ha’amazeut Event?
The Charedi magazines and communities are scared or refuse to talk or write about Israel. Not comment further here.
We in Israel have our challenges and there are lively debates about real life issues – Army subscription, the treatment of Arabs and what to do with the North African Refugee Problem and more… These are not easy issues. What? Should have more sympathy for our enemies who wish to destroy us. We need to have sympathy for ourselves. Today, Arabs can go anywhere Israel and participate fully in Israel Society. (Not so, for us Jews in living in our homeland) Should I have more sympathy for the Refuges than those Jews in South Tel Aviv who live in fear of these Refugees who have made their neglected neighbourhood even more run down and with much crime?
I thought of writing a blog, mentioning this. For inspiration, I read about Rav Kook’s approach to Zionism and how we should give honour to the secular who have built up Israel from the 1880’s until today and how we all the Camps that is Religious, Nationalists and Liberals need to work to together to make Israel a bigger Success (instead of working against each other).
I thought I would write about BShem Hashem – In the Name of God. How we in our everyday lives refuse to recognize that this hand of God that brings us success. How much more so in the success (and tribulations) of Medinat Israel. Maybe if all us from the Prime Minister, to the normal Jew to the Anti -Israel Nuterei Karta could acknowledge that this is the Hand of God, then maybe we can have more respect for ourselves and from those that seek to destroy us.
Both ideas are very deep and requires further reading, study and introspection.
In Israel, our Shuls and Houses are dressed in Israeli Flags in pride. We have choices of which Tefilla Chagigi to attend. We thank Hashem for the gift of Israel and the gift he has given us personally of allowing us to live in our Land after 2000 years. It is our Thanksgiving Day and more. We thank Hashem for the gift and opportunity that he given our generation. For me and many Israeli’s, it is the happiest day of the year!!
I bought a flag which I have In Golders Green. I am too inhibited to fly it. Too scared to show my Jewishness (I chose that word that word carefully as being a Jew is to be part of the Jewish Nation – Israel).
My prayer and hope that is instead looking at the cup half full we should see the cup mostly full as the article you shared with illustrates.
I am flying back home from the UK this evening on Yom Hazikaron which is the saddest day of the year where I will share the grief of the Nation of Israel – when we mourn and remember those who have lost their lives. This grief is not of an abstract grief, there is not a family, shul or community (including myself) who do not have a direct relationship to those holy young men and women who gave their lives so that we live as Jews in Israel.
I look forward to the day when we can live in Peace in Israel and when all Jewry come back home.
Chag Ha’azmaut Sameach
Reference 1 – “YOU WERE WRONG”: A Letter From Yehuda Meshi-Zahav To His Uncle, Rav Amram Blau, Founder Of Neturei Karta
The following letter was written by ZAKA founder and head Yehuda Meshi-Yahav to his late uncle, HaGaon HaRav Amram Blau ZT”L, leader of the Neturei Karta. It was published in Makor Rishon.
In honor of my dear uncle Rabbi Amram Blau ZT”L, leader of Neturei Karta,
When I was young, I was a small soldier in the campaign, when I joined the demonstrations you were leading – whether it was every Saturday in demonstrations against Chilul Shabbos, or in the middle of the week against any other breach. You were for me the figure of the general, the leader, the fearless and uncompromising fighter for the principles of Judaism. I remember how we stood amazed each time anew by the blows you’d get lovingly from the police, or when you were arrested again and again. We grew up with your stories of heroism, such as putting your head in the Edison Cinema ticket window in Jerusalem to prevent chilul Shabbos, when you were beaten with clubs until you lost consciousness.
On your knees I grew up and was raised. From your mouth we have heard again and again about the great danger inherent in the Zionist state, to the extent that you have often asked to cross the border and to protect the shadow of the Kingdom of Jordan. We heard about the decrees of annihilation of the Zionist regime, whose sole purpose was to transfer the Jewish people to its religion and faith. We heard your warnings that within a few years there would be no remnant or refugee from the people of Israel. I remember from you that the Zionists are the greatest haters of the Jewish people in the world, worse than the Greeks who came to Israel, to destroy the people of Israel.
In your many sermons at public meetings, I was shocked by stories about various events during the campaign of destruction waged by the Zionist regime. “Cantonist decrees” you called them. You said that the Zionists are guilty of all the troubles of the people of Israel, including the terrible holocaust.
As I grew older, with the fervor of faith in your method and on your way, I was also involved in organizing demonstrations and protests. I was arrested countless times, and my bones were crushed by the beatings of the “Zionist soldiers.” But you have taught us that every red sign in the body from these blows is another level and a citation in the lofty ranks of “self-sacrifice,” and therefore we did not feel the pain either.
Today, after 70 years of a Zionist state, we are happy to inform you, my dear uncle, that your fears have been proven false: We have a wonderful Jewish-Zionist state that serves as a model for all the countries of the world, Education, health, immigrant absorption, and Judaism – about 7 million Jews – over fifty percent of the Jewish people – already live in the State of Israel, and in Jerusalem alone we are approaching one million residents, which is not certain even during the time of the Beis Hamikdash.
Who would have believed that 73 years after the terrible Holocaust, when the people of Israel were almost extinct, and there was hardly any trace of Torah and Chasidism, we would have a Jewish state of our own. The State of Israel. A state in which the world of Torah will reach a prosperity unparalleled in the history of the Jewish people. Since Melech Chizkiyahu, there has not been so much Torah study in the Land of Israel as it is today, and you will be surprised to hear who is the greatest Torah scholar in the world: the Zionist regime. Every year the Israeli government invests billions of shekels in the Torah world.
It is hard to believe that only 75 years ago, not hundreds of years ago, a Jew could not find a way out. No one wanted us. We were the lowest and most despicable people, we rolled between the death camps and the forests of Europe as animals in a daily struggle for survival. At the end of the terrible war, every refugee returned to his home, but the Jews were the only ones in the world who had nowhere to go, neither home nor country. Until the establishment of the State of Israel. Thousands of generations of Jews dreamed of a state, and here we have won what many did not. The State of Israel arose and was against all odds.
Rav Amram, the leader of Neturei Karta, see that in the Zionist state of destruction 73 percent of the citizens light Chanukah candles, 78 percent fast on Yom Kippur, and each year over 200,000 people take part in the last Slichos. How much you had to fight for every road and road in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, to have them shut on Shabbos. Today it is hard to believe that even Meah Shearim Street and Kikar Shabbos were closed only after countless demonstrations that you led. On the 70th anniversary of the Zionist state, there are seven cities, headed by a chareidi representative, whose roads are hermetically closed on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim. In other cities, in neighborhoods where chareidim live, the closing of roads on Shabbos is taken for granted and you no longer have to fight for this.
The anthem of Neturei Karta, which we would sing loudly at the demonstrations, said that “we do not believe in the rule of the infidels, and we do not participate in their laws. We would get beaten up and even arrested, and we were sure that we were MeKadesh Shem Shomayim”. And here, in the Zionist state, the degree of “devotion” reached the highest place, such as who constitutes the symbol of self-sacrifice, the Divine Tanna Rabbi Akiva. Nearly 24,000 IDF soldiers were killed when they gave their lives for the sake of sanctifying G-d’s name and defending the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
The anthem of Neturei Karta, which we would sing loudly at the demonstrations, said that “we do not believe in the rule of the infidels”, if you knew what wonderful youth there is. Several times a year, thousands of youngsters raised in the Zionist state gather near the remnant of our Temple, swearing their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the sanctification of G-d in defending the homeland and the people of Israel. How many tears did I shed during this holy occasion when I saw my two sons enlisted, one for the Golani and the other for the paratroopers and swore like that. No one forced it on them. They did so of their own free will, which proves that there is no contradiction between Safra and Saifah.
“The state of Sodom and Gomorrah,” as you mentioned in your articles in the “HaChoma” of Neturei Karta the Zionist state. Then my uncle, Rabbi Amram, come hear what this state has, the world’s leading state in the number of charitable organizations that exist in it.
The first to offer help and assistance in every disaster in the world. A state that actually illustrates the concept of mutual responsibility, of “all of Israel are guarantors of one another.” The Zionist state is doing all it can to help any Jew wherever he is in times of trouble or distress, and sometimes even at risk of operations beyond imagination, such as Operation Yonatan. Not only that, but most of the great charitable organizations in the Zionist state were founded by chareidim: Yad Sarah, Ezer Mizion, the various Hatzalah organizations, ZAKA, and more, and these organizations are staffed by chareidim. The Zionist state has not yet managed to transfer the thousands of chareidim who head and mange these organizations to Shmad R”L, but rather U’Mekadshem Shem Shomayim in Israel and around the world.
In the state of relying on one’s own strength (ה”כוחי ועוצם ידי”), when there is a fear of drought, the Minister of Agriculture organizes a mass tefilla as the Kosel to be mispallel for rain. It is a country in which trumos and maasros are separated from 100 percent of its agricultural crops. A state that supports hundreds of millions of shekels for farmers observing shmitah.
If your generation rightly feared the Zionist state, 70 years later it was proven that the State of Israel, with the help of G-d, is the one that saves and protects the people of Israel, and it is the safest place – the best place to live as a Jew who observes Torah and mitzvos.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)
Reference 2 – Rav Kook on the Zionism
What would Rav Kook say about the holocaust? I can not know for sure, though I could speculate. What we do know for sure is what he did say about the Nazis and Germany before he died in 1935. Please allow me to share two remarkable statements that he made.
The first was on the first day of Rosh HaShana -October 22, 1933. Hitler had come to power in January 30th of that year and by this time was Chancellor and Fuhrer. Mein Kampf was a bestseller in Germany and it was obvious that this wasn’t good for the Jews (or anyone else.) These events were being followed closely and anxiously in the Jewish communities in Palestine. It was announced that on that day Rav Kook would doven at Beit Yaakov-also known as the Hurva-Destroyed- Synagogue in the Old City and would speak about ‘inyanei de’yoma’-matters of the day. The synagogue was packed Rav Kook arrived with his entourage and the prayers began. After the chanting of the haftarah, Rav Kook stepped forward to speak.
In a hushed voice he began: “We say in our prayers, “Sound the great shofar for our freedom, and raise the banner to bring our exiles together.” What is the significance of this ‘great shofar’?
There are three types of shofars that may be blown on Rosh Hashanah. Preferably, one should blow a ram’s horn. If this is impossible, one may use a shofar made from the horn of any kosher animal other than a cow.
But if neither of these types is available, we may blow the horn of an animal which is ritually unclean and do so without reciting a blessing.
These three shofars of Rosh Hashanah correspond to three ‘Shofars of Redemption,’ three Divine calls summoning the Jewish people to be redeemed and to redeem their land.
The preferred Shofar of Redemption is the Divine call that awakens and inspires the people with holy motivations, through faith in God and the unique mission of the people of Israel. This elevated awakening corresponds to the ram’s horn, a horn that recalls Abraham’s supreme love of God and dedication in Akeidat Yitzchak, the Binding of Isaac. It was the call of this shofar, with its holy vision of heavenly Jerusalem united with earthly Jerusalem, that inspired Nachmanides, Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy, Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura, the students of the Vilna Gaon, and the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov to ascend to Eretz Yisrael. It is for this ‘great shofar,’an awakening of spiritual greatness and idealism, that we fervently pray.
There exists a second Shofar of Redemption, a less optimal form of awakening. This shofar calls out to the Jewish people to return to their homeland, to the land where our ancestors, our prophets and our kings, once lived. It beckons us to live as a free people, to raise our families in a Jewish country and a Jewish culture. This is a kosher shofar, albeit not a great shofar like the first type of awakening. We still recite a brachah over this shofar.
There is, however, a third type of shofar. (At this point Rav Kook burst out in tears.) The least desirable shofar comes from the horn of an unclean animal. This shofar corresponds to the wake-up call that comes from the persecutions of anti-Semitic nations, warning the Jews to escape while they still can and flee to their own land. Enemies force the Jewish people to be redeemed, blasting the trumpets of war, bombarding them with deafening threats of harassment and torment, giving them no respite in the Diaspora.
The shofar of an impure animal becomes the shofar of Mashiach. Amalek, Petilura [a Ukranian Jew killer-1879-1926], Hitler and their ilk- awaken us to redemption. The one who did not listen to the sound of the first shofar and the ones whose ears are closed up and do not want to listen to the sound of the second, ordinary shofar will listen to the sound of the impure, invalid shofar. They will listen against their will. Over this shofar, however, no blessing is recited. “One does not recite a blessing over a cup of affliction” (Berachot 51b).
We pray that the Holy One does not force us to listen to the invalid and impure shofar. We also do not long for the ordinary, medium sized-almost secular- shofar.
We pray, “Sound the great shofar for our freedom”, a shofar which comes from the very depths of the sanctity of the Jewish soul, from our Holy of Holies. We all await that great day of which it is written: ‘It shall come to pass on that day that a great shofar will be sounded, and those who are lost in the land of Assyria, and the oppressed in the land of Egypt will come and worship God at the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 27:13)
Rav Kook explained that Hitler and Nazism was the call of the impure shofar calling upon the people to flee, to return home to the Land of Israel. This drasha had a deep impact on all who heard it and was repeated in the newspapers of the time.
Shortly before he died in Elul 1935, Rav Kook wrote his last words of Torah. They are contained in a short notebook entitled “Jerusalem, notebook 34″. After a number of pithy spiritual insights, Rav Kook wrote a short essay entitled-’The Land of Israel, The Land of the Tanach (Bible)’. He began by explaining the Biblical connection of Israel to the Land of Israel and the importance to encourage the return of the Jewish people to its land. He concluded the piece thusly:
“The events that are occurring recently are stirring spiritual and national recognitions within Am Israel-The Nation of Israel in relation to its return to its ancient land. This understanding is also penetrating into the hearts of the refined among the nations of the world… England and all people with a more developed sense of hearing have begun to understand this wondrous secret that will bring life to the world in the near future.
Germany has begun to stand against the spirit of pure prophecy of the Book of Books as it unveils its vicious hatred to the people of the Bible. It must return in complete penitence to save itself from absolute destruction.
And finally the Land of the Tanach must be rebuilt by the Nation of the Tanach in order to bring the Godly Biblical spirit of peace/wholeness [רוח השלום] in all its supernal refinement to the lives of all the nations on planet Earth.”
The reference to Germany was chilling then and continues to be in hindsight. This is basically the final teaching that Rav Kook left for us.
“The Land of the Bible must be rebuilt by the people of the Bible in order to bring universal Divine peace to the entire planet.”
Be’Meheira be’Yamenu-Speedily in our days.
Reference 3 – Bshem Hashem
Earlier this week we observed Yom Hashoah – the Holocaust Memorial day
The lullaby song B’shem Hashem that Reb Shlomo Carlebach zt”l used to sing was composed in honor of Yom Hashoah. He had been invited to sing at a Yom Hashoah memorial, and the organizer of the event had requested of him to compose a new song in honor of the ‘six million’. The words of this song are taken from the Kriat Shma Al Hamittah – the Shma prayers that are said before going to sleep.
Reb Shlomo said that he had been thinking about what it was like for a father or mother to put their children down to sleep for the night in the ghetto, how they must have been gathering every bit of strength they had left, to lovingly reassure their little ones that tomorrow would hopefully be a better day, to reassure them that we are never alone.
B’shem Hashem Elokei Yisrael – In the Name of Hashem, G-d of Yisrael
Mi’meenee Michael – the angel Michoel is on my right side
Umi’smolee Gavriel – and the angel Gavriel is on my left side
Milfonai Oriel – in front of me is the angel Oriel
Umey’achorai Refael – and behind me is the angel Refael
V’al roshi Shechinas E-l – and above my head is the Holy Shechinah of E-l.
May we always be protected; may the light of Hashem always guide us and may we always know that we are in the presence of the Shechinah.