All of our hearts are with the families of the kidnapped boys – may God save them, and return them home safely. May it be His will that as a result of the Jewish people’s wonderful unity in prayer and concern, our soldiers will strike a lethal blow to our enemies, so they won’t dare carry out other attacks and kidnappings.
For years, the settlers in Judea and Samaria, and especially in “Gav Ha’Har” (the area between Ariel and Schem), have lived with the fear of an enemy plotting to murder, and have been attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails – and yet, continue to cling to the Land, building houses, planting trees, and establishing schools which are continually being filled with more and more students. How fortunate are those who merit settling the heart of the country, and in spite of the dangers, maintain their virtuous, daily routines – preventing with their very bodies the most serious danger for millions of Jews in Israel – the danger of the establishment of a terrorist state whose sole purpose is the destruction of the State of Israel.
We can learn about how our enemies operate by observing events in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc. In the span of a few years, hundreds of thousands of people have been brutally murdered, and tens of millions live in fear of terror, humiliation, and constant harm. A similar disaster is being prevented by the settlers with their physical bodies and strength of spirit. ‘Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God’.
For someone who does not live in the area it may be difficult to understand, but it is impossible to live a normal life in Judea and Samaria without hitchhiking. The communities are still not large enough to maintain reasonable public transportation, and a call to refrain from hitchhiking is a decree which the majority of people cannot uphold. Obviously, I would also prefer that my sons and daughters did not hitchhike, but there is no choice.
Furthermore, a call not to hitchhike inadvertently plays into the hands of the enemy, because by doing so, they achieve their major goal – disrupting daily life, and preventing Jewish settlements from existing and thriving.
In the meantime, the only solution is to pay more attention to which car one is getting into, to speak with the driver, ask him where he is going, look in the car, and see who else is inside. Maybe we can introduce a system where every hitchhiker begins a basic verse that all Jews are familiar with, and the driver completes it, and thus, verify that he is Jewish.
Indeed, the security forces also need to make greater efforts to plant traps in order to catch these terrorists. And of course, phone calls informing about a kidnapping must be taken seriously. It could be that the exaggerated talk about the “terror” of tag machir (‘price tag’) diverted attention from the real terror, to the point where a desperate phone call about a kidnapping was ignored.
Friends from America
Israel does not have many friends in the world who understand the justice of our difficult struggle against the Muslim world, and give us unconditional support. But evangelical Christians stand like a brick wall in our defense, ranging from supporting the vision of the Return to Zion, backing the settlement of the Land in all its expanses, and strengthening the State of Israel against the Arab enemy. The most renowned evangelist was Lord Balfour, and his main successors are currently located in the United States; they call for their government to support the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Without them, the American government would regard us with alienation and hostility.
Some people find this position surprising, and ask how can the evangelists be praised when they are known to be devout Christians? Seemingly, this transgresses the Torah prohibition “lo tehannem” (“nor be gracious unto them”) [Avoda Zara 20a]. Moreover, the scathing criticism of Christianity by our mentor and teacher, Rabbi Kook, is well known. How can all this be ignored?
The Great Pain and Sorrow
All of the world’s oceans and seas cannot contain the tears that streamed from our eyes due to the anguish and tragedies that the Jewish nation suffered at the hands of the Christians. Men and women, the elderly and children, were killed, burned, and slaughtered because they refused to convert. Hundreds of thousands of families had their property looted and were expelled from one country to another because of the hatred Christian’s had for us. The heart aches for all those Jews who could not bear the sufferings, and in the end, converted. Their descendants are presently scattered throughout the world; their souls are crying out to return to their roots – but they have no clue to what, or to where – and without them, we, the Jewish people, are incomplete. They are scattered in Spain and Portugal, Germany and France, Italy and England, Poland and the Ukraine. Many of them migrated to the New World, to the Americas, to escape the persecutions and the Inquisition – and don’t even know that their ancestors received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Just recently, the Catholic archbishop of New York, considered a friend of the Jews, discovered that he was actually a Jew without even being aware of it. His grandfather was a rabbi and ritual slaughterer.
The Problem in Christianity
It is a mitzvah (a commandment from the Torah) to emulate God and love every individual, despite the various differences in nationality and religion. However, the sorrow that the Christians caused us cannot be forgiven.
There are two fundamental problems in Christianity: 1) their position that the Jewish nation, who was chosen by God to be His Chosen People, was replaced by the Christian church, and must now be humiliated. This position was the basis for their hatred of Jews. 2) Their position that anyone belonging to the Christian church no longer had to fulfill the commandments in the Torah, and was no longer responsible for practically correcting his wrongdoings.
Both these problems distorted the Torah in such a manner that they cannot be forgiven.
Or as Rabbi Kook wrote:
“The primary poison contained in belief systems which deviate from the Torah, such as Christianity and Islam, is not in their concepts of God, even though they differ from what is correct according to the fundamental light of the Torah. Rather, [the poison] is in what results from them –abrogating the practical mitzvot and extinguishing the [Jewish] nation’s hope regarding its complete renaissance” (Shemonah Kevatzim, Kovetz 1, #32. See also, Orot HaTeshuva 12:10).
Nevertheless, when Christians return to believe that Israel are the Chosen People and all the words of the Torah remain firm and binding, and they pray for Israel’s redemption as the word of God through His prophets, and they even assist in the In-gathering of the Exiles and the building of the Land – the serious allegations against such Christians are annulled. They deserve to be praised for their fine deeds and good thoughts about Israel.
Vladimir Solovyov – A Righteous Gentile
This positive approach can be witnessed by the attitude of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook and his son Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah towards Vladimir Solovyov, who Rabbi Kook awarded the title “the righteous Gentile of our times, Solovyov” (Iggrot Ra’ayah 18).
Solovyov (1853-1900) was a devout Christian and one of the greatest modern Christian theologians and philosophers, whose teachings are learned by the most respected leaders of the church.
After a wave of pogroms in Russia, Solovyov publicly criticized the rioters, and said that the problem was not the Jews, but rather, that the Christians do not know how to act towards this great nation – a precious and multi-talented nation, such as the Jews. And as long as they do not honor the Jews, they will not reach their tikkun (repair, or healing) and salvation as Christians.
It is important to note that in those days in Russia, such praises of the Jews were considered an act of spiritual heroism in light of the anti-Semitic public opinion.
Testimony from Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook
I heard from my good friend, Rabbi Ze’ev Sultanovich, that Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah asked him to bring a book by Solovyov from the National Library, so they could read it together. Rabbi Kook understood Russian, but seeing as many years had passed, he had trouble reading fluently; upon finding a student who knew Russian and understood profound issues of emunah (faith) and machshava (thought), he wished to study Solovyov’s religious articles, and discuss their content.
Upon seeing a picture of Solovyov printed in the book, Rabbi Kook said: ‘The gentleness radiating from his face can instinctively be perceived’, and even compared his face to that of Tolstoy, which in his opinion, was less spiritual.
My friend read to him from the book four or five times, and thus, was able to finish it completely. Surprised, he turned to Rabbi Kook, and asked: ‘Solovyov is truly a devout Christian, and what’s more – he even praises a Jew who converted to Christianity’?! Rabbi Kook replied: ‘Nu? That he is Christian, we already know. The novelty is, he recognizes the exalted importance of the Jewish nation, and thus, all his thoughts are elevated.’
On one occasion, one of the Russian princes visited Solovyov before he passed away, and while lying on his deathbed, Solovyov said to him: ‘I am very worried about the Russian people because they are drenched in hatred of Jews, and I honestly know that any nation that harasses the Jews will suffer trials and tribulations. And since I love my people, I ask you to warn them, in my name, not to treat the Jews adversely, God forbid.’
Solovyov on Prayer
All of this was not a secret – every one of Rabbi Kook’s students heard the praise of Solovyov, as is cited several times in the book ‘Sichot [Conversations] of Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook’. For example: “He (Solovyov) has lofty thoughts on prayer. He writes that all requests in prayer are nothing more than instruments and excuses to come before the Lord of the World, and to stand in ‘contact’ with Him. Hence, requests should be of the loftiest level. This is why he advises world leaders to pray for the safety and welfare of Israel” (Al Ha’Moadim, Hanukkah, Series 3, תשל”ד-תשל”ח, section 11).
Like Solovyov, Lord Balfour also operated in a Christian environment that was not sympathetic to Jews – to say the least. In terms of official Christianity in all its factions, it was forbidden for him to help the Jewish people establish a national home in Israel.
But as an evangelist who believed in the Bible, and believed that the people of Israel remained the Chosen People, he saw it as his sacred duty to support the return of the Jewish people to its Land, as commanded by the Torah and Prophetic vision. During his long public career, Balfour was privileged to serve in many important roles, among them, as Prime Minister of Great Britain. Nevertheless, while reminiscing in his later years, he said: “On the whole, when looking back, it [the Balfour Declaration] was the most worthy thing I have done in my life.”
In Our Times
Today, we can clearly see how, as a result of our return to the Land of Israel and engaging in settling and building the country as stated in the Torah and the Prophets, we are privileged to inform the nations that ‘God is great and His Name is most exalted’, and this has led to a significant change in the views of many people among the nations, who are continuously rising to the level of becoming Righteous Gentiles. There is still a long road ahead of us; we do not agree on all issues. May it be His will that by way of our continued adherence to Torah and mitzvoth, we will merit complete Redemption, speedily in our days.
This article appears in the ‘Basheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.Other articles by Rabbi Melamed can be read at:http://en.yhb.org.il/