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No one is counting, but probably close to one million people in Eretz Yisrael recited Hallel on Yom Ha’atz’maut. No one is counting, but there are many who do not recite Hallel, and even some who recite tachanun (which is never said on even a semi-festival day) and even some who wear sackcloth to express their profound grief that the British mandate ended 64 years ago which deprived them of indulging in the pleasure of living under an Arab-Moslem government.
Too often, we complicate our lives with imaginary thoughts of what might happen, theories and philosophies, which taken together, lead to paralysis of action and mental stagnation, when in fact reality is so simple. I am referring specifically to those in the anti-Zionist chareidi world who tie themselves up in pseudo-Halachic knots and reach illogical conclusions, actions or inactions.
I will be"h explain
Three times in the course of our tragic history, the Jewish people revolted against foreign domination. The Maccabim, under Mattityahu the Kohen, who rose against the Seleucid Greeks; Rabbi Akiva, who together with the majority of the rabbis of the time, rose against the Romans, and in our time when the two resistance forces of the “Etzel” under David Raziel and Menachem Begin, and “Lechi” headed by Avraham (Ya’ir) Shtern declared war on the hated Brutish-British forces in Eretz Yisrael.
But let’s leave the modern day events for future generations and discuss the two former uprisings.
Following the re-dedication of the temple, the supporters of the Maccabim were divided over the matter of continuing the battles in order to increase the area under Jewish control. Those who sought to continue the war were led by Yehuda the Maccabee.
In 160 BCE, Yehuda was killed in battle and was succeeded as army commander by his younger brother, Yonatan. In 142 BCE, Yonatan was assassinated by Diodotus Tryphon, a pretender to the Seleucid throne, and was succeeded by Shimon, last remaining son of Mattityahu. Shimon was murdered in 134 BCE by his son-in-law Ptolemy, and was succeeded as high priest and king by his son Yochanan Hyrcanus I.
And the gory details continue.
The unhappy Hasmonean rule lasted until 63 BCE, when the Roman general Pompey captured Jerusalem, and finally ended in 37 BCE when the Idumean Herod became king of Israel.
But despite all the blood shed, agony, hatred and disappointment, we celebrate a holiday called Chanuka.
Rabbi Akiva led the majority of the rabbis in believing that Shimon bar Kochba could succeed in revolting against the hated Romans. The revolt was crushed and in the end countless numbers of Jews were murdered, persecuted and sold into slavery.
Beginning in 123 BCE, the Jews began launching guerilla attacks against the Romans. The hated Roman Governor, Hadrian (Adri’anus) brought in 12 legions and appointed Tinneius Rufus governor of Judea. In 132 C.E., Hadrian renamed Yerushlayim Aelia Capitolina, and began building a temple to Jupiter in place of the Bet Hamikdash.
The final battle of the war took place in Betar which fell on the 9th of Av, 135 C.E. when every Jew there was murdered.
The Romans plowed Yerushalayim, and permitted the Jews to enter only on the 9th of Av to mourn. Hadrian changed the country’s name from Judea (Yehuda) to Syria Palestina.
In the 7 week period of counting the Omer, we remember the huge loss of life and great national disappointment that resulted from the Great Revolt.
Were it in my power, I would bring together all those leaders of religious Jewry who oppose Medinat Yisrael, including those who do so actively by demonstrating in front of the Israel Embassy in Washington, or by going on pilgrimage to Teheran to sacrifice their souls on the altar of Eichman-Ijad, and the leaders who merely bad mouth the Medina, and the passive objectors who are oblivious to the land where the majority of the Bible’s episodes occurred and which is home to the majority of Jews in the world today.
I would invite them to Giant Stadium in New Jersey (If they don’t know the way, let them ask their children and grand children) to a meeting on Medina bashing.
Let each Chassidic rebbe state his case. Let each rosh yeshiva point out the obvious and the not so obvious faults in Medinat Yisrael. Let them begin with condemning the founder of political Zionism, Binyamin (Theodore) Herzl, to David ben Gurion. Let all the faults, defects, derelictions, guilt, malfeasance, misconduct and transgression, be entered into voluminous tractates overshadowing even the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Then after days and possibly weeks of Medina bashing, I would ask them one simple question:
If, in the days of Mattityahu, the Greeks would have left the country, resulting in a society exactly like today’s Medina, would the Maccabim have taken up arms in revolt, or would they have bowed down to kiss the stones and soil and recite Hallel with a bracha every day?
Had the Romans left the country, resulting in a society exactly like today’s Medinah, would Rabbi Akiva, Bar Kochba, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chanina been so overjoyed that they would have recited Hallel every day with a bracha , or would they have taken up arms in rebellion to create a more perfect society?
If you agree that the way we live today in our beloved Medina would have been cherished by Mattityahu and Rabbi Akiva, you are thinking right, but if you believe that they would have rejected the Medina as the Medina-bashers of today, you don’t have a religious problem, you have a psychiatric problem.
This week’s parasha, like the previous parshiot, deals with matters pertaining to kohanim. But in the larger picture, are not all Jews kohanim? Did HaShem not say (Shemot 19:6):
ואתם תהיו לי ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש
And you shall be for me a kingdom of kohanim and a holy nation
The time has long passed to believe that the Jews can continue to live in the galut.
But first a short story.
A man passed away, and unknown to his financially struggling son, left a fortune of money. The father directed his attorney, that after his death to inform the son of his inheritance and give him the money. But not only did the attorney not give the money to the son, he never even informed the son that there is a fortune waiting for him. And the son continued to live a financially deprived life.
What would one call such an attorney?
In the ten years that I was a talmid in yeshiva high school and yeshiva gedola (rabbinic seminary) in New York, never once was Eretz Yisrael mentioned in a sermon or shiur. If not for my family, which was connected with Eretz Yisrael, I would have had to discover the fortune my ancestors left to me. Because the people who were charged with our education never told us!
My suggestion is that all you good people go to your local rabbi and demand that he inform you of the legacy that is yours – the gift of the Holy Land that HaShem promised to our forefathers. Let him teach you of the Biblical episodes which transpired in the areas of Shechem, Yerushalayim and Chevron. King David and King Solomon. The exile from the land after the destruction, and how we Jews never ceased to hope and pray to return. Learn of the laws which are particular to the land. Learn of the sanctity of Yerushalayim and the Bet Hamikdash.
Impel your rabbi to teach you who you really are! If he doesn’t know or refuses to sing the praises of the Holy Land in his sermons, the congregation should draw the necessary conclusions.
If the congregation does not initiate the study of Eretz Yisrael, then they are as guilty as the rabbi.
With regard to only two entities does the Torah use the word “morasha” (heritage) – Torah and Eretz Yisrael.
In Devarim 33:4
תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהלת יעקב:
Moshe commanded us with the Torah, a heritage to he community of Ya’akov
And in Shemot 6:8
והבאתי אתכם אל הארץ אשר נשאתי את ידי לתת אתה לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב ונתתי אתה לכם מורשה אנ יה':
And I will bring you to the land which I vowed to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you for a heritage: I am HaShem
Your rabbi is required to inform you of the two fortunes our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov acquired from HaShem and are our heritage. If he is delinquent in the matter, then he is as guilty as the attorney who did not inform the deprived son of the great wealth awaiting him.
Nachman Kahana Thursday, May 03, 2012
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