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Sunday is here it’s a new week. In fact, tonight is a new month too, the month of Av. We now start the 9-day countdown to Tisha B’Av, the worst day of our national calendar – the day our Holy Temple was destroyed and our 2000-year long exile and Diaspora began.
Baba Elazar was brutally murdered right before Shabbat (see Friday’s post). Yet, the sun rose today as usual. That doesn’t mean we’re back to business as usual…
How many wake-up calls do we need to get our act together? Outside of a few alligator tears, have the brutal murders of the Fogel family, Leiby Kletzky, and Baba Elazar – all of sacred memory – moved us in the slightest to better ourselves?
The first Intifada began with rock-throwing. The rocks became knives, but nobody woke up. The knives became pistols, and everybody’s still deep in spiritual slumber. The pistols became bombs, the bombs became shahidim, the shahidim became Kassam rockets and the Kassam rockets became Katyusha Grad missiles. Now the tzaddikim are getting murdered. Anybody waking up? What does Hashem need to do for us to get our act together?
Meanwhile, Achmedinejad is building his A-bomb and Hizbulla is itching for a missile war, G-d Forbid!
So lets start with an uplifting post from a good friend who inspires is all and a video posted that won awards for true brilliance!
Fire On the Mountain- Reflections on the Air of Destruction by Yaakov Lehman
17 Tammuz, 1,941 years ago- The siege of Jerusalem commences ultimately leading to the destruction of the Holy Jewish Temple and the subsequent 2000 year running exile of the Jewish people.
17 July, 11 days ago. The Jerusalem forest bursts into flames destroying 37 acres and forcing an evacuation Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.
Walking atop their respective ruins, I reflect…
Born into the aftermath of destruction. The charred remains still throb with fire, searing my lungs, burning my eyes, emptying my heart of seemingly all consolation.
Enchanted garden, once so lush and teaming with life vibrancy, flittering with the exuberance of everything so fresh, so alive, so real.
Reduced now to a scarred memory, former magnificence staling with each gust of exhausted wind. A battlefield sore and aching, casting sordid sorrows into the soul of the earth.
Disheveled survivors of the infernal deluge lay scattered about. Disfigured forms of former splendor. A tree stump smoldering in the morning sun, offering a final prayer to the heavens as its very existence dissolves into a steady breath of charcoaled steam. A few ancient rocks lay bear and exposed, all compassion and life singed from their blackened facade. Mounds of chalky ash projecting an icy complexion from the earths surface; a lifeless canvas unwittingly playing host to a handful of expiring shadows.
Destruction. It is has come, it has passed; a reality to accept.
Move on. We shall. Affirming the belief that life can be rebuilt atop the dregs of death. To flourish in the face of suffering- it is our unmitigated destiny.
But before we take that brave step forward; into dream and ambition, accomplishment and success. Before we transition into the action which is indeed our calling, let us step back; pause, ponder the silent casualties of our past. Reflect and retreat into a space of unspoken stillness.
You and I, we were born after the destruction. We saw not the tears, heard the screams, nor smelled the fires of expulsion, exile, and extermination.
Yet were we not born of their very ashes, memories terminally encoded into the exalted algorithm of our spiritual DNA?
If only we cultivate the proper will. If we expend the necessary effort. We can relate, understand and empathize with the historical roots upholding our bodies and soul. We can consult the time weathered spirit of our illustrious ancestors; those who came before, who planted the seeds which govern our blooming fields of perception.
The soil of our secluded forests may be covered in soot. The stones of our sacred temple may be trampled underfoot by google-eyed tourists imagining they are at some cotton candy dispensing archeological amusement park.
Nevertheless, a true spirit lies dormant underneath; gestating, germinating, each mitzvah performed catalyzing the process of redemption one step closer.
Life: tis’ a journey untamed, a long-winded process bringing us to our eventual destination. We the travelers, our goals and values at the wheel, our good deeds providing the combustion that powers us forward.
Hope, persistence, optimism: these constitute our windshield into the future. Yet as a people we must from time to time glance up into the rearview, backtracking our trajectory to ascertain how we arrived here, from where we initially departed, and where it was we sought to travel in the first place.
It makes no difference whether the flames subsided 2 weeks or 2 thousand years ago. Our future is seeded in our past. The past is the key to our future.
To quote a contemporary non-Jewish sage of the musical persuasion, “We know where we’re going, we know where we’re from, we’re leaving Babylon, going to the promised land”
We must dance between these two immutable spheres of reality, gliding with pure intent along the rhythmic contours of time and space.
Alive and awake, delighted and dancing, we shall persevere.
יעקב בן ראובן 李家樹
Jerusalem, IsraelD A J Ü S
Diversity ~ Awareness ~Justice ~ Understanding ~ Sustainability
T O R A HThe holy “Ohr HaChaim” – Rabbi Chaim ben Attar – writes that if you see a tzaddik die an unnatural death, then know full well that it is on account of the wrongdoings of the masses.
We here in Israel are still not over the shock of losing one of this generation’s most prodigious tzaddikim – “Baba Elazar” – Rabbi Elazar AbuChatzeira of saintly and cherished memory, who was brutally murdered right before Shabbat. We all need to do some hard thinking about what we need to correct…
Why all of this during the infamous Three Weeks? And what about the other recent losses of this generation’s foremost tzaddikim like Rav Lefkowitz and the Sphinka Rebbe? And what about the wonderful three Chabad girls who were killed in a gas explosion recently in Natanya when they were giving out Shabbat candles? What’s going on?
The cause of the destruction of our Holy Temple was intramural hatred. It’s still here. Because we haven’t learned to love one another, we’re now losing our most special people, from little Leiby Kletzky in New York to the Fogel family and Baba Elazar here in Israel. Have you noticed that everyone’s been hit? Tragedy has struck all camps – national religious, Chassidim, Lithuanians, Sefardim, within Israel and outside of Israel.
In recent weeks, I’ve been writing and speaking non-stop about Ahavat Yisrael – it’s about time we learn how to love, according to Halacha.
The Torah commands us to love one another, saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19: 18). This is an important one of the 248 positive commandments.
Contrastingly, the Torah also commands us, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart” (ibid, 17). This is a critical one of the 365 negative commandments of the Torah.
We don’t have to learn how to hate – it comes natural. TheSefer HaChinuch explains that human beings, because of their innate egotism, naturally tend to hate one another. People prefer themselves and cast others away, unless they have some vested interests or something to gain, which brings us right back to egotism. By the same token, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that making peace with someone else is unnatural… Thanks To Rabbi Lazer Brodey
A moving story about the Chofetz Chaim, that I saw on Torah.Org from Rabbi Shimon Finkelman.
A Lesson in Peace Between People by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman
On a visit to Vilna, the Chofetz Chaim arrived at an inn to spend the night. As he entered the dining room, he noticed a boorish-looking fellow being served a large portion of meat and a drink. The Chofetz Chaim looked on in dismay as the man devoured the meat in a few bites, gulped down his drink, and then addressed the waiter in an unbecoming way as he asked for more food.
The Chofetz Chaim rose from his seat and was about to make his way to the fellow’s table, when the innkeeper stopped him. “Rabbi,” said the man, “this boor is a lost Jewish soul, a Cantonist. He was taken from his home by force at age seven and worked on a Siberian farm until age 18. Then he spent 25 years in the Czar’s army. Is it any wonder that he is nothing but an ignorant, uncivilized boor to whom life means nothing but eating and drinking? Please, do not attempt to correct his behavior. I fear that he may become angry and could even respond by striking you.”
“So that is his story!” exclaimed the Chofetz Chaim. “Do not worry, I am hopeful that I will speak to him in a way that will not upset him.”
The Chofetz Chaim approached the man, extended his hand in greeting and said, “Is what I hear true, that you were snatched from your home at age seven, grew up among gentiles and never had the opportunity to study a word of Torah? You have suffered Gehinnom on this world! I am sure that the wicked people who persecuted you, forced you to eat non-kosher foods and transgress other mitzvot as well. Yet you remained a Jew and did not let the Czar achieve his goal of convincing you to convert. Praiseworthy are you! For 30 years, you bore suffering at the hands of your oppressors, and here you are, a Jew who clings to his faith in the Almighty. What a source of merit you have earned for yourself!”
The Chofetz Chaim’s sincere words, spoken from a mouth that was holy and pure, touched the Cantonist to the depths of his soul. Tears flowed from his eyes and he embraced the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim then spoke to the man about returning to the path of Torah, the path which his parents had been prevented from teaching him. Under the Chofetz Chaim’s guidance, he became a complete returnee to Judaism. thanks to Rabbi Price!