Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
Elul is here, the month of teshuvah, of repentance.
I had the privilege recently of visiting the gadol Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch in Yerushalayim. He said the following: “What is in the newspapers is of no importance, and what is of importance is not in the newspapers. We have nothing to fear from the president of Iran; God watches over His children. The only matter of importance, the only thing that affects us, is the relationship between the Ribbono Shel Olam and the children of Israel.”
I believe every thinking person understands Moshiach ben Dovid cannot be far away. Every thinking person also knows the Jews are surrounded today on every side by problems. Even seventy years ago, when the Nazi dictator, may his name be ground to dust, was about to launch his war against the world, there were still places where a Jew could run. It wasn’t easy, but the places existed where a Jew was not in danger.
Today, there is no such place. Even our Homeland, which was supposed to be the ultimate safety net for the Children of Israel, is under threat of attack – more so, in fact, than any other place in the world. In general, every Jewish neighborhood is surrounded by enemies, and the world is becoming more dangerous and unstable with each passing moment.
Several weeks ago, there was a terrible story in the news about religious Jews who were arrested. Pictures were featured prominently in the media.
I know a twelve-year-old boy in Lakewood, New Jersey, who is a tzaddik. I do not use the term lightly. It just amazes me how, in this polluted world, there can be such holy children. This boy taught me an incredible thing. We were discussing the quality of dimyon, imagination. He told me his rebbe had taught him that one reason God instilled the quality of imagination in mankind is so that we should be able to use it to find a way to “dan l’kaf zchus,” to judge someone else favorably.
I personally find it very difficult to give someone else the benefit of the doubt. I think to myself, “How could that person possibly be innocent?” I have a very easy time blaming other people. This boy in Lakewood taught me something of great value: he made me realize we have to work hard at trying to judge others favorably and that God even gave us a specific character trait, imagination, to enable us to do it when it seems there are no exonerating circumstances.
I don’t mean we should indulge in fantasy to judge someone favorably; I mean we should exert ourselves to understand just how that person might in fact really be innocent when in fact he or she seems obviously guilty.
I do not know the facts behind the news story, but I do know the media are full of lies. I also know that any excuse to portray Jews, especially religious Jews, in a negative light is seized upon with delight by a world that wants to believe we are worthy of its hatred.
In the month of Elul, we should be learning to look critically not at others but at ourselves. That is the only place where our efforts can have any effect. We can speak about the faults of others until eternity, but it will only create poison and darkness. Sinas chinam, unwarranted hatred among Jews, is, according to our sages, the only reason we are in this seemingly interminable exile. Sinas chinam and its “children,” lashon ha’ra and rechilus, are the reasons we do not have a Bais HaMikdash today, that we are not all together in peace, harmony and safety in our Holy Land.
When are we going to stop?
When are we going to take this seriously?
When are we going to point the finger at ourselves instead of others?
On Yom Kippur we say “Chattasi – I have sinned.” We do not say “you have sinned.”
No one else is responsible for my problems. It’s not the rabbi, the gabbai, the synagogue, the yeshiva, the economy, the president of Iran. It’s not my wife and it’s not my husband and it’s not my parents.
I am responsible.
Unless and until we stop blaming others, we will not be able to heal the world.
Let us all look in the mirror. Let us all say, with deep conviction:
“Tatti, my Father in Heaven, please let me see my faults. Please let me cry over my inadequacies. Please heal me. I have so much work to do. It seems endless, but I know You will help me if I beg You with all my heart and all my soul.”
Just remember: even if we don’t deserve Moshiach, God deserves Moshiach. He is suffering so much at the quarrels of His children, at our terrible exile and His own “exile,” because He is with us. He is waiting to save us. He has promised again and again, and He always fulfills His promises. Even if we don’t deserve it, He will bring our Redeemer l’ma’an shmo b’ahava, for His Name’s sake, with love (Shemoneh Esrei, first blessing).
Let’s give Him nachas. All the signs are in place. This is the month. This is the year. This is the time. “For God will comfort Zion. He shall comfort all her ruins. He shall make her wilderness like Eden and her wasteland like a garden…. Joy and gladness shall be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of music” (Isaiah 51:3, Haftaras Eikev).
About the Author: Roy Neuberger's latest book, "2020 Vision" (Feldheim), is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian with a Georgian edition in preparation. An e-edition is available at www.feldheim.com. Roy is also the author of "From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul" (available in English, Hebrew and Russian, Georgian edition in preparation) and "Worldstorm." Roy and his wife speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com. Roy and his wife speak publicly on topics related to his books and articles. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his websites www.tosinai.com and www.2020visionthebook.com.
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The meaning of “God’s watch” here is not entirely clear.
Don’t Israelis and Arab Palestinians deserve more than this? Is it not time to stop the insanity?
At age 104, my mother was still concerned about her relationship with Hashem.
“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”
You’ve discovered our little secret!
Klein’s challenger has demonstrated a propensity to unleash poisonous vitriol, even to other Zionists
President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy.
Welcome the book of Leviticus!
If the nationalist Knesset members don’t provide the answer, the Arab MKs will do so in their place.
International Agunah Day falls annually on Ta’anis Esther, this year on March 13.
Yeshiva University Museum recently hosted an exhibit titled “Threshold to the Sacred.”
Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing.
As shocking and insulting and horrifying as it is, Nazi war criminals are still living freely among us.
One can almost imagine a shocked Mr. Kerry thinking to himself, “How could he?” Yet not only did Mr. Putin do what he did, China, one of the three major international players along with the U.S. and Russia, agreed with him, not with Mr. Kerry.
At the end of the harvest, winter begins. The earth becomes cold and hard, nights are long, and the sun seems far away in the southern sky. The sap ceases to flow in the trees. But in this season of temporary “death” Hashem sends down harbingers of coming life in the form of tal u’matar livrachah – dew and rain for a blessing – upon the earth.
They were lining up for gas masks in Israel.
Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.
At the mikveh they were discussing Egypt.
So many things seem to be unraveling. It’s not just Egypt but the entire Middle East. No, it’s not just the Middle East; it’s the entire world.
What is the relationship between Pesach and Shavuos?
Rabbi Naftali Jaeger, rosh yeshiva of Sh’or Yoshuv, relates in the name of the Ishbitzer Rebbe a striking metaphor:
“In those days, when King Achashveirosh sat on his royal throne which was in Shushan the capital, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast for all his officials and servants, the army of Persia and Medea; the nobles and officials of the provinces being present, when he displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honor of his splendorous majesty for many days, a hundred and eighty days.
“Israel has bad public relations.”
This is the perennial cry. “Israel must improve its image to convince the world of the justness of its cause.”
Let’s face it: this is not going to be an ordinary year.
We are praying very seriously this year because we are praying for our lives. Yes, I know: every year we pray for our lives. But how many feel it? This year, whether we want to or not, I think we are beginning to feel it.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/time-to-look-in-the-mirror/2009/08/19/
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