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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘evil’

A Ray of Light Behind the Clouds

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Some years ago I was invited to speak at a secular high school for exceptionally bright students. The student body was mostly non-Jewish. Since I am a Holocaust survivor, they asked that I address that subject. After my presentation the principal asked if I would agree to a Q&A session. “By all means,” I answered.

The first student at the microphone asked a question that I sensed was on the minds of many there. “Where was G-d?” he asked. “How can you keep your faith?”

I replied:

“You asked me a question and I will respond with a question of my own. Where was man? And I do not refer only to the satanic Nazis but to all the nations that were complicit in this unspeakable evil.

“As far as faith goes, in what and in whom could I have placed my faith? In twentieth-century enlightenment, education, culture, science? I saw university graduates use their scientific know-how to create gas chambers where millions of lives were snuffed out. I saw doctors maim, torture and kill. I will simply ask once again, ‘Where was man – where was modern Western civilization?’

“Whenever I seek answers I turn to the pages of our Torah, for everything is to be found within it. I invite you to meet the very first family who lived on this planet. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. They lived in paradise. No one had to go to work. The climate was perfect – not too hot, not too cold. There was no illness and no death. G-d intended for man to live forever but then man debased himself. He became corrupt and evil.

“Cain and Abel made a deal. ‘Let’s divide the world between us,’ they said. And so they did. Livestock was to belong to Abel, real estate to Cain. But no sooner had Cain received his portion than he said to Abel, ‘The land is mine, get off it.’ And with that he killed his brother. G-d asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ To which he responded, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

“To this day Cain’s question echoes in the wind. Man plunders, kills, rapes – but instead of accepting accountability for his heinous deeds he shifts the blame to G-d and asks with audacity, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

“Thousands of years have passed and man has yet to respond, ‘Yes G-d, I am my brother’s keeper. Forgive me. It was all my fault. I take responsibility. Almighty G-d, give me another chance. Allow me to try again.’

“The question ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ means, in essence, ‘You, G-d, created the world; You, G-d, are in charge. Why did You allow this to happen? Where were You? How can I believe in You if You allowed this monstrous atrocity to occur?’

“Has anything changed in thousands of years? Yes, things have changed. Cain killed his brother with his hands or a primitive instrument but today modern man has harnessed his scientific brilliance to create hell on earth. The way of the first murderer Cain has become the reality by which modern man justifies his abominable deeds.”

* * * * * Recently I shared with readers my experiences when I spoke in South Africa. More than 5,000 people gathered for Torah study at the Sinai Indaba organized by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. In one of my presentations I spoke about the Holocaust. After the program a distinguished gentleman came over and introduced himself. He was a Christian living in Johannesburg. With tears he spilled out his heart.

“Rebbetzin,” he said, “we need to repent, to make atonement for the sins committed against the Jewish people. And we have to make that real, not just an empty declaration. I would like to convene multitudes of people and have you address them. Tell them about the Holocaust so they might all know and pass it on to future generations.”

This glimmer of light amid the dark clouds of anti-Semitism that once again are engulfing the world reminds us that dormant within the human heart is the spark of G-d. We must only plug into it and the voltage could light up the entire world. Whether or not that convention of Christians in Johannesburg will take place remains to be seen but the words were said, the call was made, and that in itself is significant.

Let’s return to the question that bright young student asked me: Where was G-d? Let us understand once and for all that G-d is not a puppeteer and we are not puppets. We have choices; that is what separates us from the animals. It is all recorded in this week’s parshah. “Behold I give you today blessing and curse.”

That choice is the challenge to every generation. The Torah speaks for all time. When will man choose good over evil, blessing over curse? Is it possible that that day will ever come? Of course it is.

There is a spark in the hearts of all men and I believe that one day that spark will burst forth into glorious light and banish all evil – and the world will know that “G-d is One, His Name is One.”

May that day soon come speedily in our own time.

Resisting War, Terrorism, And Genocide (Third of Three Parts)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

For the most part, we Jews have always accepted the obligation to ward off disaster as best we can. For the most part, we generally understand that all humans have free will. Saadia Gaon included freedom of will among the most central teachings of Judaism, and Maimonides affirmed that all human beings must stand alone in the world “to know what is good and what is evil, with none to prevent him from either doing good or evil.”

For Israel, free will must always be oriented toward life, to the blessing, not the curse. Israel’s authoritative charge must always be to strive in the obligatory direction of individual and collective self-preservation, by using intelligence and by exercising disciplined acts of national will. In particular circumstances, where such striving would be rejected, the outcome, however catastrophic, can never rise to the dignifying level of tragedy.

The ancient vision of authentically High Tragedy has its origins in fifth century BCE Athens. Here, there is always clarity on one overriding point: The victim is one whom “the gods kill for their sport, as wanton boys do flies.” This wantonness, this caprice, is precisely what makes tragedy unendurable.

With “disengagement,” with “realignment,” with “Palestinian demilitarization,” with both Oslo, and the Road Map, Israel’s corollary misfortunes remain largely self-inflicted. The uninspiring drama of a Middle East peace process is, at best, a surreal page torn from Ionesco, or even from the Jewish genius of Prague, Franz Kafka. Here, there is nary a hint of tragedy; not even a satisfyingly cathartic element that might have been abstracted from playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides. At worst, and this is the more plausible characterization, Israel’s potentially unhappy fate has been ripped directly from the demeaning pages of irony and farce.

Under former prime minister Ehud Olmert, Israel had acted and lived a peculiarly portentous form of comedy, an unabashedly high-budget low drama, one that relied on concocted contrivances of plot, and on correspondingly low levels of credibility. At the end, in Gaza, Olmert acted correctly with Operation Cast Lead, but it was a limited or tactical rather than strategic reaction. Moreover, it was intended only to reverse his own earlier, and, by then, irremediable errors.

In farce, matters generally end badly, but for a last-minute rescue called, in dramatic theory, deus ex machina. But no “god in the machine” will rescue Israel. To recall a far more specifically Jewish commentary, one may also consult the words of Rabbi Yania: “A man should never put himself in a place of danger, and say that a miracle will save him, lest there be no miracle….” (Sota 32a; Yoreh De’ah 116).

It may be that Israel’s prime ministers never actually did expect a miracle, but then we must inquire as to why. Upon what precise manner of reasoning or faith did so many Israeli leaders base their flagrantly vacant and vacating policies?

In Judaism there can never be any justification for deliberate self-endangerment. In classical Greek tragedy there can never be any deus ex machina. In true tragedy, the human spirit manages to remain noble in the face of an inescapable death.

But if there is anything at all tragic about Israel’s prolonged security descent, it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the word: “goat song.” For Israelis, this particular theatrical resemblance to paganism should be disturbingly hideous. After all, it comes from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin-clad worshippers of Dionysus.

Aristotle understood, in his Poetics, that true tragedy must always elicit pity and fear but not pathos. Always, pathos is unheroic suffering. The great Greek philosopher had identified tragedy with “good” characters, those who may suffer because they commit some grave error (hamartia) unknowingly.

Whether a policy is named Oslo or Road Map or something altogether new makes no difference. The sordid promise of peace with a persistently murderous adversary is always a delusion. To be sure, protracted war or terror or genocide hardly seems a tolerable or enviable policy outcome. But even this difficult fate remains better for Israel than the undiminished Arab/Islamist plan for a second Final Solution.

The futile search for ordinary solutions by the people and government of Israel should never be dismissed by non-Israelis with anger, disdain, or self-righteousness. One can hardly blame them for denying such terrible and unjust portents. Any such denial is manifestly human.

Letters to My Son in Gaza: Jihad Must Be Destroyed!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Dear Son,

Do not be confused. Know who the enemy is. With all the meaningless talk of peace agreements and cease fires, the satanic enemy continues to fire rockets of destruction and blow up buses filled with innocent civilians. In the same breath, they demand that Israel end the assassination of its leaders, as a condition for peace. Woe, if we should ever agree to this, for this is the holy purpose that Tzahal was created, and for which you are fighting, to extinguish this cancerous evil from the world.

Lest you think your father is an angry extremist, read the words of Rabbi Kook, the master of tolerance and a renowned lover of all mankind.

In his prayer book, “Olat Riyah,” Rabbi Kook writes (my comments are in brackets):

“When the dark spirit, the prolific root of malice, impurity and evil, enters into the heart of the masses,” [expressing itself in a national culture of evil like the Jihad of Islam,] “it perpetrates horrible deeds in order to stop the emergence of the Divine holy light and the nobility of mankind’s pure soul”[which is revealed in the Nation of Israel] “wherein lies the eternal blessing and true foundation of Tikun HaOlam, the world’s perfection.

“As long as masses of spiritually depraved people [like Hamas and its brothers in arms] unite together as a nation with a culture built upon a foundation of wickedness and filth, they will constitute an iron wall to stop the lofty light from spreading, and thereby imprison the world in darkness. And in response to that, the hand of God, Creator of the Lights, is stretched out to smite those many peoples. Even though not all evildoers will be annihilated and consumed, and many will continue their lives even after the nations, as a united force, have been smitten, that blow will already have weakened that thick barrier of sheer and utter evil that was founded upon their strong alliance.”

The evil doers are so numerous, we cannot kill them all. We realize this in our war against evil. But this isn’t true for the leaders whom we are obligated to destroy.

Rabbi Kook continues:

“This dispensation is not so regarding the leaders, those mighty individuals, who harbor the power of wickedness within them, pillars of impurity, fountains of darkness, spreaders of insolence, and defenders of injustice. These monsters, with their egotistical, arrogant personalities, can turn world history backwards, darkening the luster that had begun to shine forth in the dark abode of mankind’s beginnings, by mounting an attack by a coalition of peoples, who have embraced evil in their general culture, in all of its impurity”  [as, for example, the leaders of the league of Arab nations and terrorist organizations united against Israel.]

“For them, there is no rectification but to kill them, to blot out their names, to eradicate them from the world. Such retributions are among the wonders of the Lord of the Universe, who causes the lights of holiness to shine forth, and who shall cause supreme justice to ultimately appear in His world, despite all those forces of darkness which delay its radiant appearance.”

And Rabbi Kook concludes:

“When God gave Eretz Yisrael to Israel as an inheritance, He performed miracles, overwhelming all of the surrounding nations’ shows of valor… This is an eternal lesson for us that God’s counsel and His holy word will endure forever, and all the savage and unbridled heroism in the name of evil, [the missile launching shahidists and martyrs who blow up Israeli buses], all the colossal shows of physical strength, all the secret councils of many nations and kingdoms which join together against the People of God, just as it occurred then, will be of no avail.”

Be strong, my son. Go forth with the armies of Israel and wipe out this evil. For the sake of the world.

Abba

Hamas Propaganda is Terror Art

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Israel does not target, with malice aforethought, children and other non-fighter populace.

50,000 warning phone calls were made last week to residents at potential locations that could be attacked.

Hamas places its weaponery amidst the civilian population. Its rockets also kill their own children when they explode on ignition or fall short.

poster like this

is not only horrendously gruesome and posed but evil misrepresentation.

With an enemy like this, with its warped logic, there is no common language.

Visit My Right Word.

No Ceasefire, My Son, Finish the Job!

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Dear Son,

It was good speaking with you and hearing that you are in excellent spirits. Please call home from time to time when you can. And try to fill your free time with Torah learning. We are told that Joshua was reprimanded by the angel in charge of the armies of Israel for neglecting to study Torah during breaks in the battle. We are the Nation of the “Safra and Sefer,’ the Sword and the Book. When we engage in battle, we give 100% to the fight. But whenever we have free time, the obligation to meditate on the Torah day and night returns in full measure. I know, it isn’t easy in your present situation, not knowing when the order to enter Gaza will come, but Torah study is as important as cleaning your rifle and making sure that your machsaniot are all loaded with bullets.

For the meantime, I will try to send you a Torah thought each day. I noticed an abridged “easy reader” copy of ‘Robinson Caruso” in your room, and remembered you saying that you wanted to improve your skills in English, so I’ll write these letters in English, and that way you can learn Torah and improve your English at the same time.

If you have access to a radio, I’m sure you are hearing a lot of talk about the supreme effort of the Israeli Air Force not to injure “innocent civilians.” You already know what I think about that. We are not engaged in a match of badminton. This is war. The Hamas isn’t merely a handful of terrorists. Gaza is a terrorist state. The people living there identify with Hamas and with its constantly vocalized oath to destroy Israel. They “voted” Hamas into power. Hamas and all of the citizens of Gaza seek our annihilation. This is a war of state against state.

But let me remind you of another interesting point. This past year, the government of Syria has slaughtered 50,000 truly innocent civilians. Does the world give a damn? No. Has anyone seriously ordered Assad to stop? No. The world, even the Arab world itself, really doesn’t care that tens of thousands of innocent Arab civilians are being slaughtered in Syria. But when Israel kills a few “innocent” Palestinians bystanders in Gaza who were watching terrorists fire a missile toward your grandparents in Ashkelon, then all of the world in cries out unison, from the U.S. State Department, to the United Nations, and the leaders of Russia, England, and France.

Suddenly filled with compassion for the innocent Arab victims, they all immediately hold emergency press conferences, and warn Israel not to escalate the conflict by daring send in ground troops in Gaza to uproot the terror, lest there be more civilian casualties. What hypocrisy! Are the Arabs in Gaza any different from the Arabs in Syria? Why is the world silent when Assad kills 50,000 innocent civilians, and suddenly aghast in a hysterical uproar when Israel kills a handful of “innocents” who just happened to be hanging around a rocket launcher?

Their double standard is so opaque! So now, my boy, I want to let you in on a secret that I want you to pass on to all the guys in your platoon. What’s the real reason that the Egyptians, and the British, and President Barak Hussein Obama don’t want our troops to go into Gaza and finish the job of erasing this evil incarnate from the world? It isn’t because they suddenly love innocent Arabs, believe me.

The answer lies in the Torah portion we read on Shabbat. Already in Rivka’s womb, Esav was trying to kill Yaacov. As Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai has ruled, the halachah is that Esav hates Yaacov. To further its own interests, America is willing to back us, up to a point. But to let us go all out and destroy Hamas completely, once and for all – “No no no no no!” they shout. Stop! Suddenly they, and everyone else, are worried about “innocent civilians.”

Yes, my precious, son, you are fighting to stop the missile fire on our country and to protect fellow Jews. But, as I have previously written, you are fighting for something much more. You are a soldier in the army of Hashem, fighting against the darkness and evil in the world which seeks to snuff out God’s light. The nations of Esav and Ishmael know who we are. They know that Israel is God’s Chosen Nation, endowed with the Divine task of bringing the truth of God’s Kingship to the world.

We Are Seeing Moshiach in Action!

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

The Pillar of Cloud, otherwise known as the Clouds of Glory, or Amud HaAnan, protected the Jewish People in the Wilderness, and the “Amud HaAnan” Operation which Tzahal has now undertaken is intended to protect our beleaguered citizens in the south. But it is much more than that.

Rabbi Kook writes:

“When there is a great war in the world, the power of Moshiach awakens. The time of the song bird has come, with the weeding away of tyrants. The evil ones are obliterated from the world, the world becomes more perfected, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our Land.

“And after the war has climaxed, the world is revitalized with a new spirit, and the ‘Footsteps of the Moshiach  are exceedingly revealed. The greater the war’s measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the greater the expectation for the ‘Footsteps of the Moshiach’ which the war reveals…

“With great insight, incredible valor, with deep and penetrating logic, with true desire, and with clear understanding, we need to receive the exalted contents of the light of G-d which is revealed in wondrous action in the workings of precisely these wars.”

Rabbi Kook ends his essay by quoting from our morning prayers. Make no mistake. This is what Operation “Amud HaAnan” is really all about:

“The Master of wars, sower of righteousness, Who causes salvation to sprout, the Creator or cures, awesome in praise, the Master of wonders, Who renews His goodness every day the act of Creation, cause a new light to shine upon Zion, and may we all be privileged to see its light” (Orot, 2:1).

Hashem is the Master of wars. And now, as citizens in the south of Israel sit anxiously in their bomb shelters, Hashem is at war. Hashem is weeding out tyrants, the killers of Jewish men, women, and children. Hashem is obliterating evil ones from the world, the murderers from the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The Moshiach has awakened. He is sitting in the cockpit beside our pilots as they soar over Gaza, cleansing and perfecting the world. While the Israeli Army is fighting, Hashem is sowing righteousness. Hashem is causing salvation to sprout. He is causing a new light to shine upon Zion, and it is our task to open our eyes and see it. No, my friends, this is not a mere war – this is Moshiach in action!

The Mashiach is not only the ideal Jewish king, but a process which evolves over time. The Gemara informs us that, “There are 2000 years of Moshiach  (Sanhedrin 97A).  In Tractate Megilla, we learn that, “War is also the beginning of Redemption” (Megilla 17B). The Rambam tells us that one of Moshiach’s premier tasks is to fight the wars of Hashem (Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 11:4).

Yes, Operation “Amud HaAnan” has come to protect our citizens, to teach Hamas a painful lesson, and to return our power of detriment, but when you watch the footage on TV, know that you are watching the “Footsteps of Moshiach ” You are witnessing the Sanctification of G-d in the world. Let the word go forth, “There is a living G-d in Israel!”

Yes, war is hell. Yes, if war could be abandoned, the world would be a better place. But the Redemption of Am Yisrael also comes through wars. In the roar of our jets streaking over Gaza, Moshiach is on the way! When evil doers are uprooted from the world, the light of Moshiach appears. The greater the magnitude and force of the war, the greater the revelation of Moshiach which follows.

Our hearts and prayers are with the soldiers of Israel. May Hashem grant them and their commanders the holy courage and valor to finish the job and wipe out the evil in our midst, for the betterment of the world. And may we all be privileged to see and enjoy the new light shining on Zion!

 

How Do You Answer Evil? Ten Years After the Bali Terror Bombing

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Today marks ten years since jihadist terrorists carried out a ghastly bombing attack on night club spots on the Indonesian island of Bali. The Kuta Beach massacre was the deadliest act of terrorism in the history of Indonesia: 202 people were killed that night. 164 were foreign nationals, 38 were Indonesian citizens. 209 people were injured.

Almost immediately after it happened on 12th October 2002, the then editorial team at the Melbourne (Australia) Herald-Sun newspaper contacted Arnold Roth. This was only a year after the death of the Roths’ daughter Malki. Arnold and Malki had both been born in Melbourne. The Herald-Sun requested a first-person response, an open letter to the families of the Indonesian attack victims.

Malki‘s death, like those of the Bali massacre victims, came at the hands of terrorists acting in the name of Islam. Arnold felt he had something to say and set everything else aside to quickly write an op-ed [background here].

He sent it off to the Herald-Sun. Then… silence. For reasons that have never been explained, his article never appeared in the pages of the Melbourne newspaper. The paper’s editor at that time never responded to several emails asking for an explanation.

Eventually, the Jerusalem Post picked it up and published it in the paper’s December 9, 2002 edition. Here are excerpts:

A letter to the families of the Kuta Beach victims 

By Arnold Roth, Jerusalem

I never felt more like a father than when taking the hand of my little daughter Malki and crossing the street with her. There is something so right and solid about being your child’s protector.

I never felt more wretched, frightened and alone than on the night the call came saying her body had been identified. My daughter was murdered by a deliberate act of explosive horror. I was not there to protect her.

If you’re asking what can be done, I want to offer this. When a young life ends, a huge empty space is left behind. How do you fill it? With hatred, thoughts of revenge, evening up the score? After our daughter’s death, we sat down as a family and asked ourselves how her life and actions should be remembered. We decided to raise money and give practical help to families raising a child with disabilities. Malki, a very practical teenager, did this herself and believed in it. It would have made her smile.

Perhaps it’s not politically correct to say this, but I believe evil does exist in the world – a great deal of it.

How do you answer evil? For us, the right response has been to do things which we hope will increase the stock of good in the world. We know this will have no impact on the barbarians who killed our children and loved ones. But we’re absolutely determined that they won’t be impacting us any more than they already have. They and their values are irrelevant to our lives.

Visit This Ongoing War.

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