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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘exiles’

Angels, Exiles, & Cotton Balls

Friday, October 14th, 2016

We presently find ourselves in the most chock-filled month of the year – Tishrei. There are so many holidays packed in to these 30 days that it would be arrogant to try to sum it all up in 1,200 words. Let’s focus on Sukkos and see if we can pull out an encompassing theme and perhaps even connect it to the Days of Awe that just passed. Join me; we have a way to go.

Why do we build a sukkah and live in it for seven days? The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 625, 1) states, “The pasuk commands, ‘You shall dwell in sukkos for seven days, for I caused you to dwell in sukkos when I took you out of Egypt.’ The sukkos under discussion are the Clouds of Glory that Hashem surrounded us with to protect us from the heat and wild beasts of the desert.” The Shulchan Aruch is aiming to explain that the halacha accords with the opinion that the sukkos in the verse are referring to the Clouds of Glory, as opposed to the opinion that they refer to actual booths built by Bnei Yisrael. The relevance of this information is that we must actively think of those Clouds as we dwell in the sukkah if we wish to fulfill the mitzvah properly (ibid. M.B). However, one could ask a fair question. I would understand if Hashem commands us to build booths as a remembrance of booths. But why must we build booths as a remembrance of clouds? Why can’t we just stay in our homes and paper the walls with cotton balls? Why do we need to leave the house?

Perhaps we can answer this question with an idea from the Pesikta d’Rav Kahana (29). The Pesikta writes that on Rosh Hashanah Hashem passes judgment over the whole world and on Yom Kippur He seals the verdict. Since we may have been found lacking, we leave our homes shortly after Yom Kippur to fulfill any decree of exile that may have been made against us. (This idea would also explain the famous question of why Sukkos is placed in Tishrei instead of in Nissan when Bnei Yisrael left Egypt and were given the Clouds for the first time.)

But even this answer is difficult. Even if we allow for Sukkos to simultaneously be a recall of the Clouds of Glory and also fulfill a decree of exile (a difficult idea to swallow altogether), we would still have to wonder why Sukkos is called Zman Simchaseinu – the Time of our Rejoicing. While it is certainly accomplishing to relieve ourselves of any negative decrees, it seems inappropriate to refer to a time of exile with a joyous nomenclature. It seems we have a way to go. Let’s move along.

Before we try to answer these questions, let’s ask a third. Why do we take the Four Species on Sukkos? What is their message? The Midrash (Vayikrah Rabbah 30:2) compares the Four Species to a victory banner held aloft and waved by triumphant soldiers returning from the battlefield. We too wave the victory banner as we emerge from the judgment of the Days of Awe. This Midrash is baffling, especially when we view it in conjunction with the last point we made. Do we walk away from the Yamim Noraim worried that we were found lacking and are in need of exile or do we walk away confident in our victory? And to make matters more confusing, the Arizal writes (see M.B. 651, 34) that it is best to take the Four Species inside the sukkah! Can there be a greater contradiction than that?

Let’s turn to a quote Bnei Yissaschar brings down from the sifrei Kabbalah. Explaining the aforementioned Midrash, Bnei Yissaschar asks why these Four Species were chosen to comprise our victory banner. He explains that these are the exception to a very broad rule regarding Divine Providence. All the creations in the world are maintained by their own personal angel. Obviously, the power comes only from Hashem. He never loses sight of a single creation, and the angels have absolutely no power of their own. But even so, the flow of blessing is sent through an intermediate angel. These Four Species, on the other hand, are maintained by G-d Himself. Therefore, Bnei Yissaschar explains, they are perfect choices to form our victory banner – as they are from the “house of the King.”

We haven’t yet answered our questions. But now let’s check out a similar idea from the Vilna Gaon regarding the Clouds of Glory. In the aftermath of the Golden Calf Hashem declares “I shall annihilate them!” Moshe prays until finally Hashem relents. But there were consequences. Until now Hashem Himself accompanied His children. Now Hashem says, “I will send an angel before you.” Moshe objects, “If Your Presence does not go along, do not bring us forward! [Rather, what I desire is that] Your people be distinct from all the people on the face of the earth!” Finally, Hashem gives in and states, “Even this I shall do.” The Gra (Aderes Eliyahu, Ki Sisa) explains that the Clouds of Glory came to fill the dual request for G-d’s Presence and for His distinctive care. We see from here that not only do inanimate creations have either direct Providence or an intermediate angel, but nations do as well. We also see that Hashem granted us a direct Providence without an intervening angel.

Now perhaps we can answer all our questions. We had asked why we leave our homes. The answer is, it would not be sufficient to hang cotton balls inside to recall the Clouds of Glory because the mitzvah is to relive and imbibe the reality of Divine Providence. While obviously our houses are also completely in Hashem’s control, staying inside would lend us Hashem’s protection through an intermediary – the roof. Only under the sky can we truly live the message of Hashem’s guardianship.

As for our question regarding the contradiction of the sukkah being a joyous abode and simultaneously an exile, perhaps we can now explain as follows. Any other nation must indeed worry when forced to leave their land. If their patron angel has fallen out of favor, then what hope do they truly have? But the Jews are different. Even in exile we enjoy Divine Providence. Hashem joins us in our exile. “And despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not be revolted by them nor will I reject them” (Vayikra 26:44). So while it may be true that we go to the sukkah in order to be in exile, we can still simultaneously recall the Clouds of Providence that accompany us. For this we rejoice.

Shaya Winiarz

J Street’s Blindness, Mohammed’s Dream and Israel’s Nightmare

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

The New York Times reported on Monday that the group called the American Studies Association (of almost 5000 members), approved a boycott resolution against Israel, by a 2-to-1 margin in an online balloting that concluded Sunday night, with about a quarter of the members voting (1,252).

The statement cited “Israel’s violations of international law and U.N. resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights,” and other factors.

The American Studies Association has never before called for an academic boycott of any nation’s universities, said Curtis Marez, the group’s president and an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, San Diego. He did not dispute that many nations, including many of Israel’s neighbors, are generally judged to have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s, or comparable, but he said, “one has to start somewhere.” This is only one example in a large and growing campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

We live in a world where a people returning to it’s ancestral home is accused of occupation, and redemption has become colonialism. It’s a world in which discourse no longer exists, where tweeting and the dissemination of snippets of information dictate the course of events. We must rise above the elegant slogans of the left, and develop what Bertrand Russell called “immunity to eloquence.”

“Propaganda must not investigate the truth… and… present only that aspect of the truth which is favorable to its own side… The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward… Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”

This quote is from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Slogans such as Occupation, and Land for Peace, advanced by the Muslim delegitimization campaign against Israel, groups like the ASA, and a hodgepodge of other left wing anti-Zionist and Antisemitic organizations, which appeal to a deep rooted and innate sense of justice, have become an integral part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was created in 1964, and was one of many national liberation movements of that era. In its 1968 charter, the Palestine National Council (PNC) resolved that; Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; The Palestinian identity is a genuine, essential, and inherent characteristic; Zionism is a political movement organically associated with international imperialism. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Muslims have assimilated the principles of Nazi propaganda so well that today this perversity of reality is universally accepted, even by so called academics. They are even embraced and disseminated by the George Soros’ supported J Street, and other left wing American Jewish groups who are blind to he reality of the Middle East.

The land of Israel was first conquered by Joshua around 1200 BCE. The peoples who inhabited the land at the time are long extinct. Ever since then, the history of the People of Israel is a story of the victories, defeats, exiles, and redemption. The first wave of the Muslim conquests of the Land of Israel ushered in 465 years of nonstop war. Jerusalem fell in 638 after a long siege, Ashkelon fell in 644, while Caesarea endured a siege that lasted, off and on, for 7 years, and it was the last to fall. The Muslim Conquests that began at the start of the seventh century continued in waves until the creation of the State of Israel, which put an end to the repeated penetrations by Muslim invaders. The Muslim occupation of the land of Israel has been the longest continuous imperialistic and colonialist conquest in the history of mankind.

Igal Zuravicky MD FACC

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/j-streets-blindness-mohammeds-dream-and-israels-nightmare/2013/12/18/

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