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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘kahana’

Pesach and Solidarity

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In Festival of Freedom, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik observes about our liberation from Egypt:

A group cannot be called am [nation] if there is no solidarity. Am is indicative of a readiness to share, a sense of compassion. The Jews were taken out of Egypt and were freed not because of their spiritual grandeur, but simply because they were charitable to one another; there was a feeling of solidarity among them.

Rabbi Soloveitchik goes on to state about solidarity in relation to the Holocaust:

If in the 1940s we had responded to the call for help that came across the ocean from the ghettos in Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic lands, we might have saved hundreds of thousands of Jews. We did not respond to that call. I thought at the time that the Jewish community was falling apart, that there was no sense of solidarity, of being together, of suffering together. It was a terrible crime on our part…and we have not purged ourselves from the great crime we committed, tolerating the destruction of six million Jews.

As Pesach nears, these words should set our consciences aflame. Today, some of the world’s most inspirational Jews suffer continual persecution and brutality. Masked troops destroy their communities under cover of darkness and jail their children without due process, traumatizing families and empowering the enemies of Am Yisrael.

These crimes occur not under the flag of nations like Egypt or Russia, but under the flag of Israel.

We should know the name Akiva Hacohen. After this patriot warned Jews in Yehuda and Shomron about planned demolitions of homes, in August 2011 the state expelled him from his home in Yitzhar. Akiva was then jailed for espionage in January 2012.

Subsequently “released” to a house arrest with 24-hour monitoring that in effect also put his family under house arrest, the state further prohibited Akiva from using communication such as a cellular phone and the internet. “All we wanted to do was to guard the Land of Israel,” his wife Ayelet stated. “Unfortunately, this is an anti-Zionist state which abuses Jews who love the Land of Israel.”

Ayelet’s reference to “an anti-Zionist state” is a key point. Zionism means defending Jews and building Eretz Yisrael. People who hurt Jews and surrender Israel to Islamist neo-Nazis are not Zionists, no matter how fluent their Hebrew is.

We should know the names of the bulldozed Torah communities Akiva and Ayelet tried to defend—names like Mitzpe Avichai and Ma’oz Esther and Oz Zion and Ramat Migron.

Where is our solidarity for these oppressed brothers and sisters? Where are the manifestations of collective outrage?

It takes little if any moral courage to say that dead fascists and perpetrators of rocket attacks from Gaza are evil. It is another matter to confront brutality against Jews that is perpetrated by Jews. Denouncing Hitler and Hamas while ignoring Jewish enemies is outrage on the cheap.

In fact, all too often the attitude of Jews in the dati leumi (national religious) camp toward these matters is one of coarseness and evasion. “Now that it’s done, it’s done,” a dati leumi commentator said about the Shalit deal soon after it took place. Another commentator likewise reduced Gush Katif’s destruction to having been “a bad policy.” (I suppose then that England’s expulsion of Jews in 1290 was merely a bad policy.) These statements bring to mind what Rabbi Meir Kahane wrote regarding Mishlei 17:15 and 24:24-25:

[T]hose who fail to rebuke, aid and encourage the wicked to continue, and through their silence or their very timid, tepid and ‘mild’ criticism that fails to stamp the deeds as evil and as wrong, they are in effect labeling them as decent and as acceptable, thus erasing the line between good and evil.

This Pesach, let us take to heart Rabbi Soloveitchik’s words about what solidarity means for Am Yisrael and act accordingly.

Haredim, Wake Up and Toughen Up

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

When Jews are attacked in broad daylight in the world’s holiest city, something is horrifically wrong in Israel. Rashi, for example, comments on Yechezkel 39:7 that “Israel’s degradation is a profanation of His Name.” Such a Chilul HaShem recently occurred in Yerushalayim when Arab youths hurled snowballs at two Haredi Jews’ faces and mocked them.

Police who excel at arresting young Jewish women and elderly rabbis were nowhere to be found in this case. If the dereliction of the police is sickening—and that dereliction is ongoing in Yerushalayim and Lod and elsewhere—then sickening too was the defenseless reaction of the victims. The video of the snowball attack brought to mind these verses from Chaim Nachman Bialik’s poem “In the City of Slaughter,” about the 1903 Kishinev pogrom:

…the heirs Of Hasmoneans lay, with trembling knees, Concealed and cowering—the sons of the Maccabees! The seed of saints, the scions of the lions! In December, another group of Arabs in Yerushalayim attacked a Haredi yeshiva student. Before that, thugs in Ashdod beat a Haredi man on Shabbat. This aggression dovetails with a vicious media and political culture which has demonized Haredim in ways that look modeled on the Nazis. Likewise, inciting murder against other religious Jews results in no prosecution, whereas condemning an IDF officer for supporting the destruction of Gush Katif in 2005 results in conviction for “insulting a public servant.”

Haredim need to wake up to these realities and toughen up. As Rav Kook zt”l wrote in Orot:

Israel’s physical restoration is of cardinal importance. Our spiritual emphasis ignored the sanctity of the body, physical health and vigor. Let us remember that the Jew possesses a Divine body no less than a Divine spirit…Our regeneration entails a synthesis of the spiritual and physical, vibrant flesh and blood, sturdy organs and a glowing spirit sustained by firm muscles. The problem is that Haredim remain in Galut when it comes to this restoration. Rabbi David Bar-Hayim notes in this vein, “It’s possible to physically be in Eretz Yisrael but spiritually, psychologically, to be elsewhere. You don’t have to look very hard to understand what I’m referring to.” (See 57:15 here.) It’s urgent that Haredim begin to develop physical strength and preparedness in the tradition of Chushim ben Dan, Yehoshua, Shimshon, David HaMelech, and the Hashmonaim. There is nothing noble and everything disgraceful about being victimized in the same land where these great Jews of action lived.

In terms of specific forms of preparedness, self-protection through firearms is a very remote option for Haredim due to Israel’s highly restrictive gun ownership policies, which extends to the life-endangering disarmament of Jews. (Meanwhile, there are enormous amounts of illegal weapons among the Arab population.) Nevertheless, available means of self-protection and training should be utilized immediately. What Rabbi Meir Kahane Hy”d wrote in 1971 to an American audience in Never Again! has all too much relevance to Israel today:

The Jew, with his persistent image of weakness, unwillingness and inability to fight back is   open to constant physical attacks on the part of non-Jews. A youngster wearing a skull cap and returning from a yeshiva is fair game. Jews walking in a park or playing ball in a playground are open to attacks. Such things must be met in the one way that is most effective—a feeling on the part of the attacker that he stands an excellent chance of being severely beaten himself. Jews must be taught to defend themselves physically. This is the surest deterrent to attacks upon them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/guest-blog/chareidim-wake-up-and-toughen-up/2013/01/15/

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