Another Parsha guest post on ajewishisrael.com
Category Archives: Zionism
Ever since I heard about Ariel Sharon’s worsening condition last week, I’ve been contemplating what to think and feel.
On the one hand – all of the military victories he lead and orchestrated, the terrorists he killed, attacks he prevented, the dozens of Jewish settlements he was instrumental in establishing and growing, the agricultural development he oversaw and much, much more.
On the other hand – the deception of his voters and his party members, the destruction of Jewish towns, homes and families and the “hit” to Israeli deterrence.
That have been said, the moment I heard the news of his death, my dilemma was immediately resolved because I realized the following:
Which of Ariel Sharon’s actions over his lifetime of public service will last and resonate stronger, have a bigger impact on the future of the Jewish State and the Jewish people? the brilliant victories he led and orchestrated which were instrumental in securing a State of Israel to begin with, the establishment of dozens of settlements that created a new reality in Judeah and Samariah and a new relationship between The State and The Land of Israel, or the outcomes of the “disengagement” – whatever they may be? (Would the “Palestinians” hate us less, try to kill us less? not try to fire as many rockets as possible? would the Hamas and other Islamists not push their way to power?)
Sharon will be remembered as what he was – a person whose entire life was devoted to the service of Am Yisrael, to safeguarding Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael; how many of us can say the same? His contributions to the establishment and success of The State of Israel are already woven into the fabric of its existence; how many people have such merit? What he has built – cannot and will not be destroyed, what he destroyed – can and will, at one point or another, be rebuilt (see *** below).
May his memory be blessed among the many גיבורים (heroes) of Am Yisrael. Specifically Yoav Ben Tzruya and Bar Kochva come to mind, for some reason…
|Wearing Tfilin during 6 day war|
|Laying the corner stone for Elon Moreh|
|With flag and Sefarim|
|At The Kotel|
(***To be clear – I was opposed to the disengagement for many reasons and think that even if I was for it, the cruel way in which it was decided and carried out would have delegitimized it anyway, but once it has already happened I am humble enough to say that such an event – after happening – is of historical proportions and significance and, as such, will need dozens of years to truly be understood with all of its ramifications- for good or bad).
My second guest blog on AJewishIsrael.com can be seen here.
My guest blogs will have a more overt political message to them as the site is of a political nature.
Sometimes, when reading the Parsha, a political message jumps right out at you. At the end of Parashat Shmot, Moshe relays the people’s complaint to Hashem and accuses Him- “why have you done evil to this people?” i.e. from the time I came to Pharaoh… he did evil… you did not rescue your people!”
Hashem’s answer at the beginning of Parashat VaYera has an interesting effect. Moshe who, up to this point, was reluctant has no more doubts whereas the Jewish People who, originally, had no problem believing in Moshe’s mission suddenly “did not heed Moshe because of… hard work.” What changed?
The first time Hashem explains Moshe’s mission, he states the following as the reason for the redemption: “I have seen the affliction of my people… I shall rescue them… bring them to a good land…” (Shmot 3:7) But the second time, after Moshe complains about worsening conditions, Hashem clarifies, adding an important component: “I established my covenant with them (the Avot) to give them the land of Canaan… and also I heard the groan of Israel…”. Meaning, originally everyone was led to believe that the Redemption was just about salvation from hardship. That’s why the people listened so easily at first.
Now, when Hashem reveals the real goal of the Redemption – the fulfillment of a divine destiny of The Jewish People in The Land of Israel – they lose their wind, as it was too lofty a goal to grasp due to their hardships.
The message is this:
- Redemption is a mixture of both yearning for safety and a deeper call to a divine destiny
- The former (plight) will capture people’s attention and imagination more so than the latter (destiny)
- Exclusively physical salvation will “run out”, forcing an emergence of a deeper understanding of Redemption
I believe this paradigm shift holds the key to understanding practically all of Jewish History in the past 120 years, especially our struggle with the Arabs since Israel’s establishment. I leave you to draw the many, many parallels and conclusions but will sum up – “We Are Being Forced to Stop Talking Security and Start Talking Divine Destiny”! (I actually think the shift has already begun. Join in!)
This past Tuesday, the 6th day of Chanukah and the first day of Rosh Chodesh Tevet, our daughter was born. We named her עלייה חנה (Aliyah Channa).
Channa, is for both Nitza’s and my maternal grandmothers who shared that name.
Regarding the name Aliyah, it is almost self explanatory: The Hebrew word ‘Aliyah’ means ‘to ascend’ and has come to refer to the act of immigrating to Israel (though it first appears in that context already in the Mishna in Ktubot). The idea behind this term is that when one immigrates to Israel they are not merely relocating geographically, rather are ascending from a lower state of being to a higher one.
As we have done with our other children, we attempt to capture within our children’s names the state of being we are in during the period of pregnancy and birth. With Matanel – gratitude to Hashem for having a child, with Edden – the return to Jerusalem and a Shabbat birth and with Ma’oz – the grounding of having our own home in Israel.
Anyone who knows Nitza and me, knows the degree to which we are dedicated to the promotion of Aliyah as a foundational aspect of being Jewish. This has been our raison d’etre of sorts for coming to Toronto and has underscored our work here. Be it by familiarizing people with Israel with anecdotes over a Shabbat meal, encouraging trips, answering questions, Israel Guidance and actively assisting people through their Aliyah process.
That is why we called our daughter Aliyah; to express our belief in the centrality of Aliyah to being Jewish as well as to solidify our own commitment of once again ascending back home to Israel.
I’d like to share with you the words (more or less) I shared with my High school Yeshiva students immediately following the naming.
“One of my strongest childhood memories is the Chanukah I spent in the hospital when I was 9. Due to frequent tonsillitis, I was scheduled to have my tonsils removed. Unfortunately, the procedure was to to take place during Chanukah at Bikur Cholim Hospital.
I say unfortunately as doing the surgery on Chanukah would mean missing out on several Chanukah activities (and foods) but more significantly, due to the hospital itself. Bikur Cholim Hospital, located smack in downtown Jerusalem, was an small, old and outdated hospital. At the time, the hospital had only 2 wards – infants and adults.
After the surgery I was sent to the adults ward for recovery. When I woke from the anesthesia I discovered that the ‘adult ward’ was a large hall filled with 25 beds, surrounding the perimeter the room. After a few more moments of looking around the room more carefully I realized two additional facts. The first was that I was the only child in the room. The second was that I was the only Jewish patient in the room. More specifically, the only non-Arab patient in the room.
Approximately a week earlier, the first Intifada had broken out. Though I doubt I fully understood what that meant at the time, I was non the less nervous and a bit scared of the situation I found myself in; being the only child in a room filled with 20 adult, Arab, patients. Luckily, my mother was right there beside me the whole time which definitely helped.
That evening, the rest of my family came to visit and, being Chanukah, brought a Chanukiya with them. We lit the candles, sang HaNerot HaLalu and Ma’oz Tzur just like any other Chanukah night. We weren’t trying to make a spectacle of it but weren’t trying to hide what we were doing, either. Everyone in the room was looking at us, or at least it felt that way. I remember that even at the time, at the age of 9, I thought it was ‘cool’ that we were lighting Chanukah candles under those circumstances. I remember looking around the room, wondering what the Arab patients were thinking while we sang about how, throughout history we’ve defeated the enemies of the Jewish People. I remember feeling proud and defiant as though to say – ‘we’re lighting Chanukah candles and there’s nothing you can do about it!’.
In retrospect, I realize that memory encapsulates and expresses so well the unique role living in Israel plays in the life of a Jew. What is special about that night was that there was nothing special about it. It took me years to even realize it is a story worth telling. My parents are the farthest thing from the type who makes public displays of principal in order to make a point.
What was amazing about that night is that it was obvious we were going to light candles. It was obvious to us, it was obvious to the hospital staff and it was obvious to the Arab patients. Torah and Judaism are the default in Israel. You don’t have to go out of your way to feel Jewish, look Jewish, act Jewish. Judaism in Israel isn’t something that you do, separating and distinguishing you from the world that exists around you, rather, Judaism is the context within which everyone and everything already exists. It is not only the difference between being a majority and being a minority (though that is part of it as well). It is more about the difference between having all the communal mechanisms – national, municipal, cultural, etc… being framed by Jewish existence, followed by Jewish tradition and observance (even if partial).
That’s what it means to live in the land and State of Israel in this day and age. It’s the difference between being in a never ending struggle for Jewish survival and being part of the revival, rejuvenation, and flourishing of Am Yisrael and Torat Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael.
May our daughter, Aliyah, be a constant reminder to us all about what is expected of us as Jews – as well as what we we stand to gain by – ascending to Israel!”
|“I’M ALIYAH. HOW ABOUT YOU?”|