ישיבת כרם ביבנה

Despair and the Aspirations of Am Yisrael

הרב מרדכי גרינברג
נשיא הישיבה

In the difficult situation that we find ourselves in, everyone feels the frustration and despair. We are facing a reality that we are not used to, a breaking of all myths. To many people it seems that there is no more Zionism, no more Judaism; large groups of our people are confused. We would like to look at the situation from a perspective of emunah -- what is happening and what will happen.

Every person is an egoist from the moment of birth. A baby always seeks the attention of his parents, and everyone tends to him. As he grows older, he develops a moral conscience and learns that not everything is for him. There is a family, a society, a nation, and sometimes one has to forego his personal needs for the nation's needs. Thus, every person has two pulls, and the greater his moral conscience, the more his concern for others extends.

The same is true on a national level. On the one hand, each nation seeks its own gain, yet it has to have a moral concern for mankind as whole; nationalism vs. universalism. Usually, these two tendencies conflict with one another. Nationalism interferes in the quest for universalism, and a concern for universalism inhibits nationalistic growth. For example, in Communist Russia the slogan was, "workers of the world unite." Thus, there was no nationalism. Everyone belonged to the Soviet Union. This disintegrated a few years ago, and each nation returned to its own country. At the other extreme, the German nationalism was willing to destroy great sections of man in order to strengthen its own nation. In fact, the term "Nazi" comes from the word nationalism.

In Israel, these two tendencies of nationalism and universalism go together. First, though, we must understand what our nationalism is about. We would like to examine this based on a number of passages from Rav Kook zt"l.

????? ???? ?? ???? ??? ???, ??? ??? ????? ????? ???, ??? ????? ??????? ???? ??????? ?? ????, ??? ?????? ?????? ?? ???? ????? ?? ???? ????? ... ???? ??? ????÷÷?? ?????? ??????, ????? ?? ?? ????? ????÷??? ????? ?????? ?? ?? ?? ???? ... ?? ???? ??? ???? ?? ??????, ??????? ????...

???, ????? ???? ?????, ???? ????? ??÷? ???? ?????? ??????? ??? ????? ?????. (????? ??' ÷?"?)

The very desire of being good to all, without any limitation, whether in the quantity of the beneficiaries or the quality of the good, this is the inner seed of the essence of the soul of Knesset Yisrael [Note the number of inner levels here.] ... This is the secret of the nation's aspiration for redemption, which gives it strength to live and to endure in a manner that astounds any thinker ... This good is the secret of the redemption, which must come...

 We, in other words, Knesset Yisrael, want to live for the ethical purpose of the entire existence.

We are interested in nationalism not only for our own good, but also for the entire world, for the entire Creation. A Chassidic Admor once wrote that so long as there is a worm suffering in a rock's cranny -- the redemption has not yet arrived. At the center of our nationalism stand the desire for the ultimate good for all and the understanding that we play an important role in bringing this about. An example of unlimited good is found in the following passage:

???? ????? ????? ???÷?? ????? ??? ?????, ?????? ?÷???? ?????, ???? ?? ?÷ ?????? ??? ???? ????? ????? ??? ???? ... ?? ?? ??÷?? ???? ???? ??????. ?÷ ?????, ????? ??? ????? ?? ??? ??? ?? ???? ?÷?? ?????, "??? ????? ?????", ???? ????? ?????? ??, ???? ?????÷ ????? ??????, ?????? ????? ???÷ ????. (?????)

Knesset Yisrael aspires for the perfection of the world in its fullest, for a root-level, purifying forgiveness, which comes not only from the salvation of man's soul and the improvement of his desire itself ... but rather for a complete rectification of the source of the sins ... The statute of purification ... -- "Parah adumah atones," and purifies from the defilement of death -- is rooted in the removal of death from its foundation, in raising the world from the depths of its sin.

The parah adumah purifies the contamination of death, but the Gemara expresses this with the word, "atones." What is the connection between purity and atonement? Purity is pardon from the root. Not just that the person does good, but to rectify the cause of sin. The red heifer atones for the sin of the golden calf, which is the redoing of the sin of Adam, which is the source of sin, and which brought death to the world. Thus, the parah adumah, which atones for the golden calf, the basic source of sin in world, serves as the ultimate means of purification. Thus, parah adumah serves not only to remove the defilement of the corpse, but also to atone for the source of death.

???, ??? ???? ????? ???÷?, ??? ???? ????? ?????. ????? ????? ????? ?????, ?????? ????, ??? ????? ?? ???÷ ???? ????? ?? ?? ??? ?????. ?? ?÷??? ???? ????? ????, ?? ?? ???? ???? ????÷? ?? ????? ?? ?? ?????, ?????? ??÷??. (??)

Everything, everything, needs to be perfected, everything needs to be purified. Israel's aspiration for the building of the nation, for the settlement of the Land, is the aspiration of the deep goodness, which penetrates the entire existence at its root.

Israel's aspiration to build the nation, to return to the land, is linked to its aspiration for the perfection of the entire world, not just to protect ourselves from the persecution of the gentiles. This concept stands in contrast to the Christian notion that a person confesses, the priest declares pardon and person exits reborn. No, a basic improvement from the source is required.

In Orot Hakodesh (ch.19), Rav Kook zt"l discusses four ideologies linked to four aspirations in man's spirit. The first is "????? ??? ??????" (the complete desire for bad), from which emanated the polytheistic era. The second is "????? ?????? ?? ?? ???" (the total despair of all that exists), a reference to Buddhism, which abandons all hope for this world in favor of the world to come. The third is, "???? ?????" (half-despair), a reference to Christianity, which allows the physical to succumb to evil and tries to save the inner spirituality. The fourth aspiration is, "????? ?? ???" (to save everything), the body as well as the soul, "to turn the bad into complete good." This is Israel's aspiration, to leave no evil in the world. This is the mission of Am Yisrael.

With this we return to our discussion of nationalism and universalism. Regarding us, these two tendencies do not conflict. If we understand our role properly, we must build ourselves so that we can stand in the center and perfect the world. As R. Yehuda Halevi writes in the Kuzari (2:36), "Israel among the nations is comparable to the heart among the organs. It is most susceptible of all, and healthier than all." The heart must be strong so that it can provide blood to the rest of the body. So, too, we must be strong and healthy so that we can bring health to the world. Thus, the external perspective that we want to build our nation for our own good, which seems like racism, is mistaken. If we don't build ourselves strong, we cannot influence and bring the rest of the world to its perfection.

The Zohar writes that the demonic force begins with unity and ends with division, whereas the force of holiness begins with separation and ends with unity. The nations cannot end with unity, "?????? ?? ????? ???". We must first separate from the world in order to develop ourselves -- "A nation that dwells in solitude" -- but with the ultimate goal of reconnecting to the world.

????? ??????? ?????? ?? ?????? ?? ????? ??????? ??? ??? ?????? ??????. (???? ???"? ?"? ??' ???)

The goal of the individual existence of the government of Israel and their kingdom is for the sake of the universal purpose.

Some Jews don't understand this, and the notion of a "Chosen Nation" strikes them as racism. It is hard for them to accept the concept of "??? ??????" (You have chosen us), but this is a grave mistake, because then we will be unable to fulfill our special role in the world.

???? ?????? ??? ????? ??? ?????? ????, ?????? ?????? ?? "??? ??????". ?? ?÷ ?????? ????? ??? ?????, ?????? ??????? ????? ???????? ????????, ???? ??????? ??? ?? ?????, ?"? ?? ?????? ??????? ??? ??? ??. ?? ??? ?? ??????? ?? ??? ?????? ?? ?????, ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ?????? ?? ?????, ??? ????? ?? ???? ????? ??? ÷?? ????. ?÷ ????? ????? ???? ?????? ÷???? ??????, ????? ????? ??? ???? ???????. (????? ??' ?"?)

It is a fundamental mistake for us to retract from our superiority, to avoid the recognition of "You have chosen us." Not only are we different from all the nations, different and separate with an excellent historical life, unparalleled by any nation [cf. "The Secret of the Jew," by Mark Twain], but rather we are also more elevated and much greater than any nation. [For example, our army operates on a much higher ethical code than other armies in their tremendous concern for civilian lives.] If we know our greatness -- then we know our self, but if we forget our greatness -- we forget our self, and a nation that forgets its self if certainly little and lowly.

Recently, there was a demonstration by the left to leave the territories, under the slogan, "To return to our self." This idea of returning to our self is true in principle, but we must know what our true self is!

Rav Kook zt"l explains that the root of anti-Semitism is because Am Yisrael is viewed as a "Mussar Mashgiach," telling the world how they should behave based on the Torah and Bible that it brought into the world, and the world doesn't like that.

?? ??? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?? ????? ?÷ ?????? ?????, ???? ???÷ ????? ???? ???÷?? ???. ?????? ??? ????? ??? ?÷??, ??? ??? ?÷??, ???? ??? ???? ?? ?????? ????? ?????? ?????, ????? ????? ???? ??????? ?????? ??? ??????. (????? ??' ÷?"?)

Until the time of the ultimate redemption we have bestowed upon the world only teachings of obligations; ethics and justice which emanate from the Divine Truth. However, the world does not want to accept obligations, and, if it does accept, hatred remains in the heart towards the primary advocate for the knowledge of the obligation, which does not allow the barbaric spirit to expand to its full desire.

By exterminating the Jew, the world relieves itself of this guilt. This was Hitler's philosophy, that by exterminating the Jew, man could return to his "natural," animalistic self.

??? ??? ???? ?? ??? ????? ??????, ????? ????? ????? ????? ?? ????? ?????? ????? ??????? ?????, ?? ???? ????? ????? ?? ?? ????, ??? ?????? ??? ???? ?? ???, ????? ????? ?? ??? ????? ???, ??"? ????÷ ??, ??? ??÷?? ?????? ???? ????? ?????? ???????. ??"? "????÷? ???? ????? ??? ?????? ????? ???? ??? ?????". (??)

However, when the time will come for the light of the world to be revealed, the world will recognize that we are bestowing upon the world the way of life of true pleasure, the satisfaction of life that gives it its value, without which it is void of any value ... and the beneficing source of satisfaction and pleasure is honored and cherished. Therefore, "Ten men, of all the [different] languages of the nations, will take hold ... of the corner of the garment of a Jewish man." (Zechariah 8:23)

This idea of Am Yisrael's universal role, to serve as an example and lead the world to recognition of G-d's way of life, seems applicable only to people such as Bnei Yeshiva, to those familiar with the teachings of Rav Kook. For those who are not observant -- there does not seem to be what to talk about. However, we need to understand the soul of the Jew. The Midrash, the Maharal, and the Chassidic teaching are full of discussion about the soul of the Jewish person.

???? ??? ?????, ????? ???? ?÷?????, ?????? ??? ?????? ????????, ?????? ???÷? ?? ???÷???? ?????? ??????? ?? ????? ?' ????, ??÷? ?? ??? ?', ??? ????? ???? ????? ????? ?? ?? ???? ?? ?????, ???? ?? ????? ????? ???????? ??. (????? ??' ??)

Inside the heart, in the recesses of its purity and sanctity, the "Jewish flame" grows strong, which demands with force the strong and constant connection to all of G-d's mitzvot, to pour the Divine spirit, the full, universal spirit of Israel which fills the entire hollow of the soul, into all the many containers special for it.

The Jewish soul is like a burning flame, providing no rest. It is full of ideals and motivation to do good -- mitzvot. Mitzvot are not just symbols and rituals, but rather they create worlds. Mitzvot are the containers into which to pour the Jewish soul. The soul is always seeking more, a greater connection to mitzvot, into which to pour the Divine spirit. Everyone seeks ways to express love. Some write a letter; some send flowers; some give a gift. How does the soul express its aspirations? Through mitzvot -- this is how we express our ideals. In the heart of the righteous this flame burns constantly; in the heart of the common person it burns occasionally; and even in the hearts of the wicked and the sinners it burns in their innermost self. Almost every Jew has some connection.

What is "freedom?" Freedom is if you know to live your true life. A person can appear to be "free," but, in fact, be subjugated to society and to his desires. On the other hand, a person can be a slave, or even a prisoner, but still be free if he maintains his spirit and does not allow his captors to break him. If we forget our self we are pathetic, and the nations also will not understand, because we present ourselves like everyone else.

?÷ ?????? ?? ???? ?????? ?????, ???? ???????? ?????? ???????, ??????? ??? ???? ?????? ???? ?????? ????? ???????, ?????? ?????? ???? ?????? ???? ?? ????? ???, ??? ????? ????÷ ????? ????? ??? ???? ????? ???? ????÷? ???, ??"? ?????? ??? ??????? ??? ??????? ??? ????. (?????)

Only when we will be what we are supposed to be, will the lofty quality return to humanity. Its essence (Israel) will be worthy of the spiritual light inherent in it ... and through its influence it will rise as a whole according to its own measure.

Then, all of mankind will be happy that there exists a nation that is close to G-d and can serve as the heart and teach mankind how to elevate itself. The Ohr Hachaim writes, "Fortunate is the world that has such a nation in its midst." Imagine what the world would be like if there were no Am Yisrael in it.

This is the ABC that we must know, what Am Yisrael is doing in the world. What is happening now?

???? ?????? ?????? ?? ?????, ?????? ?? ???????, ?????? ?? ??????. ???? ????? ?????? ??? ???? ??????? ???? ???? ??? ???, ???? ???? ???÷ ????? ?????? ?? ??????. (????? ?÷??? ?"? ?÷?)

We are called upon to elevate ourselves, to increase our greatness, to widen our wisdom. Through the light of life that is added in us, we add life and light in the entire existence, and the entire existence pushes us to elevate it.

The whole world tells us, "Be what you are supposed to be, do not forget your uniqueness, because otherwise we cannot be what we are supposed to be. If you try to be like us -- we will all fall!"

Why are we so depressed? Most of the causes that people point to are superficial. The truth is much deeper. Rav Kook writes that the soul sings. It is full of ideals, but wants to express them in practice. It desires a life of freedom, but doesn't find it:

?????? ?????? ??? ??? ??? ????? ?? ???? ?????, ?????? ?????? ????? ?? ?????. ??? ????÷? ?? ?? ?????? ??????? ????, ??? ???? ??? ????, ???? ??????? ???????, ?????? ???????, ???? ???? ????? ???? ???? ????÷?? ??????? ???? ????? ???. ??? ??? ??????. (???"÷ ?"? ?? ÷?"?)

This spiritual melancholy is the very material of the soul's song, the soul's demand for its freedom. It struggles with all of the pressures that constrain it. It wants a life of freedom, a noble, lofty life, clear and bright, but it doesn't find it because of the physical binds that it is imprisoned in. This is the secret of its sadness.

The soul is joyful, it is full of ideals, but it want to express them in practice. It wants greatness, but instead, we give it small little things that are insufficient for it, and don't bring it to satisfaction. Ramchal (R. Moshe Chaim Luzatto) give the metaphor of a commoner who marries a princess, who, even in his wildest attempts, is unable to provide for her properly, because she is a princess and accustomed to royal greatness. As King Shlomo writes in Mishlei, "The soul is never filled." This is our problem.

Every Jew has a great soul, which wants to express itself. What do we give it? Torah and mitzvot without explaining their greatness and how they are connected to lofty ideals. Instead, they are viewed as something archaic, even primitive, and we don't understand that they are containers for great ideals. The soul is not satiated with this.

The same is true with our problem with universalism. If we would understand the greatness of our nation and our role in the world we would have the drive to stick to our path. But if we explain our link to Eretz Yisrael as merely a homeland like any other nation -- it is insufficient for the soul. If you provide it only with secular nationalism -- for this we need to fight?! People are not willing to suffer. If there are sacrifices -- give up! It is not worth suffering for. However, if we understood the greatness of our bond with the Land -- then it is worthwhile to fight for. There is depression because we are not able to provide the soul with what it wants.

The Gemara comments that if the nations would know how much the Temple provides for them -- they would have established legions around it to protect it. However, we ourselves don't understand this.

?? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ???? ???????, ?? ?? "??? ?' ???÷??? ?????. ??? ???? ?????, ?????? ÷??? ???????." ??? ????? ??? ?????? ?? ?????, ????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ?????, ?÷??? ??? ???? ????? ?? ??÷?? ??? ????? ????÷? ????? ??????, ?? ?? ???????? ???????? ???????? ????, ?÷?? ??? ???÷? ????, ??? ????? ????-?????. (?????)

Not in chariots and not in horses is the source of our might, but rather, "in the Name of Hashem, our G-d, we call out. They slumped and fell, but we arose and were invigorated." (Tehillim 20:8-9) If our own self-awareness is superficial, then the world's awareness of our value is superficial, and the nations' understanding of our desire and of the Divine vision of our soul is lacking. Therefore, our initial attempts are squandered, which arose without deepening the foundation, without uncovering the spring of life.

There was great joy when the State of Israel was established, but without proper understanding it cannot continue. However, this despair will bring us to understand.

"?????" ?? ???????, "?????" ?? ????"÷ (????? ??.) ...

?? ??????? ???? ??? ?????? ??÷??? ??? ?' ????? ?? ??????, ?? ?? ???? ???? ?? ?????, ????? ???? ???? ?? ???? ??????? ?÷????, ????? ??????? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ????, ???? ????? ÷????? ?? ?????, ??? ????? ?? ???????, ???? ???????, ????? ??÷? ?? ?' ???÷? ?????. (???? ???"? ?"? ??' ??"?)

"The eternity" -- This refers to Yerushalayim; "and the splendor" -- this refers to the Temple. (Brachot 58a)...

We were not commanded to raise sword and battle and to call in the Name of G-d to nations that do not know Him. [We do not take the route of the Moslem Jihad and Christian Crusades to force our religion on others.] Rather, when Israel's name becomes great, and many nations will see the magnificence, the holy splendor, and the eternal peace that emanates from the splendor of these lofty ideals, in which the sanctity of Israel is inlaid -- without an encounter of conflict, and without overcoming, they will run to seek Hashem, the G-d of Israel.

We do not go out to force our ideals on the world. Ultimately will come running to us, and we will influence the nations by serving as a national example.

We don't have to bring about revolutions. Hashem plans things ahead, and the steps of redemption are preset. Rashi writes (Yeshaya 43:7), "Everything that I have created for My glory, I have fashioned and perfected in all that it needs." -- "In its time, I will hasten it." (Yeshaya 60:22) Just as a fetus develops on its own, and the mother does not have to actively bring about its growth, so, too, the path towards redemption steadily continues. Many women feel nauseous and sick in the beginning of their pregnancy, and begin to think, "Who needs it?" This is the reason they bring a korban chatat (sin-offering) after giving birth. However, the whole time, the embryo is developing and then it comes forth.

?????? ???? ?????? ????? ??????. ?? ????? ???? ????? ??????? ?? ?????, ???? ???÷?? ????? ?????, ????? ???? ??? ?÷? ????, ??? ?????, ????????? ??????? ???????? ??????? ???????, ??????? ???÷???? ?? ???? ???? ????? ??????. (????? ??' ?"?)

All activities stand in an embryonic form. The entire existence consists of souls that are chicks or eggs, and G-d's spirit hovers above them, and Mashiach is hidden in a bird's nest. This is his chamber, and the chicks develop and grow and the eggs are incubated, and come closer to the form of an active life.

Just as the birth of a child is accompanied by birth pangs, so, too, the redemption is accompanied by Messianic birth pangs. The coming of the Moshiach is like a chick in an egg; it steadily develops, and then, at the proper time, it pokes it way through the shell. The Zohar states that the Mashiach is in a "bird's nest." It is developing, and in the proper time it will go out. But we must know the plan, and not say, "Oy, what happened!" If we recognize that G-d will not abandon his plan, and we understand the process -- we can continue on despite the great pain.

Many ask, "So what do we do?" In the era of the Balfour Declaration, a student wrote to Rav Kook zt"l bemoaning the fact that he took no part in bringing it about. Rav Kook responded to him:

???? ?÷??? ?? ÷??? ??? ?? ???? ????? ?? ???? ??????, ???? ????, ?????, ????? ???? ??? ??? ???? ????? ?-? ???????, ?????? ?? ???? ??? ?' ???? ?? ??? ?' ??????? ????, ????? ???? ????? ????. ??? ??? ???? ???÷? ??÷ ???? ????? ????? ... ??? ????? ???? ????? ????÷?? ??????? ?????? ?????? ??????, ????? ???? ????, ?????? ???? ??? ??????, ????? ?? ????? ?????? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ÷???. ??? ????? ??? ????? ?÷???? ??????, ??? ??? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ?????÷ ??? ???? ????? ????? ????? ??????, ???? ????? ??????, ???????? ?? ??? ??????. (????? ????"? ?"? ??' ÷?"?)

You, my dear, if you complain, "What have I done to bring about this joyful moment?" "You have done a lot," I will answer you, "and much more than this you will do with G-d's help, through being a faithful son to G-d's nation, observing G-d's word in your way of life, in the feeling of your heart and your desires." Through this you have strengthened a portion of the nation's soul ... because of which the Divine influence will descend to be revealed in the course of history, to turn the desire of the nations, and the tendencies of the earth's king and ministers, to recognize the official right of the eternal nation to live in its holy land. If others were the agents of the declaration and the recognition -- you and all of your fellows, the people of spirit and straight and deep faith -- were, and are, the basis of the inner motivation, who give life to the nation's soul, and continue the light of its existence.

Although you were not among the political activists who brought about the declaration, your observance contributed "behind the scenes." What made this idea come in their heads? From Jews like you! You have done great things, but believe that what you have done is for Klal Yisrael. Do what you have to in the little things. Daven well, learn well, do good deeds, practice good midot. This moves thing along the predetermined plan. Since all the souls of Am Yisrael are connected, a person who davens well or learns well strengthens the entire Jewish nation.

What is the bottom line? This last idea is very important. Instead of walking around in despair, "What will be!" -- remember this principle and do what you have to. A large group will soon be going out to the army. They must know why they are fighting. Is it because of a national law that every young man must give up three years of his life for the army?! If we don't know what we discussed today, we don't know what we are fighting for, whereas the Rambam writes (Hil. Melachim 7:15), "Anyone who fights will his entire heart, without fear, and his intention is to sanctify G-d's name alone, he is guaranteed that he will not be injured, and no bad will come upon him." Those who stay in the Yeshiva and continue learning need to know this principle more than anyone.

We should each feel this little sacrifice not to leave on Rosh Chodesh, but to stay in the Yeshiva for Shabbat. And, in general, we should realize what we are doing for Klal Yisrael. This will impact Klal Yisrael, and, ultimately, also the nations to change their mind towards Am Yisrael.

 

 

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