28 July 2017

Parshat Devarim – THE MIGHTY ONES OF ISRAEL

THE MIGHTY ONES OF ISRAEL
By Roy S. Neuberger

I think it behooves us to appreciate the world situation on the eve of Tisha B’Av

Please imagine the following: you are on a beach in a “tropical paradise,” an unspoiled panorama of clear water and blue sky. Palm trees wave in a gentle breeze. Suddenly, the water drains from the beach and seems to be sucked into the depths. As far as you can see, the ocean floor is exposed as the water suddenly disappears. Everyone stares in wonderment. They come running. No one has ever seen such a thing.

My friends, what I have described is the sign of an incoming tsunami, a wall of water which destroys everything in its path. Here is an idea of the power of this type of natural disaster. The highest wave ever recorded in history occurred in Lituya Bay, Alaska in 1958. This tsunami, triggered by a landslide which was in turn caused by an earthquake, reached a height of seventeen hundred and twenty feet in the surrounding mountains! This one wave was equal in height to the length of almost six football fields! 

“Praise Hashem, Oh Yerushalayim! Laud your G-d, Oh Tzion. For He has strengthened the bars of your gates and blesses your children in your midst. He Who makes your borders peaceful … He scatters frost like ashes; He hurls His ice like crumbs… before His cold who can stand?” (Tehillim 147) Who can stand before the Power of the Al-Mighty? “The voice of Hashem is upon the waters, the G-d of Glory thunders; Hashem is upon vast waters.” (Tehillim 29) 

Why am I telling you this? 

I heard recently from a reliable individual that eighteen families from a choshuve neighborhood in Yerushalayim are preparing right now to return to chutz l’Aretz. These dedicated bnai Torah do not want to leave, but for various reasons they cannot make it in the Holy Land. This, my friends, is the sign of a tragedy beyond understanding. I have not slept for many nights. 

The Mighty Ones of Israel are leaving the Land! 

I read recently in the Yated that a well-known “rabbi” stated “there needs to be a place for people who are not Orthodox at the Western Wall….” He was also quoted as having said, “The Conservatives and Reform are not against the Orthodox.” 

Was he sleeping during the parshios of Sefer Bamidbar? For how long will the Ribono shel Olam tolerate rebellion? “When you beget children and grandchildren … in the Land, you will grow corrupt … and do evil in the eyes of Hashem, your G-d, to anger Him.” (Dvarim 4:25; read on Tisha B’Av)

On Tisha B’Av, this day of endlessly-deep tragedy, we were forced to flee our beloved Land. We were driven into a Golus in which we are still drowning some two thousand years later. We have begun to return, but the only reason for return is to strengthen Torah.

If we don’t return for Torah, then for what do we return? 

The Mighty Ones of Israel are the warriors of the Bais Medrash. “Behold the couch of Shlomo! Sixty mighty ones round about it, of the mighty ones of Israel. All gripping the sword, learned in warfare, each with his sword on his thigh ….” (Shir Hashirim 3:7-8) 

Meam Loez says on these possukim, “In the warfare of scholarly argument in the Law of Moses, ‘all of them are gripping the sword’ … The Jewish people skillfully wield the words of the Torah. They are like valiant warriors seasoned in the skills of war....  According to the Midrash, the [passage] refers to the Kohanim and Leviim serving as watchmen in the Temple. Within this interpretation, ‘the couch of Shlomo’ means the Bais Hamikdosh … the dwelling place of the Al-mighty Sovereign.”  We say these very words every night in Krias Shema al Hamita, because these warriors of Torah protect us in the night called Golus

My friends, we are created “b’tzelem Elokim,” and we are supposed to imitate Hashem. Hashem Echad is One and His Name is One. Everything is contained within Hashem; there is nothing “outside” Hashem. We exist only as products of His will; we have no existence without His willing us to exist. 

The catalyst for Golus is sinas chinom, which is the opposite of achdus

Sinas Chinom is equivalent to the fragmentation of Am Yisroel into disparate parts which fly away from each other, each in its own direction, like those fireworks on July 4 which explode and fly in all directions, only to fizzle out in the blackness. We received the Torah at Har Sinai only because we were “k’ish echad b’lev echad… like one man with one heart.”  When we separate from each other, G-d forbid, we cannot be zoche to Torah. We need to be One. 

Sometimes I want to say “Shalom Aleichem to a Yid,” but he turns his face away. Am I not his brother? Don’t think I’m such a tsaddik, because I don’t always want to say “Shalom Aleichem,” but I know in my heart that I have to want to say “Shalom Aleichem,” and I have to answer “Aleichem Shalom” when he greets me. Yosef Hatzaddik said, “I am seeking my brothers.” (Beraishis 37:16) We have to seek our brothers. 

If we want to continue to exist, we have to imitate the Ribono shel Olam and become One. It is very difficult to speak about this, but the tsunami is coming. Soon the world as we know it will be swept by forces that are beyond our ability to comprehend. One can escape the tsunami only by running for high ground. We can survive the tsunami. The High Ground is Torah. We can fly on wings of Torah, but we can fly only if we know that we need to fly. There is no survival other than Torah. And the prerequisite for Torah is achdus. In the dark night of Golus, the warriors surround the Couch of Shlomo. 

“Let him put his mouth to the dust … there may yet be hope.” (Eichah 3:29)

*          *          *          *
Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2017 by Roy S. Neuberger

No comments: