Bila’am prophesized that, “We are a nation that dwells alone and among the nations, we will not be recognized.”
How right he was! What do I mean? Just look at the United Nations. They have condemned us more times than any other country! When will we experience this the most? In the period leading up to Moshiach. For we see that the UN is ganging up against us. In the words of Dovid HaMelech, “All the nations surround me… they encircle me…” As the Novi tells us, “I will gather the nations to Yerushalayim for war…” However, this is materializing in our times! Only liberals, leftists or irreligious Jews – who have no Torah in their life – can’t see that it’s the ‘hand’ of G-d running the show and not their own efforts.
Rashi says, “It is a law that Eisav hates Yaakov.” This is referring to Jew-hatred. Some of our brethren just don’t seem to understand that when our Creator makes a law, we can’t fight it, only obey it. For He told us, “Amongst the nations, you will not be tranquil…” Yet, there are people within our nation who ‘think’ they can eliminate Jew-hatred altogether. A certain website once wrote an article in which someone (he had a username – not real name) commented – I wrote his comment as my memory recalls it:
“If we teach our children to respect non-Jews, then Hashem, will, in turn, instill into them to have mercy on us and there will be no more assaults or stabbings etc. ever again.”
The reason we must respect non-Jews and teach our children to do the same has nothing to do with acting civilized. It’s for a higher cause: to sanctify our Creator’s Name. As the Novi informs us, “You are My servant, Yisrael, through whom I am glorified!” This means we have an awesome responsibility on our shoulders!
Yet, for him to say that Hashem will, in turn, instill into them to have mercy on us and there will be no more assaults or stabbings etc. ever again, is complete and utter nonsense! It’s like Theodore Herzl, who claimed that the establishment of a “Jewish” state would cure Jew-hatred. When Dovid HaMelech said, “Do not rely on nobles or on a human being, for he holds no salvation,” he was referring to people like “Theodore Herzl”.
Does the Torah contain a SOLUTION for Jew-hatred?
In Parshas Kedoshim, Hashem warns us, “Do not follow the traditions of the nations that I expel from before you, for they did all of these [abominations] and I was disgusted with them… I am Hashem, your G-d, Who has separated you from the peoples.”
Where else do, we find similar words “do not follow the customs of the nations”? In Achrei Mos the posuk says, “… do not perform the practices of the land of Canaan to which I bring you and do not follow their customs.”
On the words, “do not follow their customs,” Rashi says, “… Matters that are etched for them in their ways as if they were laws, such as theaters and stadiums i.e., (days set aside for) attendance at theaters or stadiums…”
The Gemara says, “Whenever it is stated in the Torah ‘do not,’ it is nothing other than a negative commandment.” Rashi is telling boys, teenagers and young adults of our nation, “Do not go to a movie theater or sports stadium.”
Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l says that one who goes to a movie theater or sports stadium does not violate, “do not follow their customs.” Yet he states the following:
“Anyone who goes to these places transgresses the prohibitions of moshav leitzim (gatherings of frivolity and unethical behavior) and bitul Torah; not only does he transgress during the time spent in those places, but he also transgresses because these activities cause him to stop learning Torah entirely… in addition, he also brings upon himself the yeitzer hara of promiscuity, as most of these things entail depraved speech and turning people towards promiscuity.” The only time one can attend a sports stadium is when Jews are renting it out for an event, like a Siyum HaShas etc.
The Gemara says that a person should never bring himself to a test, i.e. one should not place himself in circumstances in which he will be tempted to sin. In addition, the posuk says, “And you shall beware of any evil thing.” The Gemara derives from this posuk that a person should not think immoral thoughts by day and come thereby to tumah by night. Going to a movie theater involves walking through the mall. This means passing or entering certain stores that display things which are completely immodest for one to see, thereby transgressing, “…You shall guard yourself against any evil matter.”
Someone once asked Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l if he was allowed to take his children to a circus. He responded by citing the posuk in Novi which states, “Yisrael do not rejoice like the rejoicing of the nations.” In the words, he was saying to the person “no”.
Had that person asked Rav Kamenetsky the same question regarding a movie theater or sports stadium, he would have responded no as well. Today’s “circuses” are a movie theater or sports stadium in which people gather for entertainment.
Our Creator signs off, “You shall be holy for Me, for I, Hashem am holy and I have separated you from among the peoples to be Mine.”
What does this posuk sound like? Marriage! Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt”l says, “The groom gives his bride a circular ring, which has no beginning and no end. This parallels Hashem giving Klal Yisrael the Torah, which is endless. The words the groom says, ‘…הרי את מקודשת לי’ begins with the letter hei, which has the numerical value of five, alluding to the five books of the Torah – the wedding ring of the marriage between Hashem and Klal Yisrael.’”
The Even Ezra says, “I took you out of Egypt only to be your G-d; if you will not be holy I will not be your G-d. If you wish that I be your G-d, be holy.”
How does one stay holy? Rashi explains that the only way for us to be holy to Hashem is by separating ourselves from arayos.
Do we need to ask ourselves, “Are we still wearing the wedding ring that He gave us? Have we forsaken it, in exchange, to develop a relationship with the nations that surround us?”
G-d ‘knows’ very well if we are living by our ‘marriage contract’: “If you are separated from [the other peoples], see, then, you are Mine. But if not, see then, you belong to Nevuchadnetzer and his colleagues, i.e. your enemies [who exiled you from the Holy Land].”
For instance, Rav Chaim Volozhin used to say, “If Jews make themselves holy, then – as this posuk guarantees – G-d will separate us from the nations to be His. What will happen if we do not sanctify ourselves? Then the nations will separate us from their midst – for persecution and expulsion, G-d forbid!”
Dovid HaMelech says, “If only My people would heed me! If Israel would walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes and turn My hand against their tormentors!” Therefore, the Sifsei Chachamim states, “The only way it’s possible for us to achieve holiness, is by separating ourselves from the nations, with our actions. For example: wearing tzitzis, donning tefillin and doing other positive mitzvos…” The Ba’al HaTurim says, “There are seventy mitzvos in Parshas Kedoshim, reflecting the seventy nations from whom I have separated you.”
If Albert Einstein had a theory of Jew-hatred, this is what would look like:
Separation = Holiness -> Assimilation ≠ Holiness -> No Separation = Assimilation -> Assimilation = Jew-hatred -> Jew-hatred = Annihilation of our nation – Hitler = the Holocaust.
The Gemara asks, “What caused that Israel shall be scattered among the nations of the world? The friendship that [the Israelites] desired to have with them. Because the Jews desired to be friendly with the nations, G-d punished them measure for measure by scattering them throughout the world to live among those very nations.”
What’s another lesson can we derive from the Gemara?
Don’t desire friendship among non-Jews. Rather, desire to have friendship among Jews who live differently than you or Jews that you have never met in your life.
We are about to begin the three weeks. Naturally, during this time period, we think about what we are being deprived of: listening to music, getting a haircut or shaving etc. this is the work of the yeitzer hara.
Instead, let us ask ourselves, “Why did G-d destroy His abode on earth?” It was simply because we couldn’t live together under the same roof.
When parents see their children fighting with each other it literally kills them. G-d ‘felt’ the same way with us:
“The Holy One Blessed be He says to the Jewish people: My beloved children, do I lack anything that I need to ask it of you? What do I, Hashem, ask of you? Only that you love one another, honor one another and revere one another.” As Dovid HaMelech said, “Indeed, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of brothers, moreover, in unity.”
In fact, the posuk says, “And He was King over Yeshurun [Yisrael] when the leaders of the nation gathered and the tribes of Yisrael are unified. Rashi explains, “When is He King over Yeshurun? Only when the tribes of Yisrael are unified and not when they are divided into separate groups.”
Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l, brings Rashi’s words in practical terms:
“During Golus, the Jewish people are split, not only physically-geographically but also ideologically. One group does not see eye to eye with the other. This disparity exists not only in that the non-religious segment of our nation does not understand those who are religious, but even the people who keep the Torah and mitzvos are divided and subdivided many times among themselves.
However, over 150 years ago the disciples of the Vilna Gaon and the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov had made peace with each other. While both groups maintained their differences, both developed great respect and eventually a mutual love for each other.
So why should we be different today? The talmidim of our great yeshivos and kollelim who follow their Roshei HaYeshivah, and devoted Chassidim who follow their Admorim, are all united in their absolute loyalty to Hashem’s Torah. Why can’t we tell the other, ‘I am deeply convinced that my outlook is true. So are you. We honor each other’s conviction and sincerity without any yielding an inch of our own sacred territory.’”
We’ve all heard light bulb jokes. For instance, how many men does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but you have to nag him for a fortnight first.
Now, I ask you, “How many people does it take to bring the Final Redemption?” Hashem Himself answers this question:
“I searched for someone who would stand before Me and daven on behalf of Klal Yisroel, that I should not destroy them, but I did not find anyone, so therefore I will pour out My wrath against them and consume them with the flame of My fury.”
One person could have saved all of Klal Yisroel – one person could have prevented the churban. If even one person would have stood up and prayed on behalf of Klal Yisroel.
Hashem would have rescinded His decree. This is a message from Hashem which is repeated by another one of His prophets as well:
“Go in the streets of Yerushalayim… and seek in its plazas if you will find a just man if there is one who dispenses Justice and seeks emunah if you find even a lone man like this then I will forgive the whole city.”
If there would have been even one person in all of Yerushalayim who was just, Hashem would have forgiven the entire city.
Mesillas Yesharim states the following:
Now, if a person should say, “Who am I? What is my importance that I should pray about the end of the exile of Israel and about the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, etc.? Will my prayer cause the exiles to be ingathered and the redemption to sprout forth?” The Gemara responds to a person with such a mindset: Man was created as an individual: so that each person should say to himself, “For my sake, the world was created.”
The Gemara is teaching us that was worthwhile for Hashem to create the world for the sake of a single person! Thus, each individual is of inestimable importance and his prayers may indeed have a powerful impact. Moreover, in any case, it is a source of satisfaction to [Hashem], blessed be He, that His children request and pray for this. Even if their requests are not fulfilled because the appropriate time for the Redemption has not yet arrived or for whatever other reason, they have, regardless, done their [part] by praying for it and the Holy One, blessed be He, rejoices over this concern of theirs for His honor.
With Hashem’s help, let’s put our effort into becoming united as one nation, but separated from the others. In the words of Avraham Fried (http://bit.ly/2KnjX30), let’s merit to, “Bring the House down” on the fifteenth of Av!
- In memory of Shlomo Avraham Moshe ben Yechezkeil Yosef, Eliyahu ben Mordechai, Mashah Tzivyah bas R’ Shlomo Zalman, Altah Soshah Devorah bas Aryeh Leibush, Chaim ben Shmuel Efraim Zalman, Tuvyah Shlomo ben Naftali Tzvi HaKohein; Yisroel ben Yeshayah, Elisheva Basyah bas Yechiel Ephraim, Leah bas Leib Yehudah, Dovid Pinchas ben Moshe Aharon, Malka Devora Sima bas Meir Nosson, Esther Perel bas R’ Shlomo, Miriam bas Zelig Shaul, Menachem ben Shimon, Menachem ben Zev, Sarah bas HaRav Yisroel, Avraham Yosef ben Meir Dovid, Zushe Yosef ben Shmuel Tzvi, Dovid Tzvi ben Yosef Yochanan, Kayla Rus bas Bunim Tuvia, Dovid ben Uri HaLevi, Dovid Avraham ben Chiya Kehos, Yosef ben Moshe HaLevi and all the other departed souls of our nation.
- For the complete recovery of Chayah Malka bas Bas-Sheva and among the other sick ones of our nation.
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