Friday, March 03, 2006

Yahrzeit Ilan Ramon

The following was a letter I sent on February 9, 2003 to the family of Ilan Ramon

bs"d

To the Dear Family of Ilan Ramon, zt"l

This letter is one of tens of thousands to you. I hope it will bring words of comfort to you, the family of a beautiful Jew. Ilan, as a pilot, bombed the Iraqi nuclear plant thereby saving the world from a potential holocaust. We are once again on the brink of nuclear, biological and/or chemical war. Ilan's message to the Jews before his death, when analyzed, is the one that is the key to preventing another holocaust. Please read this letter before the others because action is needed. A careful analysis of events will I believe, decode Hashems message to us. Necessary action will be spelled out later in the letter.

Before Ilan's death, Ilan did many Mitzvot to sanctify G-d's name and the Torah. He showed how important the Torah was to the world and to the Jewish people by taking with him:

A miniature Sefer Torah from Auschwitz,

A credit size microfiche of the Bible from President Katzav,

He instructed the Rabbi to read from the Pasuk in Chumash (Devarim 4:33) "Has a people ever heard the voice of G-d speaking from the midst of the fire as you have heard, and survived?"

He showed how he valued the Mitzvot by:

Taking a Mezuzah,

Saying Tefilat Haderech

Keeping Kosher in flight

Asking Sheelot about keeping Shabbos and trying to observe Shabbos up in space.

Bringing a Kiddush cup for Shabbos

Saying Shma over Yerushalyim

I am sure there are many more as well.

In the analysis, I will be quoting brief quotations, with permission from "The Medrash Says" the book of Devarim pps 62-69 by Rabbi Moshe Weissman. (Rabbi Weissman has allowed brief quotations in critical articles in his copyright statement.)

Ilan's message to us comes from the portion in the Torah in the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy). This is the portion from which the verse (Devarim 4:33) requested by Ilan, is from. This Parsha (Devarim 4:25-40), is the annual morning Torah reading on the fast of the Ninth of Av. In this Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu admonishes the Jews to do Teshuvah and urges the Jews to return to Hashem amidst the tribulations of exile .

To quote from The Midrash Says:
"The greatness of Teshuva is illustrated in the time of Rabbi Elazar, R. Yehoshua and R. Gamliel when they visited Rome and the Roman Senate had just drafted a secret edict which required all Jews to be exterminated after thirty days. " One of the Roman Senators, in an act of sanctification of G-d's name prevented the tragedy from occurring by paying with his own life.

"Why did the Jews deserve such an unusual deliverance from the terrible decree of annihilation? When they heard of the edict, they did Teshuva and prayed. Thus we see the power of Teshuva."

In this portion in Devarim, Moshe foretold "When you will be in distress and all these things will come upon you at the end of days, if you return to Hashem, your G-d - He will not forsake you, nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your forefathers, which he swore to them."

We are told in the Torah that if we return to Hashem, we will be saved. The question is "how do we return to Hashem?" "Where did we go wrong?" What specifically can we do to change?

Ilan means tree. Ramon can be read as Rimon. Rimon is a pomegranate, one of the holy fruits of Israel. The seeds represent the 613 Mitzvot. Ilan recognized that for a tree to survive it needs to be connected to its roots. Ilans connection with the Torah was his attempt to connect with his roots. Though not to any fault of his own, the connection wasn't strong enough to save his life. His connection was very strong in a symbolic sense. The reason I believe that it didn't save him was because Ilan, was representing the Jewish people. His connection via Torah and Mitzvot to his roots corresponded to this particular generation's connection with its roots in Torah and Mitzvot. He consulted with Rabbinic Leaders, the President and Prime Minister of Israel. To quote Uncle Moishy, a popular childrens Jewish singer, "A family is like a tree, our roots go deep down in history, to our ancient ancestors Avraham Aveinu, throughout all the ages to me and you".

G-d has not forgotten his covenant with our forefathers, which he swore to them... But have we forgotten our part of the covenant? The covenant is to give the land of Israel to the Israelites and we in turn are obligated to keep the Torah and observe the Mitzvot. Our observance is presently on the symbolic level but we are not observant. Please read further and I will explain which Commandment specifically in the Torah we are not observing that has resulted in a weakness in connecting to our roots.

I quote from The Midrash Says. "Moshe continued to explain, 'And you should ask, 'Why does G-d treat us more strictly than the other idolatrous nations" - The answer is because of two historical events that no other nation experienced."

The first historical event is the verse Ilan asked the Rav to quote on Shabbat.

1. Matan Torah - "Ask all the peoples on earth since Creation whether anything similar was ever heard of. Did an entire nation ever become prophets and hear G-d's Voice reach them from amidst the fire, as you did at Har Sinai? Did it ever happen that an entire nation expired when they heard G-d's Voice and were then miraculously revived.

2. Yetziat Mitzrayim

I will address the historical event of Matan Torah and why Ilan specifically chose this verse. Ilan was an astronaut. His journey into space gave him first hand knowledge of the vastness of the heavens and of G-d's universe. He saw how fabulous and immense his journey to the heights was from Man's perspective while at the same time he recognized as a believing Jew, how miniscule it must appear from G-d's perspective, G-d is the master of the earth, the heavens and the stars. If Man's journey was so great up to the heavens, imagine G-d's journey so to speak, descending down to earth, on the lowly mountain of Har Sinal in order to present His revelation the Torah, to the Jewish people. Also in last weeks Parsha Teruma, we see that G-d, so to speak, constricts Himself to a finite space between the Cherubim in the Holy Ark.

"Why did G-d distinguish you from all the nations? It was in order to show you that Hashem is the ruler, there is none beside him." That realization was voiced by Ilan when he said the Sh'ma over Jerusalem.

Turn Pain into Action, Tragedy into Growth

Ilan talks about the revelation at Har Sinai. There is another Parsha in the Torah in the book of Leviticus Chapter 25 called Behar. Behar means "On the Mountain". The Parsha begins with the verse "Hashem spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai saying". The Torah then continues to talk about the commandment of Shemittah, the Sabbatical year. Rashi in his commentary on the words "On Mount Sinai" asks "What is the connection between Shmittah and Mount Sinai? The reference teaches that not only the broad outlines, but the details of all the commandments were given at Sinai - as were those of Shemittah. "

Now I will answer to the question above. Which commandment are we not observing properly today? I believe that performance of the Mitzva of Shemittah as specified in the Torah, is the answer. It is the key to our survival. It is the Mitzva where we proclaim that G-d is the ruler over the Land of Israel and the entire earth.

Please read the following letter to the Rabbis of our generation. Also please read the mentioned articles in the Torah Section of Arutz7 for a more thorough discussion about the Sabbatical year.

It is now the end of the 6th millennium. Most believe that it is the time of redemption, the end of days. Ilan ventured into unexplored territory in outer space. There is also unexplored territory here on earth. This unexplored territory is in the realm of politics and economics. It is the politics of setting up a State in Israel based on the laws of the Torah and all its ramifications. As you will see from the articles about Shemittah, trying to observe the laws of Shemittah, including leaving the land fallow and not planting trees in the Sabbatical year and not having to repay back loans results in an upheaval of the political and economic systems of our generation. Please raise consciousness and set up a Think Tank and fund in Ilan's memory. Call it "Ilan Rimon". Let's collectively study the laws of the Sabbatical year as specified in the Torah. Let's examine its political, social and economic ramifications. That is our way of Teshuva. It requires our full heart and soul and belief in Hashem and His Holy Torah and His commandments. We hope and pray to Hashem that our Teshuva will be accepted. Our connection to the Torah and our roots will thereby be strengthened. Hashem, in His infinite mercy will save us from our enemies and not destroy us as He has promised.

What follows is an open letter to the Rabbanim and leaders of our generation:

Adar 1 5763

Lichvod Harabbonim, biz 120

It is not my place to address the Gedolei Torah in words of Torah. I am a woman and my primary responsibilities over the past 14 years are family and household related. Before that I did some computer programming and word processing. I ask you to please spend a few minutes of your precious time to read through these articles. The reason I offer is that there are times when the emes is hidden in unexpected places. It is a way of fooling the Satan. Is it possible that a layperson such as myself, especially a woman, has words of Torah to address to the Gedolei Hador of this generation? It does say that Torah was first given in generalities to women and then with details and halachos to the men. Therefore it is conceivable that perhaps there is significance and something new to what I have to offer. Please do not reject it before you have read further. I pray to Hashem that the emes in these words will be recognized as being emes from Hashem and His Holy Torah and not mere foolishness of a female. I am simply the vehicle through which these words are delivered. I do not Chas Veshalom wish to in any way denigrate the role of Rabbanim and Torah Shebaal Peh. Torah and Halacha is what makes a marriage. It is the Torah Shebichtav part that I am addressing and the Halacha is left to you.

The purpose of this letter is to talk about Shmita. We have been told that 70 years of the Churban correspond with 70 years of not keeping Shmitta properly. Why bring it up now? I believe with my heart and soul that if we would keep Shmitta as the Torah specified, it is the key to Moshiach. I believe that the recent events on Shabbos Kodesh, of the space shuttle disintegrating over Palestine, Texas with 7 crewmembers on board as well as a Sefer Torah is not coincidental. Is it Hashem's way of warning us and foreshadowing future events if we don't keep the Torah.

It made us proud as Jews to see the Torah up in space. If we think about it however, The Torah is not meant for space. Lo Bashamayim hi. Shabbos can not be kept in space. Neither can Mitzvot Teluyot Baaretz.

You may argue that Jews in Eretz Yisroel are keeping Shmitta. They are keeping it with Takanot Rabbanim of Pruzbul and Heter Mechira. I, as a single girl, in search of the truth of Torah tried to understand what the Torah expected of us. How can I loan my money to someone in need and not expect to get it back. There are things that I too need. Do I dare ask for a loan knowing that I don't have to pay it back. Of course I would, if I could. Who wouldn't? What I realized was that this kind of economy was similar to Socialism. Here I was, a simple girl merely trying to keep the Mitzva, which resulted in trying to live with a breakdown of accepted economics, the economic system I was familiar with and treasured. I realized then that I was onto something revolutionary. Does Hashem want us to live in a capitalist society for 6 years and a socialist society for the Shmitta year. It was so new and scary. This happened in Shmita year 5747 when I was living in Kiryat Arba. That Shmitta year was an experiment for me. I was in no way trying to dictate the right way to live but simply trying to adhere to the laws of the Torah. Why not make life easy and adhere to Pruzbul? Pruzbul was a product of the Galus. It was because our emunah was weak that Pruzbul was instituted. With childlike Emunah, we need to believe and follow Hashem's word. We will see the blessings for sure. Even though, I personally do not have what to show as proof of material blessings of that year, I am patient. I have gained in wisdom and Emunah and love of Hashem and His Torah and of our role and mission of Am Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel.

Please read the article posted in the Torah Section of Arutz7 entitled "Israel Does Not Own the Land" and two articles posted on January 1, 2003 entitled "Not only "In Your Blood Live" Part 1" and "Not only "In Your Blood Live" Part 2"..

Sincerely,
Robin Ticker
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