Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Land of Your Possession on Behar 2 Rabbi David Algaze - Must Read Ohr Hachayim

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This is a second recent article by Rabbi Algaze regarding Eretz Yisroel and our obligation to go and possess it in our time.  Rabbi Algaze quotes the Ohr HaChaim "What is the role of the righteous leader of Israel?  It is awaken the hearts of his brethren in Exile and to tell them "Is it better for you to reside outside, removed from the Table of your Father, the Master of the World?"  They should be encouraging the people to return to their position as a full-fledged model nation in the world. The leaders of Israel, however, do not convey this message to their brethren. Instead, they preach to them only a spiritual message,"


My comments on the above paragraph.

Bedamayich Chayii.  In your blood shall you  live. Jewish life life is linked to blood.  If we keep the Mitzvoth it will be the blood of the Mitzvoth, Korban Pesach and Brit Milah.  Otherwise Rachmana Litzlan to awaken us, it has been the blood of suffering. 


"Im Bechukotai Teileichu.." If you will go according to my laws and precepts,   "Uveshavtem Betach Baaretz", You will dwell securely in the Land. This verse from this weeks Parsha, is in close proximity to Mitzvoth of Shemittah and Yovel,  Mitzvoth Teluyot Baaretz, commandments dependent on the Land.


We as a nation must strengthen the yearning and desire to keep these Mitzvoth that are dependent on the Land.  The fact that we do not assert our entitlement of the Land is evidence against us since if we had the yearning our religious leaders would simply say "Only we have entitlement in order to keep these commandments. The roadmap plan won't work even with a peace loving Palestinian State that shows reciprocity, since they have no obligation to observe these commandments and only we do."

If possible, please forward Rabbi Algaze's message to the OU, Young Israel, Agudath Yisroel of America and Chabad Headquarter since my emails to them are being returned as spam.  Thanks for reading and acting.



ISRAEL-THE NATION OF G-D

by Rabbi David Algaze

 

 

"If your brother becomes impoverished and sells part of his ancestral heritage his redeemer who is closest to him shall come and redeem his brother's sale. If a man will have no redeemer…his sale shall remain until the Jubilee year." (Vayikra 25:25ff)

 

This parasha deals with the decline of an individual, both financially and socially. A poor man, unable to sustain himself and his family is robbed of his dignity and enters a state of depression and despondency. The Torah in a magnificent method of social intervention and support describes the ways in which we are obligated to come to the aid of such people, with open hearts and hands, with kindness and empathy. This section is one of the most glorious pages of social planning ever written in any literature for the breadth of its program, the psychological wisdom with which it is designed and for the wisdom of its long-term economic repercussions.

 

Deterioration and failure occur not only with individuals but with societies and peoples as well. The great commentator, Rabbi Hayim ben Attar in his book "Ohr Hahayim" explains this entire passage in an allegorical manner and suggests that this parasha is a warning to the world about the preservation and health of society in general and specifically about the nation of Israel. He says "This parasha refers to a very great matter and is a great warning to the inhabitants of the universe."

 

"When your brother becomes impoverished" is a reference to G-d. When people in the lower worlds behave in an improper manner, then the influence of the upper spheres is dimmed and the current of holiness that comes from above becomes impoverished. The deprivation of a good spirit is the result of the conduct of the people in the world. This reciprocal relationship is the basis of the energy, success and the blessing in the world. A good analogy may be the case of a heart. Even when the heart may be strong and has energy to pump the blood adequately, any serious blockage can actually stop the flow and even create a greater damage. A heart attack is not the fault of the heart but the consequence of a blockage in the recipient of the blood. In a similar vein, when the recipients of G-d's blessings and spiritual power are blocking the flow, the stream itself suffers and becomes weaker. The determining factor in the spread of G-d's light in the world is the conduct of people. When we act well, we receive a strong and blessed spirit. But if we sin and stray from the right path, that spiritual power wanes. The Midrash adds, "When Israel does the will of G-d, they add energy to the Higher Power. When, however, they act against G-d's will, it is as if (kibyachol) the power of the Above is weakened.

 

The verse "he will sell his possessions" refers to the Possession of the Temple which through our sins was sold to the nations. Our sad condition today does not stem from the might or right of the nations but from Israel's sins. The enemies are holding on to our possession only because we allowed the Power to be diminished through our behavior. But this hold is transient.

 

"And the Redeemer who is close to him shall come and redeem the sale of his brother."  But here the Ohr Hahayim enters into the strongest analysis of the condition of the people of Israel as a nation. We are not merely a religion, or a spiritual movement. Israel is a nation, intended by G-d to live in a Land and to create an ideal society that will become a Light unto the Nations. Through our national life, we will exemplify the best ideas that G-d had for mankind and become the teachers of the world. Only through our assuming a national life we can become the nation that G-d had in mind when He chose us. With this point of view, the Ohr Hahayim reviews the present condition of our people.

 

We live in Exile, away from our land. Our material success has blinded us from our destiny and we choose to remain in Exile.  This verse implies that  the Redemption is in the hands of the righteous, who are close to G-d, for G-d addresses His beloved as "My brothers and friends" (achai vere'ay).  What is the role of the righteous leader of Israel?  It is awaken the hearts of his brethren in Exile and to tell them, "Is it better for you to reside outside, removed from the Table of your Father, the Master of the World?"  They should be encouraging the people to return to their position as a full-fledged model nation in the world. The leaders of Israel, however, do not convey this message to their brethren. Instead, they preach to them only a spiritual message," Just improve your deeds and G-d will redeem you." However, by doing this they are not fulfilling their role as envisioned by G-d and hence they will be called to account for their failure.  In one of Rabbi ben Attar's strongest condemnation of this disease of the leaders, he adds, "From them will G-d demand redress for the insult caused to His House." The failure to motivate Israel to go back to the Land and to renew Israel's role as G-d's Nation on Earth is an insult to G-d's House and His master plan.

 

The role of the Jewish leader is therefore not just to propagate a spiritual, abstract idea. They have an additional and primary obligation to inspire the people to return to the Land, to be near the Table of their Father, to redeem the Land from its enemies. They have a duty to develop the Plan that G-d had for them in the universe, to be "G-d's witnesses." To reduce Israel to an abstract spiritual enterprise only is to rob Israel of its national destiny and ultimately to diminish the design of G-d and His purpose. As Jeremiah asks, "Is Israel a slave?" (Jeremiah 2:14) that we should live without power, without independence and without the dignity that is associated with a nation?

 

"But the man who has no redeemer…" If the leaders fail, however, all hope is not lost. G-d will intervene in mysterious ways.  The bitterness of the Exile will increase until the Jewish people will find its way back to the Land. Rabbi Issachar Teichtal, the author of the book, Em Habanim S'mecha ,  who perished during the Holocaust, writes, "All the injuries we suffered is to awaken us to return to our Holy Land." Through the every pain inflicted upon us, G-d is bringing closer the Salvation and the realization of our national objective.

 

"But if he cannot redeem back his property…it will be released at the time of the Jubilee."  The Ohr Hahayim explains that this refers to the ultimate Redemption. When the Master sees that His subjects cannot endure any more pain, then G-d will bring the Redemption despite the merit of His children. There is a set time for the Redemption and it will surely come. There will be Redemption to the people, the House shall be redeemed and "The children shall return to their borders." (Jeremiah 31:17)

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