Sunday, December 05, 2010

Putting out the fire on Chanukah - Read about Eliyahu Hanavi

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The first thing that comes to mind when we think of Har HaCarmel is Eliyahu Hanavi who chastised the people of his generation for not keeping the Covenant.  My own reaction to the fire on Har HaCarmel was to be critical of our generation.   However, as I looked on the internet for links about Eliyahu Hanavi I read the following

...This connection between Pinhas and Eliyahu is reflected in the custom to prepare a special chair for Eliyahu Hanavi at every berit milah. The Midrash[15] explains this custom as the result of Eliyahu's complaints to Gd that the Jewish people have betrayed their covenant with Him. Hashem sharply scolded the prophet for his accusation: "Why must you always zealously reprimand My children? You did so in the desert and now with My entire nation during the reign of the idolatrous King Ahav and his false prophets! From now on you must be present at every berit milah to witness the faithfulness of My beloved nation and how they devotedly bring all their baby boys into My special convent!"



So let me preface my remarks by saying:, Mi KeAmcha Yisroel. Who is like you Oh Israel?"

 I am very impressed with Prime Minister Netanyahus plea for help from the Nations of the World to fight this fire.  As Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, we need not be embarrassed to  ask for help. 

Israel understands that the very act of helping one in need is a  zechut. In this regard, Netanyahu has demonstrated exemplary leadership.   it is with a  deep sense of gratification to the Almighty that the Nations of the World have responded with generosity and kindness towards Israel to help extinguish this fire.   May those that help protect Israel be blessed with G-d's protection.

This having been said, allow me to put down my thoughts.

Whether or not there was arson, one can not deny that the winds and the lack of rains fueled this fire.

Prior to this fire, the Chief Rabbis called for  fasts for rain.    At the time I heard of the fasts it was my gut reaction  that I don't believe that Hashem really wants us to fast.  All He wants from us is to speak out forcefully and act in kind, regarding our entitlement of Eretz Yisroel and proclaim  the Biblical delineated boundaries set forth in Parshat Masei. 

Does G-d even want or need our fasts or prayers before trying the basics?

Why are we fasting when perhaps all that is necessary is for the Nation of Israel to stop their willingness to negotiate away parts of Eretz Yisroel?  Can a wife have 2 legitimate husbands even in principle?  Can Eretz Yisroel be sanctified by any foreign power other than Am Yisroel?

Have we insisted to observe and keep   the commandments on the Land like Shemittah  and all the Mitzvoth Teluyot Baaretz which bring down Divine Promise of Peace and Prosperity?  Have we proclaimed our rights and entitlement to the Land of Israel and have we spoken out to those that deligitimize our existence and our rights to Eretz Yisroel and call us occupiers.  Have we stood up effectively to the President of the United States of America and his claims or do we instead appease and destroy outposts and continue the freeze on Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are the heart and soul of Eretz Yisroel. 

The Shamayim and Aretz , the Heavens and Earth are the witnesses to our Covenant with Hashem.  When we fail to keep our part of the Covenant with Hashem, the witnesses do their part by reminding us.  Perhaps this message is the fire on  Har Hacarmel,  the very  place where Eliyahu Hanavi has a showdown with those that believe in false G-ds. 

And if we fail to recognize any message sent by Hashem  then Hashem says if you will go with Me with happenstance, then I will go with you with Happenstance.   Taken from http://habayitah.blogspot.com/2010/01/eliyahu-hanavi-part-ii.html

Eliyahu's Job


What is the purpose behind Eliyahu's arrival? What role will he fill in the redemptive process?


Firstly[5], Eliyahu will come to announce to the world the news of Mashiah's imminent arrival and the dawn of a new chapter in the existence of mankind – "The Messianic Era." Secondly[6], he will guide the Jewish Nation toward complete repentance and prepare them for the final redemption. Lastly[7], Eliyahu will bring back the special anointing oil for the anointing of Mashiah and the purifying waters of the parah adumah (red heifer) needed to purify the nation.


Our sages[8] explain the intent of why specifically Eliyahu was chosen to announce Mashiah's arrival as Eliyahu was transformed into an angel and ascended to heaven alive, he is the only one on hand throughout the generations, with the ability to appear at any given moment should the need arise. Now that he has this mission, he will ensure that Mashiah does arrive for the Jewish Nation so that he can complete his task. The Midrash notes[9] that on five occasions in the Tanach, the name "Eliyahu" is spelled in an unusual fashion, without the letter vav. Correspondingly, the Midrash observes, we find the name "Yaakov" spelled with an extra vav five times in Tanach. The Midrash explains that Yaakov Avinu took the letter from Eliyahu as a security that he will fulfill his difficult mission to ensure that his children will be worthy of redemption in the end of days. Thus, Malachi's promise that Eliyahu will come to us essentially promises that Eliyahu will fulfill his mission of preparing us for the final redemption. (Interestingly enough, Yaakov specifically took the letter vav, which has the numerical value of six, alluding to the guarantee that Eliyahu will come to facilitate the redemption by the Hebrew year six thousand.[10])


Who is Eliyahu Hanavi?


The book of Melachim relates numerous incidents involving the prophet Eliyahu and the miracles he performed, yet it provides virtually no information about his personal life and background. We are told only that he originated from the town of Toshav and resided in the city of Gilad. He lived and prophesied during the reign of King Ahav and his son King Ahazyahu, who ruled over the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the middle of the First Temple era. We also read that he ascended alive to heaven in a fiery chariot, elevated to the level of the angels.[11] However, nothing else about his life or origins is recorded.


The most famous and commonly accepted view identifies Eliyahu as the righteous zealot Pinhas[12], the grandson of Aharon Hakohen, who lived during the Jewish people's travels in the desert and entered the Land of Israel. Gd rewarded Pinhas with everlasting longevity when he risked his life to kill Zimri, prince of the tribe of Shimon, in defense of Hashem's honor, thereby rescuing the Jewish Nation from further spiritual deterioration and poosible destruction.[13] Indeed, Pinhas is mentioned on several occasions in the books of the Prophets, even during the times of King David – over four hundred years after the incident of Zimri![14] According to this view, Pinhas spent an extended period in seclusion and reappeared approximately 150 years later under the name Eliyahu. His life, then, spanned a period of 12 generations!

This connection between Pinhas and Eliyahu is reflected in the custom to prepare a special chair for Eliyahu Hanavi at every berit milah. The Midrash[15] explains this custom as the result of Eliyahu's complaints to Gd that the Jewish people have betrayed their covenant with Him. Hashem sharply scolded the prophet for his accusation: "Why must you always zealously reprimand My children? You did so in the desert and now with My entire nation during the reign of the idolatrous King Ahav and his false prophets! From now on you must be present at every berit milah to witness the faithfulness of My beloved nation and how they devotedly bring all their baby boys into My special convent!"


Others[16], however, believe that Eliyahu and Pinhas were actually two different people, but they possessed the same neshama (soul). Their shared soul accounts for their similar character traits and the similar acts of heroism which they performed.


Eliyahu's Greatness


The Book of Melachim describes in detail numerous miracles which Hashem performed at the hands of Eliyahu Hanavi. In response to King Ahav's idolatry, Eliyahu declared the withholding of all rain for three years. He also conducted tehiyat hametim (resurrection of the dead) to the only child of a grieving widow, and brought a heavenly fire which consumed the offering he prepared on Mount Carmel in full view of King Ahav and his constituents. On another occasion, an angel provided Eliyahu with "spiritual" bread and water which enabled him to travel for forty consecutive days through the desert without any other food or drink.


Our sages express particular reverence for Eliyahu, calling him "the prince of the prophets" and second only to his master and teacher, Moshe Rabbenu, who was the greatest of all prophets.[17] He beheld prophetic visions with a high level of clarity and while awake and in full control of his senses – similar to the prophecies of Moshe Rabbenu.[18] A number of commentators also note that Eliyahu was the source of much of the prophecy that was present in his time. The intense divine spirit which constantly rested upon him was channeled to other prophets, enabling them to receive prophecy. When Eliyahu ascended to heaven, much of the prophecy of his time was lost.


Throughout the Ages


One of the highest praises that can be said about a saddik is that he learned or received advice from Eliyahu Hanavi. Our sages explain that since Eliyahu never physically died, he can return to this world. Hashem therefore frequently sends him to help the Jewish people when the need arises. In fact, the Zohar writes that all the miracles performed in the world are brought about through Eliyahu Hanavi.[19]


Over the course of Jewish history, thousands of instances have been recorded where Eliyahu has appeared and saved the Jewish Nation from calamity. It would be no exaggeration to say that our nation owes its very survival to this extraordinary prophet who has appeared countless times to rescue Gd's people.


May we all be privileged to behold his shining countenance as he comes to herald Mashiah's arrival and the end of all our suffering, speedily and in our days, Amen.


to be continued

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5. One's Ability to Sense His Spirituality (Bechukosai)

The Torah tells us in the tochachah that if the Jewish people fail spiritually, multiple curses will come upon them. The Torah repeats a number of times the expression "If you behave casually (keri) with Me (Hashem)." To what is the Torah referring when it mentions "casualness"? Rashi cites Chazal who explain that the term keri is referring to the casual manner in which the Jewish people engage in mitzvos. The Jew's involvement and performance of mitzvos is not continuous but rather by convenience. Thus, the Torah is telling us that if Jewish people's commitment in mitzvos is only a matter of convenience, then the curses will come upon them (G-d forbid).

Other commentators explain the term keri to mean "incidental"- attributing one's unusual difficulties to happenstance rather than recognizing their true cause. When a Jew falters spiritually, G-d brings upon him difficulties to cause him to realize that he has faltered. If one attributes his problems to the "peaks and valleys of life" then in essence he is rejecting G-d's communication to him. The Torah tells us that if one assumes this perspective regarding his difficulties, Hashem will bring upon him even greater difficulties until he is forced to realize that there are issues that must be corrected.

When one becomes ill, one attempts to understand the cause of his illness. However when one experiences unusual difficulties in life, one does not approach the problem in a similar manner. Why would one attribute his situation to mere happenstance? When people fall on hard times, it is typical that they attribute their difficulties to "market conditions" or "the reality of life." The reason a Jew does not put his difficulties in the proper perspective is because he lacks the sensitivity necessary to enable him to appreciate their cause. The cause of this insensitivity is due to "casual" involvement in the performance of mitzvos. It is only when one is committed and engages in Torah Judaism in a serious way (which causes a spiritual consciousness) that one is able to comprehend and realize where he had failed. If one lacks the necessary sensitivity due to his "casual" involvement in the performance of mitzvos, then G-d will intensify his problems to a point that he can no longer attribute them to happenstance.

Copyright © 2003 by Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Kalatsky is the founder of the Yad Avraham Institute, a New York-based learning center whose mission is to disseminate Torah to Jews of all backgrounds and walks of life.



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Sincerely,

Robin Ticker
This email  is L'Ilui Nishmat  Yisrael ben David Aryeh ob"m (Izzy - Kaplan)  a great activist and lover of Eretz Yisroel, Am Yisroel and the Torah. Yehi Zichrono Baruch. 
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