Thursday, January 08, 2009

BREAKING NEWS! 4 Katyusha Rockets Hit up north near Nahariya 1:24am NY time,,,Sefer Shoftim - a must read


I initially found out because I just got a call (its 1:24am NY time, 8:24AM Israel time) from my daughter in an Ulpana in Israel up north) calling from a Miklat, Bomb Shelter.

Dangers are facing us from all over.  Pro Hamas rallies in Florida and Toronto. 

Tonight my 5th grader told me that he has a Navi test on Chapters 2-4 in  Shoftim, the Book of Judges.  So I read the Little Midrash Says on the Book of Judges by Rabbi Moshe Weissman.

Let me quote passages from this book.  Parallels to our times are amazing.

Shevet Yehuda fights additional battles.  They make a grave mistake by allowing Canaanim to stay in their portion.

The men of shevet Yehuda continued fighting for their part of the land.  They also helped shevet Shimon to conquer its part of the land.

The soldiers of Yehuda captured part of Yerushalayim and destroyed the Yevusim - one of the seven nations of Eretz Canaan - Hashem had commanded. (Another part of Yerushalayim belonged to shevet Binyamin)

The army of Yehuda also conquered Aza, Ashkelon and Ekron, three cities owned by the Pelishtim near the coast.

Soon afterwords, the men of shevet Yehuda had an unpleasant surprise.  After conquering a mountain in their part of the land, they began to attack the Canaanim who lived in the valley below.  To their dismay, they discovered that those Canaanim possessed iron chariots!  In those times, iron chariots were the equivalent of modern powerful tanks or airplanes.

The men of Yehudah had no iron chariots.  They said, "It is useless for us to fight against an army that has iron chariots!  We will all, chas veshalom, be killed!"

Because the Jewish soldiers lost heart, they did not put in much effort in the fight against the Canaanim in the valley.  They merely advanced a little and then withdrew.

In reality, the men of shevet Yehuda  were lacking the proper trust in Hashem .  Had they been confident of Hashem's help, they would have won the war.

Because of this, a number of Canaanim survived and remained in shevet Yehuda's portion of the land.  This was a serious sin.  The men of shevet Yehuda transgressed Hashem's command to kill (or drive out) all the seven nations living in Eretz Canaan....

Bnai Yisrael fail to keep the mitzva of getting rid of the seven nations

Hashem commanded Bnai Yisrael in the Torah, "Do not allow any of the seven nations to remain free men in Eretz Canaan!"

The Jews had several choices:

1. To drive them out of the land. OR:
2. To use them as servants, in which case the Canaanim would pay taxes and keep the seven mitzvos of Bnai Noach: OR"
3. If the nations would not agree to either of the above choices, Bnai Yisrael had to destroy them completely.

What is the reason for this commandment?  First of all, those nations all served idols, which Hashem did not want the Jews to imitate.  Furthermore, the people of Canaan had bad midos (character traits). do you remember the wicked city of S'dom that was destroyed in Avraham's time?  The people of S'donm robbed and abused the poor. S'dom was in Eretz Canaan and the other cities of Eretz Canaan were almost as wicked.  But because they were not quite as bad as Sdom, Hashem waited another 400 years until the Jews arrived in Eretz Canaan to drive those nations our of the land.  Now their measure of sin was full and it was time to get rid of them. 

As we will see from the mext Midrash, the Canaanim were trained by their parents and grandparents to be wicked,

The Midrash tells us:
Canaan's last words to his children
Canaan was Noach's grandson (Cham's son).  Noach cursed him and his children with a curse that they would be slaves.  Before he died, Canaan gathered his children around him and told them, "I want to give you five important pieces of advice: 1. You should always love each other. 2. Try to steal as much as you can! 3. The more immorality, the better 4. Hate your masters. 5. Never tell the truth. (If your masters ever accuse you of stealing or anything else, never admit you did it)"

This became the lifestyle of the Canaanim.

We Jews are supposed to behave in exactly the opposite manner. the first point, "Love each other," sounds like a good thing to do.  But even with that Canaan had a bad intention;  "Gang up together to do bad!"

Bnei Yisrael knew that the Torah forbad them to let any of the seven nations stay in the land if those nations continued to serve idols.  But they found the mitzva of getting rid of them very hard to keep.  After Yehoshua's death, Bnai Yisrael thought, "We are sick of all these battles!  We already fought the Canaanim for seven full years in Yehoshuah's time!  What's so terrible, if some Canaanim are scattered about in the land?  It is too hard to get rid of every last Canaani!  The main thing is that we rule over them!  We can always drive them out later, if necessary.'

When the tribes of Efrayim and Menashe conquered their part of the land, they therefore allowed some non-Jews to stay.  They only forced them to pay taxes.  (This was not enough, according to the Torah.  Those nations were also required to keep the seven mitzvos of Bnai Noach.  Of course, the Canaanim did not want to do that.  So the Jews left them alone.)

When the tribes of Zevulun, Asher and Naftali conquered their property, they too, allowed many non-Jews to remain there, because they were tired of fighting so many battles.

Hashem's messenger scolds Bnai Yisrael

At that time Pinchas, the grandson of Aharon, was still alive.  He was a holy man.  He received a nevua (prophesy) from Hashem.  He gathered all of the Bnai Yisrael in order to speak to them.  While he spoke, his face glowed with the fire of the Schechina, so that he looked almost like an angel of Hashem.

These were Hashem's words which Pinchas gave over to Bnai Yisrael.

"I kept My promise to your forefathers to give you Eretz Yisrael.  I brought you out of Egypt and made a treaty with you that you would be My people forever.  Your part of the treaty is that you must keep My mitzvos. I warned you, "Do not make peace with the people who live in this land! Destroy all their objects of idol worship!".

"You have not listened to Me!  You acted foolishly by violating your treaty with Me.  Instead, you made a treaty with the nations.

"You were not serious in driving out those nations from the land.  As you wished, so shall it be! I will no longer help you drive out those nations.  But know that in the end they will harm you.  They will be like thorns that prick you, and their gods will trap you!"

But the main part of their teshuva was missing.  Bnai Yisrael should have begged Hashem to help them drive out all the Canaanim from the land.  That was even more important than offering korbanos, but they missed that point.  They named the place where they gathered "Bochim/Crying," to remember that there they had regretted their wrongdoing.  But they did not make a serious effort to correct their mistake."

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