Sunday, 24 April 2016

Why G-d initially give the Land of Israel to the Canaanite nations

On the very first verse of the Torah the commentator Rashi writes as follows: ‘Rabbi Yitzchak said: In truth, the Torah should have opened with the first commandment given to the Jewish people of the month of Nissan - the first month of the year with the festival of Passover’; why then does the Torah open with the account of Creation? 

Rabbi Yitzchak responds: ‘G-d wished to inform His people that it was His power which brought about Creation, and therefore His prerogative to pass on to the Jewish people the inheritance of nations. That should there come a time when the nations will accuse the Jewish people ‘you are thieves, you conquered the land of the Seven [Canaanite] nations’, they will respond: ‘the entire world belongs to the Holy One blessed be He; it was He would created it and He who initially gave the Land to whom He saw fit; by His Will did He give it to them and by His Will did He take it from them and gave it to us’.  

Canaanite archeological remains
Here there arises a powerful question both for a five year old and an adult. Torah is written with absolute precision; regardless, the entire order of Torah was altered to give the Jewish people a response to a demand made by the nations. Why was there a need to alter the order of Torah? Would it not have been much simpler had G-d in the first instance given the Land of Israel to the People of Israel; then there would be no arguments posed by the nations, and no need to alter the order of Torah. 

The truth is that one cannot ask of G-d questions. However, just as matters recorded in Torah are open to be understood, this question also can be understood without having to resort to a blanket response that this is ‘a Decree from above’. 

The earth should not turn into a wasteland overrun by beasts of the field.

By way of explanation:  G-d says in the Torah: ‘I will not banish [the resident nations] in the course of just one single year lest the earth become a wasteland and beasts of the field overrun you; rather, I will banish them step by step. 

Had G-d given the Land of Israel to Abraham our forefather there would be just one Jew living in the entire Land. The Land would turn into a wasteland of wild animals. Similarly had G-d waited and given the Land to Jacob when there were just 70 souls. Even when the Jewish nation of six hundred thousand souls [in addition to women and children] entered the Land, there was still the need to banish the nations there step by step because even with this great number the beasts of the field would overrun them. 

G-d did not want the land to be infested with snakes, poisonous reptiles and scorpions, over a period of thousands of years up until the nation of Israel would enter the land]. Therefore did He give the Land initially to the nations; by His divine Will did He give it to them and take it from them and give it to us.   

Upon entry the Jewish people would have readymade homes and properties.

Furthermore, in the book of Deuteronomy G-d says that when they will enter the Land of Israel they will find ‘great beautiful cities not built by you, houses filled with all good not filled by you, excavated water-wells not excavate by you, vineyards and olive groves not planted by you’.  Not only would it be ‘a good and broad land’ in potential, but immediately upon entry there would be houses filled with all good, excavated water-wells and more - left by the nations! Therefore was it necessary to give the Land previously to the seven nations that the land be replete with all good for the Jewish people. 

The accusation that the Jewish people are armed robbers falls away given that the land was given to them by G-d; however, the houses full of good and excavated water wells were given to those nations; so, how could we have taken these from the nations? Every intelligent person knows that when one lives in a house belonging to another, one pays rent. Since it was G-d who created the world and the Land of Israel, He being the world owner, he gave permission to nations to dwell therein. When one calculates the rental accumulated amount due by the seven nations dwelling in G-d’s home for hundreds of years, it is understood that the value of houses filled with all good and water-wells is no more than a fraction of payment due. It would not be worth their while claiming that Jewish people took their homes, because a huge outstanding debt would remain. 

We have an example of this recounted by the Talmud, that Egyptians at a later date came and argued that [at the time of the Exodus] the Jewish people left Egypt with vast amounts of silver and gold; the representative of the Jewish people Gvihah ben Pesisah responded that the Jewish people had worked - been enslaved - for 430 years without pay. A simple calculation exposes that the value of those silver and golden vessels would not cover those outstanding wages. The Talmud continues to relate that when the Egyptians heard his response, they left behind silver and gold and ran away! 

If only the Jewish people at this time would have the strength to respond to the world nations with this legal decision of Torah [in which they also believe]. Then, not only would there be no pressure, but to the contrary, they [the Arabs] would run away from the territories as did their ancestors! Until this time they [the government] has not responded in this way for an assortment of illicit reasons.   
                                                                    Public talk Motzoi Shabbat Bereshis 1979

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Rebbe's letter to Ariel Sharon re miracle performed by G-d during Yom Kippur War

The Rebbe's Letter:
By the Grace of G-d,
16 Cheshvan, 5734 [November 11,1973]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and blessing:...

Here I wish to refer to one point in your latest letter, where you wrote about the difference between the Six Day War and the so-called Yom Kippur War, in that G-d’s miracles were more obvious in the Six Day War, etc.

As a matter of fact, there were ample miracles, and quite obvious ones, in the last war. The overall miracle, which has now been revealed although not overly publicized, is the survival after the first few days of the war, when even Washington was seriously concerned whether the Israeli army could halt the tremendous onslaught of the first attack. Slowly details are now being revealed also in the Israeli press as to how serious was the danger in those early days of the war.

The greatest miracle was that the Egyptians stopped their invasion for no good reason only a few miles east of the Canal. The obvious military strategy would have been to leave a few fortified positions in the rear, and with the huge army of 100,000 men armed to the teeth, to march forward into Sinai, where at that point in time there was no organized defense of any military consequence. This is something that cannot be explained in the natural order of things, except as it is written: 'The dread of the Jews fell upon them,' in the face of their intelligence reports about the complete unpreparedness of the Jews in Eretz Yisrael at that time.

There are also scores of reported miracles in various sectors of both fronts. The essential point of this whole tragic war is that it could have been prevented and, as in the case of medicine, prevention is more desirable than cure.

With blessing,

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Lubavitcher Rebbe: Israel's accelerating weakness

Ariel Sharon speaks – The Rebbe’s Concerns and letter to me.

In autumn of 1973, Israeli politicians ignored clear signs of an impending Arab attack in the run up to the “surprise” Yom Kippur Day War. King Hussein had himself landed secretly in Tel Aviv to warn Israel, but to no avail; the results were disastrous.

At the time, the Lubavitcher Rebbe in New York was very concerned with Israel’s lack of strength during the previous War of Attrition, especially when Israel decided against preemptively halting Egyptian missile maneuvers by crossing over the canal, and additionally warned of the harm that would be caused by the Bar Lev Line. 

Ariel Sharon with the Rebbe
General Sharon describes his correspondence with the Rebbe: “In the end, despite the General Headquarters recommendation, the government decided against the crossing operation. We would settle for the cease-fire and allow the missile defenses to come right up to the canal. I was quite concerned about this decision. 

It was, I believed, a dangerous display of weakness. My feelings on this subject were shared by others; I even received a long letter about it from Rabbi M. M. Schneerson, the revered Rabbi of the Lubavitcher Hassidic community. After my son’s death in 1967, Rabbi Schneerson had written me a beautiful condolence letter, and since then we had developed a warm relationship.

The Rebbe was interested and well versed in a surprising variety of subjects, and now he was deeply worried about the situation on the canal. The Bar-Lev Line he considered a disaster, an outmoded Maginot-like concept which could not be effective “in our time of jets and airmobile forces.” 

But it was the decision not to react to the missiles that had upset him even more, a sign, he thought, of accelerating Israeli weakness that could only have bad results. 

“In the beginning,” he wrote, “it was a matter of our choice. But in the end we will be forced. A year or two ago it depended on us.” But then, “the government announced to all concerned that Israel was willing to give back the ‘occupied territories.’ That was a mistake. They should have said ‘liberated territories.’ That alone exhibited weakness. Then the weakness was enhanced when it became known that the Egyptians had brought up surface-to-air missiles, and we still did not react.”Not being involved on the political side myself during that period, I was unable to judge if the decision not to oppose the missiles was unavoidable. But from a military point of view it put us at a bad disadvantage, and three years later would create devastating problems for us during the initial stage of the Yom Kippur War.

After the war, in which more than 2,500 Israeli soldiers lost their lives, the Rebbe explained in a letter that although they did not heed warnings, Israel had still experienced a massive miracle: Letter from the Rebbe above:

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Camp David and the Rebbe’s Vision

Overview: Shocking details of Camp David Agreement whereby Israel gave everything in return for nothing. The Rebbe warned that promises offered by the Arabs could well be overturned should the Egyptian leader to the agreement [President Sadat of Egypt] be assassinated – which is exactly what took place just three years later, perpetrated by Moslem extremist Jihadists. 

Agreement: Meeting on 17.9.1978 just a few days before the Rebbe’s talk. It was agreed that 1.The designation of a “Palestinian People” with legitimate demands and rights over Judea and Samaria. 2. No mention was made of any rights of the Jewish People in these areas. 3. Negotiations on the final status will begin 3 years after autonomy, not after 5 years. 4. Negotiations will be held by the Jordanians, Palestinians and Palestinian refugees returning from Arab lands ratified by a referendum in those areas. 5. Negotiations to cover border issues, that Israel retreat from Judea and Samaria after 5 years of autonomy. 6. No mention was made of existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. 7. Israel to reduce its security control of Judea and Samaria during autonomy period. 8. All Jewish communities in Sinai to be destroyed. 9. Israel will return all oil wells and airfields in Sinai. 

The Rebbe’s Talk: Spoken [18th Elul 5738] just a few days after the ill-fated subjugation of Israel to her enemies at the Camp David agreement.

Every single Jew of the Jewish nation is a master over every single inch, handbreadth, and every spot of the Land of Israel. This being the case, no one has the right to act as having exclusive ownership over the Land of Israel which is “the Eternal Inheritance of the Eternal People”. In order to merit G-d’s Promise “and I will give peace in the Land”, true peace, it is vital that the people of Israel conduct themselves in accordance with the Divine Will because it is He who is Master over the entire world and certainly over the Land of Israel where His Divinity is apparent, as alluded to by the verse “the Land to which the Eyes of G-d gaze continuously from the beginning of the year to the end of the year”. 

In addition there is the clear law that wherever Jewish people reside both within Israel or elsewhere, where there is a heathen army approaching may it be for no more that cattle fodder, it is forbidden to open space for them to enter; rather one is obliged to go forth armed and even desecrate the Shabbos to prevent inhabitants from being killed. This is certainly true of our current situation, where there is no political disagreement, that to hand over even a small parcel of land is life threatening. Military experts accept this law of Torah that it is imperative to stand strong and armed, this being the only way to prevent loss of life. 

PM Menachem Begin visits the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Furthermore, this is the only way to bring about G-d’s promise “And I will give peace unto the Land”, not a momentary or imaginary peace, but true lasting peace. This can only happen when the conduct is in accord with instructions given by the Eternal Torah, which was given to bring peace to the world. “G-d gives strength to His People, and G-d will bless His People with peace.” It will be sufficient to threaten the enemies with artillery for a short moment because they thereby will be stricken with fear; and the nations will walk in the light of G-d. At that time the destroyers and annihilators from within the Jewish Nation will no longer be amongst you.

Israel gives away everything and receives nothing in return. 

A few days ago a meeting took place at Camp David where an agreement was signed between Israel and Egypt. In spite of the fact that more than what went public was kept secret, and immediately thereafter differences of opinion arose amongst the three Israel representative signatories. That which was signed, created a document of dreadfully dangerous proportions; the surrender of everything for nothing in return. 

The sole return with which Israel comforts herself is the receipt of a verbal promise from one of whom it is questionable how long he will retain his seat of power. In addition, even whilst he retains his seat, it remains unclear if he will conduct himself as to his personal wish or the will of the “rich uncle” who pays the bills, Saudi Arabia. Also, the agreement to maintain diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt cannot be relied upon because it is known the lack of value diplomatic relations hold: randomly he recalls his diplomats and randomly he send his diplomats back. The most painful point of the matter is that Israel has factually given up areas of land which cannot be retrieved. They cannot have regrets a day later and retake the lands the next day. From the Egyptian perspective, they have given no more than a promise of peace, something which can be given today and reneged upon tomorrow. Meaning, that from the moment they have the lands in their hands they are able to change their minds. The bottom line is that Israel has received nothing in return for their surrender of terrain. With regard to guarantees given by one or another nation, the USA gave guarantees previously and did not keep their word!

And more: a signature on a document which guarantees the giving away of lands, even if theoretically, into Arab hands creates an offer of surrender of portions of the Holy Land which was given as a gift to us from G-d as an Eternal Inheritance to the Eternal People.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

On Signing away lands which belong to the Jewish People!

 Recently I received a letter from a Jew in NY. A well-meaning Jew immersed in his studies. He toiled and gathered together statements of our Sages, foolishly trying to bring proof that since these territories were conquered and an agreement signed by Jews who must never lie, he came to the conclusion it is forbidden to retract!

What do you mean, they signed a contract? The property they signed for did not belong to them! This property is the inheritance of the entire Nation of the Jewish People. Even someone possessing all qualities and good intentions has no power of attorney or permission to sell property belonging to someone else, even of a single individual, certainly not of a great number of people. How much more so, property under the ownership of men of this generation and of all past generations beginning with the Divine Promise of the Covenant whereby G-d said to Abraham our forefather “To you I have already given [this Land]”, as brought down in many Rabbinic commentators; that already from that time there was actual physical ownership! 

First they signed an agreement, and then stubbornly insist that since it is forbidden to lie, they are bound to uphold this lie whereby they took away from tens of generations of the Jewish people their possession which they ceded to others! 

Are you master to dispose of property and estates belonging to tens of previous generations and generations after you to the end of all generations?! 

Eretz Israel from Space
G-d chose Israel from amongst the Nations and Eretz Israel from amongst all lands as an everlasting inheritance! Only “through our sins were we exiled from our land, and distanced from our soil”. [Quotation from the additional prayers of the three festivals.] The emphasis of the liturgy stresses the fact that even at the time that we have been exiled from our land, it remains our land! 

Even when we are in a situation [may G-d protect us] of “our sins”, nevertheless it remains “our land”! This is ghetto mentality far from the beginning of redemption! 

Never before have Jews stood in official judgment over Hebron. Jews asking at a public forum– may G-d protect us – whether Hebron is liberated land or conquered land?! Worse still, the world stands by in silence! Here we have Jewish people publicly showing that their view is that Hebron does not belong to the Jewish People, but was conquered by mistake! The government itself recommended surrender!

The proof of this is their use of the phrase ‘they conquered the territories’ [this is how they call it]. In truth however, they are liberated territories, returned Jewish lands and borders to their rightful owners, before the eyes of all nations. Even before the advent of any international pressure, at a time when not one of the gentile nations ever dreamt that there would be discussions with Israel about giving back territories, they, the government of Israel sent emissaries on a special mission. With full intent they have chosen an observant Jew in order to make known that this recommendation is forthcoming in the name of Torah – may G-d protect us! These emissaries recommended that Israel would return to the Arabs all conquered lands of the Six-Day War. 

At that time after the open miraculous victory, not only was there no pressure from Washington to do so, but not even from the Arabs. The Arabs were overjoyed that they were not harmed and would not receive treatment which they themselves would have meted out to the Jewish people had they been the victors. It did not even enter their minds to exert pressure. It was exclusively those Jews who stubbornly took this line. To our great pain, those very same people carry the influence now also. With one difference, now they lean on the broken walking stick; why are they taking this line [of retreat]? Now, because of outside pressure! “If [asks the Rebbe] you are doing so because of pressure, why were you prepared to return land in 1967 when there was no pressure? When there were elections you should have made known that they are electing one who would not change his mind! G-d gives man the chance to repent, regardless of the fact that for 119 years 364 days his conduct was unacceptable. Should he choose to return from his path, then, not only will there be no mention of his past conduct, in fact his deliberate sins will be regarded as merits. When is this true? Only when he regrets the past, or at least he accepts upon himself good intent for the future”.

But he does the contrary. He stated explicitly ‘I have eaten [non-kosher food] and I will continue to do so! Not only does he state so but turns this into a system of thinking [of retreat] pressurizing other Jews that they accept his view. Then when they meet up with gentiles and speak with them, the gentile says to him ‘I don’t even know what pressure you say you are subject to!’ He, the gentile never even dreamt that they would recommend this to him! He, [says the gentile] was only speaking [for political reasons] this way for public consumption, and for that matter, only these last few weeks. 

There arrived here [to the USA] a representative of Israel. When he was in the capital [Washington] and newspaper reporters were not nearby, he was asked: ‘what is going on? What are you talking about? We never dreamt that you would offer to retreat despite our requests which were spoken out of political correctness!

I do not know if he will relay this upon his return to Israel, because then, he would not have fulfilled his mission, and was mistaken in his assessment.  As spoken previously, immediately after the miraculous victory performed by G-d of the Six Day War, [the government of Israel] dispatched the recommendation: ‘Take back all the territories, including Hebron and the Old City of Jerusalem.’ The Mazal was that G-d showed a another miracle in that the nations refused to take up on the offer! The reason for their refusal is because they have no choice in the matter; their conduct is commanded by the Will of G-d. A Jew has freedom of choice that is why he makes this [bad] choice. For the nations however G-d makes the choice for them. However, a Jew also is commanded to “choose life”. One who harms himself does not find punishment by the hand of man; but here he is harming a second Jew, harming all Jews, inclusive of all Jews of all generations! And nobody raises a voice of protest! 

This is the message we can learn from the day of celebration both the birthday and day of passing of the Mitteler Rebbe. Under the power of the Czarist government there were persecutions against the Jewish Faith, Torah and Jewish livelihood. Under persecution and abject poverty of the Jewish People the second Lubavitcher Rebbe raised money from Jewish people, from poor people and with this money he instructed to purchase land in the city of the Patriarchs Hebron, stating that this is his heritage. Should we find ourselves in a situation of material hardship as in the time of the Czar, regardless of his own personal inclinations, nature, education and those that stand about him in scorn, a Jew should have the strength to state openly that there is nothing to debate regarding the status of Hebron.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

How to Negotiate with the Arabs

 In the portion of Torah read this week we recount the change of ownership of the Burial Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, passing from the Canaanite family of Heth to our forefather Abraham. From this narrative we are able to elicit clear guidelines for events taking place in our time here in Israel. 

Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron, 1836
At this time the Arabs are intent to take control over the Burial Cave of our Patriarchs; we have an instruction, that in the first instance to attempt to negotiate in a peaceful manner that this location remain in our possession.

Should this approach not achieve its goal, then we must battle to retain ownership!

In this week’s Torah portion reading we have a parallel chain of events. Initially when Abraham arrived to bury his wife Sarah in the Patriarchal Cave, the family of Heth agreed that she be buried there. However they made it clear that the ownership of this location remains theirs. The Torah portion continues to tell the line taken by Abraham whereby he took over ownership both of the Cave and surrounding area, as the verse says: ‘he took possession both of the field, the burial Cave located there, and the trees of the field’.

The first line of action taken was that ‘Abraham bowed down before the citizens, the descendants of Heth’. The Midrash recounts that this was not the correct approach. The purpose of the Midrash is certainly not to recount the failings of our forefather Abraham; rather the purpose of the story is that we gain instruction, namely - that it is forbidden to conduct ourselves in this manner! It is forbidden to bow down and to fall down to the feet of a gentile in order to take possession of the Cave. To teach us - the descendants of Abraham - how we must conduct ourselves. The story continues that after bowing down Avraham said ‘I am both a stranger and permanent resident here with you’: if you are in agreement with my request then I will remain a stranger. However, should you refuse I will make use of my inherent rights and take possession by law, because it was G-d who spoke to me saying ‘to your progeny will I give this Land’. After this Ephron, the head of the family, sold the Cave to Avraham. The message for our time is as follows: when the Arabs hear from us this powerful approach, immediately will they fall in line. Why, one may ask, should we speak in such a harsh manner? Would it not be better to enter negotiations with gentle words? Rather, one is obligated to tell him, that since this Cave belonged to the first man Adam and his wife Chava [Eve], then passed on to Abraham and Sarah, then to Isaac and Rivka, then on to Yaakov and Leah, - therefore does the ownership belongs to their progeny, and not to the descendants of Chet! The Torah come to teach us that such negotiations will not bear the anticipated results! Avraham did not take this soft line of approach, knowing full well that however sweet his words - they will not have their desired effect. The only way to negotiate is to state with strength and clarity: ‘should you refuse to accept our demands - we will take our lawful possession’. When he hears this, that we are preparing to take affirmative action, placing our reliance on G-d that it was He Who gave this Land to the Jewish people - only then will he buckle under and accept 400 silver shekels by way of payment and give over the Burial Cave of the Patriarchs to the Jewish people.  
Public talk Shabbat Parshat Chaye Sarah 1969