Thursday, 7 January 2016

Stand with Strength! Interview with the Gerrer Rebbe 9 Elul 1978

The Rebbe: I wish for a strong standing and determination with all matters pertaining to peace. [Liquor was brought in and the Gerrer Rebbe said: ‘LeChaim, may it be a good year. Visible and revealed good, LeChaim]. We mentioned determination [leading to] and peace. Since you are the elder of the Chassidic Rebbes in the Land of Israel, it would be worthy that you go public and publicize with determination the Jewish Law that when [an enemy army approaches] asking for no more than straw and stubble, the law demands a stand with weapons of war, and ‘there befall them fear and trepidation’. 

The Gerrer Rebbe: Yes, in fact we see that the Song [at the splitting of the sea] is written in the past tense, with the phrase ‘there befall them fear and trepidation’ in the present tense. 

The Rebbe pointed out that this can be translated / interpreted also in the future tense, meaning, the Song relates to the past, while G-d throws forth His fear in our times as well.

The Rebbe: Since there are those who are fearful and weak hearted and we need to be assured that they will not weaken the hearts of their brothers, there is a need to publicize this law, [not specifically bound up with the holiness of the Land] which is applicable to any concentration of Jewish People [even outside of Israel], even on the Shabbos to go out armed, even when they want no more than cattle fodder, because they are on the border. 

Such a public notification will have a strong effect. Now is the time! 

Firstly, we read this in the Torah this last Shabbos [Shoftim], that the Cohen, the leader or judge must strengthen the people. Secondly, this will bring a benefit that the weak hearted will not mix in. 

I once said regarding the weak hearted, surely we can do something very simple: convince them that there is nothing to be afraid of!  Yet, we see that the Torah says the opposite: ‘he must go and return to his home’. There is no time to change his mind to ensure that he will not weaken the hearts of his brothers. He can go home and do many good things at home. 

Were you to go out with the strength of Kings – the Rabbis, with all the fortitude of Jewish law, this would have its effect above, and have a responsive effect below.

The Gerrer Rebbe: ‘The Kings are the Rabbis’ is stated in the plural. The intent is not [that] just one should make such a stand. 

The Rebbe: I will make the effort to find several more. There are already more. What is needed is that one should go out with strength. You mentioned earlier that many matters connected with the fear of G-d have become easier. Efforts must be made. Everyone is in agreement that this is life threatening. 

The Gerrer Rebbe: Perhaps you should come to Eretz Israel and work on this?

The Rebbe: [With a smile]: I will put in my efforts to effect change from here, where there are also those who are fearful and weak hearted. Now is the time to do this.

The Gerrer Rebbe: We are working on this already.

The Rebbe: But only in secret. The path to peace, ‘I will give peace in the Land’ is ‘I will lead you upright’ – ‘With an upheld head’ [publicly] [Rashi]. 

My father-in-law once gave an analogy of a lantern. When this stands in the middle of the street, people and Jews gather around. When the lantern is not in the middle of the street, people don’t see, and we don’t know who agrees and who disagrees. If we know the law, it must be publicized with the strength of Kings– the Rabbis. [There will be much more than a few “tens”!]

The Gerrer Rebbe: There is the organization of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah [Council of the Torah Greats]?

The Rebbe: Until they get round to publicizing this, it will take a long time. They will make a meeting, bring a secretary, etc. and all the other good things. 

It is documented that the laws of the Beis Yosef [author of the Code of Jewish law] were decided with 200 Rabbis of great stature. So there are already 200 who believe in this.