Monday, November 23, 2009

A Call for Jerusalem

A version of this dvar torah was delivered two weeks ago:

Recently there were two articles on Jpost about why youth under age 35 are not supportive of Israel, one wishing for what we'll call a return to traditional Zionist values, and one arguing that the Israeli government is immoral and thus supporting it is unwarranted.

My opinions vary greatly from Mizrachi, but I do consider myself a strong supporter of Zion. I wish to use the last of the Sheva Dinichemta, the Haftorah of Nitzavim (Yeshaya 61:10-63:9), to demonstrate that we owe our allegiance to Israel.

62:1 For the sake of Zion I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem I will not be quiet....

The importance of Yerushalayim to us I discussed (HERE and HERE). But there is an emotional connection, not easily verbalized. It is the heart and the brain of the Jewish people.

62:6 On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen all day and all night, they will never be silent....

When the government of the State of Israel defends its citizens from bodily harm from rockets or anything else, it is only doing what it must do. (The only question might be what took them so long to do it.) We pray for our coreligionists under attack. We visit their communities to give them chizuk. And if we do not -- we have betrayed our brothers and sisters. We must not leave our watch posts, thereby endangering our brothers and sisters....

On Pasuk 63:1, the Gemara (Makkos 12a) says: Reish Lakish said: The officer of Rome will make three errors in the future, as it says, "Who is this coming from Rome, wearing stained clothes, from Batzrah." He erred that the city of refuge is Betzer, and he went to Batzrah; it only serves as a refuge for a shogeg (not on purpose) and he was meizid (on purpose); and he erred that it only is a refuge for men and he is an angel.

What argument can one make that he helps the oppressed by advocating against the genocide in Darfur when his brothers flee to bomb shelters when rockets rain on civilian areas? What good is it when a young woman is reducing her carbon emissions (like a modern incarnation of the pagan worshipers of Gaia) when her sisters are hungry, whether due to a dry winter, or to economic distress? How can you say that the Israeli government is guilty of war crimes when it takes very restrained action to guarantee the safety of its citizens? Your clothes are stained with the blood of your brothers and sisters, and yet you say 'look how hard I'm working to save some underprivileged (by my own measure) group.' Do you remember the rallies on behalf of Soviet Jewry? They were oppressed! Some chickens running around in a field you think is too small and dirty do not need your activism. Their engaging in all types of activism - except on behalf of the hundreds of thousand Israeli Jews in range of Palestinian rockets - endangers the citizens of Israel and all Jews worldwide.

Do these people think Herzl's plan for a Jewish state exists and that it is in Sudan? Who accepts Sudanese refugees - Palestinian Muslims (their co-religionists) or the Jewish State? (We also just saw the Wall Street Journal report that Israel and the US just brought more Jewish refugees from Yemen who have been hiding in their homes for the past few months from pogrom-like violence!) I think 'cognitive dissonance' is just a fancy term for saying 'I'm young and inexperienced and don't understand life, but I don't think it's right.'

When a segment of the Jewish people endangers the rest, and emboldens the enemies of the Jewish people, their punishment is very severe (see Netziv, Haamek She'eilah 142:9). At Chanukah - the fighting between Jew and Jew was worse than between Jew and Yevanim. May we find broad and deep common ground to keep us united.

The haftorah ends (63:9): בְּכָל-צָרָתָם לא (לוֹ) צָר וּמַלְאַךְ פָּנָיו הוֹשִׁיעָם בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ וּבְחֶמְלָתוֹ הוּא גְאָלָם וַיְנַטְּלֵם וַיְנַשְּׂאֵם כָּל-יְמֵי עוֹלָם.
May we merit this again very soon, amen.

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