Back to Parsha Homepage | Previous Issues
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
We have a great obligation to awaken the ancient love of Zion: a love that is eternal and burns in a flame of holy fire within the hearts of the Jewish people wherever they may be.
We must fight with all our strength against any hatred of our holy land--which has begun to affect some of us. With a mighty arm of the spirit and with the eternal holiness of the beloved land, we must destroy the contamination of the spies, a contamination which began to spread at the very point of the possible redemption.
"The word of our God will stand forever." The holiness of the land and its loveliness has never changed and will never change. All the bitter circumstances, physical and spiritual, which have affected the Holy Land will not overcome it.
Just as no physical destruction can destroy our love for the beloved land, so can no spiritual desolation reduce our holy and profound love of that land of life.
The deep connection between the soul of the Jew and Zion, with all that takes place there, stands firm forever. And the light of that love will increase seven-fold.
It will enflame every heart and exalt every spirit, sanctifying and encouraging everyone. Moadei Harayah, pp. 419-20
by Avraham Shtern
In my youth, when I was eighteen years old, I was told the following story by an old Jew, almost eighty at the time, named Reb Meir'l Lubliner. He heard the story from his grandfather, Reb Zundel Ukhaner. And his grandfather was told this story by his own father, the rav and gaon, the tzaddik, Reb Shalom, known as the old Belzer rabbi. And he in turn was told this story by his rebbe, Rabbi Yaacov Yitzchak Ish Horowitz Halevi--the rebbe of Lublin.
In the village of Kvatshinik, near Shebreshin (in the Lublin district of Poland), lived a Jew who made a living by grazing sheep. He also had one goat of his own, which he used for milk, and which grazed amidst the sheep.
Once, the goat returned for a few evenings in a row very well-fed, and of course giving more milk than usual, as well as richer.
The village Jew's son, who was very well-learned in Torah and clever, wanted to discover where the goat had grazed so well.
So he went with the flock to see where the sheep and goat were grazing. But in the middle of the day he grew drowsy. And by the time he awoke, the goat was no longer amidst the sheep. Then, when it came time to lead the sheep back home, the goat appeared and joined the sheep.
The next the morning, the son had an idea. He would take a
ball of string and tie one end of the string to his hand and the
other to the goat's foot. In that way, when the ball of string
completely unraveled, he would wake up.
He followed the string, until he came to a town populated by people whom he did not recognize. And then he learned that he was in the land of Israel! He decided to remain there. He wrote a letter to his father, telling him to do as he had done and bring the entire family to the land of Israel. The son pushed this letter into the goat's ear. On the way, the letter lodged itself more deeply into the goat's ear. By the time the goat returned, it was shaking its head constantly in its discomfort. And so the village Jew had it slaughtered. Only then did he find the letter in its ear. So the village Jew at last learned where his son was--but he could not follow him to the land of Israel.
After telling this story, the rebbe of Lublin concluded: "The son was needed in the land of Israel, but they could manage without the father."
My father-in-law, Rabbi Yisrael Tzvi Tzimmerman, shochet of Shebreshin, told me that he had been told an addition to this story by the rabbi and gaon, Rabbi Nachum Palast, the rabbi of Bilgarei. He in turn was told this in a private audience with the holy rabbi and gaon, Rabbi Yaacov Leib, the Kalever Rav, who was (a) the son of the old Neschizsher rav, (b) student of the Rebbe, Reb Boruch, and (c) father-in-law of the Trisker Maggid (author of the Magen Avraham).
When the Baal Shem Tov saw that he was not being allowed from heaven to travel to the land of Israel in the usual way, he began to seek other means. He learned by ruach hakodesh (the holy spirit) of the path close to Shebreshin. So he went there alone. There, in the ordinatzke [chaotic?] thick forests roamed a criminal, who would loose his vicious dog on travellers and then rob them. When this criminal loosed his dog on the Baal Shem Tov, the dog stood before the Baal Shem Tov on its hind legs and with its forelegs gelasket [caress?] before the Baal Shem Tov, as though he were appeasing him. The thief was astonished and threw himself on the ground before the Baal Shem Tov, believing him to be a holy man.
The Baal Shem Tov saw that the thief was holding a roll. And he realized by ruach hakodesh that this was from the fruit of the land of Israel.
The Baal Shem Tov asked the thief, "Where did you get that from?"
The thief replied, "Not far from here, in a Jewish shtetl." The Baal Shem Tov asked him, "Can you take me there?" The thief replied, "I will go first and you follow me, and you will get there right away."
On the way, they came to a stream with a plank lying over the water from one bank to the other. The thief went easily across. But when the Baal She Tov stepped on the plank, the stream turned into a great river, and the Baal Shem Tov barely escaped with his life.
Later, the Baal Shem Tov said that at the stream, the "blazing, whirling sword" (mentioned in Bereishis 3:24) had stood against him. From then on, he no longer tried to travel to the land of Israel.
The elders of Shebreshin had a tradition that in the middle of that forest was a bare spot where the snow never clung, a spot called by the neighboring peasants "Zshidavska shkala": Jewish synagogue.
They also said that on thick, old tree branches were engraved such sentences as "Here we completed our learning of Maseches Berachos; here we completed our learning of Maseches Shabbos," and so forth.
The legendary tradition tells that these engravings were made by Spanish Jews who were expelled from Spain in 5252 (1492), who had made their way to Poland, where they founded the Nine Communities--of which Shebreshin is one.
Among the exiles were great Kabbalists. In one of the deep, long caves that can be found in that forest, they made use of holy names. And they oysgeflastert [spread out?] their way with a holy name that allows one to travel instantaneously: kefitzas haderech. And so, he who is meritorious can easily come to the land of Israel through that cave.
May G-d help us live to see quickly in our days the in- gathering of the exiles of Israel to the land of Israel with the consolation of Zion and Jerusalem, amen. from Chasidishe Maysios, pp. 40-3
"The fear of Hashem is one's treasure" (Is. 33:6). Once there was a king who had many children and servants. He wished to rebuke them each individually. But he saw that they were not accepting his words. What did the king do? He wrote everything on paper and hung it in the outer couryard: an open letter that anyone could read. And an announcement came from the king: "Whoever comes to this lettter and reads it and does whatever is written in it may come and take bread and sustenance from the king."
This is what the people of Israel are like in this world and in the world to come, in regard to Torah. When a person comes to Tanach and mishnah, and learns from them to fear heaven and to carry out good deeds, they sustain him until he enters his eternal world. Tana Devei Eliyahu, chapter 14
food for thought:
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
The Talmud teaches that a scholar who has stains on his clothing is deserving of death at the hands of heaven.
The standard explanation is that his slovenly dress causes others to lose respect for Torah.
One could also say the following:
But a Torah scholar realizes that the entire universe constitutes one entity. That which is above is mirrored by that which is below. And Heaven is an immaculate state of being. To mirror that below, one must be immaculate. If this wise person allows himself to wear stained clothing, that means that he is not allowing the immaculate nature of heaven flow into this world. Furthermore, by tolerating an unkempt appearance in this world, he is implying a tinge of doubt in the immaculate nature of heaven.
And thus he is deserving of death at the hands of heaven-- for he is not bringing into this world the unity that he is obligated to foster.
All translations and original material. Copyright 1998