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|< Tishrei 5782||September 2021 >|
"Ten things were created in the twilight of the Sabbath Eve". The understanding is that these things were all created at the same time, on the eve of the Sabbath, so that we human beings draw a moral concerning the sixth millennium of this last exile, which is called "eve of the Sabbath"… For the end of exile is to remain hidden until the larger part of the sixth millennium has expired, and we still remain in exile; now is the time and moment to draw the moral from these ten things, according to their time and moment… for, to our great sorrow, the greatest human deficiency during this bitter exile has been the saintly thought that the speech and action of people is, for the most part, good but they have no heart, as the verse says: "Because that people has approached (Me) with its mouth And honored Me with its lips, But has kept its heart far from Me, And its worship of Me has been A commandment of men, learned by rote".
"Come together that I may tell you what is to befall you in days to come". He (Jacob) meant to reveal the End of Days to them. He used the term "Come together" because the End of Days cannot take place so long as gratuitous hatred between you remains, and you must gather into one union…which is why it is written that "Before his death your father left this instruction". This raises a question. Where do we find this instruction? RASH"I, of blessed memory, may have written what he wrote, but what they intended was to tell him that this was our father's intention, in saying "Come together that I may tell you" that there should be no slander between us and that we should all be united as one and by everlasting love.
History calls upon us again, uniting us and atoning for its transgressions, and from the smoldering ruins of ten thousand Jewish split fragments, God commands: Make way…Israel, I never abandoned your mother, this was but a temporary divorce. I am ready for reconciliation. Come together under a single roof… Alas! The nation of God does not look to the heavens, while God, in His despair, awaits its healing by the Ingathering of the Exiles. Alas, a thousand shards remain separate, the Ingathering remains in its scattered state…narrow-minded splits and petty differences everywhere obstruct entry to the Valley of Renewal, and prevent the Divine Spirit from giving the breath of Life to a new order.
"Who is she that shines through like the dawn, Beautiful as the moon, Radiant as the sun Awesome as bannered hosts?" According to what is written in the holy Zohar, there is more to know about the mystery and order of the Redemption. In the Redemption of the future, light will not immediately shine everywhere out of the darkness. This is similar to the case of a person sitting in the darkness who would lose their sight and be blinded by looking at the sun. The thin light of dawn will be first, followed by light similar to that of the moon - which is slightly brighter than the light of dawn, followed by light such as that of the sun, which is brighter than the moon. This is what is meant by "Who is she that shines through like the dawn, Beautiful as the moon, Radiant as the sun". Then will He raise us and our banner – "Awesome as bannered hosts". This is indicated in the verse "a table for me in full view of my enemies" – that the light of our Redemption will grow and rise up high, as indicated by the word shulchan (table) the (Hebrew) initials of dawn, moon, sun, banners.
The People of Israel transgressed on the issue of charity and were exiled, for it says “The faithful city That was filled with justice…They do not judge the case of the orphan, And the widow’s cause never reaches them”. The tikun (repair) required to end the exile is, therefore, charity (tzedakah, that which is just) for it says "Observe what is right and do what is just; For soon My salvation shall come", about which it says, "Pressing forward in His great might". The might of which I speak is the charity done by Israel during the exile, for with it comes My great salvation, for it is with charity that they repaired what was distorted, and they must be redeemed from their exile.
"Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, by the houses of their fathers, by their families". I have the honor and pleasure of being a guest in the City of Settlements which has, thank God, grown to become an important city. This city holds many hopes, as reflected by its name Petach Tikva (Gateway to Hope) and many look to it with a goodly eye, full of good hopes that its population will grow more and spread to the east, west, north and south, and that it will become a major city in Israel. This includes my friends and brethren, Jews of the Orient and the saintly Sephardi community, who dwell in this city. Make an effort and be strong about this gateway, you who open the gates and upon whom high hopes, encouragement and prosperity depend. Maintain the honor, progress and reputation of the Sephardi and Oriental Jews, please. Recall those of past generations, our forefathers, who held high public positions. Among them were the greatest Torah scholars of the nation of Israel, geonim and poets, whose names were the glory of the entire House of Israel.
This verse, from this week's Reading Portion, can serve as an indication: "Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, by the houses of their fathers, by their families", those "sons of Gershon" who came from the Spanish Exile, "Take also the sum" – note the source of their origins, and be quick to reinstate the glory or the past. To those who head the community, I read this verse, "Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, by the houses of their fathers, by their families" – meaning: Appoint leaders for the community, this is no partisan matter - "by the houses of their fathers, by their families" – appointing a head for every household and a president for every tribe is the method of all our saintly communities.
It says "and I shall return" twice: "and if I return safe to my father’s house" and "and I shall return to the house of the LORD for many long years", referring to the redemption. When gratuitous hatred among us – the reason for which our holy and glorious Temple was destroyed – disappears, and we will have peace between us all, "I return safe to my father’s house". Then He will speedily redeem us entirely, and rebuild the Temple, "and I shall return to the house of the LORD for many long years".
It is so publicly known a fact that the notion of settling the Land of Israel is a great and honorable matter that the idea needs no reinforcement or evidence. Nor is this notion a new one, coming as it does from the camp of the Hebrews, having begun ages ago to throb in the hearts of the nation's great personalities and Torah titans. It has become like a flying banner - to liberate the earth, return to the Land, rebuild its ruins and plant its trees; this began even while our brethren, the People of Israel, still rested quietly in the lands where they were dispersed. It will lead to our wellbeing, and we shall be like all the nations on this earth. Nevertheless, the great Torah scholars and ministers of the nation, who could look ahead in time, sensed the future and set their sights to the land of our forefathers, Eretz HaTzvi, the Land of Israel. They could not, for various reasons, carry out their positive thoughts to action at the time. The Negev desert winds (a reference to the pogroms of 1881-1882) blew into the dry bones, making the spark of settling the Land of Israel glow and spread, until it became a divine flame. For the heavenly winds blew on outstanding people, who gathered their strength and powers to unite, shoulder to shoulder, and heal our hearts on this holy matter, calling out in a great voice: Brothers! Be strong and be strengthened for the sake of our nation and so as to settle the Land, and let us all be steadfast and helpful towards each other.
A widower villager who married a woman from town less than a year ago came for a ruling. He states that they had made a prenuptial agreement to immigrate to Israel, and made all the necessary arrangements. They had not, for this reason, rented a permanent residence but had stayed at his mother-in-law's, but only temporarily, being on the verge of traveling. So, he demands that his wife immigrate with him to the Land of Israel, or follow him to his town, his village, where he has his work, and if not - that she be considered moredet (a rebellious spouse). The woman states that they had, indeed, spoken of immigrating to the Land of Israel, but that this had not been stipulated in writing in the ketuba (marriage contract). They had stayed with his mother-in-law temporarily only until they could find housing. This is not the right time to immigrate, and if she now finds it painful and distressing living with him at home, in her birthplace and with her relatives nearby, following him to the Land of Israel would be even worse, since she has no one there to help or support her, and who will guarantee her sustenance and income there… And I immediately said that the women's claims were entirely justified. On the matter of the Land of Israel, as has been already been clarified, in Pitchei Teshuva section 75, paragraph 109, in the names of the adjudicators, one must know (in advance) of a source of sufficient income. Here, deeds are judged on a daily basis. On what the husband said was in their prenuptial agreement, the woman replied accurately, in saying that it was not stipulated in writing in the ketuba.
The LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you". Why didn't He reveal the land immediately and said (only) "…I will show you" to Abram? So that the Land of Israel would be revered in his eyes, for by things remaining hidden, his heart would yearn and desire to know about the Land, and so that the commandment would be endeared to him.
Because of our transgressions we were exiled from that holy place, for such was the will of the Holy One, blessed be He. Nevertheless, because of our love of country, or better put, because of the thought that it was our country, we return to her, for Jacob loves her earth. We return to her, though not as we wished, for we see the land desolate and the Temple destroyed. With great concern, we see the words of Jeremiah's lament come to be: "On Mount Zion, which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it…" For amid all this adversity, the comforting words of our Sages remain (and the nations confirm this with the admiration in which they hold this place) and its sanctity has not changed, as Tractate Megillah reads on the verse "And I will bring desolation to your sanctuaries – their sanctity remains even when they are desolate". Our sages note (the reversed order of the words) that desolation precedes the sanctuary and say that even after the Temple's destruction the Holy One, blessed be He, refers to its sanctity as before. The Western Wall is what remains of the Temple, and our Sages say that its sanctity has not departed, and it is there that we customarily hold our prayers. However, dear honorable people, if we lack the Temple, we can each seek it within ourselves, through charity and benevolence, and each of us can make the effort to carry an appropriate part of the load. These are the best temples, and the sacrifices that we can offer on the altar of our hearts are those of determination to study our Torah.
If you truly seek to increase love and unity within the People of Israel, you must decide that all the children of all Jewish men and women be raised to know the language of their people – the holy tongue. It is common knowledge that national unity depends on three things: food and drink, marriage within the nation, and understanding each other's language. The first two have come to be, what about the third? The problem of language causes havoc between us. Because of our lowly deeds the LORD has had our languages dispersed…If you would only make an effort in this domain, and open schools to teach the holy tongue and the original language (referring to Aramaic, in order to learn rabbinic literature) as required, we would greatly benefit from faith, love, truth and peace.
And He will bring them back to their land in the last redemption, which will be speedily in our days, Amen, in full might and eternal strength, after the torment and the revenge, and will lead us to repentance and good deeds, as it says, "All the ends of days (that were calculated) passed, and the matter depends only upon repentance and good deeds". And then Justice approaches Judgement once again, Justice becomes balanced and privileged by Judgement, and Judgement becomes Charity (צדק – צדקה) with the addition of the letter 'heh'. Plentitude descends with great compassion, the city and its inhabitants will be redeemed; Zion is to be redeemed by judgement. Captives – the value of their liberation is higher than the attribute of Charity by several degrees – are redeemed by the power of the attribute of Justice, which will be transformed from Judgement to Compassion, and become Charity, great compassion, as in the mystical sense of "I shall gather them with great compassion", with a chivalrous heart and with great power for Israel.
The Land of Israel is so renowned for its holy attributes and for the value of living there that our sages, of blessed memory, said that those who live outside the Land are living as though they haven't a God, heaven forbid. The heart and eyes of every Israelite must always be turned towards there... and one should make every effort to reside in the Land of Israel. Unfortunately, it is very difficult in our times for people to move to the Land of Israel and requires large sums of money, in addition to the mighty effort involved. Our sages have said that every mitzvah that a person thinks about and seeks the opportunity to fulfill is counted as though it was actually fulfilled. For the good Lord, out of His great compassion, joins good intentions to deeds. Certainly anyone who truly, wholeheartedly, looks forward to any mitzvah in hope of the time it may be fulfilled, must be very cautious that their deeds and words do not prove to contradict their thoughts…They should take care to fulfill all mitzvoth that hasten the redemption, such as Torah study during any available free time… or the mitzvah of charity, which hastens redemption…and distance themselves as much as possible from all transgression and lowly attributes that caused the destruction of our City… such as the sin of slander…and the sin of gratuitous hatred.
“The land shall not be sold for ever”. The Holy One, blessed be He, promised us that the Holy Land, our forefathers’ legacy, will not be sold and not be handed over to the nations of the world for ever. Even if the People of Israel transgress and are exiled, the Land will nevertheless remain in their name and they will, ultimately, return to it, so that its possession by non-Jews is but temporary.
We began to organize the immigrants from Sa'dah in large groups for the purpose of their immigration. During the activists' meetings we decided that Rabbi Moshe Amar, Yaakov Amar, of blessed memory, and I would travel to western Yemen, to the land of the high mountains, to share the news of the redemption with our brethren and encourage them to immigrate… Praise be the LORD, all residents of the region were convinced by our words, and accepted to leave Yemen and immigrate to the Land of Israel. They explained to us that they would undertake this holy mission once they had severed business ties with their Arab neighbors and after selling their property. One should mention that the land of the West benefits from ample rains and is known for its high agricultural yield… Also, our brethren lived in security among our cousins, the sons of Ismael. These precious Jews nevertheless agreed to leave their property behind and to set out for a journey towards the unknown, all in order to fulfill a prayer thousands of years old.
The attribute of charity is known to be great, so much so that our teachers, of blessed memory, said that redemption from exile follows from it, as it says, “…and those that return with her in righteousness (tzedakah: righteousness, charity)”. Should you ask, how does it differ from other commandments in the Torah, the reply lies in what has been conveyed to us: A transgression "extinguishes" a mitzvah, yet no transgression can extinguish the mitzvah of charity, for it says “His righteousness abides forever”. As we know, “they were redeemed during Nissan, and will be redeemed in Nissan in the future”. On the New Moon of Adar, therefore, (the commandment of) sheqalim is announced and heard by all, calling to fulfill the mitzvah of charity and, by virtue of its fulfillment, hasten the arrival of the redemption. For it atones for sins, as it says in the Book of Daniel, “Redeem your sins by beneficence”; we therefore read the Reading Portion of Sheqalim, to indicate this. We follow with the Zachor Reading Portion, about the eradication of Amaleq, for it is by virtue of charity that the name of Amaleq will be erased, as was Haman, who came from that seed. The Reading Portion of Parah follows…since it atones for us by virtue of the charity we do during the month of Adar, so does the Red Heifer. These are the reasons for which we will merit redemption speedily in our day during this month of Nissan…and this is the reason why (we read the) Reading Portion HaHodesh before the New Moon of Nissan – to tell them (the community) to prepare themselves for redemption by repenting. And so that they do not despair of the redemption arriving, we read the HaHodesh Reading Portion, to say: Just as the month is renewed every New Moon, thus will the People of Israel be renewed in the future.
Never, for all eternity, will I forget the great favor and goodness provided to me by this great person, great in Torah and fluent in the sciences, the most pleasant of sons, a son of holy people, precious angels; pure of mind and spirit, sharp and profound of thought, President of the Beth Din, the most saintly Teacher and Master Rabbi Shlomo Tangier, may God save and preserve him, Chief Rabbi of the great city of Beirut, may God protect it, who came to my rescue upon my 'climbing the mountain' – God's adored mountain, Tiberias, may it be speedily rebuilt and established in our day – at the time that I had all but given up hope to reach my goal and seemed doomed to return. Like an angel, he stood to my right, sending his pure missive and his guarantees to the exalted government of Israel, and obtained permission for me to join the immigrants entering our land, our forefathers' legacy. Here I am today, with those who immigrated with me, in the holy city of Tiberias, may it speedily be rebuilt and established in our day, Amen, thanks to the great good and salvation of God.
Regarding your question concerning the custom in Sana’a, the capital city, where they recite the Shema with its cantillation, and begin reading more rapidly when they reach “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying”. Know that I had not noted the point where they begin to read quickly before. If we attend closely to when they begin to accelerate, we may grasp the reason behind it. It is certainly an ancient custom, and we should not think that they do so with no reason. Attend and note that the custom to read in a uniform tone and tune is maintained until they reach “in the land that the LORD swore”, and only then do they begin to read rapidly (I have attended to this and heard it in various synagogues of Sana’a immigrants). Why? They must certainly do so for a reason. In my humble opinion, it seems to me that our ancestors’ reason for this was to indicate their love of the Land of Israel and their longing to move there, as though its very mention makes them they wish to fly there immediately…
It says, based on the Book of Lamentations, that "a person coming from Athens arrived in Jerusalem, found a broken stone vessel, picked it up and brought it to a tailor, and said, 'Sew this broken vessel for me'. The tailor, handing him a fistful of sand, said, 'Weave me some thread from the sand and I will sew'. This was a reference to the nation of Israel, who are as oppressed, broken and dispersed as is that broken stone vessel. What possible repair could bring them home to their land, being "a people that dwells apart"? How can they ever be mended, in their dispersion and brokenness? The tailor, understanding the riddle, also used flowery language to hint in his reply to the nation of Israel, who are likened to the sands of the sea. By taking a fistful of sand, and saying, "Weave me some thread to mend the vessel" he meant: When the nation of Israel will be woven together in unity, with no slander between them, this will be their repair (tikun)… The repair of Israel as a whole, though they may be oppressed, broken or dispersed, is through unity and peace between each other; this will repair the shards of my People and bring them to total repentance, and then will it be "Israel in whom I glory", and "Who is like Your people, Israel, one nation in the land?" - in unity.
Heaven is my witness that my soul longed for the LORD's court. From the day I knew my own mind, at the age of twenty-five, so it was, day after day, that my eyes looked toward there and my heart yearned. Whether because of the place's sanctity or out of great love for the Land, throughout the great passion of learning Torah and permanently seated at my studies, I did not budge from my love a single day… It seems clear to me, on the basis of the past as well as what is yet to come, with God's will, that going to the Land of Israel, in the sense mentioned, suffices on its own to annul even the obligation to the public's needs, for it is known to all that I will find a place worthy of my learning in the Holy City, and Torah study is equal in value to the sum of all the commandments
“I await Your salvation, LORD”. Our father Jacob, may he rest in peace, sought to reveal the End of Days and the Shechina left him. This is why this subject is closed – to inform us of the reason that the Shechina left, for it is known that great damage will ensue from knowing of the End of Days, for the preceding generations, knowing that the redemption will not take place during their lifetimes, will not seek out the LORD to pray for redemption… It is just that God does so, in order to strengthen the heart of the nation who knows of the duration of exile. They should truly know that this knowledge is not determinate, and the blessed LORD can hasten redemption, and forgo the end of days because of merit, such as charity and justice.
Dear Sons of Zion! We have heard with our own ears how many among our nation's sons, from all ends of the world, have donned the fervent mantle of the Lord of Hosts and have joined in rising with enthusiasm from the torpor of the bitter Exile that had ground the hopes of the People of Israel to dust. They are establishing new societies throughout all Jewish communities on an ongoing basis, and plan to awaken the love of Zion in the hearts of those enduring hardship and to revive their dusty memories. The two main pillars at the foundation of the precious purpose of these societies are love of Zion and love of mankind. People everywhere are contributing to the treasuries of this precious endeavor, each according to their ability, to provide the driving force that is vital to operating these virtuous societies. This precious endeavor reflects the signs of redemption as might a polished mirror illuminated by the lightening of the universe; its praises fill the world. This is indisputable testimony and determining evidence that the LORD has remembered His People and elevated their remnants before His throne. Hurrah! Who could hear of such a thing and not join, body and soul? Who could hear of such a thing and not lovingly take upon himself the yoke of this precious endeavor, this crowning glory?
Intelligent people will take note, and those in fear and awe of God's word can rejoice in the nation of Israel's situation. See how each and every one of the Nations adore their language and glorify the tongue in which they have been raised, the language in which their beliefs and religion have been defined. We, the nation of Israel, had abandoned our Holy Tongue since the time of our exile - the language spoken by Adam, and in which our holy Torah was given by the revelation of LORD on Mount Sinai, when He said to His People: "I am the LORD your God". We had not fulfilled what we were commanded, to "…teach them to your children, to speak of them". We had not responded to the public appeal issued by Eliezer Ben Yehuda in journals, who called to revive the holy Hebrew language; the yearning in our souls remained limited to mere words and discussions, and did not materialize until the year 1910, when our exalted government agreed to open a school for Jewish children. The children now learn Bible, the Onkelos translation and Rabbi Sa'adia Gaon, Maimonides' Mishna, grammar and vocabulary. This is all being accomplished just as it should be - the study of Torah, Prophets and Writings, with a clear commentary, and a book of grammar for the Holy Tongue!
"Slaves were we to Pharaoh in Egypt". Question – (It would have sufficed to) mention one of them, either Pharaoh or Egypt. This is meant to relate how great the miracle of the redemption was. When a person is enslaved to a single master, the latter might have compassion and release the slave, or do so when approaching death or after dying, which is when slaves can, as a rule, be released. However, when one is enslaved to many people it becomes difficult for them to all agree to release the slave, and leaves little hope of redemption. This was the situation of the People of Israel, who had little hope of redemption resulting from their dominator's choice
The entire nation must liberate itself and apply its strength for the actualization of the historic meaning of redeeming the Land since the Six Day War. Jerusalem and much of the Land’s areas liberated a year ago, where there are more ruins than there are buildings and Jews are not a majority, have yet to be built. Jerusalem is the Eternal City, the City of Peace. Our Sages, in their holy inspiration, said that when the exiles gather in Jerusalem, peace will come to the nation and to the entire world. These are their words: The Holy One, blessed be He, will not console Jerusalem and the People of Israel, as it says, “And my nation will reside in a peaceful abode only in peace”. The time will come when all the world’s nations will also recognize the importance of building Jerusalem and gathering all her sons within her for eternal peace.
The Jews of Bukhara held a deep and faithful awareness of Divine providence, true believers. The purpose of their coming to the Land of Israel was to raise the Shechina from the dust, to build the Chosen House, the Temple. They awaited the coming of the Messiah and even built him a palace, named the Mullah Elisha Yehudoff z"l Palace. Most of the neighborhood's builders, before building houses for themselves, first undertook building a House of God, a synagogue where they, their children and their progeny could pray. They gave of their money and gold so that others could come to pray at the synagogue they raised. The tradition continues to this day, in particular the netz (dawn) morning prayer, maintained entirely out of a fierce love for the Creator, like their forefathers' tradition in the cities of Bukhara: A tradition sanctified by generations of time, whereby many of the community's members would pay rabbis and teachers full salaries to teach their children Torah, its commandments, laws and statutes.
"And it shall come to pass on that day, a great ram's horn shall be sounded." Just like a king who has long been at battle and wishes to return home, who assembles all his troops in one place to see who is missing, sounds a horn for all to assemble, and then returns home. So will it be in the redemption of the future; He will first assemble us all in the desert, to see who is missing, and then the ram's horn will be sounded for all to assemble. Even the Jews who have "strayed in the land of Assyria" and those who have lost their religion and are "in the land of Egypt" such as the anussim (Crypto-Jews) of Spain, Rome, and the like – all those within whom beats a Jewish heart.
What the Holy One, blessed be He, did, in bringing so many plagues upon them was so that it be recounted to the children, as it says: "That you may tell in the ears of your child". Not that He could not have taken them out at once, Heaven forbid, but so as to display His mighty hand. This is why Moses refused to go, and asked, "Why have You dealt ill with this people?", for he thought that the Holy One, blessed be He, should wait for the time of their redemption, and release them immediately in a single undertaking. God therefore informed him of the time of Redemption - "that you may tell", as explained above…So it is in our day. We have seen His mighty hand and outstretched arm and He will fulfill what it says in Scripture, "I will show him wondrous deeds, as in the days when You sallied forth from the land of Egypt". Amen, may it be Thy will.
Greatest is charity, in that it advances the redemption". The explanation is that the charity done by the People of Israel among themselves indicates their unity, otherwise why would a person give their portion to someone who has not worked for it? Because they is part of their fellow people and shares in their substance, they being one in spirit. As our Sages, of blessed memory, said in Tractate Pesachim, page 118, "The Holy One, blessed be He, said…'It is fitting for the unique (individual) to save the unique'. If so, when the People of Israel are united they have unique value, so it is fitting that the individual be quick to their rescue; within this lies the reason for the hastening of the Redemption of Israel.
The needs of the Yishuv dictate that there not only be enthusiastic Zionists making speeches and traveling to endless conferences, but also people who are good Jews, in addition to begin Zionistic and nationalistic. This is the reason it is dear to us sevenfold, because of our being Jews, although as such we do not believe in nationalism per se. Time has proved to me that all the Zionists who were attached to their Judaism remained attached to their nationalism.