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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 25 Jan 2019 08:20 PM and ends Sat 26 Jan 2019 09:20 PM
י"ג טבת ה' אלפים תשס"ט
"Vayeishev Miketz Vayigash Vayechi"
In light of the developing situation in Israel, I feel compelled to share some of my thoughts with alumni and friends.
This most recent war began at the time of Chanuka, and I cannot help but hear the echoes of Chanuka ringing in my ears today – 'Bayamim Hahem Bazman Hazeh'. Then, too, we were a minority, but with incredible courage we survived and won, b'ezrat Hashem.
The courage that has kept us alive and kicking for two millennia is very much present in all aspects of our lives in Israel during Kislev-Tevet 5769. The courage and determination of our wonderful soldiers, who face a ruthless fundamental enemy who will stop at nothing to kill each and every one of us, is inspirational to say the least. In every fighter I see the image of Yehuda HaMacabee, slowly but surely striding forward towards confrontation with a merciless unethically murderous foe.
Our army, so often castigated in the world press, is in fact one of the most ethical in the world. It is not the Israeli army that indiscriminately carpet bombs an entire country. People in glass houses should be careful not to throw stones! Any target that is attacked has generally attacked us first, be it a school, a hospital, even a nursery. Our ideological foe is in fact a coward who, when ultimately faced with the confrontation he so much wished for, hides behind women and children in the knowledge that the so called 'immoral Jewish army' will think twice before attacking him there. His tactic is paradoxically enough our praise. His actions only prove who is right and who is wrong. If we were the devil incarnate, as he claims us to be, then he would know that nowhere is safe. The truth is that they have exposed themselves to the world; by hiding behind innocent people they expose themselves and reveal the greatness of our people. They do not serve the innocent masses that are their people; they think only of themselves and their evil objectives.
The question that remains to be seen is whether the world wishes to see what is plainly obvious for those who wish to see.
And what of the Western World? What of those countries who worry about humanitarian conditions? Where have they been during the last few years? The liberal pluralists of the world who always seem to come out to demonstrate when the murderer is being punished but are never present to defend the victim?
A disproportionate response we are told. Is that really so? How does it compare with other responses to terror attacks over the last decade? I am strengthened by the world's lack of objectivity and justice with regards to Israel. It re-enforces my conviction. Times have not changed. Avraham Avinu stood on one side whilst the rest of the world stood on the other - so be it. We fight for Truth and we fight for Justice. We are not only fighting our war of independence, we have begun to fight the war of the world. It is Israel, and Israel alone, who is overtly standing up to fundamentalist Islam. We cannot, and will not, standby while these people plan to obliterate us. The world would do well to revisit the mistakes of Chamberlain - to open their eyes and see what awaits us all on the horizon if we do not act quickly. Now is the time to stand and fight not to run for cover.
Vayeishev Miketz – if we sit and wait it will be the end, Vayigash Vayechi – but if we take the initiative then we have a chance to win, with the help of God.
Indeed, it is not only to the soldiers that I look with admiration. It is to all of Am Yisrael. This is not the first war that I have lived through during my twenty years in Israel, and each time I see how truly wonderful our people is – I would never wish to be anywhere else. The courage of the residents of the south who carry on whatever the reality; the stubborn determination of the masses despite the obvious injustice, is simply unbelievable. The way in which we help each other is nothing but inspirational. Everyone wants to help, everyone is looking for projects to support and aid those in need. Every Israeli citizen is a hero. They attack from the south. They attack from the north. We stand very much alone, but when we stand together, they cannot touch us.
The idea of the State of Israel is Vayigash Vayechi - that is what we are about. We believe that by taking the initiative, we will bring eternal redemption to our people. There are those that truly believe that Vayeishev will bring Miketz - that by waiting loyally, the good end will come. But surely we caused the exile and so it is up to us to bring the redemption. That is what we stand for. There is a window of opportunity, and we must grasp that opportunity more now than ever before – what a zechut to be in such a position!
Our strength is eternal our determination unbreakable. They can come at us with what they want, but we have waited two thousand years to be here and we aren't going anywhere. We are the ambassadors of truth; we represent what is truly good in the world. We will ultimately succeed in our mission, because we are about truth and goodness, and they will fail because they are not – truth is eternal. Our foe cares little about their people they have one goal and that is to destroy. I feel for the innocent, and the tragedy of war, but defend ourselves we must, and defend ourselves we will – we cannot wait for the world to wake up.
As we reach the end of sefer Bereishit and begin sefer Shemot, we are told that the new king of Egypt knew not of Yosef. Our enemies would do well to read the Kli Yakar on next week's parasha. Kli Yakar informs us that when Pharoah made his plans for Am Yisrael, he knew not about Yosef and his history. Pharoah did not take into account that Yosef was hated, that he was exiled, imprisoned, threatened, but ultimately, despite all of what he had suffered he became great. Yosef survived everything. Perhaps if Pharoah had known he would have left well enough alone. We have been through so much over the last two millennia, and we will get through this too. Hamas would do well to read sefer Shemot, to read through the stories of Chanuka and Purim, to study twentieth century history. We will follow the path of Yosef and we will, I truly believe, emerge victorious – with God's help.
I have spoken of our soldiers, I have spoken of our people, but we must also speak of the Almighty. Baruch Hashem we are here. Our survival, our existence, our independence is the will of God. It cannot be otherwise. We are here against all of the odds because we have Hashem's help. Every day in Israel is a miracle. We are surrounded by millions upon millions of people who would rather that we be somewhere else, but we manage to survive. As I have said on so many occasions, the question is not why we say Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut, the question is why we don't say Hallel every day. Hundreds of rockets fall on Israel, but somehow (bli ayin hara) we are relatively unscathed. This, of course, is of no comfort to the casualties, but it is a matter of inspiration on a national level.
We can only invoke Vayigash Vayechi with the help of God. The more we believe, the more we achieve!
So what is there for us to do, my dear students and friends? If you are with us in Israel there are so many things to do, either by going south, by helping soldiers, or by hosting civilians who have been temporarily evacuated from their homes - the list is endless.
But if you are unfortunate enough not to be with us here in Israel (I know that so many of you would get on a plane tomorrow if only you could), you can still help us. The Drush VeNeum, explains that when Yaakov tells Yosef that he conquered Shechem, his words cannot be taken literally, because we know that Shimon and Levi conquered Shechem. We must therefore adopt the approach that suggests that Yaakov prayed whilst his sons fought.
Am Yisrael is fighting against the odds, we need siyata deShmaya. Prayer makes all the difference. Real tefillah with real intent, wherever you may be in the world makes a difference. You can adopt a soldier and pray for him, or you can simply turn to the Almighty and pray for our people. Take that time in the day and you can make a difference. Shimon and Levi came out of their mission unscathed because of the tefillot of Yaakov Avinu.
Let us unite, stand upright with pride in support of our people and our land.
Chazak Chazak Venitchazek.