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The Death of the Righteous

The leaders in building the country in our times are those who cling more firmly to the Torah. They also cling to the frontlines of settlement in the Land of Israel.


Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

Tishrei 26 5776
Terrible sorrow filled our hearts following the ruthless murder of the beloved and holy Jews, ‘the precious sons of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold‘ – Rabbi Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi, and Aaron Bennett, may God avenge their blood. They died ‘al Kiddush Hashem‘ (in sanctification of God’s name) in the struggle for the return of Am Yisrael to its Land – in the heart of Jerusalem, and in the heart of Samaria.
When waves of terrorist murders escalate, it is essential to remember that the settlers living on the frontlines of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria are the floodgates preventing catastrophic withdrawals. The weakness in the heart of many of our fellow Jews leads them to believe time and again in a delusional peace.
Only the continued presence of communities in Judea and Samaria, in particular in Gav Ha’Har (the area of Shechem), prevents the establishment of an Arab terror state in the heart of our country, whose goal is the destruction of the State of Israel. Therefore, in addition to usual security measures, the proper answer to the wave of terror is the expansion of settlement in Judea and Samaria which impedes the existential danger of an additional front opening along the entire length of the State of Israel, as is already the case with Gaza and Lebanon. And, as we have learned from the Torah and Prophets, Kibbutz Ha’galuyot (the Ingathering of the Exiles) and settling the Land of Israel is the key to security, prosperity, and ultimately, the final Redemption.
These righteous and holy individuals who in their lifetimes clung to the frontline of Jewish settlement despite understanding a certain amount of danger was involved, thus fulfilling the words of Rabbi Akiva, "with all your soul – even if He takes your soul", will be melitzei yosher (advocates) for all of us, that we merit continuing to settle the Land, and in the building of Jerusalem and the entire country, we will be comforted.
The Foundation of Torah Study on Shabbat
Today, we realize that in the long run, the building of the Land is also dependent on a connection to the Torah, and the leaders in building the country in our times are those who cling more firmly to the Torah.
The important question confronting us is how we, the religiously observant, can elevate our lives and serve as an example to all Jews, to the point where all those who see us will want to adhere to Torah and mitzvoth, and thus, the entire People of Israel can serve as an example to all nations, to perfect the world in the Kingdom of God, corresponding to the role assigned to us by the Lord our God.
Apparently, Torah study on Shabbat is the key to everything, and this is what our Sages meant when they said: "If Israel were to keep two Sabbaths according to the laws thereof, they would be redeemed immediately" (Shabbat 118b).
Torah in the Lives of Working People
Without Torah study on Shabbat, the verdict of every Jew would have been to choose between the sacred and secular: or to learn Torah all his life in kollel, as many members of the ultra-Orthodox community do, or go to work in a number of jobs, even academics – but one’s connection to spiritual life would be weak. Indeed, there are righteous individuals who are able to create different types of combinations, and are able to connect spiritual life with the secular. But as a rule, the rift is clear and painful, and many are forced to choose between the two options, neither of which suit them perfectly, and none of which bear tidings of tikun olam (perfection of the world).
Torah study on Shabbat is designed to solve this difficult dilemma.
The Role of the Torah in the Life of a Jew
Without constant Torah learning, a proper Jewish life cannot be maintained, as our Sages have already taught us that Torah study is equivalent to all the mitzvoth. There are two reasons for this: first, the mitzvah of Torah study is performed by the use of one’s intellect, this being man’s loftiest talent. Second, because Torah study leads one to the most complete fulfillment of the mitzvoth, as our Sages said: "Torah study is greater, for it leads to action" (Kiddushin 40b).
Therefore, one must set aside time for Torah study every day, as it is written: "This book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night" (Joshua 1:8). Therefore, each individual should study a chapter in the morning and in the evening (Menachot 99b). However, such studying is only beneficial in maintaining one’s continual connection to the Torah, but it cannot elevate a Jew to the appropriate level of Torah knowledge in order to illuminate life and perfect the world.
Regular Torah study on Shabbat is intended to solve the problem.
How to Achieve ‘ Oneg Shabbat
Our Sages said: "He who delights in the Sabbath is saved from the servitude of the Diaspora" (Shabbat 118b). They also said: "He who delights in the Sabbath is granted his heart’s desires", and "He who delights in the Sabbath is given an unbounded heritage." Additionally, they said a person who delights in the Sabbath merits wealth (ibid, 119a).
From our Sages statements, we can understand that delighting in the Sabbath is not an easy matter, and consequently, someone who is fortunate and succeeds in doing so, merits all of these enormous blessings. But seemingly, what’s so hard about doing it? All it takes is to prepare some tasty dishes, and eat them at three meals?!
In truth, though, ‘oneg Shabbat‘ (delighting in the Sabbath) is an extremely refined and deep mitzvah, requiring a combination of both soul and body together. As our Sages said, one should divide the Sabbath "half of it to eating and drinking, and half of it to theBeth Hamidrash (study hall)" (Pesachim 68b). These two halves are meant to be complementary – the meals should be coupled with learning, and the learning should be coupled with the meals –and everything with pleasure.
‘Mayain Olam Ha’Ba’
The uniqueness of Shabbat is that it is ‘mayain olam ha’ba‘ (a resemblance of the pleasure in the World to Come), sort of like a funnel of holiness, light, and blessing stretching from the World to Come into this world. The more illumination of the Shabbat we are able to receive, the greater our ability is to draw the Great Light of the World to Come into our world.
And what is the World to Come? Not ‘Olam HaNeshamot‘ (the World of Souls) – Gan Eden (Paradise) for the righteous, and Gehenom (Hell) for the wicked – this is where the soul goes after the death of the person; rather, the following stage, after the completion of tikun olam (perfection of the world) with Techiyat HaMeytim(Resurrection of the Dead), when the souls of the righteous return to reunite with their bodies, and as one, experience eternal ascent.
Resembling this, Shabbat connects the soul and body in an enhanced manner. However, if a person eats, drinks, and rests without devoting half of Shabbat to Torah study, the soul is absent, and he is unable to truly delight in the Sabbath.
When we achieve observing the Sabbath properly, delighting both soul and body, we will discover for ourselves and for the entire world, the ultimate way of life. After that, we will be able to declare to one and all: "Taste, and see that God is good. How blessed are those who take refuge in him!" (Psalms 34:9).
The Purpose of the Sabbath: Torah Study
Our Sages said in Tana d’Bei Eliyahu Rabbah, Chapter One: "The nature of man being what it is, the Holy One said to Israel: My children! Have I not written for you in My Torah, ‘This book of Torah shall not depart from your mouth (Joshua 1:8)? Although you must labor all six days of the week, the Sabbath is to be given over completely to Torah. Accordingly, it is said that a man should rise early on the Sabbath to reciteMishana, and then go to the synagogue and academy where he is to read in the Five Books and recite a portion in the Prophets. Afterwards, he is to go home and eat and drink, thereby fulfilling the verse ‘Eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart’ (Ecclesiastes 9:7)…"
The Stipulation to the Virtue of the Land of Israel
It is particularly important to be meticulous about Torah study on Shabbat in the Land of Israel, as our Sages said: "The Torah said before God: ‘Master of the World! When Israel enters the Land, this one will run to his vineyard, and this one will run to his field. What will be with me’? God said to the Torah: ‘I have a partner for you, whose name is Shabbat, and on that day they will be free from their work and will thus be able to engage in the study of you." (Tur, Orach Chaim 290). Several ‘poskim‘ (Jewish legal authorities) cite this Midrash in their halachic decisions, coming to teach us that indeed, one must devote the Shabbat to Torah study (M.B. 290:5).
Truthfully speaking, this poses a difficult question: Why did the Jewish nation have to enter the Land of Israel? God could have kept them in the desert, in order to learn in the ‘kollel‘ of Moshe Rabbeinu and the Seventy Elders. No economic crisis would affect their government benefits – in the morning, they would eat ‘manna‘, and at night, quail; their clothes and shoes never wore-out and they were able to engage in the study of the holy Torah day and night. However, the Torah is revealed in its completeness only when it sanctifies all spheres of life, both the spiritual and the physical.
Nonetheless, the penetrating question still remains: What will become of the Torah?! Torah study must be done seriously, and how can this possibly be done concurrently with working to develop the world? God’s answer was to study Torah on Shabbat, and thereby people’s practical lives will be illuminated and guided by the Torah, and thus, we will be able to understand the Torah in its completeness.
Six Hours
True, our Sages did not fix a specific amount of time one should learn on Shabbat, but certainly, they intended we invest a significant amount of time. They would not have said "the entire Shabbat day should be devoted to Torah" in regards to four or five hours of study. And seeing as our Sages said that at least half of the Shabbat should be devoted to Torah study (Pesachim 68b) clearly, it is impossible to say that four or five hours is considered half a day. Several of the ‘poskim‘ have written this as halakha,such as ‘Ohr Zarua’ , Smag, Rabbeinu Yerucham, Maharshal, (see, Peninei Halakha: Shabbat 5:1 and harchavot).
This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

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