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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Matot

SLANDER IN A SHTREIMEL

Rabbi Stewart WeissTammuz 23 5776
181
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There is a sacred principle in Judaism: Kal Yisrael Arevim Zeh L’Zeh; all of Israel is responsible for one another. Wherever we may live, throughout the world, we must always be available to assist our fellow Jew.

This maxim is directly illustrated in our parsha of Matot. In the war against Midian, 1000 soldiers are selected from each tribe to fight in the war. And later, Moshe stridently warns the Shvatim of Reuven & Gad – who desire to live in Trans-Jordan - that they must first fight alongside their brothers west of the Jordan, in conquering Eretz Yisrael, before they will be permitted to live on the east side. The message is clear: We are One People, & we stand & fight together for everything in which we believe.

Having just returned from a visit abroad, I was reviewing some of the local news I missed while away. And I came across a story in last week’s paper about a group of American rabbis, led by the Satmar community, that raised several million dollars – including $2 million in one day in Toronto! - in support of Jewish education for the children of French olim who recently came to Israel.

Sounds like a beautiful act, a lovely example of supporting our Jewish brethren, right? But not so fast.

The fund-raising was accompanied by a dastardly slur on the State of Israel. "We want to be sure these children are not led astray by the Jewish Agency," said the Satmar spokesman, "that their spiritual needs are provided for & they are not cast adrift by the Israeli Sochnut into ‘secular Israeli culture’ & told that just living in Israel is good enough."

Needless to say, representatives of the Jewish Agency condemned the ugly remarks, pointing out – quite correctly – that no French Jews are directed away from the type of school they desire &, quite to the contrary, the French are proudly pursuing their religious lifestyles here
-even starting new shuls catering to the French & opening kosher restaurants – in whatever places they settle, Ra’anana included (indeed, 3 new kosher restaurants have opened here in the last few months alone by French proprietors, one of whom just made Aliya and moved his establishment from Paris to Ra'anana!).

I feel sorry for all those good souls who were duped into giving money to these sowers of slander & divisiveness, who - despite their claim to be rabbis - don’t know another basic Halachic maxim: Ayn Mitzva ba liyday aveira - You cannot perform a Mitzva while at the same time committing a sin. Slurring Israel - which spends billions absorbing immigrants from all over the world - is one of the greatest of all sins, & negates whatever good intent they may have had.

Meanwhile, while they go back to Brooklyn & the Exile, the French olim, Baruch Hashem, are breathing Hashem’s pure air here in the Holy Land.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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