Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
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To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Hana Bat Haim

To the Settlers of Gush Katif

People of Gush Katif, you are presently paining and perplexed, and we share in your suffering. Yet we are full of faith that by enduring these trials and understanding that they are “pangs of the Messiah,” you will ascend to a new and better reality.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

1. A Blessing in the Desert
2. Pangs of the Messiah
3. Resistance at Kfar Darom

A Blessing in the Desert
Settlers of Gush Katif, you have merited fulfilling the commandment to settle the land of Israel in a most praiseworthy manner. For a very long time, the barren desert awaited the return of its beloved children, all the while refusing to yield its fruit to strangers. With your arrival, God blessed the soil - the wasteland was transformed into a fertile garden, yielding its fruit copiously. Regarding this phenomenon the Talmudic Sage Rabbi Abba taught, "There is no clearer indication of the final redemption than this."

The Almighty has brought a trial upon you, and, as the Midrash teaches, God does not bring a trial upon a person unless he can endure it. Indeed, you have endured this trial. The Sages teach that Abraham faced ten trials and endured all of them. When God said to Abraham, "Go and journey from your land . . . to the land that I will show you," Abraham fulfilled God's command and went to the Land of Israel. Once there, however, Abraham discovered that there was a famine in the land and he was forced to leave the land and go to Egypt. Abraham did not think twice but accepted the hardships lovingly.

By virtue of his forbearance, Abraham merited becoming the father of the nation, and, "the actions of the forefathers are a signal for the children." In other words, the children too must endure trials and accept them lovingly. With faith and trust in God, you, the people of Gush Katif, faced the formidable, looming threat of displacement and expulsion, and you did this for a year and a half. It was a long and difficult test, but you stood up to it.

Pangs of the Messiah
Presently, we are witness to the fact that "this was from God" (Psalms 118:23), and God is now putting you to the most difficult of tests - actual expulsion. Yet, we are certain that you will stand up to it. You are now fulfilling the commandment, "You shall love the Lord your God with all of your might," for the Sages interpreted this to mean "With all of your wealth."

This hardship which has befallen you - and all of us - is in fact a stage of suffering which presages the coming of the Messiah. The Vilna Gaon has taught us that even if there be difficulties on the road to redemption, we must not recoil. We must push forward and persevere, for it is the nature of the redemption that salvation sprouts from the midst of hardships.

These terrible plagues which are now striking us have come about because the force of evil feels that its end is near, the time of the redemption has come. These are its final convulsions before death, the final blows delivered with the last surge of strength - and they are painful indeed.

People of Gush Katif, you are presently paining and perplexed, and we share in your suffering. The are uncertainties and struggles, there is confusion regarding every family and every settlement, and all of this causes pain. However, we are full of faith that by enduring these trials and identifying them as the hardships which accompany the acquisition of the land of Israel, hardships which are in fact the "pangs of the Messiah," you will ascend to a new and better reality. You have presently entered a dark tunnel, but at the other end a great light is shining, and with God's help you shall pass through it quickly.

We are presently in the midst of a value crisis which is effecting Israel's secular left. This sector of society controls the state's power centers, and it is suffering from a serious value crisis. The rupture has its beginnings in matters relating to Jewish faith and Torah, and it spreads to moral and ethical issues, evincing corrupt character traits and behavior. The result is a policy of disengagement - disengagement from the land and from the nation.

However, the more serious the crisis, the greater the resulting rectification. We have arrived at a crossroads. It is no longer possible to waver in indecision. It has become necessary to choose a clear path. The confrontation over the direction of the people of Israel has reached a peak and it is therefore serious and difficult, but it will lead to the realization that God is the Lord, the Lord of Israel.

Even now, in the heat of the struggle, we are witness to a display of incredible willpower: wonderful and idealistic youngsters, lovers of the land of Israel, lovers of the Torah and the nation, strong of faith, moral and ethical - they serve as a model, a prototype and example for the entire generation.

Resistance at Kfar Darom
I would like to present the truth regarding the struggle that took place on the roof of the Kfar Darom synagogue.

The settlers of Kfar Darom, Rabbi Schreiber at their head, decided to give strong expression to their terrible pain and suffering over the uprooting of their settlement and the destruction of their synagogue. Therefore, they, together with family and close friends, decided to entrench themselves in their synagogue and on its roof, to cling to it and delay the eviction as much as possible.

Only those who agreed to be completely disciplined and not overstep the accepted guidelines were permitted to be inside the synagogue and on its roof. The instructions were to shun violence altogether, whether verbal or physical, and to refrain from injuring soldiers and police. Even if the expulsion forces were to use violence, one must not lift a hand at them.

At the same time, the goal was to delay the expulsion as long as possible. Actions such as spaying white foam, pouring water, and throwing a few eggs are not injurious, even if it is not so very pleasant to be on the receiving end. But, after all, we are dealing here with the painful protest of a great evil: the uprooting of a settlement, the expulsion of its citizens, and the destruction of its synagogue. No such step has been carried out in the history of the State of Israel.

Contrary to claims, there were no harmful chemicals on the roof. The level of discipline on the roof was exemplary and the people who held out up there were gentle, moral, pained individuals. When the police climbed up onto the roof, they hugged the demonstrators. There was no violent struggle on the roof, not a single policeman was injured and everybody came out of the episode healthy and unharmed.

I was involved in all of the preparations and I was present when the police attempted to get onto the roof. I saw how the besieged protesters tried to prevent the large steel cage containing policemen from landing on the roof. I saw the attempts to prevent police from mounting the roof via ladders. All of this was carried out with determination and courage and with no injury whatsoever to the soldiers. Even the reporters and correspondents who were present were impressed by the determination and lack of violence. The sight of this could be described as a bit of light in the midst of the terrible darkness of pain of expulsion.

Suddenly, a blood-libel arose - the media began reporting that acid had been poured on the soldiers by the resisters; there were injured and they were being taken to the hospital. I knew that there was no truth to these claims, and I sent my son to see what had actually happened. He saw the soldiers with his own eyes. They were sitting, not injured, not wounded, and there appeared to be nothing unusual about them. Even when they reached the hospital, the doctor did not know why they had come.

We immediately requested that the media correct this fabrication, but channel 2 refused, as did all of the other networks. They continued pushing the blood-libel. They provoked the police to respond with force and the police became trapped in a web of lies.

In the end, the police had a hard time evicting the resisters and requested that the rabbi convince them to come down. The rabbi reached an agreement with the commander that was present: the resisters would come down to pray and would then board the bus in order to leave Gush Katif. It was understood that they would be treated no differently than the settlement's residents, and certainly there was no indication that they would be arrested.

However, the police, possibly due to the pressure of the media, breached their agreement and imprisoned tens of resisters. There was another agreement that was broken. The commander committed himself to informing the media that no acid had been used against the soldiers, but he did not keep his word. If the police cannot be trusted, who can?

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