Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
  • Coping with Difficulties
קטגוריה משנית
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicatedin the memory of

Rabbi Meir b"r Yechezkel Shraga

1. If We Only Could
2. The Painful Truth
3. What can we do?

If We Only Could
We are, at present, in the midst of a period of suffering. The past few weeks have been especially painful. Yet even before this, things were difficult. Anxiety grows and people ask, "How much longer?" Many turn to the Rabbis hoping to receive direction. Two weeks ago, I went to the funeral of a young man from the settlement of Ofra. He had been killed by terrorists on the road between Eli and Ofra. A man approached me and began to complain, "The Rabbi's aren't doing anything! You have to get out there and uplift the masses. Lead the people! Enough standing quietly on the sidelines!" He spoke to me in a straightforward and forceful manner. It was neither the time nor place to respond. And even if it were, there was really not much that could have been said. Perhaps he was right. The situation is a difficult one, and something needs to be done. Yet, I am faced with the question, "Can we really change things?"

Our community believes that the government is not acting as it ought to. An all-out war must be declared upon the PA, to the point of its total collapse, to the point where the entire terrorist groundwork is uprooted. Yet, the government does not do this. If we were capable of influencing the government, we would tell them that there is no need to transfer Arafat to foreign soil. Rather, he and all of his comrades have to be transferred to the World to Come - he, the entire Palestinian leadership, and all of the other leaders of terrorist organizations. Their money and property, their bank accounts in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or wherever else - must all be confiscated. We must liquidate this treacherous Palestinian leadership, for it possesses a threat to Israel and the whole world. If we do not extinguish this terrorism, it will continue to spread. We have to explain to the rest of the nations that this terrorism posses worldwide threat. Afterwards, if the Arabs decide that they want to live with us in peace and stop all of their terrorist activities, we would be willing to allow them to live as they like, so long as they possess no ruling authority. The entire Land of Israel belongs to the Nation of Israel. The Palestinians have absolutely no right to rule in the Land of Israel, and they have to accustom themselves to this fact. When we finally speak as one, with assurance and force, the world too will agree with us. If the Israeli left stops approaching the Americans with proposals for the establishment a Palestinian state, such a state will never be born. The nations of the world, too, will stop making such demands.

The Painful Truth
However, the situation today is such that we are not the ones running the state. Moreover, even the government is not alone in running the state. At the heads of the many crucial positions in the state of Israel stand people who do not believe that we can overcome the Arabs in war: the heads of Israel's secret service (I have heard this from them for myself), defense, media, courts, and police forces. All of these people hold central and influential positions, and do not believe that we can defeat the Arabs in war, destroy terrorism by force, and return a sense of security to the people. They believe that we have to sit down and establish dialogue with the Arabs. I do not think that they represent the majority of the Israeli public. I think that the majority of Israelis do not feel this way. At any rate, if we had a different media, the public would definitely not feel this way. The majority of the Israeli public is stronger than the present leadership. Most Israelis are confident that we are justified in our claim to the Land of Israel - and are willing to fight for it. Yet, these leaders have taken hold of all of the key positions, and are at present calling the shots. It does not appear to me that we are in a position where we can stand up and shout, apply pressure, and try to change their way of seeing things. What we really need is a fundamental change of approach. The fanatical secular outlook, stuck in the rut of some unattainable goal, some false-messianism, is not capable of changing just like that. It will take time. If the situation gets particularly bad, heaven forbid, it is possible that the public will apply pressure, rising up and effecting a fundamental change on all fronts. A new leadership could rise up that would truly represent the opinion of the majority, a leadership that would destroy terrorism, restore a sense of security, and raise the morale of the public. At present, though, this is not the case.

What can we do?
We therefore are faced with the question: What are we supposed to think and do? Of course we must put constant pressure on the government to be more aggressive, to change its ways and to decide to declare an all-out war against terrorism. In the meantime, though, we must understand that everything that transpires is according to God's desire, and that everything is for the best. Everything that happens to a person is for the best. The Almighty is good and benevolent, He gives and He takes away, everything belongs to Him, and everything comes from Him. We have no claim on anything in this world; everything that He takes was His to begin with. We have to thank him for everything that He has given us up until now. We must approach everything that is happening to the Jewish people today with a deep sense of faith. We must be certain that everything is for the best, and at the same time strive to make things better. And just how are we supposed to do this?

Every affliction that God brings upon us is meant to uplift us, to elevate us to a higher level. True, it is difficult to sense this - but it nonetheless exists. Such has always been the case in the history of the Jewish people. Moreover, this rule has been especially true in the past one hundred years, with the rebirth of the Jewish people: From each affliction we emerged victoriously, advancing, and ascending to a level even higher than that which we were on previously. Take, for example, the First World War. At that time, the very existence of the tiny Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael was endangered. Yet, after the war, the Jewish population here doubled in size. In a like manner, after the terrible destruction of Second World War the State of Israel was established. So it was, and so will it continue to be, God willing. If we remain aware of this and understand that this is God's will, and that this is His way of advancing things, we ourselves can take part in the process. Every difficulty becomes an opportunity for advancement. Difficult? We will double our strength and intensify our activity. Whether in the sphere of settling the Land, or personal behavior; each one of us in his own way. If our enemies strike at a settlement, the settlement will grow. It won't take cover and retreat. To the contrary, every blow will be met with growth and development - another neighborhood, another hilltop, more houses, more determination. And on an inner personal level, we must turn each difficulty into a source of strength. We will become all the more strong in spirit, more sure of ourselves, more faithful, more adamant in Torah study; we will perform more Mitzvoth, show more kindness, and become even more worthy than we had been previously.

This is what God desires - that our suffering should serve to uplift us. Therefore, we must join forces with the Almighty Himself. While we do not desire affliction, we are not weakened by it. One way or the other we are strengthened. This is the road to redemption which God leads us down. He leads us, but we have to do our share. We have to be more joyful, more confident, more believing, more active, to pray with even more fervor. It is not enough to add to the quantity of our prayers. We must also perfect the quality of our prayers. In this manner, we can be partners in the divine scheme that the Almighty is conducting.

Let us pray to the Almighty that He hasten our redemption, and that we speedily merit a complete redemption; let us overcome our enemies and oust them from the Land; let us dwell alone in our land, "From the Egyptian River as far as the great river, the Euphrates" (Genesis 15:18) - in all of those places that God promised to our forefather Abraham. May it be His will that the Holy Temple be speedily rebuilt, that He cause His Presence to dwell among us, and that we be an example to all of the nations of the world. In the end, all of the nations will stream to the Temple Mount, to the House of the God of Jacob, and will request that we teach them God's ways that they might know them and follow them, "For from Zion Torah will go forth, and the word of God from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

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