For thousands of years, Jews were loyal and productive citizens of the major countries of the world. The Jews’ contribution to the economic and moral success of countries such as France, England, Russia, Morocco and Persia was important at the time. However, the moment the Jewish people returned to Eretz Yisrael 71 years ago, all previous history became a matter for dustbins of history. This is what King David meant when he wrote in Tehillim, “ha’yee’nu ke’chol’min” (we were as dreamers). When the redemption comes, all previous experiences will become as a dream.
Having experienced leaving the galut to return home to Eretz Yisrael, I can say, “ha’yee’nu ke’cholmin”.
The Eretz Yisrael amora, Resh Lakish, is quoted in Sota 3a:
“One does not commit a transgression unless a spirit of folly enters him.”
An example of a sin performed out of folly is lying to HaShem. When a sinner repents for eating a non-kosher sandwich, he should not say that the sandwich was disgusting but should admit that it was tasty and that he regrets angering HaShem.
This being the case, how can a kohen say each day, “Blessed are You HaShem… Who has commanded us to bless His people Israel lovingly,” when he does not know half the people in the synagogue?
Who or what is “Elokim”? What is His nature? Is He loving, caring, or is He angry, zealous, spiteful, vengeful? Is He demanding, never forgiving our iniquities? Are human beings valuable and necessary in His eyes?
There is an ongoing battle between Islam and Christianity (each of whom claims over one billion adherents) regarding the nature of God. They do not believe in the same God, to be sure; because their Gods differ in the extreme.
From my forthcoming book “Reflections from Jerusalem”
On Yom Kippur we read the heartbreaking saga of the “ten martyred rabbis”.
The Torah teaches that Joseph found his brothers in the Valley of Dotan not far from Shechem. After removing his many-colored cloak, the ten brothers involved in the betrayal lowered Joseph into a pit of snakes and scorpions, before selling him to the Ishmaelites and Midianites as it says, “Yosef followed his brothers and found them at Dotan” (Genesis 37:17).
Our parsha begins with the mitzvah of “bikurim”. A landowner who grew any one of the seven species of flora which are indigenous to Eretz Yisrael: wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranate, olive or date, must bring a sampling of the first growth to the Bet HaMikdash starting after the holiday of Shavuot.
The landowner declares his recognition and thanks to HaShem for the bountiful blessings he received as an owner of land in Eretz Yisrael and presents the fruit to a kohen who places it near the altar.
Countries the world over have armies but in Israel it is the army that has a country, where every important decision takes into account security implications.
We love our soldiers. The young people begin their private physical training while still in high school in preparation for army service. And how great the disappointment when a youngster does not make it into a highly dangerous special unit of Tzahal. And the adults willingly report for reserve duty with great loyalty.
However, things could be better…