Tuesday, November 25, 2008

#9 - Kahane CHAI - Kahane's Legacy Lives On

Here we are on our way to Chanuka, the holiday that celebrates our religious freedom in the Land of Israel; in fact, the only holiday that is Israel based - particularly free access to our holiest site in Jerusalem - until recent times when it became a reality once again with Yom Yerushalayim in 1967. And just like we had a few Jewish heroes in the Chanuka story, most notably Matisyahu the patriarch of the Maccabees; so in our time we had a modern day Matisyahu - Rabbi Kahane ZTVK'L HY'D. Actually, there were two Rabbi Kahane's - Rabbi Meir Kahane & his son Rabbi Binyamin Kahane - who were living Jewish heroes living each & every day with their self sacrifice knowing that any day could very well be their last as it actually happened.

Over a week ago, it was the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Meir Kahane - particularly his 18th or Chai "LIFE" Yahrzeit that is on Chai (18) Cheshvan. Thus, not only is the date of his Yahrzeit the 18th of Cheshvan when his life was brutally cut short by an accursed Arab, but this year it was the 18th memorial Yahrzeit. It is interesting to note that following his murder, his son and best follower, Rabbi Binyamin Kahane, took over the leadership of the Kahane movement - under the name of KAHANE CHAI. How fitting! Rabbi Meir Kahane was a man of no compromise - his word was the word of Torah with no politics or strings attached. Thus, after he was no longer in our immediate reach, his teachings which are the teachings of Torah LIVE ON. And while there were unfortunately supposed Kahane followers who for political reasons did not want to accept his son Binyamin Kahane as the next leader, this did not take away from the Kahane son's mission of continuing to spread his father's teachings which became much more relevant as time went on with the problems of the Israeli government who were all too eager to give more land away, and the Palestinian Intifadas. While I never had the merit to meet Rabbi Meir Kahane, I had the great fortune of meeting his son Rabbi Binyamin Kahane, who with his quiet nature, did not seem to have had the forceful personality of his father , but was very outspoken when it came to telling the truth that few had the courage to tell it as it is to the Jewish people.

While I live in Israel, I was not able to make it this year to Meir Kahane's burial plot in Har HaMenuchot or attend the annual memorial event held in Jerusalem in his memory. I felt bad in a way because after all, this was his CHAI - 18th - Yahrzeit. However, on second thought, the main thing Meir Kahane stressed in his lifetime was ACTION - not just attending memorial ceremonies of just another victim of Arab terror. Accordingly, the least I can do besides paying mere lip service to the memorial prayer though that is important too for the Neshama's Aliyah in Heaven, is to write to everyone a bit of Meir Kahane's teachings, especially as it relates to what we all need to do more than ever. This will be his ultimate Aliyah (hint, hint).

In Rabbi Meir Kahane's magnum opus called Ohr HaRahyon - or "The Jewish Idea" (one volume in Hebrew, two volumes in English), consisting of 39 chapters, he writes on a variety of topics that are essential to Jewish living. Being that this is his 18th Yahrzeit - I figured that it would be a good idea to check out the 18th chapter in this Sefer - holy book. Lo and behold - a topic I had mentioned in an early post - Eretz Yisrael - the Land of Israel! I think that this is no mere coincidence that Hashem allowed this topic to be the 18th chapter of this book. Jewish living has little meaning without living (and if G-d forbid not immediately possible, with the great yearning for) in the Land of Israel, where Jewish life - CHAI - is meant to be lived. Anyways, I wanted to see what I would write about from this chapter since it isn't exactly just a page or two, so I decided to first count the paragraphs. Very interestingly - this 18th chapter has exactly 19 paragraphs (in the Hebrew edition). This is just like the prayer of Shemoneh Esray - which means 18 - as it originally consisted of 18 blessings, but presently has 19 blessings. Now, the 14th blessing of this prayer is the blessing asking Hashem to rebuild Jerusalem, which is the capital of Israel. So, I figured that I would check out the 14th paragraph of this 18th chapter on Israel, and I will write here a loose translation of the Hebrew (I don't have the English version with me at this time)

Before I begin, in the parenthetical note of the next to the last Rashi on this week's Parshas Toldos, Rashi points out that Ya'akov missed seeing his son Yosef for 22 years as punishment for not having performed the Mitzva of honoring his parents for 22 years from the time he came to his uncle Lavan's place until he returned to Israel. Now, one may ask - wait a minute. I thought that his own parents told him to leave home as his evil brother Eisav wanted to kill him, and since he came to Lavan, he got married and had children who became the ancestors of the Jewish people, so what did Hashem want from Ya'akov when it wan't his fault? This bothered me for a while - at least in terms of some of the years when his wives were busy giving birth. But the following words of Kahane takes away all questions after this. Read on.

"Know, and don't ever forget - Israel was given to the Jewish nation not as rights that one can forgo saying "I don't want it", but as an obligation that is impossible for one to free himself from. But very unfortunately in recurring Jewish history, every time that the Jews reached exile settling into their comfort zone, they rejected the Coveted Land and wished to find rest in exile. It's only when Anti-Semitism showed its ugly head that there was an arousal of leaving exile."

"We find the above to be applicable to our forefather Ya'akov himself. After his son Yosef was born (Ya'akov knew prophetically from Yosef's birth that he would have the power to overcome Esav, and thus felt that he could now return to Israel even with the threat of Esav), the Torah writes "Following Rachel giving birth to Yosef, Ya'akov said to Lavan "Send me, so I can go to my place and my land (Israel)"". Mind you, this was after 14 years of Ya'akov working for Lavan and he was still poor. A Biblical commentator Seforno writes on Ya'akov's statement to Lavan - "Though Ya'akov did not own cattle, he certainly had enough to support his family - at least to buy food, clothing and provisions for his return home..." Additionally, while Lavan wished to deduct from Ya'akov salary, and told him what he was going to pay him accordingly, a miracle happened and Ya'akov became rich. SIX MORE YEARS passed since Ya'akov's informing Lavan of his wish to return to Israel, as evidenced from his own words "I was in your house for 20 years - 14 years for your two daughters, and 6 years for your sheep""

"QUESTION: Why did Ya'akov our forefather remain with Lavan for 6 additional years from the time that he wished to return to Israel? ANSWER: After acquring much property, he wanted to acquire more property until he became outstandingly wealthy, as the Torah attests "The man (Ya'akov) became very wealthy - he owned much sheep, maidservants, male servants, camels and donkeys""

"The evil inclination is very hard to conquer. A lion only roars following devouring a container of meat, and does bad things after having its fill. Similarly, since Ya'akov became a wealthy person, it didn't bother him that he living on in exile, so Hashem turned Lavan and his family's feelings against him, in order that the hatred would make Ya'akov understand that he needs to leave, as the Torah informs us "He (Ya'akov) heard Lavan's family saying "Ya'akov took all that belongs to our father (Lavan)...Ya'akov noticed how Lavan did not treat him like he used to" Despite all this, Ya'akov did not rise to return to Israel, so Hashem needed to tell him "Return to your forefathers' land - your birthplace, and I will be with you". Our Rabbis note on this (Bereishit Rabba 73:12) "Hashem said to him, "Your father-in-law (Lavan) doesn't treat you nicely, and you are remaining here? Return to your forefathers' land... We see from here that the plague of wealth and comfort in exile makes one forget the obligation of living in Israel"

Now my friends, picture the scenario. In Ya'akov's time, he didn't have any of the thrills of Jewish living that we have nowadays. There were no Shuls, Yeshiva day schools, Kosher supermarkets, Glatt-Kosher restaurants, gebrucht free Kosher for Passover hotels, JCCs, heimishe neighbors, etc. The only source of Jewish living was in Ya'akov's own home - the environment that his children - who were all righteous - grew up in, and had no Jewish friends from the outside idol worshipping environment. And yet, despite the fact that his childen did not have anything spiritually to look forward to outside the home, Ya'akov our forefather, as great of a righteous person as he was, and as our Rabbis tell us, he surpassed his Zeide Avraham and his Tatte Yitzchak in Torah learning, did not consider moving to the holy land of Israel anytime soon once he got busy acquiring wealth. Certainly, Ya'akov with his good intentions, realized that physical wealth only goes so far in this world, and you can't take it with you in the next. Certainly, he was hoping to have enough to amply support his righteous family, and wasn't looking to have a jacuzzi in his backyard. But...this was Ya'akov's BIG mistake - making the money itself wasn't his ultimate weekness - it was placing this as a priority over Eretz Yisrael. And while Ya'akov first came to Lavan with good intentions of escaping possible death from his brother, and marrying his wives - the only ones in the world he could marry because everyone else was busy worshipping idols, not even the first 14 years were excusable in Hashem's eyes, as this lead to a spiritual downfall of Ya'akov as he remained in Beit Lavan - can be retranslated as the "White House". the center of the United States & world power - thinking that he will have everything good when this was not supposed to be his purpose of being in Beit Lavan to begin with - becoming wealthy was a temporary thing from which Ya'akov should have immediately pulled himself away from and follow his original intentions. Thus, it is no wonder that Hashem punished him for the ENTIRE 22 years because now, if becoming wealth was his end purpose of not living in Hashem's land, then so too was he held accountable for the 22 years that he did not perform acts of honor for his parents had he been in Israel all this time.

So now, in the following week, when we will learn and hear the Torah reading of Parshas Vayetze , as it begins off with Ya'akov leaving Israel and ending off with Ya'akov finally returning to Israel - what will we be thinking about? You see, next week's Parshas Vayetze is the ONLY Parsha of the 54 Parshiyot that has no interruption of space in the Sefer Torah. Perhaps the Torah wants to point out to us that history would repeat itself and the Jewish people would do the same mistake as Ya'akov made - despite leaving Israel based on good intentions or thrown out of Israel, the Jewish people for the large part let itself forget the real purpose of living, and wealth in the United States has become the greatest deterrent in preventing Jews from making Aliyah. It will only be when Jews return to Israel, as Ya'akov finally returned to Israel, that we can have some real semblance of Jewish life, and all the fine Jewish dining of Boro Park, or the Shteiging in learning of Lakewood is not following what the Torah says that HASHEM COMMANDS US TO LIVE IN ISRAEL! Certainly, South Florida, where I come from - and believe me - was real paradise with half the days of winter not being cold as everywhere else in the States; but one day, Hashem woke me up when I saw the front cover of Israpost, a very pro-Israel newspaper based in South Florida, with an article of the latest chartered flight of Jews making Aliyah, and I found myself living in Israel in less than 6 months later.

Yes, following Obama's rise to power thanks to the liberal Democratic Jews feeling comfortable in exile, as predicted in the 5751th verse of the Torah, reminiscent of the year 5751 when Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered who echoed the message of this 5751th verse, as I wrote about in a previous post, and in between Obama's successful election and upcoming (Nasi-Nazi) presidency was the 18th Yahrzeit of Rabbi Kahane, it is about time that Jews in the United States wake up (not like a Willamsburg Yungerman who recently said ''If Obama wins, I will move to Monsey, I don't won't to live in America any more'', thinking that Monsey is a holy place where "very religious" Jews live, even though it is also in the United States) and at very least, the ones who believe in Kahane's teachings, should follow his teachings once and for all - giving his Neshama the ultimate Aliyah - making Aliyah ourselves while Hashem gives us continued life to be able to make the big move - and by following Hashem's command, He will see to it that we will be able to survive and live in Israel, regardless of how the world economy is turning. It is Hashem Who ultimately runs the world, the economy, and will grant us the blessings mentioned in the Torah that Hashem promises us when we follow what He tells us to do as written in the Torah.

For more information on Rabbi Kahane's teachings and the importance of moving to Israel - especially from the United States, check out http://www.voiceofjudea.com/ & http://www.shuva.net/.

28 Cheshvan, 5769

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