The Haftorah for our Parsha begins:
“Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem” — “Comfort, comfort my people — says your G’d.” (Yishaiya, 40:1) This sentiment seems to be silent, but yet a theme of Parsha Va’etchanan.
In the beginning of Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu recalls for the B’nai Yisrael how he entreated Hashem for permission to cross the Jordan River but that his request was denied. Instead, he was consoled by viewing the Land from Mount Pisgah. (L’lmod Ul’Lamed – Parsha Va’etchanan, page 161)
Moshe Rabbeinu then recalls the trials of B’nai Yisrael in Bamidbar and enumerates:
“The decrees and… the ordinances that I teach you to perform, so that you may live, and you will come and possess the Land that Hashem, the G’d of your forefathers, gives you.”
Later in our Parsha, Moshe Rabbeinu’s provides further explanation of the laws concerning the Cities of Refuge (Irei Miklat), first enunciated in parsha Masei (Sefer Devarim, Perek 35). Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated R’ Zvi Belovski, pages 380-382) indicates that the laws regarding Cities of Refuge connect with Moshe Rabbeinu’s recitation of “the decrees and… the ordinances” to express that there is hope and consolation even for the accidental murderer who has lost his life force and must stay in a City of Refuge to avoid the deceased’s avenger.
Shem Mishmuel expresses that the Cities of Refuge signify to B’nai Yisrael that despite whatever travails may occur in the future, they can rise above their challenges and feel consolation in their hope. This includes whatever level the generation entering Eretz Yisrael may have been on visa-vi the generation which left Mitzrayim and who were witness to Hashem’s myriad of Miracles and yet transgressed with the Golden Calf (Egel Zahav), the Spies (Miraglim) and with various rebellions in Bamidbar, that they, and succeeding generations should never despair and lose hope.
Shem Mishmuel notes here:
“The very existence of the Irei Miklat and the laws surrounding them have a clear implication: there is always hope for the future.”
And after the destruction of the First and Second Beit HaMikdash, the starving, the famine, the presecutions, there was comfort and consolation that one day, the B’nai Yisrael would be redeemed and returned to our former state; a people in it’s land with it’s Beit HaMikdash for all time.
Back in Philadelphia, years ago in the old country, a Holacaust story was told of how Nazis confronted a group of Chassidim:
The Nazis rousted and harrassed the Chassidim, telling them “dance Chassidim, dance and sing!” And the Chassidim were silent. Again, the Nazis accosted the Chassidim, “Chassidim, dance and sing!” Then, the Nazis aimed their rifles, “Chassidim, dance and sing, or we will kill you!”
At first, slowly, muted, nervously, a niggun with words was heard faintly. The niggun and the words grew in volume as the Chassidim began to dance. “Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben…” “We will outlive you!”
Yes, we have outlived every nation, every vile personality which put upon B’nai Yisrael and so, we should, in theory, be comforted. And inevitably, B’Ezrat Hashem, history in years from now will show we will have outlived Hussein Obama as well as the rashayim among us.
But, even now, seven full years after the Expulsion — seven years after Jew expelled his fellow Jews from their homes on Divinely ordained Jewish land in easily the worst post Shoaa pogrom of our generations? Shabbos Nachamu? One wonders how long it really took B’nai Yisrael to console ourselves after each of the destructions, the persecutions throughout our history. One could wonder whether the term Nachamu – consolation could, in reality, be a euphemism for convenient amnesia/forgetting just as the Shoa raises memories too uncomfortable, unwelcome for those who R’ Meir Kahane z”l coined as “comfortable Jews” – comfortable Israelis.
Seven years later, the disbelief and the hurt continue too fresh, too raw, too festering, too agonizing for those of us who acted on behalf of our Gush Katif brethren. But, for most who chose to go through that excruciating time in August, 2005 with a “business as usual” attitude, the passage of time lulls the memory as if convenient amnesia.
This author has heard it said that there can be no unity, no consolation until the collective — all sectors of the collective who largely stood-by — begs mechilla (forgiveness) from their brethren, the former residents of Gush Katif. But reality is that there can be NO forgiveness until the masses express genuine, sincere contrition, as the brothers showed Yosef regarding Binyamin, backed by actualization of a pledge that the masses will NEVER stand idly by as a subsequent government would perpetrate another expulsion implemented Jew upon his Jewish brother.
How convenient indeed is the amnesia, the forgetting. As has been stated a number of times previoously on this blog; to those who sat by, “at peace”, while their brethren were collectively evicted, expelled from their homes, towns, neighborhoods, Shuls, communal and economic live. Let those of callous indifference toward their fellow Jews never again think to rise up in “righteous indignation” when their country, when their homes, when their front doors are attacked by murderous enemies bent on our collective annihilation.
WE who cared and acted on behalf of our brethren cannot and will not ever forget what happened. Some day, there will be a Nachamu, but for us, there will never be the convenience of amnesia.
Many of us fought seven years ago against the regime’s expulsion with all of our being that our brethren be not harmed, that their lives not be uprooted, destroyed, placed in limbo or pain; that they not be hounded and persecuted by the evil ones amongst us who brainwash and pit Jew against Jew.
Many of us, although far too few of the B’nai Yisrael, fought on the Gush Katif frontlines, or close to them, and continue to fight against successive vile Israeli governing regimes who, having stolen every piece of property and asset that our brothers had, continue to slander our fellow Jews, calling them “spoiled brats.” Where is the “justice” in the outrage of the Israel’s judicial system which a few years ago apparently condonied Arabs suing their former Jewish Gush Katif employers for pitzu’im — severance pay due to the elimination of their jobs. These anti-Torah so-called “justice” rashayim had the unmitigated, outrageous Israeli chutzpah put the onus upon the expelled Jews for the Gaza Arabs discharged from their jobs as a result of the expulsion. These false, bogus accusations and blood-libels were psychologically projected onto us by the very ones who continue perpetrating a systematic cover-up of the facts concerning the current state of the former Gush Katif residents and continue their institutionalized slander of the term “settler” — the noblest title for Jews who are linked, connected and inseparable from The Land of Israel.
We sought, and fought, with our hearts, tefillohs, strength and even our pocketbooks that our brothers would and should have as we have — that he is like me — V’ahavta L’rei’cha Komocha. We, too few of us, literally put our lives on hold to aid our brethren against the evil regime; against the hard-hearted Israeli “leaders” and “authorities” who hate, despise and show total disdain for Torah and Ahavat Yisrael and who pursue their own self-enrichment, self-interest and agenda at our expense. The Bibis, the Olmerts, Peres’, Ramons, Sheetrits, etc. have for years shown utter arrogance, disdain, neglect and disregard for the electorate they claim leadership of and enable enforcement of laws against.
And seven years later, we continue to care for our beloved Gush Katif brethren while remembering what our brethren suffered — in the North, and the southern neighboring communities to Gaza during the Lebanon conflict in 2006 and prior to, during and after Operation Cast Lead in 2009. The endured was because of a regime who sees Jews as expendable, whose obvious byword is; mercy for the cruel and cruelty to the merciful.
We have cried rivers over the catastrophe of expulsion. We feel deeply, from our hearts for our brethren from both the North and the South who suffered as a result of the long-range Iranian and Syrian-made rockets launched by Hezbollah (during the Lebanon conflict) or continuous Kassam bombardments by Hamas. How can we be consoled while many, if not most of our Gush Katif brethren are still unsettled seven years later and while the Fatah and Hamas are in possession of our land? How are we comforted while enduring the cancerous rot of evil anti-Torah, anti-Jewish Israeli governance, institutions, judiciary, media, not to mention the consolidation of Israel’s financial capital and riches in the hands of a few super-wealthy, super-privileged Israeli families?
But perhaps there is Nachamu, even now.
We hear very little anymore about Arik Sharon, 6 1/2 years after he went comatose after his stroke. He must have felt really empowered, immortal seven years ago at this time. He thought that he won, that he had vanquished an enemy; Torah and religion. But the Yad Hashem had other ideas. And Sharon is not the lone subsequent casualty of divine retribution. Time has begun to reveal the fates of the other perpetrators: Ehud Olmert, Shaul Mofaz, Gideon Ezra, Dan Halutz and more. While we don’t seek revenge, we hear about numerous other prominent individuals who had substantial roles in expelling Jews who now have been physically stricken with illnesses, indicted and/or convicted for corruption offenses, censured for anti-Torah psak and more.
We must take strength from the Torah’s enunciation of the Irei Miklat and never despair or lose hope that we can rise above contemporary challenges and feel consolation. Ultimately, the righteous will prevail.
And so we see, just as with the Chassidim, who under Nazi duress, began to dance and sing. The Jews will yet survive the downfall of vile, corruptible post-zionist governance.
“Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Ibber Leiben, Mir Villen zei Ibber Leiben…” “We will outlive you!”
We, those Deemed among the righteous, and Hashem will win out in the end. “Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem” — “Comfort, comfort my people — says your G’d.”
B’Ezrat Hashem, may it be that this Tisha B’av just past be the last Tzom for B’nai Yisrael.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard and the other MIAs be liberated alive returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage, backbone and moral stength of conviction to prevent both the eviction of Jews from their homes in all or any part of Eretz Yisrael and the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima — the Ultimate Redemption bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem, Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim” — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.