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)
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, in the old country, a Holacaust story was told of how Nazis confronted a group of Chassidim. And 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!”
And yes, we have outlived every nation, every vile personality which put upon B’nai Yisrael and so, we are comforted.
But again this year? Shabbos Nachamu? As with last year, one wonders how long it took B’nai Yisrael to console ourselves after each of the destructions, the persecutions throughout our history. The wounds of last year and the resultant war this year at this time are too fresh, too raw.
Many of us who fought last year with all of our being that our brethren be not harmed, that their lives not be uprooted, destroyed, placed in limo or pain, hounded and persecuted by the evil ones who brainwash and pit Jew against Jew. Many of us fought and continue to fight against these vile individuals who slander both our fellow Jews and the term “settler” — the noblest title of 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 literally put our lives on hold to aid our brethren against the evil regime of our time — hard -hearted Israeli “leaders” and “authorities” who hate and despise Torah and Ahavat Yisrael and who pursue their own self-enrichment, self-interest and agenda at our expense and consequently show utter disdain, neglect and disregard for the electorate they claim leadership of and enforcement of laws against.
And a year later, we continue to care for our beloved Gush Katif brethren while simultaneously caring for, in much the same way, the many-fold of our brethren in the North, not a few of whom supported last year’s expulsions, and who now find themselves displaced from their homes by a war of direct mida-kenegged-mida with a weapons-stocked enemy and a war, directly attributeable to Islamic lust, a consequence of the regime’s blind hatred which drove the expulsion ahead, even at the cost of making the nation security-vulnerable.
We who have fought physically, with our tefillos, with our kindness, have cried rivers over last year’s catastrophe and feel deeply, from the heart for our brethren from Haifa, from Tsfat, Kiryat Shemonah as well as from Afula and Jenin who have suffered the long-range Iranian and Syrian-made rockets launched by Hezbollah. How can we be consoled while our Gush Katif brethren are still unsettled, while Hamas is in possession of our land, while hundreds of thousands of our Jewish brethren in both the North and South are either displaced or made to suffer the Blitz of the Kassams and Katyushas and while the IDF is in a multiple front war of survival?
Having said all of the above, we are further faced with divisiveness during the very time that our unity is a necessity.
In the midst of the two-front war being fought to bring about the freedom of 3 Jewish soldiers and the utter, total and complete defeat and devastation of Hamas and Hezbollah and B’Ezrat Hashem, their Syrian and Iranian sponsors, we find that an evil Ehud Olmert can’t get over his dream, his lust to complete the job that Sharon started — to build on the expulsion from Gush Katif and the 4 Shomron towns; to expell Jews from most of Yehuda and Shomron. He’s sooo enamored of his plan that in the midst of the War being waged in the north, he brags to various media; “that the war in Lebanon could create momentum for further West Bank pullouts.”
And as a consequence, there are segments of the religious community who are now calling for their sons not to answer their military call-ups.
The pain, the hurt and humiliation that Religious Jews have suffered at the hands of both Ehud Olmert, and before him, Arik Sharon are easy to feel and to understand. The sad ironies surrounding the recent deaths in combat of soldiers Amihai Merhavia (beaten by Yassamnikim during a protest) and Ro’i Klein are also easy to comprehend. The desire that young religious boys not be exploited by this hateful regime toward it’s own ends is also valid.
Those who call on religious soldiers not to serve in this war; a war of survival, a war where many hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives, homes, property and dignity as Jews are at stake seems to reach the same level of divisiveness and moral wrong as Ehud Olmert’s compulsive dream of displacing 50,000 – 100,000 Jews in Yehuda and Shomron. This seems surely NOT what our Gush Katif brethren would want — V’ahavta L’rei’cha Komocha. They only wanted to see that religious soldiers, and other soldiers of moral principle would NOT be part of expelling, unfortunately, a number did take part.
Let’s WIN the war first, and not fall into the trap of divisiveness in calling for enlisted soldiers not to serve where we could be viewed in Shemayim as divisive, as disunifying and thus be blamed by most Israelis for losing the war. After all, this war in the North and in Gaza IS a war of Jewish survival, NOT a campaign to expel Jews and to seize their property and belongings.
Only afterwards, should we fight tooth the nail against the inevitable Israeli chiloni euphoria of victory, “what we did with our own hands”, what the new generation of Israeli [secular] “Golden Youth*” has accomplished. Only afterwards must we mobilize Hasbara of our own. Only afterwards will the inevitable Commission of Inquiry be formed to investigate the root causes of this War; How we allowed terrorists to build up their ranks, to be armed with 10s of thousands of missiles and rockets and how Israel’s appeasement, by Oslo, by Chevron, by withdrawal from South Lebanon and by the expulsions from Gush Katif and the Shomron led to the myth of Arab victory. With Hashem’s help, Israel’s left shall yet be discredited into disrepute. With Hashem’s help, we shall see a huge spike in Teshuvah and in Aliyah.
So perhaps there is Nachamu, even now.
We don’t hear much about Arik Sharon anymore, although he felt really empowered last year 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 will reveal the others.
And every believing Jew belongs taking part in the battle for Eretz Yisrael to his fullest and beyond, to the extent that he can. Every believing Jew must be his own leader within the body of B’nai Yisrael, but without the contentiousness of a million generals. We must knife through the apathy, the indifference, the “business as usual” and the fear of the regime.
We and Hashem will win out in the end. “Nachamu, Nachamu Ami yomar Elokeichem” — “Comfort, comfort my people — says your G’d.”
May it be in this year and beyond, that our brethren; the refugee families from Gush Katif and the Shomron (may they soon be restored to new homes and neighborhoods, Bati Knesset, Yeshivot in Gush Katif and the Shomron and only happiness and success for all time), as well as our dear brother, Jonathan Pollard (may he soon know freedom and long life in Eretz Yisrael), that the lives of the 3 captive Chayalim be central in our thoughts, prayers, chassadim and actions. May this abominable period of history called hitnatkut be as a bad dream.
May we be zocha in this coming year to take giant steps toward fulfilling 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 the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, “Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
*”Golden Youth” was a term conveyed by Israelis to Rav Meir Kahane Zt’l [which he used in an article] after the 6 Day War to describe Israeli soldiers of that time.
Moshe Burt is an Oleh, writer and commentator on news and events in Eretz Yisrael. He is the founder and director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network.