A few weeks ago, at the occasion of the special Yom Kippur Kotton Tefillos said in Beit Tefillah Shul of Ramat Beit Shemesh, in reaction to the ongoing war in both North and South of Eretz Yisrael, I delivered a message between Minchah and Ma’ariv. And the point made was that HaKodosh Baruch Hu runs and manages the world with an organized system—–the system being middah k’negged middah (measure for measure). This means that the consequences of mankind’s deeds, both wicked and righteous, is always appropriate, fitting, and indeed, more often than not, the direct result of the deed itself(See Rambam Commentary to Mishnah,Avos,2:6).
The reason this is so is manifold. But the simplest, most cited reason is quite clear, and, is cited by major Rabbinic figures such as (amongst countless others) Derashos HoRan (D’rush #3), Nefesh HaChaim (4:29)and HoRav Chaim Shmuelevitz ztl(5732:11) —it is in order that man can realize and resolve which of his actions are or are not pleasing to HaShem, so that he can know whether to continue specific deeds, or change them and make amends.
The clear, common denominator between the horrifying events of one year ago surrounding Gush Katif and Shomron, and this year’s scenes of tragic death, destruction, homelessness and upheaval certainly speaks to us, telling us that we are eating the fruits of what we have sown -both in terms of sheer, eerie, similarity, and, much much more, the fact that this year’s tragedies are a direct, manifest consequence of last year’s deeds.
So where do we go from here? The war, as of this writing, is on-going. The tragedies continue—over 3,000 katyusha rockets have landed on towns and cities throughout Northern Eretz Yisrael; there have been many fatalities; scores injured; vast damages to property and businesses…. Many thousands of people from the North have left their homes to move to the “safety” of the rest of the country. The tzedakah and chessed offered to the ‘refugees from the North’ are already the stuff of legends. Do we just sit and pray, and wait for HaShem to bring about Tzahal’s victory? And, truth be told, even if that were, at this point, to occur, would the phrase “Another such victory and I am lost” (said by Pyrrhus of Epirus after beating Rome’s legions, thus giving birth to the phrase ‘pyrrihic victory’) apply?
My friends: If we truly believe that the ongoing war and losses are linked to last year’s Gush Katif/Shomron expulsions—then we have a major problem on our hands.
Most people, upon being asked what is the most intense sin, the one hardest to receive forgiveness for, would answer “Chillul HaShem”(a desecration of HaShem’s name)(based on Yoma 86a).
Yet that is not so! See Yoma 85b—-a sin committed against one’s fellow-man has no forgiveness, ever, in any way, shape, or form, unless the aggrieved party or parties forgive those responsible! And thus,if the good people of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron do not forgive K’llall Yisrael———-!!! And yet they are not obligated to forgive us unless we beg their forgiveness! Have we, the general public who allowed such a travesty to come to pass done so? Has any leader done so? Has any leader-political or Torah-leader— admitted culpability , even if only through acquiescence or just silence?? Through not protesting as vigorously as he would have if HIS community was threatened with destruction? Did I act with the fervor, alacrity and zeal that I surely would have if it were my home, my family, my community, my Shul, my Yeshivah, my girl’s school, my mikvah, my matnas, my livelihood, my life’s-work? We all, collectively, and separately, should be begging each destroyed community for forgiveness!
I am but a single individual-and my Ivrit is not what it should be. But I am convinced that what must be done is an initiative whereby like-minded individuals would make the rounds of the uprooted communities, and beg and beseech them to perform a kindness for K’llall Yisrael, lifnim mishurat Hadin (beyond the letter of the Law), and thus hopefully put an end to the retribution occurring on their behalf. Specifically, we would ask each community to pick one representative——–and together they would form a minyan, and they would daven, and cry out to Hashem, saying–“We forgive,we forgive, we forgive! And now HaShem you, too, forgive, and stop the present further destruction, homelessness, and despair, taking place upon millions of our brethren. And make right, and heal, and correct, what has gone wrong with us, as only You can.”
The gauntlet has been thrown down. We either believe, or we do not. If we don’t think this year is connected to last year, then my proposal is irrelevant, a fantasy, a delusion. But if it is—then the proposal is urgent, essential and imperative . For if our Sages world-view is reality, then it is our only hope to emerge from the present conundrum.
Rav Malinowitz is the Rav of Beis Tefillah in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and was a Dayan in Monsey New York before making aliyah nine years ago.
It is the deeply held feeling of this author that it is simply not enough to beg and beseech our brethren from Gush Katif and the 4 Shomron towns for forgiveness beyond the letter of the law without providing some tangible proof, evidence that we will, in fact, never again sit idly by while our fellow Jews are victimized, persecuted, robbed, expelled at legalized gunpoint.
When our fellow Jews are in t’zar, we can never again continue to go on with our lives, business as usual, either oblivious to t’zar or unable to take independent action regarding an obvious aveirah owing to silence and lack of assertive actions on the part of various segments of religious leadership. Without such a committment, our pleas for forgiveness appear empty, due to one’s narrow pain and inconvenience of the moment.
Therefore, this author proposes that a covenant of unity be vowed in light of our pleas begging and beseeching the representatives of the Gush Katif communities for their Mechila, for their forgiveness.
This covenant would address the following;
1/ Solemn committment that what happened last year in Gush Katif and the Shomron will NEVER be permitted to occur again.
2/ That those of us undertaking this solemn committment and vow do so without qualification or caveat of “bli neder”, and commit to stand with any of our brethren aggrieved due to actions aimed at forcing them from their property, from their communities, Shuls, Yeshivot, etc. anywhere within areas currently inhabited by Jews throughout the entirety of Eretz Yisrael as well as areas which come into possession of Jews in the future.
3/ That those who undertake this committment certify that they will put their lives, their families, their very parnossa on hold, as we learn is incumbent upon those serving in a Jewish army during a war, a mandatory milchoma in keeping with their abilities, aptitudes and talents; i.e. those who are proficient in learning shall dedicate and devote an additional, substantial length of time to dedicated learning on behalf of their aggrieved brethren; those with tactical or strategic talents would devote their efforts to planning steps to combat, at every step, attmepts to expel and uproot Jews; those with journalistic attributes would commit to combatting the leftist media;
those with physical attributes, expertise in military skills, etc …
4/ Parents and offspring of military enlistment ages must commit to withholding enlistment and those already enlisted must take on the nesu’in, the test of refraining from immorally ordered actions regarding abuse and mistreatment of, expulsion or uprooting of fellow Jews anywhere within areas currently inhabited by Jews throughout the entirety of Eretz Yisrael as well as areas which come into possession of Jews in the future.
5/ In short, just as Yehudah and the brothers exerted themselves on behalf of their youngest brother Binyamin before the Viceroy (Yosef), 2nd only to Pharoh in Mitzrayim, thus showing Yosef that they had learned from incident of Yosef being sold into bondage in Mitzrayim, so too, in order to merit forgiveness beyond the letter of the law, this author holds that our Gush Katif brethren must have no doubts that we are committed with our very beings, that what happened last year, that expulsion, that uprooting of Jews will never again be permitted or tolerated. That we will never again be apathetic — because “it’s not at our door.” MB