The Temple Institute: The Garments of Salvation



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The Garments of Salvation

September 17, 2001
© 2001 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

A Rosh HaShana Message from the Temple Institute

Tonight the Jewish people observe Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the New Year. But Rosh Hashana should no be regarded as a holiday for the Jewish people alone, and the thoughts and prayers of Jewish people on this holy day are not turned towards themselves. Indeed, the theme of the prayers that we shall recite on this day are not concerned with Israel’s welfare, but rather, with the hope that G-d will make Himself known to all humanity, that His honor will be restored, that all mankind will unite together in His service, and that evil will be vanquished from the earth. According to tradition, Rosh HaShana is the day that man was created. This day was sanctified by G-d forever as the day of judgment for all his descendants, all mankind...every single individual as well as every nation.

As the sun begins to set on the year 5761, we reflect upon the past year. This is the time for introspection. Yet this reflection is useless if it does not lead us to positive action and repentance. The goal of this High Holiday season is for us to realign ourselves spiritually with our Creator. To reassess our priorities in life and get them straight.

So much has happened; there is so much to think about. The world has changed so drastically. Here in Israel, we are devastated and still reeling from the unspeakable, murderous attacks that took place last week in America. We join in America’s suffering. The Jewish people as a whole is especially sensitive to these terrible losses: 5000 deaths is only one-half the amount of the Jews who were murdered each day in Auschwitz.

Terror was not invented last week, but it has come a long way. Many events preceded the events of last week. 29 years ago last week, Israeli athletes were massacred at the Munich Olympics by Palestinians. And exactly one year ago, a war was thrust upon us. As Prime Minister Sharon has pointed out, "terror is terror, and murder is murder." There is no distinction between the terror attacks against American cities and those in Israel’s cities. And to make any such distinction is obscene. Palestinian terrorists who blow up children eating pizza are not "freedom fighters;" they are demons from another world. A world that you, gentle reader, could not relate to until now. The Palestinians, led by Yasser Arafat, have engaged in a campaign of murder over the past year.  Their people are encouraged to become suicide bombers, blowing themselves to bits for the sake of killing Jews.  Parents sacrifice their own children on the altar of this Molech, receiving promises of lifetime monetary compensation. The bomber himself is promised paradise; "70 virgins." But to the daily attacks in Israel against innocent Jews, which have claimed so many lives, which have destroyed so many families -- to this, the world turns a blind eye. Indeed, America has made it plain - as President Bush says, "Make no mistake" - that she will track down the perpetrators of this horrible crime to the ends of the earth, that she will "smoke them out of their holes," even if innocents are killed. Because everybody knows, you don’t fool around with America. Jews are murdered on Israel’s roads almost every day. Yet American has always branded Israel’s responses to terrorists attacks "extreme;" Israel is expected to negotiate with Arafat, after a year in which almost two hundred Israelis have been murdered and thousands have been wounded, many crippled for life... not to mention the hundreds of Israelis who have been murdered in the last 8 years, since the Oslo peace process began. How do you feel about negotiating with terrorists, America? Or, as one columnist writing in the New York Times recently put it, "Do you get it now?"

It is well-known that the international media takes pains not to portray the Palestinians in a negative light. When an Italian TV cameraman filmed the horrific lynching of 2 Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, he afterwards apologized to the Palestinian Authority in writing. And last week when foreign news correspondents filmed Palestinians dancing  in the streets and passing out candy in celebration of the terrorist attacks in America that left thousands dead, their film was confiscated and their lives were threatened. For the cameras, the heinous Arafat, while thinking about Leon Klinghoffer, feigned remorse, shock and sympathy for the American people. Are you fooled, America? He was even filmed donating blood for the if anyone would want to receive that festering, infectious blood.

Several weeks ago an item was broadcast on the news here in Israel that I am sure you did not see in America. At a mass rally in one of the Palestinian cities, a revealing enactment took place. In particular, two acts were done - "acts," because they were staged for the entertainment of the thousands gathered there. In one show, a model of the Holy Temple was destroyed by masked activists. And in another demonstration, a Palestinian played the role of a Jew. He was dressed in a talit, a Jewish prayer shawl...and was "murdered," to the thunderous applause of the crowds.

And there you have it. Do not be misled by those politicians who say that this conflict has nothing to do with religion, and that such talk just fans the flames of extremism. A year since the Temple Mount has been closed to all non-Muslims, while remnants of the Holy Temple are still being systematically destroyed, they destroyed a model of the Holy Temple, and murdered a Jew dressed for prayer - not a "Zionist," not a "Settler," not an "Israeli" - a Jew. In Durban at the United Nations’ "Conference against Racism," the Arab states called for the "ethnic cleansing" of the Jewish people - the dismantling of the State of Israel. This is exactly what Arafat’s murderous accomplices and henchmen are trying to do, every day, on Israel’s streets.

For some weeks now we have been reading from the fifth book of the Torah, the book of Deuteronomy. The special character of this book distinguishes it from the rest of the Torah. Just prior to his death, Moses, having reached the highest level of wisdom that can be attained by a human being, and enveloped with the purest Divine inspiration, reviewed the entire Torah before all of Israel. Thus the book of Deuteronomy contains the secrets of Jewish survival, and the most important messages for our time, as in:

"Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, if you obey the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, but turn aside from the way which I command you today..."

It doesn’t get much clearer than this. One wonders if Israel’s policy makers have ever bothered to look into the pages of the Bible on a Sabbath morning.

In last week’s  haftora (prophetic reading), we read:

"I will greatly rejoice in the L-rd, my soul shall be joyful in my G-d; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation (bigdei yesha), He has covered me with the robe of righteousness... (Isaiah 61:10).

The image of the Jew in his talit - the same image that infuriates the Palestinians to the point of murder - is the personification of a  "garment of salvation" and a "robe of righteousness." It is this very concept of faith in the Divine promise that will nullify evil - not only the evil facing Israel but the evil facing all mankind -- and bring joy and hope to the world. And in Hebrew, "garments of salvation" are ‘bigdei yesha’ -  the garments of Yesha, the acronym of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Land of Israel is the true garment of the Jewish people, through which "I will greatly rejoice in my L-rd, my soul shall be joyful in my G-d."

During this past year, throughout all the difficulties, the Temple Institute has continued to make great progress with one of its current projects, another type of "garments of salvation" - the garments of the High Priest. This project is well on its way, and in the words of President Bush, "make no mistake:" these garments will be worn by Israel’s High Priest in the soon to be rebuilt Holy Temple. And that is the best answer to Yasser Arafat.

May it be soon, may it be this year, may you all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a sweet and healthy New Year, and may you receive every blessing from the source of all blessings.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year,
Rabbi Chaim Richman

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500



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