In Search of Our Brothers
One week ago we sent out an urgent news bulletin to all the subscribers on our list. The breaking news was that Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the Founder and Head of The Temple Institute had been arrested and was being interrogated concerning an opinion of halacha - Jewish law - that he had expressed in response to a question posed by private citizens. The issue was of absolutely no concern to the Israel police, but the arrest and investigation were certainly part of a deliberate program of harassment directed toward all citizens who have dared to make known their objection to the government's "disengagement" expulsion of thousands of Jews from their homes and communities two summers ago. It does seem extraordinary that in this day and age, (the year 5767 - 2006), and with the nation of Israel being surrounded by enemies bent on her annihilation, the democratic government of Israel would find the time and desire to be involved in the suppression of free thought and Torah scholarship. What is even more remarkable is that this is transpiring on the background of the approaching Chanukah festival.
Chanukah, of course, commemorates the miracle of the sealed cruse of pure olive oil which contained enough oil to kindle the menorah for a single day, but which remained burning for eight full days. But Chanukah also commemorates the heroism and determination of an initially small number of Jews who refused to bow to the tyrant Antiochus and abandon the faith of their forefathers for the Hellenistic culture sweeping society at that time. Thankfully, that same spark of faith and resilient commitment to the Torah of Israel continues to burn in the hearts of not a few individuals today, both within the people of Israel, and without. The true face of the Jewish people is today a minority within the official Israeli establishment, which, steeped in its secular dogma and adherence to the politically-correct, continues to hold the G-d of Israel in contempt. But the Jewish people in the land of Israel, who have returned from their exile in the far-flung corners of the earth, remain steadfast and unshakable in their commitment to the teachings of the Torah and the future that G-d has laid out before us. And this is the true majority of the nation of Israel. Leaders of Rabbi Ariel's Torah stature and moral conviction are not great in number, but those whose thoughts and beliefs his words express, are many.
But the defenders of Torah against the Hellenizing detractors are not found just within the land of Israel, nor within the people of Israel alone. In our news bulletin of last week we also including a call to "all our friends and supporters, and all to whom the future of the Jewish nation in the land of Israel is dear to their hearts, to express your outrage. Please send a fax of protest to Public Security Minister Avi Dichter: 972-(0)2-530-8039." Your response was tremendous, both in the volume of faxed messages that the Israeli police did, indeed receive, even while Rabbi Ariel was still being interrogated, but, judging by sample messages that were also forwarded to us, also in the indignation and clarity of protest expressed in your words. The sudden surfeit of faxed messages received to the great astonishment and admonishment of the police, proved heartening to Rabbi Ariel, who was informed of the protest by the very police who were questioning him! The spirit of the Maccabees lives and flourishes today, and will continue to spread and take root. The day will certainly be not long in coming when today's Hellenizers will be routed once and for all, and the Holy Temple, spreading forth the pure light of the rekindled menorah, will be rebuilt.
The Torah parashot that we read each Shabbat during this season of Chanukah are imbued with special significance when seen in the light of the holiday. Like our forefather Yaakov, the Maccabees, and, indeed, we today, "have struggled with man and G-d, and have prevailed." (Genesis 32:29) But perhaps the greatest lesson to bear in mind is, that while our struggle today to remain true to the life and the promise of the Torah leads us at times to conflict with our own brethren, that of the following words spoken by Yosef, when he was sent by his father to join his brothers: "And he [Yosef] said: 'I seek my brothers. Tell me, I pray you, where they are feeding the flock.'" (ibid 37:16) Our history teaches us that only in unity and brotherly love will the Holy Temple again become the the dwelling-place of G-d and "a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 57:6)
Join Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven on this week's TEMPLE TALK, as they discuss the Torah readings of Vayishlach and Vayeshev, the meeting between Simon the Just and Alexander the Great, the indomitable Maccabbees of yesterday and today, and much, much more.
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