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לימוד תורה

Judgment, accounting and the Operation Breaking Dawn

The Parasha in our everyday life – Vaetchanan- Shabbat Nachamu 5782

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - Head of the Hesder Yeshiva 'Meir Harel' Modiin

Dedicated to the memory of the late Lt. Col. Avner Goldman who fell in the helicopter disaster in Romania 15 Av 2010.

In about two weeks, we will begin saying “Selichot” (supplication prayers) before “the breaking of dawn”, during the transition from darkness to light, which is a time of grace and mercy. And we will start blowing the Shofar calling for 'Din VeCheshbon” (“judgment and accounting”); taking responsibility for past actions, and correction and repentance for the future.

A few days ago, “Operation Breaking Dawn” finished with great success, after beginning on the eve of Shabbat 9th of Av. The operation started with a proactive attack, a sophisticated surprise, was called a success and achieved its objectives. This is the opportunity to congratulate all those involved:  the IDF and its commanders, security agencies, and the government. And to thank G-d for the miracles we were granted, the operation ended without casualties - and the miracle of the development of the 'Iron Dome' despite opposition from security 'experts', at the time.

Symbolically, the operation took place while we are marking 17 years since the Israeli disengagement and expulsion of the residents of Gush Katif and northern Samaria from their homes. In the original plan, it was planned for Aug. 14, 2005, but its planners did not notice that it was the 9th of Av! Later they decided to postpone it by one day.

The memory of the disengagement is also intended to conduct 'accountability' regarding its results. Among them, the need for operations of this type, in front of the small Islamic Jihad organization that only has about 6000 fighters. Before the disengagement, its leaders promised that it would "improve the security of the citizens of Israel", "improve the operational capacity of the security forces and make them legit", and "will not detract from the ability of the IDF and the security forces to provide an effective response to any threat at any point in time", rather it "will stop the clock that accelerates the Hamas takeover." They mocked those who resisted and saw the future: "Ashkelon will not become the front line, I want you to know that. Not Ashkelon and no other places," "There is a claim that there will be a threat to settlements in the Negev, etc. I have never heard such a ridiculous claim".

In the 17 years that have passed since then, Gaza has become a Hamas strategic terrorist threat state, firing thousands of rockets not only at Ashkelon, but also at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and shutting down Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport and the Israeli economy for some time.

It has dragged the IDF into more than 14 major operations and about 20 rounds of combat that cost the economy billions. And many are injured in body, mind and post-trauma. Soldiers and civilians. And to the need to build a ground barrier against tunnels at a cost of about 3.5 billion NIS.

In our Parasha comes Moshe Rabeinu's “time for judgment” concerning the 'sin of waters of Meribah' in which it is said:

יַ֚עַן לֹא־הֶאֱמַנְתֶּ֣ם בִּ֔י לְהַ֨קְדִּישֵׁ֔נִי לְעֵינֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל לָכֵ֗ן לֹ֤א תָבִ֙יאוּ֙ אֶת־הַקָּהָ֣ל הַזֶּ֔ה אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־נָתַ֥תִּי לָהֶֽם

Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them.” (Bamidbar 20:12)

A sin that was received with extreme severity, as a violation of a general and important foundation – “you did not trust Me enough to Sanctify me”, hence the severity of the punishment - the prevention of entry into Israel. Moshe Rabeinu does not reconcile with the evil decree:

וָאֶתְחַנַּ֖ן אֶל־ה' בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִ֖וא לֵאמֹֽר׃ ה' אלוקים אַתָּ֤ה הַֽחִלּ֙וֹתָ֙ לְהַרְא֣וֹת אֶֽת־עַבְדְּךָ֔ אֶ֨ת־גׇּדְלְךָ֔ וְאֶת־יָדְךָ֖ הַחֲזָקָ֑ה... אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּ֗א וְאֶרְאֶה֙ אֶת־הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטּוֹבָ֔ה...

“I pleaded with Hashem at that time, saying,“O Hashem my L-rd, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand…Let me, I pray, cross over and see the good land... (Devarim 3:23-25)

According to the Sages, this was not the first time that Moshe begged and implored G-d to pass on the evil decree:

מְלַמֵּד שֶׁעַד עֲשָׂרָה פְּעָמִים נִגְזַר עָלָיו שֶׁלֹא יִכָּנֵס לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וַעֲדַיִן לֹא נִתְחַתֵּם גְּזַר הַדִּין הַקָּשֶׁה עַד שֶׁנִּגְלָה עָלָיו בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל, אָמַר לוֹ, גְּזֵרָה הִיא מִלְּפָנַי שֶׁלֹא תַעֲבֹר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ג, כז): כִּי לֹא תַעֲבֹר אֶת הַיַּרְדֵּן

"It shows that up to ten times he was sentenced not to enter the Land of Israel, but he was still not given the final harsh sentence, until the Great Court of Justice was revealed to him and told him: The decree is for you not to cross, as it is said: “for you shall not go across yonder Jordan" (Devarim Rabbah 11:10).

Here was 'the hard sentence' signed definitively. And with all this, Moshe Rabeinu does not reconcile with the evil decree:

וְכֵיוָן שֶׁרָאָה משֶׁה שֶׁנֶּחְתַּם עָלָיו גְּזַר דִּין, גָּזַר עָלָיו תַּעֲנִית וְעָג עוּגָה קְטַנָּה וְעָמַד בְּתוֹכָהּ, וְאָמַר, אֵינִי זָז מִכָּאן עַד שֶׁתְּבַטֵּל אוֹתָהּ גְּזֵרָה... וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁהִתְפַּלֵּל משֶׁה בְּאוֹתוֹ הַפֶּרֶק חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת וַחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר פְּעָמִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ג, כג): וָאֶתְחַנַּן אֶל ה' בָּעֵת הַהִוא לֵאמֹר, וָאֶתְחַנַּן בְּגִימַטְרִיָּא הָכֵי הֲוֵי.

"And since Moshe saw that a decree was signed on him, he imposed a fast on himself, drew a circle on the ground and stood inside it and said before G-d: I will not move from here until that decree is annulled" (ibid)…

And he abounded in prayers, "And from where do we know that Moshe prayed five hundred and fifteen times? Because it is written: “I pleaded (Vaetchanan) with Hashem at that time' - in Gematria – ואתחנן equals 515" (ibid).

Moshe Rabeinu mentions to his merit the dedication to his leading the nation, and his success in the difficult challenge, which was close to impossible:

בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה אָמַר משֶׁה לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לְפָנֶיךָ יְגִיעִי וְצַעֲרִי שֶׁנִּצְטַעַרְתִּי עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ מַאֲמִינִים לִשְׁמֶךָ, כַּמָּה צַעַר נִצְטַעַרְתִּי עֲלֵיהֶם בַּמִּצְוֹת עַד שֶׁקָּבַעְתִּי לָהֶן תּוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת, אָמַרְתִּי כְּשֶׁרָאִיתִי בְּצָרָתָן כָּךְ אֶרְאֶה בְּטוֹבָתָן… זוֹ הִיא שִׁלּוּם עֲבוֹדָה שֶׁל אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה שֶׁעָמַלְתִּי עַד שֶׁיִּהְיוּ עַם קָדוֹשׁ וְנֶאֱמָן,

"At that time Moshe said before the Almighty: Master of the Universe! It is visible and known before You all the strength spent and the pain, I have felt sorry for Israel, until they believed in Your name. How much sorrow I felt for them to do Mitzvot, until I brought them Torah and Mitzvot. I said the same way I saw their trouble, I would see for their goodness… This is the payment for forty years of work that I toiled until they were holy and a faithful nation?!" (Ibid).

And yet, in the overall ‘judgment and accounting’, the seriousness of the 'sin of waters of Meribah' increased. The Almighty did not allow the angels to bring his prayers before Him. And in this there was a sanctification of the Name of Heaven that the law of Heaven is an absolute and comprehensive truth and without partiality:

בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁרָאוּ גַּלְגַּלֵּי מֶרְכָּבָה וְשַׂרְפֵי לֶהָבָה שֶׁאָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לֹא תְּקַבְּלוּ תְּפִלָּתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה, וְלֹא נָשָׂא לוֹ פָּנִים וְלֹא נָתַן לוֹ חַיִּים, וְלֹא הִכְנִיסוֹ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל, אָמְרוּ בָּרוּךְ כְּבוֹד ה' מִמְקוֹמוֹ, שֶׁאֵין לְפָנָיו מַשֹּׂוֹא פָנִים לֹא לְקָטָן וְלֹא לְגָדוֹל.

"At the time when the angels saw the wheels of a chariot and the flames of fire and the Almighty said, not to accept Moshe’s prayers, because he was not forgiven, and He did not give him life, and He did not bring him into Eretz Israel, they said, בָּר֥וּךְ כְּבוֹד ה' מִמְּקוֹמֽוֹ

‘Blessed is the Presence of Hashem, in His place’ before whom there is no favoritism, neither to the small nor to the great” (ibid).

And Moshe did not enter Eretz Israel.

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