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לימוד תורה

Brothers against their will

The Parasha and its realization – Vayakhel - Pekudei -HaChodesh - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - 5783

For the full recovery of Or ben Natali and Rotem ben Mazal who were seriously injured in the attack in Tel Aviv.

It is Wednesday after Purim in Jerusalem. We are trying to get out of town on our way home. The roads are congested; many buses are crowded with hundreds of thousands who have come to celebrate the special Purim in Jerusalem. The public transport system collapsed from overload. All this is an introduction to the next day.  A day full of protests that culminated with the siege of the Ben- Gurion Airport. A short and shocking interview with two people, taking place at the airport, is circulating the media. One of them is in favor of protesting against what he calls the 'regime coup'; in his opinion the unusual siege of the airport is justified, it is a 'war' on the country’s future, he supports the public opinion that calls to remove the 'regime coup', which will change from a 'democracy' to a 'dictatorship'.  The second one with an ultra-Orthodox appearance corrects him: it all comes down to a necessary and required 'legal reform', he supports the opinion voiced in the public that the reform will strengthen democracy against the 'tyranny of the minority' and the 'High Court rulings'. He finished his interview by saying: 'it is permissible to argue, but we must remember that we are brothers', and as he reached out to hug the other's shoulder, he rejected his hand dismissively and told him: 'We are not brothers!!!'

Unfortunately, this day ended in a terrible attack in the heart of Tel Aviv. A terrorist shot in the middle of the street at passers-by without distinction. The reporters moved in an instant from covering the demonstration in the nearby street, to covering the attack, and describing the heroism of the soldier on- leave and of the citizens, who protected the passers-by and neutralized the terrorist. In a short time, text messages were sent to all the people of Israel, requests to pray for those injured in the attack. At once everyone remembered that 'we are brothers' and we all share one fate. Even if we want to deny it, our enemies will always remind us that we are indeed “all brothers”.

Hassan Nasrallah - an ally of the Persians-Iranians, who replaced the 'cobwebs' rhetoric with the Jews'  'Self-Containment' rhetoric spoke on Ta'anit Esther: "In my view, everything that is happening in Israel (the protests and the refusals) are signs of the end of the existence of the State of Israel". This common enemy reminded us about a week before, that in his view we all have a common destiny: "We hear discourse from the entity's president and former prime ministers Lapid, Bennett, Olmert, Barak and former defense ministers and a generals who talk about 'civil war' and 'bloodshed' and that there is no solution to the challenges posed by the new government"... the biggest threat to us in the region, G-d willing, will not complete 80 years".

At the beginning of our Parasha, Moshe gathers the whole nation in all its tribes:

וַיַּקְהֵ֣ל מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֶֽת־כׇּל־עֲדַ֛ת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל

“Moshe then convoked the whole Israelite community…” (Shmot 35:1)

והקהילו אליו כל העדה אנשים ונשים. ויתכן שהיה זה ביום מחרת רדתו.

Again commanded that the people be assembled, whereupon the whole congregation gathered to him — men, women, and children. It is possible that this occurred on the day following his descent from the mountain”. (Ramban ibid)

In this gathering, Moshe commands them precisely about the Sabbath:

שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִים֮ תֵּעָשֶׂ֣ה מְלָאכָה֒ וּבַיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֗י יִהְיֶ֨ה לָכֶ֥ם קֹ֛דֶשׁ שַׁבַּ֥ת שַׁבָּת֖וֹן לַה׃

“On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a sabbath of complete rest, holy to Hashem”. (Ibid 35:2)

כדי שילמדו ממך דורות הבאים להקהיל קהילות בכל שבת ושבת, ולכנס בבתי מדרשות ללמד ולהורות לישראל דברי תורה, איסור והיתר, כדי שיהא שמי הגדול מתקלס בין בני.

"So that future generations may learn from you to gather in communities every Shabbat, and to gather in Batei Midrash to teach and instruct Israel Divrei Torah, prohibitions and permissions, so that My great name may be enshrined among my children." (Yalkut Shimoni on Torah 408).

The assembly and the commandment on the Sabbath, so that they gather on Shabbat, around the idea of the Sabbath, and the belief in G-d who rested from all His creations, and the study of the Torah, teaches that the 'gathering' of the people of Israel is not only in terms of a common 'alliance of fate', and mutual protection, but to a high degree of a common 'covenant of destiny'.

On Purim we mentioned a similar situation, which raised hope among our enemy the Persians for our destruction:

יֶשְׁנוֹ עַם אֶחָד מְפֻזָּר וּמְפֹרָד בֵּין הָעַמִּים בְּכֹל מְדִינוֹת מַלְכוּתֶךָ

There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm…" (Esther 3:8), forcibly, include the scattered people, from the different countries, who do not even have a common platform, and treat them as one people with one destiny.

To create a diversion, Mordechai was asked: לֵךְ כְּנוֹס אֶת כָּל הַיְּהוּדִים "Go, assemble all the Jews!" This was the key to the victory against the Persian enemy:

נִקְהֲלוּ הַיְּהוּדִים בְּעָרֵיהֶם בְּכָל מְדִינוֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ אֳחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ לִשְׁלֹחַ יָד בִּמְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתָם וְאִישׁ לֹא עָמַד לִפְנֵיהֶם כִּי נָפַל פַּחְדָּם עַל כָּל הָעַמִּים"

The Jews assembled in their cities, in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to lay hand on those who sought to harm them, and no one stood up before them, for their fear had fallen upon all the peoples.(Esther 9:2)

'Assembled' – the entire congregation gathered in all its parts and shades as one man.

Rabbi Kook, Zt'l, insisted on the oxymoron: if it is a 'nation', it cannot be 'scattered and dispersed' (Reiyah Essays 163):

"אמנם כל האומר ששקר בדה המן הרשע וכו' אינו אלא טועה. באמת מפוזר ומפורד הוא העם האחד, אבל בכל זה עם אחד הוא! ושמא תאמר: איך יתכן שיהיו שני הפכים בנושא אחד?!" ומשיב: "במהותו העצמית הרי הוא עם אחד, למרות מה שהוא מפוזר ומפורד".

"Indeed, anyone who says that the wicked man Haman lied, etc., is nothing but wrong. Truly scattered and dispersed is the one nation, but in all this it is one people! And lest you say: How is it possible for there to be two opposites on one subject?!" And the reply: "In its own essence, it is one people, despite the fact it is scattered and divided."

We can argue and fight, reject an outstretched hand, but in the end, in our essence we are one people, brothers, whether we like it or not. And hopefully we won't need enemies to remind us of this, forcibly.

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