Published by The Freeman Center

The Maccabean Online

Political Analysis and Commentary
on Israeli and Jewish Affairs

"For Zion's sake I shall not hold my peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I shall not rest."


Unity, Sekhel Tov, & Love

Prof. Eugene Narrett

Rav Chama bar Chanina said, ‘the son of David will not come until the petty government has ceased from Israel, as it is stated, ‘He will cut off the shoots with shears.’ After that it is written, ‘at that time a gift will be brought to Hashem of Hosts, a people pulled and torn.’ And Rav Yehoshua said, upon the cessation of the power of the holy people”…when you see a generation upon whom disasters surge like a river” [1]

When will redemption come to the Jewish people especially in the Land of Israel, made for each other as the Eternal terms each of them His morasha (“heritage”)? Commenting on the discussion cited above, Rashi and HaRav Shlomo Eidels state that as redemption proceeds along its bumpy track, “riding on a donkey” [2] “the Jewish people will not have “even the most petty vestige of autonomy.” Eidels (1560-1630) interpreted “the petty kingdom” as a reference to “the corrupt and debased” dominion of Rome - Edom who have lorded it over Israel for two millennia as it does now through surrogates. His further comment that “He will cut off the debased ones [Rome] with songs” evokes a literal translation of la m’natzeach b’neginot, mizmor shir” “to Him Who grants victory through the power of music, a glory of song” [3].

We have observed that redemption is delayed “until the arrogant [government and judges] are removed from Israel “and leave in your midst a humble and forbearing people” (Zephaniah 3:10-12). Previous essays have explained that this is a clear reference to the “sorcerers” or spin-masters and “idolatrous judges” who betray Jews to gentile powers, more evidence that the sages of the Mishna and Talmudic Midrash saw our own day through the oppressions of theirs [4]. The fashioners and sellers of today’s diplomatic processes and media ‘interpretation’ or conditioning, of confounding truth with lies and debasing language exemplify the “stealing of eyes” and stealing of minds (gonev da’at) that is a form of idol worship and the reduction of human freedom to fatalism and inability to perceive clearly and think [5]. Primary 20th century expressions of this idolatry and official lying, this teaching of falsehood is the notion that there is a “Palestinian people” that this non-nation should have a “Palestinian State” carved from the center of ancient Israel and its holiest sites, and that Israel thus will receive “peace,” that is, the peace of the grave as the Pax Romana often has been termed by the victims of its protection racket. As the Jewish people, having been delivered by a series of autocratic governments (Avot 2:3) suffer expulsions, rocket barrages, and the steady loss of their autonomy, the modern Roman solution to its Jewish problem appears: the Promised Land with Jewish sovereignty reduced to “Holy Land Theme Park” administered by the UN, policed by NATO and the EU, including its subservient local contractors, the IDF all for the benefit of a Vatican-“Palestinian” bilateral accord to be followed, after the inevitable escalating violence, by the last Crusade [6].

Israel again is being dispossessed of its dearly regained heritage, -- and so is the Creator. The answer inheres in the nature of the Eternal One and has been articulated and is being urged by hundreds of Israel’s best, -- students from yeshivas demanding that all those who care for Jewish survival and sovereignty unite. Unity and love is the essence of Israel’s internal relations and stance to the world; the fullness and perfection of mitzvah yichud called figuratively, “the Kingdom of Heaven” fulfilled in an intact Israel, Yisrael shleimah [7]. Because Israel is the heritage of the Eternal, there is no forgiveness for dividing it or scattering the Children of Israel for that is denying the Unity of God.

Rav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal made this a central theme of his amazing work, “Em HaBanim Smeichah (“A Glad Mother of Children”) written and printed as he fled the Nazis in Hungary [8]. The fourth and last chapter of this masterwork of scholarship and focused compassion is titled, “Unity and Peace: Israel’s Restoration.” The gist of this unique work is captured by a sub-title heading, “a plea to the survivors [of the shoah]: return to your motherland” (3.6) and of abundant proofs brought to support “the importance of settling the land,” “our obligation to support and build the land” and at the thematic core, “the Unification of Israel through the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael (“settling the Land of Israel”) [9].

In regard to the Mishna cited in the epigraph and discussed in paragraph one, above, Rav Teichtal wrote that “Redemption will come only at a time of extreme poverty and hardship” (I.5). It would have pained but not shocked him that the disunity and mutual recriminations he saw, though he spoke little of the hatred of the secular Jews for the observant, and, ultimately for Judaism and the central focus on settlement which in his days they led were leading to the disintegration of the state under the relentless hammer blow pincers of diplomacy and attrition orchestrated and equipped by Edom. Rav Teichtal cites the very passage from Mishna, “I will leave in your midst a humble and forbearing people” and notes that “it is a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved from it” (Jeremiah 30:7). Commenting on the crying of the infant Moshe (Exodus 2:6) he quotes the sages of the Zohar in linking this to the adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter (“and she had compassion on him”) to explain that “the era of ‘in its time’ (b’ita) will arrive at a time to weep, as Kohelet said [10].

Millennia of abuse by the nations have turned Israel’s might and self-respect into fear, bickering and even hatred of each other, and more. Perhaps this is why Rav Teichtal so repeatedly and thematically related unity to love among Jews. One notable occasion is when he quotes the Rabbi of Belz telling another senior Rabbi that until Mashiach comes “it is of the utmost importance that the Jews love one another. One must love even the lowliest Jew as himself. One must engender unity and keep far away from anything that causes disunity; the salvation of Israel during times of trouble depends on this” [11]. In this context, Rav Teichtal quoted the verse, “indeed they are my people” (Isaiah 63:8) adding, “even when they sin it is a mitzvah (commandment) to love them, to bring them near [to you] and treat them affectionately. In this way we will achieve salvation” [12]; for Hashem’s portion is His people: Jacob is the measure of His inheritance” (Deut 32:8).

It is ironic and terrible that in recent years, so notably at the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif, it was the observant who followed this council, showering love and sweet reason on soldiers, government officials, and the nation and in return being treated, at the orders of American diplomats and the joy of the sinners – or the Erev Rav – among Israel as if they and not the Arabs were the enemy. Of that part of the ruling class that is Jewish it is written, “all of his evil deeds are the result of the strengthening [in this world] of the evil forces and are due to the hardships and suffering which have caused him to lose his understanding. I swear by the Eternal God, that all of the wicked Jews in this country are like infants kidnapped by gentiles. They act under [internalized] duress and speak out of ignorance” [13]. It is for this reason that Maimonides commented extensively on the terrible damage done by “time deciders” and “conjurors” as noted above, and for this reason that he enumerates so explicitly the commandments against studying, thinking about or gazing at the practices and idols of the star worshippers or idol makers and their philosophies [14]. The love that pours from the brilliant and afflicted Rav Teichtal as he cites Rav Komarno recalls the wise teaching that time, place, community, and forebears all shape a person’s capabilities and judgment [15]. Yet in this context too, as the times seem designed to teach us, the words of the Rambam are very timely that those who give the lives or property of fellow Jews to gentiles are themselves like gentiles. These recall the Mishnaot and Talmudic teachings on the sorcerers and arrogant, idolatrous judges discussed above and this is the saving lesson of these days.

In simplest terms, and to a degree that might shock Rav Teichtal writing from the midst of terrible affliction (and that shocks millions of Jews today) it is the Jews who took the lead in building, planting, and settling large parts of the land who most often forget his and the Torah’s essential points of unity, love and brotherhood encapsulated in the commandment “to love your fellow Jew as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18). The hatred by these for other Jews proves the stringencies of Rambam’s comments on “those who worship other gods” whether these are pride, money, the power of NATO or the ability that the latter gives to afflict their fellows and serve as their alien taskmasters.

Nevertheless, Rav Teichtal wrote, “not a single Jew will be cast aside [at the time of the redemption], not even the greatest and most rebellious of sinners.” Here again one sees his conflation of love, unity and sovereignty, following the views of Rav Shmuel and Rambam that the main change in the era of Mashiach is Israel’s liberation from rule by foreign nations [16]. “Unity,” the Rav stresses, “is the only remedy for widespread adversity. Disunity is worse than idolatry [supra, on fragmenting Israel vs. mitzvah yichud]. Those who unify belong to Ya’akov’s camp and those who divide belong to Lavan’s” (Genesis 28-31). Support for this comes from the practical problems addressed by the students and their call for unity among those who support Yisrael Shleimah, and thus the integrity of the Creator, and from Rambam who explains that there are warnings, negative exhortations against factionalism and “schisms in the nation” contained within the prohibition against lacerating oneself when mourning (Sefer HaMitzvoth II. 45).

An pertinent aspect of achieving unity and redemption is explained by Rav Avraham Yitzhak Kook in commenting on the influence of Amalek, the eternal enemy of Israel, its election and mission of exemplifying godliness; an enemy who has never been more fiercely intent than today when the hills of Israel have once again put forth their fruit and the Children of Israel in large numbers have fulfilled the mitzvah of Yishuv Ha’Aretz, settling the Land. He notes the verses, “God told Moses, ‘write this as a reminder in he Book and repeat it in Joshua’s ears: I will totally obliterate the memory of Amalek…the Eternal shall be at war with Amalek for all generations” (Exodus 17:14, 16). There is no pointless repetition in the Torah so what is the point of the apparent redundancy,” asks Rav Kook. He explains that it in part refers to the written (“write it in the Book”) and the Oral Torah (“and repeat it in Joshua’s ears”). In fact implicit evidence for the beginnings of teaching Torah orally had begun in Exodus 12:2 and were clearly referenced by Yithro a few verses later in chapter 18. Rav Kook explains that this passage refers not only to the singular enmity of Amalek and the obligation of Israel to remember their hatred and destroy them “for all generations” but to the integration of the written and oral Torah. To the extent that Amalek is destroyed, Torah achieves some of its original unity and the complementarity of the written and oral teachings is affirmed, as will be the unification of all factions and degrees of observance among the Children of Israel as they embrace the mitzvah of settling the land [17].

Rav Teichtal quotes the Rambam on an issue critically important in these times as it has been, as Rambam notes, since the exile of Edom and Ishmael, with all their shmadot (“destructions,” assimilation and forced conversions) began. “We must not rely on miracles alone,” Rav Teichtal writes, speaking of settlement, unity, and love. As tradition says, “man must begin and the Eternal will complete.” More formally this is stated, “it is not your duty to complete the work, neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirke Avot 2:21). The Rav cites two letters from Rambam to prove his point that metaphysical and spiritual perfection are one with physical and earthly redemption. Rambam tells the Jews of Marseilles that astrology books “are absolutely foolish,” distract and steal the mind, as he explains in many mitzvoth we have noted. And Rambam added strong admonitory words to this caution: “this [focus on esoteric wisdom] is what abolished our kingdom, destroyed our Beit HaMikdash [“Holy Temple”], prolonged our exile and brought us to our present predicament…our fathers imagined that these wisdoms, vanities that cannot avail, were glorious and they did not study warfare and land conquest; instead they imagined that these wisdoms would help them...but they are vain” [18]. This is the good sense and practical wisdom that is part of Jewish holiness and it is apt that it focuses on sovereignty, the Temple and, implicitly, its service. This harks to the opening of the famous Mishna, “on three things the world is based: Torah, Temple Service, and deeds of kindness” (Avot 1:2). In the absence of the entire Torah and Temple service and all the loving kindness and blessing it sustains, “the sword comes into the land for the delay of justice and the perversion of justice” (Avot 5:11). It is just such perversion that the youth of the land and all those who fulfill mitzvah Yishuv strive to halt and prevent, and to fulfill the mitzvah of not standing idly by while your brother’s blood is shed (Vayikra 19:16). Moreover, Em HaBanim Smeichah was directed mainly at observant Jews who had refrained from the practical study of war, leaving it to the secular who now use it against them, degrading their own military capabilities in the process. “The sun will not rise before dawn,” he notes citing many sources. The first faint glimpse of the morning star, its strengthening and then the dawn are the pattern for human effort to initiate great changes. “The gedolim and ‘shepherds’ of Israel must lovingly accept any opportunity for redemption and strive to bring it to completion. They are responsible for using their wisdom for the mitzvah of gathering and uniting [Israel] as one” [19].

Neither the Rav nor Rav Kook would have guessed the degree to which the original HaShomrim (“guardians” of the rural Jewish settlements) would evolve from lack of observance or faith to the hatred of Jews and a Jewish Israel that characterizes post-Zionist Israel. Thus Rav Kook wrote in 1913 that “though there are many souls who are on a very low level with regard to their willed-holiness [and] are afflicted with immoral behavior and dreadful beliefs, their innate segula [Jewish potential for glowing holiness] shines brightly. That is why they so dearly love the Jewish people and the Land of Israel” [20].

All the more reason to emphasize Jewish unity, love and good sense; politics, factions and power-brokering are Greek imports; Israel is enjoined against them as noted. All of the Jewish people are tzaddikim, saintly, a “branch of My planting” says the Holy One, “for me to glory in” as they rejoice in My land, bringing redemption close and increasing to “a mighty nation” (Isaiah 60:21-2). Unity, good sense, and love among Jews; remembering and warring against Amalek; achieving the integrity of the land as an essential basis of unity and the dominion of the Highest Wisdom. As Amalek tramples and demands, thrusting their mockery world into the place of the Creator’s these principles blaze more and more clearly to the Nation of Israel: “they will attain joy and gladness; sadness and sighing will flee” from the dominion of Israel, “a holy nation.”

1. Isaiah 18:5 cited in Sanhedrin 98a2 Talmud Bavli, Tractate Sanhedrin III (Mesorah 1995; 2004, Daf Yomi edition), Rabbis Dicker, Katz and team. Sekhel Tov is “good sense,” common sense informed by Torah study.

2. The phrase is in Zechariah 9:9 and describes the Mashiach when redemption is “in its time” (b’ita, Isaiah 60:22) in due course and much anguish, pain and confusion. The comments by Rishonim and Achronim are discussed by Rabbis Dicker & Katz, supra. They note the etymology linking zalzalim, “shoots” and zalah (“petty”).

3. For example psalm 67, etc. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, Hirsch Psalms (1882; English translation, Feldheim 1960; 1997, Gertrude Hirschler); cf. Genesis 43:11, “take of the Land’s glory” (mizimrat Ha’Aretz); on Edom and the nations that covet Israel and would preempt its flourishing see Ezekiel 36:4-12

4. Sanhedrin 98a3 with comments.

5. Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvoth II.32 (Moznaim 1993)

6. Vatican-Palestinian Accord for “Protection of Holy Sites,” February 2000; cf. all prophecies on Edom.

7. Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvoth I.2, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 1.7-12; on the initiative of the students, see 4-01-8 item #10

8. Em HaBanim Smeichah, printed December 1943, English translation Moshe Lichtman (Kol Mevaser 2000), distributed in America by Lambda Publishers, Brooklyn, NY

9. ibid. III.5, 12, 9 in order quoted.

10. ibid. 123-5 with notes, Kohelet (“Ecclesiastes”) 3:4, “a time to weep and a time to laugh,” hence, “a glad mother of children” in the title, quoting psalm 113:9, this being an ultimate analogy for “lifting the destitute” such as Israel was during the shoah and has become, diplomatically, for many of them now with the institutions of state indoctrinating students and soldiers into seeing their brethren and heritage as obstacles to joy, much as the major media have taught the world to see Israel’s restoration. Thus we live in a world of war processes called peace, a world of lies and shadow wars, of sterile virtual reality cloaking more and more of life. See item #6, 4-01-08 and archives

11. Ibid. 111-12; the exhortation was addressed to Rav Moshe David Teitelbaum.

12. ibid. 112-13

13. Rav Teichtal quotes Rav Isaac of Kamarno, ibid. 105-06 and passim

14. Hilchot Avodat Kokhavim 2:1-4; Sefer HaMitzvoth II.10: “even to gaze at the form of the external image and to consider its construction is forbidden…or giving thought to idolatry” (cf. Deut. 11:16); and “do not contemplate them with the eye of intellect” (Deut. 12:30). The practical aspect of this is “people have limited powers of understanding” and “might destroy the whole world” even by intellectual meddling with these principles that pervert creation and Creator (Avodat Kokhavim 2:3, cf. Sefer HaMitzvoth II.32

15. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (Ramchal), Derekh Hashem 2.3.7 (Feldheim 1997 revised translation)

16. Rav Shmuel in Sanhedrin cited by Rambam in Hilchot Melachim 11:1-3, 12:1

17. Rav Abraham Yitzhak Kuk, Igrot Ha’Reiyah, III, pages 86-7 (1917) cited and elaborated in Gold from the Land of Israel: a New Light on the Weekly Torah portion from the writings of Rav Kuk, Rav Chanan Morrison (Urim, Jerusalem, 2006), 127-9; On Amalek, Rambam, Sefer HaMitzvoth I.187-90; II. 48-51, 59

18. Teichtal, op. cit. 272-3 quoting Rambam, Igrot U’Teshuvot, Igrot Shonot, p. 21; Rambam Hilchot Melachim 1:1-2, 5:1,4,5 passim

19. Teichtal, 267-74, passim; “our redemption depends upon redemption of the land.” And adds (267) “we must not disregard or ignore any redemptive event” like the building of outposts or marches to Homesh. A main source for the reference to the morning star and dawn is Rav Chiya cited in Brachot 1:1 of Jerusalem Talmud.

20. Rav Kook, Igrot HaReiyah, II.555 cited in Morrison, op cit, 126