A Chanukah Message
by Eugene Narrett
"Peer with Your Eyes and You Will See"
"And He said, 'what do you see, Amos?' I replied, 'a basket of summer fruits [kayitz].' Hashem then said to me, 'the end [haKaitz] has come for My people, Israel. I will no longer continue to forbear them..."
Three days before Chanukah 5760, an American woman was arrested atop the Temple Mount by police of the Arab Waqf the Muslim authority allowed to control the Holy site. They interrogated her, threatened her with conspiring to destroy "the Dome of the Rock" (Muslim shrine [sic]) and handed her over to Israeli police who booked her. She was threatened with a 4000 shekel fine (about $1200) if she did not report to the police every other day, a sort of probation. Her 'crime' was that she closed her eyes on the site of the great and Holy House upon which Hashem's Name is called. Israeli police informed her that closing her eyes was an act of prayer and this is forbidden to Jews on the Temple Mount. The incident had a fortuitous ending, if one eyes it from a sardonic perspective, or from the broad perspective of the Holy One, attentive to signs of faith and courage. The American (who is planning to make aliyah, that is the best news) was released because of a commotion caused by two Arabs trying to stab Israeli police at the entrance to the station and at its main desk. Such are the results of Jews having preferred the "Wailing Wall" to the Mount of the Sanctuary.
The grave sins of Israel's leaders in 1967 now have brought the nation to the edge of the precipice and Valley of Decision. As the showdown with the Pilishtim approaches, the cup of contention is Jerusalem, centering on the Temple Mount. On about 20 Kislev, the Arabs opened a new gateway, 12 meters wide from within the south side of the Mount. The government had known for three months, noted a Likud MK, that excavation was going on with cranes, bulldozers and trucks, hollowing out the inside of an area that holds remains from the original Temple's gateways and courtyards. Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute told Arutz-7 about that the damage is not only to precious Jewish artifacts. "The Arabs are not only denying our history with words, they are erasing the evidence that there was a Temple there."
Three other perspectives on this crisis were noteworthy for displaying attitudes from overt self-hatred, to suicidal ignorance to belated and perhaps politically motivated outrage. Two of these views bring only ashes to Israel. The "Peace Bloc" (Gush Shalom) demanded that the government officially declare that "the Temple Mount is a Moslem area and that it [Israel] has no intention of intervening there." Thus speak the bootlickers of Antiochus and the fourth kingdom. The Prime Minister's "Public Security Minister" (a title that, given its current holder expresses the utter hollowness of politics and politicians), Monsieur Shlomo Ben-Ami said that any use of force by Israel "will cause the whole city to burn." His ferocious cowardice epitomizes the oxymoronic history of Israel's Labor-left. Ben-Ami wrapped his 'bold surrender' in an attack on the former Prime Minister. Barak, he stated, "will not be like the Netanyahu government that opened the Hasmonean tunnels." Thus do lies get inscribed as truth in the official histories of the modern Hellenists. Opening the exit to the already existing tunnel in September 1996 was an ordinary and appropriate act. The ensuing riots by the Arabs were in character. They also were the perfect opportunity to erase the errors of the previous 29 years, to renounce the nightmare of Oslo. The real problem was the extremely limp response by Netanyahu and his perfidious Minister of "Defense," Yitzchak Mordechai who again preferred the Wailing Wall of uselessly martyring Jewish lives.
The third official response, from Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein was perhaps the most complex and significant. "We have lost control of the Temple Mount," he said, closing the circle on the failure of '67. "The remnants of the history of the Jewish people are being trampled." Indeed they are, from Hebron to Mt. Gerizim to Shechem to Jerusalem. Then he lamely added, "the Waqf must be told we have tolerance for their worship, but that they will not be allowed to kick aside our history." This last remark is dual-edged. Firstly, it is hollow. The Arabs have been and are allowed to mock and destroy the proofs of Jewish history. Tolerance for Muslims is never reciprocated; that is a fact that most Muslims, especially those in leadership positions tirelessly reiterate. But , Rubinstein also may be signaling both Arabs and Israelis. Exposure of the cover-up of the Rabin-Raviv affair has shaken the entire legal system, especially its top echelons. The Attorney General may be attempting to save the system, and his own reputation by belatedly doing something to enforce the religious rights of Jews. He may even be discovering some self-respect and standing up for his people. Assistant State Prosecutor, Dorit Beinish who argued against reining in Raviv and against indicting him also had blocked suits by Jews like Yehuda Etzion to stop the Arabs from destroying Jewish antiquities. She now is in a perilous position and the court may need to be more receptive to the next such suit. But the hour is late.
How late it is for Israel may be seen in an event reported the same day as these official admissions of lawlessness at the heart of our Holy City. At Moshav Chagor ("festival of light" aptly enough, as if scripted by Hashem) near Rosh Ha'Ayin (another allusion to the House and its stream of light), farmers awoke to find that their orchard of 90 stately pecan trees, nurtured for decades had been sawn down overnight. The culprits, fifteen Arabs from Jenin brazenly continued in an adjoining plot. The five farmers called police and, one of them noted, "finally, after a while, the police troubled themselves to come." Such are the priorities of the current government.
"These were beautiful giant trees," said the aggrieved man. We cared for them out of love for the Land." Meanwhile, the politicians were barking about "simultaneity and momentum." "Those who rule My people praise themselves and every day - the word of Hashem - My Name is blasphemed."
The same week that these signs of climatic disintegration emerged, Israelis complimented themselves on the admission to the bar of 860 more lawyers. Israel now has more lawyers per capita than any other nation, more even than the litigation crazed United States. This pathetic corruption of the purpose of Torah, to settle the Land and to honor and praise the Holy One with its produce reflects much that is wrong with the state created in 1948. Perhaps the new generation of lawyers will busy themselves determining how long a Jew is allowed to blink his or her eyes before it is considered an act of prayer subject to arrest. Then Jewish technical genius can turn to technical applications to measure and control the batting of an eyelash so as to avoid "causing the entire city to burn" in the wrath of Ishmael. Surely this can and may very well be done. It would be no more complex than "Final Status Talks." And meanwhile the Arabs will whet their knives and scream that "Al Aksa be avenged in blood and fire."
Perhaps before he dies or retires in disgrace, the Attorney General will stand up for the Glory of Jacob. Perhaps the entire apparatus of the corrupt state will put off its soiled garments and take its place, finally among the seven shepherds standing invisibly but ready at its side, waiting to crush Edom in the nethermost shadows" (Maoz Tzur). "So said Hashem, Master of Legions: if you walk in My ways and safeguard My charge, than you shall administer My Temple and safeguard My courtyards" (Zachariah 3:3, 6-7, haftora first Sabbath Chanukah). There is a New Generation in the heart of the blessed Land and though they now are dragged from hillsides by slaves of the state it is of such as they that it is written, "the stone the builders despised has become the cornerstone. This emanates from Hashem; it is wondrous in our eyes." For this festival of Chanukah is the light of re-dedication, and its root is grace (chayn). Thus it truly may be said, "this is the day Hashem has made; let us rejoice and be glad on it." And it is the people, young and older now standing up for the Land like its angels who can say and demonstrate with lasting impact that "blessed is he who comes in the name of Hashem" for they "bless us from the House of Hashem" (Psalm 118:22-6). Their struggle is for all the Jewish people and for all the peoples of the world. For as the Torah verse correlated with the year 5760 states, "when Hashem established the nations, he set their boundaries [their completion] according to the numbers of the Children of Israel" (Devarim 32:8, the 5760th verse of Torah). It is in their merit that the Holy One turns the "eyes" of the Menorah toward its face and from thence, illuminates the world with the sanctity of Israel so that all may sing, "grace, beauty to it!" in the light of His countenance (Zechariah 3:9).
In trampling the heritage and history and truth of Israel into the dust even more than in their attacks on Jewish bodies, the enemy is seeking to blot out the integrity and coherence of creation, the roots of mankind. But the faithful are standing with the angels for all of us and in their merit the Holy One affirms, "I will return the captivity of My people Israel," and undo bondage of mind and soul more than of flesh. "They will rebuild desolate cities and settle them; they will re-plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will cultivate gardens and eat their fruits," and raise those glorious pecan trees, and the wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates of the Shepherds. Settle, terrace, irrigate, cultivate and harvest the precious hills of Judah and Ephraim that the two sticks may be one. In the sublime faith, courage and heart of those who stand up now, the LORD "will plant them upon their Land and they will never again be uprooted from their Land that I have given them, says Hashem, your God" (Amos 9:14-15). In these days, in this season and spirit of dedication, we have the light of the 8th day. "Be strong, be strong, be strong and fulfill for I am with you, the word of Hashem, Master of Legions" (Haggai 2:4). Dear Jewish people, close your sweet eyes in prayer on Har HaBayit and open them "to see the retribution of the wicked," as sung in the prayer of Moses, the man of God (Psalm 91:8). No longer arrested, you will be blessed and praised, a crown of splendor in the hand of Hashem and a royal headdress in the palm of your God" (Isaiah 62:3).
Eugene Narrett, PhD teaches at Boston University