Sunday, March 30, 2008

Shabbos is Coming!

Shabbat is in an hour but you’re taking a nap, maybe watching TV, checking facebook. The chicken needs to be cooked, shabbos clocks set, toilet paper ripped but you’re chilling out and it’s ok, you’re friend said he’d take care of it. Cut to an hour later when you wake up groggy in a dark house, street lights illuminating a raw chicken that never quite made it to the oven. How upset would you be? Who would you blame for a miserable shabbat? Your friend who promised to take care of it? Yourself?...

The argument against making aliya because the government is corrupt does no hold water as far the “eim habanim smeicha” is concerned and in fact serves his argument! While Rav Kook sees it as something positive that secular Jews were awakened to return to Zion the “eim habanim smeicha” sees the building up of the State of Israel by secular and socialist Jews as a punishment. It is the torah-observant Jews who should have been at the forefront of the Zionist movement! But, while torah-true Jewry stood by the sidelines, unobservant, secular Jews struggled to build up the Land. Rav Teichtal who penned “eim habanim smeicha” invokes the words of the talmud: “one who prepares for shabbat will eat on shabbat.” In essence the gemarah tells us that one who puts in the effort will benefit from the labor. Just as one who does not prepare for shabbat will not eat on shabbat, so to in building up the land of Israel. Since the orthodox world as a whole did not participate in the groundwork and did not prepare the State we are not “eating of its fruits” and have little say in forming the its character. Secularists built the country and infused it with secular values. The “eim hanbanim smeicha” argues that had Orthodox Jews taken a greater role, the State would have been granted a more sanctified character. The Rav writes: “Now that they kept themselves at a distance, they should not wonder or question the situation, for they are at fault.” In his generation the Rav placed the blame on Orthodox Jewry. The trend of Orthodox Jews ignoring the calls to make aliya continued and even after the holocaust the majority of world Jewry remained dispersed across all corners of the exile. Chazal tell us that each generation that does not see the building of the Temple it is as though that generation destroyed the Temple. Each generation that does not rebuild the temple perpetuates that broken world we live in today. (more than that, they re-create that imperfect world over and over again). If the Rav puts the blame of a secular state on the Orthodox Jews who refused to make aliya 50 year prior to his writing, I would further the argument of the Rav and say that our grandparents and parents generations, by not making aliya and losing the opportunity to elect a better government, may be responsible for the political mess we’re in today. The actions of our parents shaped the world we know it follows that our choices will impact the world our children grow up in. If you don’t like this reality what are you doing to ensure that the political landscape is different for our children?

I think there is a second layer to the words of the gemarah. It's not only that “One who prepares for shabbat will eat on shabbat." Regardless of whether or not you prepare shabbat, shabbat is coming. Shabbats arrival is not dependent on your preparation but your enjoyment of the day is based solely on the effort you put into it. Whether you bake your challah or not the sun will set and shabbat will come. “or chadash al tziyon ta’ir, ve’niskeh kulanu mehaira l’oro.” Even if you're uncertain where we are in the process of redemption be it the "night" or "dawn", one day the sun will rise and a "new light will illuminate zion." Geulah is on the way. What are you doing to prepare?

“Eim Habanim Smeicha” is the seminal work by Rav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal which he wrote during the Holocaust. The book was first published in 1943 and while the work along with many others the Rav wrote during his lifetime miraculously survived the Holocaust, Rav Teichtal himself did not and died in a train headed to Mauthausen concentration camp in 1945.

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