emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sackcloth and Ashes

No, we're not talking Tisha B'Av here. For that we would do well to follow the prescription of Reb Gutman Locks:

First off, the destruction happened because Jews hated Jews without reason, so the main, if not sole avoda (service) of the Three Weeks and Nine Days should be an all-out effort by the entire Jewish people to show Jews love without reason. This should be our extra daily effort these days. No mourning and no depression…just extra friendship and love without reason.

Rav Kook z"l, put it all in two words: Ahavas Chinom.

And is not the concept of ahavas chinom part and parcel of the mitzvah of to love you fellow as yourself?

In EmunahSpeak: Perhaps They’re Better Than You, we quoted the Lubavitcher Rebbe z"l, as follows:

"The mitzvah of love your fellow Jew applies (even) to a Jew across the world whom you have never seen.”

And the Rebbe didn’t mean that we should feel obligated to send him a check if we should find out that he needed help because the Rebbe’s understanding of love your fellow as yourself wasn’t mortgaged to a touchy feely chesed interpretation.

However much the Rebbe z”l, was wont to darshen in many other areas of Torah, vis á vis the mitzvah of love your fellow as yourself his approach was literally straight down Main Street.

“What kind of love,” he asked?  “Torah contains no idle words.  When it says ‘love your fellow as yourself,’ love means love.  Your fellow means not you, but him.  As yourself?  Just as much as you love yourself.”

So much for mourning over the past, but what about the future?

That's what the sackcloth and ashes are for.

We are told in the third perek of Megillas Esther that Ahasuerus took off his signet ring  and gave it to Haman HaRasha.  He then told Haman that he could do with the Jews as he wished, and with the full power of the monarchy now vested in himself, Haman proceeded to send out the letters that authorized the destruction of all of the Jews.

With that done, the third perek ends with Haman and Ahasuerus sitting down to drink.

Without missing a beat, the fourth perek begins:

And Mordecai knew all that had been done, and Mordecai rent his garments and he donned sackcloth and ashes....

We are in the midst of a Purim story.  The most important nations of the world have agreed to give Iran a clear shot at destroying the Yishuv in Eretz Yisroel, chas v'shalom.

And with the deed done, they have sat down to drink.

So what should our response be?

In EmunahSpeak: Gevalt!, we related that we have it on the good authority of Rabbi Moshe Shapiro that if only one community (minimum of ten adult males) or one synagogue repents Klal Yisroel will be instantly redeemed in their merit.

And as we said in EmunahSpeak: The Yesod of Teshuva, at a minimum, to do Teshuva you have to strip away all of the excuses.  So say goodbye to all of the ifs, buts, and maybes, as you take yourself down to your spiritual socks.

There is no longer a Mordecai to show us the way.  All we have is his example.  The only thing left to us is whatever translates into sackcloth and ashes for our time, each person according to his level.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


This pretty much sums up our collective reaction to that little bit of treason that President Nimrod worked out with the Iranians, yimach shemam.

So what to do?

On December 15, 2012 we posted a piece entitled, There is No Other Solution, in response to the dust up that was taking place in Gaza at that time.  It was the only solution then and even more so now, so we are re-posting it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

There is No Other Solution

Looking Through the Abyss

In the post-mortem that followed the recently concluded Operation Pillar of Cloud, the accuracy and overall effectiveness of the Iron Dome anti-missile system was conceded by virtually everyone, including the Arabs. But there were those who took it a step further past the battlefield results to project a long term deterrent mode of warfare that they claim will stay the course for the State of Israel in its struggle for survival.

Rabbeinu HaGaon HaGadol Rav Moshe Shapiro shlit"a wasn’t one of them.

In a most profound analysis, he took what many find to be a terminally complex situation facing Eretz Yisrael/Klal Yisrael, and reduced it to a problem and a solution that can be comprehended by anyone.

In EmunahSpeak I more often than not quote from one or two seforim or shiurim that I have heard and then use them as building blocks to construct a thesis.  But these are extraordinary times and Rav Moshe has matched the tenor of these times with extraordinary words so I will let the Gadol speak for himself, resigning myself to a few stage directions and sundry comments where appropriate.

The Rav lets us hear flat out that according to Teva (natural means) we are in a problem that has no possibility of a solution, period.  He says further that a solution that is similar to the “solution,” (with as many double quotes as we can put there) that we recently experienced vis á vis the Iron Dome and the pin point surgical strikes by which the IAF took out 1500 Hamas launch sites, may last once or twice, but this is not a solution.

And whoever thinks of sitting and talking, to negotiate and make agreements as a “solution,” insults the intelligence of a ten year old.  These are nothing but words of vanity.

The bottom line of our current and future situation, as Rav Moshe sees it, is that the Creator of the world has placed us between the ultimate rock and hard place with an unsolvable problem. 

Not the sort of line that one would expect Nefesh B’Nefesh to be pushing, to say the least.

If we would be talking about any other People or country their future would be toast because the parameters of their existence are delineated by Teva.  Not so Klal Yisrael.

Rav Shapiro reminds us that the Rambam states clearly that Israel will only be redeemed through Teshuva.  And the Torah already promised that eventually Israel will do Teshuva at the end of the Exile and immediately they will be redeemed.
The Rav is not saying a nice vort, a shmuz or giving a Shabbos Shuva drasho.  He’s speaking in the context of hatzolas nefoshos, and after looking into the aforementioned Rambam he states categorically:

To live like this is impossible and to do something against it is impossible. But we have found a solution; the definite solution!  We learn from this that there is no other solution.  Any thought in the direction of another solution is stupidity!

In Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer we learn that HKB”H will raise up for Klal Yisrael a king whose decrees are as harsh as Haman, and they will do Teshuva.  We further learn that Yishmael was given that name because in the future Hakodesh Boruch Hu will hear the sound of Klal Yisrael from what Yishmael will do in the land in the End of Days.

Rav Shapiro tells us that we know exactly what they will do in the Land in the End of Days because we already saw it.  Part of this has passed, some of it is happening in the present, and we have the ability to ensure that it does not occur in the future.  Chazal revealed that this will be the form of conduct, and this is how the Creator of the world will bring us to be redeemed.  Someone will come and force us to repent.  Every thinking person understands that this is the one and only explanation for what is occurring here.  There is no other explanation!  The Creator of the world appointed Yishmael to be that harsh king through whom we need to pray, and the prayer will be accepted.  HKB”H will hear the sound of the cries of the Jewish people. 

And that’s the Halacha as decided by the Rambam: A community, whenever they do Teshuva and cry out with a complete heart, they are answered.

Rav Moshe asks: What do we have to do?  What obligates us from these words?

And he answers: Don’t go after any analysis (in the newspapers etc.) which is spot on advice because the papers are full of solutions for what he has already established to be a problem that is insolvable (in Teva).

The Rav further asks: Should we sit and wait until a king as harsh as Haman will rise against us and then do Teshuva?

Toward where will we bring our shame, asks the Rav, when the day will come and they will ask us, “Where were you? Where were you when everything was so clear?”

What will we answer?  That we were too busy writing a letter to a newspaper or reading it?!

So what should we do?  We are at the End of Days and Yishmael is doing exactly as Chazal wrote.
When a person is brought to Final Judgment, he is asked, “Did you expect salvation?”  Such a question is asked of someone who really wants it.  The problem is that he is not sitting and expecting it, so that is why he is asked this.

I suspect that we will be asked, “Did you want salvation?”  Forget “Did you expect.Did you want it?  Or did you want that it should not come?  This is the first thing.  This is Aleph.  Without this, it is impossible to even begin.

This is the very point we made in EmunahSpeak: A Burning Need where we said that the reason Moshiach is not here is because we want Moshiach now as opposed to we need Moshiach now.  In its terminal passivity, the wanting of Moshiach in and of itself will do nothing to bring the Geula. If he comes, he comes.  If not, we’ll keep on wanting until he does, whereas the need for Moshiach will inevitably push Klal Yisroel in innumerable directions that will create the conditions to bring the Geula ever so closer, speedily in our days.

This is the first thing, says the Rav, We first need to enter reality---not to live in our imagination.  This is the truth and it is very clear.  One who expects salvation will merit it.

Hashem, for his part, is waiting.  But what about us?

Rav Shapiro says that we are preventing: 

We, the ones who accepted the Torah, are preventing the revelation of His Glory in the world.  We are preventing the Redemption of the entire world.  How?  By the fact that we are not waiting.  This fact makes us into murderers.  Not just murderers, but mass-murderers.

Know and understand, says the Rav, that these words are completely clear and serious.  There is no toying around here or room for playing games. We can forgo the multitude of words of encouragement and awakening and another 2 chapters of Tehillim after davening.  This is not what is requested.  What is requested is that we don’t prevent!  We should not prevent!

And then he says a very big chiddush:

If the heads of communities repent or if one community repents, in their merit the entire exile will be gathered in.

One community in Israel, one synagogue.  It is enough with this so that all of us will leave the exile. 

In the Torah we are taught that Hashem agreed to heed Avraham Aveinu’s plea to spare the wicked city of S’dom if ten righteous people could be found therein.

And now that the entire non-Jewish world has taken on a striking resemblance to S’dom we have it on the good authority of Rabbi Moshe Shapiro that if only one community (minimum of ten adult males) or one synagogue repents Klal Yisroel will be instantly redeemed in their merit.

This is already doable because given the thousands of Yidden these days that are focused on growth the existence of a congregation capable of the requisite Teshuva moves from a slight possibility to a definite probability.

But what is the requisite Teshuva?

This we are not told, but what passes as Teshuva for most of us on Erev Yom Kippur isn’t going to hack it.  It could be as we said in EmunahSpeak: The Yesod of Teshuva that To do Teshuva you have to strip away all of the excuses.  So say goodbye to all of the ifs, buts, and maybes, as you take yourself down to your spiritual socks.

Or maybe it goes even deeper than that.

On 11 Tammuz 1941, Rav Elchonon Wasserman HY”D was murdered in Kovno’s Ninth Fort along with a few talmidim and some other Rabbonim.  These were his last words:

In Shomayim it seems that they consider us to be tzaddikim, because we have been chosen to be korbanos for Klal Yisroel. Therefore, we must do Teshuvah now. We don’t have much time. We must keep in mind that we will be better korbonos if we do teshuvah. In this way we will save the Yidden in America. Let no foreign thought enter our minds, Chas V’Shalom, as that will make us pigul, an unfit korban. We are now fulfilling the greatest mitzvah. Yerushalayim was destroyed with fire and will be rebuilt with fire. The same fire that will consume our bodies will one day rebuild Klal Yisrael.

Klal Yisrael has been rebuilt (at least quantitatively) and yet we find ourselves threatened by that same fire.

We can’t say that we are tzaddikim or that we have been chosen as korbanos for our brothers in America or anywhere else.  But as Rav Moshe Shapiro has taught us, we definitely have to do Teshuva and we have to do it now, because we don’t know how much time we have.

Monday, July 13, 2015

From Day One

In EmunahSpeak: A Moral Free Fall we spoke of the immoral diktat that the Supreme Court of the United States handed down in lieu of anything that remotely resembled legal reasoning.  But what should one expect from an ersatz Supreme Court that more closely resembles a traffic court in a Potemkin village?

Then there is the other Supreme Court.  The real one.  In the Beis Din Shel Mala they also have what to say as to this assault on one of the societal pillars that has been in place since day one. 

And while it's true that in EmunahSpeak: A Moral Free Fall we also mentioned as an aside that the behavior (in question) has been universally proscribed since the sixth day of Creation, as far as Man (humankind, us) is concerned it was day one.

But it's more than that.

There's a Medrash that states openly that not only did Hashem speak to Adam in Gan Eden warning him not to eat from the Eitz HaDas, but he also warned him as to the six other mitzvohs that are the foundation of all law and morality for the nations of the world.

This means that before the nachash (snake) sucker punched Eve (Chava), what the Supreme Court just permitted was already proscribed.  Or put another way, Hashem explicitly forbade the activity that was the subject of the Supreme Court's decision before there was even a Yetzer Hora to do so!

Taking it a step further, as we all know, the Torah states that after the six days of Creation Hashem rested on the seventh Day from all the work that he had done.  But in addition, one could say that He would also not rest until he had put into place the parameters by which life should be lived in the world which He created.

And those parameters go beyond the thou shall nots.  As necessary as they are to keep one out of trouble, they do not move the ball down the field.  For that we need be fruitful and multiply.  And the vehicle by which Hashem chose to bring this mitzvah to fruition was marriage, which was also put on the books day one.

A world rife with murder, theft, and even immorality can exist.  But not a world without children.

It doesn't get any more basic than this.

And to back that up, there's another Medrash that states that all of its violence and immorality notwithstanding, what sealed the fate of the generation of the Flood was that whatever passed for a Supreme Court or a legislature in those days also had the chutzpah to redefine what Hashem had defined for all time.

I'm not privy to the buzz in the coffee room in Shomayim any more than the next guy, but we all know how that story ended.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Moral Free Fall

Even occasional readers of EmunahSpeak are cognizant of the fact that it is not a forum for current events.  As the tag line to our masthead proclaims, we are about emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula.  But when an event conspires to threaten all of the above it becomes a relevant topic and grist for an iconoclast's jaundiced eye.
There seems to have been a collective great discovery about a week and half ago that America as we knew it has magically morphed into America as we now know it.  And our current knowledge (as in, now know it) reflects the total moral bankruptcy and degeneration of the ruling class, the fools that voted them into power, and the two generations that have come of age since the 1960s that were educated to believe that perversion is the cherry on the cake of human development.
So where's everyone been anyway?
Why the shock and disbelief?
The immoral diktat that the Supreme Court of the United States handed down in lieu of anything that remotely resembled legal reasoning wasn't a shot across the bow of decency and the rule of law.
We've been this way before.
The legislatures of eleven states, including New York which is home to the largest community of Torah Jews outside of Eretz Yisroel, have already debased  their legitimacy as representatives of the People by enacting statutes legalizing the same criminal activity.  
And what of the Rainbow Coalition that was all the rage in New York about a quarter of a century ago?  What was their agenda?
Color coordination?!
Long before the distinctions between right and wrong were airbrushed out of human memory, language was turned inside out to obfuscate the essence of what was being shoved into our eyeballs. And the road leading from that intended obfuscation to the recent Supreme Court decision is a very short one.
To whit is the word homophobic.  It takes a perfectly balanced and normal individual, and endows him with some kind of neurosis for having the temerity to abhor homosexual behavior.  Being so afflicted, he is given a place next to the racist in the Left's pantheon of evil.
The word gay is even a more successful attempt to cloud and confuse.  Gay implies laughing, back slapping. song, joviality, a pleasant disposition, optimism, and a friendly smile.
The word homosexual conveys the truth.
And what exactly is the truth concerning these people who would stand the entire country on its head for the right to flaunt their wickedness in the face of those yet uncorrupted?  When we strip away the phony terminology, the anti-discrimination statutes, the craven Leftist writers whose every breath reeks of political correctness, and two generations of anti-societal brainwashing we are left with filth.
Their behavior is anti-social and is selfish in the extreme.   And they leave over nothing for the next generation except for the Aids virus which is passed on to a fellow deviate and the bills that society is, that in many cases, forced to pick up for their care.
And not incidentally, their behavior has been universally proscribed since the sixth day of Creation.
So we repeat:  Why the shock and disbelief?
For anyone who has been paying attention to the terminal elasticity of the moral fiber of the country these past fifty years or so should understand that Supreme Court's rendition of Hilchos S'dom is actually the makka b'patish (the final stroke).  It's the death knell of what probably was the grandest attempt at self government in the history of civilization.  If the pain seems to be somewhat more acute at this point in the nation's moral devolution it's only because the knife that was shoved into decency several decades ago was pushed in a little deeper.  But as painful as it may be it remains an old wound.
So where do we go up from here?
More than twenty-five years ago, Judge Robert Bork who is one of the greatest legal minds of our time, wrote in his book, Sodom and Gomorrah, that the subject of the Supreme Court's recent disgrace was the last red line and that when we crossed it we would go into a moral free fall.
So where do we go from here?
We've already reached bottom so it's the only direction left.