Monday, August 28, 2017

A View Much Like that of Hirsch

Q. How do you answer someone that says religious woman are second class?

A. Religious women are A-1 class. There's nobody better than religious women. Now what about religious men? Also A-1. Certainly. We are not going to say women are better than men. They want to say they are second class compared to religious men? Look. With HaKodesh Baruch Hu there's no such thing. Everybody is judged on his merits. Like I mentioned before, a righteous Torah woman, a woman who is Orthodox, and is loyal to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and tries her best, can many times outdo the biggest tzadickim.

I gave you one example here, the Rebbetzin Kaplan who made a revolution in America, and she did more than any single Rosh Yeshiva did in America.

But even if you are not such a successful personality, in your own home, if you serve HaKadosh Baruch Hu with a pure heart and you try very hard, there's no question you can become great.

What do you want, you want to hold speeches? Speeches are not for women to hold in public. There's a reason for that. It's a biological reason. Can't be helped. Women can speak to women. But you can't become a Rosh Yeshiva if you are a woman. And don't bewail the fact that you can't become a Rav HaKollel, a chief Rabbi. There's a reason why women cannot do that. It's a technical reason.

Therefore, every person should utilize his opportunities. And women have opportunities to become great no less than anyone.

R' Avigdor Miller, I Created All of Them for You #491 1:13:45

Friday, August 18, 2017

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Breuer on Zionism

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Breuer on Zionism

"But more than the most radical reform, Jewish truth is threatened by the movement propagated under the name of Zionism, which, if given ever greater influence would, God forbid, only serve to prolong our Galuth. Yet there are numerous Yehudim who do not shrink back from joining this movement which displays the most sinister 'k'firo' on its banner in the hope to return the homeland under its leadership. --- When will the curse of 'bechia shel chinem' finally fade away? When will the truth of 'zu hakneses yisroel l'aretz' conquer all Jewish hearts? ('Chokhmo U'musar' volume 'Bamidbar-Devarim' p. 39-40. Felheim Publishers [Jerusalem New York 5737/ 1977]"

Monday, August 7, 2017

On Zionism


Israel should be one nation, an entire nation that should have no other foundation for its existence, survival, activity and significance other than this Torah. It is to see the realization and devoted observance of this God-given "fiery Law" as its one contribution in world history for the edifice of human salvation. What the Phoenicians sought to bring about with the keels of their ships, what the ancient Greeks sought to achieve with their chisels and what the ancient Romans sought to attain with their swords, Israel is to accomplish with its Torah. Nay more, Israel is a nation that became a nation only through and for the Torah, a nation that once owned a land and existed as a state only through and for the Torah, and which possessed that land and that statehood only as instruments for translating the Torah into living reality. This is why Israel was a people even before it possessed land and statehood; this, too, is why Israel survived as a people even after its land was destroyed and its statehood lost, and this is why it will survive as a nation as long as it does not lose this only מורשה, this sole foundation for its survival and significance. That is the kind of nation that Israel, that all of us, should be. 

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Character of the Jewish Community," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 35

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It was not the land that Moses had been commanded to proclaim to his people at the outset of his mission as מורשה, as the inheritance they were to preserve (Ex. 6,8). The Law, to be translated into full reality upon that soil, was to be the true מורשה, the one true, everlasting inheritance, the one true center around which the nation and its leaders were to gather as one united community. Herein lay the goal and the destiny, the character and the significance of the people.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Kehillah," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 62
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The Jewish Kehillah was a Kehillah already in the wilderness, and therein lies the unique character and the eternity of the community that is the Jewish people. Israel was a people and a community even before it was given political independence and a land of its own. That is why it was able to remain a people and a community also long after it had lost its land and independence and, in fact, had been completely absorbed into other political and national entities. For it is not a land and the independence derived from possessing a land of its own that makes Israel a people or a community. The element that welds Israel into one national entity is the Law of God, the mission assigned to the people of Israel by the Law they hold in common, a mission they must accomplish by united, concerted efforts. This is what fuses all the sons of Israel into one united whole; land and political independence are only means to help them accomplish this mission better and more completely:

He led His people to freedom with joy, 
And His chosen ones with jubilation. 
And caused them to conquer the territory of the nations, 
So that they might keep His Laws and uphold His 
teachings, Hallelujah! 

Psalms 105,43-45

Israel was not given the Law so that it might win political independence and national prosperity; rather, Israel was given political independence and national prosperity so that it might be able to observe the Law. תורה, the Law, remains the eternal, unchanging goal, the purpose of the national existence of the Jew. This purpose does not vary with the degree of independence or prosperity that the Jewish nation enjoys at any given time. Freedom makes it easier for Israel to observe the Law; prosperity enables the people of Israel to accomplish its mission more fully. Political pressure will make observance of the Law more difficult, and lack of independence will leave the fulfillment of Israel's mission incomplete. But all of Israel's apparent fate signifies only a greater or smaller allotment of means for accomplishing the mission assigned to it by the Law of God. Israel's mission as such remains unchanged, and hence also remains the one unchanging bond that unites the larger Kehillath Ya'akov as a whole, as well as each small Kehillah that exists only as a daughter branch of the great, total Kehillah. 

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Kehillah," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, pp. 64-5

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The land of the Divine Torah is there for the people who live in it. Its most valuable product, the purpose and goal of the whole of God's Blessing directed to it, is every human life nourished by it, through its means able to dedicate itself to making God's Torah into a realisation. The land is only given on the condition of every human life respected as being unassailably sacred to the Torah. One drop of innocent blood shed and no notice taken of it drops a stitch in the bond which connects the land with the nation and both with God. (see verses 33 and 34). This holding human life to be so sacred is to be made evident immediately on taking possession of the land in the division of it by instituting the arrangement which the Torah had already referred to in the fundamental laws of Torah social life. (Ex. XXI, 13). 

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on Bamidbar 35:10

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When Israel was still united in a common land they did not call themselves Am, one people, for the reason that one common soil bore them all. For, alone among all the peoples of the earth, the possession of the land and the ensuing organization of the State was for Israel not an end but a means to the better fulfilment of their Jewish duties. The Torah did not exist for the State, but the State for the Torah. And only the Torah, the idea of being joint bearers of a spiritual calling, fused the individuals into an association of human beings whose inner cohesiveness is reflected in the term (literally, society) and whose character in the wider sense as a nation is designated by the term גוי that is to say, a corporate body or a people.

And even later on, far away from her land, when Israel sees her visible bonds of nationhood broken, the dispersed Jews call themselves Am, one nation, not in remembrance of a land once jointly possessed, not looking towards the future when God, as His words through the prophets teach us, will once more have united them, but in the consciousness of being, in the present as in the past, bearers of an eternal idea, an eternal mission, and of a God-given destiny which, in Israel, overshadowed, and still overshadows, the existence of the State, and which therefore has survived the State's downfall. We mourn over the sin which brought about that downfall, we take to heart the harshness which we have encountered in our years of wandering as the chastisement of a father imposed on us for our improvement, and we mourn the lack of observance of the Torah which that ruin has brought about. Not in order to shine as a nation among nations do we raise our prayers and hopes for a reunion in our land, but in order to find a soil for the better fulfilment of our spiritual vocation in that reunion and in the land which was promised, and given, and again promised for our observance of the Torah. But this very vocation obliges us, until God shall call us back to the Holy Land, to live and to work as patriots wherever He has placed us, to collect all the physical, material and spiritual forces and all that is noble in Israel to further the weal of the nations which have given us shelter. It obliges us, further, to allow our longing for the far-offland to express itself only in mourning, in wishing and hoping; and only through the honest fulfilment of all Jewish duties to await the realization of this hope. But it forbids us to strive for the reunion or the possession of the land by any but spiritual means.' Our Sages say God imposed three vows when He sent Israel into the wilderness: (I) that the children ofIsrael shall never seek to re-establish their nation by themselves; (2) that they shall never be disloyal to the, nations which have given them shelter; (3) that these nations shall not oppress them excessively (Kethuboth, III, I). The fulfilment of the first two vows is confirmed in the pages of history; about the third, the nations concerned must judge themselves.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb 608

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“When, during the reign of Hadrian, the uprising led by Bar Kochba proved a disastrous error, it became essential that the Jewish people be reminded for all times of another important fact; namely, that Israel must never again attempt to restore its national independence by its own power; it was to entrust its future as a nation solely to Divine Providence. Therefore when the nation, crushed by this new blow, had recovered its breath and hailed even the permission to give a decent burial to the hundreds of thousands who had fallen about Betar as the dawn of a better day, the sages who met at Yavneh added yet another blessing to the prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem. This fourth blessing is an acknowledgement that it has always been G-d and G-d alone Who has given us, and still gives us to this very day, that good in which we have had cause to rejoice; and that for future good, too, we may look to none other but G-d, and none besides Him." 

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary to the Prayer Book, p. 703

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There was a need to impress upon the mind of the Israelite who possessed freedom and land the value of the Torah. There was a need to proclaim to the State as a whole and to each individual in it: "The land which you own, the fields which bloom for you and the fruits which ripen for you--these are not your gods and your goods, these do not constitute you a nation nor are they the objects of your strivings as people and individuals. All these have been given to you for the sake of the Torah; for the sake of the Torah you possess them, and without the Torah you would lose them. All this land with its abundance of milk and honey, and all the rich and free national life which flourishes on it, are only a means and have only one object, namely, with this freedom and abundance to develop a communal, collective and individual life such as your God and Master has prescribed for you in the Torah." To impress on our minds and hearts this unconditional value of the Torah and the conditional value of all other possessions--this was the purpose of the ספירה of the days and weeks which  ואחד ב"ד וכל אחד , both the heads of the community and every individual in Israel מהחל חרמש בקמה had to count from the first setting of the sickle to the corn up to מתן תורה to the festival of the giving of the Law. 

In course of time Israel forgot this counting. It ceased to count up to its Torah and to see in the Torah the principal element in its national existence. It began to look for freedom and independence to its land and soil, to which it had the same right of possession as any other people to its own land. It imagined that it was entitled to count by its land, that it could dispense with the Torah and retain bread and soil, freedom and independence without the Torah, and "Judah's gods became as numerous as his cities". Then it lost land and soil, freedom and independence, saving nothing but the Torah up to which it counted no more in the land itself, and it wandered in strange lands for two thousand years. The seasons go round, the sun shines and the dew falls, but for the Jew no seeds sprout, no fields bloom, he no more puts the sickle to his own corn. And why? Because he wanted his activities to end with this sickle, and he was not willing to begin from this sickle to count to his Torah. From the time that he deified the sickle he lost the sickle! 

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, "Iyar," Judaism Eternal, Vol. I, p. 80-1.

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The Teaching which Moses commanded us" so runs the national creed which is to be the heritage of Israel from generation to generation. It is this Torah which is מורשה, the real inherited estate, not the Land and what if offers, the Teaching is the national Jewish heritage, land, and power are only the conditional consequences of this treasure.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary on Devarim 33:4 

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In 1864, Rav Hirsch wrote to Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer, founder of Chovevei Tzion: "My mind is too small to recognize the good and truth that will result, according to you, from your efforts in colonizing Eretz Yisroel. What you consider a mitzvah and a great obligation, does not seem so in my humble opinion. I have no knowledge of secret matters, and I see nothing better than to continue on the road paved by our fathers and predecessors, who made it their goal only to improve our Torah observance, and to look forward to the redemption, which might come any day, if we only listen to G-d's voice. They never approached redemption through the improvement of the Holy Land, only through the improvement of our hearts and deeds." (Shemesh Marpei, p. 211)

Near the end of his life in 1886, Rav Hirsch wrote to Rabbi Yaakov Lipshitz, personal secretary of Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, “I was completely opposed to Rabbi Kalischer on this subject. More than three or four times he wrote to me and sent me his books and pressured me to take a leading role in his movement to settle Eretz Yisroel, until he finally came to me and accused me of delaying the redemption. And I asked him to leave me alone on this matter, for what they consider a great mitzvah is in my eyes no small sin, and therefore it is impossible to reach common ground.” (Shemesh Marpei, p. 216)

Source

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Linked Article: How Did Our Current Haggadah Become the Standard?

BY LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN

"The discovery of the Cairo Genizah, the storehouse of medieval manuscripts and documents in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Old Cairo, in the late nineteenth century has led to a virtual rediscovery of Jewish history during the Middle Ages. In fact, it has provided us with an enormous amount of information about our sacred literature, as well as illuminating the social and political history of Jews in the Middle East and Mediterranean basin. Some of the items found even related to Europe, such as very early writings in Yiddish. But one of the most significant gains was a deeper understanding of the history and literature of the geonim of Babylonia, as well as the text of our siddur and the Pesach Seder."

read more of How Did Our Current Haggadah Become the Standard?