Friday, September 09, 2005

Settling In

So many things are happening that I don't think I will be able to tell you about all of them. However, I will try giving you a taste. The shabbat in yerushalaim was amazing. We prayed at a Carlebach minyan on the roof of yeshivat hakotel, overlooking har habayit. The view was not just the only amazing thing. There was a lot of ruach. Everyone was dancing, I mean absolutely everyone. The singing and dancing then continued all shabbat long. The only time we were not singing was while we were dancing. Everyone was so happy and excited of finally being back in yerushalayim, our home after 2000 years of exile.

I ate at a rabbi's house on shabbat. The family was really great and I really enjoyed the lunch. The rabbi also gave us a nice story. I don't remember the details but I will give you a general idea. There was a Jew who once did a horrible sin, and therefore, everyone was calling him "Apikoros" (although his sin was not one of an apikoros). One night, an old woman asked a rabbi if she could make one last mitzvah before passing away. The rabbi told her: “go and wake up every Jew in the community for slichot”. The old women accepted. She started with the Apikoros. She knocked at his door and asked him: "My dear Jew, wake up, there will be sllichot in 20 minutes". The apikoros saw the old lady knocking on the doors and couldn't believe she was asked to wake up people so early in the morning. He told her to go back to sleep. He would wake up everyone for her. So he knocked on the first door and a man opened. The apikoros told the man that it was time for slichot and the man said: "What? You? An apikoros telling me to wake up? What a chutzpah! I am so hashuv, so important!!! How can you do that?" And the apikoros went on to the next house. After telling him about the slichot, the next guy reacted
the same way: "You are just an apikoros! How can you have the chutzpah to tell me what to do?" And so it went on to each of the houses. At the slichot minyan, the only people who showed up were the apikoros and the rabbi. That was the mashal. The nimshal is very interesting: The Rabbi was G-d, who wanted for people to wake up for return (teshuva, like slichot). It is obviously referring to physical return of the Jewish people to Israel. The apikoros was Herzl and all of secular Zionism who knocked on the door of the religious and asked them to take part in that return. The other people who were very "chashuv" were all the rabbis who refused to answer the call simply and only because the person making the call was "not religious enough". I find this story a very good portrayal of reality.

On Monday night, Rav Elon, my Rosh yeshiva, gave his opening sicha. It was amazing. He basically connected 4 different messages into one, powerful, teaching. The summary I will give you includes my own interpretation: He connected Gush Katif, Parashat Hashavua, Ellul and Jewish History. His message was that we all need to understand that when G-d says no, it doesn't mean he did not hear our prayers. It can mean 2 things: Either it is better for us to receive a negative answer, or we do not deserve a positive answer. The implicit message was obviously related to Gush Katif: We all prayed, but G-d said no. Now, we need to use this passion we had in order to change things, change ourselves, in order to make sure we will not be given the same answer again. The disengagement was not a failure of the Israeli government but rather, a failure of specifically the supporters of Israel. We have to realize now: Ok, we did not save gush katif. Let’s make sure we will save Jerusalem. This can be done by teshuva, achdut and love of the land. We need to return to the land of Israel, to the torah of Israel and finally to the people of Israel. Disengagement really showed us the weaknesses we urgently need to fix.

May we all be able to use the powerful month of ellul to fix these problems.

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