Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Birthpangs of Mashiach - Part 1

The sages have always taught us that our redemption will come through “birthpangs”- some challenges. While a lot of people think that the birthpangs of our redemption are the problems we have with our neighbors, I think the greater problem is problems which exist inside of the Israeli society. The society which is supposed to be a model for all of mankind goes through many different challenges but the most important one has always been the lack of unity between the different sectors of society. Everyone agrees this is a huge problem: the religious, the secular, the sephardis and the ashkenazis. Yet, the problem stays. What is the source of this problem? How can it be resolved?

In the next few posts, I want to deal with this very important question which was brought back to the surface in recent discussions I’ve had with my Israeli cousins which would identify themselves as Secular. I say “which would identify themselves” for 2 reasons: 1. I think the start of the problem of unity lies in the labeling of people in different groups. 2. I don’t even know HOW we can label someone religious or secular. In today’s world, what makes someone religious is the little piece of cloth which he puts on his head. On one side, you’ll have someone with great middot, who goes to the army with a lot of messirut nefesh for am Israel but doesn’t wear a kippah and on the other, someone who beats up his wife and speaks lashon hara and wears a kippah and yet our society will call the one wearing the kippah religious. To me it makes no sense for us to define a person based on a piece of clothes which is not even really a mitzvah miderabanan but rather something which the tsibbur has taken upon itself (in other words, not really so important compared to other things.)

My discussion with my first cousin started when I told her I went to yeshiva, and she saw I was becoming more religious. At that point, she started telling me how Israelis don’t mind religious people as long as they go to the army and participate in the national life of the state of Israel. At the point, I should have interrupted her and told her: How is it possible for someone to be “religious” if he’s not participating in the national life of the state of Israel? If someone is a good Jew, by definition he needs to go to the army and participate in this national life!

I think the problem lies in something we discussed many times, but is always worth repeating because in my opinion it is the main problem of our generation. People think Judaism is a RELIGION. Judaism is NOT a religion. The Jewish religion is just a means to an end. Judaism is a form of Nationalism!
When God promised Abraham what his children will be, he never spoke of religion, he spoke of “a big Nation” – “Vees’ha le-Goy Gadol”.
Every Morning, when we wake up, we bless God “Which chose us among the nations, and gave us the torah” - “Asher Bachar Banu Mikol Ha-amim Ve-Natan Lanu et Torato”. The goal is to be a Nation, a chosen Nation, the way is through the Torah.
Our role in this world is not to be good Jews, but to form a “Mamlechet Kohanim Vegoy Kadosh” – A Kingdom of Priest, a holy nation!

Rav Kook in his introduction to Shabbat Haarets wrote that the segulah of Am Israel (what makes it special) is that it looks at the world through Godly eyes. We are here to show the world what a moral, Godly nation is in order for the world to take example.

In the time of the galut, it was very hard to speak about nationalism because we were all spread out. Also, if we spoke of nationalism, our host nations would have kicked us out. Then, Judaism changed. It became more based on its religious message then what it actually is.

Rav Kook teaches that when people started rebelling against religion, their rebellion was justified although their way was not. Instead of leaving religion, they should have fixed it. The reason for their rebellion was, however, very holy. They were asking for authentic Judaism. It was time to go back home, to Israel. We do not want exilic Judaism anymore, WE WANT TORAT ERETS ISRAEL NOW!

Unfortunately, the rabbis then did not provide so they went to go look elsewhere. Once again, this was a mistake (they should have looked deeper in Judaism), however, it came from a very holy property of seeking the real truth and not being happy with half truths.

This is exactly what my cousin was expressing: “Israelis do not liked people who do not participate in the national life of the State of Israel!”. ISRAELIS WANT AUTHENTIC JUDAISM. They want Torat Erets Israel. They cannot stand exilic Judaism anymore. It is time for real Judaism to come back!

Unfortunately, when people look at the Jewish World, they look at Haredim who represent the Judaism of Galut as the representation of Judaism. Why is that? Probably because they dress differently and so this makes them look more “intense”. THERE IS NOTHING MORE INTENSE THEN TORAT ERETS ISRAEL and the only tsibbur (group) which is representing torat erets Israel is the dati leumi tsibbur which goes to the army and participates in national life. This is Torat Erets Israel. This is Authentic Judaism.

Maybe, if the world starts understanding that authentic Judaism is not represented by wearing a hat and black clothes, then they will be able to take a serious look at the dati leumi sector and then, when “secular” Israelis will see this tsibbur which is completely engaged in National Life, goes to the army, and is very serious about making Am Israel the holy nation it needs to be, then they will understand that Judaism is not a dry set of rules but rather a guide as to how to run a holy nation.

I also cannot stand the fact that some people call themselves religious without participating in the national life of the Jewish People. My cousin was not criticizing Judaism, she was criticizing this fake practice of it which has been taken by a big sector of the population of Israel today, and she was right, much more then she even thought. Hopefully, however, when people realize that this is not authentic Judaism, instead of rebelling against Judaism, they will rebel against this representation of Judaism, they will rebel FOR Judaism, in order to bring back Judaism to its authentic nature.

Beezrat Hashem, we will soon all be participating in the national life of a Mamlechet Kohanim Vegoy Kadosh. more...

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