Monday, September 20, 2004

The Ultimate Tshuva

September 20, 2004

At the time of this writing, Monday morning, I’m sitting and listening to the radio. Usually when I write I turn everything off; it’s difficult to write and listen to someone talking, simultaneously. This morning is an exception to the rule.
Only a few days ago was the beginning of the New Year. We say, ‘the old year and its curses is behind us, the new year and its blessings are before us. Yesterday was Tzom Gedaliah – a fast day occurring annually immediately after Rosh HaShana. (See “Reserved for Arik – May 26, 2003 [].) Despite the prayers, hopes, and perhaps even expectations of a real, substantive change of heart were quickly dashed. It almost wants to make you cry.
What’s at the top of the news? The Committee to Abandon Eretz Yisrael, otherwise known as the ‘disengagement authority’ – under the traitorous leadership of Yonatan Bassi, is on the verge of sending one thousand seven hundred letters to Gush Katif residents. This letter is a ‘personal notification’ from Bassi to these thousands of brave souls, notifying them of the impending eviction and expulsion from their homes, jobs and land.
Following a short discussion about this letter, the radio discussion turned to an interview with people connected to the ‘Shabas,’ short for ‘Sherutai Batei HaSohar’ – or, in plain English, the Israeli prison system. The topic of conversation: How the Shabas is preparing for mass arrests and incarceration of hundreds and thousands of ‘extremists’ who oppose Sharon’s acquiescence to the terrorists. Perhaps they will try and squeeze us all into existing cages. If there is not enough room, maybe they’ll construct camps in the Negev. And, in truth, it wouldn’t surprise me if they utilize British-initiated methodology: conceivably they’ll evict ‘extremist leaders’ from the country, possibly to Africa. With this regime, anything is possible.
But, of course, in order to understand the above-mentioned paragraphs, it is mandatory to be familiar with the ‘extremist leadership. So provides us with a ‘who’s who of the extreme right’ [in Hebrew -,7340,L-2942745,00.html], which includes, among others, a picture of a bearded fanatic praying and of Torah-giant, Hebron-Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi, Dov Lior. Rabbis and believers are always the first to go.
Well, happy New Year.
So where does this leave us? What can be said that hasn’t been said before? In my opinion we have little choice but to continue on the same path, going in the same direction. For example, this coming Succot, Gush Katif must be flooded with people. The roads should be clogged like they were on Yom HaAtzmaut – Independence Day. All of Yesha as well, should be overflowing with people. Especially the communities in north Shomron, also slated for destruction. Ariel Sharon and his cronies must know that we are not giving up, and will never throw in the towel. Eretz Yisrael belongs to us and we will never abandon our homeland.
In Rosh HaShana interviews Sharon declared that ‘it pains him too’ to ‘disengage’ from Gush Katif. We must repeat, like a mantra, that it ‘pains us’ to verbally attack Ariel Sharon and ministers in his government. It hurts to define certain Israelis as ‘collaborators’ and ‘traitors.’ I’m sure Women in Green leader Nadia Matar wasn’t laughing as she wrote to Yonaton Bassi, in reply to his letter to Gush Katif “I am including a document chillingly similar to the letter you are about to send, in essence, all you have to do is change the date from 1942 to 2004, and the place of expulsion from Berlin to Gush Katif, and here, your letter is ready…Yonaton, know that there is no escape from the simple truth: Everyone who takes part in the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and northern Shomron, is participating in an anti-Semitic act and will be remembered in disgrace for eternity. You can still resign from you disgraceful job, entering into Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgment, unsoiled and with a clear conscience, without being part of the modern Judenrat – the expulsion authority.”
I have absolutely no doubt that Nadia did not write these words with joy or delight in her heart. But what can you do – the truth must be told, loud and clear.
Excuse me if I seem to divert for a moment – but there are events that cannot be ignored and are, one way or another, connected to the above-mentioned current events.
For the past few days Israel has been in an uproar over our latest visitor. An L.A. Times headline reads: Madonna's Pilgrimage Throws Israel Into a Tizzy [ madonna20sep20,1,4892492.story?coll=la-home-world]. An Israeli headline, quoted in the paper, screams: “Hail to the Queen.” Last night she participated in a special “Kabbalah” conference in Tel Aviv.
Now, anybody with anything more than a basic knowledge of Judaism knows that “Kabbalah,” otherwise known as ‘Jewish mysticism’ is one of the most sacred realms of Jewish religious thought and culture. The enigmas of Judaism were carefully concealed by our Sages, ages ago, and are uncovered only to those suitable, people of a purified, sublime character and observance. It is very difficult for a Jew to reach such spiritual heights. But Madonna and Kabbalah – this is a true contradiction. For example, again, from the L.A. Times, “Some observers noted no small measure of irony in the fact that an entertainer who made a name for herself by combining religious imagery and sexual provocation is now engaged in what those around her describe as a deeply personal and heartfelt spiritual journey.” On the one hand, she “made a candlelit visit to the grave of a Jewish sage, Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, the author of a revered Kabbalah commentary,” but on the other hand, the report describes her as “clad in a slinky, low-cut, leopard-print dress.”

It goes without saying that one of the foundations of religious Judaism is modesty, exemplified by modest dress for everyone, but especially stressed concerning women’s apparel. How can such a non-Jewish woman, dressed in clothing described as ‘slinky and low-cut’ have anything to do with the holy of holies of Judaism?
The worst of this is the fact that Israeli ministers fell over backwards to make her feel at home, including Ehud Olmert, who spoke at last night’s ‘Kabbalah conference’ and Gideon Ezra, who thanked her for coming to Israel.
So, what does this have to do with abandoning Gush Katif? Unfortunately, everything. When trying to fathom how a state’s leadership can decide to chop itself up, uproot its citizens and abandon its land to enemies, we must look around, and see a larger picture. When a country’s leadership can participate in idolizing an anathema to Jewish thought and tradition, a person who represents the very opposite of true Jewish culture, it is not difficult to understand how they can decide to rid themselves of what really is important and significant to our people.
It is truly ironic that the Madonna circus, together with Bassi’s Gush Katif letter, should be born on the days between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, the holiest days of the year. I call on our leadership, no, not only our leadership, I call on all of us to do a ‘heshbon nefesh,’ a deep internal searching of our souls, to seek out who and what we really are, and with that, perform the ultimate act of ‘tshuva,’ of repentance, to ask G-d to forgive us for repelling His goodness, for rejecting the supreme gift He granted us after two thousand years of exile, for giving us back our land, our holy land, our Eretz Yisrael.
With blessings from Hebron.

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