I am writing from the majestic Golan Heights, overlooking the Kinneret and the Galil. From here, one can easily march eastward into Syria; it is a mere forty-five miles to Damascus. (As a point of reference, the distance from Brooklyn to Lakewood is seventy-two miles.) Soon, b’ezras Hashem, when Moshiach comes, much of Syria will be part of Eretz Yisroel and many Jews will live in this windswept paradise at the top of the world.
Until June, 1967 those who hate us occupied the Golan and rained down destruction from here on the Children of Israel below. That is the way of our enemies: trying to destroy holiness. The way of the Jew – lehavdil – is to magnify holiness. This is the age-old battle which will reach its glorious conclusion -- hopefully soon -- when Hashem causes His Name to become great throughout the world in the Days of Moshiach.
As we read in this week’s Haftara, “Continuously, all day, My Name is blasphemed, [but in the Days of Moshiach] My people shall know My Name.” (Yeshiah 52:5-6)
Today, internal division among Am Yisroel is causing a chillul Hashem of great magnitude. The erev rav is petrified that Hashem’s Torah will be proclaimed the Law of the Land.
This is the very theme of this week’s Parsha!
“Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities…. righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue.”(Dvarim 16:18ff) Chazal understand this to mean that we should “go after the best court [available]” (Sanhedrin 32b) In other words, we should seek to be guided by “the court of the greatest sages of the generation.”
This is the exact issue which is being used as an excuse for rebellion and defiance. The rebels want to strengthen the so-called “court” which hates Torah. Hashem – lehavdil -- wants His children to go to the court which strengthens and upholds Torah.
When the Law of Torah governs, the Land blossoms. You can see the difference.
This is exactly what we read about last week, when the Torah described the great gathering at Har Gerizim and Har Eival. Har Gerizim, toward which the blessings are recited, is green and vibrant, while Har Eival, toward which the curses are directed, is brown and lifeless. We can see in front of our eyes the clear results of following the Torah. “If only My people would heed Me … [and] walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes and turn My hand against their tormentors!” (Tehillim 81)
Have you ever seen the luxuriant fields of a Shmittah farmer, bursting with fruit!
On our return to Yerushalayim from the Golan, driving south on Route 90, we could see the amazing contrast between the blessing and the curse. Along the arid Jordan Valley, one passes giant groves of luxuriant date palm trees towering into the sky, plantations of thriving banana plants and vineyards from which the most delicious wine is produced. This is desert, but the Jews are making it bloom!
Then, as one nears Yericho, one passes the fields of those enemies who occupy our Land. Their fields are choked with weeds and garbage as far as the eye can see. Whatever few struggling plants grow there are sick and drooping.
The desert blooms only where Hashem’s children have revived the Land. In the words of King David, “the earth will rejoice … the field and everything in it will rejoice [and] all the trees of the forest will sing with joy before Hashem….” (Tehillim 96)
Since when do the people decide what is right? This is the Land of Torah! When Am Yisroel contend with each other and the Torah itself becomes an issue, then we have the anarchy described so eloquently in Sefer Shoftim: “In those days there was no king in Israel. A man would do whatever seemed proper in his eyes.” (Shoftim 17:6 and other places)
We need the righteous Jewish king!
It’s all in this week’s Parsha! “When you come to the Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you and possess it …you shall surely set over yourself a king whom Hashem, your G-d, shall choose from among your brethren.” (Dvarim 17:14-15) We need one person of authority, appointed by the King of Kings, to lead us and bring us together as one nation.
We should make it a priority during this month of Elul to daven for exactly this, because we are in desperate need of redemption.
When you stand on the Golan and understand the miraculous salvation which Hashem has brought to His people, you realize with clarity that, no matter what the enemies of Torah attempt, Hashem is moving His world inexorably toward the day when that king will reign. Today’s troubles are a sign of the imminent redemption. As Dovid ha Melech says, “When the wicked bloom like grass and all the doers of iniquity flourish, it is to destroy them until eternity.” (Tehillim 92)
Listen please to the promise of salvation from this week’s Haftara: “Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of stupefaction … the cup of My fury. No longer shall you drink from it … [and] I will put it into the hand of your tormentors ….” (Yeshiah 51:22-23)
Woe to those who stand in the way of the Redemption! Blessings to those holy Jews who are so courageously bringing the Redemption, may we see it soon in our days!
B’ezras Hashem: With G-d’s help
Chillul Hashem: Desecration of G-d’s Name
Kinneret: Sea of Galilee
Lehavdil: A word which indicates differentiation between two concepts
Parsha: Torah portion