Several weeks ago someone sent me a video which showed a soldier on his way to Gaza. He said something which shocked me:
“Sing ‘kah Ribon’ with special kavana this Shabbos!”
What is he talking about? What does “Kah Ribon” have to do with Gaza?
The soldier said that this famous zemer (one of my favorites) was composed about six hundred years ago by a rabbi named Yisroel ben Moshe Najara in an ancient Jewish Community. Which ancient community?
I saw the following note in the Artscroll Shabbos Siddur (nusach Eretz Yisroel): “[Kah Ribon’s] composer, Yisroel [ben Moshe of Najara] was a student of the Arizal in Tzefas during the 16th century and later became rabbi of Gaza!”
Do you remember Country Yossi and the Shteibel Hoppers? Here is one of Country Yossi’s classics:
“There’s a real nice song that I love to sing, and it makes my neshoma yesaira swing! I could sing that song the whole night long! They call it ‘Kah Ribon!’
“Everybody smiles in every home when the kids are singing Kah Ribon!”
My friends, I was shaken to the depths! I had assumed that Gaza was a place of tumah, a corner of Mitzraim, and now it hit me! I checked the maps and found that, apparently, according to all opinions, Gaza is part of Biblical Israel, a place of tremendous kedusha, and I heard that there are many ancient shuls in Gaza City.
It suddenly hit me that this war is not only about exorcising a malignant growth in order to defend ourselves, but also about redeeming a part of Eretz Yisroel itself, returning the kedusha to a place of intense holiness.
Imagine! This zemer which Am Yisroel loves to sing every Friday night emanates from the very place our courageous soldiers are now fighting to redeem.
Listen to the words! Kah Ribon is all about today!
“Hashem, to Whom honor and greatness belongs, save Your sheep from the mouth of lions and take Your people from the midst of Golus, Your people that You chose from all the nations! Return to Your Sanctuary! Return to the Kodesh Hakadoshim, the Place where souls and spirits will rejoice, [where] they will sing to You songs and praises in Yerushalayim the City of Beauty!”
This, my friends, is what we are fighting for! We are fighting to return kedusha to the Holy Land! This war is to save us from the “mouth of lions,” to liberate Hashem’s children from Golus and return us all to the Holy City of Yerushalayim, where once again our Sanctuary will stand as the eternal dwelling place of the Shechina!
On Friday night, we envision the future: “Arise, and depart from the amid the upheaval. Too long have you dwelt in the ‘emek habacha’ … the valley of weeping, for He will compassionately show you compassion.… Those who trampled you will be trampled, and all who devoured you will be cast far off. Your G-d will rejoice in you like the rejoicing of a groom over his bride…. Enter in peace, Oh crown of her husband … enter Oh Kallah! Enter Oh Kallah!” (Lecha Dodi)
We ask Hashem “l’taher libainu l’avdecha b’emes … to purify our heart to serve You in Truth….” We know that we cannot serve Hashem correctly until our own intentions and hearts are pure. So we ask Hashem to purify us so that we can serve Him in Truth, like Moshe Rabbeinu, whose heart was untainted. So also, the Land of our Desire must be purified and dedicated to Hashem.
All that we are doing today, our tremendous challenges, are part of the process by which Hashem is allowing us to bring kedusha into our own neshomas and into the Land of Israel. We are preparing for the “chassana,” bringing in the Kallah and inaugurating the Day which will be all Shabbos.
“Go and proclaim in the ears of Yerushalayim, saying: Thus said Hashem, I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, your following after Me into the wilderness, into a land not sown. Israel is holy to Hashem, the first of His crop. All who devour it will be held guilty, evil shall come upon them, the word of Hashem.” (Yirmiah 2:1-30)
Suddenly, everything turned around. I saw light in the distance. There is hope for us, my friends. Just as in Ancient Egypt, when the world had turned black, suddenly a new light shone which we had never seen before. Hashem had sent a Redeemer and our enemies were swept away.
We have to know that – like a seed in the dark earth – our Redemption is ready to sprout in an instant. So, in the darkness which has descended upon the world, a light will suddenly shine, “for behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the wicked people and all the evildoers will be like straw and that coming day will not leave them a root or branch. But a sun of righteousness will shine for you who fear My Name, with healing in its rays….”
May we be among those who fear His Name and may we see that Great Day soon!
Kah Ribon: A famous song written over 500 years ago which is sung on Shabbos
Mitzraim: Ancient Egypt
Zemer: A song based on Torah traditions