“Min ha maitzar … from the straits I called upon Hashem. He answered me …. Hashem is with me. I have no fear. How can man affect me?” (Tehillim 118)
How can a person “have no fear?”
In this world, that is very difficult. Last week I quoted Yalkut Shimoni, who stated, “In the year … Moshiach will be revealed, all the nations of the world will be in conflict. The King of Persia will quarrel with the King of Arabia and … the King of Persia will destroy the entire world.”
I ask again: How can a person “have no fear?”
Yet, King David, no stranger to danger, tells us that we must not be afraid.
King David learned how to face life with reliance upon the King of kings. Do you think it was easy? For sure it was difficult, but he built himself up, and he can teach us how to build ourselves up so that we can survive Golus Yishmoel, the most difficult Golus of all! “Though I walk in the valley overshadowed by death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” (Tehillim 23).
Yishmoel is barbarity at its most raw. The Torah calls him “pe’re adam … a wild ass of a man.” (Beraishis 16:12) A wild ass looks like a horse. We usually like horses, but “pe’re adam” is part horse and part man, and that is dangerous. A horse is one thing and a man is another thing, but both together in one body is altogether different.
Rabbi Shamshon Raphael Hirsch zt”l translates “pe’re adam” as a “free man.” In what way is Yishmoel “free?” Rabbi Hirsch says he is “free from the yoke of man … a wild animal which cannot tolerate the constraints of the city.” (Beraishis 16:11-12)
Yishmoel wants to free himself from all the constraints by which civilized people live in an atmosphere of derech eretz and mutual trust. Jewish people who are trained by the Torah live in brotherhood and peace. No one is so exalted as gadolei Torah. Hashem is complete chessed, and the great people of Israel imitate Hashem. They guide Am Yisroel in their wisdom and envelop us all in a cocoon of security.
When Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky zt”l was niftar, I wrote that “we have lost our protection.” Indeed, when he was alive, he protected all of Israel.
Rav Avrohom ha Kohain Pam zt”l died on August 16, 2001. Rabbi Elya Svei zt”l said that the events of September 11, 2001, a few weeks later, could never have occurred if Rav Pam zt”l had still been alive, because he protected all of us.
Pe’re adam is the opposite. He threatens all of us. When he is around, we are exposed, unprotected, because he is “free.” There are no rules. He is not bound by the normal standards of decent behavior which allow mankind to live together in peace and tranquility. As Rav Hirsch says, “[Yishmael] will have no friends, but no one will dare to oppose him.”
How do we protect ourselves?
My friends, everything in this world is midah-keneged midah. Things happen to us which reflect our own nature. If this wild-horse-man is threatening us, we are obligated to examine our own actions.
Please forgive me, but are we acting toward each other with the middah of chessed?
Prior to the current tekufah, there was a period in the Land of Israel when Jews were acting toward each other with animosity and hatred. It was a worldwide disgrace and a monumental chillul Hashem, an embarrassment to the King of the Universe that His children should act like this. I am not singling out a particular group, but unthinking people egged each other on and the result was a display of behavior which made it seem as if Am Yisroel, the Holy Nation, were a nation of enemies who would not stop at trying to destroy each other, G-d forbid.
Is it such a surprise that our enemies want to destroy us? Who taught them?
Every catastrophe in our history began with sinas chinom. The brothers sold Yosef and the archetypal exile began! And I needn’t tell you about Churban Bayis Shaini, which stemmed from sinas chinom!
Is it a surprise that we are being threatened by a group of wildmen with no moral code? If they threaten us, we have to ask ourselves why? Why them? Why human beings who act like animals?
My friends, if we want to survive, we have to stop acting like this. If you hate your brother, the answer is: act with chessed toward him and that will change your heart. Simply trying to “remove” the hatred won’t work. Just be good to him! Smile at him! Hold the door for him! Give him what he needs! Take care of him! And then your hatred will turn to love.
This is survival my friends. Nothing other than survival. There is no choice. If we act with chessed toward our brothers, Moshiach will come in an instant and our enemies will vanish like smoke.
Chillul Hashem: Desecration of G-d’s Name
Churban Bayis Shaini: The destruction of the Second Temple
Golus Yishmoel: The last exile, in which the descendants of Yishmoel (the arabs) will be strong
Niftar: One who died
Sinas Chinom: Unwarranted hatred between Jew and Jew
Tekufah: Period in history