GOOD MORNING! I have been receiving many phone calls, emails and faxes asking, "Rabbi, what can we do to help Israel?" People can't sleep. We are in a situation which seemingly has no possible solution.
We are a people with a long history. We have faced trials and tribulations perhaps greater than any other people, yet we have not only survived, but we have flourished and have impacted this world for the better. As Mark Twain said 103 years ago in his article, "Concerning the Jews,"
"The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all."
Mr. Twain ends his paragraph with the eternal, plaintive question, "All things are mortal, but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
So, how did we survive 3,300 years? If one reads our history, starting with the Tanach (The Torah, the Prophets and the Writings), he sees that we were oppressed many times. How did we victor over the plans of virtually every nation and every people to subjugate us, to convert us or to destroy us?
There is only one answer that history has given us. The Almighty has mercy upon us when we return to Him. He waits for us to take that step towards Him - to introspect, to do Teshuva (recognize where we have made mistakes and to set ourselves on a path of correction), to learn His Torah and to fulfill the Torah to the best of our ability.
How do I know? That is what it repeatedly says throughout the Torah. "... the Almighty will return to rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your forefathers, when you listen to the voice of the Almighty, your God, to observe His commandments and His decrees, that are written in this Book of the Torah, when you shall return to the Almighty, your God, with all your heart and all your soul" (Deuteronomy 30:9-10).
What can we do as a first step? We can unify and we can pray for Israel. (Remember, we were only redeemed from Egypt when the Almighty heard our prayers - "God heard their cries and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob", Exodus 2:24) On Wednesday, November 1st, exactly at 6 PM Israel time, Jews all over the world are going to stop what they are doing to say a prayer:
"Dear God, Master of the Universe Who has given us all good things, please bring us back from the brink of war and bless us with peace, wisdom and healing. Guide us together in love and harmony to our destiny. May we find only favor in each other and witness the hopeful vision of swords beaten into plowshares, each under his vine and fig tree, unafraid, soon in our days. Thank you for this and for everything that you have given us."
There is a group of women in Israel who are asking every Jewish woman to say four Psalms (Chapters 1, 24, 121 and 130) between sunset Thursday, November 2nd and sunset Friday, November 3rd. Why women? The sages tell us that in the merit of righteous women the redemption will come. Through the Psalms, we ask our Creator to have mercy on Israel, on our families, on the whole Jewish people and on the Land of Israel.
What else can we do?
- Undertake to do one more Mitzvah on a consistant basis - perhaps to say the Shema in the morning and the evening.
- Pray. Take 5 minutes to recognize the Almighty Who is the Creator and Master of the Universe, make your requests and thank Him for what He has given you.
- Guard your tongue - don't gossip and don't slander.
- Love your fellow Jews. When there is unity, no enemy can hurt us.
And the alternative? When we ignore the Almighty and His commandments to follow other pursuits, what does our Creator tell us in His Torah? "They provoked Me with a non-god, angered Me with their vanities; so shall I provoke them with a non-people, with a vile nation shall I anger them" (Deuteronomy 32:21).
Portion of the Week
The story of one righteous man in an evil generation. The Almighty commands Noah to build the ark on a hill far from the water. He built it over a period of 120 years. People deride Noah and ask him, "Why are you building a boat on a hill?" Noah explains that there will be a flood if people do not correct their ways (according to the comedian Bill Cosby, Noah would ask "How well can you tread water?"). We see from this the patience of the Almighty for people to correct their ways and the genius of arousing people's curiosity so that they will ask a question and hopefully hear the answer.
The generation does not do Teshuva, returning from their evil ways, and God brings a flood for 40 days. The water covers the earth for 150 days. The Almighty makes a covenant and makes the rainbow the sign of the covenant that He will never destroy all of life again by water (hence, James Baldwin's book, The Fire Next Time). When one sees a rainbow it is an omen to do Teshuva - to recognize the mistakes you are making in life, regret them, correct them/make restitution, and ask for forgiveness from anyone you have wronged as well as from the Almighty.
Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk and then occurs the mysterious incident in the tent after which Noah curses his grandson Canaan. The Torah portion concludes with the story of the Tower of Babel and then a genealogy from Shem to Abram.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Noah and his family were the only ones righteous enough to be saved in the ark. Noah was told by God, "And you shall take of all that is eaten and gather it to you; and it shall be for you and for them (Noah's family and the animals) to eat" (Genesis 6:21). Why does the Torah add the seemingly superfluous words, "and it shall be for you and for them to eat"? What else is food for if not to be eaten?
Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman offers the following explanation: The Midrash describes the climate and fertility of the earth before the flood. The picture that emerges is that the produce of that period was greatly superior to that which we have today. Noah, who was a prophet, knew that after the flood the earth would not be the same, and that he might have wanted to take along as much superior quality food as was possible to store for future use. However, he was warned to take along only enough to sustain himself and his family during their period of confinement in the ark. The reason for this is that when others suffer, we must commiserate with them and not seek pleasure for ourselves.
CANDLE LIGHTING - November 3:
Jerusalem 4:12 Miami 5:19 New York 4:31
L.A. 4:40 Hong Kong 5:29 Singapore 6:33
Guatemala 5:15 Honolulu 5:36 J'Burg 6:07
Melbourne 7:38 Moscow 4:28 London 4:12
Toronto 4:47 Montreal 4:19 Dallas 5:16
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
You can't direct the wind,
but you can adjust your sails.
Dedicated by...In Loving Memory of Our Son
Yehuda Leon Ben Myrna and Hanoj
Hanoj and Myrna Perez