December 16, 2008

Taking the Exile Out of the Jews

by Moshe Kempinski

This people needs to regain courage and stamina.

The latest media frenzy around the list of candidates chosen in the Likud primaries was at first infuriating to listen to; it soon became simply embarrassing. It seems that the "guard dogs" of democracy, our media, were foaming
We have been so sure of our views and so self-assured in our vision that we have slipped into self-righteous rage at times.
at the bit, waiting with articles dripping with sarcasm and hatred even days before the Likud primaries. They were probably disappointed when Moshe Feiglin only achieved reaching the number 20 slot, but that would not stop their yelping and barking.

They pointed to the list of people who were elected, describing it as a "Feiglin list" even though Feiglin was not connected to the list and is held in disdain by many of those voted in at the primaries. The list of people chosen by the electorate were the people suggested by many groups, like Matot Arim, the residents of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and by the expellees of Gush Katif, and all those who love this land and are inspired by its past and its future.

I am not a supporter of Moshe Feiglin, and yet I am happy that he got in. And I am incensed at Binyamin Netanyahu's childish attempts at rebuffing him. I am not a supporter, even though some of the main points of his Manhigut Yehudit faction mirror some of my own beliefs. This country does need a more faith-based leadership. This people does need to regain courage and stamina to shake off the effects of the disease called Political Correctness. Yet, I am not a supporter, because regrettably Moshe Feiglin has adopted the tact that got us into the mess we are in.

All of us in the Land of Israel camp are guilty, because we have been so sure of our views and so self-assured in our vision that we have slipped into self-righteous rage at times. Instead of trying to co-opt and engage our opponents, we have belittled them or ignored them. The B'Ahava Nenatzeach - "With Love We Will Win" - campaign prior to the expulsion of Gush Katif failed not because it was inherently false, but because it was too little and too late. We cannot assume that leadership will be ours simply because our cause is right. We cannot assume that everyone will agree with us simply because our vision is so clear. If great effort is not made to win the hearts and minds of the Israeli people, then we will continue to be maligned and ignored.

It is true that the hate spewed against the Land of Israel faithful will happen in any event, but our obligation is not to calm the haters, rather it is to reach out to the people of Israel who are still yearning for courage and vision. They remain the silent majority and they are not our enemy. If we forget that, then we lose our right to be part of the miracle of rebuilding.

To understand the venom being spewed by the media one must simply read the noted pundit Ari Shavit in his article called "An Israeli Tragedy" published in Haaretz:

"Last month the world entered the Obama era, but Likud members paid no attention. The result is intolerable. Even though most Israelis are sane and moderate citizens capable of dialogue with a sane and moderate world, Likud's extremist majority seeks to drag them back to a dark and dangerous extremism."

There it is. The classic Jewish response of the Jew in exile. We cannot believe what we are meant to believe. We cannot feel what we are being made to feel. Why is that? It is because the rest of the "sane" world doesn't see it that way. The same "sane" world that has lost its direction and purpose and has lost the courage to battle evil. The Ari Shavits want so much to be loved by the Obamas of the world, in much the same way the Jews in exile wanted to be loved by their landlords and bishops.

After Jacob our forefather fights the angel of Esau and prevails, he is blessed by the angel of G-d and receives the name "Israel". Shortly after Shimon and Levi avenge the kidnapping and rape of their sister Dina, Jacob is very concerned and he says to them
"'You have troubled me, to make me odious unto the inhabitants of the land, even unto the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and I being few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and smite me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house." (Breishit 34:30)

What happened to Jacob? Where was "Israel"? The answer seems to be centered in the words "being few in number." According to Rabbi Hillel of Shklov, the Gaon of Vilna explains the importance in the numbers of Jewish population:

"I asked rabbeinu what to do if it would be physically possible to bring all the Jews to Eretz Yisroel at one time. So many questions and difficulties would arise regarding the arrangement of the settlement. After much thought, rabbeinu answered, 'If it becomes possible to bring 600,000 to Eretz Yisroel at one time, then it should be done immediately, because there is a great and total power in the number 600,000, and that could defeat Samael in the gates of Jerusalem.' "

The Zohar explains that Jacob was concerned that without the number of 600,000 the newly forming people of Israel were in danger. They were to live temporarily in a type of exile mentality, even in the land of Israel. It was with the mighty number of 600,000 that the people of Israel were finally redeemed from Egypt.

Rabbi Menachem Kasher, in his introduction to Kol HaTor in HaTekufah HaGedolah, mentions two statistical records in this regard:

"The year 5708 (1948) was the first year in centuries that there were 600,000 Jews living in Eretz Yisrael and the State of Israel was born.... The year of 5727 (1967) was the first year in centuries that there were 600,000 Jewish males of army age above the age of 20 living in Eretz Yisrael. In 1967 the city of Jerusalem was reunited and the process of redemption was hurled forward."

If one is sensitive to those numbers, then one knows how to act like a Jacob in exile and knows that it is time to stand up like an Israel in the land of promise. It is harder to take the exile out of the Jew than it is to take the Jew out of exile, but that is what needs to be done. The people of Israel must be given back the power to be who they are meant to be.

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