When Balance Becomes Betrayal — Liberal Jewish “Universalism” Can Be Anti-Jewish


I’ll Tell You A “Secret”:
True Judaism Is Much More Than Being Liberal

Could It Be That We need To Read The Prophets A Little More?

No, David HaMelech Was No Liberal, But He Surely is Our National Hero

Could Someone Be A Traitor To His Own People And Not Know It?

By Daniel Gordis

Universalism, Cynthia Ozick once noted, has become the particularism of the Jews. Increasingly, our most fundamental belief about ourselves is that we dare not care about ourselves any more than we can about others. Noble Jews have moved beyond difference.

Innocent Israeli childrenAbove: Children in Israel

Beaasts of HamasAbove: Children in Gaza

One of the Fogel children murdered for being JewishAbove: The children in Israel the media and the world ignore
This innocent Fogel kid was stabbed to death with his entire family of five
by “Palestinian” civilians.  Who deserves to be killed?

This inability to distinguish ourselves from the mass of humanity, this inability to celebrate our own origins, our own People and our own homeland, I argue in my latest book, The Promise of Israel, is dysfunctional. Do we not care about our own children more than we care about other people’s children? And shouldn’t we? Are our own parents not our responsibility in a way that other people’s parents are not? The same is true of nations and ethnicities. The French care about the French more than they do about others. So do the Italians. So do the Spanish. It’s only this new, re-imagined Jew who is constantly seeking to transcend origins which actually make us who we are and enable us to leave our distinct fingerprints on the world.

That ­an utterly universalized Judaism is almost entirely divorced from the richness of Jewish heritage and the worldview of our classic texts is bad enough. But on weeks like this, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis sleeping in bomb shelters and many millions more unspeakably frightened, it’s become clear that this universalized Judaism has rendered not only platitudinous Jews, but something worse. It bequeaths us a new Jew utterly incapable of feeling loyalty. The need for balance is so pervasive that even an expression of gut-level love for Israelis more than for their enemies is impossible. Balance has now bequeathed betrayal.

For me, the most devastating representation of this ethical and emotional confusion this week came from the pen of someone for whom I have great admiration, respect and affection. Rabbi Sharon Brous [ Ya’akov’s note: so-called “rabbi” ] is, to my mind, one of the most intelligent and creative minds in the American Jewish community. A perpetual fixture among the Forward 50, she is almost universally recognized for her path-breaking vision of what a synagogue can be, and her combination of deep intelligence and authentic soulfulness have reached many Jews who would otherwise not be attached to the Jewish world.

Because I hold Rabbi Brous in such high esteem and consider her a friend, I was especially devastated to read her message to her community this week, which I quote in full:

“It has been a devastating couple of days in Israel and Gaza.

I believe that the Israeli people, who have for years endured a barrage of rocket attacks targeting innocents and designed to create terror, instability and havoc, have the right and the obligation to defend themselves. I also believe that the Palestinian people, both in Gaza and the West Bank, have suffered terribly and deserve to live full and dignified lives. And I happen to agree with the editors of the New York Times that the best way for Israel to diminish the potency of Hamas – which poses a genuine threat to Israel – is to engage earnestly and immediately in peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

But most critically at this hour, I believe that there is a real and profound need for all of us to witness with empathy and grace. Take a breath. We are deeply entrenched in our narratives of good and evil, victim and perpetrator – and we are scared. Over one million Israelis will sleep in bomb shelters tonight and rockets have nearly reached Tel Aviv. So it’s tempting to dig in our heels, to diminish the loss on the other side of the border, even to gloat. This is not the Jewish way. However you feel about the wisdom and timing of Israel’s response to the Hamas threat, the people of Israel need our strong support and solidarity. At the same time, supporting Israel’s right to protect and defend itself does not diminish the reality that the Palestinian people are also children of God, whose suffering is real and undeniable.

Let us pray that this conflict comes to an end quickly, and that we soon see a return to negotiations and a real, viable and sustainable peace.”

It is, on the surface, a lovely and innocuous message. But what’s deeply troubling about it is that every single expression of sympathy for Israelis immediately coupled to a similar sentiment about the Palestinians. Absolute balance, even on a week like this, has become the supreme commandment. “Thou shall love thy neighbor who attacks thee as yourself.”

What do we have? Israelis have a right and obligation to defend themselves, but in the very next sentence, Palestinians have a right to lives of dignity. Nothing wrong with that. Israelis are scared, but so are Palestinians, and it is not our place to gloat. Fair enough. And even more balance: “the people of Israel need our strong support and solidarity. At the same time, supporting Israel’s right to protect and defend itself does not diminish the reality that the Palestinian people are also children of God, whose suffering is real and undeniable.”

Unobjectionable, sort of.

For the clincher is this: “We are deeply entrenched in our narratives of good and evil, victim and perpetrator – and we are scared.” Yes, we are all deeply entrenched in our narratives of good and evil. But why does Rabbi Brous not feel that it’s her place as a rabbi to tell her community (I know that I sound like a dinosaur to her community in saying this) which side is good and which side is evil?

Of course Israel is far from perfect, and yes, much of life in Gaza is miserable. Yet why can we not actually say what we know to be true? Why cannot a leader of the American Jewish community say that the only reason that Israel and Hamas are at war is that Hamas wants to destroy Israel? Does anyone really imagine that even a return to the 1967 borders would mollify Hamas? How do I know that it would not? Because they say so. They say that they will never end the “armed resistance” until the “Zionist entity” is utterly eradicated. Why don’t we believe them? Why this paternalistic, virtually racist, “oh they couldn’t possible mean that – it must be a cultural difference in how we express ourselves”? XXX

The “we’re all entrenched in our narratives of good and evil” worldview leaves no space for calling evil what it is. Why can we not simply say that at this moment, Israel’s enemies are evil? That they’re wrong? Why cannot someone as insightful and soulful as Rabbi Brous just say, without obfuscation, that whatever fault one finds with Israel, it is the Jewish State that for seventy years has sued for peace and the Arabs/Palestinians who have always refused. Does anyone bother pointing out to her community that whatever you think of Israel’s presence on the West Bank (or Judea/Samaria), that when Israel left Gaza, the Palestinians elected Hamas, and that when Mubarak fell, the Egyptians elected the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are these obvious facts utterly unmentionable? Because hope must spring eternal?

Yes, Jewish hope must spring eternal. And in order for it to do so, in order for us to find the strength to continue, to send our children to war and to raise another generation in a place that will tragically not know peace in any of our lifetimes, we need to tell Jews what this is. This is a battle of good versus evil, the battle between those struggling to avoid civilian casualties and those who are intentionally trying to kill civilians, the battle between those who have time and again sought peace, and those who said “no” in Khartoum in 1967 and still say “no.”

As I read Rabbi Brous’s missive, I couldn’t stop thinking about my two sons, both in the army, each doing his share to save the Jewish state from this latest onslaught. What I wanted to hear was that Rabbi Brous cares about my boys (for whom she actually babysat when we were all much younger) more than she cares about the children of terrorists. Especially this week, I wanted her to tell her community to love my family and my neighbors more than they love the people who elected Hamas and who celebrate each time a suicide bomber kills Jews. Is that really too much to ask?

But my friend left me heartbroken. If people as wise and as deeply Jewishly knowledgeable as Rabbi Brous (whom I told that this response was forthcoming) cannot come out and say that at least at this moment, we care about Israel more than we care about its enemies because we care about the future of the Jews more than almost anything else in the world, then her Jewish world and mine simply no longer inhabit overlapping universes.

I knew, even before reading Rabbi Brous’s missive, that we Israelis are surrounded by enemies. When I finished reading her, though, I understood that matters are much worse than that. Yes, we’re surrounded, but increasingly, we are also truly alone, utterly abandoned by those who ought to be unabashedly at our side.

Source:  Times of Israel

Yom Kippur, The Highest Holy Day In The Jewish Year


Sealed on Yom Kippur

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A fascinating overview of Yom Kippur, which explains
how to maximize the spiritual potential of the Day

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Questions and Anwers on Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Eliezer Melamed

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Settling the Land is the Way to Reveal G-d’s Kingdom

But there are also halakhic questions that need answers before the Fast

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Accepting God’s Kingdom through Settling the Land

At the beginning of the year, we should return and connect to the most important and primary foundations in our lives – and paramount to all is remembering who are we, what our life is all about, where we came from, where we are going, and the great mission that has been assigned to us. Therefore, first and foremost, we once again accept upon ourselves God’s kingdom.

Correspondingly, in last week’s column, we mentioned the outwardly discernible mitzvoth – for men, wearing ‘tzitziot’ (tassels) on the outside of one’s clothing, and a sizeable ‘kippa’; for women, modest clothing according to halakhah; and for all – responding ‘amen’ out loud, and respect for the ‘beit knesset’ (synagogue).

Some people resented my pointing out mitzvoth that not everyone from the National-Religious public always excels in. Nevertheless, it is precisely the mitzvoth which require strengthening that need to be mentioned.

On the other hand, it is important to add that in general, the mitzvah that best expresses the acceptance of God’s Kingdom in the eyes of the entire world is the mitzvah of ‘yishuv Ha’Aretz’ (settling the Land), which our Sages said is equal to all the other mitzvoth (Sifri, Parshat ‘Re’eh’). And especially today, when many countries in the world accuse us, claiming: ‘You are bandits! You conquered the Arab’s land’, and demand we retreat from the Inheritance of our forefathers, but nonetheless, we stand in opposition to all of them, continuing to settle the Land of Israel, as the Word of God in the Torah and the Prophets.

The Need to Fight for the Land – Revealing God’s Kingdom

In fact, it can and should be argued that, historically speaking, our Rights to the Land of Israel are Superior, because the Arabs themselves conquered the Land some two thousand years after us, turned it into wilderness, and never had an independent state here. In any event, the most basic reply is that of Rabbi Yitzchak, as brought down by Rashi in his first commentary on the Torah:

“The entire world belongs to God. He created it and He has distributed portions of it in accordance with His Plan. Just as He exercised His Authority in granting the Land of Canaan to the seven nations, He exercised that Authority in granting the Holy Land to us” as it is written: “God revealed to His people His glorious creation so that they could receive their rightful Inheritance from the nations of the earth” (Psalms 111:6).

It is similarly explained in the Midrash:

“God said to Israel: I could have created a new land for you, but in order to show you My Strength, I slay your enemies before you, and give you their Land, to fulfill what is written: “God revealed to His People His glorious Creation so that they could receive their rightful Inheritance from the nations of the earth” (Bamidbar Rabba 23:12).

For only in this way will the world be redeemed from all its physical and moral woes. Despite all human attempts to prevent wars and quarrels, hatred and competition, vices still prevail, and humanity fails to be saved from the iniquities of human nature. Only by clinging to the Will of God can the world elevate itself from its small-mindedness, and be redeemed from its misery.

Therefore, everyone must be aware that we have returned to the Land of Israel as God commanded, to reveal goodness and truth to the world. And, lo and behold, after all attempts, it turns out that this is the most convincing reply for the majority of people in the world.

Expansion of the Settlements

Following my article two weeks ago, in which I wrote that our main challenge is to expand Jewish settlement extensively in Judea and Samaria, I received a response from my friend, Rabbi Ya’ir Hiller, expressing his concern about the insufficient rate of growth in the settlements.

Seeing as this is a timely encouragement for the Ten Days of Repentance as well, I present part of his letter: “…The practical objective is to do what you have done on Har Bracha: to build densely populated, high-story buildings, enabling many young couples who cannot find relief from the insane housing prices everywhere, to rent or purchase.

“In my opinion, you should join forces with other public representatives, directly contacting additional local councils, and convince them and their residents about the necessity of the issue for all of Am Yisrael, not to be satisfied building expensive villas for the wealthy alone, but allocate land in every community for cheaper construction, even if this brings to the gates of their communities young families and not affluent ones. This move will solidify the settlements, especially in the outlying areas, and also bring relief to the housing shortage in the greater Tel-Aviv region.”

Indeed, this entreaty is an appropriate one, and hence, I have decided to publish it here. Thank God, for a number of years, residents of Har Bracha have been inspiring other communities to build densely, or at the very least, to build more modestly then in the past. In recent months, some residents have even started a construction company for this purpose, and we hope to hear good news from them soon.

Fast of Yom Kippur

Making Marriages on Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is an able day for prayers and thoughts about making a good match, for oneself, or for his children. On the face of it, a person might think: “Is it fitting on this holy and awesome Day to contemplate such seemingly low matters between husband and wife?” But this is what our Sages said in the Mishna:

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said, There were no holidays for Israel as the fifteenth of Av and as Yom Kippur, for on them the daughters of Jerusalem go forth in borrowed white garments, so as not to embarrass whoever does not have… And the daughters of Jerusalem go forth and dance in the vineyard. And what would they say? “Young man, lift up your eyes and see, what you choose for yourself. Do not set your eyes on beauty, set your eyes on the family: ‘Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that fears the L-rd, she shall be praised’ (Prov. 31:30), and it says, ‘Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates’ (Mishna Ta’anit 4:8).

This was the custom when the Temple was still standing and the ‘Shechinah’ (Divine Presence) rested on Israel and the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur; at that time, Israel could engage in matchmaking in holiness. But today when the Holy Temple is destroyed, we are required to significantly increase our prayers, and the ‘Shechinah’ is not revealed within us; consequently, we can not actually engage in matchmaking on Yom Kippur. Nevertheless, on this Holy Day, it is fitting to pray and contemplate on this important issue.

In particular, a person who has a lot of doubts regarding marriage, and is influenced by external considerations connected to his bad character traits which he has not yet properly corrected, can find the path to discover his match, owing to the holiness of the day.

Restoring ‘Shalom Bayit’

While Yom Kippur is effective in finding a match, it can also be helpful in restoring peace and love between married couples. For sometimes, as a result of failing to remember the Divine destiny of the marriage covenant, difficulties develop between husband and wife causing division. But by means of the Great Repentance of Yom Kippur, they can restore the love and joy between them.

As Rabbi Akiva said: “When husband and wife are worthy, the Shechinah abides with them; when they are not worthy fire consumes them” (Sotah 17a). Rashi explains that God placed His name between them – the Hebrew letter ‘yud’ in the word ‘ish’ (man), and ‘heh’ in the word ‘isha’ (woman) [and without God’s Name, the remaining letters ‘aleph’ and ‘shin’ spell the word ‘esh’, or fire].

Many people make the mistake, thinking that by connecting to learning Torah and performing mitzvoth, love between the couple will be impaired. The truth is the exact opposite – the more they are genuinely connected to religious matters, later on, they will be able to increase happiness and joy between them.

On Yom Kippur it is forbidden for a husband to touch his wife even with his finger (Shulchan Aruch, 615:1), yet, as a result of the holiness and meaningful repentance, they will be able to increasingly deepen their relationship.

Wearing Insoles on Yom Kippur

Q: As all are aware, it is forbidden to wear leather shoes or sandals on Yom Kippur. My question is, what is the halakhah for someone who needs to wear insoles in his shoes, and without them, his feet hurt him extremely, but the insoles are covered with leather?

A: Some halakhic authorities are lenient in this matter, permitting a person who suffers greatly without his insoles, which happen to be covered with leather, to place them in his cloth or rubber shoes, since they are not considered part of the shoe, and it is similar to a person standing on a cushion made out of leather, which is permitted (Rema, 614:2). Additionally, since he suffers greatly, he is in the same category as a person who has to walk in mud, who is permitted to wear shoes (Chelek Yaacov, Vol. 2: 83). One who desires may rely on this opinion.

When purchasing insoles, a person who wishes to ‘l’hader’ (enhance the mitzvah), should ask for insoles without leather, and thus be able to use them on Yom Kippur without concern.

Does a Migraine Sufferer Have to Fast?

Q: Is a person who has migraines, and has suffered several times from an onset of acute headaches as a result of fasting, obligated to fast on Yom Kippur and other fast days?

A: The general rule is that a sick person is exempt from the minor fasts, and even Tisha B’Av. Not only that – even one who as a result of the Fast is liable to become sick and fall ill, is exempt from fasting. Therefore, someone who suffers from migraines, even if at the beginning of the Fast he does not suffer, but knows that as a result of the fast a migraine headache is liable to be triggered, is exempt from the minor fasts and Tisha B’Av.

However, regarding the Fast of Yom Kippur, where even a person who is ill must also fast, one suffering from migraine headaches is obligated to Fast as well – even if it is a strong migraine, ‘kol v’chomer’ (all the more so) in a situation where he is not yet suffering, but rather, the Fast is likely to cause the onset of a migraine headache. And even eating a little at a time, less than a ‘shiur’ [one who eats on Yom Kippur the measurement of a large date is guilty] is forbidden for an ill person, since even eating a little on Yom Kippur is a Torah prohibition.

Additionally, it is worthy to note that in most cases, there are medications, in the form of a suppository or spray, which prevent the onset of migraines until after the Fast.

However, there are rare instances where migraines can cause a stroke, in which case there is a ‘chashash sakanat nefashot’ (a possible life-threatening situation), and in any event, such an ill person is exempt from fasting on Yom Kippur.  This is under three conditions:

  1. He has been diagnosed that fasting causes his migraines.
  2. The migraine appears after an aura (a perceptual disturbance experienced by some migraine sufferers before a migraine headache), and the aura lasts for over an hour.
  3. No medications (such as suppositories or sprays) can prevent the onset of the migraine. (This halakhah was written with the assistance of Dr. Rafi Kayam, and in accordance to the opinion of Dr. Rachel Herring, an expert in this field).

It should be added that, when it comes to the type of migraine where ‘sakanat nefashot’ is involved, seeing as the ill person does not need to eat a lot at one time in order to prevent the onset, he must eat a little at a time – less than a ‘shiur’ – for as long as he eats less than a ‘shiur’, he is not considered as having broken the Fast completely.

Using Deodorant

Q: Is it permissible to use deodorant on Yom Kippur to remove bad odor?

A: One of the five unique prohibitions on Yom Kippur is the prohibition of ‘sicha’ (anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions), which includes the prohibition of anointing even a tiny part of the body with oil or cream, and also the prohibition of using cosmetic products such as powders and oils to beautify one’s skin, or for a pleasant scent (Shulchan Aruch, 614:1).

Anointing in order to remove a bad odor is also prohibited, and in this manner, the prohibition of ‘sicha’ is different from the prohibition of ‘richitza’ (bathing), because regarding ‘richitza’, if one’s clear intention is to remove dirt – washing is permitted. Nevertheless, regarding ‘sicha’, since it is mainly intended for pleasure, even when one’s intention is to remove a bad odor, it is prohibited.

However, if after changing a baby’s diaper a bad smell remains on one’s hands, it is permitted to wash one’s hands with liquid soap, because liquid soap is not considered a cream or oil.

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Source: Arutz7

A Rosh HaShanah Message In Honey For A Fallen Jew


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No Matter What Our Situation Might Be
With HaShem There Is Hope And Recovery

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By Rabbi Aaron Moss

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Honey is a miraculous substance. It can do the impossible.  Just try this experiment with your family at the Rosh Hashana table:

  1. Dunk a slice of apple into a bowl of honey.
  2. Lift the apple out of the honey.
  3. Hold the apple over the bowl and allow a shaft of honey to drip back down into the bowl.
  4. While it is oozing downwards, quickly lift the apple until the shaft breaks.
  5. Watch carefully. The honey on the apple starts to fall a little, and then climbs back upwards towards the apple, defying the laws of gravity.
  6. Say “Wow!”

The upward climbing honey gives us a moving message for the new year. Even if you have fallen, you can always climb back up. Even if you have become disconnected, you can reconnect. You may have become estranged from your people and from your G-d. You may have lost your way in life and fallen to a very low place. But you can always pick yourself back up. No force in the world can stop a Jew coming home.

The honey may fall downwards, but at a certain point it turns around. In fact, it is the falling down that causes the bouncing up. The further you have strayed from Judaism and HaShem the more rebound energy you have built up for your return.

A Jewish soul wants to be Jewish. Materialistic distractions can only hold us back for so long. Our inner pull towards G-d is stronger than the pull of gravity towards the earth.  Honey always bounces back. So can we.

And since we are taking about honey and apples, let us continue at it for a moment with:

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The Healing Powers of Apples and Honey

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It is customary to eat an apple dipped in honey on the night of Rosh Hashanah and ask G-d to grant us a good sweet year. Ideally, the apple should be red and white, as an allusion to the verse,

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:18
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.

Apples help cleanse and purify the blood, are beneficial in the treatment of diabetes, respiratory tract infections, skin problems, the liver and the kidneys. They strengthen the body, are soothing to the nervous system, help prevent hardening of the arteries and are recommended for disorders of the kidneys and digestive system. There is a great deal of truth in the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

According to Kabbalah, the apple is an allusion to the mystical level of the Holy Apple Field. Also, when you cut an apple in half horizontally you will see ten little holes and a five pointed star. Ten is the numerical value of the Hebrew letter “yud”, and five is the numerical value of the Hebrew letter “hey”. The stalk of the apple represents the “vav” – together these letters spell out G-d’s Name.

The Zohar tells us that the apple has healing qualities: just as the apple heals all, so the Holy One, blessed be He, heals all. Just as the apple has various colours (white, red, green), so the Holy One, blessed be He, has various supernal colours (white, red, green – corresponding to the attributes of chesed (loving kindness), gevurah (might) and tiferet (beauty). The symbol of the green apple reveals some of the hidden meaning behind this teaching of the Zohar. Tiferet, the kabbalistic attribute of harmony and beauty, is associated with green, the colour of healing.

The Ben Ish Chai writes that the apple tree is the only fruit tree that has its spiritual source in the attribute of tiferet. This is yet another indication of the special connection of the apple with healing.

Honey was called “one sixtieth of manna” by the Sages because it shares many of the curative qualities of the manna from Heaven.

Nowadays the term honey means bee’s honey, but the famous Biblical verse “A land flowing with milk and honey” refers to date honey. Dates are one of the seven species characteristic of the Land of Israel. Honey is fuel for such organs as the heart, brain and liver. Predigested in the bee’s crop it is readily absorbed into the bloodstream where it stimulates circulation and raises the red blood count. It is invaluable for those with heart conditions or weak hearts. Honey strengthens, invigorates and refreshes.

It is helpful in the treatment of stomach ulcers, and is a useful sweetening agent for diabetics since it helps reduce sugar levels while it boosts vitality and physical stamina. Because of its positive effects on the blood count, honey is highly recommended for sufferers of anaemia.

Honey is unique because of where it comes from. It is the only food taken from a non-kosher animal that we are permitted to eat. Furthermore the bee is an insect that stings and causes pain and bodily damage. Yet at the same time it is able to produce a sweet food that can add a delicious flavor to other things.

This is specifically why we use honey – because it represents the power of Rosh Hashanah. When we begin a fresh new year, the past is not always so sweet. Not everything in the last year might have been completely “Kosher”. Sometimes we may have stung and hurt those close to us. But on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we can turn it all around. We can learn from last year’s experiences and make the future more positive and filled with blessing. Like the bee, we can produce sweet honey.

When we eat the honey on Rosh Hashanah we are making a statement: We are not perfect, but with a little effort we can achieve sweetness. G-d accepts our commitment, and blesses us all with a happy, healthy, prosperous and sweet new year.

Shabbat Shalom, v’Shanah Tovah l’kulam!

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Source: ShiratDevorah

Call On HaShem And He Will Be Gracious — Real Protection For The Time Of Great Need


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Yes, We Are Protected IF We Are Careful
In Keeping Our End Of The Covenant

Prophet Joel informs us that despite the perils that await the Jewish Nation, as well as the rest of the world, right before the Great Day of HaShem, there is a Path to Safety.

We are informed in Joel 3(5) that anyone who calls in the Name of HaShem will escape.  The Hebrew Words for this is והיה כּל אשׁר יקרא בּשׁם יקוק ימלט. But what does it mean to call in the Name of G-d?  If we examine these 7 Hebrew Words a little closer we see a great hint.  For the gematria of the first letter of these 7 Words add up to 59.  This number 59 is the same value as the word אחן, which means “I will be Gracious and show Favor“.

We are protected IF we are careful

G-d tells this to Moses in Exodus 33(19) after he requests of G-d that He show him His Glory, that is, His Ways. The entire verse states that HaShem shall show Favor when He chooses to show Favor, and shall show Mercy when He chooses to show Mercy.  But how does HaShem choose?  He doesn’t treat us based on some pre-determined fate that we have.  Everything that occurs in our lives is based on our individual actions.  So many think that we don’t have any free will if G-d knows what our actions, and thus our ultimate fate, will be.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

We have total free will to act in a pure, truthful, faithful manner with the G-d of the Universe and with our fellow man and woman.  We can love and fear G-d with total free will and thus grow closer to HaShem.  But remember, the closer we are to G-d, the greater responsibility we will have for our actions.  And G-d knows exactly what our actions, decisions, words, sincerity and true committment will be.  He knows the future.  He know what we will choose to do.  That is not an obstacle to our actions.  He simply knows every single act that we will choose in our lifetimes.  If two teams have to play a game, G-d knows who will win and who will lose.  No one else does.  And so the game still has to be played and both teams must try with all their skills to be victorious.  G-d observes and weighs each of our deeds, good and bad.  So often we are not aware of our misdeeds and wrong and hurtful words to each other.  We say to ourselves so often, “Oh that was just a joke.  I tried to be funny.”

If someone receives a gift from someone, we automically thank the donor either in writing or orally.  So wouldn’t it be logical that when G-d grants us a great day, a new job, nachas and joy from our children, and simply a day totally free of pain, discomfort and troubles that we should seek Hashem, and thank Him?  Say more to Him than just “Baruch Hashem, or thanks G-d.”  Thank Him like you would thank a donor for his gift.  If you thank G-d and call on Him when things go well, then He will listen to you when you call on Him when things are not going well.  A child away from his parents can keep calling on them when they need money and things.  But do they call their parents a while later when this money and things lead to success and happiness?  HaShem wants to hear from His children more than, “Give me, give me, or help me now.”  He wants to hear how thankful we are for all the good He has already given us.  He wants us to tell Him “good news.”  If we can do this then G-d will indeed be Gracious to us and show Favor when we call for help.

Source: Redemption5768