Message From the Mash
By Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Blumenfeld, Yeshiva Neveh Zion, Israel
December 31, 2006
Dear Alumni and Friends,
Today is Asara B’Teves. We are fasting not only to commemorate the day when the walls of Yerushalayim were breached by the invading Babylonians. We are fasting also that our prayers and discomfort should affect the present and the future. Let me explain.
Last night with a few Neveh fellows, I attended a large overflowing assembly of Bnei Torah who gathered to hear Gedolei Yisrael speaking about the need for strengthening tznius in Eretz Yisrael. Rav Ahron Leib Steinman, shlita, Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel, shlita, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir, Rav Mattisyahu Solomon, shlita, Mashgiach of Lakewood Yeshiva and other Gedolim addressed the audience in English and Yiddish. There wasn’t a speaker that didn’t mention the Es Tzora, the time of travail that our people are living through now. “We are in danger and our enemies are not few.”
In his eloquent and inspiring words, Rav Mattisyahu Solomon quoted a Chasam Sofer that explains the uniqueness of Asara B’Teves. If it would be that this fast day occurred on Shabbos, we would still have to fast. The calendar is such that it doesn’t, although at times it falls out on an Erev Shabbos and we have to enter Shabbos in fast. The Chasam Sofer explains that although we don’t fast on a yartzheit if it comes out on Shabbos, we are allowed to fast for a dream that forebodes tragedy. Why? To remember the past when it brings pain and sorrow is not in the spirit of Shabbos, but to do teshuva that a calamity should not occur in the future is allowed since the awareness that we have done our share is assuring and in the ruach of Shabbos. On Asara B’Teves there was a commotion in the Heavens and Hashem’s court was deciding the future of the Bais HaMikdash. So many had refused to believe the words of the prophets. They couldn’t fathom the possibility of Hashem’s Mikdash destroyed. But once the walls were breached they had a final chance. They should have realized that the words of the prophets were true. They could have done teshuva and avoided the churban. “Every generation that doesn’t witness the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash, it is as if it was destroyed in that generation.” That is because we haven’t yet rectified the cause of the destruction.
Rav Solomon’s words resounded throughout the hall. “The Heavenly court is once again in session today, this Asara B’Teves. The court is deciding whether or not on Tisha B’Av this year there will be a Bais HaMikdash. If we had to fast on Shabbos it would be a fast that could affect the future and bring an end to the sorrows of the galus.
Let me add a few words in postscript.
Hizbullah is paying Palestinian splinter groups, “thousands of dollars for each Kassam rocket fired at the Western Negev. The Shin Bet said that the amount depends on the number of Israelis killed and wounded.” When will we ever learn?
Last week two 15 year old boys from Sderot were critically injured by a Kassam. For three years the residents of Sderot have been living in fear. The cabinet was told on Sunday that although the IDF spotted terrorists preparing to fire rockets, because of the restrain policy, did not act. 64 rockets have fallen during the month long cease fire. Yet we continue to pretend that the phony cease fire exists. When will we ever learn?
A member of the Knesset has introduced a bill that would criminally prosecute those who try to influence a minor religiously. He explained that if a teenager becomes more observant by those who encourage him on Ben Yehuda to put on tefillin, this could cause strife and strain in his family and therefore is criminal. When will we ever learn?
The Supreme Court of Israel has decided to reward civilians that protect terrorists by allowing Palestinians who were accidentally harmed or property damaged by mistakes that the IDF made while trying to alleviate the threat of terrorism. When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn? When will we begin to understand history? Hashem’s message is loud and clear. We can no longer allow the influence of other cultures to dilute our Torah commitment. We embrace their entertainment, their music and their fashions at the expense of our connection with Hashem and His Torah. Every year I tell Neveh talmidim that in anyway to recognize the 1st of January is to be a traitor. This day was designated by the Christians as a day of pogroms, persecution and destruction. To commemorate it would be to desecrate the blood of our fallen brothers. We have a lot to do teshuva for this Asara B’Teves. We can’t miss the opportunity of affecting the future. If it means enough to us, we can bring the geulah. If it means enough to us, each and every one of us can strengthen our commitment to Torah learning and observance and compel Hashem to say, enough to the sorrows of our people. As Neveh guys say, “let’s go for it!”
The Targum Press has just published a book entitled, “Torah Talks” – the sichot of 25 Jewish leaders and educators. All these great sichot have one thing in common. They were given at Neveh Zion and transcribed from our tape archives. Mrs. Jennifer Hall (the wife of our own beloved Rabbi Hall that volunteered and taught for so many years in our Bais HaMedrash) did an amazing job editing this classic. It even has sichot from our own Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, shlita, Rabbi Yehezkel Lehrer, shlita, Rabbi Meir Parker, shlita , and Rav Yehuda Mandelcorn, zt”l, as well as the Bostoner Rebbe, shlita, Rav Noach Weinberg, shlita, Rav Simcha Wasserman, zt”l, Rabbi Berel Wein, shlita, Rabbi Dr. Twerski, shlita, and so many others. Don’t miss the chance to get this sefer before it is sold out!