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Monday, April 11, 2005

Prayers for the Czar but not for Jewish Soldiers

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Who stands guard at the Kotel, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, if not the Jewish soldier, the messenger of the All-Merciful?Who endangers his own life when Arab bullets fly at Jews praying at Rachel̓s Tomb, if not the soldier of the army of Israel?Who puts his body on the line watching over the cave of Machpela, enabling his Jewish brothers and sisters to pour out their hearts at the graves of their forefathers, if not our brave Jewish warrior?

Would you therefore not think, faithful reader, that the Israeli soldiers who put their lives on the line on a daily basis to protect our holy land are deserving of a Misheberach in our synagogues on Shabbos? Tell me, please, is a Jew who is willing to die in defense of our Jewish homeland not worthy of a Misheberach? I ask those of you who feel that to even make such a suggestion is to come perilously close to heresy: is not the blood of a Jewish soldier worth a Misheberach?

Yet, hard as the concept may be for those outside the Orthodox world to accept, there are very fine “frum shuls” that refuse – stubbornly, adamantly, passionately – to make a Misheberach for the brave and bold soldiers of Israel.

For the Russian Czars, the arch-enemies of all the Jews, the most boorish and barbaric evil-doers – for them frum Jews did make a Misheberach. But for Jewish soldiers in the land of Israel, for the wonderful and loyal guardians of our people, some “frum shuls” refuse to make a Misheberach. Why?

For Romanian dictators, racketeers, ruffians, and vicious anti-Semites (including royalty) we did make a Misheberach, but for Israeli defenders, the God-appointed messengers, some “frum shuls” don't. Why?

For the Polish rulers – may their names be obliterated, the scoundrels and drunkards who imbibed anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk and killed Jews while crossing themselves – we did make a Misheberach, but for our Jewish soldiers there is nothing from some “frum shuls.”
Why?

For Hungarian vagabonds, lowlifes and womanizers, we did make a Misheberach, but for the Jewish soldiers, the protectors of our land, some “frum shuls” will never make a Misheberach. Why?It is written in the Jerusalem Talmud and in Mishnat Rabbi Eliezer that “being an ingrate is equivalent to being a heretic.” If someone does not acknowledge favors done to him by others, he does not, God forbid, acknowledge the existence of Hashem. Can one think of a more powerful indictment?

Even more galling – at least it should be to every reader in whom a Jewish heart beats – is that in some “frum shuls” there are menuvolim (vile people) who have the audacity, the chutzpah, to rip out those pages in the gabbai`s guidebooks that contain the Misheberach for Israeli soldiers. Is it possible that such people were present at Sinai when the Almighty revealed Himself in His full glory to give us the Ten Commandments? Would not the Pillar of Cloud have spit them out? May Hashem have mercy on them.

There are those who argue that the Jewish soldiers of Israel don`t deserve a Misheberach because they are defending an “irreligious state" state that, according to their teachings, was born in sin. A simple question to such people: Is the modern State of Israel any less religious than those states that existed in the days of Achov or Menashe or Yirovom Ben Nevot? To put the question in more sweeping terms, is the modern State of Israel any less religious than were the Jewish states under most of the kings of Israel and Judah? The Gemara says that during the reign of King Achov there wasn't a single lawn in all of Israel that did not have an idol on it. And yet his armies were victorious in battle (Sanhedrin 102, 2).

And let's not mince words: Is it not primarily the fault of we ourselves – we frum Jews — that the government of Israel is not religious? Was there ever a mass frum aliya to Eretz Yisrael? Did we answer the call in the state`s formative years, after Europe had slaughtered Jews in the millions and vomited out those who survived, and when the gates of Israel were wide open and the land was crying out for its children to come home? To ask the question is to answer it.

And let`s get a few things straight about this “irreligious state” that so many of us in the frum community love to denigrate:

• This “irreligious state” is the greatest repository of Torah knowledge in the world today. In fact, more Torah is being learned and disseminated in Israel now than at any time since the destruction of the Second Temple.

• In this “irreligious state” there are more yeshivas, Talmud Torahs, synagogues and gemachs (free loan societies) than anywhere else in the world.

• This “irreligious state” is home to more “Shas Yidden” than any other country. (A Shas Yid is a person who has completed the Talmud cycle with most of the commentaries several times.)• In this “irreligious state” can be found the greatest assemblage of Torah giants on earth. Their opinions are accepted worldwide, and they are revered by all.

True, we frum Jews in America are not fighting in a war, but we can say a Misheberach in shul on Shabbos for those who are fighting on behalf of the Jewish people in our homeland. Not only are those dedicated young Jews going to war, they are ready to risk their lives for the sake of Eretz Yisrael. For heaven`s sake, the least we can do is make them the same Misheberach that our forebears made for the Jew-hating thugs who ruled over them in Russia and Poland and Hungary.

Bezalel Fixler, a survivor of the Transnistria death camp and a musmach of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, is a contributing columnist to Dos Yiddishe Vort and the Algemeiner Journal. He can be contacted at bfixler6@aol.com.

5 comments:

  1. Sultan,

    Amen! I just posted about a siddur I found which had been defaced in that way.

    Also, the "irreligious state" often has religious parties as members of the goverment!

    Keep up the good work

    TRK

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  2. Anonymous11/4/05

    My tanakh says love your brother as yourself and not to stand idly by the blood of your brother,so I will listen to Hashem and daven for Israel and the IDF guys daily.
    No one, NO ONE stands between me and Hashem.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mr. Knish,

    I once heard an explanation from a rabbi in Jerusalem that the meshebeirach for "kol haoskim betzorchei tzibur beemunoh" includes the soldiers.

    ReplyDelete
  4. it's a nice explanation and if a shul has that specifically in mind and the tzibbur is aware of it, it's a good thing

    but how many do?

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  5. Just so you know, Sultan, the Chabad shuls I've been to, in CA and NY, specifically make the misheberach for the Chayalim. Many of the congregants stand and usually if there's a sabra ex-pat present, he'll say it.

    Now, could you lay off Chabad a little?

    Excellent point, however, about the blame for the "irreligiousness" of Medinat Yisrael laying on K'lal Yisroel herself. We Jews were given the Torah personally on Har Sinai so why so little mention of Hashem in the founding of the secular state? The American colonists and founding fathers were not given the Torah yet her writings, seals, coinage, and approbations are replete with acknowledgements and thanks to the Divine.
    Critical frumies need to understand that it is not "they" seculars whom are to blame for any drifts away from the path of Hashem, it is us. It would be like if someone blamed his leg for kicking someone. Anyone who is critical of the irreligiousness in Israel needs to ask why yiddishkeit isn't explained so beautifully and demonstrated so honorably that all yidden will see it is the way to go.

    Finally, Sultan, thank you for reminding me of the principle of Hakaros HaTov- gratitude. Unfortunately I've issued some criticism before thanking you for an awesome and insightful, passionate site. It's so invigorating to read such motivating sentiments and beliefs regarding the physical and spiritual welfare of the Jewish People. Carry on, soldier, carry on.

    ReplyDelete

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