Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Tammuz 5763 - July 23, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Searching for Our Roots

This was the time when our forefathers who lived during the great Churban felt their world collapsing. On 17 Tammuz the walls of the city were breached. After years of strife, both internal and external, the final defenses were crumbling. For many who were slaughtered in the terrible final destruction, their own end was drawing near.

This is what we recall, but HaRav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch explains that the theme of this period is not mourning but fasting. We are not just contemplating the tragedy as a mourner is supposed to recall and eulogize his departed loved one, but rather we are to inspect our selves and our deeds and our surroundings, to identify the causes of our suffering and to determine how to heal them.

Our state is a very sad one.

When we look around at the non-Jewish world, we see a society that is cut off from the basic imperatives of the Creation, a society that does not recognize the fundamental obligations of humans to one another.

Hashem told man that he created the world "losheves," that it be subdued and settled. This basic Divine charge is now suppressed. The people of the world see little reason to set up a family, and even less reason to have children. They even hold up as examples to emulate various living arrangements that have nothing to do with having children. All Western societies today are shrinking -- they do not even have enough children to remain stable.

Moreover, the world publicly ignores all the basic limitations of decency. All the boundaries of modesty and restraint are proudly violated. Those who breach a line that was hitherto taboo are rewarded with fame and fortune.

Business leaders and politicians no longer keep minimum standards of honesty, even when it would be the best policy for them. They are only interested in their own stock options or career.

Though we are certainly not participants in these terrible excesses, we cannot say that we find no such faults among ourselves, in the areas that are important to us. We have also lost touch with our roots, to some extent.

We find it difficult to really feel what we have lost in our long golus. We are so far from what we had, that we cannot even recall it.

Tzor te'udoh, chosume Torah belimudoi, bind up the certificate, seal Torah within those who learn it (Yeshayohu 8:16). The very Torah itself is bound up and hidden. Instead of it flooding every nook and cranny of the universe we can only reach pieces of it through arduous toil over long periods. We are far from even realizing fully what we lost, much less from restoring it. Nonetheless, we must not shirk the task, and continue to apply ourselves to studying Torah despite the difficulties.

We have clearly lost the central location of service to Hashem in the Beis Hamikdash. We learn about what was done there, but it remains very far from our understanding. Nonetheless, we must work on our lip service and make it come from the depths of our hearts.

Left to us is our relationships to our fellows, gemilas chassodim. This has remained the same, across the generations and around the world. We must continue and strengthen the work that we are doing in this area.

It is clear that we cannot hope for any real, sustained success in Torah or avodoh or gemilus chassodim unless we insulate ourselves from the spirit of our times which tolerates none of these.

Feeling the pain of the destruction is the only way to be zoche to see the rebuilding. The destruction is so bad these days, we should be able to feel it.

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