Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How Can We Ask Hashem to Rebuild Our Land if We Won't Either? - Guest Post


It is just after midnight in Yerushalyim, Ir Hakodesh, on the first night of Rosh Chodesh Tamuz, July 2nd, 2008. Jetlag and a long nap this afternoon have conspired to keep me awake long past my regular bedtime. But even if physical considerations were not interfering with my sleep patterns, I would not be able to sleep. Three more Jews killed today; holy neshomos, al Kiddush Hashem by an Arab terrorist, a murderer, carrying an Israeli identity card. A woman whom I’ve known since we were both five or six years old just returned from the levaya of one of her closest friends, Hashem yimkom dameiha!

At the bottom of Ben Yehuda, at the Plaza near Yaffo street, we saw and heard the ambulances from Magen David Adom and the Hatzalah scooters race by towards the piguah, less than a mile away. Barely an hour later I was downstairs in the Be’er Miriam Beis Medrash of the Great Synagogue, and the topic of discussion was, of course, the murderous attack by one of our “beloved cousins” as my father a”h used to refer to them. “Rav Kahane was right,” “ you can’t trust the Arabs,” “this is on Olmert’s head,” “…and why does Shas still not leave the government…” – take your pick.

The Ribbonoh shel Olam runs the entire world, ALL of it, down to the last minute detail. He sent this Arab, He sent Hitler, He sent the Inquisition, He sent us the churban of both Batei haMikdash the mourning period for which will begin in just over two weeks and he sent us Pharoh. EVERYTHING is from Him. And why? Chumash and Navi are filled with warnings of what will happen to us if we don’t keep His mitzvos; the tochechos in Bechukosai and Ki Savo, the navi Yirmiyahu and other places. It has nothing to do with anyone other than Hakadosh Baruch Hu and us! Yes, us, the Chosen People, Am Hanivchar, “Ki Li B’nei Israel,” “B’ni bechori Yisrael,” “Ve’atem tihyu li mamleches Kohanim vegoy kadosh (and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a “holy” nation)!”

And why am I ranting about this? Because as we were leaving, the Arab cleaning crew entered the Beis Medrash stacked up the chairs onto the tables and began to “sponga” (this is now a verb) the floor in the very room where not twenty minutes earlier a chorus of voices decried their existence in this land and in this city. The women, in modest head scarves and covered to their wrists and ankles, spraying down the display cases in the lobby of the Great Synagogue: Arab; the construction workers, working on the light-railway, the pride of Israeli infrastructure: Arabs; the waiters, half the front desk and most of the housekeeping staffs at one of the very few “oh so very kosher” MEHADRIN hotels in Yerushalayim where we are staying: Arabs; the head of room-service who delivers the food, grinning with his crooked teeth, waiting for his generous tip: an Arab; the smiling young man who lugged two carts full of groceries up to our apartment in the aforementioned mehadrin hotel, just a few hours after his “brother” murdered Jews: yes, he too is an Arab. There are thousands upon tens of thousands more examples.

If we (writer included) are not willing and able to engage in menial labor, to pick up the trash, clean our rooms, build our own houses and streets, carry our own groceries, in other words, rid ourselves of the enemy within, then how do we expect the Ribbonoh shel Olam to do it for us? Every day we daven for the ge’ulah, we ask Hashem to save us, and yet we spit in His face! Of course we are lacking in mitzvos, and there is a multitude of reasons and causes for the long gallus which is not even worth mentioning, because we all know!

But here in Yerushalayim? Why are we unable to get this straight? It’s not Olmert, or Barak, or Sharon; not Likud or Shinui, or Labor or Kadima. It’s us, the Jews. There are Arabs, avowed enemies of the State and everything we believe in, sitting in the Knesset! There are Jews with beards, long payos, long black coats who shake hands with Yishmael! Our national, our JEWISH psyche is so damaged, so corrupted, that we have become paralyzed and unable to act on our own behalf.

I could go on and on, but it’s simply too painful. I can’t see the screen anymore because tears are blurring my vision. Ribbonoh shel kulei almah (Master of the whole entire world), save us, please, please save us DESPITE ourselves. You have promised us that the yeshuah, the salvation can come keheref ayin, in the blink of an eye. I am begging You from YOUR city, from Yerushalayim, overlooking the Makom of Your Beis Hamikdash, Hashem, please save us now.

Moshe Cederbaum

(Picture courtesy of Tiferes Yisroel "Shul Cleanup Day")

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8 comments:

moshe f said...

Yeah, avodah ivrit is a very big issue now days. R' Yitzchak Ginsburgh is one of the people who pushes for it. He points out something important, and that is that first and foremost, we should use avodah ivrit for a positive reason (I employ jews because I love jews...) rather than negative (arabs are dangerous, etc.).

Also it's about building the Land with our own hands because we love the holy land, so how can we let anyone else build it, be it arab or chinese or philipino workers...

Alice said...

This is a thoughtful and thought provoking essay.

There are non-Jews who love Israel and who want to help build her and sustain her in partnership with Jewish people. In my opinion, it should be a team effort. If Jews and Israel aren't doing well, then none of us will do well either. (I’m a Bat Noach.)

I think it's interesting that in Japan evidently the kids clean their own schools. This makes sense to me. It teaches that the school isn't just handed to them, it doesn't just spring out of the ground, elves don't clean the building when they leave. It also creates an atmosphere of self-policing. The kids stay more on top of each other, so adults do it less. It also cuts back on arrogant thinking about one group being superior to another. I wonder of there are parallels.

I was a waitress for ten years from high school graduation through graduate school. It is humbling and healthy to do such work. It taught me to be proud of the fact that I was helping to feed people and give them a nice moment in their day. It’s nice to take a break, get good service, have clean utensils and a clean table, etc. When I realized I wasn’t beneath such work and that it was important, I grew as a person. It chafes me to hear young people- or anyone- look down on people who work with their hands. They make the world go round (in partnership with Hashem of course.) : )

Anyone who has lived through a garbage strike knows this.

I realize the post is about something much deeper than this, but it made me think. Forgive me for writing an entire essay in your comment section.

Moshe Cederbaum said...

to Moshe F:

yes, of course you are right about the positive perspective of wanting to build OUR land with Jewish hands; at the point of writing, however, I was filled with so much pain that I couldn't get myself to that perspective.

In addition, and of course only after I had sent it in, I kept thinking about "lema'anchah Hashem" - if You, Hashem, would even only save us because You have had enough of Your Holy Name and the Sh'chinah being dragged through the shmutz, then that would be just fine too...

Moshe Cederbaum

Yirmeyahu said...

All such things are important, but when push comes to shove rebuilding the land isn't about the gashmius.

If we fix what we are supposed to fix the other stuff will fall into place and we will see the true fulfillment of the prophetic promise:

ובנו בני-נכר חמתיך ומלכיהם ישרתונף ישעיה ס:י

Yirmeyahu said...

ישרתונך=ישרתונף
sorry

moshe f said...

Yirmeyahu: Not about gashmius? Sais who? I mean who sais that building E'Y is only "spiritual"? Believe it or not, such mundain things as agriculture or building can be mitzvos, when done in Eretz Yisroel, part of mitzvah of yishuv. And if we really cared about mitzvos, and really cared about E'Y which is OUR MOTHER!!! (Eim Habanim Smeicha) we'd run to build it with our own sweaty hands!!! Relegating manual labor to arabs (or philipinos, or whoever) shows that we don't really care about the land... And it sais "ki ratzu avadecha es avaneha, v'es afarah yichonenu"... If we truly want the avanim and the afar of the holy land, would we leave it for arabs to handle for us?

And the pasuk you quoted from Yishaya is not talking about our time, it's reffering to a time when foreign kings will truly want a chelek in helping the holy nation in the holy land, not arabs who want to make a buck when jews need cheap labor

Yirmeyahu said...

Moshe-

We didn't go into galus because we didn't farm or do construction.

moshe f said...

Yirmeyahu, I'll tell you more, we also didn't go into golus because we've ignored the mitzvah of teffilin for example, does it mean we can ignore this mitzvah now and just concentrate on "fixing what we have to fix"?...:

And, what you wrote is not true, we did go into golus because of that! One of the BIG reasons for golus was chet hameraglim about which it sais "maasu b'eretz chemdah", and a famous perush (forgive me, I don't know which perush exactly) sais that the reason for this chet was that they did not want to go into the land where they'll have to do mundaine tasks like plowing, etc. (not realizing that davka in E'Y these mundaine tasks become elevated). May be that's also one of the things that we're supposed to fix!... Along with lashon hara, sinas chinam, etc.