Torah Fax
Friday, August 4, 2006 - 10 Menachem Av, 5766

Torah Reading: VaEtchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11)
Candle Lighting Time: 7:50 PM
Shabbat Ends: 8:53 PM
Pirkei Avot: Chapter 3
Shabbat Nachamu 

Psalm 83

In the midst of the ongoing war in Israel, may we be secure from all that want to cause us harm and may G‑d protect the IDF and all Jews in Israel and throughout the world, many Jews have found meaning and relevance to the current situation in Psalm 83.

Here are some pertinent quotes from key verses in Psalm 83:

"G‑d, do not hold Your silence; do not be quiet, do not be still, Al-mighty. For behold, Your enemies rage, and those who hate You have raised their head. Against Your nation they plot deviously, they take counsel against those whom You protect.

They said, 'Come, let us cut them off from nationhood, so Israel's name will be remembered no more.'

For they conspire together with a unanimous heart, against You they make a covenant. The tents of Edom and Ishmaelites, of Moab and Hagarites. Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia and the inhabitants of Tyre...

My G‑d, make them like whirling chaff, like straw before the wind. Like a fire that burns the forest, and a flame that sets mountains ablaze. So pursue them with Your tempest and terrify them with Your storm. Fill their faces with shame, then they will seek Your Name, O G‑d. Let them be shamed and terrified forever, let them be humiliated and perish. Then they will know that You, Whose name is G‑d, are alone, the Most High over all the earth."  

Two of the points that emerge from this prophetic Psalm:
First, those who attempt to destroy Israel are actually attempting to wage war against G‑d. And even when they speak in the name of G‑d, they are actually denying Him.
The difference between a genuine belief in G‑d and one that is a mirage can be determined by whether one lets G‑d impose His will on him, or whether one attempts to impose his personal will on G‑d. There are some people who are murderous and evil, so they create a god that is likewise murderous and evil. They create a god in their own image.
In this week's parsha we read, once again, of the Ten Commandments. These were etched in stone on two tablets that were carried by Moses side by side. In effect, the commandments can be read either vertically or horizontally. When we read them horizontally, the first commandment to recognize the existence of G‑d is followed by the parallel commandment #6, the commandment not to commit murder.
In our society there are those who forget about the first commandment to recognize G‑d. But perhaps even more egregious are those who use G‑d to repudiate the commandment not to commit murder. When someone commits a crime, it is usually because one did not think of G‑d, or did it in spite of G‑d. As bad as that is, it is worse for one to "drag" G‑d into his or her own transgression, sinning in His name.
Moreover, when one uses G‑d to destroy another human-being, who was created in the image of G‑d, it is even a more serious affront than any other transgression; it amounts to using G‑d to destroy the image of G‑d!
But, there is something even more evil underfoot here. When one uses G‑d to attempt to destroy the Jewish Nation, chosen by G‑d at Mount Sinai to transmit the awareness of G‑d and His ethical message to the world, there is not greater irony and blasphemy. 
We are witness today to precisely this phenomenon. Groups of terrorists and terrorist nations are perverting the name of G‑d in their pursuit of destroying the Jewish people. The Psalmist calls a spade a spade; they are not only haters of Israel , they are the true haters of G‑d!
And thus, the Psalm concludes on a note that all nations will eventually know, "You whose name is G‑d, are alone, most high over all the earth." You are the G‑d who controls us, and not a god that we control and to whom we dictate our imagined morality.
A second observation can be made from this psalm: the deliverance of the Jewish people from these hostile forces comes from our pleas to G‑d. Moreover, as the Midrash states, G‑d gives us the right to say before Him: Do not hold Yourself silent; be not deaf etc.
Of course, we have to fight this war on a physical plane. The IDF has to do everything necessary to root out the enemy and guarantee a secure Israel. The government in Israel must make sure they make decisions with one thing in mind - a secure and safe Israel, paying no heed to world opinion and diplomatic pressures.
But this psalm gives us the other half of the equation, the spiritual component that is equally important to keeping Israel safe - prayer. In times like these, G‑d is waiting for us to follow the ancient Jewish tradition of prayer, even "arguing" with G‑d, as it were, as Moses does in this week's Torah portion.  We must humbly, but firmly, ask of G‑d to bring us Moshiach, who will bring an end to the persecution of Israel, once and for all, and usher in the time when all nations will recognize: "You whose name is G‑d, are alone, the most high over all the earth."  
Moshiach Matters
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk was so strong in his faith in Moshiach that he literally awaited him every day and night. Every evening, before he went to bed, he set one of his disciples near him. In that way, if the disciple heard the sound of the shofar heralding Moshiach, he could be immediately awakened from sleep. When the pre-marriage contract was written for Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev's niece, he told them to write: "The wedding will take place, G‑d willing, with good mazal, in the holy city of Jerusalem. And if, G‑d forbid, Moshiach has not arrived by then, the wedding will take place in Berditchev."(L'Chaim)

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