Rabbi Mayer Twersky
Rabbi Mayer Twersky

Naftali, Gilad, Eyal Hy"d and the War on Hamas: Reflections on Kiddush and Chillul Hashem, Providence, and Prayer

I.

Introduction

On 2 Tammuz, 5774 with the discovery of the bodies of three precious, beloved souls, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach, Hy"d, the Jewish people collectively entered a period of mourning and reflection. This period was cruelly interrupted by two developments - the chillul Hashem of the barbaric slaying of the Arab youth Abu Khedir, and the war of rockets launched by Hamas. Both of these developments rightfully command our attention. Nevertheless, the reflection triggered by the martyrdom of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal Hy"d ought to continue.

Towards that end the following essay shares some thoughts on Providence, prayer and ahavas Yisrael. Sadly, the essay also contains a postscript briefly reflecting on the subsequent chillul Hashem and Hamas initiated war.

This essay is offered as a humble tribute to a dual kiddush Hashem - that of the three kedoshim Hy"d and, yibadlu l'chaim, the three families whose remarkable, steadfast emunah taught and inspired us all.

II.

קלי קלי למה עזבתני רחוק מישועתי דברי שאגתי. אלקי אקרא יומם ולא תענה ולילה ולא דומי' לי.
My God, My God why have you forsaken me, why so far from saving me, from the words of my cry.
O my God, I call out by day, but you answer not
And by night, but there is no respite for me.[1]

Malbim explains: Dovid Hamelech, speaking either in his own voice or that of Klal Yisrael, cries out in anguish with two queries.

Number one: Ribono Shel Olam, where is Your hashgacha? I feel abandoned.

Number two: How could You not respond to my incessant tefillos?

Emunah, even of the most profound sort embodied by Dovid Hamelech, does not forestall questions about hashgacha and tefillah. Nevertheless, for many people these questions lie dormant indefinitely. The intellectual awareness of tzaddik v'ra lo remains impersonal and thus innocuous. The philosophically inclined might tackle the issue as an abstract problem of philosophy. The non-philosophically inclined simply ignore it altogether. However, given the vicissitudes of life, at some point most people experience tzaddik v'ra lo. It invades their private domain. When this happens, questions about hashgacha and tefillah can trigger soul searching and an existentially driven quest for perspective.

The next sections of this essay seek be"H to contribute, however modestly, to that search and quest.

III.

Tzaddik V'Ra Lo

A parable of the Chafetz Chaim provides perspective on the inscrutability of Providence[2]. A visitor, passing through a town, davens in the local shtiebel. After davening, he questions and criticizes the gabbai's distribution of aliyos. Why did the gabbai give the first aliya to the kohen sitting in the back, bypassing all the kohanim sitting in the front? Why did the gabbai ignore the venerable, older leviim and give the second aliyah to a teenager? Etc. One of the townspeople chides the visitor for his presumptuous foolishness. "Reb Yid, you are here for one day. You do not know who received aliyos previously or, due to chiyuvim, who is slated to receive aliyos in the coming days and weeks. How do you expect to understand or appreciate our gabbai's judicious distribution of aliyos?"

We too, are passing through this world for but a few fleeting moments as history unfolds, and yet we naively expect to understand.

IV.

Choshech Anan V'Arafel

But our inability to understand the ways of Providence is not only because Hashem knows the future, and we do not. In order to deepen our perspective on the inscrutability of Providence, let us begin by studying the Torah's description of maamad Har Sinai.

ויהי ביום השלישי בהיות הבקר וגו' וענן כבד על ההר
On the third day, when it was morning … and a heavy cloud on the mountain[3].
וההר בער באש עד לב השמים חשך ענן וערפל
And the mountain was burning with fire up to the heart of the heaven, darkness cloud and thick cloud[4].

The greatest revelation of divine light, Matan Torah, was enveloped in darkness and thick cloud. What is represented by this meteorological-spiritual dialectic?

הרי נאמר בתורה "ושמרתם את כל חקותי ואת כל משפטי ועשיתם אותם וכו'" המשפטים הן המצוות שטעמן גלוי, וטובת עשייתן בעוה"ז ידועה וכו' והחקים הן המצוות שאין טעמן ידוע
It says in the Torah "You shall guard all my chukim and mishpatim and comply with them"...mishpatim are the commandments whose reason is obvious and which are clearly beneficial...chukim are those commandments whose reason is not known[5].

Revelation yields mishpatim but also chukim. We intuitively understand and appreciate some parts of the Torah while we are stymied and mystified by other parts. The ultimate chok is the seemingly self-contradictory mitzvah of parah adumah. Shlomo Hamelech's confession of defeat, "I thought I could become wise, but it is beyond me"[6], according to Chazal, relates to the inscrutability of parah adumah[7]. The brilliant, dazzling light of revelation does not altogether dispel or displace the thick cloud of divine inscrutability[8].

HKBH reveals Himself and His chochma in different ways and venues. Of course, Matan Torah was the primary venue of revelation. But He also reveals Himself through His governance of history, i.e., providence. Here too revelation yields both mishpatim and chukim. We intuitively understand and appreciate some elements of hashgacha, while we are stymied and mystified by other elements. Tzaddik v'ra lo is the analogue of parah adumah, the ultimate providential chok. Here too even Solomonic wisdom comes up short.

How are we to understand the dichotomous reality of revelation? Why do we encounter within Torah the chok of parah adumah, and within hashgacha, its analogue tzaddik v'ra lo[9]?

The answer goes to the heart of correct belief in HKBH. We erroneously conceive of HKBH in human categories. According to our line of thought, He exists as we do, albeit He exists infinitely, eternally, and perfectly. Similarly, we project that He knows by the same process of cognition as we do, albeit He is omniscient, and so forth. In effect, we think of HKBH as a perfect superhuman.

Rambam, representing the consensus of traditional Jewish belief, emphatically rejects our anthropomorphic conception of HKBH. He begins with the most fundamental theological lesson.

אין אמיתתו כאמיתת אחד מהם
The reality of His existence is unlike that of any [other being][10].

HKBH is sui generis, altogether different and unique. Everything about Him is absolutely unique, incommensurate in every way with human existence and experience.

Rambam proceeds to develop this lesson with regard to HKBH's mode of knowing and knowledge.

כבר בארנו כו' שהקב"ה אינו יודע בדעה שהיא חוץ ממנו כבני אדם שהן ודעתם שנים אלא הוא יתברך שמו ודעתו אחד, ואין דעתו של אדם יכולה להשיג דבר זה על בריו. וכשם שאין כח באדם להשיג ולמצוא אמיתת הבורא כו' כך אין כח באדם להשיג ולמצוא דעתו של בורא. הוא שהנביא אומר: כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם ולא דרכיכם דרכי נאם ה'.
We have already explained…that God does not know with a knowledge that is external to Him as do men, whose knowledge and selves are two [different entities.] Rather, He, may His name be praised, and His knowledge are one. Human knowledge cannot comprehend this concept in its entirety for just as it is beyond the capacity of man to comprehend and conceive the essential nature of the Creator…so too, it is beyond man's ability and knowledge to comprehend the Creator's mode of knowing and knowledge. This is what the prophet (Isaiah 55:8) says "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways, My ways"[11]

Because everything about HKBH is absolutely unique no analogy can really capture Rambam's point. Nevertheless, perhaps the following will help us somewhat relate to Rambam's theological lesson.

Two people, one capable of viewing the world in only two dimensions, the other views the world in three; one is color blind, the other sees the full range of colors; one is a priest of materialism, the other a priest of spiritualism. These two individuals, presented with the same scene, will see radically different realities because their modes of perception radically differ.

Moreover, it is intuitive that differing perceptions of reality will at times yield opposing and confounding moral judgments. It is no breach of courtesy to ignore a picture, but decidedly discourteous to ignore a person. It is no issue to pave a highway through drab terrain, but unconscionable to sacrifice the dazzling beauty of the Versailles gardens. Animal experimentation is a moral outrage for the mechanist and a moral imperative for the vitalist.

The analogue: how/what HKBH thinks, perceives and knows is not how/what we think, perceive and know. The gap between the two modes of perception is infinite. And thus, His moral judgments are not ours. The Navi Yeshayahu compressed this profound lesson into a few, sparing words.

כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם ולא דרכיכם דרכי
Since My thoughts are not your thoughts
Consequently your ways are not My ways.

Sefer Iyov is devoted to the question of tzaddik v'ra lo. Here is Rambam's summation.

This is the object of the Book of Job as a whole...so that you should not fall into error and seek to affirm in your imagination that His knowledge is like our knowledge or that His purpose and His providence and His governance are like our purpose and our providence and our governance. If man knows this, every misfortune will be borne lightly by him[12].

The converse of Rambam's statement is also true. Faithful, albeit painful, silence in the face of tzaddik v'ra lo beautifully expresses faith. It reaffirms belief in an exalted, divine, not superhuman, God. His divinity implies inscrutability[13].

V.

May you hear from Heaven[14]

Let us turn to Dovid Hamelech's, and our, second question. What happened to our tefillos? What did they accomplish?

It is not my intention to discuss how unknowingly we were davening after the boys' murder. Nor do I wish to dwell upon the important distinction between tefillah not being answered and not being answered in ways that we can discern and appreciate.

Both these perspectives are crucial in the immediate context of our three boys Hy"d. Nevertheless, I think we are all aware of these important perspectives. Thus moving beyond the immediate context, I would, be"H, like to briefly offer three general perspectives on unanswered tefillah.

אבל הצבור כל זמן שעושין תשובה וצועקין בלב שלם הן נענין שנא' כה' אלקינו בכל קראנו אליו.
Whenever the community repents and wholeheartedly cries out they are answered, as stated "like our God [who answers us] whenever we call to Him"[15]

The guarantee that communal prayer is answered "whenever we call to Him" is quite extraordinary but there are conditions attached. Two conditions, in fact - we cry out wholeheartedly and repent. The first condition can be easier to fulfill. When we experience acute crisis and/or present danger, we instinctively, wholeheartedly call out to HKBH. There are no atheists in foxholes, or half-hearted supplicants.

The second condition is more demanding. Teshuva, when properly affected, is a personally transformative, life altering process. The Baal Teshuva needs to be able to proclaim "I am not the same person who performed those actions."[16]

Perhaps, when we reflect on unanswered tefillah, we err. Perhaps the question is not "did Hashem respond?" but "did we repent?"

VI.

Recompense that man according to his ways

כל־תפלה כל־תחנה אשר תהיה לכל־האדם לכל עמך ישראל אשר ידעון איש נגע לבבו ופרש כפיו אל־הבית הזה. ואתה תשמע השמים מכון שבתך וסלחת ועשית ונתת לאיש ככל־דרכיו אשר תדע את־לבבו כי־אתה ידעת לבדך את־לבב כל־בני האדם. וגו' וגם אל־הנכרי אשר לא־מעמך ישראל הוא ובא מארץ רחוקה למען שמך. כי ישמעון את־שמך הגדול ואת־ידך החזקה וזרעך הנטויה ובא והתפלל אל־הבית הזה. אתה תשמע השמים מכון שבתך ועשית ככל אשר־יקרא אליך הנכרי וגו'
For any prayer and supplication that any individual or group of your entire people Israel may have - each man knowing the affliction of his heart - when he spreads out his hands [in prayer] toward this Temple, may You hear from Heaven, the foundation of Your abode, and forgive and act, and recompense that man according to his ways as You know his heart, for You alone know the hearts of all people… Also a gentile who is not of Your people Israel, but will come from a distant land, for Your Name's sake - for they will hear of Your great Name and Your Temple - may You hear from Heaven, the foundation of Your abode, and act according to all that the gentile calls out to You[17]

Shlomo Hamelech's prayer for his fellow Jews is conditional. HKBH should answer them only if they deserve and their requests are appropriate ("recompense that man according to his ways as You know his heart"). But his prayer concerning Gentiles is unconditional. HKBH should simply accede to their requests ("act according to all that the gentile calls out to You")[18]. Why?

Think of the following analogy. A couple enjoys a strong, healthy and abiding relationship based upon mutual affection, respect, devotion and commitment. Within such a relationship each spouse can, as warranted, say no to the other without engendering a crisis of faith. A second couple enjoys, at best, a tenuous relationship; perhaps they have not even committed to each other. In this latter case, the [possible] relationship may not withstand a negative response.

Jews are maaminim bnei maaminim[19]; our relationship with HKBH is strong and eternally enduring. He can "afford" to say no without risking the relationship. This is not the case with unbelieving gentiles.

Shlomo HaMelech speaks of tefillah within the Beis Hamikdash. But the perspective he provides on tefillah is globally true. Unquestionably, a negative response can be deeply painful. But our equanimity in the wake of such a negative response attests to the special, eternal bond of faith between the Chosen People and the Creator.

VII.

As one person with one heart[20]

Rav Soloveitchik beautifully depicts the Jewish concept of tzibbur.

The community is not just an assembly of people who work together for their mutual benefit, but a metaphysical entity, an individuality, I might say, a living whole. In particular, Judaism has stressed the wholeness and the unity of Knesses Yisrael, the Jewish community. The latter is not a conglomerate. It is an autonomous entity, endowed with a life of its own[21].

De jure, the Rav's words are always true. Even when divisiveness chas v'shalom exists within our ranks we are one people. But, de facto, we do not always experience the metaphysical unity. When we come together to daven together for each other, we feel part of something larger than ourselves, something great and noble, far greater and nobler than our personal existence. The metaphysical truth becomes our experiential truth, as well.

We should never lose sight of this remarkable tefillah dividend.

VIII.

This is the fundamental rule of the Torah

ואהבת לרעך כמוך רבי עקיבה אומר זהו כלל גדול בתורה
"You shall love your fellow as yourself" Rabbi Akiva says, this is the fundamental rule of the Torah [22]

We might add it is a formidable challenge of the Torah, as well. Self-love is instinctive; love for others is decidedly not. And yet for every mitzvah HKBH commanded He implanted within us the necessary kochos hanefesh[23]. Hitherto our challenge has been to uncover and awaken the hidden, dormant kochos hanefesh for ahavas yisrael.

The kidnapping and extended period of public uncertainty about the fate of the kedoshim had a transformative effect on our avodas Hashem. These dormant, latent kochos hanefesh were ignited. Our avodah has dramatically shifted away from uncovering and awakening to sustaining and deepening.

The Rebbe of Sochotchov (Shem M'Shmuel) offers a profound insight into this type of avoda. Chazal rhetorically ask why the parsha of nazir is juxtaposed to the parsha of sota. And they answer, to teach you that whoever sees the degradation of an adulteress should accept a vow of nezirus [and abstain from wine]. Asks the Rebbe, but this person has seen first hand the possible devastating effects of intoxication. That experience itself ought to insure his abstinence. Why does he need a vow of nezirus?

Answers the Rebbe, every experience, regardless of how powerful and gripping, gradually wanes and weakens, and ultimately entirely dissipates unless we take measures to consolidate it. Hence Chazal's counsel: while still feeling the full effects of having seen the demise of the sota, he should accept a vow of nezirus.

We find ourselves at such a moment, needing to consolidate and capitalize upon an extraordinary experience, the recrudescence of ahavas Yisrael.

VIII.

Three Suggestions

What measures ought we to take? Following are three suggestions - certainly not the only possible measures, perhaps not even the best, but hopefully worthwhile.

First suggestion: we did not identify Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal Hy"d by their choice of yarmulke, yeshiva affiliation or ethnicity. They were neither Chareidi, Chardal, Dati Leumi, or Chiloni. They were neither Ashkenazim nor Sefardim. Without compromising our fealty to the general masora or our own personal masora, we viewed these three boys Hy"d simply as Jews, our brethren. We experienced for ourselves that one does not have to fully agree to feel familial concern, devotion and love.

The feelings we experienced for the three kedoshim are replicable. Thus the first suggestion is to make a sustained, concerted effort to view all Jews with the same unjaundiced eyes, with which we viewed Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal Hy"d, and thus to facilitate the same familial concern, devotion and love.

Second suggestion: Unconsciously we sometimes adopt a passive posture regarding chessed. When approached to perform chessed, we respond. But we do not initiate. Such passivity can easily result in irregular practice of chessed and is certainly less effective in molding our hearts to love all Jews. We ought to be more proactive in performing chessed. As per the suggestion of the Chafetz Chaim [24], we should b"n undertake that a day does not pass without engaging in chessed. Chessed opportunities vary depending upon a multitude of factors. But we all have such opportunities. This active posture can be"H help nurture and express ahavas Yisrael.

Third suggestion: As a ben chutz l'aretz, I feel a tremendous debt of gratitude to all bnei Eretz Yisrael, and especially the chayalim. Their ongoing self-sacrifice to live and serve in Eretz Yisrael secures the Holy Land for all of us. Perhaps we can channel our gratitude and concern into daily recitation of Tehillim on their behalf, even after, be"H, the current attacks in Eretz Yisrael cease. Even one (short) perek a day would be meaningful if that is all one's schedule allows. They need our prayers, and we need to acknowledge and support their ongoing mesirus nefesh.

IX.

Conclusion

רב יוסף כי הוה שמע קל כרעא דאמי' אמר איקום מקמי שכינה דאתיא
When Rav Yosef would hear his mother's footsteps, he would say "let me rise in honor of the divine presence which approaches" [25]

A remarkable insight of Rabbeinu Bachya illuminates this remarkable Gemara.

Then think of the kindness shown by the Creator in the care which He provides for man… The infant's body grows stronger… God fills the hearts of the parents with kindness, love and compassion for the child, so that raising him is not a burden for them; [so that] they are more sensitive to the child's needs for food and drink than their own needs; and [so that] all the trouble and hard work that go into raising him - [they must] bathe and dress him, and the like; gently care for him; and protect him from all harm, even against his will - are made easier for them [26]

Parents serve as HKBH's emissaries. In nurturing and showering love upon their children, they are projecting HKBH's love. The parental capacity for love and self-sacrifice is a special divine gift to parents and children.

In his mother's love Rav Yosef detected HKBH's loving presence. Hence when he would rise for his mother, he was also rising for the divine presence.

Rabbeinu Bachya's insight is not limited to parental love. The phenomenal kochos hanefesh within the Jewish heart for ahavas Yisrael are also a special divine gift. Ahavas Yisrael is actually an expression of HKBH's intense, eternal love for us.

Times have been trying. The Jewish people have been moved to echo Dovid Hamelech and ask "why have you forsaken me?" and "how is it possible that I call out by day and You answer not?" The thick, dark cloud of inscrutability has very much been present. But simultaneously HKBH strengthens and reassures us. His loving presence in the form of ahavas Yisrael breaks through the cloud cover.

X.

Postscript

Our grief has intensified. We no longer grieve only for the three beloved kedoshim Hy"d, ruthlessly murdered. We grieve also for the chillul Hashem caused by the heinous murder of the Arab teen. [As this postscript is being written, reports have surfaced that the primary suspect in the murder of the Arab boy is not mentally sound. Obviously, to whatever degree mental illness is responsible, to that same degree the chillul Hashem is mitigated.]

Besides grief, how else should we respond to chillul Hashem? Rabbeinu Yonah addresses our question.

But for this sickness too, [i.e. chillul Hashem] though it can not be cured in the same manner as other transgressions, a cure can be found if the Blessed One helps him to sanctify His Torah before others, and to make known the glory of His Kingdom… This corresponds to the pronouncement of physicians concerning bodily sickness, that it is cured by its opposite and healed by its converse. And Solomon, may Peace be upon him, said "By mercy and truth iniquity is expiated" (Proverbs 16:6) The idea of "truth" here is that the sinner set his heart towards strengthening the cause of truth [27]

In other words, the antidote to chillul Hashem is kiddush Hashem. Rabbeinu Yonah's prescription for kiddush Hashem essentially emphasizes outreach and advocacy for truth.

Rambam's prescription is more elaborate.

וכן אם דקדק החכם על עצמו והיה דבורו בנחת עם הבריות ודעתו מעורבת עמהם ומקבלם בסבר פנים יפות ונעלב מהם ואינו עולבם, מכבד להן ואפילו למקילין לו, ונושא ונותן באמונה, ולא ירבה באריחות עמי הארץ וישיבתן כו' ועושה בכל מעשיו לפנים משורת הדין, והוא שלא יתרחק הרבה ולא ישתומם, עד שימצאו הכל מקלסין אותו ואוהבים אותו ומתאוים למעשיו הרי זה קידש את ה' ועליו הכתוב אומר ויאמר לי עבדי אתה ישראל אשר בך אתפאר.
If the sage held himself to exacting standards: he speaks softly with people, is sociable and greets people amicably. He suffers insult without returning it. He respects all people, even those who disrespect him. He conducts business faithfully. He does not linger in the company of those who are contemptuous of Torah…In all his actions he goes beyond what is required without going to the extreme and isolating himself with the result that all praise and love him and aspire to his actions, he has sanctified Hashem's name. Of such a person Scripture says "and He said to me, you are My servant, Yisrael, in whom I will be glorified"[28]

A word of explanation is in order regarding this prescription. Rambam directed it to "one who is great in Torah and widely known for his devoutness"[29]. Such a person represents Torah. Consequently, everything he does, willy-nilly, reflects upon Torah. And thus what is acceptable behavior for others is unacceptable for him.

The Chofetz Chaim incisively opined that due to their paucity all religious Jews now represent Torah to the Jewish people and the world. We all live under a microscope. And thus the thrust of Rambam's prescription applies to us all. We must avoid even the appearance of impropriety[30], a fortiori actual impropriety. What is acceptable behavior for others is unacceptable for us. Our behavior and demeanor should inspire love and admiration.

In truth, as per the Chofetz Chaim's trenchant insight, we are always ambassadors of Torah. We should always be hypersensitive to our position of responsibility, recognizing the potential for kiddush and chillul Hashem in our words and actions. In the aftermath of a chillul Hashem, however, we should rededicate ourselves and redouble our efforts to use our ambassadorial position to be mekadesh shem shamayim.

XI.

Revenge

What is the Torah's attitude towards revenge? Immediately two verses come to mind: לא תקום, the Torah's prohibition against exacting revenge, and קל נקמות ד', the Psalmist's laudatory description of HKBH as God of vengeance[31]. How are we to understand these seemingly contrary indications?

One approach suggests that vengeance is a divine, not human, virtue and prerogative. The mitzvah of imitatio dei notwithstanding, some descriptions of HKBH are becoming to Him, but not us. For instance, we attribute גאות/גאוה(grandeur) to HKBH, but excoriate a person who is a baal gaava. HKBH is infinitely exalted; for Him גאות/גאוה is becoming. We are nothing; for us גאות/גאוה is hubris bordering on heresy[32]. This circumscription of imitatio dei is certainly correct. And perhaps it resolves our contrary indications regarding nekamah.

But, in truth, the entire question is based upon a misunderstanding. Onkelos in his Targum for לא תקום simply reproduces the Torah's phrase verbatim. By contrast, he renders the phrase לי נקם as קדמי פרענותא, that is, punishment is before Me [to dispense]. This is true for other instances of נ-ק-מ (נקמת נקם ברית, נקמת בני ישראל, לתת נקמת ד, דם עבדיו יקום), Onkelos translates פרענותא, punishment. So too the translator of Psalms renders קל נקמות ד' as ד' אלקא מרי פורענותא, God the master of punishment.

נ-ק-מ semantically denotes a quid pro quo response. Such a response can represent willful revenge (rendered verbatim by Onkelos) or, alternatively, divinely sanctioned commensurate punishment (rendered as פרענותא by Onkelos). The Torah prohibits the former and praises HKBH as a just and fair God for the latter. Indeed the quid pro quo of reward and punishment comprises the 11th of Rambam's 13 principles of faith.

Revenge is not a Jewish concept; justice is.

XII.

Missiles and Miracles

In recent days with murderous intent Hamas has launched thousands of deadly missiles against Israel. A small number of these missiles have been shot down by the Iron Dome. Despite Hamas' best and prodigious efforts many other missiles have inexplicably landed in unpopulated areas. Others have somehow missed their targets even within densely populated areas. The chances b'derech hateva of such overwhelming failure are negligible. We are, b'chasdei Hashem, witnessing miracle upon miracle.

I would like be"H to share two important perspectives on miracles.

  1. HKBH allows for free will in all areas, including belief. Haba l'taher misayin oso, haba l'tamei poschin lo. Accordingly, it is always possible to advance some atheistic, natural explanation for miracles. That far-fetched, convoluted alternative provides the opening for one who chooses not to believe. But in no way does that atheistic alternative detract from the miracle. One can argue that an especially virulent strain of virus randomly affected the Egyptian firstborn on the night of yetzias Mitzrayim. The resistance to acknowledging truth, however, in no way diminishes it. It only diminishes the person.
  2. Like earthquakes, miracles are of varying magnitude. The fact that a miracle could be of even greater magnitude does not mean that it is not a miracle. HKBH could have killed the firstborn and the youngest in every Egyptian household. He did not. Makkas Bechoros is not therefore reduced to a natural phenomenon because the miracle could have been even greater.

In the same vein, today Klal Yisrael suffered its first fatality as a result of the Hamas missiles. There have been injuries and extensive property damage. Nonetheless, beyond any legitimate shadow of a doubt, we are witnessing, b'chasdei Hashem, miracle upon miracle (al nisecha sh'bechol yom imanu).

Miracles protect from missiles; they also inspire faith. As we pray for peace and security throughout Eretz Yisrael, we humbly thank HKBH for both the protection and inspiration. And we look forward to the day that we and all mankind will have genuine faith in Him."כי־מלאה הארץ דעה את־יקוק כמים לים מכסים"[33]


[1]תהילים כ"ב:ב-ג. Translations of pesukim from Tanach have been taken from Artscroll

[2]חפץ חיים על התורה, פרשת כי תישא

[3]שמות י"ט:ט"ז

[4]דברים ד:י"א

[5]רמב"ם סוף הל' מעילה ע"פ יומא ס"ז:

[6]קהלת ז:כ"ג

[7]מדרש תנחומא ריש פרשת חוקת פרשתא ו' ועי' גם במדבר רבה על אתר

[8]השווה מורה נבוכים ג:ט

[9] Our sages, R' Yosi and R' Meir, disagree as to whether HKBH explained the mystery of tzaddik v'ra lo to Moshe Rabbeinu or not. See Berachos 7a. But even according to R' Yosi tzaddik v'ra lo is a mystery that only HKBH can dispel. Even Moshe Rabbeinu could not fathom it on his own

[10]רמב"ם הל' יסודי התורה א:ג

[11]רמב"ם הל' תשובה ה:ה Translation adapted from Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, Moznaim, 1989

[12]מורה נבוכים ג:כ"ג

[13]עי' ליקוטי הגרי"ז ח"ב עמוד ג ד"ה בענין מהותה של אמונה וז"ל: שמעתי כשרבינו הקדוש ענה לא' שאמר, בימות המשיח הרי ישיגו הרבה, הרי ידעו ויבינו הכל, וע"ז ענה רבינו, אם אמונה הוא דין בתורה, הרי אמונה תהא גם אז!! והיינו דגם בימות המשיח יצטרכו לאמונה, שעדיין לא יבינו הכל ונהי' מחויבים במצות אמונה.

[14]מלכים א', ח:ל"ט

[15]רמב"ם הל' תשובה ב:ו. אמנם בהל' תפילה ח:א כתב רבינו שתפילת הצבור נשמעת תמיד, ולא הזכיר התנאי שעושים תשובה. אכן בע"כ צ"ל או שסמך על מש"כ לעיל (ודוחק), או שיש חילוק בין "נשמעת" ל"נענין". ואכמ"ל אבל ב"נ בס"ד נעריך בזה במ"א.

[16]רמב"ם הל' תשובה ב:ד

[17]מלכים א', ח: ל"ח, ל"ט, מ"א-מ"ג

[18]במדבר רבה א:ג, והמפרשים (רש"י, רד"ק, רלב"ג, אברבנל, מלבים) של מלכים. ומש"כ דוקא אם הבקשות ראויות להם, עי' מלבי"ם.

[19]שבת צ"ג.

[20]רש"י שמות י"ט:ב ע"פ מכילתא שם

[21] "The Community", Tradition vol. XVII, no. 2, p. 9  עי' גם משך חכמה הפטרה לפרשת דברים, לפי שהצבור בכלליותו כמו יחיד שהוא איש אחד

[22]ויקרא י"ט:י"ח, ירושלמי נדרים פרק ט' הלכה ד'

[23]עי' מהר"ל תפארת ישראל פרק ה'

[24]אהבת חסד חלק שני פרק י"ב ע"פ ספר שערי קדושה

[25]קידושין לא:

[26]חובות הלבבות שער הבחינה פרק ה', Feldheim, 1996, translation

[27]שערי תשובה, שער ד', אות ה' Feldheim, 1967, translation,

[28]רמב"ם הל' יסודי התורה ה:י"א

[29]שם

[30]ויש דברים אחרים שהם בכלל חילול השם וכו' דברים שהבריות מרננות אחריו בשבילן, ואע"פ שאינן עבירות, רמב"ם שם.

[31]כן פרשו המפרשים זולת המלבי"ם שהפסוק נאמר לשבחו של הקב"ה

[32]כל אדם שיש בו גסות הרוח כאילו כפר בעיקר, סוטה ד:

[33]ישעיהו י"א:ט

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