It's All Written in the Book!


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

18 Av, 5766/11-12 August, 2006


"Hear O Israel, today you cross the Jordan, to come and drive out nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified to the heaven . . . He will destroy them and He will drive them out and cause them to perish quickly."

The Talmud relates to us that when the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River to enter into the Land of Israel, the Land promised to them by G-d, the waters miraculously split, as the Reed Sea did for the Jewish people when they left Egypt some 40 years previously. There, in the midst of the Jordan, the water, as it disconnected from its source so as to allow the Jews to pass through, began to rise to great heights, towering over the entire Jewish people.

It was at that point that Joshua stopped the Jews in their tracks and told them: I have an important message to relay to you all. The people looked at each other in bewilderment: Couldn't this message - important as it may be - wait just a few more minutes until the children of Israel pass over the Jordan and the danger of the water coming down on them passes? What could be so important that it had to be told to the Jewish people right that minute?

Would he tell them the importance of keeping the Shabbat, now that they were entering the Land? Or maybe how every Jew must uphold the dietary laws? No, this is what Joshua told them: Know why you are entering into the Land - to wipe out the nations that have lived here before you. If you do so, all will be well, but if not - then these waters that rise above us will come and wash us away.

But why was that message given over to the Jewish people at that point? Why was this matter so much more important than any other principle related in the Torah?

The answer lies in the jist of this commandment - to wipe out the inhabitants of the Land. The commandments given to us are not, by their nature, dangerous to keep. It is not dangerous to keep Shabbat. True, there might be too many beans in the chulent, but still, as a rule keeping the Shabbat day does not put us in danger. The same is true with all of the commandments. One is not in danger by keeping the dietary laws.

Here, though, lies the difference: The very nature of war, to go and do battle to wipe out the inhabitants of the land - is a danger to life. War, by nature, causes casualties, for there is no war without death. Still, Hashem commanded us to go and fight for the Land even though people may die. This takes great faith.

It is by the hard commandments that a Jew is tested. When all is going well with a person, it is no big deal to believe. It's when the chips are down, when a person is in a difficult situation, that it takes faith - true faith.

For this reason, Joshua called the people together in the midst of the Jordan, not to talk about the Shabbat or any other law that is not difficult to keep, but only to tell them about conquering the Land - the commandment which is by nature dangerous and very difficult, requiring much faith.

The holy Or HaChayim wrote in his commentary to the Torah, that when you do not remove the inhabitants of the Land and you let them dwell amongst you, not only will you not live in peace in the place where they are, but even in the place that you dwell far from them you will not be able to live in peace, for they will come after you.

How tragically true his words ring out to us today! Even the peaceful towns in the north of Israel are being uprooted today, because we have let the inhabitants of the Land - the enemies of the Jewish people - live freely
amongst us.

It is a test of our faith. Do we place it in Hashem, the Creator of the world, relying only on Him, and then do what has to be done, without fear of what the world will say - or do we continue to wage a war with one hand behind our back, because our faith is in Washington and the rest of the nations of the world? It is not an easy thing to place our faith in Hashem, but it is the only option. To our great sorrow, in the meantime, Jewish blood spills, and a great Chilul Hashem continues.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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