Parshat Mishpatim/Parshat Shekalim: Fire on the Mountain


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

29 Shvat 5767/16-17 February 2007


"When you will buy a Hebrew (Ivri) servant, he shall work for six years, and in the seventh he shall go to freedom, without charge."

Questions: The Torah starts off with listing the judgments with the laws concerning the Jewish slave. First, we must ask why this is number one on the hit parade. Are there not more pressing issues in Torah law, than that the Torah should be teaching us right from the start about the Jewish slave? Second, why does the Torah use the word "Ivri" (Hebrew), and not Israeli or Jewish slave, which would seem to be more appropriate? For we do not find anywhere else in the Torah the term "Ivri" used to address the Jewish people and teach them a law, except here. For the moment, let's leave the questions.

For the past two weeks now, we have been hearing the daily reports surrounding the Temple Mount and the Mughrabi gate - will they build a bridge to the Mount or not? Hourly the reports flow in from the radio, quoting the bearded mayor of Jerusalem and the unbeared ones sitting in the Knesset; "To build or not to build: That is the question". Will Israel cave in to pressure from Arab rioters, and from world leaders demanding from Israel to stop all work on the site at once? With the calls coming out from the Arab world how the Jews are planning to destroy the mosques on the Mount, the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem quake from fear of the threats.

History of the site - A Purim story unfolding

Some three years ago, a small earthquake hit the Jerusalem area. I recall walking in downtown Jerusalem on my way to the Old City when it hit, and all buildings in Jerusalem shook. Later, it was learned that all of Israel was hit by this quake, but only two places in the country suffered damage: The Mughrabi gate and the Prime Minister's office, in which Ariel Sharon was sitting at the time, the same Sharon who became Prime Minister in the merit of his ascending the Temple Mount in the year 2000, the same Temple Mount that he later turned his back on and it, in turn, became the cause of his downfall. And although it was easy to fix the cracks in the ceiling of the Prime Minister's office, fixing the Prime Minister himself was a lot harder. But the Mughrabi gate could not be fixed and had to be replaced.

Hence, we fast forward to our day, when work on the gate was supposed to start.

For the Arabs it is much more than just a bridge; it is the only entrance into the Mount for non-Moslems. By keeping the bridge down, they would Illegally be able to keep all Xtians and Jews from ascending the Temple Mount. For the Jewish State, it is another denial and surrender to the Arab Problem and to the time bomb that is waiting to go off.

And now, to return to our questions on the parsha: The first time that we find the expression "Ivri" used is by the Patriarch Abraham. Abraham was from the other side of the river, which our Rabbis teach us meant that Abraham was on one side in his belief of the One G-d, while everyone else in the world at the time was on the other side with their pagan beliefs. Abraham stood alone against the tide. Today, some 4500 years later, Abraham is being proven right. The "Avnei Nezer" points out that only this is true freedom, the ability to resist the coercion of other people's opinions and influence, and stand up for the truth.

In this light, the Jewish people are the only truly free people in the world, being that they cannot be sold for more than six years. This is also the reason why the Torah starts off with this law, to teach that in all the Torah laws, sometimes one must be able to stand up to the masses, even if it is an unpopular decision.

Today, more than ever, we need that "Ivri", the one that can stand up to world pressure and tell the truth. We need the one who can build up the bridge, but the bridge that will be carrying not the tourists up to the Mount, but the Kohanim - Priests - to their work in the Holy Temple.

And what about the Arabs, you ask? They will be very, very far away from here...

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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