"They Burned My Trees"

The Wit and Wisdom of Rabbi Meir Kahane 

This article was originally written by Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1989, and was recently republished in the book "The Wit And Wisdom Of Rabbi Meir Kahane."

It was originally written as a reaction to the widespread arson of large areas of JNF woodland in Israel by Arabs at the time, but the message relayed within is quite obviously relevant on a much broader level - and purposely so. Although such incidents of arson by Arabs in Israel still continues to this day, my reason for posting this article has nothing to do with JNF trees.

Recently, we have been hearing all about the attempt by many brave, faithful Jews to return to the land that is rightfully their's in Gaza and, most frequently, Amona (in Northern Samaria). The Jewish communities there were destroyed during the "Disengagement Plan" of the Sharon government, and - quite rightly - faithful Jews everywhere have remained adamant that the expulsion of Jews from parts of the Land of Israel is wrong and immoral. As a result, many Jews are - again, quite rightly - attempting to resettle those areas, with countless shows of bravery, endurance and commitment. They are attempting to send the message to the world, loud and clear, that the Jewish People have the right to settle in any part of their Land that they wish to.

However, it must be said that Rav Kahane z"tl h"yd stressed many times that the settlement of parts of the Land of Israel - particularly within Judea, Samaria and (most of all) Gaza - simply cannot endure as long as the Arab enemy remains. The Rav even said directly that the Jews of Gaza - brave pioneers and faithful, G-D-fearing Jews - ran the risk of not meriting to pass on the Land in Gaza to their children, since one very important requirement for the aquisition of the Land of Israel is to expel the hostile and occupying nations from it (as we have just read in the land few Torah portions). If those nations are not expelled - as we are commanded to do - then the Land cannot be fully aquired.

And so I post this article as a reminder for all those good Jews who wish to settle the Land of Israel - to plant trees and build houses and raise families and establish places of worship and Torah-learning - that if the Arab menace is not removed, it could all be (G-D forbid) for naught...


They Burned My Trees

Written by Rabbi Meir Kahane z"tl h"yd (1989)

I was depressed yesterday. Very, very sad. For I knew that they had burned my trees. As a child I had saved my money so carefully so that I could buy those trees and know that they were planted. And now they are burned. They must be burned. It is not logical that a million trees would be burned down and none of mine among them. No, they are burned.

Every week Iwould come to school and bring a nickel. And with that nickel I would buy a special stamp. A Jewish National Fund stamp. And every week I would paste that stamp on the figure of a tree which was part of a JNF poster, and which had twenty "leaves" on it. Each weeek I would paste my stamp on a leaf and at the end of twenty weeks, I had a tree! My Tree! And I did this for years because I was a good boy - a good Jewish boy. And I bought many trees. My trees. My Jewish trees.

And now they burned them. The Arabs and their intifada. Last year, within the sovereign State of Israel, that independant State which makes me so proud because it does not let anyone push it around - the Arabs burned 1.15 million trees. Some of my trees had to be among them. And I was sad.

But then I saw an advertisement by the Jewish National Fund which made me happy again and made me proud to be a Jew know that the Jewish National Fund does not let anyone push it around. The JNF placed an ad that let the Arabs know that we are not the Jews of old. No one burns our trees. Well, not exactly. What the JNF said was that if the Arabs burn our trees, we will show them: We will plant even more trees than they burned. Anything they can burn, we can plant better. If they burned 1.15 million, we will plant that much and ten million more - fully 11.5 million!

I was so happy. I ran to the bank to convert my money into nickels to buy leaves each week and plant new trees. I was so happy that the JNF had this wonderful idea until I me my neighbour. I never liked him. He is always so cynical and a killjoy. When I told him of the brilliant JNF idea to plant ten times the amount of trees that the Arabs burned, this dour wet-towel said:

"And what if they burn those? Will we plant 110 million trees the next time? And why should Jews have to pay again and again for trees that Arabs burn? Why not throw them out of the country? Why do we allow them to stay in the country if we know that they will burn our forests? And why should I be a sucker to help pay the fat salaries of JNF executives who see this as a golden opportunity for a Madison Avenue-type campaign that will keep their salaries going? If the JNF wants money from me, let them demand that the Arabs be thrown out so that I will know that I pay for a Jewish tree once."

I never liked my neighbor. He is so cynical. He is so logical.

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