Rabbi Meir Kahane- Parshat VaYigash G-D'S WILL COMES FIRST

"And Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to meet Israel, his father, in Goshen...and he fell on his neck and wept" (Genesis 46:29).

"But Jacob did not fall on Joseph's neck and did not kiss him, for our Rabbis said that he was saying the Shema..." (Rashi).

Happiness is that which every man seeks. Indeed, in our times, it is happiness and the search for it- in material and physical terms- that have become the very purpose of life. Books are written about happiness and peace of mind and the masses devour them, searching for the Holy Grail in the shallowness that is fit only for McCall's or Cosmopolitan. The psychiatrists' couches groan beneath their weight; the airlines and drug peddlers both sell their trips; the race is on and non-stop, and not to the swift or the slow is the trophy awarded.

The sadness is that happiness is not the essence of life, and how much did the Rabbis know when they said: It would have been better and more pleasant for man had he not been born, but since he was, let him search his deeds. Life is a series of difficulties and sadnesses, broken by occasional rays of light that pass.

Happiness is a wonderful thing, and what a life it would be if we could abolish tears and fears, worries and tribulations. But not for this was a man made, and if he persists in making it his raison d'etre, he is guaranteed misery. Man is not an island unto himself nor is his entry into this world like some sudden underwater eruption that thrusts a piece of land into the wide ocean. His is a deliberate and planned and reasoned birth. He came into this world to do good. And that which is "good" is defined for him, not subject to the independent and anarchistic commentaries of his own mind or breed. For the Jew there is the halacha that shapes, molds, guides, and drives him to sanctity and spiritual holiness. It is for him a guideline and a compass; it gives him ritual and gives him concepts, and DEFINES HIS EMOTIONS, TOO.

Joseph was a boy of 17 when he left his father's home. For years Jacob thought he was dead, devoured by a wild beast. For years he mourned and refused to be comforted. "Nay, for I will go down to the grave mourning for my son" (Genesis 37:35). And suddenly he hears the incredible words: "Joseph is yet alive" and- wonder of wonders- "he is ruler over all the Land of Egypt!" (ibid. 45:26). Jacob cannot believe it; the joy is too much and he finally cries out: "It is enough! My son Joseph still lives! I will go and see him before I die!" (ibid. 45:28).

And he does. He takes his family and goes down to Egypt. See the old man, the man grown aged and white from a life of sadness and tragedy. How he counts every moment; how he impatiently looks towards the south to see the first glimpse of the royal caravan! How he savors the moment when he can hold his son Joseph in his arms and kiss him! And then- at last- finally- the moment arrives, and Joseph rushes to his father's arms and embraces him and kisses him. and Jacob?

"But Jacob did not fall on Joseph's neck and did not kiss him for he was saying the Shema..."

What greatness lies in a man who can take his deepest-felt emotions and discipline them to the halacha and say: Wait! Wait, though I burst from impatience; wait, though my every limb cries out for release. Wait: I am in the midst of accepting upon myself the yoke of heaven, of recognizing the L-rd as one, and this is why I was created. Wait, my Joseph, wait, for though I love you more than all, this is my G-d.

Let us understand what happiness and rejoicing in the Law means to a Jew. To begin with, it is a COMMANDMENT. Can one command an emotion? Can one "say", be happy, rejoice, it is commanded? Apparently yes. Apparently, the purpose of Torah is to elevate man to holiness and sanctification that he can make his very emotions and feelings cry out: "Who is like You, my G-d!" Yes, the Torah can tell a Jew who has lost a beloved one not to mourn on the Sabbath, though his heart is breaking. It can tell a Jew to stand over the open grave of a parent or a son and say the words of the Kaddish: "May His great Name be exalted and magnified..." Yes, the Torah can tell a person who seeks joy: No, not now.

There is no commandment to be sad. There is no law that declares that man must be miserable. This is not Judaism. But we are told that there is something greater than happiness and joy. It is the climb and the reaching up to holiness and sanctification, to beauty and dedication, the smashing of the ego and the greed and the selfishness and the "I." One should strive to be happy, of course. And if one can be both good and happy- how fortunate he is. But in the end, life is not a vessel for joy. It is a corridor in which one prepares his soul. Be happy with the Torah though your own soul is in agony. It is a command and, slowly, it proves to be a balm for the wounds that ache.

The Jewish Press, 1977

Down with Chanukah by Rabbi Meir Kahane

Written December 15, 1972

If I were a Reform rabbi; if I were a leader of the Establishment whose money and prestige have succeeded in capturing for him the leadership and voice of American Jewry; if I were one of the members of the Israeli Government’s ruling group; if I were an enlightened sophisticated, modern Jewish intellectual, I would climb the barricades and join in battle against the most dangerous of all Jewish holidays – Chanukah.

It is a measure of the total ignorance of the world Jewish community that there is no holiday that is more universally celebrated than the “Feast of Lights”, and it is an equal measure of the intellectual dishonesty and of Jewish leadership that it plays along with the lie.  For if ever there was a holiday that stands for everything that the mass of world Jewry and their leadership has rejected – it is this one.  If one would find an event that is truly rooted in everything that Jews of our times and their leaders have rejected and, indeed, attacked – it is this one.  If there is any holiday that is more “unJewish” in the sense of our modern beliefs and practices – I do not know of it.

The Chanukah that has erupted unto the world Jewish scene in all its childishness, asininity, shallowness, ignorance and fraud – is not the Chanukah of reality.  The Chanukah that came into vogue because of Jewish parents – in their vapidness – needed something to counteract Christmas; that exploded in a show of “we-can-have-lights-just-as-our-goyish-neighbors” and in an effort to reward our spoiled children with eight gifts instead of the poor Christian one; the Chanukah that the Temple, under its captive rabbi, turned into a school pageant so that the beaming parents might think that the Religious School is really successful instead of the tragic joke and waste that it really is; the Chanukah that speaks of Jewish Patrick Henrys giving-me-liberty-or death and the pictures of Maccabees as great liberal saviors who fought so that the kibbutzim might continue to be free to preach their Marx and eat their ham, that the split-level dwellers of suburbia might be allowed to violate their Sabbath in perfect freedom and the Reform and Conservative Temples continue the fight for civil rights for Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Jane Fonda, is not remotely connected with reality. 

This is NOT the Chanukah of our ancestors, of the generations of Jews of Eastern Europe and Yemen and Morocco and the crusades and Spain and Babylon.  It is surely not the Chanukah for which the Maccabees themselves died.  Truly, could those whom we honor so munificently, return and see what Chanukah has become, they might very well begin a second Maccabean revolt.  For the life that we Jews lead today was the very cause, the REAL reason for the revolt of the Jews “in those days in our times.”  

What happened in that era more than 2000 years ago?  What led a handful of Jews to rise up in violence against the enemy?  And precisely who WAS the enemy?  What were they fighting FOR and who were they fighting AGAINST?

For years, the people of Judea had been the vassals of Greece.  True independence as a state had been unknown for all those decades and, yet, the Jews did not rise up in revolt.  It was only when the Greek policy shifted from mere political control to one that attempted to suppress the Jewish religion that the revolt erupted in all its bloodiness.  It was not mere liberty that led to the Maccabean uprising that we so passionately applaud.  What we are really cheering is a brave group of Jews who fought and plunged Judea into a bloodbath for the right to observe the Sabbath, to follow the laws of kashruth, to obey the laws of the Torah.  IN A WORD EVERYTHING ABOUT CHANUKAH THAT WE COMMEMORATE AND TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO COMMEMORATE ARE THINGS WE CONSIDER TO BE OUTMODED, MEDIEVAL AND CHILDISH!

At best, then, those who fought and died for Chanukah were naïve and obscurantist.  Had we lived in those days we would certainly not have done what they did for everyone knows that the laws of the Torah are not really Divine but only the products of evolution and men (do not the Reform, Reconstructionist and large parts of the Conservative movements write this daily?)  Surely we would not have fought for that which we violate every day of our lives!  No, at best Chanukah emerges as a needless holiday if not a foolish one.  Poor Hannah and her seven children; poor Mattathias and Judah; poor well meaning chaps all but hopelessly backward and utterly unnecessary sacrifices.

But there is more.  Not only is Chanukah really a foolish and unnecessary holiday, it is also one that is dangerously fanatical and illiberal. The first act of rebellion, the first enemy who fell at the hands of the brave Jewish heroes whom our delightful children portray so cleverly in their Sunday and religious school pageants, was NOT a Greek.  He was a Jew.

When the enemy sent its troops into the town of Modin to set up an idol and demand its worship, it was a Jew who decided to exercise his freedom of pagan worship and who approached the altar to worship Zeus (after all, what business was it of anyone what this fellow worshipped?)  And it was this Jew, this apostate, this religious traitor who was struck down by the brave, glorious, courageous (are these not the words all our Sunday schools use to describe him?) Mattathias, as he shouted: “Whoever is for G-d, follow me!”  

What have we here?  What kind of religious intolerance and bigotry?  What kind of a man is this for the anti-religious of Hashomer Hatzair, the graceful temples of suburbia, the sophisticated intellectuals, the liberal open-minded Jews and all the drones who have wearied us unto death with the concept of Judaism as a humanistic, open-minded, undogmatic, liberal, universalistic (if not Marxist) religion, to honor?  What kind of nationalism is this for David-Ben-Gurion (he who rejects the Galut and speaks of the proud, free Jew of ancient Judea and Israel)?

And to crush us even more (we who know that Judaism is a faith of peace which deplores violence), what kind of Jews were these who reacted to oppression with FORCE?  Surely we who so properly have deplored Jewish violence as fascistic, immoral and (above all!) UN-JEWISH, stand in horror as we contemplate Jews who declined to picket the Syrian Greeks to death and who rejected quiet diplomacy for the sword, spear and arrow (had there been bombs in those days, who can tell what they might have done?) and “descended to the level of evil,” thus rejecting the ethical and moral concepts of Judaism.

Is this the kind of a holiday we wish to propagate?  Are these the kinds of men we want our moral and humanistic children to honor?  Is this the kind of Judaism that we wish to observe and pass on to our children?

Where shall we find the man of courage the one voice, in the wilderness to cry out against Chanukah and the Judaism that it represents-the Judaism of our grandparents and ancestors?  Where shall we find the man of honesty and integrity to attack the Judaism of Medievalism and outdated foolishness; the Judaism of bigotry that strikes down Jews who refuse to observe the law; the Judaism of violence that calls for Jewish force and might against the enemy?  When shall we find the courage to proudly eat our Chinese food and violate our Sabbaths and reject all the separateness, nationalism and religious maximalism that Chanukah so ignobly represents?  …Down with Chanukah!  It is a regressive holiday that merely symbolizes the Judaism that always was; the Judaism that was handed down to us from Sinai; the Judaism that made our ancestors ready to give their lives for the L-rd; the Judaism that young people instinctively know is true and great and real.  Such Judaism is dangerous for us and our leaders.  We must do all in our power to bury it.

Rabbi Binyamin Kahane - Parshat VaYeshev

FOR THE RIGHTEOUS, THERE IS NO TRANQUILITY

Parashat VaYeshev begins with the words, "And Jacob dwelled." From this seemingly mundane phrase the Rabbis derive the following, "When the righteous desire to live in tranquility, the Accuser comes [before G-d] and declares: Is it not enough for them to receive reward in the World to Come? Must they also request to dwell in tranquility in this world? [And so, Jacob was afflicted] with the troubles of Joseph" (Bereishit Rabba 84:3).

AMAZING! All Jacob wanted was to settle down and raise a Torah-observant family. What more could G-d ask of him? Here was a man beset with troubles from the day he was born- the feud with Esav, the despicable treatment he received at Laban's house, the rape of his daughter, and the subsequent fear of reprisal attacks after his sons massacred Shechem's residents. Didn't Jacob deserve- at least at this stage- to relax a little, study Torah, and enjoy life?
The answer is no. In fact, it is exactly this outlook on life that the Rabbis in the Midrash seek to repudiate. It is a lesson we must drill into our hearts: The attainment of comfort, even if combined with a life of Torah and mitzvot, is not what Judaism is about. Genuine tranquility is reserved for the World to Come. This world, by its very nature, is one of struggle and strife. "The days of our years are 70 or, given strength, 80; but the best of them are trouble and sorrow. They pass by speedily, and we are in darkness" (Psalms 90:10). A Jew's purpose in this world is selfless devotion- to G-d, His Torah, and His people.

Under the chuppah, my father, HY"D, would frequently tell the newlyweds that he does not wish them a life of tranquility and comfort but rather one of mesirut nefesh for their divine mission in this world. This strange blessing often startled many guests. But it was the message my father continually stressed- that a Jew MUST give of himself to sanctify G-d's Name. This includes his time, his money, and sometimes even his life.

This lesson is quite relevant to the holiday of Chanukah drawing near. One who ponders the sequence of events of the Chanukah story may be confounded by an enigma: What were the Jews doing before Matityahu and his sons rebelled? When the Greek entourage travelled from village to village forcing Jews to sacrifice pigs to idols, why did no one rebel? Were there no other righteous Jews in Israel besides Matityahu?

Of coruse there were. Many Jews observed the mitzvot. But all these Jews placed their personal comfort and safety above their Jewish mission and destiny. Matityahu and his sons, in contrast, were willing to act with mesirut nefesh.

The implications for today are obvious. Unfortunately, if there were only a few Maccabees a millennia ago, there are even fewer Maccabees today. The slogan "Never Again" was never intended to mean that another Holocaust will never again occur. It means that Jews will never again sit quietly in tranquility while other Jews suffer. It means that Jews will do EVERYTHING in their power, even at great personal cost, to help their brethren.

Let us remember the lesson of "And Jacob dwelled." Let us remember- especially the strictly Orthodox amongst us who labor to fulfill every halachic stringency- that living in tranquility is not the purpose of life.

Darka Shel Torah, 1993

A JEWISH HEART

“There is a time to love, and a time to hate.”

                                                Ecclesiastes 3:1,8

“There is a time to live in time of peace and a time to hate in time of war . . . there is a time to kill in time of war and a time to heal in time of peace.”
                                                                                                                    (Vayikra Rabbah 3)

The total contradiction between so much of Judaism and Western, foreign cultural Hellenism could not be more evident than in the case of the heart transplant last November in Israel.  Then, the heart of a Jewish soldier, murdered from an ambush in the Gaza Strip, was placed in the chest of an Arab “Palestinian,” Hanna Haddad.  And how the non-Jewish world exploded in joy!  And how the perversion of authentic Jewish values and concepts came crashing down in the sickly need to win favor in the eyes of the nations and to feel the comforting warmth of self-righteousness.  And how all the anti-racists privately and not so privately purred with pleasure at the “Jewish heart” that is so “unique” and that climbs mountainous deeds of ethics and morality that no one else could.  Indeed.

Not only have Jews lost every sense of authentic Judaism, falling prey and victim to all the foreign and gentilized misvalues of Hellenism, but thanks to the debilitating effects of an abnormal exile, they have lost all sense of normality, too.  Consider:  The widow of the murdered soldier blesses the act.  Yossi Sarid writes an article that begins: “How is it possible not to write about Ze’ev Traum’s heart, transplanted into the chest of Hanna Haddad – may he live a long life . . . “

“We do not have a Jewish heart and they do not have an Arab heart but a personal human heart, and if we follow our embroiled nationalism we harden our heart, we make it as hard as Pharaoh’s heart.”  And Sarid concludes: “Those who have the heart saved one soul and filled an entire world with hope.”

There were pages and pages and speeches and speeches of similar paeans of praise for the humanity shown by Jews.  And the story became the very symbol of the “Jewish heart” that transcends enmity and hatred and war, that saves the life of a man who hates the Jewish state and dreams of its destruction.  No matter!  The Jew is not supposed to hate the enemy; he is above that.  So the conventional wisdom of the gentilized Jews of Hellenism.

It is hardly new.  In Rosh HaShana messages to the Israeli soldiers, both Defense Minister Rabin and Chief-of-Staff Shomron – men deeply rooted in ignorance of Judaism – sent messages of profound Hellenism and madness to the Jewish soldiers facing an enemy filled with venomous hate for the Jews and deep passion for the day when the Jewish state will cease to exist.  Rabin said: “Alongside your obligation to crush all attempted violence, you must always remember that the people against whom you struggle today are the same people that in a few months or years we will wish to live with in peace, to be good neighbors.”  One struggles to recall a similar message to the Allied troops in World War II  concerning the Nazi armies . . .

And the Chief-of-Staff told his troops” “In the difficult and complex daily work, we have succeeded, except for minor exceptions, in preserving the basic values and ethics of the I.D.F.”  Meanwhile, of course, that by giving the soldiers orders that tied their hands; the killing of the Arab enemy was kept to a minimum while guaranteeing the continuation of the Arab rioting.

And when General Yitzhak Mordechai concluded his term as commander of the southern sector (that included Gaza), he said: “Personally and as a commander, I wish to express my sorrow over every one in the area who was killed or wounded from the (I.D.F.) activities that were necessary.”  No, there is nothing to say.

But to return to the “Jewish heart,” and to ponder the depths – the sheer depths! – of Jewish psychosis.  On the day of the funeral of the soldier who was murdered and whose heart was given to a member of the nation that murdered him, a Jewish contractor named Yehuda Yisrael told how, one year earlier, in December 1988, his brother lay dying, attached to a machine.  The family had 24 hours in which to find an available heart.  And this is what Yehuda Yisrael told Ma’ariv (Nov. 11, 1989):  “At that time in the (Arab East Jerusalem Hospital) Al Mukassed, there were two young Arabs wounded in the intifada and they were already clinically brain dead.  We contacted the Arab doctor in an attempt to have him get us a heart, but he refused.  When we saw that it was not working, we offered a great deal of money . . . . “The heart was never given and the brother died.

But there is more to the story.  Yehuda Yisrael, whose brother died because Arabs would not give a heart to the Jewish enemy, continues: “I am happy that Hanna Haddad found a Jewish heart donor.  It is a humanitarian gesture.  It is good that the world sees Jews prepared to contribute a heart to the Arabs, too, even in these sad times.  The fact that they would not give a heart to my brother only proves that we are more humane than they . . . . “Or perhaps . . .

And as a final point in this descent into the Jewish snakepit of insanity, the same article by Yossi Sarid described how he had been asked to find a heart for the same Jew (presumably he was asked because he is such a good friend of the Arabs).  Sarid pleaded with his Arab friends but they would not give the heart.  As Sarid quotes the Arabs: “Those killed in the intifada are martyrs, martyrs of the entire Palestinian nation, and their heart already belongs to it . . .  .” (And in addition, what normal Arab would give a heart to save the life of a Jew, his deadly enemy who took his land from him?)

The tragedy of our times is the loss of Divine Jewish values, one of which is the obligation to hate evil; to hate the enemy.  We have – thanks to the gentilized values that have swallowed us up – lost our sense of indignation against evil, forgotten to hate it with a passion.  And because of that, good people die even as we allow the evil ones to live, flourish and kill them.

Hanna Haddad, the “Palestinian” is part of a nation that wishes to destroy Israel and commit horrors on its Jews.  He sees the Jews as thieves, as robbers who stole “Palestine” from his people.  He sees the Israeli soldiers as oppressors, and he sees Jerusalem, where he lives, as his city, just as he sees Jaffa, Haifa, Ramla, Lydda, Acre, the Galilee and the Negev.  He supports the intifada; he wishes the “fighters” success; he takes pride in the rocks and firebombs thrown by the brave young “Palestinians.”  And Jews give him a heart to save his life, a heart taken from a Jewish soldier murdered by Hanna Haddad’s brothers.  And Jews cheer and weep tears of happiness over this humane act that only proves that a “Jewish heart” is better than the hard Arab one . . .

We are mad.  Would anyone dream of doing such a thing for a German during World War II?  Of taking the heart of an American soldier from Sioux City killed in battle by Germans and giving it to a German to save his life?  No American or Frenchman or Englishman or Russian or anyone remotely normal would have considered it!  Only the Jew, in pathetic and deeply disturbed need to win the love of the Arabs and the world, does it and attempts to cloak his insanity in “Judaism” and “Jewish values.” Not only are we mad, but un-Jewish, gentilized, Hellenized perverters of the authentic Jewish Idea and halachic.

To hate the enemy is a mitzvah, for nothing less than that will give us the understanding that evil must be fought to the end, and nothing less than that will give us the strength and confidence that we are right and that our war is just.  And when the Rabbis speak of “a time for war and a time to hate” – what do the gentilized Hellenists of our time think they mean?  And what are the voices of the Moderdox from the West Side and Beverly Hills to tell them?  To tell themselves?

“You who love the L-rd, hate evil!”  That is the injunction of King David, the sweet singer of Israel, in Psalms 97:10.  And in the words of Ibn Ezra (ibid.): “the L-rd is judge, therefore you who love Him, hate every man of evil and be not afraid of them, for the L-rd alone preserves His pious.”  And again, David in Psalms (139:20-22): “They speak against You wickedly and Your enemies take Your Name in vain.  Do I not hate, O L-rd, those who hate You?  And do I not contend with those who rise up against You?  I hate them with the utmost hatred; I regard them as my own enemies.”

There is a time for war; there is a time for hatred.  And at such a time it is a mitzvah to hate, a mitzvah to go to war, and the one who refuses – violates the mitzvah, abhors G-d who created morality.  “When you go to war against your enemy . . . (Deuteronomy 20:1) Why does it say ‘your enemy’?  [since obviously one goes to war against an enemy and not a friend].  Said the All Mighty: ‘Go against them as enemies!  Just as they do not have mercy upon you, so do not have mercy on them’” (Tanchuma, Shoftim 15). That is Judaism.

Do not be “better” than they, since in the end you will not be better but deader. And certainly do not be “better” than the All Mighty, who commanded you to be cruel and merciless against those who rise up against you and against G-d, “for whoever rises up against Israel is as one who rises up against the Holy One, Blessed be He” (Mechilta, B’shalach).

And the Sifri (Shoftim 192): “Against your enemies [you go to war] and not against your brothers, neither Yehuda against Shimon nor Shimon against Yehuda who, if you fell into their hands, would have mercy on you . . . but against your enemies you go to war, who would not have mercy on you.”

And Eyleh ha’Dvarim Zuta:  You go to war against your enemies.  If you have mercy on them, they will then go to war against you.  It is similar to a shepherd who, while tending his sheep in a forest, found a baby wolf.  He had pity on it and nurtured it.  His employer saw it and said: Kill it; do not have pity on it lest it be a danger to the sheep.  But he did not listen and so when the wolf grew it would see a sheep and kill it, a goat and eat it.  Said the employer: Did I not tell you not to have pity on it?  So did Moses say: ‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land before you, then those whom you will allow to remain of them will be thorns in your eyes . . .’ (Numbers 33:55).”

That is Judaism.  That is authentic Judaism.  And true Judaism looks upon every member of an enemy nation as an enemy, unless he proves that he is not.  Yes, there is collective punishment in Judaism. 

Written January 1990

Beyond Words

Selected Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane,

1960-1990

Volume7

Not Everyone is Included in the Four Species

From The Writings of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane in honor of Sukkot Organs of power at home joining the side of our enemy requires us t...