The Merkaz HaRav Shiva is Over

by | Mar 14, 2008 | 0 comments

Remember how you felt when you first heard that Yeshiva students from Merkaz HaRav were brutally murdered last week in Jerusalem? Have you calmed down?

Tens of young boys just returned from the Kotel where they went to recite the Yom Kippur Kattan prayers. They were sitting down for their festive Rosh Chodesh meal, or they went to the library to catch up on their learning and these innocent angels were ruthlessly machine gunned down with 600 bullets!

Have you gotten over the shock and the pain?

At the memorial service last night in Jerusalem Rabbi Simcha Hacohen Kook compared last weeks terrorist attack to the Hevron massacre of 1929. According to the rabbi, when the news of the brutal massacre of 67 Jews in Hevron was publicized, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook, founder of Mercaz HaRav,fainted upon hearing of them.

If we have cooled down, if we are able to sleep at night, then we are suffering from the Amalek syndrome.

There was a boiling hot bath. Everyone wanted to go in but they were afraid. One brazen fellow plunged in. Once he leaped in everyone jumped in after him.

When the Jews left Egypt they were hot, very hot. The surrounding nations heard about all the miracles that occurred to the Jews. The world was in awe of the Jewish people. They were also jealous of our chosenness and wanted to attack. They were all afraid to jump in. One brazen nation Amalek came and plunged in against the Jews and cooled us down. We have since suffered for generations in the hands of ruthless governments and anti-Semitic populaces.

None of them were afraid of us. “Reishis goyim Amalek” – Amalek was the first, they started. Once they started we became easy prey for the entire world.

Something even worse happened. “Asher Korcho Baderech.” We were hot and Amalek made us cold. With the attack of Amalek we turned stony, frigid and dispassionate about Hashem. Not only were we cooled down in the eyes of the nations for all of history, but even more tragic, our own attitude, in our own minds and hearts became cold.

I’d like to discuss the “nu-nu factor”.

We need passion for Jewish children, for Jewish lives, and for Jewish principles.

Once in Buffalo it came to my attention that two of my congregants were involved in an illicit affair. I was beside myself. I didn’t know whether to shoot, excommunicate, scream, or threaten. The standards of my community were being compromised. Chilul Hashem was pending. Olam Haba was being thrown out the window. I called a seasoned Rabbi and described the situation to him. I’ll never forget his response! “Nu-nu”.

One of the great luminaries of the last generation was Rav Yechezkel Levenstien. He was the spiritual leader of Mir Yeshiva in Poland, then Shanghai and eventually he came to the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn. After a very short time in this country he announced that he could no longer stay in the US and that he would make Aliya. In his departing talk he spoke about a man who entered a perfumery. As he entered he was overwhelmed with the fragrance. After a few minutes the fragrance became subtle and after an hour he could detect no smell. Rav Yechezkel said that at the beginning he wasn’t used to American society. The things he saw hit him like a ton of bricks. They kept him up at night. After a few weeks the very same society became tolerable until he found himself saying, nu-nu. He knew it was time to leave.

We were hot. We can’t cool down!

I hear too many “nu-nu’s”. We are not as hot as we used to be. We need passion for Jewish children, for Jewish lives, for Jewish principles – we can never say “nu-nu”.

The most serious crime of Amalek is that he stole our passion. Timche – erase the memory of Amalek. Be passionate! Turn up the heat!

The Torah lists the crimes of Amalek. He stabbed us in the back. He attacked our weakest. He came upon us when we were faint and exhausted. He didn’t fear G-d. But the first and the worst thing Amalek did was that he made us cold. Timche – erase the memory of Amalek. Be passionate! Turn up the heat!

This Dvar Torah was dedicated by Mr. Abe Rovner lezecher nishmas Kayla bas HaChaver Yitzchok Hamulburger.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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