Messages From the War – Oct 16

Yerushalayim has been uneventful for the last few days. Services are pretty much at normal levels, except for the public schools, which are still closed. Still hard to find bottled water, after the stupid and irresponsible announcement by the government that people should have 3 liters of water per person, for three days, in their safe room. People took the announcement to mean that they should expect immediate intense bombardment. That, coupled with people buying large quantities to send to soldiers, led to a depletion of stock. (A second announcement then walked back the first. They weren’t predicting immediately spending three days in shelters because they had special information. The three-day supply was what they always have told people to have on hand.)

That fashla only adds to the complete lack of trust that has developed between the people and their leaders, be they those of the IDF, or of Knesset. It is as if the people had decided to chuck the government, and take things into their own hands. They couldn’t possibly do a worse job.

This is true particularly about the IDF. No one wants to hear anything from its leaders. The soldiers, on the other hand, show incredible spirit, unimaginable in any other country. The videos they send buoy up the rest of the country, even as the country continues to shower them with love and care through innumerable projects to compensate for what they don’t have. (IDF brass claims they have what it takes to outfit everyone. No one I know believes them for a moment. Individual units compile lists of what they need, bypassing leadership, and the country – the world, really – responds.) Entertainers have joined the troops, and add even more spirit. (After watching a clip of Ishai Ribo singing with the soldiers, I realized that I should do the same. I’m sure that if it could be arranged for me to sing for Hamas troops, they would wave a white flag after a half an hour and surrender.)

The lack of leadership is more than apparent in the charedi community. There, too, many, many, projects have been started for people to join in and contribute to the war effort beyond the crucial learning and tefillos. Again, however, it is the people acting on their own. You don’t hear of major figures speaking to large swaths of the community with words of chizuk, or instructions about changes in tefillah, or ways to keep the kids whose schools have not opened occupied. (The Belzer Rebbe, always with a mind of his own, did instruct his chassidim to add the tefillah for Tzahal on Shabbos.)

The one stand-out exception is (no surprise) Rav Asher Weiss. Besides going from place to place delivering shiurim and words of chizuk, he does frequent YouTubes directed at the community as a whole, at least those with internet access. (According to a recent poll, that means 60% of the charedi population.) He has been a voice of sanity, reason, and inspiration to all who listen. He has also tackled the halachic problems. For instance, he conducted a Q and A about issues that might arise on Shabbos, and shared it with the nation. He is in a class by himself.

Everyone undoubtedly has seen the strong messages of support from many political leaders in the US, as well as the growing groundswell of support for the Palestinians and Hamas, even before the ground invasion begins. Lest people think that all of the support will evaporate, I can testify that the messages of support that I am constantly getting from bright non-Jews shows that they understand the issues, and will place blame on collateral damage to Gazans exactly where it belongs – on the shoulders of Hamas. By the way, the support comes not only from evangelical Christians, but from unexpected sources. A large donation from a Mormon charity. A pledge to stand with Israel from a life-long progressive Democrat (who claims that there is a real split in the extreme left over the issue.) A large donation from the CFO of one of my sons’ client companies, who is Indian and thoroughly gets it.

For umpteen years, I have serialized a sefer a year on Chumash. Each week, I adapt some selection from that sefer on the parshah. I scout out the material a year in advance, i.e. I’m doing Ksav Sofer this year, but simultaneously finding material from Be’er Moshe/the Ozhorover Rebbe that I will write up next year. (You can subscribe to the current series here, or view the older ones here.) Stumbling upon a theme he develops in a few pieces in parshas Noach, I felt that he provided a point of view that many people were looking for.

“Hashem smelled the pleasing aroma, and Hashem said in His heart, ‘I will not continue to curse again the ground because of man…’” Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah 34:9) state that the pleasing aroma was contributed by the Doro she shmad/the generation that bore the brunt of the sustained Hadrianic persecutions. This is puzzling, says the rebbe. That generation somehow deserved the trials and tribulations they experienced. How could they be seen as a pleasing aroma, that moved HKBH to special rachamim?

The rebbe’s explanation is that the pain of Klal Yisrael stirs divine rachamim, whether they deserve it or not! Similarly, Tikunei Zohar (23a) describes Noach breaking down and crying when he contemplated the devastation after the Flood. “Ribbono Shel Olam! You are called Compassionate! You should have had compassion on your creatures!” Why did he not utter the same plaintive words before the mabul? Says the rebbe: before the mabul Noach spent decades admonishing and warning the world. They mocked him for it, and persisted in their evil ways. Noach despaired of arguing for divine compassion. After the mabul, however, Noach reasoned that the immense suffering visited upon the world would itself open Hashem to rachamim, so he poured out his heart in tefillah. In other words, he applied the doro shel shmad principle to all of human society.

You needn’t speculate as to how far to take this principle. The rebbe makes it explicit. “Two paths lead to the redemption of Israel: [One is] merits and good deeds; the second is experiencing pain.”

We are all trying to multiply our merits. We are sometimes discouraged, however, by how far the nation as a whole is from where it should be. But a week ago, we all found ourselves living through Auschwitz 2.0, opening a huge hole in all our hearts. We are still far from grasping the enormity of the massacre. We’re now sharing the pain with families of captives, and all those who perished. We are beyond anxious for what might happen when the ground offensive begins. Pain is everywhere. It is sustained, relentless.

According to the rebbe, however, the national pain of Klal Yisrael will itself mean that Hashem will react with compassion, substituting our pain for the merits we lack.

You may also like...

35 Responses

  1. Michael Leyzer Ben Binyamin says:

    who needs leaders

  2. joel rich says:

    . There, too, many, many, projects have been started for people to join in and contribute to the war effort beyond the crucial learning and tefillos
    Have there been any programs specifically for those in kollel (other than more learning, tfillot). For example, chevra kadisha/grave digging…
    Hashem Oz Lamo Yiten Hashem Yvarech Et Amo Bashalom

    • Mark says:

      Why would anyone pull Kollel guys out of learning for jobs that are already being done? The army has full units for Chevra Kadisha and grave digging. If more help is needed, older ex-reservists would be called upon for these tasks. We need the people learning now more than ever.

      • William Lawrence Gewirtz says:

        Not to porasish mai’tzarchai Tzibbur is much more important than limmud ha-torah.

  3. Tal Benschar says:

    But a week ago, we all found ourselves living through Auschwitz 2.0

    After I digested the news, the first think I thought of was the possuk :

    אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כׇּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחֲרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ

    The actions taken by the invaders were those of Amalek, same as the Nazis. And make no mistake, they CELEBRATED this barbarism. I am reminded of an awful story I read somewhere that when the Nazi’s, yimach shmam v’ zichrom, would invade towns in Eastern Europe and slaughter Jews, the officers and their wives would watch it like entertainment, eating ice cream and other treats while watching.

    We are dealing with a latter-day Amalek. Yimoch Shmam V’Zicrhom.

    • Mark says:

      Regular Wermacht soldiers and officers admitted after the war that when they had free time, they would often go on “Jew Shoots” as it was called then. It was great sport to watch a massacre and a good time was had by all except for the victims.
      There were no innocent Germans of note, and the same is true for the sand dwellers of Gaza who celebrate the murder of Jews by distributing sweets to children while the females warble jubilant sounds.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    Some civilian and military leaders in recent days/months/years/decades have been Teddy Roosevelt in reverse, preferring to speak loudly and carry a small stick. The sooner they and we truly recognize that HaShem, and not the US/EU/UN, is in charge, the better off we’ll all be.

    • mycroft says:

      preferring to speak loudly and carry a small stick

      Sadly, has been modus operandi of some recent leaders in both US and Israel. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Lesson from Tanach וַיַּ֤עַן מֶֽלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר דַּבְּר֔וּ אַל־יִתְהַלֵּ֥ל חֹגֵ֖ר כִּמְפַתֵּֽחַ

      • Bob Miller says:

        Bibi in particu;lar has mastered the art of trumpeting bold initiatives of all sorts and then backing off under pressure. If he somehow avoids that this time, it’s only because the Israeli public is too incensed about the Hamas atrocities to permit his game to continue. Sometimes, it seems as if a grand announcment is designed to invite foreign opposition, to provides excuses to call it off.

  5. Mark says:

    I can’t speak for the Charedi leaders in EY, but in the US, virtually every R”Y and Rebbe has spoken out in support of Torah, Teffilah, and acts of chessed on behalf of the entire population of EY including the IDF and everyone else.
    Even the Satmar Rebbe of KJ instructed his followers in all countries to recite special teffilos on behalf of EY and their Twitter account (assuming it’s legit), disavowed the actions of the NK.
    Charedim are still very much listening to and paying attention to their leadership.

  6. Yossi says:

    I’m not sure I agree with Auschwitz 2.0. What we’ve witnessed is beyond anything we could comprehend, and like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime.

    But it’s equivalent to about an hour in Auschwitz. Think about that and how kind boggling Auschwitz Mia have been.

  7. Lacosta says:

    Pnai kelev leadership is messianic

  8. Shades of Gray says:

    “But a week ago, we all found ourselves living through Auschwitz 2.0, opening a huge hole in all our hearts”

    President Biden likewise spoke about a “black hole” last week, with a degree of empathy unusual for a presidential speech. The losses of his wife and children may have given him this quality, as I once read in one of the frum magazines, and indeed may be reflected in his words:

    “Today, Americans across the country are praying for all those families that have been ripped apart. A lot of us know how it feels. It leaves a black hole in your chest when you lose family, feeling like you’re being sucked in. The anger, the pain, the sense of hopelessness. This is what they mean by a “human tragedy” — an atrocity on an appalling scale.”

    Agudah sent the president a letter thanking him for the above speech, which was “powerful and poignant” and was a “clearly heartfelt expression of outrage” and is, therefore, “treasured.”

    Former Ambassador Michael Oren also discussed the “unbridled passion” of Biden’s speech in the Forward, saying that the president “connected the pain of Israel to his personal pain” of losing a wife and two children. Oren added that even as Biden talked tough and candidly to him when he was ambassador to Israel, it was still apparent that Biden was of a “generation that still has, as we say, Israel in his heart” and who was an “Irishman, you know, and he has that Irish compassion, and it came across.”

    While hakaras hatov — both to the president as well as to Hashem– is the proper response for any level of good, the true test of friendship will come when Israel needs the support of America in wake of the anticipated global criticism for collateral damage during urban Gazan warfare. I hope and pray that the president will then show more of his love, and less toughness, towards Israel when the former is truly needed.

    • Reb Yid says:

      He has sent his Secretary of State twice to Israel within the past week. His Secretary of Defense has visited. And now, President Biden himself will visit this week (and no doubt meet with families of the bereaved, which Israel’s own PM has yet to do). Unprecedented for any previous US President to show this type of support for Israel in a time of war.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Let’s look at results and not public shows of support. Blinken called for a cease fire immediately and has never been pro Israel at any time in his diplomatic career.. Austin has asked Israel to not launch a preemptive strike against Hezbollah which may exactly what Israel should do to insure that its northern frontier is secure while it destroys Hamas. Visiting the bereaved is easy for Biden who in such instances like to talk inappropriately about his son who was not a victim of combat. Bibi’s job is to protect Israel and right now that means destroying Hamas-Like it or not it is very doubtbul that Hamas will return any hostages-American, foreign nationals and certainly not Israelis based on its past record which demands the release of Hamas activists in Israeli and possibly American jails-which may be too much of a price given the fact that the recent pogrom was planned with considerable Iranian assistance by a Hamas leader who was released in such an exchange.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Like it or not it is very doubtbul that Hamas will return any hostages

        Your post did not age well.

        Baruch Hashem.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Biden’s public passion is already negated by his private machinations. Let’s see him turn off the tap of money for Iran and the PA, and stop putting faux-humanitarian roadblocks in front of IDF military operations. Jack Lew is on the way to complete the picture of Biden Administration double-dealing.

      • Reb Yid says:

        It was Biden’s predecessor who broke away from the Iran deal and thus opened the door to their full fledged move ahead with their nuclear plan.

        Biden’s predecessor did nothing but break away from existing agreements and embrace authoritarian dictators. Biden has been the complete opposite. We’d already see a complete Russian takeover of Ukraine by now if not for him. And lord knows how many more deaths in the current conflict in the Middle East.

      • William Lawrence Gewirtz says:

        I tend to agree. raised in black churches and synagogues, he seems to want to tantz auf allee chassunot.

        we must wait to make a judgement of where his gut really lies.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “Let’s see him turn off the tap of money for Iran and the PA”

        I would love to see him do that, and Republicans should press for it as well as regarding removing roadblocks in front of IDF, but its absence doesn’t negate Biden’s good, such as those examples mentioned by Reb Yid. See also Biden’s remarks to Jewish community leaders last week, linked below. I excerpted two points from the Q&A:

        Nathan Diament(OU Advocacy Center): “… Eighty years ago this week — eighty years ago this week, a group of 400 rabbis came to Washington hoping to meet with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and appeal to him to act to rescue the Jews who were being persecuted in Europe, and they were refused a meeting with President Roosevelt. They were refused entry to the White House. And the fact that we are here today and you have spoken as the President of the United States so clearly in support of Israel, so clearly in support of the Jewish people, and so — and welcomed leaders and representatives of the Jewish community into the White House for this discussion shows what a dramatic distance we’ve traveled in these United States, how we as the Jewish community are blessed to live today in these United States. And we thank you for your leadership and your moral clarity.”

        Elsewhere in the meeting, Biden was asked where he “draw[s] strength and inspiration in these troubling times?” Part of his answer was, as I quoted from Ambassador Oren, from his personal losses:

        “Look, I don’t know anything about the kind of loss that’s talking — but I know a little bit of what it’s like to feel loss of those people you adore. Get a phone call saying they’re gone. I get that part. Not the same, but I get that part.”

  9. DK says:

    “After watching a clip of Ishai Ribo singing with the soldiers, I realized that I should do the same. I’m sure that if it could be arranged for me to sing for Hamas troops, they would wave a white flag after a half an hour and surrender.”

    Rabbi Adlerstein, you crack us up!
    Thanks for this moment of lightness in such a dark time!

  10. benshaul says:

    We missed your daily updates. Its hard to believe that someone like you cannot find something to write about every day!

  11. William Gewirtz says:

    I think the white flag may go up well before a half hour. 🙂

    In their own rather different roles, the Belzer Rebbe and Rav Weiss represent the exception not the rule. As the late Prof. Katz has shown repeatedly throughout traditional Jewish history over the last 1000 years change most often was bottom – up. Those two individuals are the exception given their deep knowledge of their followers and the broader changes that are present in our community.

  12. Steven Brizel says:

    Talk is cheap-Biden did not achieve the release of a single hostage, promised more aid to Gaza that will wind uo being used by Hamas for war materiel and urged Israelis to not get enraged about an act of genocide plus failing to inform Israel of the probability of a raid. That is because he was throwing Israel under the truck by negoiating with the mullahs of Iran who Trump had placed under severe sanctions and enginneered the assassination of an Iranian architect iof terror. Obama gave the green light to the Iranians to build a nuclear plant -Trump clamped the samctions back in place which had a noticeable effect on Iran’s ability to build such a plant.

    • Reb Yid says:

      Biden is precisely the leader that Israel is lacking at the moment.

      Israel is about to get massive aid that he is proposing (once the GOP finally decides to elect a Speaker of the House instead of crippling our government) which will greatly assist Israel in its upcoming campaign, may it be as short as possible. Palestinians in Gaza will get desperately needed food, water and medical supplies. Half of that population consists of children.

      The hugs and conversations that President Biden had with numerous Israeli first responders and victims are a watershed moment for US-Israel relations. I’ve been watching some of these individuals being interviewed by the Israeli Hebrew media. You should, too.


      • Nachum says:

        And…we will never suffer from a want of Jews who will take the side of our enemies.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Talk is cheap- Biden’s polocies like Obama’s are all about from resfraining Israel from doing what it should do militarily vis a vis Hamas and Hezbollah rewarding Hamas which trades food water and medical supplies for rockets and lecturing Israel about the rules of war and not being too enraged

      • Reb Yid says:

        Right now Israel’s leadership, or lack thereof, is its own worst enemy.

  13. C Y says:

    #metoo honchos promoting hamas
    Retroactively belatedly revealing,eh??

    (How about hoping for some attempted counter from mrs.Handfling et al)

  14. Tal Benschar says:

    Just read this in National Review:

    Hamas Is the Symptom, Not the Disease

    It lays out succinctly what the problem is.

  15. Steven Brizel says:

    Reb Yid wrote in relevant part:

    “Like it or not it is very doubtbul that Hamas will return any hostages

    Your post did not age well.’

    Two hostages were returned because they are related to a long time Middle East correspondent for NBC-Hamas dictates what the legacy reports from Gaza.
    Two Bubbies were returned , and one whose husband is still a captive showed definite evidence of Stockholm

    The odds of children, mothers and IDF soldiers being freed remain very slim at best and a strong argument can be made that one does not engage in ransoming captives with the enemy duiring wartime especually when and if the cost is prohibitive-such as releasing Hamas terrorists in Israeli jails who are classical examples of recidivist criminals

  16. Steven Brizel says:

    Reb Yid wrote:

    “Right now Israel’s leadership, or lack thereof, is its own worst enemy.”

    Israel is completely mobilized,preparing for a ground invasion which should result in the elimination of Hamas and has been picking off any and all Hamas leaders via ground and air strikes. Biden is attemptiing to restrain Israel from taking any necessary preemptory action against Hezbollah and insinuating constantly and falsely that the IDF does not obey the laws of war, and that Israel’s government should ignore the effects of 10/7 and not be too enraged at the pogrom that happened . One looks forward to an investigation as to what Biden and Co, knew about the planning of 10/7 beforehand and whether any such intelligence was passed onto Israel via the US intelligence outposts in Qatar and Lebanon

    • Reb Yid says:

      Like Biden’s predecessor, many important slots in the Israeli government are either vacant or headed by those who are simply incompetent and/or unqualified to hold these positions. They are often crooks themselves. Like Biden’s predecessor, the only criterion is loyalty to the narcissist so that he can retain power.

      Just one example–Gal Hirsch. What an awful choice to be the lead on negotiating for hostages. When you hear that the Qatari rep is trying to get ahold of Hirsch for a week without success, that should be immediate grounds for firing.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This