Friday, March 09, 2012

Rabbi Nachman Kahana Responds



A few weeks ago, I posted a dvar Torah by Rabbi Nachman Kahana that generated a plethora of comments, many of them highly critical of his perspective on the efficacy of prayers on behalf of Eretz Yisrael that originate outside of Israel.

His exact quote was:

But can any thinking, learned Jew take seriously the idea that the tefilos coming out of 13th Avenue in Boro Park, or President Street in Crown Heights or even Forest Ave. in Lakewood N.J. have an iota of influence in the Shamayim on the fate of the holy Jews in Yerushalayim and Eretz Yisrael?

This sample is typical of the tone of the majority of comments the piece generated:

Now you are speaking for G-d as to whether He hears our prayers or not? Unbelievable! Thanks for letting me know my tefilos are worthless.

As a blogger, it's always a challenge to decide whether to approve angry and/or hostile comments. Like most people, I find dissension uncomfortable. I started a blog to share my perspective, not to foment discord. In the end, I approved the many angry comments on this post and shared them with Rabbi Kahana.

Below, Rabbi Kahana responds to the substance of those comments.

----------------------

From the reactions to last week’s message regarding prayers recited in the galut for the people and peace of Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim, it seems that I touched a nerve.

Let me explain.

At the end of the day, all prayers arrive in the shamayim, albeit in different ways; as in the anecdote regarding Menachem Begin who told Jimmy Carter that prayers originating in Yerushalayim are local calls, whereas Jimmy Carter’s prayers from America are long distance ones.

Yonah’s prayers from within the bowels of a whale at the bottom of the sea were heard and answered by HaShem. So too are the prayers said in the galut are heard.
My message was directed primarily at the religious leaders in the galut.
Recall what HaShem said to Moshe when the Jews were standing at the water’s edge at the Red Sea Shemot 14:15):
' יואמר ה' אל משה מה תצעק אלי דבר אל בני ישראל ויסעו
Why are to calling to me; tell the children of Israel to move ahead
So to the religious leaders in the galut I say: The several minutes that it takes to recite the prayers for the Medina and for the soldiers of Tzahal on Shabbat, must not be the peak of your efforts for Eretz Yisrael, but rather their modest beginnings. Rabbis must use these prayers as a springboard from which to teach their congregants that the ultimate is not just to pray, but to transform the words into actions and move forward to aliya in Eretz Yisrael.

In conclusion:
There is an infinite difference between Jewish life in the galut and our lives in Eretz Yisrael. It was summed up much more dramatically than any way I could, by the great tzaddik "Chesed L’Avraham" from Tzfat.
וכאשר יראו אותן האנשים
]בני קיבוץ גליות שיבואו ארצה יחד עם מלך המשיח[ כאשר אחיהם ]שימצאו כבר בא"י[ נעשו בריות חדשות ופורחים באויר ללכת לדור בג"ע =בגן עדן= ללמוד תורה מפי הקב"ה, אז יקבצו יחד בני קיבוץ גליות ויקחו דאגה בלבבם ויהיה להם דאבון נפש ויתרעמו אז על מלך המשיח ויאמרו הלא אנחנו עם בני ישראל כמוהם ומאין זו להיות הם רוחניות בגוף ובנפש משא"כ אנחנו ולמה נגרע? וישיב להם מלך המשיח הלא כבר נודע ומפורסם מדותיו של הקב"ה הוא שהם הכל מדה כנגד מדה, אותן שהיו בחו"ל ואחר יגיעות רבות השתדלו לבוא לארץ ישראל כדי לזכות אל נפש טהורה ולא חשו לגופם ולממונם ובאו בים וביבשה ולא חשו להיות נטבעים בים או להיות נגזל ביבשה ולהיותם שבוים ביד אדונים קשים, ובעבור עיקר רוחם ונשמתם עשו זאת, ע"כ חזרו להיות רוחניים מדה כנגד מדה, אבל אתם שהיה בידכם לבא לארץ ישראל כמוהם ואתם נתרשלתם בעבור חמדת הממון וחששתם לאיבוד גופכם ומאודיכם ומהם עשיתם עיקר ורוחכם ונפשותיכם עשיתם טפל, לכן נשארתם אתם ג"כ גשמיים מרוחכם וכו', אבל אותן שלא חשו לגופם ולממונם כנזכר רק חשו לרוחם ולנפשם בלבד עושה עמהם השי"ת כמה טובות לעשותם בריה חדשה כנזכר ולהוליך אותם אל הג"ע התחתון )חסד לאברהם
"When the exiled will return to the land together with the Mashiach, they will find that their brothers in Eretz Yisrael have been transformed into more spiritual beings and have entered into Gan Eden to learn Torah from HaShem. The newly arrived will be deeply pained and will have grievances towards the Mashiach. Why have the Jews in Eretz Yisrael merited to be more spiritual beings and permitted to enter Gan Eden whereas we have not?

And the Mashiach will reply, that it is well known that HaShem relates to people measure for measure in the way they led their lives. The Jews in Eretz Yisrael sacrificed their material interests and overcame great dangers to live in Eretz Yisrael. You in the galut could have come too, but you valued your material possessions over spiritual attainment, so you do not merit what HaShem has provided for His people in Eretz Yisrael.

What is there left to say?

Shabbat Shalom
Nachman Kahana

10 comments:

Daniela said...

"My message was directed primarily at the religious leaders in the galut."

Are you insulting my Rabbi along with countless others? Are you stating the gedolim of this generation are wrong, as they do not listen to your supposedly authoritative opinion, and have never stated there is an obligation to make immediate aliyah? Do I understand this correctly? please clarify.

joshwaxman said...

"it seems that I touched a nerve"
Indeed. :)
Some people are bothered by what they see as the misplaced smug superiority of some Jews in Israel over their diaspora brethren.

"Chesed L’Avraham" from Tzfat
Is this a reference to R' Avraham Azulai, who moved to Israel in 1599? If so, is it possible that when he says The Jews in Eretz Yisrael sacrificed their material interests and overcame great dangers to live in Eretz Yisrael, it was actually very true, to an extent incomparable to
the present day? Where instead of living under a Jewish government with the possibility of relative luxury and safety, the Chesed leAvraham was talking about people who moved to a dangerous country, under rule of the Turks, where they were second class citizens and lived in (thus-chosen) poverty?

Can you really pull that quote and without second thought to context apply it to a third-generation Israeli, who happened to be born into a modern Jewish democracy, has a comfortable life, and (let us suppose) serves his/her country as a jobnik or with Sherit Leumi? Or who doesn't serve in the army at all? Does this source in Chesed leAvraham prove that **this** person is so much higher than a diaspora Jew? Even one who chooses to live in relative poverty in order to e.g. learn in kollel or be a rebbe?

At the end of the day, all prayers arrive in the shamayim
Great. Although proof from a Jewish joke is not much proof.

But what it seems you are saying it that all prayers arrive in Heaven, but still, these prayers don't have an iota of influence, because every Jew in Eretz Yisrael is a billion times holier than any Jew in the diaspora.

kol tuv,
josh

10rainbow said...

Rabbi Nachman, shabbat shalom. i have read some of your articles at shiratdevorah blog. i find them very inspiring. can you please tell us noahides what is your view on our prayers. since we live outside the holy land. blessings

Baruch Eliezer Silas said...

It is beyond me why the Jews of the diaspora think their material wealth improves or enhances their prayers, or that the so called "modern democracy" of Israel even makes a difference regarding the safety and sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael.

The Ben Ish Hai, in Sefer Ben Ish Hai, Drushim al Hatorah, reiterates what we learn in the zohar, that the 70 nations are not governed by HKB"H, but my a ministering angel. Only Eretz Yisrael has a direct connection to HIM. Just because we are Jews does not guarantee that we are capable of "dialing a direct connection" with HKB"H--location does matter. This was written by a Rabbi who was born and lived in Bavel.

What I hear in Josh Waxman's response is a perfect example of what Jews find important in the galut--money and democracy. Neither of which will make a difference standing in front of HKB"H.

I had a discussion when I lived in the US about what Pirkei Avot says about having money--that it is preferable to give than to receive. He defended his position with honor, but my position that the poor person gives first, and was the greatest of the two, for without the poor person giving to the rich person the "opportunity to give", the rich person would have one less avenue of tshuvah. My position is well founded in the torah by many sages and was also supported by my Rav in the U.S.

Jews who live in l'chutz l'aretz have no idea of the danger or the difficulty that Jews face in Eretz Yisrael, because they really aren't concerned about what we go through. They only know what they either hear or read. They don't know because they're afraid to let go of their money.

Jews in Israel are in danger, but Jews in l'chutz l'aretz are in even greater peril. They have the noose around their necks and can't even feel the rope, because they are still so drunk from celebrating Purim. So drunk, in keeping with the halachah, so as not to be able to distinguish between Haman and Mordechai, that they haven't learned that they're also unable to distinguish between HKB"H and themselves, between midot tovot and midot lo tovot. The real lesson of Purim has always been and will always be Tshuvah on an individual and national level.

All of this has been said before and there really isn't a need to debate this over and over again. Jews in l'chutz l'aretz haven't chosen to let go and will only be forced to let go after the doors are closed.

offended said...

There is a world of difference between this response: "So to the religious leaders in the galut I say: The several minutes that it takes to recite the prayers.... and telling the world that he KNOWS that those not blessed - for whatever reason - to live in Israel --well their tefillos don't make an iota of difference to those who live here. His response was spot on..I wish he would have said that to begin with - it is neither a response nor an explanation for the smug and absolutely anti-jewish position he took in his first letter---which yes, more than touches a nerve. It is outrageous to say that he knows whose prayers are effective, backed only by some cutesy joke. It is a deeply offensive position to take and I DO LIVE HERE and I might add very much appreciate tefillos said by anyone anywhere for my safety---because I know they are indeed heard and are effective. That does not make me any less zionist--I came, leaving my entire family and want all Jews to come home as much or more as this Rabbi.
And while i'm venting, here's one for Mr. Silas: you can rest easily now that you have worked so hard--with your omniscient powers, proclaiming knowledge as to why all jews who aren't living in Israel didn't come when you decided to show up...and of course how they ALL--every one of them--think. Please get over yourself--for everyone's sake.

josh said...

I heard a nice Chabbad vort on Shabbat. While most of us have been warned that only 20% will make it to the next geulah like in the Egyptian one, the Rebbe says that all will make it. Im yirtzeh Hashem!

So one in the crowd asked the rabbi to elaborate, because he had heard, etc... and the rav said, it's going to be the difference between those who receive mashiach with their best Shabbat clothes and those who will meet him in their pajamas.

Anonymous said...

B'H
IT DOESN'T EVEN REALLY MATTER HOW MANY JEWS IN ERETZ ISRAEL OR DISPORIA PRAY AT THIS POINT IN TIME ! FOR IN THE VERY END OF THE REDEMPTION ONLY 7000 JEWS WILL BE LEFT IN ERETZ ISRAEL ! HASHEM HAS HIS PLAN AND IT IS RIGHT ON HIS SCJEDULE NOT OURS IN ERETZ ISRAEL AND ESPECIALLY NOT ANYONE'S OUTSIDE
READ RAMCHAL'S SECRET OF REDEMPTION AND YOU WILL LEARN INSIGHTS THAT MOST EVERYONE HAS NO CLUE TO LET ALONE IS WILLING TO TELL YOU CONCERNING THE END TIMES! IT WILL DEFINETELY OPEN YOUR EYES TO THE TRUTH OF WHAT HASHEM HAS PLANNED AND HOW HE IS GOING TO CARRY IT OUT! AFTER YOU READ IT, ESPECIALLY IN HEBREW, THEN LET'S SEE WHAT EVERYONE HAS TO SAY? MY BET IS THAT EVERY JEW LET ALONE EVERY GENTILE WILL BE ON THEIR FACE REPENTING RATHER THAN SAYING A WORD!! SILENCE AND ACTION PERHAPS MIGHT JUST SAVE A FEW MORE, BUT IN THE END, IT IS ALL UP TO HASHEM
B'H
תרם

Moshe said...

What is your suggestion Baruch Eliezer Silas that jews who live in l'chutz l'aretz have to let it go and make aliya? Your words are very strong but not supportive. It is going to be a mess and disbalance at the certain degree. The mess because we had a false moshiah once and disbalance because somebody have to give Tsedaka and because of it the world Asia is standing. Let it go, to be all poor and collect money from who, goyim?

joshwaxman said...

Baruch Eliezer Silas:
"What I hear in Josh Waxman's response is a perfect example of what Jews find important in the galut--money and democracy. Neither of which will make a difference standing in front of HKB"H."

If you saw that in my response, then you weren't reading very clearly, and can work on your reading comprehension. I said the opposite, in fact. My point was that, wadr., Rabbi Kahana was misinterpreting the Chesed LeAvraham. The Chesed LeAvraham explained that **choosing** extreme lack of security and poverty for the sake of fulfilling Hashem's will was what made the Jews in his days much elevated over diaspora Jews. I noted that this was not the case for many modern Israelis, who did not choose, enjoy wealth, and enjoy security. If so, it is incorrect to apply the Chesed leAvraham. And I gave a counterexample of someone living in the diaspora who sacrificed material benefits for the sake of fulfilling Hashem's will, who is perhaps a better application of the Chesed leAvraham.

kol tuv,
josh

Daniela said...

Baruch Eliezer Silas: "Jews who live in l'chutz l'aretz have no idea of the danger or the difficulty that Jews face in Eretz Yisrael"
FYI I came to Israel in April 2002. Anyway, if security and financial considerations are irrelevant, what about statements such as "The economy in Eretz Yisrael is very good! There will be an overflow of livelihood for Jews living everywhere who come to the Holy Eretz Yisrael!" "Real estate in Eretz Yisrael, parcels of land and building of houses, all will continue even greater than what’s been!" "In Eretz Yisrael there is blessing with livelihood and money, in that it will never run out! The opposite will be true! Blessing without end!" and so on. Do you object to these statements, too?

I am glad that for some people it worked out well to make aliyah. I am quite aware that not for everybody, things work out well. I urge everyone to think carefully and to consult with a reputable rabbi who knows their situation personally. Then, if feasible, by all means make aliyah.