Monday, October 15, 2007

Forty Years of Jerusalem

It is forty years since God gave us the blessing of a unified Jerusalem. And it seems that, in forty years, we have squandered the miracles and blessings showered upon us before the eyes of the world in the Six Day War. Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, is ready to hand over parts of Jerusalem to the arabs who have never ceased to call for our destruction.

We have tried everything that has been suggested. Land for Peace is a proven farce, and unilateral withdrawl brings our enemies closer than ever with more sophisticated weapons that they bring across their open border with Egypt. Israel suffers from a lack of enthusiasm because its citizens know that what they fight for heroically today will be seen as oppression and conquest tomorrow. Without Torah, zionism cannot survive, and we witness the pathetic crumbling of secular zionism with politicians who are willing to trade Israel's very security for a smile and handshake from US presidents and Arab terrorists.

And now, we come to the lowest point: The most obvious miracle performed in 2000 years, the return of the Jews to Jerusalem and to the Temple Mount, is turned into a trading card. The splendor and spiritual meaning of our redemption of our holiest place is lost in Olmert's desire for international approval. And the nation sits desolate, in apathy and shame.

In his book, Forty Years, Rabbi Kahane writes:

"The idea first entered my head as I sat, one day, in Ramle Prison. It was the eve of Tisha B'Av, the tragic commemoration of the destruction of both Temples, the beginning of both terrible exiles. I sat, reviewing the book of Jonah, with its message of repentance, on the day of national tragedy. Jonah enters the city of Nineveh, to which he has been sent by the Al-Mighty, to warn them of impending destruction unless they repent. And as I read, the words of Jonah to the people suddenly leaped out at me: "In forty days, Nineveh shall be overturned!"

Forty. The thought suddenly struck me: How many times, again and again, does that number arise in connection with sin and punishment? "And the rain was on the earch forty days and forty nights." (Genesis 7:12), the punishment of a world flooded for its sin. Forty. And centuries later, as the Jews of the desert "despised the pleasant land" and wept over their "home" in Egypt, the Al-Mighty angrily decreed that the generation of the desert would not enter the Holy Land, saying: "And your children will wander in the wilderness forty years and bear your faithlessness." (Numbers 14:33) Again, forty. And the punishment of stripes, whipping, is one of "Forty shall he strike him, he shall not increase," and the atonement for sin and the purification process begins with a study of Torah given forty days at Sinai continuing in a mikva, ritualarium, whose waters must be a minimum of forty S'ah.

...And iddn that tiny cell in prison the thought expanded. Not only was the concept "forty" tied to sin and punisment, it was specifically connected to the warning of G-d to the sinner, a warning designed to avert that punishment. Jonah warns Nineveh of impending punishment and this gives them a grace period of forty days during which they might search their souls and change their ways.

In the case of both Holy Temples, the Al-Mighty gave the Jewish people a period of forty years of grace; time to think and rethink their ways. Time to return to Him and save themselves from that punishment. In the awful final days of the first Jewish state, the L-rd tells the prophet Ezekiel: "And thou shalt lie again on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah, forty days; each day for a year, each day for a year." (Ezekiel 4:6)

...Once again, the period of grace. Forty years. The final hope of the Al-Mighty that, perhaps, His final warning would be heeded. The countdown of forty years, the last chance.

...For make no mistake. The magnificent miracle of return and rise of a Jewish State is surely the beginning of the Final Redemption, but hardly the end. THe true finality, the magnificent era of Messiah, comes to fruition gloriously and majestically and breathtakingly only if we cleave to the great axiom: "If you walk in my statues...I will give peace in the land." (Leviticus 26)

...This is the choice; the only choice. All the rest is nonsense. And time ticks away and the decision is in our hands.

...And it become clearer and clearer to me that, once again, it is forty years; forty years of warning, admonition, opportunity. The final chance."

It is up to us. The nation must decide. We must struggle as we have never struggled before, to stop the politicians who, whether or not they realize it, bring us to the brink of disaster. As long as it has not happened, we can still avert it.