Issue 1 –
SPARED IN THE DAY OF FURY?
Thoughts on Ancient Times & Current Events by Ashirah Yosefah
Ripening olives on a Jerusalem olive tree.
“Noach knew that the waters of the Deluge had begun to recede when the dove he had released from the ark returned with an olive leaf in its mouth. (Bereishis 8:11)
Where did the dove manage to find a leaf in a world so completely devastated by flood waters?
From the branches in Eretz Yisrael, says Rabbi Levi. This is in accordance with the opinion of the Sages who say that Eretz Yisrael was not affected by the Deluge. This view finds expression in what Hashem told the Prophet Yechezkel about this Land that "it was not rained upon in the day of fury." (Yechezkel 22:23)”
(Midrash Rabba Vayikra 31:10)
“Son of mankind, say to it (the homeland): You are the land that was not purified, nor rained upon on the day of fury.” (Yehezqel 22:23)
“Our translation of this verse is based on the tradition that Eretz Yisrael was spared from the Flood. But now the land must go through a flood of its own to restore its purity. Isaiah, too, compares the sufferings of the Jewish people to the Flood that engulfed the entire world in the days of Noach (Isaiah 54:9-10). It need not have come to this. But all the factors that could have prevented disaster (Ezekiel -29) combined instead to bring catastrophe on the land.”
(The Book of Yehezqel, p. 195, Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer)
The literal interpretation of
Chapter 22 of the Book of Yehezqel is that the Prophet, writing from exile in
Yehezqel the Prophet identified these dangerous elements of society in verses 25 through 29, of Yehezqel 22:
Vs. 25: “Those that stand in its midst (as tools of) the conspiracy of it prophets are like a roaring lion going forth in search of prey, they have destroyed human lives, undermined strength and dignity, multiplied widows in its midst.”
Have not thousands of
innocent Jewish lives been lost to unabated terror attacks, sacrificed on the
political altar of “peace” when there is no peace? Have not widows,
widowers and orphans been multiplied in our midst? Have not nearly ten
thousand Jewish lives been stripped of dignity, with their strength undermined,
by the expulsions from Gush Katif? Are not thousands more expulsions
looming on the horizon for Jewish communities in Judea and
Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer comments that the Hebrew wording of verse 25 is difficult to interpret as referring to false prophets, rather the wording accords with similar wording in Yehezqel 19:3-7 and in Zephaniah 3:3-4, which “depicts the depravity of the Jewish kings in Yehezqel’s day” (ibid, pg. 195). Says Dr. Breuer, “the reference is to those Jewish kings whom Ezekiel describes, in retrospect, as plotting together with the unscrupulous pseudo-prophets who were guilty of treason against the Jewish state.”
Vs. 26: “Its priests have violated My teachings, desecrated My sanctities, made no distinction between holy and profane, neither have they taught (to distinguish) between impure and pure, they averted their eyes from the requirements of my Sabbaths – and thus I was profaned in their midst.
Once you’ve experienced the
sanctity of Shabbat and delighted in the pleasures that only proper observance
of Shabbat can bring, you quickly become disheartened when you encounter
disrespect for Shabbat … especially when you experience it in Eretz
Yisrael. Sadly, there are many Jews who have lost touch, or have grown up
not even being aware, of the true importance and holiness of Shabbat and its
significance as an eternal sign between Hashem and Israel (Shemot 31:16-17) … a
sign not only for Israel’s benefit, but also for the good of the nations.
The Torah tells us in Shemot 31 that observance of Shabbat sanctifies the
people and the
Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer, in his Commentary (Ibid, p.196), notes that in the time of Ezekiel, the priests had made a practice of diluting the true meaning of the Torah, “adjusting” the Law to “the needs of changing times”, explaining away Torah truths as “irrelevant rituals and ceremonies”, and according Shabbat “supreme indifference”. History bears witness to a similar trend within the more ‘modern’ streams of Judaism over the last century, wherein longstanding Halachot of Shabbat were relaxed or set aside as assimilation into Western culture increased. Rav Breuer phrases such situations more tersely: “Freed from the bothersome pangs of conscience, their followers felt they could now do as they pleased. The Torah was no longer there to trouble them.”
Vs. 27: “The princes in its midst are like wolves going forth in search of prey to shed blood, to destroy human lives in order to snatch gain.”
Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer, in his
Commentary on The Book of Yehezqel, defines “princes” as “the other ruling
authorities of the state” (Ibid, pg. 196). Given the events of
Gush Katif and Sanur, the present events in Hevron, and, G-d forbid, the events
to come for the “West Bank” communities of Judea and
Vs. 28: “It prophets have covered from them with whitewash that does not last; they fancy nothingness and divine falsehood for them …”
The “prophets” cover for the “princes”. A sorry state of affairs. Again Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer brings a revealing commentary on the character of the people that Yehezqel rebukes as “false prophets”:
“… Ezekiel confronts the prophets of Israel, the individuals in the far-off homeland as well as those in the golah who would dare disgrace the sanctity of prophecy and who, pretending to have been chosen by G-d, carry on their activities relying on their own subjective views, which are not based on truth. … Woe to the men who would dare trifle with Divine matters. To muster the impertinence to misuse the Word of G-d for their own selfish ambitions they must have become “senseless”, they must have lost the last spark of moral decency which could have liberated them from the bondage of immorality. They lost that spark of decency that could have made them receptive to the instructive and controlling influence of the Ruach haKodesh, encouraging them to take the path shown them by G-d Who alone sees and understands all things. In order to behave as they did they must have permitted their own lives to become subjects of their own ruach (spirit), intent exclusively on the gratification of their own desires that are based solely on material considerations, completely ignoring the purposes of life that have stood the test of truth. Only men who have become morally ‘withered’, who have no more use for G-d in their own lives, will raise their evil hands against Him. Alas that the nation of G-d should have been willing to listen to such despicable creatures.”
(The Book of Yehezqel, p. 91, Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer)
Vs. 29: “The people of the land curtail the rights (of their neighbors) and commit robbery; they offend the poor and needy and oppress the stranger in violation of the law.”
Again, little need be said beyond reflecting for a moment on the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and Sanur and the destruction of their homes, schools, businesses and synagogues, turning them into refugees in their own land, the majority of them still homeless half a year later. But, as the saying goes, hindsight is affords one 20/20 vision, so let’s look back 2000 years to the Sages of the Talmud for a little hindsight that brings considerable foresight!
the period which will precede the coming of Mashiach, insolence will increase,
and costs will soar. The vine will yield its fruit yet wine will be dear,
and the government will turn to heresy, and there shall be no rebuke. The
erstwhile meeting place of sages will be [used] for harlotry, and the
(Talmud, Tractate Sotah 49b)
In the footnotes to this passage from Talmud, it is brought down that Rashi identified “Gavlan”, from Tehillim 83:8, as being among the lands that border Eretz Yisrael to the south. It cannot be coincidence that this also describes the location of Gush Katif.
We are living in astonishing days … tremulous times if one has any fear of Heaven. Will we be spared on the “day of fury” as before? Are we doing anything that warrants being spared? With a society that so mirrors the society at the time of the Babylonian exile, one shudders to consider the evidence and the record of history. But did Yehezqel leave us with any clues? Indeed he did …
“And I sought among them for one man that would be ready to erect a fence and place himself in the breach before Me to protect the land so that I should not destroy it – but I found none.
Then I poured out My fury over them, with the fire of excessive anger have I delivered them to ruin; I have caused their conduct to come down upon their own heads, is the pronouncement of my Lord, HASHEM, Who reveals His loving kindness in justice.” (Yehezqel 22:30-31)
In Hevron, as in Gush Katif, young men and women are standing in the breach to protect Jewish land from Jews … until they are thrown to the ground and arrested, that is. In July 2004, men, women, children, young and old, formed a human chain from Gush Katif to the Western Wall in Yerushalayim. Democratic protests fall on dead ears and frozen hearts … senseless minds morally withered. Women are incarcerated, still clutching their babies in their arms. Refrigerators are torn apart, contents strewn asunder, as ruling authorities search for 14 year old girls … in the refrigerator???
Meanwhile, the election of Hamas as a bonafide ruling political party seems all too imminent and terror attacks continue as daily fare in Eretz Yisrael. “Days of fury” are coming from within and without … how shall we bear it when Divine Judgment truly begins to fall? Will the Land be spared such an overwhelming flood? It wasn’t at the time of Yehezqel … perhaps we should hearken to his words.
“And I sought among them for one man that would be ready to erect a fence and place himself in the breach before Me to protect the land so that I should not destroy it …” Indeed.
We need Moshiach … we need Moshiach now.