Thursday, June 29, 2006

Torah in the Merit of Gilad ben Aviva's Safe Release: PARSHAS CHUKAS - CAPTIVES AND WARS



Above: Map of Arad and Gaza. Arad is the location of the ancient terrorists who took a captive from the Israelite Camp after Aharon's death. Gaza is where Gilad Shalit (Gilad ben Aviva) has been taken captive.


Above: "And [Yisrael] destroyed them and their cities." Destruction of bridge in Gaza by IAF. This should only be the beginning of the destruction of evil.


Above: Hishtadlus (Physical effort) - One of our forefather, Ya'akov's our means to defend himself against Esav; Another means - Tefillah.

For added insight into the current situation regarding the captives taken by the "Palestinians", we look to Parshas Chukas - this week's Torah Reading in Eretz Yisrael.

(פסוק א) וישמע הכנעני מלך ערד, ישב הנגב, כי בא ישראל, דרך האתרים; וילחם בישראל, וישב ממנו שבי.
(פסוק ב) וידר ישראל נדר לי-ה-ו-ה, ויאמר: אם נתן תתן את העם הזה בידי, והחרמתי את עריהם.
(פסוק ג) וישמע י-ה-ו-ה בקול ישראל, ויתן את הכנעני, ויחרם אתהם, ואת עריהם; ויקרא שם המקום, חרמה. [פ

"And the Canaanite king of Arad, a dweller of the Negev, heard that Yisrael had come, by the way of the spies; And he fought Yisrael, and he took from him a captive. And Yisrael swore to HaShem, and said: 'If you surely will give this nation into my hand, and I shall destroy its cities. And HaShem Heard the voice of Yisrael, and He Gave the Canaanite [in their hands], and they (Yisrael) destroyed them and their cities; and they called the name of the place 'Chormah'." (Bamidbar: 21; 1-3)

It seems as if times are repeating themselves. Our enemy saw that we had a weak spot - the death of Aharon
- they then kidnapped someone from the Israelite camp. Though masquerading as Canaanites, the enemy was actually from the nation of Amalek - the arch-enemy of HaShem and the Jewish People. (Actions often indicate whether one is a member of that cursed-nation. One who attacks someone who is innocent and unable to defend themselves may very well be a member of Amalek. That "Canaanite" nation which was really 'Amalek' decided to take a captive.) Today, the people who call themselves "Palestinians" and took Gilad captive may also be part of Amalek.

RaSH"I: "And the Canaanite heard: 'He heard that Aharon had died and the Clouds of Glory had left [and they thought they had been given permission to fight against Yisrael] (Rosh HaShanah, 3a), and Amalek is always a 'strap of rebellion' toward the Jews, prepared at all times for suffering .'" (Tanchuma, 18)

"Dwellers of the Negev": 'This is Amalek, as it says (Bamidbar: 13; 29) "Amalek dwells in the land of the Negev", and he (Amalek) changed his language to speak the language of Canaan, in order that the Israelites would [mistakenly] pray to the Holy One Blessed is He to have the Canaanites (rather than the Amalekites) delivered into their hands, [as] they are not Canaanites. The Jews saw that their clothing resembled the clothing of Amalek [while] their language was that of Canaan. The Jews [then] said, 'let us pray in general', as it says, "If You Shall surely give this nation into my hand..." (Yalkut Shimoni)

The RaMBa"N notes that our Sages explain, either a small number of people were taken captive from the Jewish camp, or a non-Jewish maidservant was taken captive. The people prayed to HaShem to save the captive(s) and the captive(s) were rescued. Furthermore, after rescuing the captives, the Israelite nation was completely intact, not lacking any person. The Canaanite king did not have a chance to kill the captive. RaMBa"N explains that the enemies of the Jews are only able to be victorious over the Jews as a result of a sin committed by the Jewish People. As no national sin preceded the taking of captives by Amalek, why is it that Amalek had the ability to attack and take captive(s) from the Israelite camp?

Furthermore, HaShem set up the whole situation so that the nation that took the captive from the Jews would be destroyed and their cities consecrated to HaShem. Why? One reason is because that nation (Amalek) did not fe
ar HaShem.


1) The nation of Israel sins by complaining about the lack of water and not having sufficient emuna (belief) in HaShem.

2) HaShem Commands both Moshe and Aharon (Bamidbar: 20; 7-11) to speak to the rock in order to get the waters to flow out of the rock for the Jewish People. After not finding the right rock immediately and under pressure from the nation for water, Moshe and Aharon do not talk to the rock, rather Moshe strikes it. An opportunity to sanctify HaShem's Name is lost and the Command of HaShem is not followed properly. (This sin led to HaShem's Judgment that Aharon and Moshe would die in the desert, not crossing into the Land of Israel).

3) Aharon died, the Clouds of Glory, which HaShem sent to protect the Jews, depart.

4) The King of Arad sees the loss of the Clouds of Glory as a sign that the Jews could be attacked and takes a captive maidservant (or a few captives).

5) The Israelites pray to HaShem to deliver "this nation" into our hands.

6) The "Canaanite" (Amalekite) nation, under the king of Arad, is delivered into the hands of the Israelites - completely wiped out, their cities consecrated to HaShem.

7) The captive(s) were rescued, with no Israelite death.


1) It is too hard to point to any overiding sin. However, the desire by many to give away Eretz Yisrael (which is forbidden according to Halacha), constitutes a sin which very well could have led to the current situation relating to Gaza. Click on the link above to see a news story about a letter sent to President Bush and signed by 1,200 Orthodox rabbis which states that Jewish law opposes transfer of Jewish land in the Land of Israel to others. (see below - The Torah on Diplomacy)

Relationship to the past: The sin of giving away the Land of Israel by making pacts with other nations could have led to great losses for the Jewish People, including the loss of three Torah leaders within one week of each other.
RaSh"I and Ohr HaChaim note that the death of Aharon is related to the Jewish negotiation with the Edomites. In fact, Ohr HaChaim notes that Aharon may have lived a little while longer had the Israelites not approached Edom to negotiate. If negotiation with other nations (even to pass through their land - such as with Edom) led to the loss of Aharon, the Kohen Gadol, how much more can treaties with nations to give away the Land of Israel lead to the untimely deaths of Torah leaders, Heaven Forbid.

3) The Kidnapping of Gilad ben Aviva, the prayers, and the invasion may mirror the kidnapping, prayers, and Israelite invasion of the king of Arad.

4) May we be meritorious to see Gilad ben Aviva's safe return and the safe return of all of our troops, just as the captives were rescued in the time of Moshe!


The world and many of its leaders would have one believe that diplomacy is the key to success in (at least) virtually all conflicts - at least when it comes to Israel. The G8 and Rice "urge restraint" on Israel's part, in order to let "diplomacy" proceed and secure the release of the Israeli soldier.

Well, is diplomacy the best path to peace according to the Torah? Is "less military action" the path to peace?

Immediately prior to Aharon's death, the Jewish People approached the people of Edom to make a deal with Edom, allowing the to take a short-cut through the Land of Edom to get to Eretz Yisrael. According to RaSh"I and Ohr HaChaim, Aharon died earlier as a result of the attempt by the Jews to approach Edom for peace. (Bamidbar: 20; 23)

RaSh"I: "Because they (the Jewish People) joined together over here to come close to the wicked Eisav, their actions became breached (i.e. they declined spiritually) and they lost this righteous one (Aharon). Similarly, the prophet (Eliezer ben Dodavah) said [to King Yehoshafhat of Judah]: 'When you joined with Achaziyahu, HaShem has caused a breach in your undertakings'. (Divrei HaYomim II: 20; 37) This passage discusses the military alliance between the righteous King of Judah and the wicked King of Israel - the result was a loss to the King of Judah "a breach in" his undertakings.
RaSh"I holds that "diplomacy" should be avoided between the Jewish People and outside nations (as well as any other power that can have a negative effect on the Jewish People).

Ohr HaChaim: The verse notes that Aharon died on the border of the Land of Edom, to teach that the diplomatic relations between Israel and Edom led to the death of Aharon. Ohr HaChaim says that Aharon may have lived more days had the Jewish People not approached Edom.

The RaMBa"M writes that the Torah prohibition of "not making a treaty" and "not allowing [other nations] to dwell in [the Land of Israel]" (Shmos: 23; 31-33) apply to foreign nations that worship idolatry. Many of those (who are not Jewish) that dwell in Israel now, according to the RaMBa"M, belong to a religion that is monotheistic but resemble idolatry in a few significant ways. (Hilchos Avodah Zara: 10; 1 and "Mikitzei Nirdamim" - 269) It is forbidden to allow one who is not a member of Bnei Yisrael to live in Eretz Yisrael unless they agree to follow the Seven Noahide Laws - one of which is the prohibition against murder. Israel's current enemies are strongly against that prohibition and therefore have no place in the land. (Hilchos Melachim: 6; 1) The Torah (Shmos: 23; 33) instructs us not to make "peace" with these people as associating with them would lead us to sin.

The RaMBa"M discusses the prohibition of selling land and giving dwelling places in the Land of Israel. (Avodas Cochavim: 10; 1)

From what we have learned, the Torah does not advocate "diplomacy" as the means for success, rather, diplomacy is generally to be avoided, especially when it comes to giving away part of the Land of Israel. During certain situations the Torah recommends military action and, of course, prayer to HaShem.


In the haftorah for Parshas Chukas (Shoftim, 11), we read of a military offensive, under the leadership of Yiftach the Giladi. The nation of Ammon claimed that the Jews got Israel illegitimately (sound's like today) and they arrayed for war against the Jews. Yiftach was appointed as the head of the army and Jewish leader to take on Ammon. Immediately, Yiftach sent messengers to Ammon to explain why the Jews legitimately had Eretz Yisrael. Ammon did not listen to the explanation and did not back off from their war plans. Whereupon, Yiftach led a decisive victory against the people of Ammon.

In the beginning of the haftorah, we read ויפתח הגלעדי - "and Yiftach the Giladi". I view these words as a prayer, the word "Yiftach" can be translated as "He will open (or release)" the next word "Giladi" includes the name Gilad - the soldier taken captive - surrounded by ה and י, which spell the Holy Name of HaShem. May HaShem Free Gilad! Amen! Furthermore, the gematria (numerical value) of גלעד + אביבה (Gilad + Aviva) = 127, the value of "פה יזכּה" - "mouth will merit" - May our mouths merit to play a vital role in helping free Gilad ben Aviva, safe and in the very near future! Amen!

To conclude, we read in the haftorah of Parshas Eikev:

פסוק כד) היקח מגבור, מלקוח; ואם שבי צדיק, ימלט. [ס]
(פסוק כה) כי כה אמר י-ה-ו-ה, גם שבי גבור יקח, ומלקוח עריץ, ימלט; ואת יריבך אנכי אריב, ואת בניך אנכי אושיע.
(פסוק כו) והאכלתי את מוניך את בשרם, וכעסיס דמם ישכרון; וידעו כל בשר, כי אני י-ה-ו-ה מושיעך, וגאלך, אביר יעקב.

"Yet thus said HaShem: Even the captive of a warrior can be retrieved, and the booty of fierce men can escape; I Myself will take up your cause, and I Myself will save your children. And I will feed your tormentors their own flesh, and they will become drunk on their own blood as on sweet wine; then all flesh will know that I am HaShem, your Savior and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." (Yishayahu 49 - Artscroll translation)


Above: "Ha'Kol kol Ya'akov v'ha'yadayim yidei esav" - "The voice is the voice of Jacob and the hands are the hands of Esav" - The tanks (foreground) are the "hands of Esav" - the weaponry needed on the physical end - the man praying (background) - "the voice of Jacob" - the special "weapons" uniquely powerful to the Jews is prayer. Though the man praying may seem to be in the "background", he is really in the foreground - "HaShem Yilachem Lachem v'atem tacharishun" - Prayer helps that HaShem, The Undefeatable, fights on our side.

PLEASE PRAY FOR GILAD BEN AVIVA, SAY PEREK SHIRAH IN THE MERIT OF HIS SAFE, SPEEDY RELEASE. FOR FURTHER SUGGESTIONS AS TO WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP HIM, CLICK HERE. (Note: As "Perek Shirah" has G-d's Holy Name, if you print it out, never dispose of it, rather, if you feel it necessary, place it in a geniza - place for holy items, see "click here".)


Post a Comment

<< Home