Shabbos Parshas Pinchos – July 11, 2020 – 19 Tammuz 5780

The Three Weeks – Very Zionistic Period

Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)

Herzl’s Repentance

Admor Dovid Morgenstern – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)

Ze’ev Jabotinsky – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Shabbos Day July 11, 2020:

I spoke today before Krias hatorah and the following is my speech:

On Thursday was the fast of the 17th of Tammuz and the beginning of the three weeks, which are times of great sadness in the Jewish calendar when the two Temples were destroyed.  It is a time that we talk about Moshiach.  Even the Chicago Community Kollel this year had an article about Moshiach.   All the years I worked these were not easy weeks.  Even though I did try to minimize the feelings of depression to do my job, I still felt the weight of Jewish history on my shoulders.  Once my associate presented a loan for Frum people on Tisha B’av and I thought about how when the customer is fasting, his loan is being presented for approval.   

At the same time it is a time of great hope that the Jews will overcome all hardships and Moshiach will come.  We have come very far as Jews being privileged to have the State of Israel and as for myself, living in America.  However, the journey is not yet over.   This period of time a very Zionistic.  

There are three Yahrzeits of great people in the Zionistic movement during the three weeks.

  • Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)
  • Admor Dovid Morgenstern Yahrzeit – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)
  • Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Yahrzeit – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Hertzl’s Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 1904 (July 12, 2020)

Binyomin Zev Ben Yaakov, known as Theodore Herzl, died at only 44 years old during his struggle to get the Jews out of Europe and establish a country in Eretz Yisroel.  I have said in the past that the Imrei Emes who in 1903 criticised Herzl and the movement back to Israel is now learning B’Chavrusa with Herzl.

What was Theodore Herzl’s repentance? 

Early on Theodore Herzl proposed to the Archbishop of Vienna a mass conversion to Christianity of Jewish children.  Herzl was laughed out of the church.

Fast forward about 15 years later to early 1904.  Herzl’s dream of establishing a State in Israel was not going well.  His friend, Count Lippay, got him an audience with the pope. Pius X at the Vatican.  Herzl had wanted an audience with the pope for years to request the Church’s help in settling the Jews in Eretz Yisroel.   Herzl was told by his friend that protocol is to kiss the Pope’s hand.  Herzl refuses to kiss the Pope’s hand.  Despite Herzl’s fight to establish a Jewish state in Israel, he refused to humble himself in such a way to the pope. The pope would never have agreed to help Herzl and the Jewish people even with the kissing of his hand.  Herzl stood as a proud Jew, aware of his  role representing a proud and noble people, and that he is an equal to the pope.  He represents a proud people, entitled to live freely and openly as Jews.  Wow.  Similar to Mordechai who refused to bow to Haman.

This was Herzl’s repentance.  Years earlier, Herzl thought the answer to the “Jewish problem” was mass conversion.  Herzl changed, he understood the holiness of the Jewish people.  Despite the major roadblocks and seeing his dream of Israel in his lifetime fading, Herzl refuses to kiss the pope’s hand.  As you read the below, Count Lippay who got Herzl the audience with the pope, said to Herzl to impress the pope, reminded Herzl, Herzl himself said he wanted to kiss the pope’s foot.  

Throughout Herzl’s writing he writes about the  specialness of Jewish people.

At the end of his audience with the pope, Herzl writes, “ Then I realized that the Pope liked this sort of thing. But on parting, too, all I did was to give him a warm hand-squeeze and a low bow.”

I have copied a little background and text from Herzl’s diary at the end of this speech.  

Admor Dovid Morgenstern – 22 Tammuz  1873 (July 14, 2020)

Admor Dovid Morgenstern was the son of the Kotzker Rebbe. He was my grandfather’s great grandfather.  He is second generation and I am seventh.   Admor Dovid Morgenstern was a Bocher and a Chosid of the Rebbe, Reb Bunim of Peshischa.  His Chasuna was on the day Reb Bunim of Peshischa passed away.   He was more of a calmer nature than his father, the Kotzker.    It is tragic that he nor his father wrote anything down, so the world does not have a legacy of his Torah.   His legacy is the Torah of his children.      Bourch Gutter put out a Sefer on Admor Dovid called Ahavas Dovid, however, there are few first person stories or life stories. 

In the Sefer Bais Kotzk from Yehuda Leib Levin, there are eleven pages on Admor Dovid Morgenstern.  After the Kotzker’s passing in 1859, most of the Chasidium became aligned with the RIM, the first Gerrer Rebbe.  There is little known about Admor Dovid  Morgenstern.    I read page 282 in Yehuda Levin’s Bais Kotzk, which is a story when Admor Dovid’s nephew, Reb Yechiel Moshe Greenwald, came to visit his uncle.  Rabbi Yechiel Moshe Greenwald is the sole source of stories about Admor Dovid Morgenstern.  He lived until around 1920 and remarried into his 80’s.   He has a grandson in Toronto.  Reb Yehcial Moshe has family living in Chicago.  

Page 282  says the Admor Rabbi Dovid did not push away any man.  He was willing to purify sinners from their sin, and to cleanse their body.  He could not tolerate people with false piety and arrogance.   

What was Admor Dovid Morgenstern’s Zionism.  As I spoke out the last three weeks, the essence of Kotzk was Ahavas Yisroel.  Admor Dovid’s son, Reb Chaim Yisroel Morgenstern, known as the Pilaver Rebbe, in 1885 wrote a Sefer Shalom Yerushalayim that it is time for the Jews to go back to Israel.  I read the first Chapter a number of times.  Around the 5th time, I read it with Ahavas Yisroel and it was a different Chapter.   This to me is one of the unknown legacies of the Kotzker Rebbe and his son Admor Dovid Morgenstern.

Pages from Bais Kotzk.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky – 29 Tammuz 1940 (July 21, 2020)

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, despite being born into an assimilated family in Odessa, Russia, became entwined with the Jewish people and his legacy continues to benefit the Jewish people.   He was born and not given a Jewish name, and later in life took on a jewish name.   He was a prophet and in the 1930s saw the holocaust coming.  He worked tirelessly to aswaken the Jews about the nazi threat.  My friend Eliykum Schwartz told me that despite not being Frum, when he travelled throughout Europe. insisted on Kosher food, as he understood that he represented the Jewish people. His great student was Menachem Begin.

I met Rabbi Naphtali Jaeger of Shaarei Yoshuv, in Far Rockaway, New York.  He told me that his father was from Alkush in Poland.  I said, wow, the first position of the Sochachover Rebbe in the 1860s was Alkush.  I asked Rabbi Jaeger when did his father leave Europe,  Upon hearing that it was in the early 1930s, I asked why did your father leave Europe?   He answered that his father heard Ze’ev Jabotinsky speak, came home, and said we are leaving Europe.   He took Jabotinsky’s words to heart.

THEODOR HERZL: Audience with Pope Pius X (1904)

 

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On January 26, 1904, Theodor Herzl had an audience with Pope Pius X in the Vatican to seek his support for the Zionist effort to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.  He recorded his account of the meeting in his diary. Source: Raphael Patai, The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, translated by Harry Zohn (New York/London: Herzl Press, Thomas Yoseloff, 1960), 1601-1605.  The “Lippay” to whom he refers is Count Berthold Dominik Lippay, an Austrian papal portraitist, whom Herzl had met in Venice and who had arranged the audience with the pope.

Yesterday I was with the Pope. The route was already familiar since I had traversed it with Lippay several times.

Past the Swiss lackeys, who looked like clerics, and clerics who looked like lackeys, the Papal officers and chamberlains.

I arrived 10 minutes ahead of time and didn’t even have to wait.

I was conducted through numerous small reception rooms to the Pope.

He received me standing and held out his hand, which I did not kiss.

Lippay had told me I had to do it, but I didn’t.

I believe that I incurred his displeasure by this, for everyone who visits him kneels down and at least kisses his hand.

This hand kiss had caused me a lot of worry. I was quite glad when it was finally out of the way.

He seated himself in an armchair, a throne for minor occasions. Then he invited me to sit down right next to him and smiled in friendly anticipation.

I began:

Ringrazio Vostra Santità per il favore di m’aver accordato quest’udienza” [I thank Your Holiness for the favor of according me this audience].”

È un piacere [It is a pleasure],” he said with kindly deprecation.

I apologized for my miserable Italian, but he said:

No, parla molto bene, signor Commendatore [No, Commander, you speak very well].”

For I had put on for the first time—on Lippay’s advice—my Mejidiye ribbon. Consequently the Pope always addressed me as Commendatore.

He is a good, coarse-grained village priest, to whom Christianity has remained a living thing even in the Vatican.

I briefly placed my request before him. He, however, possibly annoyed by my refusal to kiss his hand, answered sternly and resolutely:

Noi non possiamo favorire questo movimento. Non potremo impedire gli Ebrei di andare a Gerusalemme—ma favorire non possiamo mai. La terra di Gerusalemme se non era sempre santa, è santificata per la vita di Jesu Christo (he did not pronounce it Gesu, but Yesu, in the Venetian fashion). Io come capo della chiesa non posso dirle altra cosa. Gli Ebrei non hanno riconosciuto nostro Signore, perciò non possiamo riconoscere il popolo ebreo [We cannot give approval to this movement. We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem—but we could never sanction it. The soil of Jerusalem, if it was not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church I cannot tell you anything different. The Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore we cannot recognize the Jewish people].”

Hence the conflict between Rome, represented by him, and Jerusalem, represented by me, was once again opened up.

At the outset, to be sure, I tried to be conciliatory. I recited my little piece about extraterritorialization, res sacrae extra commercium [holy places removed from business]. It didn’t make much of an impression. Gerusalemme, he said, must not get into the hands of the Jews.

“And its present status, Holy Father?”

“I know, it is not pleasant to see the Turks in possession of our Holy Places. We simply have to put up with that. But to support the Jews in the acquisition of the Holy Places, that we cannot do.”

I said that our point of departure had been solely the distress of the Jews and that we desired to avoid the religious issues.

“Yes, but we, and I as the head of the Church, cannot do this. There are two possibilities. Either the Jews will cling to their faith and continue to await the Messiah who, for us, has already appeared. In that case they will be denying the divinity of Jesus and we cannot help them. Or else they will go there without any religion, and then we can be even less favorable to them.

“The Jewish religion was the foundation of our own; but it was superseded by the teachings of Christ, and we cannot concede it any further validity. The Jews, who ought to have been the first to acknowledge Jesus Christ, have not done so to this day.”

It was on the tip of my tongue to say, “That’s what happens in every family. No one believes in his own relatives.” But I said instead: “Terror and persecution may not have been the right means for enlightening the Jews.”

But he rejoined, and this time he was magnificent in his simplicity:

“Our Lord came without power. Era povero [He was poor]. He came in pace [in peace]. He persecuted no one. He was persecuted.

He was abbandonato [forsaken] even by his apostles. Only later did he grow in stature. It took three centuries for the Church to evolve. The Jews therefore had time to acknowledge his divinity without any pressure. But they haven’t done so to this day.”

“But, Holy Father, the Jews are in terrible straits. I don’t know if Your Holiness is acquainted with the full extent of this sad situation. We need a land for these persecuted people.”

“Does it have to be Gerusalemme?”

“We are not asking for Jerusalem, but for Palestine—only the secular land.”

“We cannot be in favor of it.”

“Does Your Holiness know the situation of the Jews?”

“Yes, from my Mantua days. Jews live there. And I have always been on good terms with Jews. Only the other evening two Jews were here to see me. After all, there are other bonds than those of religion: courtesy and philanthropy. These we do not deny to the Jews. Indeed, we also pray for them: that their minds be enlightened. This very day the Church is celebrating the feast of an unbeliever who, on the road to Damascus, became miraculously converted to the true faith. And so, if you come to Palestine and settle your people there, we shall have churches and priests ready to baptize all of you.”

Count Lippay had had himself announced. The Pope permitted him to enter. The Count kneeled, kissed his hand, then joined in the conversation by telling of our “miraculous” meeting in Bauer’s Beer Hall in Venice. The miracle was that he had originally planned to spend the night in Padua. As it happened, I had expressed the wish to be allowed to kiss the Holy Father’s foot.

At this the Pope made une tête [a long face], for I hadn’t even kissed his hand. Lippay went on to say that I had expressed myself appreciatively on Jesus Christ’s noble qualities. The Pope listened, now and then took a pinch of snuff, and sneezed into a big red cotton handkerchief. Actually, these peasant touches are what I like best about him and what compels my respect.

In this way Lippay wanted to account for his introducing me, perhaps to excuse it. But the Pope said: “On the contrary, I am glad you brought me the Signor Commendatore.”

As to the real business, he repeated what he had told me: Non possumus [We can’t]!

Until he dismissed us Lippay spent some time kneeling before him and couldn’t seem to get his fill of kissing his hand. Then I realized that the Pope liked this sort of thing. But on parting, too, all I did was to give him a warm hand-squeeze and a low bow.

Duration of the audience: about 25 minutes.

In the Raphael stanze [rooms], where I spent the next hour, I saw a picture of an Emperor kneeling to let a seated Pope put the crown on his head.

That’s the way Rome wants it.

Parshas Eikev

The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism

This morning September 6, 2014, I saw my friend Hart Hasten in Shul. I mentioned to him that I was reading the book, The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism, written by Conor O’Brien, an Irish diplomat. Hart Hasten mentioned that he brought in Conor O’Brien years ago to speak and that Conor O’Brien gave him a number of autographed copies of the book. I have to post the following essay I sent to Yair Hoffman on Parshas Eikev.

Yair:

I read your Parsha Sheet on Eikav.

Shabbos morning I continued my reading of Conor O’Brien’s book titled, “The Siege, The Story of Israel and Zionism”.  It is clear that the Jews were being kicked out of Europe.  It started in 1881 with the Tzar’s decrees and pogroms.    I have written about this on my blog.

How should the Jews have reacted in 1881 moving forward?   Per Amos Elon, the Sfes Emes in 1903 said in response to Herzl that Mosiach can only come through miraculous means, clearly rejecting Herzl and by doing so rejects the Gra’s approach, the Besht, Reb Tzvi Hersh Kalisher, and my Zedi, the Pilaver Rebbe.  Yes – the Gra believed that Moshiach could come via natural means, worked towards bringing Messiach, and sent his students to Israel to start the process.  All these great leaders felt the Moshiach can arrive and probably will come through natural means.   At the time of  Ezra the Jews returned back to Israel by natural means and built the second Temple.  Despite the chance to go back to Israel, a majority of Jews decided to stay in Babylonia, and of the Jews who went to Israel many had non-Jewish wives.  We did have Ezra, who was a prophet.

It is easy to say, do Tshuva, and everything will be okay.  It is easy for right -wing Orthodoxy to say blame the Jews for their own misfortune, after all they are sinners.  This is the standard response of right-wing Orthodox Judaism; however, life is messy and complicated.   The Jews of the Pale of Settlement were basically Frum, yet the Czar went after them with cruel abandon.  We do not know Hashem’s considerations.

After reading some more of The Siege, I had to read through Eikav before going to Shul to find insight.  I did not have any time to read through the Rishonim.  I did not have the Sefer Menachem Tzion from Rabbi Menachem B. Sachs, son-in-law of Reb Tzvi Pesach Frank, for a Zionistic vort on the Sedra.   No insight.   Based on the Sedra, it would appear questionable as to how the Jews merited entering the land of  Israel, the first and second Temples due to their apparent sins.  A generation or two after entering Israel, some Jews worshipped idols.  Moshe Rabbinu’s own grandson was a priest to idol worshippers.

Perhaps the insight is that the Jews are not perfect because life is complicated and messy.  We do not know the ways of Hashem. Perhaps we have to be positive, optimistic, and look at everyone with eyes of Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Kook.  We have to look at life with the approach of Amcha Kulum Kedoshim – your entire Nation is Holy.   We have to be Lubavitch in America. Clearly the Jews were being kicked out of Europe. Perhaps this is what was missed.

Binyomin Zev (Theodore) Herzl


Yahrzeit – 20 Tammuz 5664 (1904)

May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904

This past Friday was the 110th Yahrzeit of Binyomin Zev – Theodore Herzl.    I did not know about Herzl’s Yahrzeit until Elykum Schwartz told me this past Shabbos.  I saw in Amos Elon’s book, Herzl, that in 1903 the Sefas Emes came out against Herzl and said the Messiah and settlement of Israel can only come from a miraculous event, not through natural means.  The Sefas Emes’s own cousin and the Vilna Goan did not agree with the Sefas Emes.  The Gra attempted to go to Israel and later sent his students to Israel over 100 years earlier in order to settle the land of Israel to bring the Messiah.  I would like to think that in the heavens the Sefas Emes taught Herzl Torah and that they are now learning together.

I just saw this picture in the July 3rd Jerusalem Post magazine.  This is the salon of Edmund James de Rothschild.

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As I look this picture, I see Theodore Herzl sitting at the table talking, cajoling, debating Edmund James de Rothschild about Herzl’s grand idea to buy the land of Israel from the Sultan of the Ottoman-Turkish empire.    Edmund James de Rothschild was the fifth wealthy Jewish individual Herzl approached to secure funding to buy Israel.  The previous four had not committed at all to Herzl.  Per Amos Elon each one of the five individuals, individually, had enough  money to buy the land of Israel from the Sultan.  Herzl thought that Edmund James de Rothschild would be most sympathetic because Rothschild, known as Hanadiv (“The Benefactor”) was engaged in philanthropy and settlement of Israel.  However, Herzl did not get the firm commitment from  Rothschild.  He got a lukewarm response to the effect bring me something of substance and I will consider it.  Herzl was forced to negotiate with the Sultan as a poker player.  Herzl had to make the Sultan believe that he (Herzl) had the financial backing to purchase the land of Israel, when he in no way had any money backing his grand idea to save world Jewry.

Tragic indeed.