by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman
Seven - eleven. Seven is the holy number marking the dawn of creation. Eleven is the number heralding the final redemption, when we will see in each other our deepest connection. The number eleven is the number of brotherly unity, the same brothers who begged Yosef for forgiveness in unity as one heart. The Great Shabbos is coming soon when the heart of all Israel and all the world shall beat as one.
The modern day scourge of terror debuted most strikingly with the murder of the eleven Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich. And it reached its most recent crescendo with the terror attacks of September the eleventh. The number eleven is thus forever linked to the challenge facing redemption.
Even Yosef found himself challenged by the number eleven in his dreams. He found himself stuffed in a pit and sold into slavery over the number eleven! But not only is the number eleven telling. Most striking is its special spelling: Ayin, Shin, Taf and Yud- AShTeY(eleven in Hebrew is usually either achad asar or achat esreh, not ashtei asar). How strange. And how compelling.
This conceivably alludes to the territorial challenge which Israel faces today, especially in view of the territorially themed context of the parsha. Mirroring the lexicon of modern Israel's alphabet politics, Ayin stands for Aza (Gaza). Shin stands for Shomron (Samaria). Yud stands for Yehudah (Judaea). Okay. I get it.
But what does the Taf stand for? The letter Taf stands for Tel-Aviv! It represents the entirety of Israel in symbolic puzzle-board fashion. Israel's fate is thus seemingly tied inextricably to the number eleven. But Tel Aviv is a modern 20th century city! All the others go back 3,000 years! The others are our ancient roots. Tel Aviv is our modern latter day fruit, the fruit of our return.
Israel futilely offers piece by piece for the sake of peace yet another part of herself, only to be spurned, mocked and humiliated by her enemies sworn to her destruction. Every act of compromise is viewed as a sign of weakness and strengthens the hands of the radicals.
But why Tel Aviv? Why would the holy Torah in its compulsive yearning for eternal relevance deem it worthy to foreshadow seemingly UNholy Tel Aviv? Fun city. The UNJerusalem. It didn't even yet exist until the 20th century! No matter. The Divine Mind has infinite time horizons.
So why Tel Aviv? Because our enemies tell us that locale makes no difference in their goal to eradicate the Jewish presence from all of the Land of Israel, that there is no difference whether a Jew is living in Gaza or in Tel Aviv or in Judaea or in Samaria. To our enemies it is all the same. We are all settlers in their collective mind's eye.
It's all or nothing! No matter how much or how often we offer land for peace, their answer is always the same. All or nothing. How much we yearn for peace. We cut off our collective arm for peace. It makes no difference whether the Jews are in Tel Aviv or in Jerusalem. "They ALL must go," say their poets and leaders (in Arabic), "and take their dead with them." Not a trace should remain. All or nothing.
LiKhToF means to cut off (in order to carry the pole of fruit on one's shoulder -katef). We withdrew from Katif for the sake of peace. But to carry the pole properly you need a partner to carry the yearning for peace on HIS shoulders too. You can cut the load, but where is the partner to help you carry it? Neither you nor he can carry it alone. Each must grab an end.
What is compromise in the Arab mind but a decadent western import, a sign of weakness, of shame and humiliation. Ashtey Asar. Even Tel Aviv. All or nothing. Us or them, apparently. We have always been willing to seek peace, but whenever push comes to shove, peace is shoved back down the ladder. The more they say no, the deeper our roots spread in the earth. Had the Arab world accepted Israel as a Jewish state at her birth, she would possibly still be but a narrow coastal strip and a patchwork of Galilean dunams. The more they deny Israel the more Israel grows. The more Pharaoh oppressed us the stronger Israel became.
We, the Jewish People, are like the Cherokee Nation, forced from our ancestral home to march on the Trail of Tears. But we are coming back home to Georgia, to the land of our fathers. We have left the reservations. But we are finally coming home, even if they don't want us to return. Oklahoma is not Georgia. Arkansas is not Tennessee. Our tears of sorrow will one day be tears of joy. He who sows in tears will one day reap in joy.
One day, at the dawn of the eschaton, all the nations of the world will come up to the Land of Israel and ascend His holy mountain, holy Mount Zion, and sing His praises. The world which now resists and pillories Israel will one day open up her eyes and embrace her.
But that will not happen until the other meaning of Ashtei becomes manifest in reality. Not merely that the Arab world's goal remains the entire patrimony of Israel, but rather that only the unity of Israel will be the trigger for our final redemption.
Just as sinat chinam - causeless hatred, divided us and exiled us, so too its opposite, ahavat chinam- causeless love, will be the key to our redemption. For only when all our hearts will beat as one and when we see each other and all people as true brothers of the same father in heaven will we be really worthy of salvation.
The secular resident of Tel Aviv and the religious resident of Yerushalayim will see each other as brothers and not as enemies. The heart has two ventricles. The heart of Israel also has two ventricles: the secular ventricle and the religious ventricle. One says I can bring redemption without G*d's help. The other says no matter how hard it seems, if I at least do my share to start the process, I know G*d will finish it for me.
Until we each see each other as brothers, and even see our enemies as children of the same father in Heaven, true redemption will always elude us. But they must also see us as their brothers. It takes two to carry the pole for peace. Short pole. Short peace. The longer the pole the longer the peace.
Seven - eleven. Seven is the holy number marking the dawn of creation. Eleven is the number heralding the final redemption, when we will see in each other our deepest connection. The number eleven is the number of brotherly unity, the same brothers who begged Yosef for forgiveness in unity as one heart. The Great Shabbos is coming soon when the heart of all Israel and all the world shall beat as one. When the towers fell on nine eleven it was in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day. They will only be finally rebuilt in their truest sense when see all humanity as one unified spark of the Divine emanation.
© 1999-2009 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman
This Torah was written in honor of the memory of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm,Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Yaakov Hakohen Melman, z"l.
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