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“Louder!”

  • Parshas Ki Tetze - Rabbi Yossi Goldman
One section stands out from the rest in this week’s Parsha. It is known as the Tochecho, or The Rebuke. In it, we read a litany of disasters that will befall our people should we turn our backs on G-d and abandon His way of life.
by Rabbi Yossy Goldman, Sydenham Shul | May 10, 2018

The tradition is that the Baal Koreh (Torah Reader) himself, without being called up, takes this aliya – and when he reaches the relevant section, he lowers his voice to soften the blow of these terrible curses.

For 24 years, I produced and hosted South Africa’s only Jewish radio show, The Jewish Sound. Once, my guest on the air was Rabbi Shlomo Riskin from Efrat, Israel. He told the story that as a child growing up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, one Shabbos he went to daven in the shul of the Rebbe of Klausenberg. Originally from Hungary, the Rebbe was a spiritual giant of a man who had lost 11 children in the Holocaust and never sat shiva because he was preoccupied with saving as many lives as he possibly could. After the war, he settled in America and developed a large following. Subsequently, he relocated to Israel and among other things, set up the Laniado Hospital in Netanya.

That Shabbos, The Rebuke was being read. When it came to the part of the curses, the Reader did what he always did. He lowered his voice and read in a softer tone. Suddenly, the Rebbe shouted in Yiddish: “Hecher!” (“Louder!”).

The Reader was confused. He was simply following the tradition of generations. Perhaps he was not hearing right, so he continued reading in the softer tone. “Hecher, louder!” thundered the Klausenberger Rebbe. “Let the Almighty hear what is being read! All the curses have already been fulfilled. Now there must be only blessings for our people.”

Many of our Sages have described the Holocaust as the birth pangs of Moshiach and the ultimate redemption. Never will there be a repeat of such calamities.

We have endured more than enough of exile, wanderings, pogroms and persecutions. The curses, in all their tragic, cataclysmic imagery have actually materialised. Now there must be only goodness, happiness, warmth and blessing for Am Yisrael.

At the end of The Rebuke, G-d says: “And I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember, and I will remember the Land.”

Not only will the Almighty remember us, the Jewish people, He will also remember His Holy Land, our Land of Israel.

Perhaps we might interpret this as a message to the anti-Semites of the world, who hide behind their anti-Zionist or anti-Israel rantings and ravings.

“I will remember the Land” – a message also to the nations of the world who claim to be our friends, the shrewd manipulators who are experts at political backstabbing in Washington and Brussels.

“I will remember the Land” – a message to our own Jewish fantasisers, who would undermine their own brothers with their hopeless attempts at appeasing mortal enemies.

To all of them the G-d of Israel says: “I will remember the Land. I will never forsake My land or My people.”

Remember.

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