By Rabbi Meir Kahane, Zt”l

“Four things does the Almighty regret having made: Exile, the Chaldeans (Babylon – modern day Iraq), the Ishmaelite and the Evil Inclination.” (Tractate Sukkot 52b)

It is obvious why the Almighty regrets having created the Chaldeans who burned the Holy Temple. It is more than obvious why he regrets having made the Ishmaelites …

And, of course, since man’s sins stem from Evil Inclination within him, that is also an obvious reason for regret. But why does the Almighty regret having made the Exile?

After all, the Exile is a punishment for Jewish sins. And having, indeed, created the Evil Inclination and the enemies who drive Jews out of their land, the Exile remains a logical punishment for the Jewish people.

The reason is, clearly, that far from chastening the Jew and bringing him to repentance, the Exile made things much worse. It did nothing less than corrupt and pervert the purity and truth of Torah, creating instead various counterfeits of “Judaism” and “Jewishness.”

From the original, Divine concept of the Jew, there have arisen two essentially fraudulent concepts, one calling itself “religion” and the other “nationalism.”

The Talmud states (Brachot 48b): “He who did not say, ‘A land that is pleasant, good and broad’ in the prayer for the land (in Grace after Meals), or ‘The Kingdom of the House of David’ in prayer “Builder of Jerusalem” (ibid.) did not fulfill his obligation.

Nahum the Elder says: He must also mention the Covenant. Rabbi Yose says: He must also mention the Torah …”

And in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 187:3): If the prayer for the land, he did not mention the Covenant and Torah, though, he only failed to mention one of them, he must go back (and repeat the blessing).”

What is the Jew? Thanks to the Exile, we have lost sense of the original, authentic, Divinely ordained and ordered concept of what is a Jew. On the one hand, there are those who have rejected the authority, let alone the Divinity, of Torah and mitzvot. For them, the Jew is a “people”, a “nation”. On the other hand, thanks to the destructive nature of the Exile, and because events cut the Jew off from his land and from national existence, other Jews- who clove unto the Torah and the mitzvot – made Judaism into a “religion.” Both are cripples, one limping on the foot of “nationalism” and the other on the foot of “religion.”

But the Jew is not a cripple. G-d made him with two legs, and the authentic healthy Jew walks on both of them. The Jew is neither mere “nation,” nor a “religion,’ But rather a religio-nation, a holy people. The Jew is a nation and a people with ties to a specific land but which was chosen to be special and holy and cleaving unto G-d’s Law and mitzvot. That is what the Jew is and that is what has been changed and warped, due to the Exile.

That is what the Talmud tells us when it decrees a blessing over the land, a thing that ordains nation and land, and then insists that one must include in it the Covenant and Torah. One who skips the blessing over the land has surely not fulfilled his obligation. But one who says the blessing over the land and does not mention Torah or the Covenant, fails just as much in his obligation.

One looks about the camp of Jewishness – the “nationalists” and the ‘religious” and sees why the Almighty regrets having made the Exile. It is the Exile and its immutable influence on the Jew within it, that corrupted and counterfeited authentic Judaism and Jewishness. It has created warped and false concepts of Judaism that the Almighty never created and wholly rejects. The land, the nation, Torah.

That is what the Jew blesses. That is the uncrippled Jewishness and Judaism.

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