Teves And Saddam
BY RAV ARYEHZ. GINZBERG
CHOFETZ CHAIM TORAH CENTER
Timing is everything. As Torah Jews, we accept certain beliefs of ours as the ultimate truth. One of these is that everything that happens in the world happens for Klal Yisrael—“ha’kol bishvil Yisrael.” Another truth is that every-thing that happens is all for the good of Klal Yisrael—“kol d’avad Shemaya, le’tav avad.” While at times it’s hard to see the “good,” especially in painful times, we know and believe in the depths of our collective neshamos that it is truly and completely good (and we will surely one day soon merit to finally understand all these painful events).
What is not that well known is that everything that happens to Klal Yisrael, for the good of Klal Yisrael, happens at a specific moment in time that also has great significance for us. A prominent example of just such timing is the selection of the month of Adar by the evil Haman to carry out his plan for the “final solution” of Klal Yisrael. But the choice of Adar, a significant month for the good mazal of Klal Yisrael, actually worked against him and helped turn around his plan “from yagon to simcha.”
The hanging several days ago of Saddam Hussein, a decades-old enemy of Klal Yisrael, was not only an event of great significance, but its very timing was significant, as well.
We should never forget even for a moment the depth of this rasha’s hatred for Klal Yisrael. Recall the raining down of Scud missiles on Eretz Yisrael more than a decade ago during the first Gulf War and the terrible fear that every Jew in Eretz Yisrael lived with day in and day out for weeks at end. Then there was the reward of $20,000 paid to every family of a suicide bomber after their murderous acts were performed, as an incentive for others to follow. The largest construction project for a new mosque built in one of the Arab villages in years was financed by this rasha as a reward for their having provided the most suicide bombers from one town (yemach shemam).
And so while we can take a deep sigh of relief (at least for the moment) at his death, it is important for us to focus briefly on the timing of his death. The Ramban writes that we can learn more about HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s plans for Klal Yisrael from the timing of events than from the events themselves.
My son Dovid Simcha came home on Asarah B’Teves, a day when Klal Yisrael remembers the day when a siege was laid upon the Beis HaMikdash by Nevuchadnetzar’s army, which finally destroyed the Beis HaMikdash three and a half years later, on Tishah B’Av.
This rasha, Saddam Hussein, made the very arrogant and frightful claim years ago that he is a reincarnation of his ancestor Nevuchadnetzar and will complete the job of removing Klal Yisrael from the face of the earth. How from yeshiva on Asarah B’Teves and shared with us an insight from his wonderful rebbi (Rav Shimon Finkelman), the sixth-grade rebbi at the wonderful Yeshiva Darchei Torah. The rebbi commented on the timing of Saddam’s burial befitting to have his burial on the very day that we remember the evil of his infamous ancestor of more than two thousand years ago!
Allow me to share an insight of my own. The actual day of Saddam’s hanging was an auspicious day, as well, for Klal Yisrael. The pre-dawn hanging took place on the day of the Jewish calendar known as tes Teves, the ninth day of Teves. The Mishnah in Maseches Ta‘anis mentions three consecutive days of ta‘anis, the only days of the year of consecutive fast days: the 8th, 9th, and 10th days of Teves. Today we only fast on the third of these days, which is Asarah B’Teves.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 580:2) in describing the difficult fast days of the year makes reference to these three days, and when it comes to the 9th day of Teves, the mechaber writes “it’s not known which terrible events took place on that day to warrant a fast day.” (The same language is to be found in the Tur and in the Behag). The Mishnah Berurah, in quoting from the Magen Avraham, comments that we find in the Selichos which we recite on Asarah B’Teves that Ezra HaSofer died that day. (As to why the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch did not make reference to this fact of Ezra HaSofer’s death, see Derashos Chasam Sofer and Sefer Ohr Gedalyah on Asarah B’Teves for an insightful explanation).
However, there is another explanation found in rishonim as to what the tragic events of the 9th day of Teves were, that makes it easier to understand why the Shulchan Aruch chose to write the words “we do not know what tragic event took place on that day.”
The Tosfeos Chadashim (on Maseches Ta‘anis) explains that the birth of “Yeshu HaNatzri” took place on tekufas Teves, which on the year of his birth fell out on the 9th day of Teves. Our Chachamim decreed a ta‘anis on that very day for all the pain and suffering that Klal Yisrael would go through at the hands of his followers over the millennia. Not rivers, but oceans of blood have been spilled by the followers of the church in every corner of the world—through blood libels, pogroms, crusades, inquisitions, and forced conversions. Taking all of this suffering into account, the fast of the ninth day of Teves has that much more significance to us.
We can now understand why the Tur and Shulchan Aruch wrote that the tragic events of this day are not known, for it would be instant death at the hands of the Christian censors to write such “blasphemy,” and so they instead chose to write that the events of that day are not known to us.
While there is no direct source for this being the date of Yeshu’s birth, the sefarim ha’kedoshim reveal it to us in the acronym of his description itself. He is referred to in sifrei rishonim (see Terumas HaDeshen, Meiri in his introduction to Avos, and Tosefos HaRosh in Sotah 47a) as the “Nitel one” (meaning the one who was hanged). The four letters of the Hebrew spelling of “nitel” spell out the words “Nolad Yeshu Tes LeTeves” (“Yeshu was born on the 9th day of Teves”).
As to the specific year of his birth, there is much discussion in the rishonim, as well. Some rishonim claim that he was a student of Rabbi Yehoshuaben Perachia, who lived about 180 years before the churban Bayis Sheini (see Raavad in Sefer Kabballah, Sefer Eshkol, Tosefos Chachmei Angliah on Sanhedrin 77a), and others claim he lived in the days of Hilni Hamalkah around 70 years before the churban (see Tosefos HaRosh Sotah 47a; Hagahos HaYaivetz, Avodah Zara 17a) (A more detailed explanation of Yesha’s life and death in the words of Chazal are beyond the purview of our discussion, and will iy’H be discussed in greater detail in a subsequent article.)
So tekufas Teves is a period in the Jewish calendar that not only ushers in the winter season but brings along a dark period where the world is filled with what the Chachmei Kabbalah refer to as “Klipas HaTumah.” It is during this period that the negative forces of spiritual impurity are allowed to penetrate even the atmosphere of
kedushah in Klal Yisrael, hence the ancient minhag of Chassidim of not learning Torah on nitel nacht. And it is only in such a period of Tekufas Teves, of spiritual impurity, that such a powerful force of tumah could be created that would wreak havoc and destruction on Klal Yisrael for 2,000 years.
There are various minhagim as to when nitel nacht actually is. Some hold it’s December 25; others hold January 6 (some, like the Minchas Elazar, hold both); however, the early mekubalim actually hold it’s on tekufas Teves itself, which has been identified by the date of the 9th day of Teves.
And so I wondered, what is the message to us that the Nevuchadnetzar of our day—that evil, Jew-hating rasha, Saddam Hussein—was hanged on the very day of tes Teves, the day recorded in sefarim as the birth of the Nitel one (the one who was hanged)!
While Hashem’s ways are hidden from us, I see a possible message of chizuk to us. Over the generations, as our forefathers were murdered and butchered just for being Jews, what did we do? We davened the words “dam avadav yikom,” retribution shall be exacted by Him, by HaKadosh Baruch Hu himself.
Over the last 20 or so years, we suffered Scud attacks and suicide bombers financed by that evil person, and we were unable to respond. Our only response was taking siddur in hand and crying out in unison, “dam avodov yikom.” And what has happened?
In just a few years, without our firing a shot, HaKadosh Baruch Hu has placed one of the chasidei umos ha’olam in the highest position in this country, and that rasha in Iraq has been brought to his knees, humiliated, and finally hanged on the gallows—not just at any time, but on tes Teves, the day of the birth of the “Nitel one.”
Just maybe the hopeful message to us is that HaKadosh Baruch Hu will continue to be yikom, to exact retribution on all the evil forces that have caused us so much suffering over so many years. The navi promises us that the very day of Asarah B’Teves, which is referred to as the day of “aschalta deperunsia” (the beginning of our punishment) will one day be turned into a day of yagon, sasson, and simcha for all eternity. May it happen speedily in our day!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
What Does Christmas Have To Do With The Hanging Of Saddam Hussein?
According to Benedict's elder brothers in the faith, quite a lot. More arcana of the hateful rabbinic desecration of Christmas eve "Nitel Nacht" (Nativity Night of the Hanged One) is revealed here amidst many pious rationalizations for this extreme hatred based in delusional allegations of "not rivers, but oceans" of "Klal Yisael's blood" spilled by "Yeshu's" followers over the centuries "just because they were 'Jews'" ("Yeshu" being the hateful acronym for "may his [Jesus'] name be blotted out"). The depth and intensity of the rabbis' hatred for Jesus Christ strains credulity. What a solid basis for religious relations! What a fraud Benedict and the bishops are involved in.