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When Binyamin Netanyahu Speaks about Shabbat, the Haftara, and the Rebbe

Published on Tuesday March 16th, 2021

Two journalists presented the readers of the Israeli Mishpacha magazine with an exclusive interview with the Israeli prime minister. To their surprise, Netanyahu did not discuss political issues, but he rather focused on Jewish themes and he discussed his connection with Judaism.

The Prime Minister decided to introduce the discussion by presenting his two interlocutors with a biographical book chronicling the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the famous leaders of the American nation. "I had the opportunity to participate a few months ago in a show that took place in the United States where Hamilton's personality was presented," said Netanyahu. ''At the end of the session, I approached the director and asked him to add an important detail to the show. I told him that I had read that Hamilton was born in the Caribbean Islands and when he was a child, there was no structured schooling. He was educated by a Jewish woman from Spain. She taught him, among other things, a rhyme of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew. One of Hamilton's sons later discovered that although his father almost never spoke of his childhood, he used to share only one of his memories, namely, that as a child, he had learned the Ten Commandments. Yes, that's what he kept in mind: The Ten Commandments, the eternal Torah of the Jewish people. After Hamilton's death, his manuscripts had been updated to include: "The history of the Jews is part of ancient history, of a time that precedes ours. This is why it is impossible not to logically conceive that the destiny of Jews is exclusive, it is part of a great divine plan".

A Candle of Truth Spreads Light Far and Wide

A considerable part of the interview with Netanyahu revolved around his meetings with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. It is no secret that the prime minister, who served for many years as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations in New York, had a special relationship with the Rebbe.

About his first meeting with the Rebbe, Netanyahu told the interviewer: "It was on Simchat Torah 5745, shortly after I was appointed Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations. I was once told that a great event was going to take place at the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s, and of course, I wanted to participate. I arrived at midnight at the famous address of the synagogue at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York. It was the first time in my life that I was going to meet the Rebbe. It was late, but inside the room, it was like the middle of the day. More than 5000 Chassidim were packed into the room and it was amazing. I could not imagine how many people this room could hold because it was not particularly spacious. But people were standing on top of each other, on pyramids, in staircases on several floors."

Netanyahu continued his story: "After entering the room, I was asked to wait, and suddenly, a door opened at the other end: I saw a kind of reconstitution of the splitting of the Red Sea where a human-sized narrow passage was suddenly formed. The Rabbi walked in the middle and took his place on the platform. The people at my side said to me, "Come near the Rebbe." I was hesitant because I was afraid to disturb him, but they urged me to introduce myself to him. I approached and told him, "Rabbi, I came to see you." The Rabbi smiled and asked me, "Only to see me, not to talk to me?"

In the end, says Netanyahu, they talked for nearly 45 minutes. The Rebbe spoke excellent Hebrew with an Ashkenazi accent. "I felt that the Rebbe had all the time in the world to grant me. He spoke to me about my post at the United Nations and how I had to present the truth of the Jewish people to the world. During this interview, he told me: "You work in a house of darkness and lying, remember that even in the greatest darkness that can exist when you light a candle of truth, its light spreads very far". There is no more precise way to describe, in my opinion, my role with the United Nations.

Netanyahu's next meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe took place shortly before his decision to leave the United Nations to enter politics in Israel. The Rebbe was not satisfied with this choice and then told Netanyahu: "You will have to fight against 119 people". "At that time," Netanyahu confessed, "the Rebbe's vision that I should face 119 deputies seemed to me to be abusive, if not a joke. But later, I understood that it was a very exact definition of my function as Prime Minister.

Breaking Away from His Occupations and Learn the Haftarah

He also has personal stories about Judaism and his love of religion. "Every Shabbat, I interrupt my activities," Netanyahu told the journalists. "I call my son Avner and I tell him, 'Come on, let's go and study the Haftarah of the week.' The Haftarot of the weeks of consolation are very special'', he was referring to the Haftarot between the 9th of Av and Rosh Hashanah.

Netanyahu also spoke about his father, Professor Ben-Zion Netanyahu, who died at the age of 102. "I drew faith from my parents. I still remember that my father often said to me: "When you see a watch, could you suppose that it was not created by a watchmaker?''

To conclude, Netanyahu wanted to tell us about the historical and meaningful visit he made to several African countries last summer. "The seven countries I visited are Christian countries, very attached to our heritage. During my meetings, one of the leaders asked me, "What is your secret, what is the DNA of the Jewish people?" I said to him, "You must understand that our people are people with ancient roots and branches that reach to heaven because there are science and innovation here that represent those branches that go up to heaven, but everything starts from the root. This combination of past and future is a special combination."

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box

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