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The “Palestinian” Problem

Are there any references in the books of the prophets to the solution to the “Palestinian” problem?

The term “Palestinian” actually derives from the word “Philistine,” a tribe that lived in the Gaza area during biblical times. According to the prophet Isaiah (11:14), “And they shall fly of one accord against the Philistines in the west.” As Rashi interprets the verse, the Jews of Israel will unite and take over the land of the Philistines. In contrast to the future Redemption, when the Jews were on their way to the Promised Land after the exodus from Egypt, G-d did not allow them to pass through the land of the Philistines.

Chassidic teachings explain the difference between the dealings with Philistines immediately after the exodus and in the time of the final Redemption. In spiritual terms, “Philistine” represents a lack of boundaries engendered by intense joy. Extreme ecstasy can cause a person to go out of his normal boundaries and become liberated from them.

Being released from boundaries can be a positive step or an extremely negative one. On the one hand, intense joy can lead one to a high degree of closeness with G-d. On the other hand, it can also express itself in recklessness and immorality.

 Because of the danger inherent in unrestrained joy, our sages said: “It is forbidden for one to fill his mouth with happiness in this world.” Therefore, when the Jews left Egypt, G-d did not take them by way of the Philistines, the territory of extreme, ribald joy. Only in the future, when the world will have reached its perfection, will we be able to take over the land of the Philistines. Then evil will be eradicated forever and there will be no possibility of joy leading to any untoward effects. We will be able to conquer this final frontier and express pure, unrestrained joy, directed solely towards holiness and G-dliness. As the verse in Psalms states (126:2), “Then our mouths will be filled with laughter.”

 Berachos 31a. Sefer Halikutim, Tzemach Tzedek, topic “Plishtim.” Toras Menachem 5751, vol. 4, p. 241.


 

 


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