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Friday, September 19, 2014

Dvar Torah for Netzavim-Vayelech: Choose Life

This in my humble opinion is the climax and summary of the Five Books of Moses:
See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances; then thou shalt live and multiply, and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it. But if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I declare unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over the Jordan to go in to possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love the LORD thy God, to hearken to His voice, and to cleave unto Him; for that is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
The Torah is making things very clear for anyone who is willing to listen, as Rashi explains:
[God says: “Even though you have free choice, nevertheless,] I instruct you to choose the portion of life.” It is like a man who says to his son, “Choose for yourself a fine portion of my estate,” and then directs him to the best portion, saying to him, “This [is the portion which] you should choose for yourself!” And regarding this, the verse says,“The Lord is my allotted portion and my cup; You guide my destiny” (Ps. 16:5). [The last clause, אַתָּה תּוֹמִי‏ךְ גּוֹרָלִי, literally means “You laid upon my lot.” That is to say:] “You laid my hand upon the good lot, saying, ‘Take this for yourself!’”
These passages are worth meditating upon, especially with the New Year and the Ten Days of Teshuvah before us.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Dvar Torah for Ki Teitzei

"A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto the LORD thy God" (Deuteronomy 22:5)
The prohibition seems somewhat unusual, not related to what is written before it or what follows. The Lubavitcher Rebbe gives us a novel insight into this verse, as he explains the folly of the Women's Liberation Movement, and how a Torah true house should function:

Jonathan Miller: Journalist?

Well, it sure seems that Jonathan Miller cannot be trusted to report the news objectively:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Good Old Jews Use Blood in Their Matzahs Libel

This time from a former minister in the Jordanian government, Sheik Bassam Ammoush:

I would like to point out that the Arabic word for blood is the same as the Hebrew one, dam. Also, the word in Arabic for Matzah is FaTir, which is linguistically related to the Aramaic word, PaTira. You can see this in Targum Onkelos on the Torah portion Bo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Mitzvah of Settling in the Land of Israel

The Holy One. blessed be He, tested our father Abraham:
Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.
It is not easy to venture out of one's comfort zone. Certainly leaving one's country is not a simple matter. However, God promissed him that this move was for his benefit, as Rashi explains:
Get thee out, lit. go to you, for your benefit and for your good, and there I will make you into a great nation, but here, you will not merit to have children. Moreover, I will make your character known in the world.
Our father Abraham, who believed in God and feared God, did as he was told.

If one wishes to make Aliyah, to fulfill the mitzvah of settling in the land of Israel, he should not do so for the hope of gaining any material benefit. He should do it simply for the love of the mitzvah, the love of fulfilling God's Will. By doing thusly he is really actualizing his own purpose for being in This World. If one's fulfillment the mitzvah of living in the land of were to be dependent on something external, for instance if one comes to live here because he was offered an exciting job, he is standing on shaky ground. For if the job were not to materialize, or if he were to be fired from it, he would probably catch the next plane back to the Diaspora. This is similar to what is written in the Mishnah:

Any love that is dependent on something--when the thing ceases, the love also ceases. But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases. What is [an example of] a love that is dependent on something? The love of Amnon for Tamar. And one that is not dependent on anything? The love of David and Jonathan.
Our love for the land of Israel and all of the other commandments in the Torah must be like the love of David and Jonathan. The fact that the economy is healthy, and that the land is giving forth its fruit in abundance is heartening but it is in no way our reason for being here.

King David wrote:

Thou wilt arise, and have compassion upon Zion; for it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come. For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust.
That means that "Jerusalem will not be built unless the Children of Israel desire her in the utmost way until they take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust." (The Kuzari).

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Plague of Intermarriage Strikes Again, God Forbid!

This invitation was posted on Facebook by the Lehava organization, whose purpose is to prevent assimilation in the land of Israel:

For those of you who do not understand Hebrew, the invitation is to the "wedding" of a Jewish Israeli girl named Moral to an Arab named Mahmud. If I am not mistaken the girl converted to Islam.

The girl's father strongly opposes the wedding, as can be seen here. Lehava has promissed to protest the wedding, which God forbid will take place at Shemesh Adumah (Red Sun) Hall in Rishon LeTzion on Sunday at 7:30 PM. Youth from the radical left Meretz party also promissed to be there to "protect" the couple from the protesters. Leftist activists also succeeded in having Lehava's Facebook page removed.

Here's a report from Tzinor Laila:

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