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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Squatting on the Squatter

Now if we could only do the same thing to those who are squatting on our holy Land of Israel! (BTW, the she in the clip is really a he.)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Get Out the Barf Bags Before You Watch This Video

If the Maccabees were alive today I hate to think of what they would do with Rivlin and the "rabbi"!

Rabbi Tzvi Klamen zt"l

It is with great sadness that I write about the passing away of one of my rabbis, Rabbi Tzvi Klamen (may the memory of the righteous be a blessing), who passed away on the first day of Hannukah. Rabbi Klamen was in charge of the program for English speakers at Machon Meir when I arrived there over thirty years ago. Here is a short biography from the Machon Meir web site:
Rabbi Tzvi Klamen was born and educated in the USA and learned from one of the greatest Rabbis in Europe, Rabbi Chaim Kraizort Z'TZL (I think they meant Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth - CX). Studied a the Bet Hamidrash L'Torah In Chicago for 9 years and was ordained as Rabbi there. Him and his family immigrated to Israel and settled in the Bet Shean valley. He Helped found Ulpanat Bnay Akiva in Kiryat Motzkin. Afterwards, him and his Family moved to Jerusalem where he studied in the Kollel "Haidra" and was Once again given ordination from the former Chief Rabbi's of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Goren and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. In 1984, Rabbi Tzvi Joined Machon Meir as head of the English Department and Gemora Rebbe. Rabbi Tzvi now serves as senior lecturer and Dean of the English Department At Machon Meir.
Rabbi Klamen was a serious Torah scholar whose fear of Heaven, cheerful disposition, love for his fellow man and endless patience made him an ideal educator. I owe him a lot and I will truly miss him. May his family be comforted with the building of Zion.

I found a couple of Torah lessons that Rabbi Klamen gave at Machon Meir:

Yonah Malina's Yahrzeit

Thoughts on the Parsha (Lech-Lecha)

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Learning About the Hasmonean's Military Victories

In the Al Hanissim prayer, which we recite many times throughout the eight days of Hannukah, we thank God for helping the Jewish People defeat the armies of the Syrian-Greeks:
And [we thank You] for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds, for the saving acts, and for the wonders which You have wrought for our ancestors in those days, at this time—

In the days of Matityahu, the son of Yochanan the High Priest, the Hasmonean and his sons, when the wicked Hellenic government rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and violate the decrees of Your will. But You, in Your abounding mercies, stood by them in the time of their distress. You waged their battles, defended their rights, and avenged the wrong done to them. You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton sinners into the hands of those who occupy themselves with Your Torah. You made a great and holy name for Yourself in Your world, and effected a great deliverance and redemption for Your people Israel to this very day. Then Your children entered the shrine of Your House, cleansed Your Temple, purified Your Sanctuary, kindled lights in Your holy courtyards, and instituted these eight days of Chanukah to give thanks and praise to Your great Name.

How many of us know the details of these battles that we mention in our prayers so often? How many of us know where they took place and how they were fought?

Dr. Hagai Ben-Artzi has an online series explaining the battles. Here are the first four parts:

Update: parts 5. 6 and 7:

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Marsha Levine, Free Will, and Redemption

I think that almost everyone that has an internet connection and is concerned about Israel and the Jewish People is aware of the scandalous behavior of a Jewish lady named Marsha Levine:
An ex-Cambridge academic has refused to answer an inquisitive 13-year-old Israeli girl's questions on horses 'until there is peace and justice for Palestinians'.

Teenager Shachar Rabinovitch emailed Dr Marsha Levine to ask her some basic questions about horses for a school assignment. But Dr Levine - a former Cambridge academic considered an expert on the history of domestication of horses - responded with a link to the homepage of lobby group Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

Here is what she wrote:
Dear Shachar Rabinovich:

I'll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians in Palestine.

I am a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (http://jfjfp.com). I support Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions. You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people. Maybe your family has the same views as I do, but I doubt it. So, I suggest that you look at this link: http://jfjfp.com/?page_id=338

yours sincerely

Dr Marsha Levine

Shachar's mother, upset with Ms. Levine's disgusting snub, published it on his Facebook profile. The post went viral and was picked up by popular bloggers and even some major media outlets. Ms. Levine gained notoriety overnight.

Now, let us imagine that this happened 30 years ago, in the age of snail mail. Chances are that Marsha Levine's reply would have been thrown into the garbage along with the potato peels, never to see the light of day. But in our age of cut and paste and screen captures, her gauche reply became known to myriads in a matter of hours. In no time at all, Ms. Levine became the poster child for small-mindedness, meanness and other unpleasent qualities. (I won't even comment on her ignorance and arrogance with regard to what is happening here in Israel.)

After all of this negative exposure, Marsha Levine had two options: She could have apologized, or she could have doubled-down. She chose the latter. She had a chance to make amends, to do Teshuvah, and she foolishly passed it up, deepening the hole of infamy that she dug for herself.

This makes me wonder: Has she descended to such a depth that her free choice has been taken away? Maimonides tells us that such a possibility exists:

A person may commit a great sin or many sins causing the judgment rendered before the True Judge to be that the retribution [administered to] this transgressor for these sins which he willfully and consciously committed is that his Teshuvah will be held back. He will not be allowed the chance to repent from his wickedness so that he will die and be wiped out because of the sin he committed.
This, he says, is what happened to Pharaoh:
For these reasons, it is written in the Torah [Exodus 14:4], "I will harden Pharaoh's heart." Since, he began to sin on his own initiative and caused hardships to the Israelites who dwelled in his land as [Exodus 1:10] states: "Come, let us deal wisely with them," judgment obligated that he be prevented from repenting so that he would suffer retribution. Therefore, The Holy One, blessed be He, hardened his heart.
Is this what happened to Ms. Levine? Only God knows.

In any case, I have some good news for Marsha: There is no despair in the world! It is easy to fall, the trick is to know how to get up. As the full redemption progresses God will replace our hardened hearts with ones of flesh as it is written,

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep Mine ordinances, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.
The People of Israel, in the land of Israel, keeping the Torah of Israel! It's happening Marsha. Hope to see you here soon!

Monday, November 30, 2015

MK Yinon Magal Resigns From the Knesset

That was quick:
Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal handed in his resignation to step down from the Knesset on Monday, as the testimony of a third woman accusing him of sexual harassment was revealed.

Party chairman Naftali Bennett responded on Monday, saying, "I received Yinon's resignation announcement, this is a fitting action. I hope that the process he is in will end as quickly as possible and he will be able to devote himself to his family and to his path ahead."

I'd like to jot down a few notes about this:

1) "The God of these (the Jews) hates lewdness" (Sanhedrin 106A) - the acts attributed to Magal, some of which he admitted to, are totally unacceptable.

2) On the other hand, "Nothing can stand in the way of Teshuvah "(Laws of Teshuvah 3:14). Indeed, God's mercy is everlasting...the political system not so much.

3) Kudos for Magal for resigning and not "grabbing the horns of the altar".

4) It looks like Yinon Magal will be replaced by Avi Wortzman, who in my eyes proved to be a worthy representative in the previous Knesset.

5) It is interesting to note that the chain of events leading up to Yinon Magal's resignation was a post on Facebook, which gives us another example of the power of the Social Networking Sites.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 30th: Remembering the Jewish Refugees

Important:
On June 23, 2014, the Israeli Knesset passed a law designating November 30 as an official date in the calendar to remember the uprooting of almost one million Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran.
On this day we will remember the plight of these people, many of whom left all of their property behind. These refugees were successfully absorbed, mostly in Israel but not only in Israel. In contrast most of the Arabs who left their homes in Israel did so voluntarily, at the behest of the invading Arab armies. They are political pawns, whose refugee status is being perpetuated by the Arab states and UNRWA.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dvar Torah For Parashat VaYishlach

It is well known that "what happened to the fathers is a sign for the children." The people of Israel, throught the generations, experience many of the same trials and tribulations that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob experienced.

Jacob is finally going to come back to his place of birth, the land of Israel. But it is not going to be easy! "The Holy One Blessed Be He gave three good gifts to Israel, and all of them He did not give except through affliction, and they are: Torah, and the Land Of Israel, and the World To Come"(Berachot 5A). And what happened to Jacob is a sign for his progeny:

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
Who was the man that wrestled with Jacob? Rashi says:
Our Rabbis explained (Gen. Rabbah 77:3, 78:3) that this was the prince (guardian angel) of Esau.
Esau tried to prevent Jacob from returning to his homeland ,but he did not succeed:
And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him. And he said: 'Let me go, for the day breaketh.' And he said: 'I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.' And he said unto him: 'What is thy name?' And he said: 'Jacob.' And he said: 'Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.' And Jacob asked him, and said: 'Tell me, I pray thee, thy name.' And he said: 'Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?' And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: 'for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.' And the sun rose upon him as he passed over Peniel, and he limped upon his thigh.
Yes, Esau did cause some damage, but God healed Jacob's limp:
And the sun rose for him: This is a common expression: When we arrived at such-and-such a place, the dawn broke for us. This is the simple explanation. The Midrashic Aggadah (Tanchuma Buber, Vayishlach 10; Gen. Rabbah 68:10) [explains]: And the sun rose for him-to heal his limp, as it is said: (Mal. 3:20): “the sun of mercy, with healing in its wings”; and those hours that it hastened to set for him when he left Beer-sheba, it hastened to rise for him.
So it is today. The children of Esau are continually trying to prevent the return of the Jewish People to the land of Israel. They, like their forefather, succeed in injuring us. However, "There are many devices in a man's heart; but the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand." We are coming back, and nobody can stop us, for it has been foretold:
That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee. And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
Shabbat Shalom!

For more on the Parasha from your's truly: Here and here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sitting in the Shadow of Donkey Dung

We say that life today is rough,
The world was wiser when we were young.
I must admit that times are tough,
Sitting in the shadow of donkey dung.

The millenials are in a state of depression,
The bells of delirium have been rung.
They think it's climate change and microaggression,
Not detecting the shadow of donkey dung.

Myriads of manly beasts whose moniker I shall not mention,
Their carcasses are rotting in the sun,
All because they refused to pay attention,
To the shadow of donkey dung.

Perhaps it was better not to see it,
And that this song had not been sung.
But here I am and so be it,
Sitting in the shadow of donkey dung.

The Yinon Magal Scandal

I heard about this scandal not too long after I put up a post with him giving a brilliant speech to the Knesset in Arabic.

In the meantime, Mr. Magal has stepped down as the head of the Jewish Home faction in the Knesset.

I must admit that I was upset that Naftali Bennett put Yinon Magal on the Jewish Home Knesset list. I had never heard of him, but I did know of so many other deserving people who had devoted their life to the community that were pushed down the list because of this appointment. However, his performance as an MK has been impressive. Now it looks like he has some legal trouble ahead of him in addtion to an uncertain political future.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Yinon Magal Addresses the Knesset in Arabic

Israeli Resilience

The Muslims, in addition to the blood that they are shedding all over the world, have been on a knife wielding murder rampage here in Israel for the last two months. But the Jews in Israel are not cowering. They are defending themselves and carrying on with their lives.

Here are a couple of cases demonstrating that Israeli resiliency. The first case is the one of Leah Bowman. Leah was the tour guide that was attacked by an Arab who smashed a bottle on her head. Undaunted, she returned to the scene of the crime and is continuing to guide tours:

But, of course, I was left with a dilemma: I have been guiding in all areas of Jerusalem for years, feeling safe to go and explore, and loving it! What do I do now? Should I continue to do this? Thinking through everything that had happened, I realized that actually, the area very is safe with all the police and army all throughout the city, and the cameras. And more than that, I decided that I’m not going to let terror keep me away from what I love to do, and all the more so, Jerusalem and guiding throughout Israel. I will continue to learn, explore, and guide in every corner of the city and the country: Gush Etzion, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, and in Southern Israel, showing visitors the inspiring history, and about the security situation.

Learning about the history, archaeology, and Biblical sources is very empowering. With all of the problems we are facing in Israel and around the world, I think that the healthiest response is to take the opportunity to strengthen ourselves in our knowledge, commitment to what we believe in, and physically (and yes, I’ve signed up for an awesome program of self-defense classes for women in Jerusalem!)

Just a week after the attack, I was back in the exact same place giving a tour, and was able to say the blessing thanking God for doing a miracle for me in this place, and I can say that on my birthday, my life was renewed for me.

Leah has a blog that can be seen here.

The next case is that of Raz Bibi. Raz Bibi is a border patrol policeman who was stabbed and critically wounded by and Arab terrorist in May. Now Raz is back in uniform:

Roughly a month after the attack he was discharged from hospital and directly went to the Kotel (Western Wall) to pray and offer thanks for his miraculous recovery. Following another few months of heavy rehabilitation he once again showed his heroism by electing to return to active duty in the capital.

"From the moment when I opened my eyes in the hospital I knew I would return to wear the uniform of the Border Police. Today I'm happy that I returned to serve alongside my comrades in arms," Bibi was quoted as saying by the police.

"And who is like Thy people, like Israel..." (2 Samuel 7:23). "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad...(Exodus 1:12). We are here to stay!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Some Thoughts on Jonathan Pollard Being Released From Prison

I am happy! I've been advocating for Pollard's release pretty much from the start of this blog. (Click here to see all of the posts where I mentioned Jonathan Pollard, sorted by date in descending order.) Blessed is He who redeems prisoners!

I know that there are many who will disagree with me on this matter, but even in this sad episode, Hakol LaTovah, it was all for the good. Here are some things to consider:

1) Before his capture Jonathan was a fairly assimilated Jew, far away from Torah and Mitzvot. During his jail stay, he became more observant, and was taken under the wings of one of the generation's greatest rabbis, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l. What started as a desecration of God's name has become a sanctification of His name.

2) By seeing the way the United States discriminated against Jonathan Pollard, American Jewry learned once again that Jew hatred exists at the highest levels of government. Pollard's suffering has come to teach Jews all over the world and especially in the United States that it's time to come home tho the land of Israel!

3) There is even a silver lining to the restrictive conditions of the parole. We can compare Pollard's redemption to the nation as a whole. The redemption of the Jewish People comes little by little. Why is this so? Because the transition from the darkness of the exile to the bright light of redemption would be hard to handle, if the redemption were to come all at once. Jonathan's gradual acquisition of freedom may actually be good for him in the same way.

Shabbat Shalom to Jonathan and Esther Pollard and to the entire Jewish People.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What Makes Bernie (Sanders) Run?

Why should I care about Bernie Sanders? He will never be President of the United States! Americans are not that foolish! But then again you never know. The majority of them voted for Barack Obama - twice!

Rolling Stone magazine has this wonderful quote from Sanders:

You've said of Netanyahu, "I'm not a great fan." What's your issue with him?

Do I think that Netanyahu overreacted? Yes, I do. War is terrible unto itself. But I think that Israel overreacted and caused more civilian damage than was necessary. They have very sophisticated weapons systems. They make the case, and I respect that, that they do try to make sure that civilians are not damaged. But the end result was that a lot of civilians were killed and a lot of housing was destroyed. There was terrible, terrible damage done.

In order to evaluate Sander's expertise on the matter, here is a summary of his military experience:
Sanders applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War; his application was eventually turned down, at which point he was too old to be drafted.
As an aside, how can a conscientious objector desire to be Commander in Chief of the most powerful army in the world? Would not he object to sending young men and women to kill and die?

It should be noted that Bernie Sanders, who said he is "proud to be Jewish", has the dubious distinction of being a pioneer of intermarriage in the United States, back in the 1960s, when the intermarriage rate was only about 10%. He divorced his non-Jewish wife two years later, fathered a child out from a different woman out of wedlock, and married his current gentile wife in 1988. Proud to be Jewish? Give me a break!

I would also like to note that I think that his socialist agenda is a disaster.

Woe unto humanity if this guy becomes President of the United States!

(The title of this post was inspired by this classic essay.)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Rashi's "I Don't Know": More Than Just Humility

Towards the end of this week's Torah portion, Toldot, we read the following:
And Isaac sent Jacob, and he went to Padan aram, to Laban the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebecca, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
We know that Rebecca is Jacob's and Esau's mother. Why does the Torah bother to mention this. There must be something to be learned from this seemingly useless repetition of something that we already know. Rashi, the Torah's foremost commentator, has a surprising answer:
I do not know what this teaches us.
For someone of Rashi's stature to say, "I don't know" is a sign of great humility. But I think that there is more to this.

The Siftei Chachamim asks that if Rashi does not know what this comes to teach us, then why doesn't he just stay silent and not mention it? He answers that Rashi had several explanations, he just did not know which one was correct. I find this explanation hard to accept, for we see plenty of verses where Rashi offers multiple explanations. Here's one from this week's Torah portion:

It came to pass when Isaac was old, and his eyes were too dim to see, that he called Esau his elder son, and he said to him, "My son," and he said to him, "Here I am."
Why did Isaac lose his eyesight? Rashi offers three explanations:
Because of the smoke of these [wives of Esau] (who would burn [incense] to the idols) (Tanchuma, Toledoth 8; Pesiktha Rabbathi 12). Another explanation: When Isaac was bound on the altar, and his father was about to slaughter him, the heavens opened, and the ministering angels saw and wept, and their tears fell upon Isaac’s eyes. As a result, his eyes became dim (Gen. Rabbah 65:6). A third explanation: to enable Jacob to take the blessings (Gen. Rabbah 65:8).
I think that the answer to why Rashi wrote, "I do not know" is that he wanted assure the reader that indeed there is a difficulty in the text. When one learns Torah and he encounters a difficulty, he immediately looks to see if one of the great classic commentators had the same question. If none of our great rabbis asked the question, that may be a sign that he is not learning well, that he is "way off". So here Rashi is telling us that there is a question to be asked here, and that one who asks it is learning well!

Any questions?

Shabbat Shalom!

Monday, November 02, 2015

Kahane Memorial: It's Been 25 Years

Time does fly. It's been 25 years since Rabbi Meir Kahane of blessed memory was murdered by an Al Qaeda terrorist. Last night I attended the annual memorial in Jerusalem.

I've been to a few of these memorials in the past. It seems to me that every year the crowd attending the memorial grows. I am always surprised by the number of young people that attend. A very significant percentage of those there were born after Kahane was assassinated. A lot of those attending had that "hilltop youth" look, sporting large knitted skullcaps and long sidelocks. There were also a few Hareidi youth there. I don't know if they came out of curiousity or if they identify with Kahane.

One of the recurring themes of the evening was that we do not have too look hard for what is causing the recent terror wave. It's written in the Book of Numbers chapter 33:

51 'Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places. 53 And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it. 54 And ye shall inherit the land by lot according to your families--to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer thou shalt give the less inheritance; wheresoever the lot falleth to any man, that shall be his; according to the tribes of your fathers shall ye inherit. 55 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then shall those that ye let remain of them be as thorns in your eyes, and as pricks in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land wherein ye dwell. 56 And it shall come to pass, that as I thought to do unto them, so will I do unto you.
"They must go." "There is no hope for coexistence with the Arabs." "If there are no Arabs there is no terror." Etc., etc. etc.

The Temple Mount also took center stage. Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer mentioned how more and more people are going up to the Har HaBayit. Aviya Moris, who famously called the "prophet" Mohammed a pig after being harrassed by Muslim women on the Temple Mount also spoke.

Another theme of the evening was reviewing the activities of various activists. Bentzi Gophstein mentioned that in the previous week his Lehava organization had rescued six Jewish women, some of them with children, from Arab villages. A film was shown that depicted some of the antics of activists Baruch Marzel, Dr. Michael Ben-Ari and Itamar Gvir.

Naturally, there was also an appeal for contributions. I don't think that these people are not receiving too much support from the government. :) I imagine that they were able to raise a little bit of money from the sale of Rabbi Kahane's writings and other goodies that was taking place at the entrance to the hall.

Rabbi Dov Lior arrived and was greeted with the singing of "Yamim Al Yemei Melech Tosif". He talked, among other things, about Rabbi Kahane's commitment to Torah study and his fine character traits.

To sum things up, Rabbi Meir Kahane and his son Binyamin may have been murdered, but their ideas live on.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shlomo Avineri: "The Arabs are the Same Arabs and the Sea is the Same Sea"

No, Shlomo Avineri did not say that. Who did, and what was the background?

The popular slogan of the Arabs during the Israeli War of Independence was to "throw the Jews into the Sea." They tried, but failed miserably,

Many years later, Israeli politician Yitzchak Shamir came up with the gem, “The Arabs are the same Arabs, and the sea is the same sea”. Israel's leftists were convinced that the time was ripe for peace with the Arabs. Today's Arabs are not the same bloodthirsty followers of Haj Amin al-Husseini that we knew way back when. They accept us! They are ready for reconciliation! If we only give the "palestinians" a state, we will all live happily ever after. Against this warped version of Middle Eastern reality Shamir coined his famous phrase.

Now, Shlomo Avineri, who served as Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1975–77, and was an early proponent of negotiations with the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization, recently wrote the following in Ha'aretz:

The basic Palestinian position, which usually isn’t always explicitly stated, is totally different and can be easily detected in numerous Palestinian statements. According to the Palestinians’ view, this is not a conflict between two national movements but a conflict between one national movement (the Palestinian) and a colonial and imperialistic entity (Israel). According to this view, Israel will end like all colonial phenomena – it will perish and disappear. Moreover, according to the Palestinian view, the Jews are not a nation but a religious community, and as such not entitled to national self-determination which is, after all, a universal imperative.

According to this view, the Palestinians see all of Israel – and not just the West Bank and Gaza – as analogous to Algeria: an Arab country out of which the foreign colonialists were ultimately expelled. Because of this, Israel – even in its pre-1967 borders – never appears in Palestinian school textbooks; because of this the Palestinians insist never to give up their claim to the right of return of 1948 refugees and their descendants to Israel.

Although he may not realize it, Shlomo Avineri is admitting that Yitzchak Shamir was right. “The Arabs are the same Arabs, and the sea is the same sea”. Avineri has finally grasped what Shamir knew decades ago.

This is, of course, a total denial of the Israeli Leftist creed. However, I do not see these people joining the Likud or the Jewish Home party. Cognitive dissonance is a permanent resident in the psyche of the Israeli leftist. They will continue to propose freezing, evacuating settlements, "two states for two peoples" etc. as a remedy to every ill.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Turban and the Swastika

Here's a documentary that deals with the close relationship of the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini with the Nazis:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Courage in the Face of Terror

That's the name of the game. The Jews here in the land of Israel, thank God, have shown and are continuing to show their courage in these times of bloodthirsty Arab terrorism.

In his epic code of Jewish law, Maimonides explains that a person, in respect to character traits, should look for "the straight path":

This [involves discovering] the midpoint temperament of each and every trait that man possesses [within his personality.] This refers to the trait which is equidistant from either of the extremes, without being close to either of them.

Therefore, the early Sages instructed a man to evaluate his traits, to calculate them and to direct them along the middle path, so that he will be sound {of body}.

For example: he should not be wrathful, easily angered; nor be like the dead, without feeling, rather he should [adopt] an intermediate course; i.e., he should display anger only when the matter is serious enough to warrant it, in order to prevent the matter from recurring. Similarly, he should not desire anything other than that which the body needs and cannot exist without, as [Proverbs 13:25] states: "The righteous man eats to satisfy his soul."

Also, he shall not labor in his business except to gain what he needs for immediate use, as [Psalms 37:16] states: "A little is good for the righteous man."

He should not be overly stingy nor spread his money about, but he should give charity according to his capacity and lend to the needy as is fitting. He should not be overly elated and laugh [excessively], nor be sad and depressed in spirit. Rather, he should be quietly happy at all times, with a friendly countenance. The same applies with regard to his other traits.

This path is the path of the wise. Every man whose traits are intermediate and equally balanced can be called a "wise man."

In another work (Commentary on the Mishnah, chapter 4 of the introduction to Pirkei Avot), Maimonides specifically states that courage is a "middle path" trait, lying between cowardice and being fearless. Adopting the character trait of courage, along with the other medial character traits, is a mitzvah:
We are commanded to walk in these intermediate paths - and they are good and straight paths - as [Deuteronomy 28:9] states: "And you shall walk in His ways."

Somebody wrote that, "The streets of Jewish West Jerusalem are eerie and still." Well, Jerusalem is a big city, and I do not know what street he was refering to. All I know is that while things may be less bustling than usual, people are still going to synagogue, to work and to anywhere else they need to be. After all, this is not the first wave of terror for most of us. There is a hightened state of alertness. Some of us are taking extra precautions. But eerie and still streets? Not in my neighborhood!

It's a privilege to be here at this time. It's a privilege to be a part of this courageous nation.

The Foolish Notion of "Linkage" in US Foreign Policy

The notion that solving the "Palestinian Problem" is the key to solving the Middle East's other problems is, and has always been, an idea that could only be held by someone who is not well versed in the history of this region and the population inhabiting it. Now let's take a look at an interesting exchange between journalist Jeffrey Goldberg former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross:
Goldberg: Come back to President Obama and his understanding of this conflict. When I interviewed him in the beginning of 2008, when he was running for president, he referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “a constant wound,” one that spilled over into other areas of the Middle East. He appeared to be a believer in the linkage argument—that if you fix this, other problems in the Middle East might get fixed as well. Based on what you’ve observed, has he left linkage behind?

Ross: I think he has now. Certainly it stayed with him for a while. But reality debunks this notion now. It’s very clear that if you solve this, you’re not stopping one barrel bomb in Syria; you’re not going to stop an existential struggle in Egypt; you’re not going to—

Goldberg: —Yemen’s not going to get any better.

Ross: I think if you look at statements the president has made in the last year, you see for the first time a kind of acknowledgement of that. There was never an acknowledgement of that before. It weighed very heavily on the administration at the outset for sure. They saw it as being one of the sources driving terrorism. And so there was a kind of a traditionalist mindset on the conflict.

Jeffrey Goldberg, a long time Obamaphile, ascribes this foolish notion to the President of the United States. Dennis Ross affirms this, saying that, "Certainly it stayed with him for a while". Is it any wonder then, that President Obama is perceived here by the Prime Minister of Israel and others (including myself) as "hopelessly naive", as Goldberg himself put it? Of course Obama was and is not alone among decision makers in the United States regarding this matter.

The good news is that as Ross noted, "reality debunks this notion now". The truth is, reality has always debunked this notion!

How long will it take for opinion shapers and policy makers in the United States to understand that they are similarly mistaken about other things here, for instance their hostility towards Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria? Don't hold your breath!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The End of Days and the United Nations

This is probably one of the best known Biblical prophecies, perhaps because the Isaiah Wall across the street from United Nations headquarters in New York City:
1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many peoples shall go and say: 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
The prophecy starts out by telling us that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will become the most exalted place on earth, not only for the Jewish People, but for all of mankind:
And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
Add then:
And many peoples shall go and say: 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
The nations will desire to learn the ways of the God of Israel. The law shall go forth from Zion, not from Rome, New York City, Mecca or Geneva! And finally:
And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Who will judge between the nations? One could say God Himself, but most of the classical commentaries say that "he" refers to the Messiah. Since his rulings will be universally accepted, the nations will beat their swords into plowshares, and their tanks/missles/assault rifles into who knows what. The Messiah will settle all disputes peacefully!

Now lets take a look at the Isaiah Wall:

What's written on the wall is the second half of verse 4, "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." This butchered quote, taken out of context, totally destroys the message that Isaiah was trying to convey! Universal peace will not be brought about by a bunch of diplomats in New York City! It will only happen when the nations will recognize God's sovereignty! The nations will realize the folly of their ways, and will seek instruction from God. Then the International Court of Law will be in Jerusalem, and "He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples."

In the meantime the UN, which was created with good intentions, is a morally corrupt institution. Much has been written about its obsession with passing anti-Israel resolutions, the negative effects of UNWRA, and its various "councils" of scoffers. But, "He that sitteth in heaven laugheth, the Lord hath them in derision." Eventually, the UN will be designated to the dustpan of history, and Isaiah's true vision will be fulfilled.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Do Not Call Them “Terror Victims”!

Please read the awesome eulogy of Rabbi Eitan and Naama Henkin, by Eitam's brother Yagil. The entire eulogy is fantastic, however this in particular caught my eye:
The Torah world lost one of the great rabbis and leaders of the next generation, and the academic world lost an excellent researcher.
This is not surprising, as he comes from a family of great rabbis. You can see some of Rabbi Eitam Henkin's writings on his blog. If you examine his work, you will probably agree with his brother that he was indeed destined for greatness. HY"D!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Terror Will Not Prevent the Redemption of the Jewish People

That's the story. The Arabs, with every act of barbarity here in the land of Israel against the Jewish People, are really harming themselves more than anybody else:
And in the fourth generation they shall come back hither; for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full.
The iniquity of the Arabs grows from day to day. They are on the way out, slowly but surely.

I was at the kotel today. The People of Israel Live! Here's a pic:

Friday, September 25, 2015

OBERGEFELL v. HODGES and Causing the Masses to Sin

Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky zt"l, in his Luach Eretz Yisrael, mentions that before Yom Kippur one should check that he does not have one of the 24 things that hold back teshuvah. These things are listed by Maimonides in his Laws of Teshuvah, Chapter 4:
There are 24 deeds which hold back Teshuvah: Four are the commission of severe sins. God will not grant the person who commits such deeds to repent because of the gravity of his transgressions.
What are these four things out of the 24 that are so severe that God will give the transgressor the opportunity to repent?
They are:

1) One who causes the masses to sin, included in this category is one who holds back the many from performing a positive command;

2) One who leads his colleague astray from the path of good to that of bad; for example, one who proselytizes or serves as a missionary [for idol worship];

3) One who sees his son becoming associated with evil influences and refrains from rebuking him. Since his son is under his authority, were he to rebuke him, he would have separated himself [from these influences]. Hence, [by refraining from admonishing him, it is considered] as if he caused him to sin.

Included in this sin are also all those who have the potential to rebuke others, whether an individual or a group, and refrain from doing so, leaving them to their shortcomings.

4) One who says: "I will sin and then, repent." Included in this category is one who says: "I will sin and Yom Kippur will atone [for me]."

Rabbi Tukachinsky's advice was directed at the individual that he should check himself, indeed the entire idea of learning ethics is how to learn to apply them to one's self. However, I could not help but think of the SCOTUS when I read the first item:"One who causes the masses to sin..."Their decision in the OBERGEFELL v. HODGES case seems to be a classic case of causing the masses to sin, as I explained here. There I also expressed my dismay that all three Jews sitting in the Supreme Court supported the SCOTUS's scandalous decision.

Unfortunately there were also other groups, that claim to have a connection with Judaism or the Jewish People, which also pushed for this decision, and filed a "brief". They should be ashamed, but they are not. Even if they believe that the Constitution guarentees the right for such unions, they should have shown that their first allegiance is to the God of Israel. And if they could not bring themselves to actively oppose this breach in morals, they certainly did not have to actively support it. I am listing the Jewish organizations in that brief here:

ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE

AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE

BEND THE ARC: A JEWISH PARTNERSHIP FOR JUSTICE

CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS

GLOBAL JUSTICE INSTITUTE

HADASSAH, THE WOMEN’S ZIONIST ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA

JEWISH SOCIAL POLICY ACTION NETWORK

KESHET

THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN

NEHIRIM

RECONSTRUCTIONIST RABBINICAL COLLEGE AND JEWISH RECONSTRUCTIONIST COMMUNITIES

SOCIETY FOR HUMANISTIC JUDAISM

T’RUAH: THE RABBINIC CALL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

WOMEN OF REFORM JUDAISM

WOMEN’S LEAGUE FOR CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM

Shame on them all!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail zt"l

Baruch Dayan HaEmet:
Rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, the founder and director of Amishav, the organization on behalf of the Dispersed of Israel, passed away on Thursday morning at the age of 83.

Rabbi Avichail was identified for many years with efforts to find the descendants of the ten lost tribes. He founded Amishav in 1975 to help Bnei Menashe communities in India, Myanmar (Burma) and Israel.

Also an educator, Rabbi Avichail taught for many years at educational institutions within the religious word. Together with his wife, Rivka, he won the Yakir Yerushalayim award for outstanding citizenship in 2012.

Rabbi Avichail is the author of six books on the Ten Tribes and dedicated his life to research regarding their fate.

Thanks to his activism, thousands of people from communities thought to be descended from these tribes made aliyah to Israel. Most notable in the Bnei Menashe community from India.

According to his grandson, Aryeh Minkov, Rabbi Avichail even helped Marranos in Spain return to Judaism and come to Israel.

Minkov told Arutz Sheva that Rabbi Avichail was first encouraged to pursue the issue of the dispersed of Israel by his teacher and mentor, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook.

He then established the Amishav organization, which Minkov described as Rabbi Avichail's "whole world despite being a side job."

"We as a family saw the great love the Bnei Menashe felt for my grandfather. They called him brother, named their children after him, and in the last year, when he fell ill, they came to visit. My grandfather loved them back. That was his whole world."

Rabbi Avichail is survived by his wife, six children and numerous grandchildren. Funeral details have not yet been announced.

I remember hearing him speak at Mahon Meir over thirty years ago. Inspired by what he said, I purchased the booklet pictured below.

May his family be comforted with the restoration of Zion and the return of those exiled.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Goodbye 5775!

Goodbye 5775! As for 5776, bring it on! May you all be written and sealed for a good year!

Read this semi-prophetic dvar-Torah that Rabbi Kook gave in the Hurva Synagogue.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Some Music For Elul

Psalms Chapter 27

1 [A Psalm] of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? {N}
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil-doers came upon me to eat up my flesh, {N}
even mine adversaries and my foes, they stumbled and fell.
3 Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; {N}
though war should rise up against me, even then will I be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: {N}
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, {N}
to behold the graciousness of the LORD, and to visit early in His temple.
5 For He concealeth me in His pavilion in the day of evil; {N}
He hideth me in the covert of His tent; He lifteth me up upon a rock.
6 And now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me; and I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices with trumpet-sound; {N}
I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I call with my voice, and be gracious unto me, and answer me.
8 In Thy behalf my heart hath said: 'Seek ye My face'; Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
9 Hide not Thy face from me; put not Thy servant away in anger; {N}
Thou hast been my help; cast me not off, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
10 For though my father and my mother have forsaken me, the LORD will take me up.
11 Teach me Thy way, O LORD; and lead me in an even path, because of them that lie in wait for me.
12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine adversaries; for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out violence.
13 If I had not believed to look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!--
14 Wait on the LORD; be strong, and let thy heart take courage; yea, wait thou for the LORD. {P}

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed on "The Abomination Parade"

In my previous post I explained one of the reasons why I think that the so called "Gay Pride" parades are an abomination. Recently I saw that Rabbi Eliezer Melamed wrote about the halachic aspects of the issue. The bottom line is that taking part in these parades changes the sinner's halachic status in a very profound way:
How to Relate to People with Opposite Gender Inclinations (i.e. Same Sex Attraction - CX)

The Torah defined the sin of homosexual intercourse as “to’evah” (an abomination), however, our attitude towards those who transgress this sin should not be more stringent than transgressors of other serious sins, such as desecrating Shabbat which is considered a more serious violation, rather, to a certain extent, we should even be more lenient, seeing as many of those who stumble in this transgression do so because their yetzer (inclination) overpowers them. And although they transgresses the sin of homosexual intercourse, this does not exempt them from all the other commandments of the Torah, and each mitzvah that they fulfill, such as Talmud Torah (Torah study), tzedaka (giving charity) or keeping Shabbat, has supreme, divine value, just as for every other Jew. They are counted in a minyan, and if one is a kohen, he is obligated to perform the Priestly Blessing, and if he reads from the Torah, he helps others fulfill their obligation to hear the Torah reading. And it is a mitzvah for every Jew to love even a person who sins in this matter, and help him according to all the rules of chesed (kindness) and tzedaka (charity) customary towards every Jew.

Therefore, whenever possible, we must try and dissuade the sinners from transgressing in this matter. Nonetheless, we must love even someone who fails to overcome his yetzer, and realize there is great value in every mitzvah he fulfills. Therefore, we should be careful not to distance them from the synagogues, so they can strengthen themselves in Torah and mitzvoth as best as they can. And, as is well-known, the value of Evil is limited, whereas the value of Good is endless. Likewise, the severity of sins is limited, whereas the value of mitzvoth is endless. Therefore, even one who falters in these transgressions, merits life in the World to Come thanks to his mitzvoth and good deeds.

The Abominable Parade

All this is provided that the sin of homosexual intercourse does become a banner raised on high. But when they hold public parades in the city streets in support of such sinful behavior, openly defying family values ​​enshrined in the Torah, and rebel against the values ​​of modesty which are the basis for the existence of a healthy society, they insult the Torah and Jewish tradition, and one who participates in such a parade is considered a “mumar l’hak’is” (one who transgresses out of spite), and all the laws towards him change. There is no obligation to show him kindness, and he cannot be included in a minyan. Indeed, he is still considered a Jew, as our Sages said: “Even though Israel (a Jew) has sinned – they are still called Israel” (Sanhedrin 44a), and the gates of repentance are not locked before him. However, after defiantly removing himself from Jewish tradition, he has distanced himself from Clal Yisrael.

Had the purpose of the parade been to defend human dignity and those tormented by harsh insults for various reasons, including their sexual preferences, it would be understandable. But when the purpose of the parade is to draw attention to a topic that even when done according to the Torah, modesty is fitting, and moreover, openly defy family values ​​enshrined in Judaism and declare that the Torah prohibition is null and void – there is no more appropriate description of such a parade than that of the Torah – “a parade of abomination.”

It would be appropriate for State authorities to prohibit such parades as they violate Jewish tradition, alongside forcefully defending the life and dignity of every individual.

The bottom line is that one who takes part in these parades changes from being considered a mumar lete'avon (one who transgresses out of failing to conquer his desire) to mumar lehach'is (one who sins in order to spite). There is a big difference in how we relate to these two kinds of sinners, as Rabbi Melamed explained above.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Why the Gay Pride in Jerusalem is an Abomination

Yes, the "Gay Pride" parade in Jerusalem, or anywhere else for that matter, is an abomination. It is an abomination on so many levels. I would like to discuss one negative aspect of the parade which I think is rarely, if ever, discussed.

Among the great acts of kindness that God has done for us is that he has built in to the human psyche the feeling of shame. A person with strong moral underpinnings will feel uneasy if he has done something wrong. He will feel shame. Usually this feeling of shame is magnified the more that the misdeed is publicized. This feeling of shame, when harnessed properly, will help the transgressor make amends and return to God. Returing to the Creator will bring him true bliss.

The whole idea of "gay pride" is the antithesis of the positive trait of feeling ashamed mentioned above. How is it that this great trait of shame has been suppressed in some individuals? Who in their right mind is proud to sin? Who is so shameless as to take part in a parade celebrating the transgression of the Torah's commandments? This is is abominable indeed!

This is true anywhere in the world, all the more so in the holy land of Israel, and all the more so in the holy city of Jerusalem, may it be speedily rebuilt. To hold a parade in Jerusalem celebrating behavior that the Torah forbids taking the abomination to new heights, or should I say depths.

Even the righteous sin:

For there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.
However, the righteous person regrets his sins and does teshuvah. He does not celebrate them!

May we live to see the fulfillment of the prophecy,

And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep Mine ordinances, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.

Friday, July 31, 2015

History Repeats Itself

Unbelievable:
Six people have been injured in a stabbing attack at Jerusalem's gay pride march, according to police.

Emergency services say that two of the victims are in "serious" condition.

The stabber - who was arrested at the scene - has been identified as Yishai Shlissel, the man who was jailed for 12 years for stabbing three people at the same march in 2005.

Shlissel had only been released from jail a few weeks ago, after serving the majority of his term.

Several thousand participants at the 13th annual Jerusalem Pride Parade were marching along Keren Hayesod Street when the knifeman apparently broke through a police cordon to attack them.

The annual gay pride march through Jerusalem has been the source of heated controversy, due to the city's holy status to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Since the 1990s, gay activist groups have held an annual mega-parade in the largely-secular Tel Aviv. However, in 2002 they began holding a smaller, far more contentious march through Jerusalem, amid bitter opposition from the city's largely traditional and religious residents.

Unlike the Tel Aviv event, the Jerusalem march is usually met with loud counter-protests. In 2005 tensions boiled over when a haredi extremist stabbed three participants before being arrested by police.

In recent years, however, protests have been smaller as some haredi leaders urged their followers to stay away from what they term the "abomination parade" altogether.

The fact that these parades are taking place in the holy city of Jerusalem. against the will of the vast majority of its inhabitants, is infuriating. However, to go and stab people...let's just say that it's not a good idea. In fact, gives the organizers of the march exactly what they want: attention. Ten years ago I prescribed the following with regards to this sad event:
My advice to all Jerusalemites is to stay away from the gay parade. There is no reason to go there and protest against the deviants. That is exactly what the organizers of the provocation desire. Instead, stay at home or go to the synagogue and do what we do best: pray.
It is interesting to note that the area which the march took place in, downtown Jerusalem, is slowly but surely turning ultra-Orthodox.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pollard to Go Free?

Not exactly. He will be released from jail but will not be allowed to leave the United States for five years. It looks like Obama and Kerry finally played the Pollard card to draw attention away from the scandalous deal with Iran. It ain't gonna work!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ben Shapiro: It's Not Rude to Say That Someone Who is Biologically a Male is a Male

Ben is an island of clarity in a sea of stupidity:

And BTW, if this Zoey character wants to be a woman, the least he can do is be shomer negiah!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Battle of Beaumont

Every battle has a start,
But there are some battles that never end,
And so was the Battle of Beaumont.

The deadly enemy was indeed daring and formidable,
But absolutley not invincible,
In the Battle of Beaumont.

Somewhere, somehow the Book of War was forgotten,
Along with the Tree of Life,
During the Battle of Beaumont.

And after years of struggle,
From all its lofty heights,
Beaumont plunged to the deepest deaths.

O keyboard warrior, master of cut and paste
Spare me your haughtiness,
As you stare at this destruction made public.

For if Beaumont fell,
Then so can you,
Then so can I.

Faith and Wisdom,
Prayer, prayer, and more prayer,
And your camp shall be holy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu Disassociates Himself From Kashrut Orot Eliyahu

About three and a half years ago "Orot Eliyahu" was born:
A new mehadrin, super-kosher kashrut authority was launched this week from Safed, targeting the national-religious community.

The more discerning members of the crocheted kippa-wearing public will be now able to purchase fresh poultry slaughtered under the auspices of the Badatz Orot Eliyahu authority.

Badatz Orot Eliyahu is the brainchild of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, and Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, dean of the Orot Ha’ari yeshiva in Safed.

The birds will be slaughtered in accordance with the rulings of former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, father of Shmuel, after whom the new authority is named. The nationalreligious Badatz stamp will apply to beef in the coming months.

However, starting from today, 1 Av, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu has nothing to do with "Orot Eliyahu".

FYI.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Justice Clarence Thomas, OBERGEFELL v. HODGES and Rabbi Kook

I saw something interesting today in SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas' dissenting opinion on the OBERGEFELL v. HODGES case. This is what he wrote:
Perhaps recognizing that these cases do not actually involve liberty as it has been understood, the majority goes to great lengths to assert that its decision will advance the “dignity” of same-sex couples.The flaw in that reasoning, of course, is that the Constitution contains no “dignity” Clause, and even if it did, the government would be incapable of bestowing dignity.

Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this Nation was built.

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

This reminded of one of Rabbi Kook's ideas:
The difference between a slave and a free person is not merely a matter of social position. We can find an enlightened slave whose spirit is free, and a free man with the mentality of a slave.

True freedom is that uplifted spirit by which the individual — as well as the nation as a whole — is inspired to remain faithful to his inner essence, to the spiritual attribute of the Divine image within him. It is that quality which enables us to feel that our life has value and meaning.

A person with a slave mentality lives his life and harbors emotions that are rooted, not in his own essential spiritual nature, but in that which is attractive and good in the eyes of others. In this way, he is ruled by others, whether physically or by social conventions.

Vanquished in exile, we were oppressed for hundreds of years by cruel masters. But our inner soul is imbued with the spirit of freedom. Were it not for the wondrous gift of the Torah, bestowed upon us when we left Egypt to eternal freedom, the long exile would have reduced our spirits to the mindset of a slave. But on the festival of freedom, we openly demonstrate that we feel ourselves to be free in our very essence. Our lofty yearnings for that which is good and holy are a genuine reflection of our essential nature.

Do you think that Justice Thomas is familiar with Rabbi Kook's writings?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

It's Time for Jews to Leave the U.S.A. for Israel

I really do think that the time has arrived. Actually, the minute that it was possible to get on a plane or a boat and come to Israel, almost every Jew that puts spirituality before materialism should have gotten up and left. But in light of the decision of the SCOTUS regarding so called "marriage equality" a decision which flies in the face of the Seven Noahide Laws, all 50 states are obligated to tolerate and facilitate this abomination. Even though the gentiles have not been diligent in keeping the Noahide Statutes (see Bava Kama 38A), this decision, as I wrote, is particularly anti-Noahide and as such anti-God.

Now that evil rules from sea to shining sea (along with Hawaii and Alaska), it is worthwhile reviewing the words of our great master and teacher, Maimonides:

It is natural for a man's character and actions to be influenced by his friends and associates and for him to follow the local norms of behavior. Therefore, he should associate with the righteous and be constantly in the company of the wise, so as to learn from their deeds. Conversely, he should keep away from the wicked who walk in darkness, so as not to learn from their deeds.

This is [implied by] Solomon's statement (Proverbs 13:20): "He who walks with the wise will become wise, while one who associates with fools will suffer." Similarly, [Psalms 1:1] states: "Happy is the man who has not followed the advice of the wicked."

A person who lives in a place where the norms of behavior are evil and the inhabitants do not follow the straight path should move to a place where the people are righteous and follow the ways of the good.

If all the places with which he is familiar and of which he hears reports follow improper paths, as in our times, or if he is unable to move to a place where the patterns of behavior are proper, because of [the presence of] bands of raiding troops, or for health reasons, he should remain alone in seclusion as [Eichah 3:28] states: "Let him sit alone and be silent."

If they are wicked and sinful and do not allow him to reside there unless he mingle with them and follow their evil behavior, he should go out to caves, thickets, and deserts [rather than] follow the paths of sinners as [Jeremiah 9:1] states: "Who will give me a lodging place for wayfarers, in the desert."

There are many righteous gentiles in the United States who deplore this decision. My heart is with them, and I hope that they will be able to remove this blight from their nation. As for those Jews that are still loyal to God's Torah, I ask, what more has to happen to make them abandon the fleshpots? As for those Jews of the SCOTUS that contributed to this scandalous decision, I bring a verse from the prophet Malachi,
"For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace; and all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall set them ablaze, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch."
In order to end on a good note, here is the continuation of that prophecy:
"But unto you that fear My name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings; and ye shall go forth, and gambol as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I do make, saith the LORD of hosts."

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Expulsion From Gush Katif and the Sin of the Spies

Most of this week's Torah portion deals with the "sin of the spies". It's been almost ten years since the expulsion from Gush Katif. In my mind, the expulsion was in many ways a repetition of that ancient sin, a sin which our sages view as being the seed of the destruction of the Temples and the exiles that we the Jews as a nation have suffered. I believe in the power of Teshuvah, that it is possible to learn from mistakes and that by doing so, we can make ammends for the bad deeds that were perpetrated. Of course, the first step is realizing that a mistake was made!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Preparing to Receive the Torah

Here are some thoughts on the upcoming holiday of Shavuot that I heard/learned from others:

Tonight is the night that we will complete the counting of the Omer. But it is not enough to count the Omer. You have to make the Omer count! The period between Peisach and Shavuot is a time that one should prepare himself to receive the Torah.

The Torah that we learn, the Mitzvot that we perform, and the acts of loving kindness that we do are like glue that help us to cling to the Creator. If you want to glue two surfaces together, you have to make sure that they are clean before you apply the glue. Dirt will prevent the glue from sticking. Similarly, if we want to cling to God, we have to clean ourselves from transgression.

Humility is also a precondtion to receive the Torah. The Torah is compared to water. Just like water always flows to lower places, the Torah is acquired only by those who are humble.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Redemption Comes Little By Little

This is a good thing to remember today, the 48th anniversary of the liberation of East Jerusalem and the reunification of our holy city. Things are happening here, but one needs to be sensitive to notice. Here is an example:

This a picture I took not too long ago of the Romema neighborhood near the western entrance to Jerusalem. Do you see what I see? Two new apartment buildings being built where previously smaller structures previously existed, if my memory is correct. Jerusalem's population continues to grow. The old vessels are simply too small to contain the blessing! Bigger ones are being built all over. Little by little the redemption is taking place before our eyes. But to see it, your eyes have to be open.

Happy Jerusalem Day!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Attempted Anti-religious Coercion in Rehovot Fails

Recently I came accross the following article by a fellow who goes by the name of David Suissa:
With the Celebrate Israel Festival coming up this Sunday at Rancho Park, I thought it’d be an ideal time to write a love letter expressing my unabashed and unconditional attachment to Israel. But as much as I’d still like to do that, that column will have to wait for another week, because right now my mind is too upset about something that happened recently in the holy land.

It’s a little story that barely made the news, but it speaks to a growing cancer inside the Jewish state, the cancer of religious intolerance.

I smell somebody with an axe to grind! The article continues:
It was brought to my attention two weeks ago when I had lunch with Yitzhar Hess, who runs the Masorti (Conservative) movement in Israel.

In a nutshell, this is what happened: A Charedi mayor of an Israeli town decided to cancel a planned bar mitzvah ceremony for four boys with autism because the ceremony would be taking place in a Conservative, rather than an Orthodox, synagogue.

This special program for boys and girls was launched about 20 years ago by the Masorti movement, and it was introduced last year to the Lotem School in Rehovot, a school run by the municipality that accepts special-needs children from all religious backgrounds. Masorti trains the kids for months in preparation for the big day when they are called to the Torah.

Most of the kids trained in the program have severe autism, so the program developed creative ways to help them recite blessings, such as by pressing buttons on a tablet that plays a recording of the individual blessings. Needless to say, being able to have such a ceremony is an incredibly moving experience for the kids and their families.

But in Rehovot this year, just days before the ceremony was scheduled to take place, the mayor, Rahamim Malul, cancelled it by prohibiting the staff at the school from participating in the event. According to Hess, it was a chain reaction that began when a Charedi mother at the school (who did not have a child in the Bar-Bat Mitzvah program) complained to the Charedi head rabbi of Rehovot (Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook) who called Charedi MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) who then called Malul.

Read the rest. As is typical with such agenda driven dribble, the author does not bother to present the other side of the story. Why bother seeking the other side of the story when the author is obviously interested in presenting the event as an example of the "growing cancer inside the Jewish state, the cancer of religious intolerance"?

Through the wonders of Google I was able to find the other side of the story (in Hebrew). It turns out, according to the Rehovot Municipality, that we are dealing with a case of anti-religious coercion. The school in question provides education to children with special needs from Rehovot and its surroundings. The students in the school in question come from secular, religious, and ultra-Orthodox homes. There were parents that objected to this "Bar Mitzvah" ceremony taking place in a non-Orthodox synagogue, as this would prevent their children from participating. A meeting was held where it was agreed to by all the parties involved, including the parents and representatives of the Conservative Movement, that the ceremony would take place in a synagogue that is located inside one of the city's schools. The CEO of the Conservative Movement in Israel rejected the compromise that was reached.

That's the story in a nutshell. If there is a party-pooper here, it is the CEO of the Conservative Movement in Israel. Chazak Uvaruch to Rahamim Malul, the mayor of Rehovot, and to the parents to standing up to such coercion.

As an aside, it's no secret that the Conservative Movement is imploding in the United States. They are not having too much success here in Israel either, and that's an understatement.

An additional aside: Apparently the rabbi of the Conservative synagogue where the ceremony was supposed to take place is openly gay.

This case is a typical example of why one should here both sides of the story before forming an opinion.

Monday, May 04, 2015

הכל מעלין לארץ ישראל

מענייןרבי שמואל אלכסנדר אונסדורפר בביקור אצל הרבי מליובאוויטש בתקופת מלחמת המפרץ - י"ב בשבט תשנ"א. שיחה שאל את הרבי, היות שבתור רב באים לשאלו אם לנסוע מארץ ישראל ולארץ ישראל, מה עליו להשיב. הרבי הגיב כי יועיל כלום מה שיאמר לו הרבי מה לעשות כיון שדרוש שיענה תשובה רב מארץ ישראל, והוא - הרבי, אינו רב ולא מארץ ישראל. אם כן - סיים הרבי - עליך ללמוד הענינים בשולחן ערוך, והרי הדברים פשוטים, שאלו הדרים בארץ ישראל ודאי חל עליהם איסור לנסוע מארץ ישראל, ואפילו אלו שגרים כאן ופרסמו שהולכים לנסוע לשם, אם כן ביטול הנסיעה על ידי הפרסום שנלווה לזה הוא ודאי ענין שנגד השולחן ערוך.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Israel Independence Day #67

My keyboard cannot possibly express how grateful I am to God for the State of Israel. King David said it best:
A Song of Ascents.

When the LORD brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream.

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing;

then said they among the nations: 'The LORD hath done great things with these.'

The LORD hath done great things with us; we are rejoiced.

Turn our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the dry land.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

Though he goeth on his way weeping that beareth the measure of seed,

he shall come home with joy, bearing his sheaves.

A Song of Ascents. Israel is ascending! In spite of all of the difficulties, the nation is advancing materially and spiritually.

When the LORD brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream. Is this not a dream, that after almost 2000 years of exile we have been gathered from the four corners of the earth? Is it not a dream that the Hebrew language, which was more or less dormant, has come to life? Is it not a dream, that the land which was desolate is now blooming?

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; We are happy indeed, however this verse will be actualized to its fullest extent only when the Temple is rebuilt.

then said they among the nations: 'The LORD hath done great things with these. The righteous among the gentiles recognize the great things that have happened, in some cases even before we see it ourselves. They rejoice with us. The wicked among them are also conscious of what is happening, and therefore they oppose us in every imaginable way.

The LORD hath done great things with us; we are rejoiced. Woe to those among us who do not see the hand of God in the establishment of the state of Israel. Woe to the ingrates! "The upright see it, and are glad; and all iniquity stoppeth her mouth(Psalms 107)."

Turn our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the dry land.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

Yes, we sow in tears. The land is acquired through affliction. However, in spite of all the sorrow, it is worth it.

Though he goeth on his way weeping that beareth the measure of seed,

he shall come home with joy, bearing his sheaves.

Just as the farmer who plants will enjoy the fruits of his labor, so it is with the land of Israel. Those that labor to build and protect it will enjoy its spiritual benefits in this world and in the world to come.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shalom Sherki hy"d

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet:
The funeral of Shalom Yohai Sherki, the 25-year-old murdered in what police say was likely a car terror attack on Wednesday night, was held in the Givat Shaul neighborhood of Jerusalem on Thursday, the same day as Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Sherki, the son of prominent religious-Zionist Rabbi Uri Sherki, was murdered when an Arab driver ran over him and his date Shira Klein as they waited at a bus stop in the French Hill neighborhood. Klein is in serious condition herself, and the public is asked to pray for her recovery.

At the funeral at Har Hamenuchot cemetary, Sherki's father said: "for you my dear son it isn't difficult because your noble soul is ascending directly to the King of Peace. Not only did you merit to be among those killed for (G-d's) Kingdom, but in your death you also saved the life of the woman who stood by your side. You had an exalted soul."

I attended the funeral, along with, I estimate, a few thousand others. My condolences go out to the entire family. I have been privileged to hear many Torah lessons from Rabbi Uri Sherki, Shalom's father. May the Rabbi, his family, and the entire nation find comfort in the building of Zion.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Tragedy: Young Man Trampled to Death During Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner's Funeral

So sad:
The 27 year-old man who was trampled during the funeral Saturday night for Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner has been identified Sunday as yeshiva (Torah academy) student Mordehai Gerber.

Gerber was one of 12 people injured early Sunday morning during the funeral, as some 100,000 people flocked to the ceremony to pay their respects in Bnei Brak.

Magen David Adom (MDA) medics rushed to the scene of the trampling on R' Dessler St. at about 1:30 am, where they described a grisly scene. Four people were seriously injured, including a 14 year-old boy.

Gerber died of his wounds at Tel Aviv's Ichilov hospital after suffering chest and abdominal injuries.

A resident of Elad, Gerber leaves behind a wife and child.

He himself was orphaned at a young age, and R' Wosner assisted him and supported him.

These funerals can be dangerous. Read about my "near death" experiences at the funerals of Rabbi Kaduri and Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Yellow-vented Bulbul in a Loquat Tree

Did you ever see a yellow-vented bulbul in a loquat tree? This bird is enjoying the holy fruit of the land of Israel. How about you?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Naftali Bennett's Victory

What seemed to be a lackluster election turned into an event that people are going to remember here for a long time. Netanyahu's victory, in spite of an incredibly hostile Israeli press and foreign intervention, was indeed remarkable.

As has widely been noted, this victory was at the expense of other right wing parties, particularly the Jewish Home party, which plummeted from 12 seats in the 19th Knesset to just 8 in the 20th. What has not been noted, is something much more important than the number of seats that a certain party holds. Bibi Netanyahu has adopted an important part of the Jewish Home platform, a very non-pc item which was unique only to the Jewish Home: an absolute "no" to an independent Arab State between the Jordan River and the Mediteranean Sea, what us known today as " a Palestinian State."

Indeed, much has changed since Netanyahu's speech at Bar Ilan University where he accepted the "two state solution." Netanyahu the pragmatist realizes that with militant Islam on the march and general instability here in the Middle East, combined with our sad experiences with the PA over the last 20 years, setting up a PA state would be an absolute folly.

There is no doubt in my mind that Naftali Bennett, by bravely stating his opposition to a Palestinian State for the past couple of years, in Israel and in television interviews abroad, paved the way for Netanyahu's change of heart. So in spite of the loss of Knessett seats, Bennett has chalked up a victory.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Thank God Soon the Elections Will Be Behind Us

There are only a few days left. We've been flooded with polls, text messages, surveys and opinion pieces. Soon it will all be over. Then the agonizing process of building a coaltion and government. Let's hope that it will be a good one.

And now for some exclusive Cosmic X pics! (Click to enlarge)

Yachad headquarters in Giv'at Shaul with piles of the first issue of their newspaper, "HaNe'eman".

A defaced Shas poster. The sign read, "Father is looking from above". Someone changed it to, "The army is looking from above."

The defacers couldn't touch this one!

A few older pics:

The Zionist Camp: Herzog is a responsible, deliberate leader.

Kahlon for the Minister of Finance.

Bibi: It's us or them.

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