Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Thoughts From Jerusalem

I've been living here in Israel for a long time. Not only that, it has been a long time since I have even visited the United States, where I was born, reared and raised. I usually feel just about 100% Israeli.

However, when I read about the what Hurricane Sandy has wrought on New York and New Jersey, the lives lost and the damage inflicted, I feel American again. Those are my old friends and neighbors, their homes and businesses who are now suffering. Those are the landscapes of my youth which have been battered by the wind and covered with sea and rain water. Yes, my heart bleeds.

On the other hand, one cannot help but feel the awesomeness of God: A full moon, high tide, a hurricane from the East and a cold front from from the West. Some may say that it was all a coincidence. I do not believe it.

Why this had to happen I do not know. I am sure that God has His reasons. I am not God's accountant. He really does not need one.

King David was also moved by the weather as it reflected the power of the God of Israel:
1 Hallelujah; {N}
for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is comely.
2 The LORD doth build up Jerusalem, He gathereth together the dispersed of Israel;
3 Who healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
4 He counteth the number of the stars; He giveth them all their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
6 The LORD upholdeth the humble; He bringeth the wicked down to the ground.
7 Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving, sing praises upon the harp unto our God;
8 Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, {N} who maketh the mountains to spring with grass.
9 He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
10 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse; He taketh no pleasure in the legs of a man.
11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that wait for His mercy.
12 Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion.
13 For He hath made strong the bars of thy gates; He hath blessed thy children within thee.
14 He maketh thy borders peace; He giveth thee in plenty the fat of wheat.
15 He sendeth out His commandment upon earth; His word runneth very swiftly.
16 He giveth snow like wool; He scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes.
17 He casteth forth His ice like crumbs; who can stand before His cold?
18 He sendeth forth His word, and melteth them; He causeth His wind to blow, and the waters flow.
19 He declareth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel.
20 He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them. {N} Hallelujah.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Who Will Ascend God's Mountain?

Ha'aretz has an interesting article about those who ascend the Temple Mount. It does contains a few libelous slurs against politicians from the Israeli Right("members who are extreme in their xenophobia, such as MK Michael Ben Ari") ,as well as a little bit of pseudo-intellectual humbug, which, unfortunately, is to be expected from that media outlet. Excluding that, the author Shani Littman did a really good job.

Personally, I do not ascend the Temple Mount, since I was instructed not to by the late Rabbi Avaraham Shapira zt"l. However, I support the right of those who follow other rabbis and take the proper halachic measures to do so.

To give you a taste of the article, here is a question that the author asked Arnon Segal and his answer:
What is the Temple meant to do?

“It is the heart of Judaism. Numerically, one-third of the 613 commandments are not fulfilled today because of the absence of a Temple. The Temple is the Jewish public sphere that we lost. I want a transnational Judaism, which will encompass all the commandments. The rabbis will not confine themselves solely to the synagogue. A Sanhedrin is needed. That is an inspirational institution. People would come there and be impressed by the light that exists in Judaism. The Jews are one religion, not a collection of sects. A temple is something that is built together.”
Read the rest.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Corries are Back!

Cindy and Craig Corrie, the parents of the infamous Rachel Corrie, seem to love Israel. After losing their frivolous lawsuit against the Israeli Ministry of Defense, they are back for another visit! According to this web site, this time around they are coming in honor of the olive harvest:
The delegation focuses on the Palestinian olive harvest which takes place each autumn. The olive harvest is an occasion of particular cultural and economic importance for Palestinian communities and a time when tensions between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of the West Bank run high.
As a veteran Israeli I feel obligated to offer a little bit of friendly advice for Craig and Cindy. After all, they are in a foreign county and they do not understand our language and customs.

1) If you reach an intersection and the traffic light is red, do not cross the street. Wait for the light to turn green, look both ways to make sure that there are no cars coming and then, only then, cross the street with caution.

2) If you see a fenced off area with a sign that says, "DANGER CONSTRUCTION, do not jump the fence.

3) Do not try to block moving vehicles, be they tractors, trucks, automobiles or motorcycles.

4) Do not enter closed military zones.

By the way, for those of you who do not know, the Corries hail from Olympia, Washington, an area whose Native American inhabitants were decimated by white settlers in the 19th century.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

HH Blurb!

Esser Agaroth: Haveil Havalim #382: The Dual Elections Edition

The Seventh of Marcheshvan

Today is the day we that start to request rain in the silent prayer, at least here in the land of Israel. Although the rainy season officially begins on Shemini Atzeret, when we start to say "Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem", we waited until now so that all the American Jewish tourists Babylonian Jews could return safely to their dwellings in America Babylon without being rained upon.

Perhaps this is a good time to look back at the holiday season that was. Here are a few observations:

1) You get out of it what you put into it. If you made an effort to get up early in Elul to say Selichot, if you devoted time to really reflect on your deeds, if you made an effort to change, if you fulfilled the mitzvot of Sukkot properly, I have no doubt that you were spiritually uplifted.

2) I had the opportunity do daven in the rebuilt Churva synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was really special. They have an interesting custom of not saying "Baruch Hu U'Varuch Shmo" during the repetition of the silent prayer. This I was told, was in keeping with the custom of the Gaon of Vilna. There is a certain atmosphere of splendor and honor that gave me a slight idea of what it might be like to daven in the Temple, may it speedily be rebuilt!

3) The Old City was packed with tourists from all over the world. BDS is a real big failure!

4) The Western Wall was packed with worshipers. The facilities available here have greatly improved over the years.

5) I was also in the City of David. That place has changed so much since in the almost three decades that I have been here. The more they dig there the more they reveal the ancient city of Jerusalem, much to the chagrin of the Arabs and the leftists. The City of David, like the Old City, was packed with tourists.

7) We are progressing towards full redemption, little by little. So I say to you Jews living abroad what Moses said to his father in law, " 'We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said: I will give it you; come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.' "

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Rooting" for Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman continues to be a draw for Jewish community fundraising events. She was honored by WIZO, the Women's International Zionist Organization, for "her courage and commitment to the Jewish people after dedicating her extraordinary performance to the eleven Israeli athletes massacred 40 years ago at the Olympic Games in Munich."

7 news quotes her saying,
“Being Jewish and having accomplished that at the Olympics it means more than words can describe. It means so much to me.”
I am still "rooting" for Raisman.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Stranger Will Not Understand

I heard the following story the other day:

A gentile tourist from Germany was strolling down the streets of Jerusalem on the night after Simchat Torah. He heard loud music ringing out from one of the buildings. Curious, he made his way inside the building, which just happened to be a Yeshivah, and wandered about the corridors until he found the source of the music that he had heard. Inside a large room, which happened to be the Beit Midrash, a band was playing, and scores of Jewish men were dancing and singing joyously.

The curious tourist, bareheaded and sporting several tattoos, stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb. He approached a bespectacled middle aged Jew who was standing on the side of the room and asked him, "What's going on here?"

"People are dancing," he answered him in an Israeli accent.

"I can see that people are dancing," the tourist answered, clearly frustrated from receiving such an obvious answer. "Why are they dancing?" he continued to inquire.

"Well, we just finished reading a book," the Israeli answered him.

The tourist from Germany was puzzled and coldly commented, "I've finished many books and never danced about it. What do you do when you stop dancing?"

"We start to read the book again," came the answer from the Jew. Then he added, "We've been reading this book for over three thousand years!"

"Well that sounds pretty boring!" the German declared.

The Israeli muttered to himself in Hebrew, "Zar Lo Yavin." (A stranger will not understand).

Hakafot Sheniyot in the Cave of the Patriarchs

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