Thursday, July 19, 2018

Eicha, how?

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

How can I carry you as a burden by myself, with the trouble you cause, and your fighting? (Devarim 1:12)

THE FIGHT FOR life is the fight for spiritual sensitivity. Everything good about a person flows from that. This is evident from all of history, but especially so from today’s society. There have always been rude people, but never has rudeness become such a part of the daily landscape.

Greeks could be rude as well. It is a natural instinct, perhaps even part of human survival. But, when the Greeks went to the theatre, only the bad guys were impolite. The good guys were always the one’s trying to act nobly. Even gladiators probably didn’t “trash talk” one another.

Man was made in the image of God. This means that he has the capacity to act Godly, with “Derech Eretz.” He can be a “mentsch.” His body, however, was created in the image of the animal world, and that gives a person the capacity to act like one.

Rav Wolbe in “Aleh Shor” explains that man’s defining characteristic is his ability to pray. He points out that animals can do many of the things that impress us about ourselves, including building things. But animals cannot pray, something that is unique to man.

What this really means is that man should first-and-foremost be a “spiritual being having a physical experience.” Animals are just the opposite. They are physical beings with a minimal amount of spiritual potential. But they don’t need more than that, because they were not given free will to increase their Godliness. They are exactly what they were created to be, and this is as spiritual as they need to be.

Obviously spirituality is a function of one’s belief in God. The more one believes in God, the more spiritual they will be. The less spiritual a person behaves, the less they believe in God, EVEN IF THEY ARE RELIGIOUS. The two go hand-in-hand and are inseparable, and the fight for life is to remain spiritual so that one can remain Godly.

But that’s not what the body wants. It came from the ground and wants to go back to the ground. Death is the fastest way, but it will settle for a waste of life. It has emotions such as material desire, jealousy, and hatred, etc., in its arsenal. It does not hesitate to use any to its full advantage in its war against spirituality when the opportunity arises.

The trouble with spiritual wars, unlike physical wars, is that you don’t necessarily know when you are fighting one. In conventional wars, when the bullets fly, you can hear them whiz overhead, or hit some target. When spiritual bullets fly, a person can obliviously be having the time of their life. It is usually only after there has been a consequence that a person realizes the danger they HAD been in.

That’s this week’s parsha. That’s Eichah that we will read on Tisha B’Av. Each is a look-back, a lesson for the future based upon the failures of the past. How? That’s what Eichah asks. How did you do it? How did you start so high and end up so low? How did you build so much and end up destroying even more?

The answer: spiritual desensitization.

Spiritual sensitivity is an ongoing battle. If it is not being maintained, it is being drained. If someone is not working hard to keep it strong, the yetzer hara will work hard to make it weak. Needless to say, it has done just this to most of the world’s population ever since leaving the Garden of Eden, and even while still there.

This is what we’re supposed to think about on Shabbos Chazon. This is what we’re supposed to recall, sitting on the floor and reading Eichah on Tisha B’Av. We’re supposed to recall, while going one-by-one through the Kinos, how many times we forgot this message, and what it has cost us throughout the ages. THAT is the beginning of the tikun, the initial steps in the direction of redemption.

Rav Kook on Tisha B'Av: The Three Watches of the Night

Anguished Roars

All over the world there are flourishing Jewish communities, blessed with thriving synagogues, bustling schools, and prominent yeshivot. But with all of this Torah study and mitzvah-observance, do we feel the absence of the Beit HaMikdash? Are we aware of our state of exile and dispersion?

The anguished roars of a lion - that is how the prophet describes God’s constant grief over the loss of the Holy Temple: “God roars from on high; He calls out from His holy dwelling, roaring over His habitation” (Jeremiah 25:30).

The Sages were able to hear these roars and translate them for us:

“Woe to My children! On account of their sins, I have destroyed My House and set fire to My sanctuary and exiled them among the nations of the world.” (Berachot 3a)

Three Watches

The Rabbis also knew at what hour these heavenly cries may be heard. These roars, they taught, take place during the three watches of the night. (The darkness of night is a common metaphor for the exile.) And there are even signs that indicate the exact time of these anguished cries:

“The night consists of three watches, and during each watch the Holy One sits and roars like a lion.... The sign for this: in the first watch, a donkey brays; in the second, dogs howl; and in the third, a baby nurses from its mother and a woman converses with her husband.”

What is the meaning of these strange signs - donkeys braying, dogs howling, babies nursing, and early-morning conversations?

The Flawed Service of Israel in Exile

We must first understand the significance of these night watches. The watches are a metaphor for underlying spiritual mechanisms in the universe. Each watch corresponds to the elevation of higher realms, an elevation that is a result of Israel’s service of God in this world. Since the Temple’s destruction and the exile of Israel, however, the Jewish nation has been reduced to an atrophied spiritual life. This decline has diminished the overall level of Divine providence in the world. The roars of heavenly anguish during the night watches are an expression of the cosmic pain caused by this spiritual decline.

Why are there three watches? The three watches correspond to the three basic levels in which we serve God: (1) through our actions, (2) by refining our character traits, and (3) by deepening our understanding and knowledge.

Sadly, all three aspects have been adversely affected by the exile and the absence of the Beit HaMikdash.

Deeds and Traits

The first form of serving God is through deeds and actions. When the Jewish people are on an elevated spiritual plane, their mitzvot and acts of kindness are guided by a profound awareness of God’s presence. Due to the detrimental influences of exile, however, all of our actions are tainted by an overall atmosphere of self-centeredness and materialism. This causes our service of God to lose its reparative quality of tikkun. Lacking the guidance of Divine wisdom, materialistic tendencies are reinforced. This phenomenon is particularly apparent regarding mitzvot that involve physical pleasures, such as the mitzvah to rejoice on the holidays.

For this reason, the sign of the first watch is the braying of a donkey (in Hebrew, chamor), indicating the awakening of materialistic tendencies (chomriut). This is a basic aspect of human nature - “For man is born a wild donkey” (Job 11:12) - that is bolstered by the negative influences of exile and its limited spiritual life.

The second night-watch corresponds to our service of God through the acquisition of positive character traits, such as kindness, generosity, and humility. The current state of the world, however, with its lack of holy influences, fosters various negative traits. This is not due to the body’s physicality but rather because we lack an accurate image of pure and refined traits, as we are unable to faithfully model ourselves after God’s traits of kindness and compassion.

The sign for the distortion of this service is the howling of dogs. Dogs symbolize negative traits, especially insolence (see Isaiah 56:11). Greed and brazenness are the source for many other flawed traits.

Service of the Intellect

The final watch corresponds to the highest form of serving God: using our cognitive powers. There are two levels in this avodah: those who study Halachah and the revealed parts of Torah, and those who delve into deeper esoteric studies. Unlike the service of God in actions and character traits, Torah learning cannot be debased. As the Sages taught, “Words of Torah cannot contract ritual impurity” (Berachot 22a). Therefore the signs of the third watch are positive ones, signs of Divine intimacy and beneficence: a baby nursing and a wife conversing with her husband.

However, even this level is detrimentally influenced by the exile. What is the heavenly sign for those who study the revealed parts of Torah? “A baby nursing from its mother.” This indicates a state that is incomplete, an intellectual service not fully developed; it is therefore symbolized by a nursing baby.

Those who study on a deeper level, contemplating the nature of God with philosophical and mystical inquiries, are blessed with a revealed love of God. The sign for this level is one of love and affection - “a woman conversing with her husband.” Nonetheless, even this holy service appears to be deficient, as the Sages described it as a ‘conversation’ (mesaperet), the relating of stories without deeper and truer content. Once again, this state is due to our current lack of Divine inspiration and prophetic wisdom.

What is the Lost Glory of HaShem?

Parashat Devarim 5778
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

The Gemara (Chagiga 5b) quotes the pasuk (Yirmiyahu 13,17):

ואם לא תשמעוה במסתרים תבכה נפשי מפני גוה ודמע תדמע ותרד עיני דמעה כי נשבה עדר ה’

If you do not listen, I will weep in a secret place because of glory;
My eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be taken captive.

Rav Shmuel bar Inia said in the name of Rav, “HaShem has a place On High and it is called Mistarim (literally mysteries, concealment), where HaShem cries each day because of His lost glory”. In yeshiva they asked, “What is ‘the lost glory’ referring to?” Rav Shmuel bar Yitzchak replied, “This is the glory of Israel, which was taken from them and awarded to the nations.”

Rav Shmuel bar Nachmani says: “It refers to the lost glory of HaShem”.

Show me Your Glory

It would appear that the last days of Moshe Rabbeinu were the worst period in the already exasperating life of the greatest leader of the Jewish nation. It seems that HaShem was oblivious to the needs and well-deserved desires of His most loyal servant.

When HaShem castigated Aharon and Miriam for criticizing their illustrious brother, did HaShem not say to them (Bamidbar 12):

(ו) ויאמר שמעו נא דברי אם יהיה נביאכם ה’ במראה אליו אתודע בחלום אדבר בו:
(ז) לא כן עבדי משה בכל ביתי נאמן הוא:
(ח) פה אל פה אדבר בו ומראה ולא בחידת ותמנת ה’ יביט ומדוע לא יראתם לדבר בעבדי במשה:

Listen to My words: When there is a prophet among you, I the Lord, reveal Myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams.
But this is not true of My servant Moses; the most faithful in all My house.
With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles or allegories.
Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moshe?”

Nevertheless, four times Moshe relented under HaShem’s rejection of the desires that were closest to Moshes’ heart.

HaShem did not appoint any of Moshe’s children to succeed him in the leadership role of the nation.

HaShem ordained that Moshe would not enter the holy land but remain in galut even in death.

HaShem ordained that just as in his lifetime, Moshe, in death would remain an outsider to be buried in an unknown place, where no man could visit to pray and say Tehillim.

HaShem commanded Moshe to destroy the nation of Midian; the very same people that gave Moshe refuge when he escaped the claws of Paro after killing the Egyptian. Moshe was aristocracy, as the son-in-law of Yitro. He knew all the kings of Midian, the princes and establishment for tens of years; but now he would have to kill each and every one.

This is what appears from the simple reading of the Torah text. However, in reality, these were the greatest days of Moshe’s life, when HaShem drew him into the closest relationship a human could attain with the Infinite Creator, as follows:

HaShem appeared to Moshe saying:

“You recall 39 years ago after the episode of the “aigel hazahav” (the Golden Calf), you requested of Me:

שמות פרק לג יח): ויאמר הראני נא את כבדך)

(Exodus 33:18) ‘Show me Your glory’

You obviously did not request to “see” My infinite glory through your human eyes of flesh and blood. You wished that I disclose to you the inner essence of My glorious self; My magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty and brilliance.

At that time, I denied you entrance to My essence; even by your limited human capacity to grasp anything regarding the Omnipotent Creator.

However now, during the lasts days of your human life, I will go even further than what you wished. I will make you partner in My “glory”, where you will feel the things that I as the Infinite Creator feels; you will experience what no man before you has, as we share in the feelings of My “glory”.

However, Moshe, recall the Gemara in Chagiga 5b (part A:) that describes what happened to My “glory”.

What you, Moshe, presumed to be My glory, magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty and brilliance is replaced by the sadness I feel when I see My children of Yisrael not continuing in My ways, by accepting Avoda Zara, which will eventually destroy My first Bet Hamikdash. And this you will feel with Me when you see that your children will not follow in your path.

What you presume to be My glory, magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty and brilliance is replaced by My profound sorrow when I will be forced to send My children into exile for their sins; and I will have to be with them in the galut. So, you too Moshe will share in My “lost glory” as you feel now in the exile from the holy land that you so much wish to be part of.

What you presume to be My glory, magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty and brilliance is replaced by a profound feeling of loneliness when My chosen nation neglects My Torah, and you too Moshe will join with Me in this “glory” when you will be buried alone in a hidden place far from the eyes of man.

What you presume to be My glory, magnificence, splendor, grandeur, majesty and brilliance is replaced by immense disappointment when I am forced by the quality of justice to punish people whom I have created to do good, but fell by the wayside of evil. So too, you Moshe will share in My “glory” as Creator and feel with Me the pain of having those who are close to you being punished.

These were Moshe’s finest hours, as he was able to share with the Holy One, Blessed be He, the “questionable” glory that should be HaShem’s but was relegated to future times because of our sins.

But at the appointed time, in the not too distant future, when Moshe will return after techiyat hamaytim (resurrection) we shall all partake in the restored glory of HaShem here in Eretz Yisrael.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5778/2018 Nachman Kahana

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Redemption of Zion and its Returnees

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

In this week's Haftorah, it says: "Zion will be redeemed through justice, and its returnees through charity." (Yeshaya 1:27) We note that the redemption of Zion will be through "justice," whereas the return of the exiled people will be through "charity."

R. Chaim Volozhoner zt"l explains this based on the laws of loans and guarantors. When the borrower establishes a guarantor, who will be responsible for the repayment of the debt, the law is that when the borrower repays the loan – the guarantor is also rightfully exempt. However, when the lender cancels the loan, there is a distinction between the exemption of the borrower and the exemption of the guarantor. The borrower is exempt due to the kindness of the lender, who canceled his load. However, the guarantor is not exempt due to the kindness of the borrower, but rather, once the borrower is exempt – the guarantor is rightfully exempt from his guarantee.

We find the Temple is a guarantor for Israel's "debt" to G-d. "These are the reckonings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of Testimony." (Shemot 38:21) Rashi writes: "The Mishkan, the Mishkan: Two times, an allusion to the Mishkan (i.e., Temple) that was taken as collateral (mashkon) in the two destructions for the sins of Israel." Thus, the Mishkan is a guarantee. When Israel sinned, G-d took the guarantee. When G-d will have mercy on Israel and forego their sins, the guarantor will no longer be obligated, and the Temple will be rebuilt – just as the cancellation of the debt exempts the guarantor.

This is what the prophet says: "Zion will be redeemed through justice, and its returnees through righteousness." The returnees merit G-d's kindness, and it is charity from Him that He exonerates them. However, Zion is redeemed through justice; after G-d exonerates Israel, the Beit Hamikdash will be rebuilt rightfully – through justice – and not through charity.

R. Chaim added that Zion, which symbolizes Klal Yisrael, has a promise that it will be redeemed in any case: "Your children will return to their border." (Yirmiya 31:17) The Ohr Hachaim writes that the redemption will come even if all of Israel are completely wicked, G-d forbid. However, the returnees, the individuals – will not be redeemed other than in the merit of their good deeds: charity.

Menachem Av

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

Though the month of Av carries with a title - menachem - meaning comfort and consolation, it nevertheless remains the saddest and most disturbing month of the Jewish calendar. Comfort is a great and necessary word but as a true concept and reality it is very difficult to obtain. This is particularly true for individuals reeling from the loss of a beloved one but it is also generally true for the national entity of the Jewish people as well.

There has as yet been no comfort, even no closure, regarding the terrible national tragedy of the Holocaust, even though more than six decades have passed since the event. This should come as no surprise to Jews, for, to a great extent, the Jewish people have yet to be comforted for the destruction of our Temple and our exile- events which are almost two millennia old.

No person or institution in Jewish life is indispensable. But neither are they replaceable. It is the void that is left because of this irrepaceability that prevents true comfort from taking hold. Therefore, the Jewish people have remained restless and many times even disoriented over the long exile that we have endured.

The sadness of the first ten days of Av permeates and resonates within us precisely because the sense of closure and comfort has eluded us.

The Talmud states that there is a heavenly decree that engenders forgetfulness of the departed by those still living. However, if the object of grief and despair and loss is not truly dead but is only absent - such as was the case regarding Jacob’s grief over the loss of Joseph - then this sense of closure and comfort remains absent as well.

That is why the Torah records for us the inability of Jacob to accept comfort and solace from his family and friends. Since Joseph was not dead; the heavenly decree of forgetfulness which allows comfort was inoperative in his case.

I believe that in an ironic and odd way the fact that the Jewish people still suffer from the anguish of the Holocaust is because of the intense efforts made by the Jewish community to prevent forgetfulness of the Holocaust from settling in. It is the Holocaust-deniers that wish to lull us into a false sense of comfort, to proclaim that it is over and that therefore bygones should remain bygones.

The Bible records for us that our mother Rachel refuses to be comforted over the exile of her children because she is convinced that they are not permanently lost or exiled but will return. There is a positive side therefore to not being comforted. It allows for a connection to an unknown future that will not only provide comfort but even replacement of what and who was lost.

The sadness and tension of the first part of the month of Av are still with us centuries after the event of the destruction of the Temple simply because deep within the heart and psyche of the Jewish people the Temple is not gone, it is only missing. The entire enterprise of the return of the millions of Jewish people to the Land of Israel over the past two centuries and the establishment of the Jewish state in our ancient homeland is testimony to the fact that to the Jews the Land of Israel and the Temple were not dead issues.

Those Jewish communities and individuals who "proclaimed that Berlin is our Jerusalem" and therefore sought permanent comfort in being "good" Germans, Russians, Poles, etc. did not fare well in God’s world. False comfort is far more damaging than no comfort at all. It remained for those Jews who did not forget that they were from Zion and Jerusalem to arise and help the Jewish people survive the worst and bloodiest century in its long history.

The prophet warns us against "being comfortable in Zion." Living in the Land of Israel is not a comfortable experience though it is a holy, challenging and inspiring one. For living in the Land of Israel makes us aware of what we have achieved against all odds and at the same time to appreciate what is still missing. The awareness of what is missing is what prevents us from being "comfortable in Zion."

Thus the month of Av symbolizes in it the angst and challenge of living a Jewish life, of being grateful for what we have and yet maintaining a sense of loss for what we are still missing. May this month yet bring us the feeling of menachem - of a better time and the eventual comfort promised to us by God and His prophets.

After the Ninth of Av

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

Dedicated to the memory of Hana Bat Haim

Each Tisha B'Av, Jews come en masse to the remnant of our Holy Temple, the Western Wall. The congregants cry, read the Book of Eicha, and recite heartfelt lamentations over the Temple's destruction.

Much bereavement and pain are expressed over the Temple's ruin, and this pain is mixed with a deep yearning and a sincere desire to witness the speedy rebuilding of the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah - a unique house the purpose of which is to allow the dwelling of the Divine Presence among the nation of Israel.

The great obstacles which stand in our way do not weaken our faith and conviction that this goal will be fulfilled, and we hope that this will happen soon. In fact, we pray for this a number of times each day: "May it be Your will God our Lord and the Lord of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days."

Five things happened to our ancestors on the Ninth of Av. One of them was that it was decreed by God that the generation that left Egypt would not have the privilege of entering the land of Israel because of the Sin of the Spies. The spies sinned by making derogatory remarks about the land of Israel, referring to it as "a land that consumes its inhabitants." Thus, the Sin of the Spies can be rectified by our noting the desirable qualities of the land of Israel and making a point of praising it.

If a person complains that it is difficult to live in the land of Israel because of the security situation, the extended compulsory military service and reserve duty, or the terrorism, he is guilty of having committing the Sin of the Spies.

A person who claims it is impossible to live in Israel because of the high taxes, income tax, value added tax, bureaucracy, or unemployment, is guilty of the Sin of the Spies.

Don't try to justify such talk by explaining that, after all, such criticism is accurate: it is indeed easier to live in France, America, or Canada. The spies also reported the true and accurate facts, and in this they sinned: they told unpleasant facts about the land of Israel. Regarding the land of Israel one must say only good things. But it is not enough to say good things - one must see the good in Israel, like Joshua and Caleb, who saw the good in Israel and said: "The land is extremely good."

Joshua and Caleb, of course, saw the same thing that the other spies saw, but their love of the land and their complete faith in God caused them to see the positive aspects of Israel.

If all of us see the positive qualities of the land of Israel, the land of our forefathers, its divine, spiritual value; if we feel happy to live in Israel as it is, happy to be living among the people of Israel with no foreign power ruling over us and our land; if we accept lovingly the obligations that come with living in Israel and understand that they are not obligations but privileges; if we understand that serving in the IDF is not an obligation but a privilege - it is a privilege to protect the nation and the land; if we understand that the yoke of taxes is not a yoke but a privilege, that it is a privilege to participate in the efforts to strengthen immigration, absorption and development of the land of Israel; if we embrace such an approach we will be able to rectify the Sin of the Spies which delayed the entrance of our forefathers and ourselves into the land of Israel.

We must rectify whatever possible, but we must see the entire situation favorably, in a positive light. Such an outlook leads to a happy life in Israel - a creative, meaningful, joyful existence.

This sort of approach and these sorts of feelings will, in addition, serve to attract our Jewish brothers in the Diaspora to Israel. They too will want to experience the joy of living in the land of Israel. By creating such an environment "Aliya" (Jewish immigration) will be strengthened and "Yerida" (emigration from Israel) will be lessened.

Such an outlook does not constitute a disregard for the problems; rather, it constitutes a rising up to see the essence, the positive, and the good - for, indeed, "the land is exceedingly good."

"Because of Groundless Hatred"

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

Dedicated to the memory of R. Meir b"r Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

The Sages ask the following question: If, as we know, during the period of the Second Commonwealth, Jews busied themselves studying Torah, doing Mitzvoth, and performing acts of kindness, why was the Holy Temple destroyed? Answer: Because of groundless hatred.

Yet, what sort of senseless hatred could possibly have been practiced by people who busied themselves studying Torah, doing Mitzvoth and performing acts of kindness? How is it possible that people of such commendable fiber could have allowed themselves to be caught up in blind animosity - what our sages refer to as "Sinat Chinam"? It appears that this hatred evolved precisely upon the background of the praiseworthy acts that they were so adamant about performing. The period of the end of the Second Commonwealth runs parallel to the appearance of a fiery debate in the field of Jewish law. According to our sages, this controversy began to develop in the time of the early Mishnaic masters known as "the Pairs", and reached its height with the flowering of the Schools of Hillel and Shamai. Though it began as a legitimate debate, a sincere attempt to clarify the truth, untainted by trivial contention - it appears to have eventually seeped into areas unrelated to the actual laws at question.

The Schools of Hillel and Shamai debated for three years. One side exclaimed, "The law is as we say." The other side responded, "The law is as we say." A heavenly voice called out: "Both are the words of the living God, and the law is according to the School of Hillel." The Sages explain the reason for this: "Because they (the disciples of Hillel) were peaceful and humble and would study the words of the School of Shamai. What's more, they would bring the opinion of the School of Shamai before their own." From the behavior of Hillel we are able draw our own conclusion regarding that of Shamai.

Here, then, we find the Sages voicing implied criticism of the nature in which the students of Shamai handled themselves. Their fault lay in the fact that they demonstrated a lack of tolerance toward opposing opinion and a lack of respect for their fellow scholars. True, the mere existence of such discrepancy - one side forbidding, the other permitting; one side declaring "impure," the other declaring "pure" - evidenced a decline in Torah knowledge. True, in previous generations there had existed no such discrepancies. Nevertheless, the disciples of Shamai ought to have kept in mind the fact that their opponents, no less that they, possessed the right to weigh, judge, and establish rulings according to what seem correct in their eyes. Even if one is convinced, beyond all doubt, that his opponent is mistaken, he is obligated to respect the other's opinion, for he too believes that the truth is with him.

One who is overly adamant in arguing the correctness of his opinion, one who disgraces his opponent because he holds differently, one who refuses to confine conflict to that arena alone which is absolutely necessary - sows seeds of hatred and contention. This sort of individual will eventually be led to defend his position by using any means possible, until finally he causes a complete severance between the debating camps. In the end, there remains no way of uniting them; neither are they able to work together towards a common goal. This situation eventually results in destruction, and this is the sort of groundless hatred that led to the destruction of the Second Temple.
The appearance of differing opinions resulting from differing understandings of the Torah and its commandments has always been legitimate, and these sorts of differences characterize our times as well. The way of interpreting recent events in Jewish history, how to relate to the modern State of Israel, the methods used in order to attain goals - all of these issues are subject to conflicting opinions between the national-religious camp, and those who claim that for them there is "nothing besides the Torah." Were the debate confined to these issues alone, it would be possible to consider its existence a healthy one. This is exactly the problem. Even our camp is sometimes guilty of allowing things to spread far beyond the boarders of true and legitimate debate of opinion.

Let these "Yemei Bein HaMeitzarim" - the days leading up to the ninth of Av, days of the destruction of the Temple which remind us of the iniquities of our ancestors - serve as a warning to us not to become entangled in that very same poisonous sin, the sin which caused the destruction of the Second Temple - that of groundless hatred.

The Incredible Inauthenticity of Bernie Sanders

by Daniel Greenfield

"Open borders? No, that's a Koch brothers proposal," Bernie Sanders snapped. "You're doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don't think there's any country in the world that believes in that."

"What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy,” he continued. "You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you're a white high school graduate, it's 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?"

That was three years ago.

Bernie’s final surrender came after dodging a question on CNN about abolishing ICE. After the backlash, he went even further, issuing a statement urging that we "abolish the cruel, dysfunctional immigration system we have today”. Open borders had gone from a right-wing position to a Bernie position.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie's rare successful socialist candidate, had already told Al Jazeera that, "We should grant people a safe and documented right of passage".

"Republicans try all these scare tactics. And they go ‘Oh, open borders.’ Because they’re trying to incite fear," she added.

Bernie’s immigration flip flop didn’t actually take three years.

After the backlash from the open borders interview, he adopted contemporary leftist positions. His platform was full of boilerplate language about Republican "anti-immigrant and xenophobic hysteria", mass amnesty for 11 million illegal aliens and ending the "militarization" of the border.

That was the new position of the candidate who once told MSNBC, “I don't think there is any candidate for president -- none -- who thinks that we should open up the borders.” The platform appears on the same Bernie site where an old article dubs open borders a “trendy libertarian idea” and calls for improving the economies of other countries so that their immigrants don’t come to America.

Even people who don’t like Bernie Sanders think that he honestly believes what he says. His views, they imagine, are so extreme that he might be wrong, but he must be authentic. But Bernie’s actual record reveals a pattern of cowardly flip-flopping in response to political pressure from the left.

Bernie 2.0, the formerly poor politician who has earned over $1 million for two years running, is a very different political animal than the crusty old socialist that Obama’s old lefty allies dug up in Vermont.

The left’s favorite Senator owes his seat to the NRA. He voted against the Brady Bill and was listed as the only non-Republican among the 25 top recipients of money from gun-rights groups. Hillary Clinton quickly zeroed in on gun control as Bernie’s weakness. And his response to her was praised by the NRA. And then, as usual, the flip-following followed the leftist backlash in the media and on social media.

After telling the New York Daily News that firearms manufacturers shouldn’t face lawsuits from victims of crimes committed with firearms, he flipped his answer completely around at the debate. It only took a few weeks for Bernie to go from, "No, I don't" to "They have a right to sue, and I support them."

These days Bernie is hanging out with David Hogg and blaming a “three letter word” for gun violence.

“It’s the NRA,” Sanders recently sneered. “And it’s Trump and the Republicans who don’t have the guts to stand up to these people and that’s pretty pathetic."

But it’s Bernie who is too pathetically gutless to stand up to the bullying of his own political radicals.

In 2014, Bernie Sanders got into a shouting match at a town hall over his condemnation of Hamas. Two years later, he falsely claimed that Israel had killed 10,000 innocent people in Gaza. These days his public statements on the subject are often little better than Hamas propaganda.

Bernie 2.0 was shaped by a series of confrontations with key Democrat constituencies that sliced away whatever was authentic about him and left him one step closer to being a generic Democrat.

Black Lives Matter activists harassed Bernie Sanders until he adopted their platform. So did illegal alien activists. He sparred with the Human Rights Campaign, the leading gay rights lobby, and Planned Parenthood. Each confrontation followed a familiar pattern, a surly response from the Sanders campaign, followed by a quiet capitulation and a loud affirmation.

After running against an inauthentic politician with a wet finger in the wind, Bernie took on all her traits.

But Bernie is very different than Hillary. While Hillary Clinton was her own woman, Bernie is a puppet. Revolution Messaging plucked him out of obscurity because they couldn’t get Elizabeth Warren. Lefty consultants frozen out by the Clinton campaign and book publishers made millions off Bernie.

Bernie also cashed in. He’s up to three homes and has joined the 1 percent. His wife and stepkids have their own cozy arrangements. Officially he’s the leader of a movement. The reality is he’s a brand.

The inept Vermont socialist isn’t actually leading a movement. He’s just the face of one.

That movement, whose key figures are people like Keith Ellison and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have little in common with who Bernie was. The old socialist had tapped into traditional lefty strains in New England politics. His movement is top heavy with urban diversocrats like Ben Jealous and Stacey Abrams. It hasn’t tapped into anything except the radicalization and narrow identity politics of the Democrats.

Bernie Inc. helped mainstream the use of socialism. But despite the tingly feeling that saying, “Socialism” gave the left, its pitch isn’t all that more socialist than the Democrats already are. Buying minority votes with freebies has been the elevator pitch of the Democrats since LBJ. Free college isn’t some radical new idea. It’s a failed plan by Jerry Brown’s dad from back when Bernie was a deadbeat.

Despite the socialist moniker, Bernie hasn’t pushed anything too radical for the lefty billionaire Pelosi donors who actually run the party. His movement isn’t trying to replicate Bernie. Instead it made him over in its image and is propping him up, Weekend at Bernie’s style, as the figurehead for a movement built on trendy lefty identity politics causes that its namesake has trouble keeping up to date on.

The same candidate who dismissed identity politics has come to be defined by them. His economic message is funneled through the usual victim groups and the medium has become the message. Bernie, an old white leftist, is the awkward public face of a movement that puts forward minority leftists for political office, even as its base remains as white as Bernie’s hair.

Bernie Inc. bets on the ethnic and racial nationalism of local constituencies with the big wins coming from harnessing the Latino and African-American votes that eluded Bernie during the primaries. That’s why Bernie is now for open borders, drug dealers, Hamas and gun control. Bernie’s old socialism has been streamlined to match the safe identity politics of the Democrat multicultural coalition.

The media’s sudden love affair with Cortez is also a warning that the Bernie Sanders brand is shaky. Even Revolution Messaging, the original wizards behind the curtain, only took him because they couldn’t find anyone better. And Bernie has been careful to remain surrounded by even less charismatic figures.

Bernie Inc. is a typical leftist organization, militantly loud, internally poisonous, virtue signaling its altruism while really being motivated by conventional greed, clumsily mismanaged and yet aspiring to absolute power. Its figurehead is angry and erratic. A fraud who has sold his soul for ego and cash.

Bernie will never have his revolution. He’s flip-flopped so many times that even he can’t keep track of his compromises and betrayals. And the one thing that everyone thinks is true about him is a lie.

He’s not authentic and doesn’t stick to his beliefs. Instead he traded them for a seat in the 1 percent.

Palestinians' Latest "Apartheid Fatwa"

by Bassam Tawil 
  • The mufti's position parallels that of a US Supreme Court judge. If the mufti issues a legal opinion or religious decree, his people and leaders are expected to abide by it.
  • With the new fatwa, Abbas can go to President Trump and other world leaders and tell them, "I would truly like to make peace with the Jews; however, I am prevented from doing so by this fatwa, which bans Muslims from doing real estate transactions with Jews. Sorry!"
  • One can only imagine the response of the international community had the Chief Rabbi of Israel issued a decree banning Jews from doing business with Muslims. But in the instance of the Palestinian mufti and his superiors in Ramallah, everything seems to be fine -- once again, the international community turns a blind eye to the Palestinian leaders' apartheid and their terrorizing of their own people.

Pictured: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, in Ramallah on April 5, 2010. (Photo by Omar Rashidi/PPO via Getty Images)

If anyone wanted further proof that no Palestinian leader would ever be able to recognize Israel's right to exist, it was provided recently in the form of yet another religious decree, or fatwa, issued by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein. It is a fatwa that basically tells Muslims: "We will kill you, punish you in many ways, if we catch you selling land or homes to Jews."

The fatwa makes it clear that no Muslim is entitled to sell his or her land -- or transfer ownership over it -- to "enemies," a reference to Jews. The implications are extremely serious. Anyone who violates this religious opinion or decree will face various forms of punishment, ranging from being boycotted to the death sentence.

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New thinking required to defeat Hamas

by Vic Rosenthal

Back when music came on Bakelite discs that spun at 78 rpm, the very fragile records would crack easily. When you tried to play a cracked disc, often the stylus (what everyone called the “needle”) would strike the crack and slip back into the groove it had just played, causing the last few seconds of the music to repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

This is the genesis of the expression “like a broken record.” And I am like a broken record.

Friday night Israel was hit with about 174 rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza by our enemies in Hamas and other factions, whose credo is that for reasons having to do with religion and a narrative of lies, the Jews of Israel should be dead. Several Israelis were injured when rockets hit a synagogue and a private home in the city of Sderot.

Those of you who are thinking “but occupation, blockade, cycle of violence, open-air prison, blah blah” and so on can stop reading. I have nothing to say to you. Go read Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz. If you don’t know by now that this conflict is about killing Jews because they are Jews, you aren’t going to learn, at least not from me. You are part of the problem.

The recent escalation comes after a 15-year old child soldier was shot trying to climb the border fence to kill Jews, and an IDF officer was seriously injured by a grenade thrown over the fence. And in the background is several months of arson by firebombs attached to kites and balloons sent over the fence, which have burned thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves, destroying plants and animals that will take decades to return.

Israel retaliated by bombing Hamas installations and tunnels in Gaza. “The IDF hit Hamas with the harshest blow since Operation Protective Edge and we will intensify our reaction as much as necessary,” said PM Netanyahu Saturday. A crushing blow, supposedly. We heard the planes on their way Saturday morning, and thought “that’s it, now we are finally going to teach them that they can’t burn our country and get away with it.” But that isn’t what happened.

The “harshest blow” was delivered according to the doctrine apparently invented by the IDF, our political echelon, and 10,000 lawyers, called “War Fighting Without Hurting (Practically) Anybody” (WFWHPA). Thanks to WFWHPA, only two Gazans were killed by all of Israel’s retaliatory strikes, teenagers who apparently ignored warnings delivered an hour before a structure used by Hamas was destroyed.

A ceasefire agreement was reached Saturday night with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, broken only by a few mortar shells. But Islamic Jihad says the ceasefire doesn’t include incendiary devices, which was one of Israel’s main demands, and as I write this they have been trying to prove that it is their God-given right to burn our country.

So here is my (rhetorical) question: why and how did it happen that they got to set the rules?

The world allows them to hurt us as much as they are able. Most of the media, international organizations, and many governments appear to accept their point of view that “resistance to occupation” permits them to do whatever they want. We are forbidden to shoot the launchers of incendiary bombs, especially since some of them may be “children.” But they are permitted – or at least, excused – the use of child soldiers. They use human shields, shoot randomly at civilians, take hostages, burn our crops, and deliberately destroy our environment, all violations of international humanitarian law. But the champions of humanitarianism in Europe call for arresting Israeli officials for war crimes.

Unfortunately, even in Israel we have gotten used to it. We fight according to a technocratic cost-benefit principle. The IDF calculates that the cost of the arson campaign is less than the cost of a war. They calculate that it’s better to destroy Hamas’ property than its soldiers, because they have plenty of soldiers and limited money, and because of the propaganda value of dead Arabs (who can be called “civilians” or “children,” as was done effectively in previous wars). Our leaders say “so what if they keep trying to kill us, because we are strong enough to stop them.” We can sit underneath our Iron Domes and improve our ability to locate and put out fires, and we won’t even notice that our enemies are trying to kill us and turn our land into smoke and ashes.

There are two problems with this. One is that it doesn’t work. We won’t let Hamas fall, because we are afraid of the alternatives, which are even more extreme groups or anarchy. We are afraid of a humanitarian disaster, which would be blamed on us. So in any event the cost-benefit warfare won’t be carried to a natural conclusion, the end of the Hamas regime. In addition, our declared enemies in Iran and our undeclared ones in Europe will always find a way to prop it up. This kind of war will go on forever.

The second problem is that it is a recipe for losing the cognitive war against the broader coalition of our enemies, which stretches far beyond the Middle East. It damages our own morale: our PM brags about how someone said we are the 8thmost powerful country in the world, but try explaining that to the people sitting in shelters in Sderot or the kibbutzniks in the “Gaza envelope” racing to put out the fires breaking out everywhere. But more than that, what picture does it present throughout the world: the cowering, victimized Jews, brought to their knees by the low-tech (but courageous!) youth of Gaza.

It is as if we are saying “go ahead, hit me again.” We Jews must deserve it, because we never hit back. Our strategy announces that we are weaklings, cowards, and evil oppressors all at the same time. Goebbels couldn’t have expressed it better.

We need to win both the kinetic and the cognitive wars. We can do both by actually confronting and defeating our enemy. That requires certain changes in our attitudes.

First, we have to stop worrying about the poor, victimized population of Gaza. They supported Hamas (it won a relatively fair election there), or the Islamic Jihad or the PLO, all of which are officially dedicated to killing Jews. Yes, it’s wrong to deliberately target civilians – and you Brits and Americans who criticize us should look into what the US Army’s bombers and the RAF did to Germany in WWII (google “strategic bombing”) – but the primary goal is to win the war.

Second, we need to understand and act on the proposition that Gaza is not our responsibility. Hamas and friends have been making war against us since they got power in 2007, and it’s time to destroy their ability to do so any more. What happens after that is the responsibility of the international community, which nurtured the nest of vipers with billions from UNRWA and other aid.

And third, we must start realizing that we have a right to be here. For decades, we have been acting as though we too accept the anti-Zionist propaganda that flows from Muslim countries and Europe, and their tool, the UN. We are the oldest indigenous inhabitants of the land, the natives. Nothing epitomizes our failure to assert our aboriginal rights to the land more than the way we have clung to the disastrous Oslo accords, long after it became clear that the Palestinians do not accept those rights.

We don’t need to feel guilty for establishing a sovereign state in our historic homeland – and we don’t owe the local Arabs any of it.

Why Russia Needs Israel

by Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 895

: Why has Russia under Putin acknowledged Israel’s need to prevent the buildup of an Iranian military presence in Syria? Putin’s vision is to cement an alliance of minorities against the Sunni majority in the Middle East. Israel could be a valuable participant in making that vision a reality – but only if Moscow works to rid Syria of the Iranian presence, joins forces to topple its Islamist regime, and weans the Alawite regime in Damascus away from Tehran.

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What is YOUR Solution for Gaza? (Eng subs available)

Mass Migration: "The Fatal Solvent of the EU"

by Giulio Meotti
  • Today, 510 million Europeans live in the European Union with 1.3 billion Africans facing them. If the Africans follow the example of other parts of the developing world, such as the Mexicans in the US, "in thirty years... Europe will have between 150 and 200 million Afro-Europeans, compared with 9 million today". Smith calls this scenario "Eurafrique".
  • The controversial quota system for migrants has already failed. The European Court of Human Rights condemned Hungary for detaining migrants. European governments cannot stop, deport, arrest or repatriate the migrants. What do the authorities in Brussels suggest? Bring everyone to Europe?
  • French Jews have fallen victim to a form of ethnic cleansing, according to a manifesto signed by, among others, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy and former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

This year, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (second from left) was invited to join the leaders of the four "Visegrad Group" countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) at their June 21 summit meeting. High on the agenda were the issues of mass-migration and border protection. (Image source: Austrian Federal Chancellor's Office)

"Far from leading to fusion, Europe's migration crisis is leading to fission", Stanford's historian Niall Ferguson recently wrote. "Increasingly, I believe that the issue of migration will be seen by future historians as the fatal solvent of the EU". Week after week, Mr. Ferguson's prediction seems to be turning into a reality.

Not only does Europe continue to fragment as anti-immigration sentiment gathers political strength, but, as a result of the migrant crisis, the EU's border-free internal zone, Europe's most cherished prize after the Second World War, is now defined as "at risk" by the Italian government, among other governments, such and Austria.

Immigration is also redefining the intra-EU contract.

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The Shamrak Report: Escalation by Fake Ceasefires! and more...

Just five weeks after they announced previous fake cease-fire, which followed by more rockets, mortars shells and fire-balloons, Hamas and Islamist militants announced the agreement late on Saturday, after Egyptian and international efforts, to secure a truce, but it did not take long for doubts to emerge over whether it would hold. Islamic Jihad said that ceasefire with Israel doesn't include launching of terror kites, considered an act of 'freedom of expression.' (Removal of enemies from Gaza should be Israel’s freedom of expression!)
Four rockets were fired from Gaza almost immediately after the unilateral declaration of Hamas-Jihad truce.
The previous cease-fire was followed by more than 100 rockets fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. The rocket attacks injured four Israeli civilians and hit a home and a synagogue. The Israeli army had retaliated with targeting more than 40 targets in Gaza, the largest wave of daytime strikes since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
“There is no intention to contain rockets or kites and anything,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said. “I hope that Hamas will draw conclusions, and if they do not, they will have to pay a heavy price.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman denied that Israel had agreed to any Gaza ceasefire – certainly not for the continuation of Hamas kite-cum-balloon terror, but according to a senior Israeli Air Force officer, the IAF received instructions from the political level to not attack any Hamas personnel.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched over 190 rockets and mortar shells at Israel in the last 48 hours. In retaliation, the Israel military struck more than 40 Hamas targets throughout the Strip, including a battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia, a training camp located in a high-rise building in the al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, weapons storage facilities and rocket launchers. Hamas said a ceasefire had been agreed. Then, a few hours later, Hamas violated the ceasefire and launched more rockets into Israel. Only by removing the enemy population will terror attacks from Gaza will end. Israel Must Create New Reality – by Removing Enemies from Jewish Land!
Please, read and distribute!
FOOD for THOUGHT. by Steven Shamrak
Since their inception Islam and Christianity have been claiming that their spiritual roots are in Judaism, but their members aren't really interested, and their leaders actually discourage them from studying the source – Torah! Many Jewish spiritual books, like Kabbalah, were forbidden by the Church! Leaders of both religions and political elite of the Western and Muslim countries are still using Jew-hate as a tool of control. No wonder, anti-Semitism is prevalent among Muslims and Christians. Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, and other religions do not have this problem.
Israel attacked at least three empty Syrian military posts after a drone infiltrated Israeli airspace. The Israel Air Force shot the drone down with a Patriot missile.
The Irish Senate approved a bill calling for the boycott of Israeli products originating beyond the so-called 'Green Line'.(Anti-Semitism has been always part of Irish make up. There was a strong support of Nazi Germany during WW2 there!)
More than 18,000 Gazans have rushed to join an exodus from the enclave since its border crossing with Egypt opened in mid-May. Most Gazans who make it out are necessarily Gaza’s most resourceful, highly-educated, promising, accomplished, and sometimes wealthiest people. At the same time, the PA is trying to conceal the fact that 20,000 Arabs emigrate from Judea and Samaria every year, and inflating the number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria from 1.8 to 3 million. (They have no real attachment to non-existent land of their forefathers hereThere is a will among so-called Palestinians to leave Jewish land - Israel just needs to provide a little 'push'.)
Supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement claim that BDS is about a two-state solution and bettering the lives of the Palestinian people. But BDS founder Omar Barghouti (Born in Qatar moved to Israel in 1993), peaceful coexistence is the last thing BDS is about. He said: “Most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine,” adding that “Palestinians and Arabs in general have never, and will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court convicted Jerusalem police officer Ido Katzir of attacking haredi demonstrators on several occasions. (We, Jews, are belong to the same nation - our enemies love when we fight and hate each other!)
Israel fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country’s border from Syria for the second time last week. Last month, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier, and in February it shot down what it said was an Iranian drone that entered its airspace.
Immediately after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Israel was closing the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, but it is still active. Hamas accused Israel of “crimes against humanity,” while Islamic Jihad went further and claimed that the new sanctions were “a declaration of war” against the Palestinians... The main reason for the status quo which currently holds between Israel and Gaza is the clear lack of desire by either side for war. Israel and Hamas do not want to see the collapse of the other: Hamas needs Israel to preserve its rule in Gaza, and Israel needs Hamas to keep the quiet. (Both sides are playing the same game - resolution will come only by removing all enemy population from Gaza!)
PM's attorneys call on AG to re-examine investigations against Netanyahu and his wife in light of reports of bias by lead investigator. Binyamin Netanyahu has already been questioned for 11th time by police. (There is systematic legal 'harassment' of Likud leadership and Zionists in Israel! We still remember how Sharon was put on his knees, because he and his son were endlessly 'investigated'. They did it to Liberman to and to a grandson of rabbi Kahane.)
Hamas has invested USD $45 million, over the past 100 days, in their riots along the Gaza-Israel border. The Hamas investment were 678 fires, which burned down 2250 acres of Israeli forests, 1500 acres of Israeli agricultural land, and hundreds of acres of open spaces in Israel. (No environmental organization has condemned the attacks, and international anti-Semites will continue their financial support for Israel-hating Hamas and the PA!)
The number of construction starts for housing in the settlements has been in a “downward spiral” ever since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and hit a six-year low in the first quarter of 2018. Israel’s government regularly approves plans for thousands of new settlement homes. But it rarely authorizes their actual construction. Moreover, even these “new approvals” are often just recycled plans that were previously approved but never built.(Netanyahu is playing his usual appeasement game, the only tool of international diplomacy he knows! When will he learn that self-respect is the better and more effective one?)
El Al said a flight last month on which haredi Orthodox men refused to take their assigned seats next to women was delayed by only minutes, not over an hour as was reported.(Why did it take so long to repel this hateful lie?)
Hossein Salami, the deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), boasted that the “Islamic army in Syria” in the Golan Heights was awaiting orders to eradicate the “evil regime” of Israel. “We are creating might in Lebanon because we want to fight our enemy from there with all our strength,” he stated. Israel has for years warned of Iran’s ongoing attempts to entrench itself in Syria, and has been waging a quiet campaign to prevent Tehran from establishing a new front on its border. (So much for Iranian ‘retaliation only’ policyDestruction of Israel is always their aim.)
Israel Mission to the Moon
Israel’s SpaceIL with Israeli Aerospace Industries plan to launch Israel’s first unmanned moon mission in December via SpaceX rocket. The craft is scheduled to land next February, which would make Israel the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon. The overall cost of the project is estimated to be around $95 million.
Israeli Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan (Likud) is expected to expand the criteria for getting a personal gun permit in Israel. Unlike the US, Israeli law views personal gun ownership not as a right but as a highly regulated privilege, reserved to very few non-military citizens. There are only around 145,000 Israelis with personal gun licenses, unconnected to employment in the police, army or as security guards. It is estimated 35-40,000 people will take advantage of the offer.
QUOTE of the WEEK:
“Restraint creates escalation. Those who refrain to respond to the violation of our sovereignty and refrain from fundamental actions impose on us an ongoing war of attrition. The IDF must be ordered to act with force, sophistication and thoroughness.” - Naftali Bennett, Chairman of Jewish Home party – And, it must be fast and decisive!
by Havatzelet Damari
Seventy years after the Altalena Affair, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that "not only were the Etzel fallen not traitors, they were patriots of the first degree and acted in the benefit of the State of Israel, with immense effort and great sacrifice."
The Altalena Affair was a violent confrontation between the newly-created IDF (controlled by leftist Avoda party) and the Etzel (Irgun), one of the Jewish paramilitary groups, in June 1948.
The Altalena cargo ship was loaded with weapons for the Etzel during the time it was in the process of being absorbed into the IDF. The boat also carried medical equipment and some 940 new immigrants.
The boat arrived at Israel's shores during the first truce during the War of Independence. While the Etzel leadership, headed by Menachem Begin, insisted that 20 percent of the military equipment on board would go to Etzel units fighting as part of the IDF as well as independent Etzel units in the Jerusalem area, the Israeli government demanded the military equipment will first be given to the IDF... (In fear of losing political control over IDF, in the middle of the war of Independence, Ben Gurion ordered the attack - Shimon Perez - who signed the Oslo accords with Arafat, knowing that it was fake and a scam - was one of the executing commanders!)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Why Do Palestinian Leaders Oppose Helping Their People?

by Bassam Tawil
  • Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank-based government seek to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They want the international community to continue to believe that Israel is responsible for the ongoing, intense suffering of the Palestinians. They are hoping to use the crisis there to pursue their campaign to delegitimize Israel.
  • Palestinian leaders would prefer to see their people starve than make any form of concessions for peace with Israel. Yet Al-Aloul and Abbas are not the ones who are facing starvation. There is nothing more comfortable than sitting in your fashionable house in Ramallah or Nablus and talking about starvation and humanitarian aid.
  • The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, who are desperate for jobs and a better life, do not really care about Trump's upcoming peace plan. They also do not really care about a settlement or a checkpoint in the West Bank.
  • This is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Palestinians' number one priority -- the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general -- is destroying Israel. They would rather die than give up their dream of destroying Israel.

The border between Israel and the Gaza Strip remains open for delivering food and humanitarian and medical aid into Gaza. (Image source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

For years, Palestinian leaders have been complaining that the Gaza Strip was "on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe." Time and again, they have warned that unless the world helps the Palestinians living there, the Gaza Strip will "erupt like a volcano."

Israel and the US are now offering to help improve the living conditions of the Palestinians living under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. But guess who is fiercely opposed to any attempt to resolve the "humanitarian and economic crisis" in the coastal enclave, home to some two million Palestinians? Answer: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction.

In the past few weeks, both Israel and the US administration have come up with different ideas to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.

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Have Putin and Netanyahu Struck a Grand Bargain?

by Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 896

: On July 8, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike in Syrian territory that struck once again at the T4 base near Homs. Interestingly, Israel did not conduct any airstrikes to stop the concurrent advance of Syrian and Hezbollah forces southward. This might suggest that a grand bargain has been offered by Russia to Israel – one in which Moscow assures Jerusalem of an Iranian withdrawal in return for Israel’s acceptance of the consolidation of the Syrian state. This might explain Israel’s passivity, but it is by no means certain that Moscow will prevail on Tehran to withdraw from Syria.

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9 Ideas for the 9 Days

by Shmuel Sackett

The “3 Weeks” have now become the “9 Days” and life has just gotten far more difficult. No laundries, no showers, no swimming and no pastrami sandwiches. Seems like the big expression around here is simply; “Just Say NO!” Therefore, please allow me to change things up a bit. I have always trained myself to think differently so here is a list which you won’t read anywhere else. It is a list of things which you can actually say “YES” to during these 9 days. I call it my “9 ideas for the 9 days”.

  • Say “YES” to living a meaningful 9 days. Don’t be bitter, mad and depressed. Don’t focus on the negative and how many hot dogs you could have consumed. These are very special days and you need to focus on the positive. These 9 days connect Am Yisrael together because – all over the world – Jews are pressing the pause button in their busy and modern lives. Instead of the fun summer barbeques and beach parties (don’t worry, you will have plenty of time for these things) we connect to our roots and our history. We remember Hashem’s house and what it means to live as Jews without it. We connect to those who gave their lives “Al Kiddush Hashem” and to those who fought battles so we could be strong and proud Jews today. During these 9 days you need to think about these great heroes and identify with their struggles. When you do that, your 9 days will be quite special and meaningful.
  • Say “YES” to getting to know everything about Machon Ha’Mikdash – The Temple Institute. For 30 years this amazing organization led by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel and Rabbi Chaim Richman have educated our nation about the Mikdash. Just walk into any Judaica store and see how many books, pictures, puzzles and games there are which explain the beauty and significance of the Bet Ha’Mikdash. All of those items – every single one – are a result of the groundbreaking work done by the Temple Institute. They have published in depth scholarly seforim on the Mikdash and recently a 400 page sefer on the menorah! They have published Mishnas (such as Midos and Pesachim) and various Gemaras (such as Yoma) that explain the Bet Ha’Mikdash as never before. They have published Machzorim and Siddurim that focus on the holidays and the prayers in the Mikdash and their Pesach Haggadah is incredible. They have children’s story books and coloring books and games and software that makes teaching about the Bet Ha’Mikdash fun and educational. Finally, they have an amazing website that is constantly updated with videos, shiurim and fascinating information: Therefore, during these 9 days, put down Facebook and Instagram and spend quality time on the website of Machon Ha’Mikdash. You will not regret it.
  • Say “YES” to your family. These days are perfect for quality family time and you don’t need a vacation to do it! Since you can’t go to the pool or the movies or even the mall for a fun shopping spree, why not sit at home and get to know your own family?? Talk to your spouse and your kids. I realize that this sounds silly but when was the last time you actually did that? With all the crazy distractions we have and all the things pulling us in different directions, these 9 days are perfect for family and you don’t even need to fire up the barbeque! A simple spaghetti dinner is perfect to chat with your kids about camp. Sit down at night with your spouse over a nice cup of coffee and since you can’t watch some stupid movie, look at each other and talk about the kids and how much nachas they bring you. This may actually bring you great enjoyment and pleasure but guess what? It’s 100% permitted during the 9 days… so do it!!!
  • Say “YES” to learning from an older person. We don’t realize the treasure we have in the older generation. Every one of the older men and women in your shul or community can write a 500 page book on their life experiences. They are walking and talking museums and have priceless stories. During these 9 days, go over to an older man after the morning minyan and ask him to tell you about his life. Ask him to share some of his experiences with you. I promise that you will be amazed by their reaction and by their stories. They will share incredible things with you, which will brighten both your day as well as theirs. I remember doing this recently with an older man in my shul in Herziliya. He comes to shul every Shabbat and is all alone. I never saw him with a wife or with children so I became his friend and asked him about his life. What this man told me was amazing. He was a partisan fighter during the Holocaust, came to Israel after the war, married and had 2 kids and worked as a spy for the Mossad!! You read that right… the guy was a spy!! How cool is THAT?? A few years ago his wife passed away and his kids live outside of Herziliya so he is alone in an assisted living center. I took my daughter to talk to him as well and over the years we have become close. The man is a hero but until I spoke to him, he was just some old guy in shul. Please, get to know these men and women and have them share their lessons in life with you. The problem is that you will need much more than 9 days to do this!
  • Say “YES” to learning Torat Eretz Yisrael. I am not talking against any kind of learning you presently do – all Torah is holy – but focus these 9 days on the Torah of the Land of Israel. This is the period of time where we were thrown out of the Land so this is a perfect time to study about what makes Israel so special. There are many books today in English by the great Rav Kook including online shiurim that explain his holy words. Listen to these shiurim during the 9 days. Learn the sefer “Em Ha’banim Se’meycha” (available in English) written by Harav Teichtal shortly before he was murdered in the Holocaust. Visit the website of Rav Nachman Kahana – who wrote the ground breaking commentary to Tosfos called “Mey Menuchos”. His website is replete with Torat Eretz Yisrael and can be found at Use these 9 days to open your eyes to the world of Torah that explains and describes the beauty and holiness of our special Land.
  • Say “YES” to inreach. This is a word you may not be familiar with, but it is important. We all know what “outreach” is and how vital it is to bring Torah close to those outside our world but “inreach” is just as important. This word means to reach out to those IN our community who might have fallen a bit to the side or who find little or no excitement in a Torah was of life. Inreach can be performed with kids still IN Yeshivos, not just the ones who ran away. We tend to rush and invite those kids who are already off the derech – and that is a wonderful thing to do – but what about those who are still on the derech but making several wrong turns? By doing proper inreach, we can prevent the need for outreach at a later date! Therefore, during these days when you have time, look around for people in your community (and not just kids) who seem bored with Judaism. These 9 days can be real trouble for them because all they see are depressed people complaining about dirty clothes, no swimming and all the baked ziti they are eating. You need to counter those complaints with positive energy and how special our nation is to have the ability to connect to events from thousands of years ago. What other religion does that? Who else in today’s modern world thinks about yesterday… let alone 2,000 years ago? How special does that make us that we identify and salute the great men and women from long ago? What an honor to be part of this nation!! Tell that to these bored and miserable people who are simply crying over their lack of steak. Reach out INSIDE our community and light these people up with enthusiasm and energy for Torah and tradition.
  • Say “YES” to calling and meeting with Nefesh b’Nefesh. What a better time than the 9 days to open your Aliyah file? All the great Kabbalists say that our job is to do a “tikun” – to rectify and repair the mistakes of old. Well, 2,000 years ago our grandfathers and grandmothers made some serious errors and were driven from the Land. So… now is the time to repair those mistakes and return to the Land. We all know that “sinas chinam” is what destroyed the Bet Ha’Mikdash and all the Rabbis say that it will take the opposite – “ahavas chinam” to rebuild it but I say that this is not enough. Yes, we must do teshuva and love every Jew but we must also move back to Eretz Yisrael! You really think you can just love all Yidden and then stay the next 120 years in Queens, New Jersey or South Africa? Seriously? Call Nefesh b’Nefesh today. Call on Tisha B’av if you have to… right in the middle of the kinos!! This is our #1 job and something that requires a big and happy “YES”!
  • Say “YES” to living a life of Kedusha (holiness) and not just Halacha. I know that you realize that the two go together – and they definitely should – but they often do not. I have seen people keep halacha with all the stringencies but, sadly, kedusha is far removed. This article is already too long so I will not go into this concept is detail but allow me to write this one thought: Be honest. You know exactly what I mean when I say Kedusha. The Nesivos Shalom speaks a lot about this. He states, many times in his wonderful sefer, that the concept of holiness is foreign to all nations except the Jews. All other religions have holy men or holy women but they never have the notion of the entire nation being holy. In our Torah, over and over again it says; “Kedoshim te’he’yoo” which commands every Jewish man, woman and child to be holy. What a special opportunity we have, which has not been given to anybody else! Therefore, use this time – these very special 9 days – to do more than follow the Halacha. Connect your soul to Hashem and infuse Kedusha into your home and life.
  • This last “YES” suggestion is the greatest and best one of all. I call it; Say “YES” to being part of history. With the help of Hashem, this will be the last time we keep the 9 days in this way. By next year, these will be great and happy days with lots of meat… the meat of the Korbanos in the Bet Ha’Mikdash! Wine will be flowing and happy songs will be sung by the Leviim. We will dance during these 9 days and celebrate with our children and grandchildren. Therefore, make these 9 days memorable because they will be the last ones with all the restrictions. You will be able to tell your future generations that you fasted on the last Tisha B’av! Never again will we go 9 days without eating ribs and veal chops! Never again will we miss our morning coffee and have migraine headaches during all those fast days that mourn the Bet Ha’Mikdash! Never again will we wear dirty clothes! From now on it’s serving the King in His palace and teaching the world about Hashem. What great days are in store for us!

Therefore, use these suggestions to have a meaningful, holy and very special 9 days and remember to take notes and lots of pictures because we will never do this again!