Friday, November 16, 2018

Rav Kook's Ein Ayah

The Importance of the Desire to Understand the World

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 6:12)

Gemara: One who knows how to calculate the seasons and track the constellations and does not do so – it is forbidden to speak with him.

Ein Ayah: The spiritual desire to adorn the human soul with crowning glory engraves in a person the seal of the divine form and gives the human spirit its unique character. This continues until the point that speech that breaks forth from the flow of the spirit will contain sparks of light and personal insights that display a glow that represents the person.

When a person has the means through which to bring these desires to fruition, it will inspire him to have his spiritual vision take form in the physical world. This can happen as long as his spirit has not been ruined and his emotional stability is still intact.

A person’s initial push to broaden his cognitive powers gives breadth to the spirit and enhances the mind. This shows him that his true and special natural domain is that of the knowledge of science and recognizing the secrets of the universe with all its power. This will bring him from strength to strength and from light to light. The glow of his divine form will increase its rays of light, which burst forth on a consistent basis.

On the other hand, when one’s spirit sinks and the desire for the broadest possible scientific knowledge will not fill his heart with emotion, his situation will be significantly diminished. After all, those desires give basis for the senses and for the feelings of grandeur to function along with intellectual recognitions to rise to the peaks of observation and to find complete life in the treasure houses of recognition. These are things that it is a shame to not acquire.

This is the situation of one who knows how to calculate the seasons and track the constellations, knowing their paths, their tasks, their nature, and their position, and does not do so. He does not realize or sufficiently care that these represent the grand general universal form, which is full of the glory and light of He who lives forever, which is revealed through the workings of the heavens. If one does not care, it is a sign that the nature of his spirit has strayed significantly from its proper position and his spirit has become connected to desire for poverty, evil, and coarse materialism. If this is what his spirit develops, he will just pollute the grandeur of the spirit and dim the light of the soul, the beauty of intellectual pursuit, and the desire to see what is nice in the world. This is opposed to the natural tendency, which is part of a human’s wise heart and soul, to seek out that which is connected to a good life and lofty matters.

It is important to stay away from such a person and from his influence. Although he has developed skills, [as indeed he is capable of making the astronomical calculations,] there is a danger of being damaged by his cold spirit. After all, his abilities did not succeed in having him extricate himself from the bonds of lowly desires that put him to sleep. Therefore, one should not speak to one who does not bother to make the astronomical calculations that he is capable of doing.

Real Resurrection

by Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

A lawyer’s dream of heaven; every man reclaimed his property at the resurrection, and each tried to recover it from all his forefathers. -Samuel Butler

I have a theory as to one of the (likely many) divine purposes of technological developments (and to some extent science fiction and futuristic imaginings). It is to understand better how God might work.

We live in an era of disbelief in anything that is not scientifically provable, repeatable, explainable. What mankind in the past accepted as a matter of faith is today dismissed as the purview of the naïve, gullible and feebleminded.

Technological advancement may come to show that what was previously in the realm of the miraculous or impossible can become commonplace. For a small device the size of your hand to allow you to see and talk to someone on the other side of the planet was inconceivable just a few decades ago. For the same device to guide you as to the best possible driving route in real-time, taking into account construction, accidents and traffic, is now taken for granted. For a heartless machine to be able to predict and complete with unerring accuracy your next typed words wasn’t even dreamt of by science fiction authors. These modern miracles and technological imaginings are opening our eyes and changing our minds as to what we define as possible and impossible.

Perhaps the last scientific frontier and perhaps not coincidentally the last and least discussed article of Jewish faith of Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith is the belief in the Resurrection: “I believe with complete faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead at the time that will be pleasing before the Creator, blessed be His name, and the remembrance of Him will be exalted forever and for all eternity.”

The Berdichever in his analysis of the account of Jacob’s dream at Bet-El, zooms in on the seemingly extraneous detail that the city was previously called “Luz.” He explains that Luz is also the name of a part of the human body (I’ve heard some say it’s the vertebrae under the skull) that will be the physical seed of the regeneration and resurrection of the bodies that will merit to be reunited with their souls at some future date. Jacob’s encounter with God at Bet-El/Luz hints at that predicted resurrection.

The explanation brought to my mind the scene from Jurassic Park where they bring back the dinosaurs just from a preserved drop of dinosaur DNA. This concept has been known to scientists for some time now, that every molecule of our body, of DNA, has the complete instruction set for the re-creation of an entire body.

While those who have complete faith may not need scientific support, it may make it easier for the remainder of an unbelieving humanity to have assistance in imagining the possibility that nothing is beyond God and that ultimately there is nothing to “scientifically” prevent God from resurrecting the dead as promised.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic: Netanyahu Likely to Appoint Bennett as Defense Minister

by Moshe Feiglin

It is likely that Netanyahu’s next step will be to appoint Naftali Bennett to be Israel’s Defense Minister - and to finish him off, as he did to Lieberman.

Bennett’s plan is to “bomb them from the air without conquering Gaza”. In other words, for Bennett, as well, Gaza must remain captive in the hands of the enemy.

Exactly like Netanyahu and Lieberman, when the bluster finishes, Bennett remains completely captive to the Oslo mentality, to ‘public opinion’, with absolutely no message or ability to lead Israel to a new/old vision that will liberate us from our captivity to the Hamas.

It is reasonable that the calculating Netanyahu will give Bennett what he is asking for and make him Defense Minister. Essentially, ther is no difference between Bennett and Lieberman and when he meets reality, he will look no better than his predecessor.

Without Zehut, there cannot be security.

Today, it is already easy to understand: It is either Hamas or Zehut.

The Fulfillment of Jacob’s Dream

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Jacob was facing difficult times. Relentlessly pursued by Esau, who wished to kill him, he left his parents’ home in Be’er Sheva for the exile of Charan, alone and bereft of possessions. Along the way he had a good dream. In his dream, he saw “G-d standing over him” (Genesis 28:13), “to protect him” (Rashi). G-d promised him, “I will give to you and your descendants the land upon which you are lying” (Genesis 28:13). G-d folded the whole Land of Israel under him thereby hinting to him that it would be as easy to conquer as four cubits. (Rashi, Ibid.). And G-d further promised, “Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. You shall spread out to the west, to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families on earth will be blessed through you and your descendants” (v. 14).

Regarding Jacob’s bleak situation just then, G-d said, “I am with you. I will protect you wherever you go and bring you back to this soil” (v. 15).

Jacob’s remarkable dream is the dream of the Jewish People which has accompanied us throughout all the generations, even in the most dark and difficult periods of our bitter and gloomy exile. In times of destruction, pogroms and the Holocaust, Jews never ceased to believe in the fulfillment of Jacob’s dream.

It is true that there were, and continue to be, some who try to blot out the dream. They think that by doing so they stop the Jews from continuing on to their goal of returning to their land and fulfilling their destiny -- which is to bring light and goodness to the world. All the same, “many are the thoughts in man’s heart, but it is the council of G-d that will come to pass” (Proverbs 19:21).

Right now, “with G-d bringing back the return of Zion, we are like dreamers” (Psalms 126:1). Our generation is privileged to see the ingathering of the exiles. We are already living Jacob’s dream in a wakeful state, as in G-d’s promise, “I will bring you back to this soil” (Genesis 28:15). It is no dream. It is already a reality. The day is not far off when we will see as well the promise made to both Abraham and Jacob: “All the families on earth will be blessed through you and your descendants” (v. 14).

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Choosing Dishonor

by Victor Rosenthal

You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war. – Winston Churchill, to Neville Chamberlain

As I write this, the recent “security incident” in Gaza seems to have receded to become, well, a “security incident” and not the opening volleys of a war.

It started when one of Israel’s special units had penetrated 3 km. into Gaza to carry out an “intelligence gathering mission,” which was intended to proceed quietly without contact with the enemy. Maybe the intention was to find out about tunnels, or the location of the Israelis (and bodies) held hostage by Hamas. Or something else. In any event, the force ran into a Hamas checkpoint and aroused suspicion. A firefight broke out and the Israeli commander, a 41-year old sgan aluf (referred to only as “Lt. Colonel M.”), was killed, and another officer “moderately” wounded. The force was extracted with assistance from the air force. Seven Hamas fighters were killed in the incident, one of whom was a battalion commander. The IDF made a point of saying that no Israelis (alive or dead) were in the hands of Hamas.

Hamas retaliated by firing almost 500 rockets and mortars into Israel starting about 4 pm the next day and continuing until the early morning hours, the most concentrated barrage in Israel’s history (during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah succeeded in firing about 130 rockets per day). The Iron Dome system intercepted many of them, but several buildings were hit, there were numerous injuries and one fatality.

In addition Hamas fired an antitank missile at a military bus immediately after dozens of soldiers had disembarked from it. One nearby soldier was seriously injured and the driver lightly wounded. The bus was stopped in full view of the border, in violation of IDF protocol. Disturbingly, it was clear that the bus had been under observation for some time before the attack, and the missile could have been fired when it was occupied, causing mass casualties. It’s been suggested that Hamas deliberately exercised restraint to avoid provoking a massive Israeli response.

In any event, Israel struck back by destroying numerous military targets in Gaza, including three high-rise buildings in urban areas, which an IDF spokesperson proudly announced, was done “without casualties.” The IAF also hit some rocket-launching teams, but many of the rockets were launched by timers and other remote-control devices while the Hamas operatives were safely underground in Gaza’s tunnel system.

The fighting was stopped when the two sides agreed to an Egyptian cease-fire proposal. Some Israeli cabinet ministers (Lieberman, Bennett, Shaked, and Elkin) were strongly opposed, but the position of the PM and the defense establishment was to accept the cease-fire, and since the IDF offered “insufficient options” for continuing to fight, their position was carried without a vote.

In response to what he called “capitulation to terror,” Lieberman has just announced (Wednesday afternoon) that he will resign as Defense Minister and take his party, Israel Beytenu, out of the coalition, leaving Netanyahu with a one-seat margin. That almost certainly guarantees that there will be early elections.

So who won this round?

Hamas suffered greater numerical losses in manpower and military assets, with buildings, tunnels, even ships destroyed. The death of Lt. Colonel M., a highly accomplished career officer who had apparently participated in or led numerous successful operations of the type that failed on Sunday night, was a very heavy loss for Israel that is hard to quantify.

From a psychological warfare standpoint, as always, the incident was a clear victory for Hamas. Although everyone knew it already, it was demonstrated that the Iron dome system cannot provide 100% protection, and that it is possible to overwhelm it with the sheer number of projectiles. Hamas demonstrated that it could fire rockets without risking its fighters. Israelis were sent scurrying into shelters like insects, people were hurt, homes and vehicles were destroyed, and only by luck (or a miracle if you prefer), was only one person killed. Hamas limited its barrage to short-range rockets that only reached Ashkelon, but announced that if Israel continued its response, they would introduce their longer range missiles, which can strike Tel Aviv.

And Israel blinked.

Many Israelis are furious at the government and at the defense establishment, which hasn’t come up with a practical plan to defeat Hamas. There seem to be several reasons for this:
  • Truly defeating Hamas would probably result in significant civilian casualties in Gaza, since Hamas has embedded its military installations in the civilian population, and officials are afraid that the “international community” (the UN and the EU) would severely punish Israel as a result.
  • A full-scale war would cause even more casualties and destruction on Israel’s home front, which officials believe the public would not accept, and they would be blamed.
  • A war against Hamas could provoke intervention from Hezbollah, and would inflame the situation in Judea and Samaria, leading to a much more serious multi-front war and an outbreak of terrorism.
  • Hamas’ rival, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is closely tied to Iran, would be empowered if Hamas were defeated.
  • Israel would have to take full control of Gaza, which would require a military occupation and probably bring about a long-term insurgency.
There may be other reasons. But whatever they are, our leaders have decided that fighting, except in a very limited way, isn’t an option. They have decided to appease the UN and the EU, to try to keep Hamas in power but limit its offensive abilities, and to try – an impossible but in any case pointless feat – to improve the humanitarian condition of the civilian population without allowing Hamas to use the resources provided to strengthen its military capabilities.

For months they allowed the fire-bombing of thousands of acres of agricultural land and nature reserves. Now their response to a murderous rocket attack is to demonstrate our ability to take down tall buildings without hurting anybody.

They have decided to accept an unending war of attrition – which implies sacrificing the citizens of southern Israel, who will get no peace. Hamas is getting more and more competent; its rockets are more numerous, more powerful, and more accurate. When Hamas demonstrated its ability to create chaos with a carefully calibrated attack in the South and threatened to extend it to the heart of the country, our leaders allowed themselves to be deterred and backed down. Hamas is in control. Hamas decides when to fan the flames and when to turn them down.

Our leaders gave in to extortion, and they accepted humiliation. Like Neville Chamberlain, they chose dishonor over war, but like Chamberlain, in the end they will get war.

Lieberman is right. The cease-fire with Hamas is just the latest example of capitulation to terror.

The end result, if this policy is allowed to continue, will be the depopulation of southern Israel and the loss of part of our country. Netanyahu’s Sudetenland will be Sderot, Nahal Oz, Yad Mordechai, Mifalsim, Nativ Ha’asara, Or HaNer, and the rest.

Yesterday a friend in America asked me if I was safe. Yes, I said, I live in Rehovot and the rockets only went as far as Ashkelon. This time. I realized that I was embarrassed. I wanted to say, believe me, we taught them a lesson; they’ll never try this again. But I couldn’t say that because I knew they would. We have given them permission.

Dear PM Netanyahu, Chief of Staff Eisenkot, and whoever will be the new Minister of Defense: this is not acceptable. I know the problem is difficult, but you need to solve it. You need to come up with a solution that is better than giving up, paying them off, and hoping for the best. You need to develop an integrated military, political, diplomatic, and cognitive/psychological plan to extirpate the Nazi-like evil from its nest, to restore our power of deterrence, and to bring back our self-respect as a sovereign nation.

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Vayetze: Seeing Angels

The Yishai Fleisher Show: Stairway To Heaven

Evil Hamas rockets are coming down from the sky on Israel, but the Jewish people are dreaming of Jacob's ladder connecting between heaven and earth. Rav Mike Feuer joins Rabbi Yishai to walk with the Forefather Jacob on his adventures, dreams, family life and strife, and the birth of the Tribes of Israel. Then, Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, Senior Rabbi at Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto Congregation ("The BAYT") join Yishai to talk about Pittsburgh and the Israel-Diaspora divide.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Moshe Feiglin on Defense Minister Lieberman's Resignation

Defense Minister Lieberman’s resignation is the first step toward the necessary disintegration of the most “rightist” and most unsuccessful government in Israel’s history.

The government of Israel - its heads, its ministers and advisors – proved this week that they are not worthy to lead the State of Israel.

The Nation of Israel needs a totally different type of leadership.

Leadership with vision and a message! Leadership with identity – Zehut!

Leadership whose vision is not the vision of Oslo and so is not captive to the Hamas.

Leadership that will bring quiet, security and prosperity to the Nation of Israel.

Israel is now Part of the Menu (vid. Eng subs available)

Moshe Feiglin in Sderot: Israel Surrendered to Hamas (Eng subs available)

If Gaza Will Not Turn into Jaffa, Jaffa Will Turn into Gaza

by Moshe Feiglin

This morning we should have woken up to total victory in a swift and unequivocal deployment all of the IDF’s precision firepower, simultaneously on the entire enemy command structure, on the electricity infrastructure and communications –wherever they may be hidden and with no hesitation.

This morning, the IDF should have been completing the operation by quickly taking over all the vantage points overlooking Israel and dividing the Gaza Strip.

This evening, the residents of Ashkelon should have been able to leave their homes and later, go to sleep feeling secure – while the residents of Gaza should have been waiting in long lines to register with the new IDF military governor.

Until the weekend, the residents of Gaza would have happily understood their new situation. The reign of terror would have disappeared. The gates of the Gaza concentration camp would have been opened and they would have been able to emigrate from the sewer in which they live, with Israel’s generous assistance. The military government would not be quick to improve their living conditions and those who would not hurry and take advantage of the opportunity would lose the generous emigration basket being offered to them.

Instead, we woke up to a morning of a repeat broadcast of Operation Protective Edge, without planning, without a diplomatic horizon and with no strategy.Once again, we are just rolling along with “charging our legitimacy batteries” with the blood of our soldiers and citizens. This will lead to another defeat of the Hamas and its empowerment for the next round of fighting. Or worse – a hesitant occupation of the Gaza Strip at the cost of tens and hundreds of dead, with the ultimate purpose of transferring it from the terrorists of the Hamas to the terrorists of the PA.

The incompetents who have left Israel captive to the Hamas and did not learn the lessons of Protective Edge must go home immediately. If Gaza will not turn into Jaffa, Jaffa will turn into Gaza.

The Netanyahu government must make room for leadership with identity. Zehut.

Click here for Zehut's Five-Point Plan for Gaza

Rav Kook on Parashat Vayeitzei: The Rivalry between Rachel and Leah

Jacob did not have an easy life. He loved Rachel, but was tricked into marrying her sister Leah. And when he finally married Rachel, his home suffered from rivalry between the two sisters.

This strife was not limited to Jacob’s household. It continued on in future generations: in the struggle between Rachel’s son Joseph and Leah’s sons; and in the conflict between King Saul, a descendant of Rachel, and David, a descendant of Leah. Why did Jacob need to endure so many obstacles when setting up his family — complications that would have such a long-term impact on future generations of the Jewish people?

The Present versus the Future

We live in a divided reality. We continuously deliberate: how much should we live for the moment, and how much should we work for the future? We must constantly balance between the here-and-now and the yet-to-come. This dilemma exists across all levels of life: individual, familial, communal, and national.

Illustration image: ‘Dante’s Vision of Rachel and Leah’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1855)

God’s original design for the world was that the entire tree, even the bark, would taste as sweet as its fruit (Gen. 1:11). In other words, even during the intermediate stages of working toward a goal, we should be able to sense and enjoy the final fruits of our labor. When the world is functioning properly, the present is revealed in all of its glory and serves as a suitable guide toward a loftier future. In such a perfect world, our current desires and wishes do not impinge upon our future aspirations.

But the physical universe is fundamentally flawed. The earth failed to produce trees that taste like their fruit. We endure constant conflict between the present and the future, the temporal and the eternal. As individuals and as a nation, we often need to disregard the sensibilities of the present since they will not lead us toward our destined path.

Rachel and Leah

Jacob’s marriage to two sisters, and the ongoing rivalry between them, is a metaphor for this duality in our lives.

Like all things in our world, Jacob’s home suffered from a lack of clarity. Jacob should have been able to establish his family on the basis of an uplifted present, blessed with integrity and goodness. He should have been able to marry and set up his home without making calculations with an eye to the future. The natural purity and simple emotions of his holy soul should have sufficed.

Rachel, whom Jacob immediately loved for the beautiful qualities of her soul, is a metaphor for the simple and natural love we feel for the revealed present. Jacob felt that Rachel’s external beauty was also in harmony with the unknown realm of the distant future.

But God’s counsel decreed that the future destiny of the people of Israel belonged not to Rachel, but to Leah. 1Leah would be the principal matriarch of the Jewish people. Yet this future was so profoundly hidden, that its current state — in Leah — was hidden from Jacob.

This concealed quality of Leah is embedded in the very foundations of the Jewish people. Because of the legacy of Leah, we can raise our sights afar, skipping over the present circumstances, in order to aspire toward a lofty future. Just as Jacob found himself unexpectedly wed to Leah, so too, the path of the Jewish people throughout history does not always proceed in an orderly fashion. The future often projects its way into the present so that the present time may be elevated and sanctified.

Two Kings and Two Messiahs

The rivalry between Rachel and Leah, the conflict between the beautiful present and the visionary future, also found expression in the monarchy of Israel. The temporary reign of Saul, a descendant of Rachel, struggled with the eternal dynasty of David, a descendant of Leah. 2

Even in the Messianic Era, the divide between Rachel and Leah will continue, with two Messianic leaders: the precursive redeemer, Mashiach ben Joseph, a descendant of Rachel, and the final redeemer, Mashiach ben David, a descendant of Leah.

Nonetheless, we aspire for the simpler state in which the present is uplifting, and by means of its light, the future acquires its greatness. For this reason, Rachel was always honored as Jacob’s primary wife. Even Leah’s descendants in Bethlehem conceded: “Like Rachel and Leah who both built the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:11), honoring Rachel before Leah.

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Ein Eyahvol. IV, pp. 44-46)

1. Six of the twelve tribes of Israel, including those designated for spiritual and political leadership (Levi and Judah), were born to Leah.

2. Saul, who is described as “the most handsome young man in Israel, head and shoulders above the people” (I Sam. 16:2), was a natural choice for king. And yet God chose to appoint David — a simple shepherd boy whose leadership qualities even his own father failed to see — as the true king of the Jewish people. As God explained to the perplexed prophet Samuel: “Look not upon his appearance, or the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For it is not as man sees [that which is visible] to the eyes; the Lord sees into the heart” (I Sam. 16:7).]

"Ya’akov got up early in the morning"

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

WE ARE NOW in Chanukah territory. Kislev has begun and the Zohar says that the 24 days of Kislev in advance of Chanukah correspond to the 24 letters of the second verse of the Shema. The 25th day, when Chanukah begins, corresponds to the 25 letters of the Shema. I now have three books on the topic: The Light of 36, Chanukah Lite, and Once Revealed, Twice Concealed, so if you want a better understanding of all of this, read the books.

It has been pointed out countless times how the miraculous military victory that led to the holiday of Chanukah plays second fiddle to the main Chanukah miracle of the Menorah. The most common explanation is that, as amazing as the military victory was, it was not impossible, just highly unlikely. Smaller armies, if clever enough, CAN bring down larger armies, and have at different points in history.

One day’s worth of oil burning for eight days IS impossible without a miracle. It’s not even a phenomenon, just plain miraculous. The military victory could not have happened without Heavenly help, but maybe it was just a temporary respite from exile. Who says it was meant to become a holiday?

But, when the oil burned for seven extra days, well, that was a whole different story. That meant God had changed the world, albeit temporarily for the Jewish heroes of that time. It revealed, retroactively, just how miraculous the military victory had actually been.

It is not unlike the story of the mann. The Torah writes:

God told Moshe, “I am going to rain bread for you from heaven, and the people will go out each day and collect it, so that I can test you, to see if you’ll keep My Torah or not. Vehayah—on the sixth day, they should prepare that which they will bring; there will be twice the amount they collect daily.” (Shemos 16:4)

That was in advance of discovering the extra portion of mann for Shabbos. This was after it:

Vayehi—on the sixth day they collected the double portion of bread, two omers; the leaders of the people reported it to Moshe. He said to them, “This is what God said . . . It is a Shabbos, a holy Shabbos to God . . .” (Shemos 16:22)

In the first verse, in which God tells Moshe of the impending miracle, it begins with the word “vehayah.” However, in the second verse about the actual collecting of the Shabbos portion, it begins with the word “vayehi.” The Talmud explains that there is a difference between these two words: “vehayah” alludes to a joyful event, and “vayehi” indicates a sad occurrence.

Thus, the verse of when Moshe learns of the double portion begins on a happy note. The verse that records the realization of the miracle begins on a sad note. Why this difference?

Because there were two ways to collect the double portion of mann for Shabbos. The most obvious way was to physically collect two omers, and see the extra one not rot. The second way was more dramatic: collect one omer while saying, “L’chavod Shabbos Kodesh”—this is for the honor of Shabbos—and watch one omer become two!

A miracle like that would have been totally outside the natural realm, and would have transformed the entire nation. Collecting two omers and watching one not rot as it normally did would have only been a “phenomenon.” It would have been worthy of investigation, but not of much excitement. Its transformative powers would have been far weaker.

It was to this latter category of miracle that the military victory of Chanukah belonged. It was to the first category of miracle that the miracle of the Menorah belonged. The military victory was like collecting two omers and one not rotting: not likely, but possible. The Menorah burning for seven extra days was like collecting one omer of mann and watching it become two because of a couple of words—simply impossible, without a miracle.

The same thing happens to Ya’akov Avinu in this week’s parsha as well. After he had his fantastic dream of the ladder, he built a monument to God and then anointed it with olive oil. Where did he find oil if Eliphaz, Eisav’s son, robbed Ya’akov of everything he owned?

The midrash explains that a jar of oil just “happened” to be attached to the rock Ya’akov slept on. It was a highly unlikely occurrence, but not an impossible one. Stranger things have happened for the Forefathers.

But, as excited as Ya’akov was to find the oil, he became FAR more excited when he used it to anoint his monument, and he ended up with the same amount of oil with which he started. THAT was impossible, clearly a miracle.

It’s a hard thing to get used to, like getting water from a rock. We have a difficult enough time relying on “phenomena,” but it takes a real ba’al bitachon, someone who trusts in God completely, to believe a miracle can occur for him out of nowhere. But that is precisely what we’re supposed to be working on during this 24-day build-up to Chanukah, the belief that miracles do happen, even in the most impossible of ways.

Post mid-term election US national security policy

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

While national security and foreign policy did not play a role in the November 2018 mid-term Congressional election, the outcome of the election will impact President Trump’s maneuverability in the arenas of foreign policy, national and homeland security.

While the power of the newly-elected, Democratic-controlled House will be substantially neutralized by the Republican-controlled Senate, the House may choose to focus on its power to investigate the President, ignoring a November 6, 2018 recommendation by a former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Ed Rendell: “legislate, legislate, legislate; don’t investigate, investigate, investigate….”

The former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania and Mayor of Philadelphia is aware that constituents expect their Representatives and Senators to focus on district and state localpriorities – which require cooperation between the two Congressional Chambers and between the Legislature and the Executive - or else constituents “shall remember in November” (2020), which is around the corner. Rendell’s advice was vindicated by the November 1996 and November 2012 models, which paved the road to Presidents Clinton’s and Obama’s second terms, dealing major blows to Republican legislators, whose top priority (during the two years preceding the elections) was to paralyze the relatively-constrained Democratic Administrations, rather than legislate and respond to the local needs of their own constituents.

Should the Democratic-controlled House ignore these precedents and Governor Rendell’s advice – allowing investigation to supersede legislation - it would tax President Trump’s time dedicated to critical challenges in the areas of international, national and homeland security: Iran’s Shite megalomaniacal Ayatollahs; ISIS and other Sunni terrorist regimes; the proliferation of Islamic terrorism in the Argentina-Paraguay-Brazil tri-border area; ensuring the survival of all pro-US Arab regimes, which are threatened by the Ayatollahs’ subversion and terrorism; pacifying North Korea; reducing tension and enhancing cooperation with China and Russia; restructuring NATO’s financial base; upgrading commercial and security coordination with Mexico; expanding geo-strategic ties with Latin America; bolstering strategic cooperation with India, the emerging super-power, etc.

Still, national security and foreign policy may preoccupy much of Trump’s agenda as a by-product of increasing clear and present lethal threats to US national and homeland security, as well as a result of a potential Congressional gridlock in the domestic legislative arena.

Following in the footsteps of President Reagan (1980) and President Clinton (1992), President Trump is expected to reiterate the message of “Make America Great Again;” aiming to resurrect and bolster the US posture of deterrence, which is a critical prerequisite to minimize global unpredictability, instability and violence, while clipping the wings of rogue regimes.

The bolstering of the US posture of deterrence – in the face of Iran’s Ayatollahs and other rogue regimes – is a precondition to the restoration of faith in the US’ willingness to flex its muscle, in general, and on behalf of the pro-US Arab countries, in particular. The latter expressed their disenchantment with President Obama’s feeble policy toward the Ayatollahs, by venturing closer to Russia and China.

The positive transformation of the US strategic image is reflected by the November 12, 2018 statement made by the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, who praised Trump’s defiance of the Ayatollahs and their Hezbollah and Houthi proxies in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, “who have perpetrated terrorism in the Middle East and Europe.”

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states are encouraged by Trump’s realization that theconventional capabilities – and the supreme ideology - of Iran’s Ayatollahs constitute a machete at the throat of every pro-US Arab regime in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. The Trump Administration is aware that the Ayatollahs do not aim at peaceful-coexistence with fellow Muslim countries, let alone with the “infidel” Christian, Hindu or Jewish countries. The Ayatollahs are not driven by economic gains, but by a megalomaniacal vision, which aims at dominating the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East and beyond.

The Ayatollahs’ and many other rising threats are expected to increase the US defense budget, while Trump insists on fair-burden-sharing by NATO countries, demanding that NATO members will appropriate, at least, 2% of their GDP to defense. The European members of NATO are urged to follow in the footsteps of the US (3.6% of its GDP - almost three times as much as the average NATO member), rather than relying on the US taxpayers money, while (frequently) undermining US foreign and national security initiatives.

Contrary to Europe, Israel dedicates 5.2% of its GDP to defense, while extending the US’ strategic and intelligence hand, functioning as the most productive battle-tested laboratory for hundreds of US military systems, enhancing their competitiveness in the global market, thus contributing to US research and development, export and employment.

President Trump is not expected to pursue an isolationist policy. Instead, he will persist in a unilateral – rather than multilateral – diplomatic, economic and military policy, where US national security interests supersede counter-productive and hostile interests set by international and multilateral organizations (e.g., the UN, UNRWA, UNESCO, the International Court of Justice). Most of these organizations are involved, directly and indirectly, in initiatives, which have severely undermined global stability and US national security interests.

Tackling reality head-on, President Trump should be aware of the failure of all well-intentioned Arab-Israeli US peace initiatives, which forced the Arabs to outflank the US from the maximalist/radical side, creating additional hurdles on the very long, greasy, uphill road to peace. Moreover, they were based on the false, counter-productive principle of moral-equivalence between hate-educators and aggressors, on the one hand, and the intended victim, on the other hand. Track record documents that the US played a critical role in sealing – not initiating – the only two successful peace initiatives: Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan.

Finally, the threats to the US, posed by Shiite and Sunni Islamic terrorism, in addition to the unprecedented strategic cooperation between Israel and the pro-US Arab countries, shed light on the Middle East reality and the reality of the Palestinian issue, which has never been a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making, neither a cause of Middle East turbulence, nor the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict… unless one assumes that the Arab talk supersedes the Arab walk. Would a Palestinian state enhance US interests? It would certainly doom Jordan’s Hashemite regime, providing tailwind to the Russian, Chinese and Ayatollahs’ stature in the Middle East.

Will the outcome of the November 2018 Congressional election produce more cooperation, or confrontation, between the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate? Will it yield more legislation or arm-wrestling with the White House? Will the 2019 divided Capitol Hill divert much of President Trump’s attention away from the pressing critical national and homeland security challenges, or will a Congressional gridlock push Trump further toward his foreign policy and national security agenda?

HaRav Nachman Kahana: Medinat Yisrael – Jewish Pride

Parashat Vayai’tzai 5779
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Ya’akov set out for Lavan’s house to find a wife. Yet unlike Avraham’s servant Eliezer, who dozens of years beforehand had arrived at that same well, with a caravan laden with wealth, Ya’akov arrived empty-handed.

Rashi (Bereishiet 29:11) explains that Ya’akov left home with great wealth. When this became known to Esav, he dispatched his son Eliphaz (Amalek’s father) to murder him. Eliphaz caught up with Ya’akov and was about to fulfill his father’s request when Ya’akov suggested that instead, he take all of Ya’akov’s possessions. Then, in accordance with the principle that “a destitute person is considered as though dead,” Eliphaz would have been credited with murdering Ya’akov. Eliphaz accepted Ya’akov’s offer.

One can imagine what transpired when Eliphaz informed his father how he had fulfilled his mission, Esav was livid over the fact that Ya’akov was still alive. Then Eliphaz explained the logic in what he had done: “Had I killed Ya’akov, your joy would have known no bounds. Yet for how long? A month? A year? Surely your euphoria would end, and your life would return to normal. But now Ya’akov is destitute and will suffer every moment of his life. Whenever you sit down to eat, think about Ya’akov scrounging through the garbage dumps for a scrap of potato. And during the frozen nights, when you sit by the warm hearth, your brother Ya’akov will be freezing to death.”

At that moment Esav understood that he had succeeded in educating his son Eliphaz to hate Ya’akov, and he felt satisfaction from knowing that the hatred would pass on to Amalek, his grandson and onward to the end of time.

That sense of joy at having trampled every ounce of Ya’akov’s dignity explains Esav’s behavior in Parashat Vayishlach. The Torah says (Bereishiet 33:4), “Esau ran towards Ya’akov and he hugged him. Throwing himself on his (Ya’akov’s) shoulders, he kissed him.” Above the Hebrew word for “he kissed him,” vayishakehu, there are dots in a Torah scroll, alluding that there is something here worthy of examination.

Our sages say that Esav had been intending to bite Ya’akov to death, but at the last moment he kissed him. What caused Esav to turn the bite into a kiss?

Our sages answer that all of Ya’akov’s family bowed down to Esau. At that moment, Esav felt euphoric over the appearance of Ya’akov and his entire entourage pressing their faces into the dust in total submission.

The precedent of Eliphaz was etched into the psyche of Esav’s descendants. The pleasure from trampling Jewish dignity drove the death machines of Christianity and passed along quickly to Yishmael’s descendants. The Germans could have liquidated the Jews of Europe more efficiently right where they lived, in Berlin, Paris and Warsaw. Yet they preferred to close them off in ghettos, then to transport them in cattle cars to the death camps after days of hunger, thirst and disease. To force them out of the cars with whips and ferocious dogs, carry out “scientific” experiments on their bodies, and in the end to throw them into the gas chambers and the crematoria. The trampling to death of Jewish dignity!

It is impossible to assess the significance the State of Israel has in the thought processes of the descendants of Esav and Yishmael. The non-Jews can “forgive” the Jews for everything, but not for a descendant of Ya’akov flying an F-16 more effective than most other pilots on earth.

Today’s descendants of Esav are planning to destroy the State of Israel, whose very existence constitutes a dire threat to their religions.

Nations vote against us in the U.N. with an accusing finger, while we defend ourselves. They say, “Don’t build security walls! Don’t use helicopters! Don’t hurt innocents in Jenin! Their goal is that the Arabs should be able to continue laying bombs in the marketplaces of Yerushalayim and Netanya.

Our answer to all the “Esavs” in the world is Jewish pride.

HaShem has opened the graves of the Jewish People and brought to life the dry bones after two thousand years of suffering, not so that we can be the nations’ equals, but so that we can pave mankind’s way back to recognizing the Creator of the Universe.

Jewish pride means creating an ideal society under Torah rule. A nation of holiness in which all abide by the Torah, and fight to defend the people and the Land. A country in which every Jew walks with head held high, and we never again will stoop before any human being.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5779/2018 Nachman Kahana

Conquer Gaza Now

by Shmuel Sackett

I am typing these words as Hamas rockets rain down on Israel. Millions of Jews are in danger. Schools in southern Israel have been cancelled and most businesses are closed as well. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. This is a rerun of a rerun of a rerun… You thought you were tired of watching Rocky 6? Try living Gaza 43.

A little background: I was born and raised in New York but my family was very Zionistic. Israel was always at the center of our lives. We followed the news very closely – especially during the 6 Day War and near tragic Yom Kippur War. We were eager to find out what was happening, which was not so easy in the 60’s and 70’s when news reports about Israel were limited. There was no cable television, no internet and no social media.

We waited each week for the Jewish Press to be delivered so we could – finally – read some Jewish reports about what was happening. Every once in a while, an Israeli leader appeared on television or radio yet he/she notoriously said little. Israel was famous for bringing the words of Pirkei Avot to life: “Say a little, but do a lot”. As a child, I never understood that. I prayed that the leaders of my beloved Israel would talk tough, make threats and wave big sticks. It was only later in life that I learned the powerful line; “Be careful what you pray for”… because that is exactly what’s happening now.

450 rockets have fallen on the Jewish homeland in the last 24 hours. Homes, factories, cars and buses have taken direct hits. Millions of people are afraid, huddled in shelters and glued to the news. Think about a family sitting in a tiny bomb shelter, with no bathroom, for 8-10 hours. The fear, the panic, the stress, the sound of rockets crashing near your home… it’s not fun. The kids are crying, the adults are shaking and the response by the current leadership is weak and ineffective.
es, tough words have been spoken – the complete opposite of what Israel used to do – but everybody knows they are just empty threats. Here are direct quotes from today’s Israeli media:

Ha’aretz: “Israeli defense chief talks tough on Gaza”

JPost: “IDF says it will punish anyone who supports and assists terrorists”

Times of Israel: “IDF threatens to step up Gaza attacks”

Are they joking? Who “talks tough” after 450 rockets land in your country? Who “threatens” when the enemy declares war? And when the IDF finally launches an attack, Arutz-7 reports that the “IDF bombs 70 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, killing 2 terrorists”. WHAT?? You bomb 70 terrorist targets and killed just 2 bad guys?? You should have done the reverse… bomb 2 and kill 70. What is going on and who is to blame?

The answer is clear. The Netanyahu-Bennett-Lieberman government has been a total failure in keeping Israel safe. Nothing has been done to stop Hezbollah from adding to their arsenal of 130,000 rockets in the north and nothing has been done from defeating Hamas in the south. Every Jew in Israel – literally, every single one – will tell you that even if the IDF does something serious in Gaza, rockets will resume flying into homes in Ashkelon and Beersheba within the next 12 months. This madness must stop and there’s only one way: Conquer Gaza now!

I guarantee you that not one existing member of the Knesset will say those three words but that is exactly what needs to be done. Conquering Gaza means victory, not just “quiet”. It means a full scale attack by doing whatever is necessary to permanently remove Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority from that area. It means restoring Israeli law enforced by Israeli police, the IDF and nobody else. It means assisting all Arabs who wish to leave Gaza, by paying for their homes and giving them a basket of goodies to emigrate. (Note: According to recent polls 80% of Arabs living in Gaza wish to leave to pursue their lives in a different country… and that’s withoutcompensation!! If we give them money, that number will grow even higher!!)

I promise that every interview you hear and every article you read - about solving this problem - will be nothing more than an expensive Band-Aid. By “expensive”, I don’t mean money… I mean the lives of holy IDF soldiers. Any ground invasion will cost the lives of soldiers (G-d forbid) and will accomplish nothing more than a few months of quiet. Hamas will quickly dust off the dirt, rebuild what was destroyed and restock their weapons and missiles. After a short time, it will, once again, raise its ugly head and here comes the movie sequel: Gaza 44 followed by Gaza 45 and so on. This will happen over and over again… until we realize that Gaza must be conquered, Hamas annihilated and Gaza declared a Jewish city – the way it used to be for thousands of years.

Massive Missile Attack on Israel after Qatar Funds Hamas

by Bassam Tawil
  • The renewed Hamas attacks on Israel serve as a reminder that the terrorist group is not interested in a real truce. Hamas wants millions of dollars paid to its employees so that it can continue to prepare for war with Israel while not having to worry about the welfare of its people.
  • Qatar's $15 million cash grant has failed to stop Hamas from launching hundreds of rockets into Israel. On the contrary, the money has only emboldened Hamas and increased its appetite to continue its jihad to eliminate Israel. All the money in the world will not convince Hamas to abandon its ideology or soften its position toward Israel.
  • What the international mediators need to understand is that there is only one solution to the crisis in the Gaza Strip: removing Hamas from power and destroying its military capabilities. They also need to understand that there is only one language that Hamas understands: the language of force. The assumption that if you pay terrorists millions of dollars, they will stop attacking you -- rather than using the funds to build up their forces -- has proven to be false.

A bus burns near Kfar Aza, Israel, on November 12, 2018, after being hit by an anti-tank guided missile fired by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. (Image source: Hamas video screenshot)

Last week, as efforts were underway to achieve a new truce between Hamas and Israel, this author asked a legitimate and straightforward question: Can Hamas be trusted?

The conclusion was that a real truce between Israel and Hamas can be achieved only after the Palestinian jihadi terrorists are removed from power, and not rewarded for violence and threats.

Days later, Hamas itself provided proof as to why it cannot be trusted with any deal, including a truce.

Since yesterday, Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip have been firing hundreds of rockets into Israel. The current barrage began hours after Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli commandos inside the Gaza Strip, killing an Israeli officer and moderately wounding a soldier. In response, the Israeli army killed seven terrorists, including a top Hamas military commander -- Sheikh Nur Baraka.

Continue Reading Article

The Israeli Security Concept: Wandering Through a Maze

by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The recent round of fighting between Israel and Hamas was seemingly sparked by the exposure of an Israeli special forces team during a covert operation in Khan Yunis. The Hamas leadership, which apparently is not interested in war, nevertheless chose to respond by escalating to the very brink. Why has the Israeli government refrained (yet again) from instructing the IDF to settle the Hamas threat?

The discourse that tends to swirl in the wake of events like this week’s sharp Gaza escalation generally revolves around a clichéd discussion about “the loss of deterrence.” But the gauge of deterrence, like a thermometer in a patient’s mouth, only measures a symptom; it does not explain the situation. Something deeper than “loss of deterrence” drove the event.

The Hamas leadership certainly knows the strength of the IDF relative to the strength of its own forces. But it bases its decisions not on that calculation but on its assessment of the constraints that prevent the Israeli government from making the decision to go to war. During the regular riots Hamas has led along the border since the spring, the group has learned its way through the Israeli strategic labyrinth. It understands how it can exploit the possibility of Israeli distress to advance its own interests.

The two-state solution as a conceptual fixation

Israel’s commitment to the “two-state solution” as a single and necessary solution is largely responsible for its refusal to update the strategic map. In explaining Israel’s duty to separate from the Palestinians, former Justice Minister Haim Ramon said: ” Our control over the territories is a cancer, and I will not let my enemy decide whether to undergo cancer removal surgery or not.” The Palestinians are well aware of their power of blackmail: the more Israel rushes to part ways, the more the Jewish state will have to pay for it. In accordance with this thinking, Hamas will naturally reject any agreement to implement separation in the direction of peace and stability. The need to preserve the separation achieved in Gaza has trapped Israel and made an attack on Gaza futile. What is there to recapture if Israel wants out of Gaza anyway? A re-conquest would put paid once and for all to the (supposed) panacea that “they are there and we are here.”

Hence the trap of both sides of the Israeli political map. The opposition attacked PM Netanyahu for abandoning security by restraining the use of military force against Hamas. Yet even as Israel is mired in the devastating consequences of the disengagement from Gaza, the Left continues to strive for another withdrawal in the West Bank – a withdrawal that could worsen Israel’s security situation to the point of rockets flying from Qalqiliya into the metropolitan Dan region.

On the other hand, Netanyahu, who seemingly seeks refuge from the two-state solution to which he has repeatedly committed himself, has an interest in the creation of an independent Hamas state in Gaza, as PA President Mahmoud Abbas remains entrenched in his lifelong rejection of Jewish statehood. It would therefore be desirable for Netanyahu to maintain the Hamas regime. This is where the Israeli system finds itself lost in a maze. The Hamas leadership has grasped the potential of this situation and is exploiting it to the full.

Who benefits from separation?

It is time to challenge the assumption that spatial separation benefits Israel.

Supporters of withdrawal from the West Bank, including most senior members of the former security establishment, base their thinking on the belief that the attendant risks of withdrawal and territorial separation can be mitigated by the fact that the IDF’s continuous superiority can remove, within days, any security threat emanating from the territories vacated by Israel.

But since the beginning of the Oslo process, something significant has changed in relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and in recent decades there has been a global change in the phenomenon of war. Supporters of withdrawal have not internalized the significance of these changes. Their assessment of the IDF’s relative strength is thus consistently overestimated.

Here lie the seeds of Israel’s ideological fixation: the unwillingness to examine the extent to which separation as a strategic direction mainly helps the enemy.

Looking at the Gaza Strip prior to the IDF withdrawal, we see that although there was a fence that delineated the Strip, most of the IDF forces operated within the area based on the deployment of the Israeli villages in the south of the Strip. This created flexible operational potential for the IDF forces, which could reach enemy areas from a variety of directions. For example, refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip could be reached from the north via the Netzarim enclave, from the east via the border of the Strip, and from the south via Kfar Darom and Gush Katif. The capacity for surprise, flexibility, mobility, control of the area, and freedom of action were fundamentally different from those along the current borderline of the perimeter of the Strip.

The deployment of the IDF prior to the shortening of the lines in the summer of 2005 required Hamas to focus on fragmented defense efforts. The redeployment of forces and their reliance on a security fence in linear arrays made the fence a focal point for friction, and created the conditions for Hamas to organize its forces according to battalions, brigades, firing lines, and command and control systems. In this respect, territorial separation helped Israel’s enemies and harmed the IDF’s freedom of action.

The standard argument among “security technicians” is that shortening the lines of engagement is beneficial for security. But this claim is not only fundamentally wrong but the inverse of the truth. Friction in a multi-dimensional inner space, as exists today in the West Bank through the deployment of Israeli neighborhoods, enables more efficient utilization and wider strategic freedom of action for all components of Israeli power. The strategic maze in which the State of Israel finds itself in the Gaza Strip offers a valuable lesson on how security interests should help formulate the IDF’s future deployment in the West Bank.

In the meantime, the extent of the recent Hamas firefight requires the defense establishment to reexamine the IDF’s readiness to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously. A serious change in the conditions of the Palestinian threat from the West Bank, which would in turn intensify the threat from Gaza, is liable to disrupt the inter-ministerial agenda to the point of undermining the necessary conditions for concentrating the effort on the northern front.

In these circumstances, the recently voiced aspiration of former senior defense establishment officials, including Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, to lead a further separation in the West Bank is worrisome.

Israel’s strategic navigation right now resembles wandering through a maze without a map. As the pace of change accelerates, it needs a fully updated map.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Moshe Feiglin in Press Release on Gaza Terror

We must conquer Gaza.

We must eliminate or expel the Hamas and its cohorts.

We must free Gaza’s populace from the clutches of the Hamas and generously assist it to emigrate.

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war,” said Churchill to Neville Chamberlain.

As I explained when I was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of the Knesset, either we will turn Gaza into a tourist center like Jaffa, or they will turn Jaffa into Gaza. Instead of relegating life under terror to the next generation, our children will be able to vacation in Israeli Gaza.

This rightist government lacks vision and spine. It is time for it to go home – today.

Netanyahu’s Two-Terror-States Solution

by Moshe Feiglin

Until now, Israel has been paying protection money to Abu Mazen as part of the Oslo Accords. A portion of that money was sent to Gaza. For that reason, until now, the money sent to Gaza has been in Israeli shekels. Now that Qatar is sending the money through Israel, it is in dollars.

The question is, why now, after Abu Mazen has once again declared that the Oslo Accords are null, does Israel continue to pay him protection money? “There is no diplomatic solution,” PM Netanyahu announced last night in Paris.

If your horizon only goes as far as the walls of Peres and Beilin’s Oslo fantasy, there can be no solution other than the two-state-solution. In other words, creating two terror states: One in Gaza and the other in Ramallah. Israel will then pay protection money to both in exchange for less violence.

If your vision is the vision of one Jewish state, then there certainly is a diplomatic solution – without protection money and without sacrifices for peace – or “calm”…

Click here for Zehut’s One-State-Solution.

The Ticking Time Bomb of Islamic Jew-hatred in the USA

by Judith Bergman

Liberals were recently out in force in Pittsburgh, their ignorance on full display, as they blamed President Donald Trump for the millennia old Jew hatred that had found another acolyte in Robert Bowers, who shot and killed 11 praying Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Jew hatred exists on the right, the left and is the raison d’etre of Islamists, but out of the three, Jewish liberals only protest right wing Jew hatred. They usually have nothing to say about Muslim Jew hatred, even though it is being carefully cultivated and stoked in mosques across the US. Islamic Jew-hatred is a time bomb waiting to go off, but that does not seem to bother liberal American Jews very much.

When in July and December 2017, imams in mosques in North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas and California, respectively, called for the killing of Jews, American organizations were conspicuously quiet. No one was holding protests, calling on President Donald Trump to “devise a plan” to confront Muslim supremacy, as the ADL had done in response to the white supremacists after Charlottesville.

This is disturbing, because terrorism is frequently preceded by indoctrination. While freedom of speech, even hate speech, is protected under the US First Amendment, direct calls for violence and murder of any single person or people, are not. Calls in US mosques for the murder of Jews need to be taken seriously. They need to be prosecuted, not tolerated.

It is therefore unsurprising that no one, let alone American Jews, has paid attention to an October sermon by imam Hasan Sabri at the Islamic Center of South Florida in Pompano Beach on October 12. In that sermon, Sabri said, “Palestine Must Be Liberated ‘Even If This Leads To The Martyrdom Of Tens Of Millions Of Muslims‘, according to a recent report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). “But what is the position of a believing Muslim about the Palestinian cause? “asked Sabri rhetorically, “That Palestine in its entirety is Islamic land, and there is no difference between what was occupied in 1948 and 1967. There is no difference between this village or that village, this city or that city. All of it is Islamic waqf land that was occupied by force. The responsibility for it lies with the entire Islamic nation, and the [Palestinians] should benefit from this land. If a land is occupied or plundered, it should be liberated from the occupiers and plunderers…”

In previous sermons documented by MEMRI, Sabri spoke of atheists as “a worm in the body of Muslims, a germ that is causing disease and weakness to his nation” (March 2018) and “Palestine, Al-Aqsa, and Jerusalem have one path and one way to be liberated, and that is the way of Saladin, and the way of Omar ibn Al-Khatt…” (April 2018).

Despite this display of seething hatred, you will never find a liberal protesting in front of the Islamic Center of South Florida. On the contrary, in September 2017, imam Sabri was a panelist at “Interfaith and Race Relations Peace and Acceptance Conference” at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida. The invitation described the event as “promoting peace and acceptance for building a just community”.

The Pittsburgh attack, as horrific as it was, unfortunately also appears to have hardened the beliefs of liberal Jews that the main threat to Jews in the US comes from the far right. However, American Jews ignore the Islamic Jew hatred being preached and nurtured in Islamic centers and mosques at their peril. In Europe, such preaching has had murderous results. In Copenhagen, for example, a Muslim listened to a sermon similar to the ones issued by the American imams, then murdered a Jewish guard in front of the city’s synagogue.

Calls from imams in mosques to murder anyone should set off alarm bells that murders are in the works. Or does it matter for liberal American Jews only when the potential perpetrator is a neo Nazi?

The Prohibition against Reckless Driving

by HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Har Bracha

The article last week, which dealt with tefillat ha’derech, was dedicated to the memory of the Atar family who were killed in the horrific road accident. The title given by the editor to the article was: “The Answer to the Horrific Accident – Saying Tefillat Ha’Derech with Utmost Intention.” I received many comments on the title, some of which I will quote.

“I always read Revivim, and the spirit I have received from reading over the years, is that when there is a problem it must be dealt with itself, and not run to external and super natural solutions. If there is a problem with shalom bayit (peace in the home), it must be worked on – on love and appreciation, trust and inclusion, and not to look for the chapter of Tehillim that is attributed to remedy it. The title of the last column was: “The Answer to the Horrific Accident – Saying Tefillat Ha’Derech with Utmost Intention”. Is tefillat ha’derech going to prevent road accidents? Haven’t many righteous people died in accidents who recited the blessing? From what we learned from the rabbi, I assumed that a call would be issued for the strict observance of all the traffic laws, and to act with caution and responsibility. I would be very happy to know what the most important correction is in your opinion.”

An additional letter: “Is the answer to accidents really tefillat ha’derech? I was sorry that you did not take the opportunity following the shocking accident that broke every heart to pronounce a clear and unequivocal halakhic statement: It is forbidden to look at one’s cell phone while driving. It is forbidden for the driver to deal with anything that is not directly connected to holding the steering wheel and looking at the road. This is the statement that the public must hear from you: True, “Unless Hashem watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain”, but a watchman is also needed. I hope that you will find the opportunity to pronounce a sweeping halakhic statement: Anyone who plays around with his cell phone while driving – whether it be reading messages, or writing, or any other thing – transgresses a Torah prohibition! This has to be said over and over until it is internalized – just as we would not think of sneaking a tiny piece of treif meat into our mouths. The same goes for a quick look at one’s cell phone while driving!”


Readers should know that the general rule in all newspapers is that the title is given by the editor, and his purpose is to arouse interest in the article. Usually the subheadings are also given by the editor, but in my articles I write the subheadings. Although the article was connected to the accident, as I wrote at the end of the first paragraph: “Out of this terrible shock, we will deal with the laws of the tefilat ha’derech and arouse ourselves to say it with kavanah.” But in no way should it have been understood that this is “the” answer to the accident.

I did not write in the wake of the accident about the duty of caution on the roads, since this might have hurt the memory of the Atar family car driver, who was apparently careful with all the safety rules, and the other driver hit him. Indeed, it is possible that a person can strictly observe all the traffic laws, and by the negligence of another driver, be killed in an accident. Therefore there is room to deal with tefillat ha’derech in the wake of such terrible news, but in no way can the prayer replace caution on the road. On the contrary, one who says tefillat ha’derech but disregards the traffic laws, his prayer is not a prayer, but rather a blasphemy, just as a person who recites a blessing over stolen food, his bracha is not a blessing, but rather a blasphemy (according to Sanhedrin 6b).

A Reckless Driver Transgresses a Torah Prohibition

In practice, a person who drives at a high speed that is considered dangerous and punishable by law, or who does not comply with other safety laws, such as talking on his cell phone illegally, violates a Torah prohibition. This is because the Torah commanded us to guard our lives to the highest degree, and the intention is not only not to commit suicide, but rather the meaning is to distance oneself from danger and to be careful. And of course, traffic laws were not determined arbitrarily in order to annoy the drivers, but were determined by experts who examined and investigated the matter and concluded that at such a speed, or passing in a certain area, etc., is dangerous, and therefore a person who violates these laws transgresses a Torah prohibition. This is what I heard from Rabbi Avraham Shapira ztz”l.

The general commandment to guard from dangers we learned from the obligation to install a railing on a roof that people use, lest a person fall from there (Deuteronomy 22: 8). And just as a person who did not install a railing – even though no one has fallen from his roof – has transgressed the Torah prohibition, so too, one who has transgressed the rules of caution and is not careful – even though no one is injured – has transgressed a Torah prohibition.

In addition, it is appropriate for anyone who drives recklessly to know that even if he personally did not commit an accident, he is indirectly responsible for the existence of road accidents. This is because his speeding or his careless cell phone use helps create a negative norm, from which people will surely be hurt.

Prayer before Driving

This is an appropriate opportunity to mention a prayer written by my friend Rabbi David Mishlov, inspired by the commentary of Rabbi Kook for tefillat ha’derech, and fortunate are the drivers who recite this prayer before each trip, and it is good to say it at least one time when reading this article: “May it be your will, Hashem, my God and the God of my father’s, that I realize the greatness of the responsibility placed upon me: To guard my own life, and the lives of those travelling with me, and the lives of everyone on the road. Please help me not to lose my concentration from driving, even for a second. Let me always drive according to the law, out of regard for others, patiently, with self-rule, and not out of a rush to arrive at my destination. Please guard me, and everyone travelling on this road, among all those of Israel travelling on the roads – amen.”

Questions about Tefillat Ha’Derech

Q: A person who has forgotten to tefillat ha’derech at the beginning of his trip, if he still has a parsah (approximately four kilometers) to go, can still recite the blessing. Does this law apply even if he has already entered the city, and until he reaches his destination, still has a parsah to go?

A: Since I wrote that it is good for someone travelling in a city to say tefillat ha’derech without mentioning shem Hashem (God’s name) at the end of the prayer, even in such a situation it is good to say tefillat ha’derech without mentioning shem Hashem.

Q: Does someone who commutes on the train from Netanya to Tel Aviv on a daily basis also have to say tefillat ha’derech?

A: Yes, since it entails a journey of about four kilometers outside of urban areas.

Q: We have learned that one says tefillat ha’derech once a day for all the trips planned for that day – what is included in a day? And what is the halakha if I suddenly decided to make another trip?

A: A day is considered from getting up in the morning until going to sleep at night. If an additional unexpected trip is added, tefillat ha’derech is said once again.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew.

We can take back our sovereignty

by Victor Rosenthal

Every time Tzipi Livni opens her mouth, the word “democracy” comes out. According to Livni, the government and the Knesset that were democratically elected by the people are constantly “endangering” it, “undermining” it, “imperiling it,” and so on.

Nothing contradicts her more powerfully than the fact that her bloc is consistently defeated at the ballot box in elections that are probably the most free and fair in the world.

There is, however, another word that she does not say – and unfortunately, that our supposedly “right-wing” government doesn’t utter often enough either. That word is “sovereignty.”

Sovereignty is far more important than democracy, because if you don’t control what happens in your own country, then you don’t have a country, democratic or otherwise.

Israel is the one country in the world whose people’s sovereignty over their own land is regularly disputed, and I am not talking only about Judea and Samaria. Indicators of disagreement with the very existence of a Jewish state include support of BDS or a right of return for “Palestinian refugees,” both of which are widespread throughout the world.

One of the most hostile entities to Israeli sovereignty is the UN, which tries to inject itself into internal Israeli matters on a regular basis. For example, there is the Temporary International Presence in Hevron (TIPH), established after the Baruch Goldstein massacre when the Palestinian Authority requested that something be done to “guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilians.” Initially the mission was staffed by Norway alone, but today it includes representatives from Norway, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

The observers are supposed to be impartial and report all “breaches of the agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel on Hebron, as well as on violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” but in fact are highly partisan, ignore Arab terrorism and report only Palestinian complaints against Israel. They take part in anti-Israel propaganda events, and harass Jewish residents of Hevron. Two recent high-profile incidents include an observer slapping a Jewish child, and another puncturing the tires of a vehicle belonging to a Jewish resident.

There is a simple solution to the problem: the government of Israel initially agreed to their presence, and the government can revoke its agreement. The PM should announce that they have 48 hours to pack up and go. I doubt that even Tzipi Livni would claim that that would be “undemocratic.”

Then of course there is UNTSO, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, which squats rent-free in the beautiful Armon Hanatziv, the former palace of the British High Commissioner, located on some of the most expensive real estate in Jerusalem. UNTSO was established in May, 1948; when the British moved out, the Red Cross and then the UN moved in. Probably the idea was that the UN would govern the international corpus separatum that it intended Jerusalem to become from that lovely spot. UNTSO’s mission today is to supervise truce agreements, most of which are long since gone.

Miri Regev, one of the few Israeli politicians that seems to care about our sovereignty and national honor, tried to kick them out last year, but didn’t succeed. She argued that their presence in Jerusalem was unnecessary (since all they have left to supervise is the 1974 disengagement resolution with Syria) and that they were engaged in anti-Israel activities. Quelle surprise! There are 376 UN employees there, and they should rent office space like anyone else – or better yet, move to Damascus.

There are countless other impingements on Israeli sovereignty, including the huge sums of money funneled to subversive NGOs from Europe; unwritten American restrictions on building in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem; EU funded and directed illegal Arab building in Area C of the territories; and UNESCO resolutions declaring various parts of Israel – including the Western Wall – to be “Palestinian heritage sites.”

But all of these things pale in comparison the biggest, most blatant, most humiliating impairment to our sovereignty of all, the continued Arab occupation of the Temple Mount.

Judging by the imbalance between the rights of Muslims and Jews on the Mount, one could be excused for thinking that it was located in an Arab country, and not in the heart of Israel’s capital. Jews are not permitted to pray (even to move their lips silently) or to use the water faucets, while Muslim children may play ball on the grounds, and teams of Muslim provocateurs scream at Jewish worshippers. Restrictions are enforced by Israeli police officers. Just last week, Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the use of metal detectors on the only entrance to the Mount that Jews are permitted to use, while such detectors were removed from Muslim entrances, despite the fact that weapons that were used to murder police officers were smuggled in through those entrances.

The Temple Mount, following what is called the “status quo,” allows the Jordanian Waqf to govern and maintain the area. But since 1967, the quo hasn’t been static, with more and more restrictions placed on Jews. The Waqf has engaged in large construction projects while violating understandings that require archaeological supervision for such things, resulting in the destruction or loss of priceless artifacts. Many believe that there has been a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence of Jewish history at the site. Attempts by Israel to replace a dangerous bridge that leads to one of the gates to the Mount have been met by riots. The bridge has been in “temporary” form since 2004.

What is being endangered, undermined, and imperiled is not democracy. We have plenty of democracy, sometimes so much that the government is unable to get anything accomplished – such as solving the problem of illegal migrants – without being stymied by stupid internal politics, as well as the “guardians of democracy,” the subversive European-funded NGOs and the Supreme Court. What is at risk is our sovereignty – in the territories, in Jerusalem, even in the burning lands surrounding the Gaza strip, where we seem to be unable or unwilling to protect our own population.

Sovereignty is precious – and delicate. It can be strengthened or eroded by precedents that we allow to be established. Because of the typical Israeli attitude that “symbolic stuff doesn’t matter,” and the desire to avoid any form of conflict at all cost, we allow important principles to slip away, and soon “symbolic stuff” turns into irreversible facts on the ground.

Our government could take a lesson from Donald Trump. You can’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he was told, there will be unrest. You can’t move the embassy, they said, there will be riots. You can’t cut funding to UNRWA or demand that the PA stop paying terrorists. You can’t kill the Iran deal and re-impose sanctions. But he did all those things and the sky didn’t fall.

We can take back our sovereignty – around Gaza, at the Temple Mount, and from the UN and the EU. It won’t make everyone love us – nothing could do that in today’s world – but it might get us some respect.