Thursday, October 06, 2016

Within Our Reach: A Yom Kippur Message

By Moshe Feiglin

May You be King, Hashem, our G-d, over all of Your creations, speedily, on Mount Zion, the dwelling place of Your glory and in Jerusalem, the city of Your Temple. (From the Yom Kippur prayers).                                                                                               

One of the climaxes of the Rosh Hashanah prayers is when we fully prostrate ourselves before the Creator in the Aleinu prayer. This year I also put my towel on the floor and when we got to the words of the prayer I bowed down as did all the others around me. But the prostration left me empty. I was anticipating the sense of exaltation that is borne of feeling as nothing before G-d. But all that I could think of was the feeling that encompassed me when I prostrated myself in G-d’s courtyard, on the Temple Mount just a few years ago. There, with nothing between me and the Creator, in the royal palace. 

And suddenly, the prostration that had always been a climax, tasted bland. A faint reminder of the genuine experience that we can already touch. If we choose to.  
I wish all of our friends, readers and supporters a gmar chatimah tovah. 

May our deeds and prayers find favor in G-d’s eyes. 

May we merit to sanctify His Name and to make our will His will. 

May we restore the honor of Israel this year by actualizing our sovereignty over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and by making Israel a moral lighthouse for all the peoples of the world.

Gmar Chatimah Tovah,
Shabbat Shalom.

Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Dov Berel Wein
The holiest day of the year is almost upon us. The time of atonement and forgiveness, of introspection and self-analysis has again arrived. The unique quality of the day of Yom Kippur is that it is a day of cleansing. Just as our refraining from food and drink on that day helps cleanse us physically so too does our participation in prayer, serious thought, recognition of personal faults and a new commitment to do better in the future cleanse our personalities and souls. We are all well aware that the buildup of plaque in one's arteries is dangerous to health and surgical and medicinal intervention is necessary. Unfortunately, during the year a great deal of plaque has been built up in the mental, emotional and spiritual arteries of our being. We should therefore look at Yom Kippur as being an opportunity to cleanse ourselves of that plaque buildup and focus our attention on staying healthy both physically and spiritually. There is no easy way or shortcut to accomplish this goal. There is opinion in the Talmud recorded for us in the name of the great Rabi Meir that merely passing through the day of Yom Kippur itself can accomplish this end without our active participation. However, Jewish law and tradition did not accept Rabi Meir’s opinion as being binding and instead demanded the sensation of human repentance to be present in order for the cleansing process of Yom Kippur to be effective. Yom Kippur therefore is not to be viewed as a passive day of restraint and refraining but rather as a day of active participation in the process of cleansing our souls and purifying our emotions.

Because of this requirement of the necessity for our conscious and active effort of repentance to be present, Yom Kippur is transferred from being purely a day of rest into a day of wrenching emotional and spiritual activity. It is possible to sleep away the entire day and thereby technically not violate any of the prohibitions of Yom Kippur. But it is unimaginable that if one does so that one has really experienced Yom Kippur. The most difficult part of the day is not, in my opinion, hunger or thirst or physical fatigue - it is the necessity to be honest with ourselves and face up to our weaknesses and to the areas in our life and in our relations to others that need attention and improvement. We are all born with the gift of denial. Original man in the Garden of Eden when confronted by God with the enormity of his sin does not readily admit that he was at fault at all. He casts about to put the blame on others and the others in turn also lay their guilt upon still others. The ability to admit error is one of the most difficult psychological and emotional traits to be encountered in life. Yet without that ability and by remaining in constant denial of one's shortcomings there is little hope for improvement and for achieving a more balanced and productive life. Yom Kippur can cleanse us and create us anew. But it cannot do so unless we are willing to face our own shortcomings and cleanse ourselves from them.

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem and the High Priest of Israel performed the public rituals of Yom Kippur, forgiveness, cleansing and personal improvement were somehow meant to be easier to obtain. However, even then with such optimal circumstances present, the Jewish people did not truly exploit the opportunity of repentance, improvement and cleansing. Therefore both Temples were destroyed. In a strange way, Yom Kippur, over the almost two millennia since the disruption of the Second Temple, has become even more of a spiritual and emotional day. Since we can no longer rely on the Temple services or on the intercession of the High Priest on our behalf, we have become well aware that much depends upon us and only upon us. The removal of denial is the first step towards becoming a better person, building a stronger family, creating a more just and righteous community and strengthening our nascent state here in the Land of Israel. We should therefore make a great effort not to allow Yom Kippur to slip away from us merely as a day of rest and restraint. The gift of Yom Kippur is that for at least one day in the year we can be honest with ourselves and truly unite with our inner self and soul. Whether we do so or not is completely dependent upon each and every one of us solely and upon our attitude, thoughts, behavior and commitment on that holiest day of the year.

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Yom Kippur: A Jew Can Never Cease Being a Jew

Yom Kippur 5777
A Jew Can Never Cease Being a Jew

The Tanach in Melachim 1 chapter 20 relates a very telling incident in the life of Achav, King of the ten northern tribes of Israel.

Achav, to be sure, was far from a tzadik. He, Yeravam ben Nevat and Menashe were the three kings who, according to the Mishna in Sanhedrin, lost their inherent places in Gan Eden.

Ben Hadad King of Aram (today’s Syria), threatened Achav with war if he did not deliver to him his gold and silver, his wives and children. Achav was forced to capitulate and sent to Ben Hadad all that he demanded.

The following day, Ben Hadad sent anther demand to Achav. This time Achav was to deliver to him “machmad ay’necha” - that which is the most precious in your eyes.  Achav and all his ministers rejected the demand and agreed unanimously to go to war.

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 102b) asks, that after relinquishing his gold, silver, wives and children, what was left that could be described as the “most precious thing” in Achav’s eyes? And surprisingly, the Gemara answers “a Sefer Torah”.

Why would Achav who totally rejected the Torah, choose to go to war over a Torah scroll?  I believe that despite Achav’s rejection of its spiritual message, the Torah in Achav’s eyes was the universally recognized symbol of the Jewish nation. For him to relinquish the royal Torah scroll to an enemy was tantamount to eliminating the national soul that bound all Jews together. Achav was prepared to die in battle rather than to commit an act of betrayal against the nation and against his own personal “Jewishness”.

This incident defines Achav's inner character and thoughts. Despite his glaring faults and weaknesses, he can serve as the leading teacher in two areas:

1- There is an immutable connection between every individual Jew to the collective Am Yisrael, even one who is so far from Torah observance. We learn from Achav that the skeletal-infrastructure of every Jew is the undeniable fact that the Creator brought his unique soul to this world when born to a Jewish mother, or converts who were born with a Jewish soul and for some unknown reason had to be born to a seemingly gentile mother. It is for this reason that, halachically a Jew can never cease being a Jew no matter what he does, because one cannot erase his essence.

2- We learn from Achav the great pride there is in being a Jew. He relinquished everything of value - family and wealth - but was willing to die before infringing on his and on his nation’s Jewishness.

A Third Type of Tshuva

The Rambam in his laws of Tshuva discusses two motives for one’s decision to do Tshuva - love of HaShem or fear of divine retribution.

I would like to submit a third motive, one which is unfortunately grossly lacking in the education of Jews in the galut and in some non-observant schools in Israel.

It is tshuva not purely out of love for HaShem - which is in the realm of a few learned and highly spiritually developed individuals.

It is not tshuva out of fear of punishment - which is a product of an egotistical mind that is not even close to the spiritual ideal of a “Priestly kingdom and a sanctified nation”.

This third tshuva is out of pride in being a member of the small, elite group of people who the Creator appointed to be His chosen nation. Pride in being the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov. A descendant of the people who crossed the Red Sea and saw HaShem’s miracle, and stood at the foot of Mount Sinai while receiving the Torah from the Creator Himself.

Children of a nation 3500 years old whose blessings to humanity have no equal.  It is the pride of being a Jew that echoes in one’s soul proclaiming:
I am a prince, a son of HaShem. How can I betray the love and confidence HaShem has lavished upon me, by committing a sin?

How can I betray the 150 generations of my family beginning with the revelation at Mount Sinai, who sacrificed so much that I should be born a Jew today?

It is beneath my dignity as a Jew to act immorally or not in good faith with my fellow man, or to infringe on any of HaShem’s mitzvoth.

It is beyond my conception as a Jew to deny or minimize the great miracles HaShem has performed for His people in the last 67 years in Eretz Yisrael.

The Holy Land acts as a magnet for me to return home to be part of HaShem’s master plan for the world and the universe.

The prophet Yeshayahu says (40,15):
הן גוים כמר מדלי וכשחק מאזנים נחשבו הן איים כדק יטול:
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
and as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

HaShem revealed to the prophet that the eight billion gentiles in the world pale in comparison to the numerically minuscule Jewish nation.

How can we not burst with pride at the knowledge that we are Jews, in whose veins flow the blood of the righteous of the world - that we are the Jewish nation that was presented by HaShem with the promise of eternal life in the next world and the holy land of Israel in this world!

Jewish Pride

When I still lived in the galut and had not yet made Aliyah, I recall every time I would recite the morning blessing about HaShem not making me a gentile, it would come to my mind that He did not have to make us gentiles. He left it to us to do the job.

We spoke their language and were steeped in their culture. Life was centered around sports, with the great sportsmen our heroes and not the heroes of Jewish history. Entertainment, food, vacations, career - I and my fellow yeshiva students were very much a part of the gentile scene in whose land (unknown then to us) we were considered as non-Christian, unwanted guests, while we felt that we were home.

We were devoid of any Jewish pride!

There were many moments in my life when I felt proud, but the one which has left the greatest impression was at the IDF induction center, when I saw myself in the mirror dressed in the uniform of Tsahal.

I was now a true son of Eretz Yisrael, prepared to even give my life in the defense of the Jewish people, who with the compassion of HaShem have returned home.

Gmar Chatima Tova & Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5776/2015 Nachman Kahana

I will Surely Conceal My Face

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

I will surely conceal ('haster astir') My face on that day." (Devarim 31:18) The Ba'al Shem Tov would often say, "I am very afraid of this concealment that is called 'haster astir,' more than of the concealment itself." That is, when a person suffers, but knows that G-d is hiding, he seeks after Him. However, when the person is not even aware of the concealment, he is not worried and doesn't submit, because he considers himself completely righteous, and therefore doesn't repent.

The Ba'al Shem Tov writes a parable about this, for it seems very strange, how could G-d hide His face from Israel? Rather, it is comparable to a king who made numerous illusionary obstacles before his palace, so that it would be impossible to reach him, and hid there. He made walls, and fire, and rivers -- all illusions -- before his children. The one who thought about this wisely said, "How could it be that a merciful father would not be willing to show his face to his children, his friends?" It must be that this is all an illusion, that the father wants to test if the child will attempt to come to him, and he really is not hiding. Immediately, when he plunged into the "river," the illusion was exposed and he crossed it, and so, too, all the other obstacles, until he came to the Royal Chamber. The fool was afraid even to begin to cross the barriers, and another crossed the water successfully, but went back because of the walls and the fire. The meaning of the parable is obvious.

"I shall descend with you to Egypt, and I shall also surely bring you up" (Bereishit 46:4), was said to Yaakov when he went down to Egypt. The Ba'al Shem Tov explains (Parshat Vayigash):

When you contemplate, that even in descent there is also, "I" -- that is, that the concealment that I will conceal Myself from you is also for your benefit, then -- "I shall surely bring you up," that is, that you will merit a lofty level, and this is, "surely bring you up." The Toldot Yaakov Yosef (the brother-in-law of the Ba'al Shem Tov) gives another parable about this. It is comparable to a king that sent one of his servants to test his subjects, and told him to pretend as if he were leading a rebellion against the king. Some said: "If you are the king, we are your servants," and they submitted to him. Some went out to war against him. Some said: "How could a lowly servant rebel against his master? Rather, he must certainly be doing the will of his master," and told him that they would make peace with him.

All of a person's desires, evil thoughts, and acts led by his inclination, are in order to arouse him. Some surrender to their inclination, some fight and break their inclination, and some make peace -- they take these abilities and use them for the service of G-d. "With all your heart" -- with your two inclinations.

Whenever a person feels something restraining him, this is a sign that he is being tested specifically there, and that G-d is hiding there. G-d's name is Y-H. However, the yu"d has a crown which points upwards, and this alludes to the aleph, the Unique King of the world. When we examine the words "Hstr AstYr" we find that in the double concealment hide the letters A, Y-H. This teaches that G-d is a "hiding G-d," and the "I" is hidden within the double concealment.

Repentance of Public Figures

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen 
Dean of the Zomet Institute

(1) “Wisdom was asked, what is the punishment of a sinner? And it replied, ‘Sinners will be pursued by evil’ [Mishlei 13:21].Prophecy was asked, what is the punishment of a sinner? And it replied, ‘A soul which commits a sin must die’ [Yechezkel 18:4]. The Torah was asked, what is the punishment of a sinner? And it replied, let them bring an Asham Sacrifice for atonement. The Holy One, Blessed be He, was asked, what is the punishment of a sinner? And He replied, let him repent and he will be forgiven.” [Pesikta D’Rav Kahane Shuva, 24].

(2) “Seven items were created before the world... Repentance... as is written, ‘Before the mountains were born... And You said, let the people return’ [Tehillim 90:2].” [Pesachim 54a].

(3) “The act (the sin of Batsheva and Uriyah) was not appropriate for David, and the act (the sin of the Golden Calf) was not appropriate for Yisrael... Why did they take place? It is to tell you that an individual who sins is told to learn from an individual (David) and a community which sins is told to learn from a community. This is the declaration of David Ben Yishai, who established the standard for repentance.” [Avoda Zara 4b].

Teshuva – Repentance: Is it Irrational?

The concept of teshuva is unique to the Jewish faith, as a kindness of the Holy One, Blessed be He. Only He puts His hand out to accept those who repent, as opposed to wisdom, prophecy, and the Torah (quote 1, above). The Torah proposes a path of atonement: “Let them bring an Asham Sacrifice for atonement.” This is a sacrifice which accompanies an act of repentance with a symbolic act of sprinkling the blood of an animal and burning its flesh. Only the Holy One, Blessed be He, is satisfied with repentance alone, on condition that it is an act of truth, performed with honesty and from the depths of the heart. “Wisdom” and “prophecy” (that is, the intellect and the emotions), as opposed to the Torah, demand strict judgement for violating the sins: “Sinners will be pursued by evil... A soul which commits a sin must die.”

In modern terms, we can add other figures of “authority” which are involved with the question of “what to do with a soul which commits a sin.” These modern systems do not recognize the realm of repentance either. For example, the justice system gives only marginal recognition to the concept of repentance, in the framework of extenuating circumstances when setting a sentence. However, “the law is the law,” and misdemeanors and crimes are forbidden. And there is no mechanism to erase the record of sin.

One realm that is even more stringent is the “media,” especially of the inferior sort, which does not recognize any possibility of forgiveness. This is especially true in a case of sins by a public figure. The press makes its living from a lack of mercy, by pulling out past sins and quoting them from forgotten sources or collecting them from the “cloud” of the internet. There is absolutely no room in this system for repentance!

An Injunction to Forbid Publication

When King David admitted “I have sinned” [Shmuel II 12:13] after the affair of Batsheva and Uriyah, he became a symbol of the act of repentance (quote 2, above). And it may surprise us to see that he too encountered a hostile press! According to our tradition (see below), David made two requests: “That my iniquity will not be recorded.” That is, to “delete” the report of his sin. The reply of the Holy One, Blessed be He, was: “That cannot be done!” His second request was that “the rabbis shall not discuss my sins (in the Beit Midrash).” And to this, the Holy One, Blessed be He, replied: I agree! In modern terms: nothing will be erased from the secret protocols, but there is an injunction that prohibits discussing the matter in public!

Here is the full quote of this discussion from the Talmud:

“David said to the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the world: You know very well that if they would tear my flesh no blood would flow. Moreover, when they discussed the matter of the four types of death punishment, they stopped their studies and turned to me, saying, What is the punishment of one who lies with a married woman? I replied to them: One who lies with a married woman is killed by choking, and he still maintains his portion in the world to come, but whoever makes his colleague’s face go white with shame in public has no portion in the world to come. David said to the Holy One, Blessed be He: “Who can understand mistakes” [Tehillim 19:13]. And G-d replied, I accept that (that is, okay!)... Do not let the rabbis discuss my sins. And G-d replied, okay. That my sin should not be recorded. And He replied, ‘That cannot be done.’” [Sanhedrin 107a].

And that indeed is the accepted halacha: “The affairs of David and Amnon are not read in public and are not translated” [Mishna Megillah 4:10].

G-d “hears the sound of His People Israel’s shofar blowing with mercy.”

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Rosh Hashanah has the aspect of being the start of the entire year. As Rabbi Shneur Zalmen of Liadi explained, just as a person has a head and a brain that influence and sustain the entire body, so is Rosh Hashanah a sort of brain for the year, influencing the entire year. And just as one’s head, brain and heart have to be pure and righteous, so must we on Rosh Hashanah purify ourselves by way of repentance and good deeds, good thoughts and good speech. Through this, we influence the entire year, making it good and sweet. Especially important is the mitzvah of hearing the Shofar (whose very name recalls “improvement” [shipur]). The Shofar hints and teaches us how we must relate properly and constructively to the Day of Judgment and to Strict Judgment. 

And how is that? The shofar blasts fall into three categories, alluding to divine kindness, strict judgment and mercy. The first blast, the teki’ah, alludes to kindness. It is a simple sound, and where kindness exists, all is simple. In the middle comes the teruah, consisting of broken blasts, the sound of loud sobbing, and sighing, weeping and wailing. These allude to strict judgment and to life’s hardships. In the end comes another tekiah, a simple blast alluding to mercy and love. We hear how the blasts are joined together until one can hear the kindness within strict judgment, the light within the darkness, the sweet within the bitter. We get a sense of how G-d really is “good to all, with His mercy governing all His works” (Psalm 145:9). Pondering and listening to the sweet, remarkable shofar blasts arouses and strengthens within us the belief that despite everything, when all is said and done, “One higher than the high is watching over us” (Ecclesiastes 5:7), and there is no one else but Him. The L-rd G-d of Israel is King, and His monarchy rules over all. By such means, a Jew purifies his mind and heart on Rosh Hashanah, and this day shines upon the entire year. 

Today, let the old year and its curses end, and let the new year and its blessings begin. This year has been hard and painful for the Jewish People. The sound of the “teruah”, the sound of weeping and sighing, the pain and suffering, doubts and worries were the lot of many Jews, who felt the enormity of the pain. On Rosh Hashanah, we have to arouse ourselves and grow stronger through the shofar blasts. We have to hear the teki’ot preceding and following the teruah. We have to recognize that G-d, who hears our prayers, mercifully hears the sound of the teruah, as we note in the Rosh Hashanah Shemoneh Esreh: “Blessed be G-d… who hears the sound of the teruah of His people Israel, with mercy.”

With blessings for a good, sweet year.
G'mar Chatima Tova,
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Why the World Cried for Shimon Peres

By Shmuel Sackett, Zehut International Director

A main part of the Rosh Ha’Shana holiday, which just finished, was the blowing of the shofar. As you know, each day we heard 100 shofar blasts. Did you ever ask yourself where that number came from? Why 100? What is the source?

The answer lies in the masterpiece sefer, Aruch, written by Rabbi Natan ben Yechiel (1030-1106). Rabbi Natan was a big Rav in Italy and we are familiar with him today because of two main reasons: His sefer mentioned above, Aruch, and also for his number one student; Rabbenu Tam. In his sefer, Rabbi Natan writes the reason for 100 shofar blasts: “It corresponds to the 100 sobs that were sobbed by Sisera’s mother”.

To remind you, Sisera was the general of the army that persecuted the Nation of Israel. According to Judges, chapter 4; “The Children of Israel cried out to Hashem, for Sisera had 900 iron chariots and he oppressed the Children of Israel forcefully for 20 years”. Israel was judged at that time by the prophetess, Devorah, who – together with her general, Barak – went to war to fight Sisera and his army. The main battle was held by Mount Tabor and, baruch Hashem, the Nation of Israel emerged victorious; “…the entire camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword, not even one was left”. As is common with Jewish enemies, Sisera left his men to die on the battlefield as he high-tailed it out of there! “Sisera fled on his feet and came to the tent of Yael…” According to the commentaries, Sisera then slept with Yael – who sacrificed herself for Israel by giving him warm milk and allowing this terrible act to take place. Immediately afterwards, Sisera fell into a nice cozy sleep and Yael then drove the tent peg through his temple. When General Barak passed her tent, Yael came out and said; “Come and I will show you the man whom you seek. He came to her and behold – Sisera was dead with the peg in his temple”. This event was so incredible that Devorah wrote an amazing poem (Shoftim, chapter 5) which we say each year as the Haftorah for parshat Shelach.

OK, now that we remember that, how can it possibly be that we blast the shofar 100 times because of Sisera’s mother? Sisera was evil and, had he won the war against Devorah and Barak, he would have killed every Jewish man, woman and child. His mommy cried when he didn’t return from that battle? Boo-hoo… Who cares?? It was either him or us! And the great Rabbi Natan ben Yechiel writes that we blast the shofar 100 times because of this Jew-hater’s mother’s cries?? Something doesn’t make sense.

Thankfully, I found the answer to this very puzzling question. Every week, I receive an email d’var Torah from Rabbi Pinches Friedman and he explained exactly what was going on – in a very deep and meaningful way. Rabbi Friedman quoted the Chassidic master, Rav Tzaddok HaKohen (1823-1900) in his sefer Risisei Layla, as saying that Sisera’s mother wailed 100 times because somehow she knew that Yael became pregnant from her son’s rape and that eventually, many generations later, the great Rabbi Akiva would be born from this line. In other words, she wasn’t crying over her son’s death… she was crying - because on that very night - her son gave life!

If you think this is crazy, quickly get a copy of the Talmud and turn to 96b in Sanhedrin. It says right there that “the descendants of Sisera learned Torah in Jerusalem”. Rabbi Friedman brilliantly proves his point by bringing the Dikdukei Sofrim which says, “the descendants of Sisera learned Torah in Jerusalem, namely Rabbi Akiva!”

How Sisera’s mother knew this, I don’t know, but maybe – to increase her pain – Hashem gave her a little “ruach Ha’Kodesh” so she could get some “nachas” and see what happened to her wonderful son. Not only did he miserably lose the war against the Jews – with every soldier of his dying in battle – he ran away like a chicken, stopping only to rape a Jewish woman… the wrong Jewish woman (as far as he was concerned!) because she bravely drove a tent peg into his head! But the story doesn’t end there. This night did not result in the end of the Jewish nation, as Sisera had planned.It was actually the reason for the continuation of our nation with the birth of Rabbi Akiva (many years later). After the destruction of the second Temple and the fall of Bar Kochba, it was Rabbi Akiva who gave semicha to 5 students (the most famous of whom are Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Meir Ba’al Ha’ness) who continued the Torah, as we know it. Had there been no Rabbi Akiva, there – quite possibly – would not be a Torah world today. Believe it or not – all that started with Sisera… and his mother knew it!

Therefore, when she cried 100 times, it was like the cries of a mother giving birth because Am Yisrael didn’t end that night… we were – in some way – actually born that night! That was something Sisera’s mother couldn’t deal with, so she cried and cried and cried…

This wonderful explanation of Rabbi Friedman actually solved a major puzzle in my mind that I couldn’t figure out. What was the reason – and I mean the real reason – why the world cried over the passing of Shimon Peres? Did they really love him? 70 world leaders came to Israel to cry over the death of a 93 year old man who hadn’t been in the Knesset for almost 10 years? Yes, he was president of Israel after the Knesset but that is not a position of power, so why the mourning, the grief and the tremendous outpouring of support?

My friend, Ben Packer, the Director of Jerusalem’s Heritage House, said it best in an article he wrote last week: “The world loved Shimon Peres because they thought he was the best chance they had at getting rid of or weakening the Jewish presence in Israel. And they are truly sad because that hope just died.”

I agree with Ben and would like to expand on it a bit. Think of what I just wrote about Sisera’s mother and why she cried. She cried for the same reason why Obama, Clinton, Kerry and the other world leaders cried – not because of death – but because of “Am Yisrael Chai”!!! They cried because they thought that Shimon Peres’ dream of “A New Middle East” (the name of his book) would come to fruition but now they saw that “The Old Middle East” is alive and well. The Jewish nation is thriving, building, growing and connecting to authentic Torah values. All studies in Israel show that the youth are more connected to Jewish tradition than ever before and more Jews will fast this Yom Kippur than ever in history!

We are alive and we are here to stay. The old Zionist leadership – of which Peres was the last man standing – which dreamed of a Hebrew speaking Singapore is out of style. Yes, Lapid is now trying to take the place of those leaders but he will fail. Am Yisrael is stronger than ever and there is nothing that Sisera’s mother or 70 world leaders can do about it… except cry… as we blow the shofar.

Europe's "Good Terrorists": Because They Might Destroy Israel?

By Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri would like the Europeans to understand that they need not worry about terrorism by the Islamist movement because the attacks will be directed only against Israel.
  • The European Court of Justice (EJC) is sending the message to Hamas that Europeans see no problem with Hamas's desire to destroy Israel and continue to launch terrorist attacks against Jews. This message also undermines those Palestinians who still believe in a peace with Israel.
  • The EJC recommendation to remove Hamas from the EU's terrorism blacklist comes at a time when countries such as Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and even Saudi Arabia, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are doing their utmost to weaken Hamas.
  • Appeasing terrorists is a dangerous game: it has already backfired on its foolhardy players and will continue to do so. This is exactly how Muslims conquered Iran, Turkey, North Africa and much of Europe, including Hungary, Greece, Poland, Romania, and the Balkans -- countries that still recall a real "occupation," an Islamist one, and abundantly want none of it.
  • The EU and the ECJ need to be stopped before they do any more harm to Palestinians, Christians and Jews -- or to Europe.
Thousands of armed Hamas troops showed off their military hardware at a Dec. 14, 2014 parade in Gaza, marking the organization's 27th anniversary. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)
Once again, the Europeans seem to be in Alice's Wonderland when they consider Palestinian affairs in particular and the Middle East in general. The renewed attempt by the European Union to remove the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas from its terrorism list is a case in point.
Recently, an advisor to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) recommended that Hamas be removed from the EU's terrorism blacklist. In 2014, the EU's second-highest court ruled that Hamas should be taken off the list on "technical" grounds. It argued that Hamas's listing was not based on evidence, but on "factual imputations derived from the press and the internet."

Palestinian Murderers and their Western Enablers

By Guy Millière

  • The Palestinian Authority not only celebrates murderers: it produces new ones every day -- and does so knowlingly and voluntarily. For this it uses textbooks, television and radio programs, and articles in newspapers, all paid for with money from Western governments.
  • The Palestinian Authority also financially rewards the murderers' families and the murderers themselves. These financial rewards are also paid for with money from Western governments.
  • How can Western politicians explain that they condemn the murders and still fund the incitement to kill? How come they keep giving money that rewards murdering Jews "by all available means"?
  • How can they define as "moderate" an organization such as the Palestinian Authority that admits sending terrorists to kill Israelis and that teaches children, on its Facebook page, how to stab Jews to death? And how can they consider it urgent to give such an organization its own State?
  • Israeli Jews know they can only rely on themselves. They know that others, such as France, are holding knives that are sharpened.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas receives a standing ovation at the European Parliament in Brussels on June 23, after falsely claiming in his speech that Israeli rabbis were calling to poison Palestinian water. Abbas later recanted and admitted that his claim had been false. (Image source: European Parliament)
The sport of murdering Jews does not stop. On June 30, at dawn, in Kiryat Arba, a young Arab broke through a window, and stabbed a 13-year-old American-Israeli girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, to death.
The young Arab who stabbed Hallel Yaffa Ariel was shot dead just after the assault. His mother said she was proud of her son. The Palestinian Authority (PA) said he was a hero and a "martyr."
This year alone, 24 Israeli Jews were murdered, many gruesomely. Every time one of the murderers was shot, his family declared how proud they were, and the Palestinian Authority celebrated him. New murderers are preparing new attacks.
What sort of society is it where parents say they how proud they are that their children are murderers? And what sort of leadership is it that celebrates killers?
Further, what sort of Western journalists and "human rights" groups are those that fail to voice their outrage at the murder of a sleeping 13-year-old girl?

Which Nation is (Still) the Number One Sponsor of Terrorism? SURPRISE......

By Peter Huessy

  • The June State Department report also lists 58 "Foreign Terrorist Organizations," of which over a dozen are allied with Iran. One Iranian Al Qaeda agent was specifically sanctioned by the US Treasury for distributing cash to the same al-Nusra Front the Iranian Foreign Minister complains is a terrorist organization.
  • Even more chilling has been Iran's joint missile and technology cooperation with North Korea, making the potential use of weapons of mass destruction against the US a growing possibility.
The current defense minister in Iran, appointed by President Hassan Rouhani (left), orchestrated the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983 that killed 241 American soldiers. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (right) complains the al-Nusra Front is a terrorist organization, even as an Iranian al-Qaeda agent was specifically sanctioned by the US Treasury for distributing cash to the organization.
On September 14, the Iranian Foreign Minister wrote in the New York Times that, "coordinated action at the United Nations to cut off the funding for ideologies of hate and extremism" is needed along with "a willingness from the international community to investigate the channels that supply the cash and the arms" to terrorists. He concluded with an appeal to "join hands with the rest of the community of nations to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and violence that threatens us all."
Given that in 2015 alone there were some 11,774 terrorist attacks in 92 countries, killing 28,300 people, one can agree that such action is needed. The irony, of course, is that the US Department of State released its annual report in June on state sponsors of terrorism, and Iran was the gold medalist for the world's number one terrorist nation -- an honor it has held since 1984. Only two other countries were listed as state sponsors of terror: Syria and Sudan.

The Clinton Lie Ratchet

By Bill Whittle

Europe's New Media Darlings: Terrorists

By Giulio Meotti

  • It is such a shame and an irony that terrorists who have killed and ordered the killing of unarmed and innocent Jews, are now being celebrated as Europe's apostles of peace.
  • Can you imagine Italian or French mayors and members of Parliament naming a street after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who murdered at least 84 people in Nice on July 14? Or honoring the brothers Salah and Brahim Abdesalem for their attack at the Bataclan Theater in Paris on November 13, 2015, in which 89 people were murdered?
The mayor of Palermo, Italy, Leoluca Orlando (left), awarded honorary citizenship to Marwan Barghouti (right), the Palestinian terrorist who orchestrated attacks that killed several people and who is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison.
What would have happened if the city council of Jerusalem had conferred the honorary citizenship on Italy's Mafia leader, Totò Riina, calling him a "political prisoner"? What would have happened if the city council of Tel Aviv had named a street after Giovanni Brusca, the Mafia butcher who kidnapped and tortured the 11-year-old son of another mafioso who had betrayed him, and then dissolved the boy's body in acid? The Italian government would have vehemently protested. With Palestinian terrorists, however, there is another standard, as if in the eyes of many of Italy's city councils, terror against Israeli Jews is actually justified.

From the Shamrak Report

Food for Thought 
By Steven Shamrak

We must not dismiss Jew-haters as "ignorant"! Most dangerous anti-Semites are smart and quite knowledgeable. They are deliberate! For centuries intelligent people and rulers used anti-Anti-Semitism as a tool: 1. to get commercial advantage over Jews! 2. To control idiotic mob - to distract it from corruption and internal problems. Both sides of politics in most countries, Left and Right, as well as Democrats and Republicans in the US, have their good share Jew-hating and of deliberate use of ‘popular’ anti-Semitism!

Ofek-11 is Alive
A new Israeli spy satellite is operational and taking high-quality pictures after suffering technical difficulties during its launch earlier this month. The satellite took images of "interesting" places in the region, providing details of the quality the satellite's designers had intended. 

European Idiocy
The European Union's top court took a step toward confirming the removal of Hamas, as well as the Tamil Tigers, from an EU terrorism blacklist despite protestations from Israel and the Sri Lankan government. (But they were eager to call members of IRA, Irish independence movement, terrorists!)

“Sea of hatred” Threat from a Fake Friend
The king of Jordan has publicly warned Israel it faces a “sea of hatred” if it refuses to accept a Palestinian state. In August, King Abdullah stated his intention to take action against the “repeated violations and attacks carried out by Israel” at the Temple Mount site in the Old City of Jerusalem - a holy place in both Judaism and Islam. (Israel is already has it. It is time to remove hate – enemies of Israel – from Jewish land! He has a short memory – he conveniently forgot how his father dealt with those ‘peace-loving’ fake Palestinians.)

ICC: No Crime to Answer, but Keeping anti-Israel Smear On!
ICC report says action against Israel won’t be taken in the near future. The report issued by the ICC Prosecutor’s Office does not mention Israel or the Palestinians specifically. The current ICC report explicitly indicates, even two years after the 2014 Gaza war, it will not select Israel for further criminal investigation, but will wait for the results of IDF investigations. 

Arab States Fear Nuclear Iran More
For the first time in three years, the Arab states will not be submitting an annual resolution (to pressure Israel into accepting international scrutiny of its atomic activities) at the IAEA's General Conference due to repeated lack of success; Arab League Ambassador says Arab states are revising their tactics: 'We are not concerned with short-sighted victories.'

The US Senate Cleared Sale Arms Saudi Arabia.
The Senate voted 71 to 27 to kill legislation that would have stopped a $1.15 billion sale of tanks and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia., in spite of the kingdom's human rights record and its international support for a conservative form of Islam. (The US aid to Israel is not a charity – it is subsidy to US arms manufactures and creates demand in Arab/Muslim countries!)

Quote of the Week:
”And (mention, O Muhammad), when Moses said to his people, "O my people, remember the favor of Allah upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the worlds. O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah (G-d) has assigned to you and do not turn back (from fighting in Allah's cause) and (thus) become losers. They said, "O Moses, indeed within it is a people of tyrannical strength, and indeed, we will never enter it until they leave it; but if they leave it, then we will enter." – Quran, 5:20-22Jews have entered the Holy Land. Therefore, according to Quran, Muslims must recognise the unique Jewish ownership of the Land of Israel! Jews have always had lived in Eretz-Israel - in spite of Roman, Christian and Muslim persecution. That mean, presence of Muslims on Jewish land is disrespectful to the Quran. If they are true Muslims and followers of the words of prophet Mohamed, they must obey writings in their holy book and leave Eretz-Israel – the land G-d had given to Jews - otherwise, they are just another bunch of anti-Semitic, Jew-hating religious hypocrites like the one that came before Islam!

Response to the UN Obsession with Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the statements made by United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov that the Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem constitutes an impediment to peace.

“The UN envoy to the Middle East’s remarks to the Security Council distort history and international law and drive peace even further away,” Netanyahu claimed in a statement.

“Jews have been in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace,” the prime minister stated. “The obstacle to peace is the unending attempt to deny the Jewish people’s connection to parts of their historic land and the obdurate refusal to recognize that they are not foreigners there,”

“The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris is illegal,” Netanyahu continued. “The Palestinian demand that a future Palestinian state be ethnically cleansed of Jews is outrageous, and the UN must condemn it instead of adopting it”…

(We must not forget that fake Palestinians were created in the 1960’s, and their so-called nationalism is nothing more than anti-Zionism – destruction of Israel and killing Jews!)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Rosh Hashanah: A National (not Personal) Holiday

By Moshe Feiglin

We are used to relating to Rosh Hashanah as a day of repentance and atonement; a day of judgment; the day when our fate for the coming year is determined. The Selichot prayers before and after Rosh Hashanah add to the sense of a personal day of judgment, which is obviously true.                             

But from a simple look at the prayers, we can see that the focal point of the day is in a completely different place. The main thing that we are supposed to be doing on Rosh Hashanah is crowning the Creator as King of the world. This is also the main reason for the central mitzvah of the day. The blowing of the shofar is first and foremost an announcement that the coronation is about to take place.                                                                                            

How did the focal point of Rosh Hashanah turn into something private? The answer is simple: "Due to our sins we have been exiled from our Land and we have become distant from our earth". Just as the entire Torah has transformed into a religion that hovers above reality, not really a part of it, so Rosh Hashanah no longer expresses our national aspirations. When we lost our sovereignty and we lost Jerusalem; when the royal palace on the Temple Mount was destroyed, the Nation of Israel also lost the possibility to actualize the purpose of its existence: to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven. From a national holiday, Rosh Hashanah morphed into a personal holiday, just as Judaism as a whole became a system of personal reminders outside of reality.                  

Even now, after we have returned to our Land and after we received the Temple Mount in the Six Days of Miracles, we continue with our private – not national – Rosh Hashanah ritual.       

We, however, who have declared our goal to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven and are working toward that goal politically- from within reality – can make the coronation of the King of the world a palpable event.                                                       

May we perceive G-d's rule over the entire world and may we merit a year in which we are favored and loyal tools to make that happen.  

Wishing you a sweet and blessed year,
Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why is Zehut vital for Israeli society?

24 Hours: See the Amazing Energies of Zehut in 4 Minutes

Shimon Peres and Zehut

By Moshe Feiglin, Chairman of Zehut

Two events, which on the surface are completely disconnected from each other, have wondrously come together at the same time.

The first looks like a watershed event; all the world’s leaders will honor it with their presence.

The second seems unimportant, out of the limelight, almost unknown.

The first event is the funeral of Shimon Peres. Nobody can miss it. Our entire country will be coming to a standstill. The second event is the distribution of the Zehut platform to our party members, which will be taking place this evening in Tel Aviv. This event will not be making any headlines and only those who plan to attend even know about it.

With my morning coffee, I watched, as usual, the first rays of sun rising over the mountains of the Shomron. I was trying to explain to myself why the funeral of Shimon Peres has turned into such a worldwide happening. My thoughts brought me to the two above events and I realized that there is a deep connection between the two. Death and birth, literally in the same time frame.

With all due respect to the deceased, the steady stream of heads of state arriving in Israel to attend his funeral is above and beyond the man himself. An entire country does not close down for no good reason and the leaders of the world do not trouble themselves to fly to Israel just to attend the funeral of a public figure – as respected and famous as he may be.

Shimon Peres symbolized something. The man created a language and mentality that have determined the mindset and behavior of the State of Israel and in great measure – the entire Western world - for the last 25 years.

Peres accomplished much in his life. But without the Oslo Accords, there would have been no difference between the honor given him upon his passing and the honor merited by any other deceased Israeli public figure of similar stature.

Nothing of what we are witnessing here would be taking place without the Oslo Accords. Oslo is the heritage of Shimon Peres.

Peres’ words from the Knesset podium prior to the ratification of the Oslo Accords still echo in my ears. He turned to Opposition Head Binyamin Netanyahu and asked him:

“And what is your alternative?”

Netanyahu (and the entire Right) did not have an answer.

This lack of alternative enshrined Oslo as the only language and mentality in Israel.

Even when Oslo exploded in our faces again and again and again, bombarding us with shocking images that we could have never dreamt up: buses blowing up, restaurants collapsing upon their customers, thousands of fatalities, tens of thousands of wounded, absolute deterioration of Israel’s international standing and right to exist as a Jewish state, an insufferable economic price and internal despair of any hope for change; even when our streets became filled with security guards, fences and cement block – even after all the dead-end “rounds” of fighting and the scores of fatalities in every “round”, the inner goal of which were to prevent Israel’s victory and perpetuate Oslo – even after it rained missiles on Israel’s cities after the Oslo architects promised that that would never happen – after all of this, Oslo has remained the only language that we can speak. Simply because the Right has never proposed a different language.

Today, upon Shimon Peres’ passing, the heart of an entire world that does not know any other language - a world that lives and breathes Osloese – skips a beat.

And exactly at the same time, on a narrow street in Tel Aviv, the new language will be revealed.

Rest in peace, Shimon. There is now an answer to your question.

The Nation of Israel has an alternative.

Enough Legalese when Confronting an Enemy!

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

“Do not judge Your slave strictly, for no human being can ever be considered righteous before You” [Tehilim 143:2].

“Do not judge us, for no human being can ever be considered righteous before You.”[Selichot Prayer, Ashkenazi tradition].

I am writing this close to the time of reciting the first Selichot prayers before the beginning of the new year, at the end of the Shabbat before the holiday (or one week earlier if, as happens this year, there are not at least three days between Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah). A refrain in the Selichot which is repeatedly recited is the one quoted above: “Do not judge us.” We beg G-d and ask to be released from judgement on this fateful day. Our request to be released from judgement and to have “what we skipped in the prayers be a source of love” is based on the sentiments of King David, also quoted above: “For no human being can ever be considered righteous before You.” We are not capable of standing up to the demands of strict law, and we can only survive if they are applied together with a measure of mercy.

David was the one who “established the standard of repentance.” (“The words of David Ben Yishai, and the words of the man who was chosen to be supreme” [Shmuel II 23:1] – “He established the standards for repentance” [Avoda Zara 5a].) He asked to close the accounts of his sins (including sending Uriyah, Batsheva’s husband, to his death) outside of the realms of the courts – that is, beyond a strict legal framework, and not within regular legal processes. David knew that within the confines of the legal system there was not much opportunity for mercy. In fact, not only were his chances for mercy low, we see in his words a general call against ruling according to strict legal principles whenever there is reason for special considerations: “No human being can ever be considered righteous before You.”

We have had Enough of Strict Legalese

The above words will serve as an introduction leading from the current time of the year, the season of judgement, on to current events within our land: The exacting legal process which is taking place now against Sergeant Elor Azaria. This combat medic from the Kefir Brigade was rushed to treat an IDF soldier who had been stabbed in Tel Romeda, in Chevron, where many terrorist attacks have taken place. Elor is accused of shooting the terrorist even though it would seem that he had already been neutralized. As it happens, this took place on Purim of this year, a date which is known for serious events in the area (such as the Goldstein killings).

I do not remember any other military trial that was conducted with such fanfare, including fundamental analysis of the purity of arms and setting the safety lock of weapons when confronted by an enemy, on the ability to make snap judgements about life and death under battle conditions, on the future influence on the moral stance of soldiers and officers who will from now on be afraid of being brought to trial, and on the need to maintain an appearance of wielding “swords of justice” as judged by hostile western nations who get their support from traitorous Israeli leftists. I simply cannot remember any such case in the past!

It is interesting to see (and for me it is very refreshing) that a strong lineup of military and security experts has come forward to “testify” in favor of Elor, based on military, security, and moral considerations. It seems to me that the only officers who followed the line of the Commander-in-Chief and appeared for the prosecution are currently still in uniform. (Can it be that they are driven by extraneous considerations, such as future promotions?) The clear conclusion from what has transpired so far is that this farcical affair must be brought to an end immediately, without trying to settle all the details of the ballistics or the pathology involved (exactly when did the terrorist die?). It is not relevant for us to try to determine if the soldier was experiencing a “shooter’s high” (for the very first time in his life?) or if he should have run a table of considerations through his head whether to shoot or not, and then to make a cool decision, taking into account doomsday feelings and the influence of lawyers.

As far as I am concerned, we have heard enough in the testimony brought before the learned military court in Yaffo. The curtain should be drawn on this show, and a conclusion should be reached – with complete agreement of all sides and behind closed doors – to give a minimal sentence, without a formal judgement. Any other alternative will cause harm to the IDF and/or to the State of Israel in international circles.

If He had been Religious and a Settler...

I want to make one more point: It is nothing short of a heavenly miracle that Elor Azaria does not wear a kippa, is not a settler, and doesn’t even sport a beard. I can just imagine the reactions of the media that we would have seen against our own people if he had appeared to be “one of us.” All that remains for us is to pray for all those refined souls who thirst for Azaria’s blood that their own sons will never find themselves in Chevron in a similar situation.

Do not judge us, for no human being can ever be considered righteous before You.”


By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

In this week’s Torah portion, we are told the following about “teshuva” - repentance: “It is not in heaven... and it is not across the sea... Rather, the matter is very close to you.” [Devarim 30:12-14]. Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote as follows: “Repentance is on one hand the easiest thing to do, since even a hint of a thought to repent is already accepted as repentance. And on the other hand it is one of the most difficult tasks of all.”

Ramchal writes the following about the difficulty of repentance: “By strict law it would be appropriate for a sinner to be punished immediately, and that the punishment should show stark anger. For how can a human being mend what he has done? He has committed murder or adultery, how can he go back and fix the real world? However, due to the trait of mercy... rooting out the original desire is considered as if the act itself has been revoked.” [Messilat Yesharim 4].

In another place Ramchal writes that every mitzva and sin can be viewed in two different ways: (1) That the person is revolting against G-d, a matter of simple discipline; or (2) Engraving the essence of the evil action into the human soul.

The Natziv calls these two alternative viewpoints “A royal decree” and “A physician’s advice.” A royal decree refers to nothing more than a matter of discipline. One who revolts against a king is punished. A physician, on the other hand, does not mete out punishment to anybody who refuses to accept his advice. Rather, the person himself acts in a way to make the illness more serious. For example, one who eats forbidden food has caused himself spiritual damage, beyond the fact that he revolted in his actions, almost as if he had eaten poison. The Sages have written: “From the time that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, ‘Behold, I have put before you today a blessing and a curse,’ [Devarim 11:26], He does not have to do anything else. Rather, the mitzvot accomplish their goal and the sins accomplish their goals.”

It is true that one part of repentance, removing the punishment, is a relatively easy thing to accomplish, but to eradicate the effect of a sin on the soul is very hard to do, since the damage has already been done! The Creator has been kind enough to us to cause repentance to be like a medical treatment, as is written, “And he will repent, and he will be cured” [Yeshayahu 6:10]. Repentance has the power to erase an effect which took place in the past.

In the terminology of the Tanach, these separate aspects of repentance are called “atonement” (kaparah) and “purification” (taharah). Atonement removes the punishment of the sinner, while purification erases the impurity of the soul which was caused by doing a sin.

And this can help us understand the difference between the mitzva of repentance all year round and the mitzva of repentance on Yom Kippur. Since we have been commanded all year long to repent, we might well ask what is special about Yom Kippur. The answer is that all year round, if a person who has a pile of evil deeds repents from one sin and does not touch the others, he is observing the mitzva of repentance. However, this is not true for Yom Kippur, when the command is, “You shall purify yourselves before G-d from all your sins” [Vayikra 16:30]. On this day the mitzva is purification, and this must include “all your sins.” One who immerses himself in a ritual bath but leaves a single hair out of the water does not become pure. The mitzva on Yom Kippur is for a sinner to repent all the sins. Purification must be all-inclusive.

Based on this reasoning, Rabbi Soloveitchik wrote that even according to the opinion of Rebbe – that “the essence of the day brings atonement” without a need for repentance – such a sinner will not be accepted the day after Yom Kippur as a proper witness. Yom Kippur leads to “atonement” but not to “purification.”

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Nitzavim: It is HaShem’s Prerogative to Choose

Parashat Nitzavim, last Shabbat of 5776

It is HaShem’s Prerogative to Choose

The fleeting moments just before Yom HaDin – the day of judgment, is our final opportunity of this year to make a reckoning of what we have or have not done properly in the eyes of HaShem.

Just as Hashem is infinite so too are the depths of understanding necessary in order to grasp His motives and actions; nevertheless, there are several basic concepts which can lead one along the path of understanding.

HaShem, the Creator, always was and will always be. We humans and all that exists are created objects, all of whom once never existed and at some future time will return to that state of non-existence – except for the eternal Jewish soul.

HaShem, as the Creator, not only determines what and who shall come into existence, He also determines the relative importance of His created entities. On Rosh Hashanah, when you take a teaspoon of honey to put on the challah or apple, remember that during its entire life a lowly honey bee produces no more than half a teaspoon of honey.  But it was created to radiate the message that HaShem determines the sweetness of life for those who are faithful to Him.

HaShem applies His “prerogative” or “entitlement” to choose, as in the case of a weed vis–à–vis a rose, a human being over a honey bee and the Jewish nation above all others. There is no equality in the created world, each thing and person has a number in the order of importance in HaShem’s grand scheme.

From Noach’s three sons, HaShem chose Shem over Cham and Yefet.

From Shem, Hashem chose Avraham while rejecting all the others of mankind. HaShem chose Yitzchak over Yishmael and Ya’akov over Aisav. He chose the tribe of Levi and the family of Amram, from whom He chose Aharon to serve as the Kohen Gadol and Moshe to be the conduit to receive the Torah for Am Yisrael.

HaShem chose Am Yisrael while rejecting all the others of humanity, which was in fact an act of retribution after humanity rejected HaShem.

That all men are created equal is a myth imposed by the majority of mankind who are born with inferior qualities of intellect, motivation, ambition and imagination upon the more gifted minority.

HaShem scrutinized the planet and chose Eretz Yisrael to be the seat of His sanctity. In Eretz Yisrael, He chose Yerushalayim, then Mount Moriah, the Bet HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies.

HaShem’s only promise to our forefathers

This year’s weekly messages were variations on one sole theme – the centrality of Eretz Yisrael to everything Jewish.

Eretz Yisrael is not just one more tool in the shed of a Torah true Jew; it is the shed itself. The holy land determines the quantity and quality of our mitzvot. There are quantitatively more mitzvot to be fulfilled here than in the galut, and the quality of a mitzva observed in the galut compared to its observance in Eretz Yisrael is like a weed to a rose.

Our land is the border crossing between this world and the next. And when we sinned HaShem exiled us to the brutal galut where our books and bodies were burned and our thoughts perverted.

Eretz Yisrael is the focal point of Judaism; the holy precinct which is directly under the kisei hakavod – the holy throne.

To practice Torah in the galut even to its fullest is no substitute for being in the holy land. Moshe Rabbeinu prayed to HaShem 515 times to enter the western side of the Jordan River because he knew that observing the Torah even in the tribal areas of Reuven, Gad and Menashe cannot equal its fulfillment as on the western side.

In last week’s parsha Ki Tavo, one who has fulfilled all his commitments regarding the various tithes comes to the Bet HaMikdash and declares that he has done so and then offers a prayer (Devarim 26,15):
השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים וברך את עמך את ישראל ואת האדמה אשר נתתה לנו כאשר נשבעת לאבתינו ארץ זבת חלב ודבש: ס
Gaze from Your holy abode from the heavens and bless Your people Yisrael and the land that You have given us, as You swore to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.

And in this week’s parsha Nitzavim, Moshe reiterated what was already common knowledge, that the covenant which HaShem entered into with our forefathers: Avraham Yitzchak and Ya’akov, were all centered around the holy land. Indeed, the only thing HaShem ever promised our forefathers was Eretz Yisrael.

5777 Forecast

In this coming year of 5777, the world will witness challenging situations. A resurgence of unabashed anti-Semitism; bitter international hostilities, antagonism between peoples within their own national boundaries and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of irrational uncontained nations and groups.

As Aisav and Yishmael struggle to destroy each other, Medinat Yisrael will continue to flourish amazingly. Our life here will demonstrate the miraculous “behind- the-scenes” guardianship of HaShem over His people in Eretz Yisrael. The daily events in the land will confirm and espouse the 3000-year covenant between the Creator and His nation Yisrael.

At the same time, we will continue to hear sounds of discord from certain religious leaders in the galut, who like King Menashe intentionally in public lectures pervert the true meanings of pesukim, as attested to in Yalkut Shimoni (Vayaitzai chap. 129), and lost his place in the world-to-come. We hear these leaders as they diminish the status of Eretz Yisrael in the life of a Jew, as they offer pseudo-halachic license to well-meaning, naive Jews to remain in the exile. They should be expelled from our midst.

Shana Tova!

With blessings from Zion and Yerushalayim to all who have read and encouraged me in these weekly writings. May we all merit to witness the final redemption of Am Yisrael, and walk together to the Temple Mount, to the dwelling place of the Creator in this world.

Shabbat Shalom & Shana Tova,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5776/2016 
Nachman Kahana