Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spiritual and Identity Lessons from Operation Protective Edge

By HaRav Dov Lior
Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba

As there is a physical "Iron Dome" over Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel), there is the spiritual Iron Dome or Hashgacha over Am Yisrael (the Nation of Israel), and we must ask ourselves what has caused the current tzarot (troubles) to happen to the nation.  Maimonides writes in Hilchot Taanit that every tragedy requires reflection. There is no doubt that Am Yisrael has yet to understand the significance of our generation and is constantly searching for a partner to turn over lands to. We have an obligation to settle the land and yet we continue the Sin of the Spies. Even in the generation of the desert this was the biggest sin.

As a manifestation of the weaknesses that appear in the various circles within our nation, we see laws that attempt to strike against the Torah and the land. Some of our own are trying to erase our Jewish Identity, the key to our survival for the 2000 years we spent in exile. Am Yisrael has the unique quality of our faith and the Torah, so how is it possible that we should come to our land and try to blur the nature of our people?! For instance, how is it possible that there should be legislation against keeping Shabbat, with public transportation?! Or to join to our nation people who are not really Jewish, with the law regarding conversion to Judaism.

Is it for this that the Jews suffered for 2000 in the diaspora? To come home to our land and have our identity obscured? 

In Bilaam’s prophecy it says "From the top of the rocks I see him..." and the pasuk is interpreted to mean that if this nation maintains its culture and uniqueness - it will grow physically and spiritually stronger, but if it does not then the other nations will overcome it. The land of Israel belongs only to Am Yisrael, we must stop this so-called "peace process" and stop giving away regions. So long as Am Yisrael does not understand its destiny among the nations, G-d forbid, we are prone to much suffering of this sort.

I fear that the situation might only get worse as far as the other nations are concerned; the suffering we are going through is a result of weakness of our nation regarding Jewish life and regarding the land of Israel. 

We must strengthen ourselves in these matters, strengthen our leadership, in interpersonal relations, and regarding laws, not to legislate rules that harm the uniqueness of Am Yisrael. We are, first of all a Jewish state and only then a democratic one.

This is Our Land! We must return to Gaza to stay!

By Moshe Feiglin

In a lengthy interview on Channel 2 Tuesday morning, Moshe Feiglin  made the following points:
The value we are fighting for is  justice, not self-defense. This is our Land – Gaza included. As long as we cannot say that simple sentence, we will always lose. The Oslo misconception has collapsed in the dust of the missiles and bombs. As long as the misconception that this Land  belongs to another nation prevails, we will have to keep fighting in Gaza.
80% of the Gazan population would like to emigrate, according to a recent survey by ynet. We can give them a generous emigration package that would cost us just a fraction of what we are spending now.
When the IDF was in Gaza in the pre-Oslo days, there were no missiles in Tel Aviv. Those who pushed us to retreat from Gaza and now appear in the media as the voice of reason and rationality, saying that I am hallucinating when I talk about returning to Gaza, should look in the mirror to find the hallucinator.
A rocket or tunnel is not the enemy. The Hamas is the enemy and must be defeated. If all we want to do is weaken the Hamas or destroy the tunnels, we are setting the stage for the next war.
It is good to be ethical. But we have lost balance and are not acting ethically toward our own soldiers.

Monday, July 21, 2014

MK Feiglin: End the 'Misplaced Pity' That Endangers Our Soldiers

Tammuz 22, 5774, 20/07/14
In order to avoid risking the lives of Gaza Arabs, the IDF has been risking the lives of IDF soldiers, and that has to stop, said MK Feiglin
By Moshe Cohen
In a press conference Sunday evening, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz discussed how IDF soldiers warned residents of the Shejaiya neighborhood in Gaza to evacuate the area, providing Hamas with advance information on where the IDF would strike.

As a result, Hamas terrorists had time to prepare to “greet” soldiers, preparing traps, ambushes, and attacks - essentially sacrificing Israeli soldiets for the safety of Gaza civilians. That, said Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, is unacceptable; Israel should not be sacrificing its soldiers for the safety of Gaza residents, supporters of Hamas who voted to put the terror group in control of Gaza.

“The blood of ours sons is precious and we must not endanger it for nothing,” said Feiglin. “We must force the enemy to surrender. We have to stop supplying them with electricity, food, and all other supplies until they surrender and disarm.

“We hope and pray that the injured soldiers who sacrificed themselves will get better,” said Feiglin. “These are the times when we must demand that the illogical pity we have for our enemies is put to an end,” he added.

Thirteen IDF soldiers have been killed since Saturday night, the IDF said. The process of identifying the bodies is still ongoing. Golani Brigade, armor and engineering corps forces were met with effective close range guerrilla actions in Shejaiya, Gaza. The dead are all from the Golani Brigade. The Brigade's commander, Col. RasanAlian, was also lightly injured.

Safety for Our Soldiers, Not Mercy for Enemy

By Moshe Feiglin

Our hearts are with the courageous soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save us. We all join in prayer for the complete and speedy recovery of the injured and for the safety and well-being of the soldiers fighting this war.
It is specifically during these moments that it is important to make a clear and ethical demand: Israel must stop with the misdirected mercy for our enemies.
The blood of our sons is more precious than the blood of our enemies. We must not endanger our soldiers for naught.
Israel must defeat the enemy. We must not provide them with electricity, food or any other supplies until they surrender and give up their weapons.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Revoke Israeli Citizenship of Arabs who Support Enemy

By Moshe Feiglin

“It is unthinkable that while our soldiers are risking their lives in Gaza, Israeli citizens are protesting and flying the flag of the enemy, as was the case yesterday, said MK Moshe Feiglin on Sunday morning.
“During World War II, Jewish Americans who had immigrated from Germany and Japanese Americans were put in detention camps, despite their loyalty to their adopted country. They certainly did not wave the enemy flag.
Israel’s willingness to contain Arab rebelliousness is not democracy; it is anarchy – and it will bring Haifa and Jaffa to the same place that the Oslo Accords have brought Gaza.
The leaders of the Arab community have marked their constituency as suspects of disloyalty. Thus, any Arab citizen of Israel who displays his/her identification with the enemy should have his/her Israeli citizenship immediately and permanently

Return to Gaza and Declare Israeli Sovereignty

By Moshe Feiglin

Historically, Gaza is an Israeli, Jewish city. The fact that Israel has mentally disengaged from Gaza does not change the facts. We must conquer Gaza, expel the Hamas and all those who wish to harm us. When Israel ruled over Gaza from 1967 until Oslo, almost zero terror emanated from there. We are frightening ourselves when we say that we cannot rule there anymore. It is not right to be colonialists in Gaza. We must return to Gaza as children who are coming home.
Last week a poll on ynet showed that 80% of Gaza’s residents would like to emigrate. Israel would have to invest just a fraction of what it has spent on security to help them emigrate with a generous sum of money in their pockets.
We have no choice. For twenty years, we have tried Oslo. It doesn’t work. We have to try the solution of those who warned against Oslo and exactly what it would cause.

Like a rudderless ship in a stormy sea

By Martin Sherman, JPOST

Just as Hamas uses its civilians as human shields against Israeli military attacks, so the Israeli government uses its civilians as human shields to fend off diplomatic attacks from the international community.
Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu speaks at the Knesset on Monday Photo: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST
The most righteous of men cannot live in peace if his evil neighbor will not let him be.– Wilhelm Tell, Act IV, Scene III, by Friedrich von Schiller, 1804 
The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.
– Gen. George S. Patton Jr.
There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher.– Jamie Shea, NATO spokesman, BBC News, May 31, 1999, on civilian casualties inflicted by NATO in the Balkans.
As Operation Protective Edge – which could have been dubbed “Pillar of Defensive II” or “Cast Lead III” – drags on, it is becoming increasingly clear that the government is misconstruing its role..
Running the country vs. leading the nation
It seems to believe that its primary role is to run the country, rather than lead the nation. This is a disastrously inappropriate misperception of its task
The manner in which the current round of military operations is being conducted clearly reflects a state of mind preoccupied with tactical management of existing realities, rather than strategic leadership, which strives to forge new realities.
The objective of the campaign – articulated as the restoration of calm – makes any other conclusion difficult to reach. Indeed, when “calm” is chronically impermanent, the desire for a return to the precarious status quo ante has a ring of despairing resignation to it, and conveys little hope of any better realities.
This debilitating syndrome was diagnosed in a perceptive opinion piece titled “Defeatism at its worst” (Jerusalem Post, July 14) by Anya Zhuravel Segal – who interestingly enough served on Binyamin Netanyahu’s staff prior to the 2005 disengagement from Gaza: “We are facing a deep crisis of political leadership, and a deep disbelief in our power to shape reality.”
Sadly, it is difficult to imagine a more fitting characterization of the mindset of Israel’s leadership in recent years, underscored not only by the definition of the objectives of military campaigns undertaken, but by the means employed to wage them.

Tactical brilliance, strategic imbecility
There can be little disagreement that Israel has cutting- edge technologies that few countries can compete with at its disposal. While this impressive technological superiority has resulted in several brilliant tactical achievements by the military, on the strategic level Israel has displayed what can only be called utter imbecility, precipitating situations which have considerably degraded its security.
Ever since the disastrous decision not to preempt the Arab attack in October 1973, which brought the country to the brink of annihilation, and cost it thousands of needless deaths, Israel – and Israelis – have paid heavily for policies of restraint and retreat, whether almost immediately, or with the passage of time.
Nearly all Israel’s subsequent strategic initiatives have involved restoring/transferring territory to defeated aggressors, in exchange for unkept – and often unkeepable – pledges. In every case the areas relinquished have, sooner or later, become platforms on which attacks are planned, prepared and perpetrated against Israel.
As a result of Menachem Begin’s 1977 decision to surrender the strategic expanses of Sinai, Israel faces an increasingly grim situation on its long southern border. The peninsula is descending into one of the most savage areas on the planet, ruled by brutal jihadi warlords increasingly putting Eilat and its booming tourist industry, without which its very viability will be imperiled, at risk.
Strategic imbecility (cont.) 
Faced with an evident lack of Egyptian ability and/or will to cope with the unfolding realities, a situation is emerging which eventually will become intolerable for Israel, one which can only be addressed by jeopardizing the peace treaty with Cairo, which constituted the rationale for relinquishing the territory in the first place.
The 1993/1995 Oslo Accords led to the deployment of armed Arab forces, drawn from the ranks of murderous terrorist organizations, within mortar range of the nation’s parliament. With it came an unprecedented wave of bloody terror, currently held in check only by the effects of 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield, subsequent redeployment of the IDF in the area, and the construction of a multi-billion dollar “separation barrier.”
The 2000 unilateral withdrawal (or more accurately flight) of the IDF turned southern Lebanon into an huge arsenal for the Shia-extremists Hezbollah, bristling with missiles that rained terror and destruction on millions of Israelis in 2006. The poorly conceived and inconclusive Second Lebanon War resulted in a dramatic increase in the deadly ordnance directed at Israel.
True, Hezbollah has refrained from using it up to now. However, the fact that the organization did not join Hamas in the current round of fighting may well have more to do with its involvement in the civil war in Syria, an indication that it is loath to engage on two fronts, rather than an effect of any durable deterrence attributable to a memory of the 2006 engagement.
Indeed, its huge accumulation of offensive weapons, coupled with persistent reports of extensive cross-border tunneling, hardly seem indicative of a diminished appetite to continue battle at an opportune moment in the future.

The most imbecilic of all 
Then came, arguably, the most imbecilic strategic initiative of all – the unilateral abandonment of the Gaza Strip (a.k.a. disengagement) and the expulsion of the Jewish residents from their thriving communities, which generated around 10 percent of the output of the economy and ample employment for its Arab residents.
So far, for Israel this “inspired” decision has resulted in three (and counting) military campaigns, massive disruption of the socioeconomic routine, ongoing trauma and occasional tragedy.
For the Palestinians the consequences have been far more calamitous – except of course for the cruel, corrupt cliques into whose clutches the disengagement delivered them, who have grown prosperous beyond their wildest dreams.
It would be hard to conceive of any policy initiative more counter-productive – indeed, self-obstructive – than this. Unless of course one looks at the current government’s efforts to end the hostilities in the south.
For, despite the precarious and perilous impermanence of the status quo ante, the major – if not the only – demand the government seems to be raising for a cease-fire is the restoration of the situation that led to the current fighting.
Worse, at the time of writing, the government was reportedly mulling some face-saving concessions for Hamas – ensuring that it could not only claim victory by remaining defiantly undefeated, but could flaunt tangible “achievements” – as it did after November 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense.
Emerging exasperation 
But as the government stumbles on in a seemingly aimless – albeit, pyrotechnically impressive – endeavor, there are signs of growing public exasperation with its performance and eroding confidence in its competence.
These were succinctly articulated by Zhuravel Segal in her previously cited op-ed, in which she echoes many of my thoughts: “I do not believe for a second that Israel, a country with outstanding…logistical accomplishments, cannot stop rocket fire from Gaza. What I see clearly, though, is incredible negligence and lack of systematic, long-term planning effort on behalf of Israel’s top political brass and…the prime minister…These days we are rallying behind our prime minister’s wartime rhetoric as if we were facing an enemy that could actually stand up to the concerted effort of a modern democracy with first-world diplomatic and military means at its disposal….”
‘Defeatism at its worst’
She goes on to lament, in a tone of bitter disillusionment tinged with bewilderment: “… we send our very best people to fight a bunch of fanatics who assemble smuggled rockets at home and hide in tunnels under their wives’ washing machines. Is this really the best we can do? If it is, I am deeply disappointed in Israel’s long-term planning capability…This is defeatism at its worst. It hurts us where it really matters and turns us into an indefensible victim yet again, a complex one hopes Israel would have by now shed.”
There is much to heed in Segal’s anguished words.
For while Israel’s highly effective civil defense apparatus has functioned admirably, reducing the casualty toll to the barest minimum, the ongoing imagery of Jews, forced by a Judeophobic militia to scurry for cover, and cower in shelters, is becoming increasing unacceptable, and is, or at least should be, incompatible with the founding ethos of the country.
The prattle that presents the retaking of Gaza as an invalid strategic objective is ludicrous and should be discounted with disdain.
Retaking of Gaza as a moral imperative
It is becoming difficult to bear the claims that the mighty IDF – portrayed as the strongest army in the region, capable of prevailing over any of Israel’s enemies, or combination thereof – cannot take an objective, barely 11-km. wide and 50-km. long, with no significant topographic barriers to impede its advance.
Such a measure is the only way the government of Israel can discharge its moral duty toward its citizens. To refrain from undertaking this task is a moral abomination on several levels, implying that, just as Hamas uses its civilians as human shields against Israeli military attacks, so the government of Israel uses its civilians as human shields to fend off diplomatic attacks from the international community.
Yes, such a measure will involve casualties – on both sides. But the blame for the blood shed must be laid squarely at the door of those who called for Israel to hand over the Gaza Strip to its sworn enemies – and of those who could have prevented it but, because they preferred privileged positions over political principle, did not.
Retaking Gaza cannot be avoided, only delayed for a less opportune and more hazardous occasion, when the enemy will be better prepared, and casualties higher.

Dismantling of Gaza as a moral imperative
In a recent report, the Post’s Yaakov Lappin wrote: “The experience of Israel’s military planners tells them that toppling the Hamas regime…is not necessarily in Israel’s long-term strategic interests. It remains far from clear who might replace Hamas, and Gaza could turn into a Somalia-like strip of land filled with Islamic State militias that cannot be deterred at all.”
This sort of claim be must rejected out of hand. Indeed it was precisely this kind of thinking that induced Israel to deal with the PLO lest it end up with Hamas. Israel agreed to deal with the PLO and got Hamas….
No matter what Arab regime is installed in Gaza at the end of the fighting, there is always the risk of it being replaced by more implacable and inimical successors.
Israel cannot determine who will rule Gaza…unless it does so itself.
To do this, it must impose unconditional surrender on Hamas and begin the systematic dismantling of Gaza and the relocation of its population in third party countries, as I first proposed two decades ago in “Why we can’t dump Gaza” (Jerusalem Post, December 9, 1992), and in numerous subsequent Into the Fray columns.

Frittering away a unique opportunity
Today Israel has a unique opportunity to eliminate the menace of Gaza and offer its non-belligerent population a better life elsewhere. It is difficult to imagine the current benign circumstances reoccurring:
(a) support of Israel in the US is at near-record highs, outstripping that for Palestinians (even among Hispanics and Blacks);
(b) there is deep hostility for Hamas in Egypt under Abdel Fattah al-Sisi;
(c) the Arab world is distracted by the internal tumult raging across it, with little time or resources to devote to the Palestinian issue;
(d) Hezbollah is entangled in the Sunni-Shia wars in Syria/Iraq, and unlikely to engage in an additional front against Israel.
So in the words of the sage Hillel, “If not now, when? The question is, will the government rise to the occasion.
Will it be equal to the challenge? Or will it let the country continue to drift, rudderless in the stormy sea that surround it – until an unexpected wave swamps it?
Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

The Palestinian issue in perspective

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

The Hamas-Israel war is a test of Israel's power-projection and posture of deterrence, which directly impacts the national security of Jordan and other pro-US Arab countries. They rely on Israel's posture of deterrence in their own battle against rogue Islamic regimes.
In addition, the Hamas-Israel war highlights the limited impact of the Palestinian issue – both the PLO and Hamas - on Middle East developments and intra-Arab relations.  The war underlines the gap between the Western perception of the Palestinian issue, on the one hand, and the Egyptian and overall Arab perception on the other hand.
Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, Egyptian President Sisi and all other Arab leaders do not consider the Palestinian issue a top priority, a strategic added-value, a core cause of Middle East turbulence or the crux of their conflict with Israel.  In contrast to US policy – as executed by President Obama since his June 2009 speech in Cairo, when he elevated the Muslim Brotherhood to unprecedented heights and dumped President Mubarak - Sisi outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, the "parent company" of Hamas, branded it a terror organization and sentenced its leaders to death.     
The Arab World has not flexed political, financial or military muscles on behalf of the Palestinian Hamas during the current war, nor did they during the recent intensive Israeli military crackdown on Palestinian terrorism in areas controlled by Mahmoud Abbas (in the aftermath of the murder of three Israeli teens).  This low Arab regard toward the Palestinian issue was, similarly, displayed in reaction to Israel's wars against Hamas terrorism in 2009 and 2012; Israel's 2000-2004 comprehensive war on Palestinian Authority terrorism (2nd Intifada); Israel's 1987-1991 military suppression of PLO terrorism (1st Intifada); and Israel's 1982-83 hot pursuit of PLO terrorists in Lebanon, all the way to Arafat's and Abbas' expulsion from Beirut.
Recently, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have extended a $20bn emergency financial assistance to Egypt; in 2006-7, the Saudis supported Lebanon with a $2.5bn package; during 1980-1988, Riyadh provided $1bn annually to the Muslim rebels in Afghanistan, compared to $100MN annually to the PLO; but, the Saudi financial aid to the Palestinian Authority has been limited to a total of $1bn-$1.5bn since 1994, reflecting the Saudi mistrust of Mahmoud Abbas and Arafat.  Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States do not forget and do not forgive Mahmoud Abbas' participation in Saddam Hussein's August, 1990 plunder of Kuwait, which provided home to some 300,000 of Abbas' Palestinian relatives, friends and supporters.  They are aware of Abbas' track record of subversion and terrorism since the 1950s in Egypt, 1966 in Syria, 1970 in Jordan, 1970-1982 in Lebanon and 1990 in Kuwait.
President Sisi's attitude toward the Palestinian issue is consistent with President Sadat's and President Mubarak's distrust of the PLO/Palestinians.  For example, during 1977-79, President Sadat defied President Carter's insistence upon placing the Palestinian issue at the center of the Egypt-Israel peace process.  Sadat did not trust the PLO and was convinced that a PLO-dominated state would undermine regional stability.  In 1994, during the signing of the Cairo Israel-PLO agreement, President Mubarak expressed his attitude toward the PLO, scolding Arafat in public: "sign, you dog."  In recent months, the Egyptian military killed scores of Palestinian terrorists in Sinai, as they did in the aftermath of Israel's 2005 "disengagement" from Gaza, killing scores of Palestinians in Rafah.  Moreover, Sisi's fundamental position on the Palestinian issue was influenced by Abbas' and Arafat's key role in the Cairo cell of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1954, when the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Nasser. Abbas and Arafat fled Egypt due to their involvement in subversion and terrorism.
The Arab League – just like all Arab countries - has been preoccupied with the Arab Tsunami, which is sweeping the Middle East independent of the Palestinian issue, highlighting the marginal role played by the Palestinian issue in shaping the Middle East. The Arab League persists in its historical attitude toward the Palestinian issue: showering Palestinians with rhetoric, but not with resources. Thus, in 1948, the Arab League formed the "All Palestine Government" as an Egyptian-molded phantom, which was reduced by 1952 to a department within the Arab League and officially dissolved, in 1959, by Egypt's President Nasser.  In 1948/49, The Arab countries did not fight Israel for the Palestinians, did not share the spoils of the war with the Palestinians (Hama, Jerusalem, Samaria, Judea and Gaza) and were not interested in establishing a Palestinian state.
While Hamas urges the Arabs to rise in support of the Palestinians, the Egyptian media features unprecedented criticism of Hamas, reminding Egyptians that Hamas murdered 16 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai in August, 2012, supported the Muslim Brotherhood in toppling Mubarak, broke into Egyptian prisons and released Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, supported the Muslim Brotherhood's attempts to oust the Sisi regime, and undermined the stability of Arab countries.
Putting the Palestinian issue in its proper intra-Arab perspective is a prerequisite for a realistic Middle East policy (focusing on "smothering sandstorms," not on "tumbleweeds"), for any progress in the "peace process," and for the survival of Jordan and other pro-US Arab regimes, which face clear and present Islamic terrorist danger.  They realize that the outcome of the Hamas-Israel war may either embolden or deter their mortal enemies.

1.5 Million to Make Aliyah to Israel in Coming Decade

By Moshe Feiglin

Last Thursday morning, 400 new olim from France arrived in Israel. From the beginning of Operation Protective Edge more than 1000 olim have arrived. Not one of them has cancelled his/her aliyah because of the rocket attacks.
MK Moshe Feiglin repeated his forecast that 1.5 million olim will be coming to Israel within the next decade. Feiglin predicts that they will completely change our perspective on Israel’s situation.
“They are coming home to Israel,” said Feiglin.  “Those of us already here have to fully integrate our deep, natural bond to our beloved Land.”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Revenge of G-d

By Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
"And Moshe spoke to the people... to inflict the vengeance of G-d against Midyan" [Bamidbar 31:3]. According to the Midrash, Moshe said: Master of the world, if we were uncircumcised or rejected the mitzvot, they would not hate us. They only pursue us because of the Torah and the mitzvot which You gave us. This is therefore Your revenge – to establish the revenge of G-d." [Bamidbar Rabba 22].
The Torah which we have received is the reason behind the hatred of Israel, because through it we represent the world of the Master of the Universe, as is written: "You are My witnesses, G-d says... and I am G-d" [Yeshayahu 43:10,12]. The sages taught us: "If you are my witnesses, I am G-d, but if you are not my witnesses – as it were, I am no longer G-d." [Yalkut Shimoni Yitro 271]. The struggle of the other nations is indeed against G-d. But since there is no way to fight G-d directly, they fight against the nation which represents Him. The Ramban wrote: "'I will reply with revenge to my enemies, and I will repay those who hate Me' – They have done all of this because of their hatred for the Holy One, Blessed be He." [Devarim 32:41]. In his letter to Yemen, the Rambam wrote that because of the Torah "the other nations were extremely jealous of Him... and they wanted to fight G-d and struggle against Him, but He is G-d, who can fight Him directly?"
This concept is repeated in many verses. "We have been killed because of You every day" [Tehillim 44:23]. "They have put their hearts together, they have made a covenant against You" [83:6]. And in the beginning of the book, "Why are the nations excited, while the peoples talk in vain? The kings of the earth take a stand, and the princes gather together – because of G-d and His Mashiach." [2:1-2]. What do they want to do? "Let us remove their strings and throw their ropes away from us!" [2:3]. What strings of ours bind the nations of the world? This was revealed by the infamous Adolf Hitler, before he came into power in Germany, in a talk with the author Hermann Rauschning. "Providence has reserved for me the task of being the great emancipator of man. I save humanity from the limits of conscience and ethics, which have become independent goals, from the vile and degrading torment of the vain vision which is called conscience and morality." Hitler declared his intentions to the interviewer: "The war for control of the world is only between us – the war between the Germans and the Jews. Everything else is merely for the sake of appearance... The Tablets of Mount Sinai have lost their significance. Conscience is merely a Jewish invention... Israel, the historical nation of the G-d of the spirit, must of necessity have a hatred as deep as the abyss for the German nation, which worships the god of nature. Peace between these two gods is an impossibility."
Here is what Rav Kook wrote about the reason for anti-Semitism: "Until the coming of the future redemption, the only influence we have on the world is to teach obligations, morality, and justice... The world does not want to accept any obligations, and if they do accept them, they maintain in their hearts a grudge against the main ones who have dissipated the information about the obligations, who do not allow the barbarian soul to expand."
In the future, all the people will recognize the value of the influence of Judaism and its contributions to humanity, and therefore "ten men from all the other nations will take hold of the edge of the garment of every Jewish man, and they will say, we will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you" [Zecharia 8:23].

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Operation Protective Edge and the Parasha

By Rabbi Stewart Weiss
I have, more than once, quoted my Rav zt"l who said that nothing ever happens in the course of a week that cannot be found within the Torah or Haftora portion of that week; and this week is no exception!

Our Sedra of Matot begins by discussing the laws of oaths, then talks about Israel's war against Midian, Moshe’s anger at Bnei Yisrael’s failure to kill the evil women of that nation, & the distribution of the spoils resulting from the war. I suggest that all of these subjects relate directly to the dramatic events happening this week in our beloved country.

One of the primary attributes of Hashem is that He is an erech apayim; patient, & slow to anger. Rather than punish the wrong-doers right away, He prefers to give His creations time to right their wrongs & do the right thing. But the phrase "slow to anger" indicates that, at some point, anger is totally justified! There is a boiling point (or "tipping point") when justice must be done & punishment must be meted out. At that point, the war must be a total one, where all those who tried to destroy us – the combatants as well as their evil supporters – are legitimate targets.

That is our most sacred national oath & vow - to defend our citizenry from harm.

The State of Israel has, by all accounts, been an erech apayim, patient & forbearing while under fire – perhaps even TOO tolerant. We allowed countless acts of murder & mayhem to be perpetrated against us, giving the adversary numerous opportunities to change their ways & act in a civilized manner. But, alas, they only became worse with time, & increased their deadly belligerence.

And so, finally, we acted and reacted as a proud nation of G-dly people should react. And the scope of our attack against the cruel & barbaric enemy, like that against Midian, must be wide & all-inclusive. As Moshe rebuked his officers, a war of national vengeance cannot be half-hearted.

Let me add one other piece to this paradigm.

The pasuk says that the Jewish soldiers brought the spoils of war to Moshe, Elazar HaKohen & the people. Why did they do this? Rashi explains that they were demonstrating their honesty & integrity, that they took nothing which was not rightfully theirs. This high standard of "t’hor he-neshek," purity of arms, still characterizes our holy chayalim, who make up the purest & most moral fighting force in the world today – perhaps in all of history.

May these amazing virtues compel the Almighty to bring our nation safety, success & lasting security in our land.

The Torah Peace Plan

A Torah Thought for Parshat Matot 

By Moshe Feiglin

And you shall drive out the inhabitants of the Land and you shall dwell in it. And if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you and it will come to pass that those that you leave will be thorns in your eyes and thistles in your sides and they will harass you in the Land in which you dwell. (From this week’s Torah portion, Matot, Numbers 33:53-55)

If you were looking for a peace plan, here it is. Israel must move forward toward the reality in which all the Land is in our hands. No foreign nation should have a foothold in our Land. If they do, we will lose our own hold on the Land and evaporate. Any peace plan that does not take this into account is pure deception.
Shabbat Shalom

Today's Jewish Army: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Matot 5774


Parashat Matot 5774
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Israel is again at war against Amalek. I dedicate this week’s divrei Torah to our holy soldiers of Tzahal, from privates to major generals, from regular army of 18 year olds to reserve soldiers of over 50 years old.

Qualifications for Serving in Hashem’s Army

In our parasha, the nation is about to liberate the western side of Eretz Yisrael, beyond the Jordan River. While Moshe was instructing the leadership regarding the equitable division of the land among the nation, the tribes of Re’uven and Gad requested that their homesteads be in the fertile grazing lands of the eastern side of the Jordan. Moshe understood this to mean that they would not take part in the war of liberation against the seven Canaanite nations and reacted in great anger (32,6):
האחיכם יבאו למלחמה ואתם תשבו פה:
Will your brothers will go to war and you will stay here!?
An agreement was arrived at whereby the tribes of Re’uven and Gad would serve in the dangerous reconnaissance units and would return to their families on the eastern side of the Jordan only after all the other tribes would be settled, each man in his homestead.
In Moshe’s mind, it was unthinkable that an able bodied Jew would not fight in the mitzva war of liberation of Eretz Yisrael and the protection of the Jewish nation.
There is no halachic exemption from military service from a war defined as a Milchamat Mitzva (a war which is halachically ordered). The only exemptions are those mentioned in Parshat Shoftim regarding a milchemet reshut” – war for political or economic gain, with the Sanhedrin’s approval, as elaborated by the Rambam (Melachim chapter 7).
When the troops are lined up in military formation, the Mashuach Milchama (a Kohen who is anointed for purposes of war) stands before them and declares: “Whoever has built a house, or planted a vineyard or became engaged to be married in the last year must leave the ranks to return home”. Then a shoter (military police) declares before the troops that whoever is afraid must also return. Rambam explains תחילת נפילה ניסה- defeat begins with desertion – and soldiers in any of the above mentioned categories are more readily inclined to desert.
I believe that the call to those who built homes, or planted vineyards or were engaged to be married to drop from the ranks is actually intended as a face saving gesture by the Torah to permit those who are gripped with fear to leave under the guise of one of the three categories of home, vineyard and immanent marriage.
Because to serve in HaShem’s army one must be courageous, not meek; determined, not irresolute; of high morale, not cowardly; spirited, not timid; tenacious, not irresolute.
One who lacks these qualities will always find some excuse, either physical, mental or spiritual.
However, in fact it is not the excuse which exempts the shirker, it is the Torah’s dictate to exclude from the army’s ranks people of weak character, whose presence would cause great harm.

Passing the Test

The Book of Judges (chapter 7) relates that HaShem commanded Gideon to bring his army of ten thousand to a river bed, and there, reduce the number significantly through a test. Those who would take the water into their hands and draw it up to their lips are suited to be in the army of HaShem; those who bow to drink the water would be rejected. Three hundred passed the test, the other 9700 failed and were sent home. And it was these 300 soldiers who defeated the entire Midianite army.
By singling out those individuals who did not bow down, Gideon was able to know who was of high personal character and tenacity so necessary for a soldier in HaShem’s army.

Today’s Jewish Army

At the present moment there are over forty thousand Israeli troops on the borders of Gaza, poised to decimate the enemies of Am Yisrael. There is not one among them who does not feel that behind him are the millions of Jews who were slaughtered by the descendants of Aisav and Yishmael during our 3500 year history. How HaShem has changed the destiny of our people in the last 70 years, and how He has changed the character of our people. From the depths of the killing fields of Europe, where we were as helpless as sheep brought to the slaughter, to become today a nation whose army is the envy of the world.
And let us remember that above all we are a Jewish army. Last week the commander of the Givati Brigade sent a message to his troops which was later sent to all, as follows:
אני נושא עיני לשמיים וקורא עמכם, ‘שמע ישראל ה’ אלוקינו ה’ אחד”. ה’ אלוקי ישראלי היה נא מצליח דרכינו, אשר אנו הולכים ועומדים להילחם למען עמך ישראל כנגד האויב המנאץ שמך. בשם לוחמי צה”ל ובפרט לוחמי החטיבה והמפקדים, עשה ויתקיים בנו מקרא שכתוב ‘כי ה’ אלוהיכם ההולך עמכם להילחם לכם עם אויבכם להושיע אתכם’ ונאמר אמן.
I lift my eyes to the heavens and call out together with you,
Shema Yisrael HaShem Elokaynu HaShem Echad,
May we be successful in the path we will be going to fight for Your nation Israel against the enemy who desires to desecrate Your name.
In the name of the fighters of Tzahal and the troops of the Givati Brigade and its commanders, make true the verse “For the Lord your God who goes before you to make war for you with your enemies to bring you salvation
let us say amen.
My son told me that his base has quite a large bet knesset, but it can hold only one third of the soldiers who come to pray there daily. And so it is with army bases along the length and breadth of the land.
In the merit of our holy soldiers and nation, may we see the destruction of all our enemies and our return to the entire Promised Land, including the expanded Gush Katif which will cover all of the Gaza strip.
May all our soldiers return home safely.
May we all rejoice in HaShem’s continued miracles for His loyal people in Eretz Yisrael.
Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5774/2014 Nachman Kahana

Surrender or Self-Defense as a Divine Command

By Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

"Take the revenge of Bnei Yisrael from the Midyanites... And they attacked Midyan andthey killed every male... And all of their cities where they were and all of their castles, they burned by fire." [Bamidbar 31:1,7,10].
A Forceful Policy of "Kill him First"
As I write this article, our entire country is being bombarded, from Dimona in the south to Haifa in the north. With the kindness of G-d, the "Iron Dome" over our heads is sealed tight. Everybody who sees and hears about the situation can only give praise, and they all glorify and give thanks to the Master of the Universe, in addition to praising those who developed this defensive weapon.
In the current "war game," as I write these lines, the traditional roles have been reversed. The Palestinians who spit out their terrorist rockets proudly tout their "victories" and consider themselves as David fighting Goliath (the Pelishti!), which we represent. We are protected by armor and the Iron Dome, and they are searching for the cracks in the dome, or perhaps to show that it is too small to give full protection for the entire expanse of our heads, so that they will be able to hit our head with a stone, heaven forbid. I am sorry to say that I have a feeling that our leaders in charge of security have their own doubts about the defense capabilities of the Iron Dome, and they might be anticipating a disaster, to give us an excuse to act with the appropriate level of full force.
Force is indeed called for, and this includes using it against citizens who support the terrorism and collaborators. The Tanach emphasizes that David used the oppressor's own sword to kill him – "And David ran and stood over the Pelishti, and he took his sword and drew it from its sheath, and he killed him. And he used it to cut off his head." [Shmuel I 17:51]. This is exactly what David's acclaimed Chief of Staff, Benayahu Ben Yehoyada did ("a valiant and accomplished man" [Shmuel II 23:20]) –"And he stole the spear from the hand of the Egyptian and killed him with his own spear" [23:21]. What do these passages teach us? This is the Divine (and David-inspired) command: Use the enemy's own weapon, his own tactics, his own sword.
We can conclude that since the Hamas terror organization rains down a thousand bombs on population centers in order to specifically target the citizens, we must steal their own "sword" and not be deterred from using their tactic against their own citizens. There should be no humanitarian considerations for Palestinians who cover for murderers and support them with shouts of encouragement. The clearing of large areas of any population ("they burned all their castles by fire," as quoted above) is an appropriate forceful measure under the current circumstances. The passage describing the "taking of the spear and using it against them" is not merely a recorded fact, rather it is advice and perhaps even a heavenly command: "If one comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first." This does not mean that one has permission to act – rather, it is a command!
This command, "If one comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first," is derived from last week's Torah portion, specifically from the command to instigate a war against Midyan. "'Treat the Midyanites as enemies, for they treat you as enemies' [Bamidbar 25:17-18]. The sages derive from this that if one comes to kill you, you should rise up and kill him first." [Midrash Rabba Pinchas 21]. This idea is based on the double wording – "treat them as enemies... for they treat you as enemies." This refers not only to having harsh intentions (and condemnation by the media), but to physically carrying them out, as is clear in the verses quoted above: "And they killed every male... and all of their castles they burned by fire."
Surrender and a Cry to Cease Fire!
As far as Hamas and real life, our enemies are experts at propaganda and at fooling the entire world, including themselves. They are proud of – and believe in – their own victory. They portray Israel as people who flee into their shelters, pursued by sirens and involved in endless media discussions about the fears of the children and economic damage, and about international threats – in short, people who are worried sick about "What will be?" In order to give them a true picture, it is not enough that the speaker on our side understands the situation. What is needed is for the one who listens to receive the broadcast, to hear it on the same wavelength and at full volume.
We will never win against the arrogance of the people of Azza until we hear them cry out and beg us: Cease your fire! (Note the similar sound of "azut metzach" – arrogance – and the name of the area, Azza.)  The Plagues in Egypt teach us that only a plague of hail ("with fire burning within the hail" [Shemot 9:24]) will cause the enemy to declare, "I and my nation are sinners" [ibid]. Only then will "the sounds stop and the hail will no longer fall" [9:29]. And if the plague of hail is not enough, it should be followed by a plague of darkness. In modern terms, this means a total electricity blackout for our enemies (it is the height of absurdity to have to state this). This may well be considered as a non-humanitarian act in the eyes of the "righteous" west, but we can rely on the Prophet Elisha who served as a Divine advisor in the struggle against Moav: "This is what G-d said... Chop down every good tree and block every spring, and fill every good piece of land with a clutter of stones" [Melachim II 3:19]. In modern terms, this means severe economic sanctions, including withholding public utilities, such as water! And in the end, the next step is the Plague of the Firstborn, where "no house remained where there was not a dead person" [Shemot 12:30].
In summary: What is necessary is total surrender by Hamas, "going down on their knees." Anything less will only lead to the next round of war. My assumption is that after the censure which can be expected to come, the "world" will accept the situation after-the-fact, and will even thank us – either openly or in secret – for smashing the snake's head of the Hamas and its natural surroundings: Islamic Fundamentalism.
I must admit that I am left with one unsolved problem, which is the major stumbling block to our victory: "The traitorous Israeli left..."
(Written on the eve of the seventeenth of Tammuz.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wartime Obligations

                Mordechai Willig
By Rabbi Mordechai Willig

A thousand for a tribe, a thousand for a tribe, for all the tribes of Yisrael shall you send to the army. (Bamidbar 31:4). Some say that three thousand served from each tribe. One thousand fought at the front. One thousand guarded the gear behind the battle lines (See Rashi Breishis 14:24). One thousand engaged in tefilla(Bamidbar Rabba 22:3). Forty years ago, at the frightening beginning of the Yom Kippur War, R. Chaim Shmulevitz zt"l cited this Medrash in his exhortation to his talmidim (Erev Sukkos 5734, Sichos Mussar, 2010 ed., p. 456,7). This week, with rockets landing throughout Eretz Yisrael, R. Chaim's message is timely and critical, particularly for American Jews.

At present, many heroic soldiers are risking their lives to defend Israel's citizens. Our obligation to pray for them is boundless. Those who gave their lives on behalf of Am Yisarel, or were killed only because of their being Jewish - no creature can reach their place of reward in the next world (Bava Basra 10b). The Talmud refers to R. Akiva, and the brothers who gave their lives to save the Jews of Lod. Today we refer to the kedoshim of Tzahal, the three talmidim murdered last month, and this week's victim of a rocket fired from Gaza. Today, all of Israel's citizens, behind the battle lines, are in danger.
In recent weeks, we have seen the hand of Hashem in sparing us from casualties despite thousands of potentially fatal rockets. This demands thanking Hashem for His protection, and beseeching Him for safety and ultimately for peace. Our embattled Israeli brothers and sisters are doing their part. American Jews, far from the murderous enemies, must share the pain of the Israelis, and intensify their tefillos for peace and serenity in the holy land.
R. Chaim cites the expression (Yeshaya 54:9) the waters of Noach, which refer to the mabul. The Zohar (parshas Noach) holds Noach partially responsible for the deluge, since he did not pray that the generation be saved. We dare not repeat this mistake. Our tefillos, especially communal ones, are our indispensable contribution to the war effort.
When you draw near to the war, the Kohen says to the people: Shema Yisrael, today you are coming near to the battle against your enemies (Devarim 20:2,3). Even if there is no merit in you except for Krias Shma, you are worthy that Hashem should save you (Rashi). We must say Shema, with intensity, and on time, to merit Hashem's salvation. Extra chizuk is needed during a crisis in a time of laxity, such as summer vacation.
The pesukim continue (20:3,4): Do not be afraid of them for Hashem fights for you against your enemies to save you. R. Chaim states that only the realization that Hashem alone can save us can prevent fear. Ashur (the USA) will not save us, we will not ride (rely) on horses (planes) and we will not call our handiwork (the army) "our god" (Hoshea 14:4). We must pray with all our might for the safety of our soldiers, but we must realize that only Hashem can save us.
As the war dragged on then, as now, R. Chaim's words (p. 460-61) continue to inspire. We dare not become accustomed to the dangerous situation and be lulled into a state of complacency. Moreover, the thousand who prayed did so near the front, so that their tefillos be more intense and effective. In America we must try to feel part of the dangerous matzav. If we daven for those in danger, Hashem will have mercy and help them and us.
From afar it is difficult to feel their pain. Moshe went out to his brothers and saw their burden (Shemos 2:11). He focused his eyes and his heart to be distressed over them. Only then could he feel their pain, and, by joining in their plight, pray intensely and effectively.
One who pains himself together with the community merits seeing their consolation. But one who separates himself from the community will not see their consolation (Ta'anis 11a). One who separates himself and does not pray together with the community is included in this category (Pri Megadim Orach Chaim 574:6).
Indeed, concludes R. Chaim (p. 463,4), our suffering is a means to the end, that we should daven to Hashem Who desires our tefillos. Why did Hashem create the crisis at Yam Suf? Because he desired to hear their voices in prayer, as it says (Shir Hashirim 2:14) My dove [trapped at the sea as if] in the clefts of a rock, let Me hear your voice [in prayer]. (Sehmos Raba 21:5).
Each day, near the end of 'Hodu', we say, Open your mouth wide- with intense tefilla- and I will fill it [Tehillim 81:1]. Once the purpose of your suffering, from Mitzrayim until today, is achieved by your tefillos, Hashem will answer them.
The previous pesukim in Hodu express our sentiments in this time of crisis. Hashem save, may the King answer us on the day we call. Save Your nation. Hashem is our help and our shield. Grant us our salvation. Redeem us for the sake of your kindness. And, as R. Chaim taught, may your kindness be upon us, as we prayed to You, thus achieving the purpose of the crisis.
Klal Yisrael's response to the abduction which precipitated the present crisis was breathtaking. We witnessed unity among previously fragmented groups. We saw faith and prayer across an incredibly wide spectrum. We felt the everlasting truth of the subsequent pasuk in Hodu: Fortunate-and praiseworthy [See Metzudos and Rashi, Tehilim 1:1] - is the nation that Hashem is their G-d.
As Klal Yisrael suffers in Eretz Yisrael, Jews worldwide must join in the suffering and pray to Hashem for salvation. Our tefillos must include faith and trust in Hashem, even when He does not accede to our prayers. May we merit the conclusion of Hodu "My heart will rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to Hashem for He has saved me".

The Temple Mount: Everyone is Catching On (video with English subtitles)

On  the 17th of Tamuz, Moshe Feiglin went up to the Temple Mount. Within a short time, the Arab rabble began to riot. As you will see in this short video, both Israel’s leadership and its media are beginning to understand that without this point of truth – the Temple Mount – it is impossible to justify our return to Israel and our sovereign existence – not in Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv.
But words alone are not enough. The longing for and the ascent to the Temple Mount are what prove and solidify the national bond to this fundamental point; the point where everything began with the Binding of Isaac and to which all will ultimately lead – with the rebuilding of the Holy Temple.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Feiglin: Re-Conquer Gaza Now! [with video]

(from the JewishPress.com)
Moshe Feiglin on the Temple Mount
Moshe Feiglin on the Temple Mount

MK Moshe Feiglin (LIkud) said Tuesday that Israel’s response to continued Hamas rocket fire on Israeli cities  - in light of Egypt’s ceasefire offer, which Israel accepted this morning - should be the total re-conquest of the Strip.

“All this ‘victory’ talk following the ceasefire makes me very sad. If we’d scored such a great victory, there would be no need to explain that it’s a victory. We surrendered to a terrorist gang, and now we are being humiliated by yet another rocket barrage. All large Israeli cities - Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva, Haifa -  have been targeted and attacked by a small terror organization in Gaza, (and we can’t do anything but settle for a ceasefire).

“But we call this “victory.” I can’t call it anything but “surrender,” Feiglin said.

Speaking to the Knesset TV Channel, Feiglin asked whether Israel, as a society, is prepared to “win,” or whether Israeli society plans to just roll from loss to loss, from humiliation to humiliation.

“Look, you’ve got to understand: This cease fire is a grand opening to the next round of fighting. And there is no reason that next round shouldn’t include non-conventional weapons. How hard is it to put together a few mustard seeds (to make poison gas) and stick them onto a rocket? what are you going to say then?

Feiglin went on to note that “before Oslo, before Peres’ and Beilin’s “peace”, the IDF went around (taking away) four kalachnikov rifles in Gaza. No one dreamed about rocket attacks on Tel Aviv.”

In order to reign in the rockets, Feiglin said Israel must return and conquer the Gaza Strip, not only to restore security to Israeli civilians,but because Israel has a right to settle and live in the Land of Israel.

“The point of this operation should have been to return to our land, and also to Gaza, the part of Eretz Yisrael that we ran away from. (Gaza) continues to pursue us, and will continue to pursue us until we come to realise, ‘Yes, this is our land,and YES! (We must) re-conquer Gaza.’ We have to go back to Gaza because it is our land, because it is the right thing to do.

What? have you forgotten how terrible it was with soldiers in gaza? 

“No, haven’t forgotten. but our situation was much better - nobody in Tel Aviv hiding in bomb shelters when IDF patrolled Gaza. Situation was much better before demoralisation from within began to affect Israeli society. That began because of a view that we were ‘colonialists’ in Gaza, not because we were there because it was our land. Same for Nablus and Ramallah - we never applied Israeli sovereignty to the parts of the Land of Israel that are in our hands.

“If population and demographics are the determining factors for the national borders, what are we doing in the Galilee? What are we doing in Jaffa? Nazareth? Let’s first understand that this is our land. Then we’ll deal with population and demographic questions. It’s all a question of approach,” Feiglin said.