Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Let each man encourage his neighbor

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

“The Canaanite king attacked Israel and took some captives” (Numbers 21:1). Rashi explains, “He captured only one maidservant.”

What was the people’s reaction to the capture of the Israelite maidservant? They vowed to wage all-out war against the Canaanites, and that is what occurred.

For the sake of one maidservant does one have to go to war? Here the Jewish People displayed their solidarity and unity, all of them as one man, with one heart. They had a strong awareness that someone who hurts one Jew hurts them all. They related to each individual Jew as an inseparable part of the aggregate. The pain and sorrow of each individual were not a private matter, but a problem demanding the responsibility and concern of the whole nation G-d had so lovingly selected. Such was the spirit that lived in the people.

The call of the hour is to strengthen our nation’s solidarity. It is only natural that every single Jew in Israel and throughout the world should feel responsibility and concern and pain over the plight of every other Jew, wherever he may be. This is especially so regarding those Jews who face daily danger that their blood will be spilt like water, in our settlements, in the streets of our cities, and in the dark cellars where they are being held captive by Lebanese terrorists. A Jew must feel that when someone hurts a Jew, we and our whole nation are being hurt. In order to strengthen solidarity, it is not enough to feel. We must also do. We must visit the settlers and help them, adopting them and hosting them and their children.

Let each man encourage his neighbor, and through this will be fulfilled the blessing, “Blessed are You, O L-rd, who smashes our enemies and defeats the wicked.”

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Rav Kook on Parashat Chukat: The Book of God's Wars

The Torah reading concludes with an obscure reference to the “Book of God’s Wars,” describing the Arnon canyon near the border between the Land of Israel and Moab. The verses are cryptic, and the Talmud (Berachot 54a-b) fills in the details with the following story:

Just before the Israelites were to enter the Land of Israel, the Amorites (one of the Canaanite nations) laid a trap for them. They chipped away at the rock, creating hiding places along a narrow pass in the Arnon canyon. There the Amorite soldiers hid, waiting for the Israelites to pass through, when they could attack them with great advantage.

What the Amorites didn’t know was that the Holy Ark would smooth the way for the Jewish people in their travels through the desert. When the Ark arrived at the Arnon Pass, the mountains on each side crushed together, killing the Amorite soldiers. The Israelites traveled through the pass, blissfully unaware of their deliverance. But at the end of the Jewish camp were two lepers, named Et and Vehav. The last ones to cross through, it was they who noticed the riverbed turned crimson from the crushed enemy soldiers. They realized that a miracle had taken place, and reported it to the rest of the Israelites. The entire nation sang a song of thanks, namely, the poetic verses that the Torah quotes from the “Book of God’s Wars.”

Challenges to the Torah

The Talmud clearly understands that this was a historical event, and even prescribes a blessing to be recited upon seeing the Arnon Pass. Rav Kook, however, interpreted the story in an allegorical fashion. What are “God’s Wars”? These are the ideological battles of the Torah against paganism and other nefarious views. Sometimes the battle is out in the open, a clear conflict between opposing cultures and lifestyles. And sometimes the danger lurks in crevices, waiting for the opportune moment to emerge and attack the foundations of the Torah.

Often it is precisely those who are on the fringes, like the lepers at the edge of the camp, who are most aware of the philosophical and ideological battles that the Torah wages. These two lepers represent two types of conflict between the Torah and foreign cultures. And the Holy Ark, containing the two stone tablets from Sinai, is a metaphor for the Torah itself.

The names of the two lepers were Et and Vahav. What do these peculiar names mean?

The word Et in Hebrew is an auxiliary word, with no meaning of its own. However, it contains the first and last letters of the word emet, ‘truth.’ Et represents those challenges that stem from new ideas in science and knowledge. Et is related to absolute truth; but without the middle letter, it is only auxiliary to the truth, lacking its substance.

The word Vahav comes from the work ahava, meaning ‘love’ (its Hebrew letters have the same numerical value). The mixing up of the letters indicates that this an uncontrolled form of love and passion. Vahav represents the struggle between the Torah and wild, unbridled living, the contest between instant gratification and eternal values.

When these two adversaries - new scientific viewpoints (Et) and unrestrained hedonism (Vahav) - come together, we find ourselves trapped with no escape, like the Israelites in the Arnon Pass. Only the light of the Torah (as represented by the Ark) can illuminate the way, crushing the mountains together and defeating the hidden foes. These enemies may be unnoticed by those immersed in the inner sanctum of Torah. But those at the edge, whose connection to Torah and the Jewish people is tenuous and superficial, are acutely aware of these struggles, and more likely to witness the victory of the Torah.

The crushing of the hidden adversaries by the Ark, as the Israelites entered into the Land of Israel in the time of Moses, is a sign for the future victory of the Torah over its ideological and cultural adversaries in the time of the return to Zion in our days.

Why It Was So Disastrous When Bush Said “Islam Is Peace” After 9/11

The Future of American Zionism

by Daniel Greenfield

President Trump boldly moved the embassy to Jerusalem. And a poll shows a nearly even split among American Jews opposing and supporting it, while 85% of Israeli Jews back the courageous decision.

77% of Israelis back Trump's handling of US-Israel relations while 57% of American Jews disapprove.

How can the vast majority of Israelis be happy with the relationship while the majority of American Jews aren’t? The answer gets at the heart of the split between what American and Israeli Jews want from Israel. And also to the root of a deeper split within the Zionist tree.

Modern Zionism is split between positive aspirational Zionism and negative respectability Zionism.

Positive Zionism was the movement of a cultural, religious and national minority to reclaim an independent identity and unleash the potential of the Jewish people. Negative Zionism was a reaction to anti-Semitism. And then, when Zionism became safe, it became a trophy of communal respectability.

Now that Zionism is no longer safe or respectable, the trophy is in the communal dumpster.

Positive Zionists are self-directed, but negative Zionists are other-oriented. Their Zionism is only another bid for approval from the same people and political movements whose rejection made them Zionists.

The Israeli left began as a series of movements that embraced Zionism because the Communists (and other Socialists) had made it painfully clear that there was no room for an independent Jewish socialist movement in what would become the USSR. So they launched their Socialist experiments in Israel while slavishly worshiping Stalin. Some were even willing to launch a revolution in Israel for Uncle Joe.

And that’s why the Israeli left has been going electorally extinct for a generation.

Most Israelis don’t care what the Socialist International thinks of them. The most other-directed Israelis are usually the ones who already spend more time in Paris, London and Los Angeles than in Jerusalem. The average Israeli is a positive Zionist who doesn’t even think about it. He just lives a Zionist reality.

Negative Zionists dominate diaspora organizations. But those organizations value respectability more than Israel. They want to be proud of Israel because they’re ashamed of being Jewish. And they are pathetically vulnerable to the anti-Israel lobby’s weaponization of Jewish shame. Air strikes on Gaza, New York Times editorials and protests by anti-Israel hate groups deprive them of their respectability.

Modern Zionism began as the battle cry of an oppressed minority. But then it became respectable. The communal leaders and organizations that once despised it used its bright gleam to add a little luster to their wardrobe. And then toss it overboard the moment that it detracts from their respectability.

That is who tends to speak for American Jews. These are the unelected leaders who deliver ultimatums to the Prime Minister of Israel. They wring their hands over Gaza and assent to the Iran nuke sellout.

When push comes to shove, they will always do the respectable thing. Not the Zionist thing.

The Zionism of respectability is about being able to read the New York Times and feeling good instead of feeling ashamed. Many American Jews are easily shamed. But Israeli Jews are almost impossible to shame. Unlike Jews abroad, they’re not a minority group constantly looking around for approval.

Zionism without chutzpah is unsustainable.

The future of American Zionism is to be found among Jews who don’t care about respectability. They’re either from insular religious communities or have the same tough Queens attitude as Trump.

Those are also the Jews most likely to support Trump.

The anti-Israel lobby weaponizes Jewish insecurity. Its activists and reporters exploit Jewish shame. Its politicians openly employ dual loyalty language and dog whistles. And its spinmeisters package appeasement as respectability. Even if that respectability comes at the cost of the destruction of Israel.

The peace process, which has killed and crippled thousands of Israelis, created two terror states inside Israel, and put Jerusalem and Tel Aviv under fire for the first time in a generation, is respectable. The Iran deal was respectable. Suspending it wasn’t. Blockading Hamas is shameful. Opening the border with Gaza is respectable. No matter how many Jews die. Being critical of Israel is respectable. Supporting it is tribal, narrow-minded and disreputable. And they don’t want to be seen as any of those three.

Those American Jews who continue to support Israel will be immune to media shaming. They won’t look for mainstream respectability. Instead they will become more Zionist because it is disreputable.

Trump’s support for Israel is bad for its respectability. Respectable Jews would rather not have the embassy moved at all if Trump had to be the one to do it. They are critical of everything that Trump does because that’s the respectable thing to do. When they worry about being suspected of dual loyalty, they don’t mean to America and Israel, but to the progressive cause and to the Zionist reality.

As long as the left controls the cultural high ground, it gets to define respectability. And so respectability invariably becomes an echo of its views. Only those who defy that echo chamber will remain pro-Israel.

Many pro-Israel groups claim to be working very hard to escape this trap. But there is no escape.

The left’s anti-Zionism is over a century old. Within the left, pro-Israel positions are usually found among moderates. The uncontrolled leftward turn of what used to be liberalism makes its anti-Zionism inevitable. Any correction would require reversing that leftward turn, not attempting to befriend it as the ADL and other groups have been futilely trying to do. And such a correction is not currently realistic.

Negative Zionists will have to experience anti-Semitism personally before they’re likely to turn. And they won’t make that adjustment over Israel. But the day will come when the left takes away their respectability even if they denounce Israel and subscribe to the New York Times. As Corbyn and the UK Labour Party show, anti-Zionism as a movement is just anti-Semitism wearing a funny hat. The two are joined at the hip. Where you’ll find one, you’ll soon find the other dooming Jewish respectability politics.

Israeli Jews have a more uncomplicated view of reality. Anyone who hates them, hates them. It’s American Jewish groups who wonder whether they are hated abstractly, personally, politically, religiously, nationally or culturally. And then they figure out that it’s usually all the above.

Defying bigotry in any age requires courage. That’s how Zionism was born.

Zionism was never a solution for those too timid to defy convention. It is not the pathway to respectability. That brief moment passed decades ago. It probably won’t come back.

In the decades to come, Israel will have to make some hard decisions. And the American Jewish organizations trying to balance the impossible demands of respectability and Zionism won’t like them. But as the moderate Democrat goes extinct, the constituency for negative Zionism will fade away.

Positive Zionism however will remain.

American Jews remain split between respectability politics and aspirational politics. But the future belongs to those American Jews for whom Zionism is not a source of social approval, but defiant pride. In the near future, American Zionism will cease to mean rubber chicken dinners and mindless clichés. Instead, as it already has in France, it will once again become the battle cry of an oppressed minority.

Those American Jews who have the courage to be Zionists will also be bold enough to stop being Democrats, to turn off NPR, unsubscribe from the New York Times and thumb their noses at society.

Negative Zionism thrived when it was safe to be a Zionist. It will soon be as unsafe to be a Zionist anywhere as it already is on college campuses. And then Zionism will mean something again.

US interests require Israel on the Golan Heights

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

US interests in the Middle East and beyond are well-served by a strategically constrained Syria. Historically, Syria has been a tectonic, volatile platform of violent, intolerant and unpredictable Arab/Islamic regional aspirations of grandeur, totally unrelated to Israel’s existence and policies.

During the modern era, Syria has been a major arena of anti-US hate-education and incitement, Islamic and international terrorism (e.g., the blowing up of the US Embassy and Marines Headquarters in Beirut and PanAm-103), narco-terrorism (featuring ties with Latin American drug cartels), a mega-billion dollar counterfeiting of $100 bills and the abuse of human rights.

Syria represents a clear, present and lethal threat to all pro-US Arab regimes. It has been a systematic violator of agreements (with Lebanon, Turkey, the Arab League, the US and Israel), advancing the geo-strategic interests of the Ayatollahs of Iran, Russia and China, benefitting from North Korean conventional and non-conventional military technologies and hardware (chemical, biological and nuclear), while maintaining close ties with anti-US Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.

A withdrawal of Israel’s military from the mountain ridges of the 500sqm Golan Heights – located 34 miles from Damascus - would severely injure Israel’s posture of deterrence, reducing its capabilities to extend the strategic hand of the US; thus, making Syria dramatically more explosive.

While Syria is currently preoccupied with domestic upheaval, its potential destabilizing regional and global ripple effects should be assessed in view of the inherent Middle East volatility. It should also be observed against the background of Syria’s multi-century key role in the tumultuous fourteen-century Islamic history. It should also be examined against the backdrop of its current deep strategic ties with Russia, the megalomaniacal Ayatollahs of Iran, and transnational ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and additional Islamic terror organizations, which aim to erase the current borders among Arab states.

Syria’s imperialistic aspirations and potential explosive regional impact, under an Alawite or a Sunni regime (the French Mandate designated an Alawite State in 1920), transcend the narrow context of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They are a derivative of the unique role played by Syria (a-Sham) – the home of the early Caliphs - in Islamic history. Therefore, the current Syrian powder keg has drawn an unprecedented number of Islamic terror organizations and Jihad (Holy War)-driven fighters/terrorists from the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia.

An Israeli retreat from the Golan Heights would not quench – but inflame – Damascus’ long-term historical aspirations to solidify control of Syria, reclaim Greater Syria (including Jordan, Lebanon and Israel) and dominate the Arab World, which entails the toppling of all pro-US Arab regimes.

Just like Iran’s Ayatollahs, so would any future ruler of Syria – Alawite or Sunni - view the US presence in the Middle East as the major obstacle on the way of reaching its megalomaniacal strategic goal, considering Israel to be a most effective and inhibiting US outpost. Hence, Syria’s deep strategic alliance with Russia – since 1966 – which has provided a tailwind to Moscow’s influence in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, the Horn of Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. For example, Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean is in Tartus, Syria.

In 1970, the militarily superior USSR-supported Syria invaded the militarily inferior US-supported Jordan, which was involved in a civil war against Palestinian terrorists, while the US was bogged down in Southeast Asia, severely constrained as far as extending additional deployment of its troops. Attempting to avoid a confrontation with the USSR, the US requested Israel to mobilize the Israel Defense Forces to the joint Israel-Syria-Jordan frontier. Israel’s prompt mobilization triggered an immediate Syrian withdrawal from Jordan, bolstering Israel’s and the US’ posture of deterrence, injuring the geo-strategic posture of both Syria and the USSR, sparing the US a mega-billion dollar mobilization and a bruising public debate, while assisting the US with Israel’s own manpower, military bases and supply lines.

The Israeli deployment may have ensured the survival of the pro-US Hashemite regime, preventing a Syrian occupation of Jordan, with a potential spillover into the militarily much weaker pro-US Saudi Arabia and the pro-US Gulf States, which would have accorded Moscow a dramatic gain, while dealing the US a major economic and geo-strategic setback.

A Golan-less Israel would be unable to provide the US with such a cost-effective, dramatic benefit.

The inherent unpredictability, volatility and violence in the Middle East suggests that similar scenarios could plague the region in the future – especially in view of Jordan’s growing vulnerability to external and domestic upheaval - requiring the enhancement of US-Israel strategic coordination. However, without the Golan Heights – which dominates northern Israel and the joint Syria-Jordan-Israel border - Israel would be transformed from a unique national security producer, and a regional enforcer for the US, to another national security consumer.

On June 29, 1967, General Earl Wheeler, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, submitted to President Lyndon Johnson a map of Israel’s minimum security requirements. The map was based on the General’s own assessment of US interests, Middle East reality and Israel’s security requirements – the map included Israel’s control of the Golan Heights.

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Jewish Power Drive

by Moshe Feiglin

“And they gathered upon Moses and Aaron and they said to them, ‘It is too much for you, for all the congregation is holy and G-d is among them, and why should you lord over the congregation of G-d?’”(From this week’s Torah portion, Korach, Numbers 16:3) 

Korach’s struggle against Moses and Aaron was the classic power struggle. A leader rises who is determined and delineates a goal. He is an exemplary role model and leads the people successfully. Nevertheless, some people are dissatisfied and question his authority. “Why should you lord over us?” Korach and his assembly ask Moses and Aaron. “True, you strive for a lofty goal, but your motivation is nothing more than power driven arrogance.” What is wrong with them? Didn’t they see what happened to the king of the only superpower in the world (Pharaoh) when he dared to defy Moses? What did they see that we can’t see?

The answer is simple. They didn’t see anything because they were blinded by the strongest of all human drives: the drive for power. The uninitiated cannot understand this. A person who has not tasted the taste of power – someone for whom the safety catch on the power grenade has never been pulled – cannot comprehend just how strong this drive is. But people are willing to die for power; they are willing to kill their children and their wives to achieve it. The human race has experienced no stronger drive. In order to ensure the continuity of life, the Creator embedded the drive for procreation in both humans and animals. And to ensure the continuity of human society, the Creator created an even stronger drive; the power drive. There is no society without leadership and few would be willing to assume the weight of the community on their shoulders without the motivation fostered by this drive. Without the drive for power, human society would return to a state of chaos.

Just as we cannot give birth without the drive to procreate, so we cannot lead without the drive for power. The challenge is not how to eliminate it, but rather, to serve G-d with all our hearts. In other words, to enlist both our good inclination – the aspiration for liberty and responsibility – and our evil inclination – the aspiration for power, to achieve our goals. The good inclination must lead and chart out the course, the framework and the rules, while the drive for power must provide the energies necessary to succeed. 

Shabbat Shalom.

Israel Should Resign from the UN

by Moshe Feiglin

Can someone explain to me what we get out of being the punching bag of the UN? Until 2002, Switzerland, for example, preferred to forgo the dubious pleasure and managed quite well. Aren’t you tired of being the floor rag upon which every mass murderer wipes his feet at the entrance to the building in New York?

Moshe Feiglin on Radio Tel Aviv: Time for a Professional Volunteer Army

The Knesset is set to vote on the Draft Bill, which would require the Ultra-Orthodox to enlist in the IDF. Moshe Feiglin was interviewed on Radio Tel Aviv on his solution to the politically explosive draft situation in Israel.

Now that the Knesset is set to vote on the Draft Law, we can ask: What is better? A people’s army that includes everyone? Or a professional army?

I don’t think that the two contradict each other. Today’s Air Force is a professional army. So is the Navy.

OK, let’s sweep aside all the bluffs. It is not the people’s army, because not everyone enlists.

You are right. Only about 50% of those eligible actually enlist. And do you know what percentage of the public actually does reserve duty? Less than 5%.

So we are discovering that what they always told us about the people’s army and the melting pot may have been true in the first decades after Israel was established, but it does not reflect reality anymore. We must also add – because we are an economy program – that this has tremendous economic implications.

Of course! Who is financing the military magician and the huge groups of non-combat soldiers hanging out on the grass at the main Kiryah base in Tel Aviv? It is the young couples, who continue to work the longest hours of any western country, to earn the least and to pay the most. Israel has money. But we continue to pay a huge fortune for all kinds of pipe dreams that are no longer relevant. The IDF has a huge surplus of manpower, and all the committees set up to explore the issue have reached that conclusion.

We can call it latent unemployment. But it is clearly visible at the Kiryah base in Tel Aviv.

By law the IDF must draft everyone who has reached the age of 18. So it drafts them. Add to that politicians like Lapid, who have cashed in politically on the draft. He got 19 mandates for calling to add the Haredim to the soldiers hanging out on the grass in the Kiryah.

If we adopt the professional army model, how will we know if we will have enough soldiers? Maybe nobody will want to enlist? We have seen that in the US, for example, people enlisted only because it is an employment option. Israel lives with serious security issues. What will we do?

Today, there are five competitors for every opening in the Golani Brigade. Now let’s talk about how this would look according to the Zehut model. First of all, everybody enlists and does a very basic training for under a month. They are then discharged. This includes all sectors. Then, the IDF decides who it needs and wants from among those who volunteer to continue in the army. The IDF gives the volunteer four things:

First, a respectable salary and not the laughable salary that soldiers currently receive.

What is a respectable salary?
Like the salary that a pilot receives today. About 7000-8000 shekels per month. We are talking about a respectable salary. About serious training with the best equipment. Remember, you have discharged the mass of soldiers and have more money for the professionals. The soldier will also get a free higher education and perhaps most important of all, social status.

When you combine all the above and when you remember that the security ethos is still our founding ethos, you can confidently assume that there will be many volunteers for this high-quality army. The army will perform better. It will not be encumbered by all sorts of extraneous choirs and performers and will not be vulnerable to all sorts of agendas with which people seek to burden it. It will not be part of the social debate.

From a financial perspective, it will take a load off of our taxes, which will not be going to all sorts of dubious expenses in the army.

It is not only the direct expense of the soldiers, but the loss of all of these young people in the work force for three years.

The Posture of Prayer

by Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. -John Bunyan

Jewish prayer is filled with a variety of different body positions and movements that to the uninitiated may seem confusing. We sit, we stand, we bow, we take steps forward, backwards, we lean on our arm, we stand with our legs together, and thanks to Chassidic influence many also “shuckle” (a back-and-forth shaking movement).

In the confrontation at the start of Korach’s rebellion against the leadership of Moses, Moses and Aaron are described as “falling on their faces.” Rabbeinu Bechaye on Number 16:22 (Korach) claims that this is the source of our own leaning on our arms during a particularly contrite portion of the daily prayer.

He explains that when Moses and Aaron fell on their faces, it demonstrates three things:

It demonstrates fear and awe of the Almighty;

It demonstrates anguish and submission;

It demonstrates the “imprisonment” of one’s faculties and annulment of one’s senses.

He further delves into how each of these aspects is demonstrated:

By covering our face with our arm, we show humility and shame in front of God. It also shows anguish and submission, prerequisites for repentance. God, seeing our anguish is more likely to accept our prayers. And by covering our eyes and closing our mouth, we show our blindness and our inability to accomplish anything for ourselves without God’s approval.

He observes that the nations of the world have the custom of putting their hands together in prayer from this very same concept of demonstrating that their hands are bound and that they are submitting themselves to the one to whom they are praying, though they themselves no longer realize the biblical origin of their custom.

The Jewish custom of keeping our legs together and unmoving during the silent prayer is a stronger demonstration of this principle, as the movements of the legs are greater than those of the hands to reach ones’ goals and to distance oneself from harm.

However, while many of the positions and movements during prayer are filled with symbolism and significance, without meaningful intent, it is little more than light calisthenics.

May we understand, mean and feel our prayers, no matter how much or little we move.

Shabbat Shalom.

Moshe Feiglin on Radio Moreshet: The Real Reason for the Destruction of Netiv Ha’avot

Is the government responsible for the destruction of Netiv Ha’avot?

The Netanyahu-Bennett government is responsible for the destruction of Netiv Ha’avot in Gush Etzion. It is the government that sent in the bulldozers to destroy the homes there – not the High Court, not the Left and not the media.

But the High Court decided that Netiv Ha’avot must be destroyed. What would you have done if you were in power?

Jerusalem’s Mayor Barkat was also ordered by the High Court, in no uncertain terms, to immediately destroy Beit Yonatan in East Jerusalem. Barkat agreed. But he noted that he has hundreds of court orders to destroy Arab homes and that he would now begin to fulfill all of those orders in the order that they were given. Beit Yonatan is still a thriving Jewish home in Jerusalem.

You’re saying they could have easily avoided this destruction? Are you saying they wanted it to happen?

Not at all. But politicians make different calculations than leaders. Please answer these questions:

On a scale of 0 to 10, what political price is Naftali Bennett going to pay for the detstruction of Netiv Ha’avot?


What political price would Bennett have paid if he had threatened that if one tractor goes up to Netiv Ha’avot, he will resign from the government?

He may have paid a very steep price.

Right. Netanyahu may possibly have brought a different party into the coalition. Perhaps Lapid, or Labor. Who knows? And this is your answer. We do not have leaders on the Right. We have politicians on the Right. We do not have a vision on the Right. We do not have a leader who says, “The entire Land of Israel is ours, including Gaza, including Hebron”. All we have is leaders who make political calculations. That is the entire story. The destruction of Jewish homes in the Land of Israel has become nothing more than a sectoral demonstration that concerns no one else.

You are always so convincing.

You know, I am speaking from the depths of my heart. You are speaking to someone who, for the last 25 years, has been trying to put the religious Zionist public into the national leadership. I opened the gate to this public to leadership on a national level, but it did not want to enter. Now I am working with a broader public. The root of the problem is that if you are not willing to lead, you will necessarily be led. And you cannot control the direction.

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Korach: Saved by a Hair

Moshe Feiglin on Netiv Ha’avot: You are being destroyed by the people you elected

For English captions, be sure to click on the cc icon at the bottom of the youtube screen.

The "Trump Doctrine" for the Middle East

by Guy Millière
  • Trump has shown the strength of the United States and restored its credibility in a region where strength and force determine credibility.
  • Trump more broadly laid the foundation for a new alliance of the United States with the Sunni Arab world, but he put two conditions on it: a cessation of all Sunni Arab support for Islamic terrorism and an openness to the prospect of a regional peace that included Israel.
  • Secretary of State Pompeo spoke of the "Palestinians", not of the Palestinian Authority, as in Iran, possibly to emphasize the distinction between the people and their leadership, and that the leadership in both situations, may no longer be part of the solution. Hamas, for the US, is clearly not part of any solution.
  • Netanyahu rightly said that Palestinian leaders, whoever they may be, do not want peace with Israel, but "peace without Israel". What instead could take place would be peace without the Palestinian leaders. What could also take place would be peace without the Iranian mullahs.

Pictured: President Donald Trump hosts Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House on March 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

After three successive American Presidents had used a six-month waiver to defer moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem for more than two decades, President Donald J. Trump decided not to wait any longer. On December 7, 2017, he declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; the official embassy transfer took place on May 14th, the day of Israel's 70th anniversary.

From the moment of Trump's declaration, leaders of the Muslim world expressed anger and announced major trouble. An Islamic summit conference was convened in Istanbul a week later, and ended with statements about a "crime against Palestine". Western European leaders followed suit. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said that President Trump's decision was a "serious mistake" and could have huge "consequences". French President Emmanuel Macron, going further, declared that the decision could provoke a "war".

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Before you get swallowed up.......

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

They assembled against Moshe and Aharon, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and God is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above God’s assembly?” (Bamidbar 16:2)

WHO IS A happy person, the rabbis asked. They answered, “One who is happy with his portion” (Pirkei Avos 4:1). Obvious, no? We’re only really unhappy when we believe we lack something. So, if you want to be happy, all you have to do is believe that you lack nothing! Simple enough, right?

Huh! Tell that to thousands of years of mankind that has lived with the belief that they could always have more, and should. There has been so much cheating, stealing, lying, murdering, etc., and not always in self-defense. It’s often been the result of people or nations trying to get more than they presently have.

Sometimes we can’t help it. We were hardwired not to starve or freeze to death. You can’t expect a person to say, “You know, even though I am about to die from starvation, my stomach kills from hunger, and I have no strength to do anything about it, I’m actually okay with it.” That’s not Godly either.

Obviously, the rabbis are speaking about a person who COULD be satisfied with his lot in life. If he lived on an island by himself, he would go to sleep each night with a smile on his face. If he wasn’t constantly bombarded by the “more” in life, he would even want to think about it. But he is bombarded, so instead he goes to bed “hungry,” wondering what he can do tomorrow to get that “more.”

This really is just a yetzer hara, a yetzer hara to be discontent with one’s portion in life. And, it is not just a physical thing. It is a spiritual thing as well, preventing people from enjoying their spiritual accomplishments in life because they do not match up to someone else’s.

The ironic thing is, that what we all pursue is pleasure. It can be physical or it can be spiritual, just as long as it is pleasure. And yet, so many deny themselves the very pleasure they live for, by allowing themselves to focus more on what they do NOT have than what they DO have. They have reasons to take pleasure in what they already have, and they sacrifice them in the pursuit of pleasures they do not have. Is that not a big yetzer hara?

Just ask Korach, well, at least now. At the time he challenged Moshe Rabbeinu he thought he was going after what was rightfully his. Moshe Rabbeinu tried to tell him otherwise, but Korach was having none of it. He was the “captain” of his rebellion, and he literally went down with his “ship.”

Where does this sense of entitlement come from? Unquestionably, we all have “rights.” The Torah gives them to us. A huge section of the Talmud is devoted to clarifying those rights, and the protection of them. Even slaves, when they were allowed, had very specific rights, so clearly the Torah entitles people.

The better question is then, where do we get our FALSE sense of entitlement? That’s the one where we believe that we having something coming to us that, we don’t, or shouldn’t. How do we work ourselves up to the point that we can believe such falsehood?

It starts with tayva—desire. The only justification a person really needs to fulfill a tayva is that it FEELS good. And, because it FEELS good to fulfill it, it FEELS bad to lack it. The longer this is true, the worse a person feels, forcing them to do one of two things: give up on it, or scheme to get it. The latter becomes even easier when more than one person shares the same false entitlement, and easier yet when society does as a whole.

Desperate people or people without self-dignity will find a way to just “take” what they want. More “civilized” people will look for some kind of legal “justification.” Korach did not go in with all guns firing and take the Kehunah hostage. He devised a complaint of nepotism against Moshe Rabbeinu, and insisted that ALL Jews were equal in terms of holiness.

In reality, Korach was sore that he was passed over for promotion. He reasoned that he was in line for the new job by virtue of his birthright and regardless of his qualifications. When he saw another given the job he wanted for himself, he tried to create a national issue, and surrounded himself with important people to use them as a shield.

Let’s not forget the Jewish people were still surrounded by the Clouds of Glory. Do not forget that mann still fell from the sky. The Mishkan functioned, and the Divine Presence filled it, so it was not a question of non-believing Jews challenging the authority of the Torah world. This was an internal conflict, one which they knew God was also watching. It was a MAJOR gamble, and Korach needed an insurance policy.

If Korach had challenged Moshe on his own, or with a handful of people, then it would have been too easy to squash the rebellion. Instead, Korach buffered himself with 250 high ranking Torah officials, giving weight to his claim and credence to his chutzpah.

Moshe Rabbeinu was Moshe Rabbeinu. He was the greatest prophet to have ever lived, and certainly knew the inner workings of people like Korach. If Korach wanted to play Chess, Moshe was prepared to let him beat himself at his own game.

This is why Moshe Rabbeinu did not play the role of decider. Instead, he turned the decision over to God, making himself just a “spectator.” He turned it into a fight between Korach and his Creator. It put Korach into “Check,” but his gayva—pride—would not allow him to concede the match, and he continued to “play” until his final move. Maybe there was still a way to win.

There wasn’t. The next day when the earth opened up and swallowed Korach and his “insurance policy,” it was “Check” and “Mate.” The day before, Korach had been like every other Levi, meriting to serve in the Mishkan and aiding the Kohanim in their avodah. One day later, he was in the bowels of the earth and out of EVERY job, roasting instead, the Talmud says, like a piece of meat.

That’s what the Talmud says about the Sotah, the adulteress woman, the symbol of anyone who wants more than is theirs. She not only didn’t get what she desired, she also lost what she had: her husband and family, and if guilty, her life. Somehow, in the midst of all her tayva and that of the man with whom she cheated, she felt “entitled” to have what she yearned for.

It is a rule of God’s world. You really can’t have more than your share in this world, which God makes sure a person gets. It can look like a person can get more than his share, because it seems as if many people have. But, if they don’t end up paying for it in this world, which they often do, then they end up paying for it in the eternal world.

This is what the Talmud means when it says:

From here we learn that righteous people value their property more than their own bodies. (Chullin 91a)

This alone is surprising to learn. Righteous people value materialism more than their own welfare? Why? The Talmud’s answer is even more surprising: So they won’t steal.

Really? A righteous person would steal something just because he lost his own? No. A righteous person is concerned that if he loses something and “forces” God to replace it, he will have received more than his Divinely-intended portion. A righteous person considers that a form of theft.

True “God gives and God takes away.” But sometimes we give Him reason to, especially if we pursue that to which we really are NOT entitled. That is a CRUCIAL life lesson, one best learned BEFORE being swallowed up by the earth, or anything else for that matter.

Islamic Insanity and Muslim Madness in the Netherlands

by Daniel Greenfield

On a pleasant Wednesday in Schiedam, a Dutch city near Rotterdam’s sizable Islamic population, a 26-year-old Syrian refugee stood on a balcony waving an axe and shouting, “Allahu Akbar.”

The police arrived at the modernistic dark and gray building, limned in steel and glass, where the nameless Syrian was shouting about the supremacy of his religion and its axe to all others in Schiedam.

The Dutch cops tried to calm him down. Instead he attacked a police dog which later died of its injuries. After some failed attempts at negotiating his surrender, the Syrian was shot in the leg. Paramedics loaded him into one of two yellow ambulances dispatched for the occasion and maneuvering past a police Volvo took him off to be an even bigger burden on the taxpayers of the Netherlands.

Even before murdering a police dog, the Syrian refugee had been in contact with various aid agencies. By the time he’s done being treated, evaluated, counseled, tried, defended, prosecuted and judged, he will have cost the Netherlands enough money to feed an entire Syrian city for a day.

"It is certain that he had no religious motives," Mayor Lamers insisted. "The most important thing is that he first receives the right care, that also applies to his father. As soon as he is recovered, there will probably be a long-term admission to a clinic."

Make that two Syrian cities for a week.

But the most important thing isn’t stopping Allahu akbaring axmen. It’s seeing they get the right care.

"Honesty requires saying that there are more disturbed people walking around in Schiedam," the politician added. "That is why it is good that there is discussion at national level."

There’s a discussion. Just not the right one.

In May, Malek, a Syrian refugee, stabbed three people in The Hague while shouting, “Allahu Akbar.”

The attack happened on Liberation Day when the country commemorates its liberation from murderous thugs who shouted, “Heil Hitler” and celebrates its new occupation by murderous thugs who shout, “Allahu Akbar.”

The Syrian had previously thanked the Dutch people for their hospitality by shouting, “Allahu Akbar,” and throwing pieces of furniture out of the window of his apartment and into the street.

For months, he had terrorized his neighbors with loud Arabic music, “Allahu Akbar” cries and disturbing behavior. The police finally showed up, accompanied by police dogs and riot shields, and he was institutionalized. He was there for six weeks, married another patient, and was back on the street even though while in the hospital, the police had received a tip that he was planning a terrorist attack.

On the loose, Malek cut a man’s throat. He also stabbed two others.

Police shot him in the leg, ruled out terrorism and blamed mental illness. His family is suing the hospital because Dutch taxpayers haven’t paid enough blood money yet.

In December of last year, Saleh Ali, a Syrian refugee wearing a keffiyah and waving a terrorist PLO flag, went up to a Jewish restaurant in Amsterdam, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and began smashing the windows. The police stood by and watched until he was done. And then they arrested him.

Ali admitted to having fought with Jihadists in Syria. So the system decided that he needed a psychiatric evaluation because in the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe, smashing things while shouting, “Allahu Akbar” means that you need to spend some time in a white room talking about your mommy.

All three Syrian Muslim refugees had a habit of shouting, “Allahu Akbar” while doing threatening things in public. All three escalated their habits to violent attacks with weapons. Their violence, anger and threats were treated as signs of mental instability rather than religious fervor. But that may be because the former Calvinist stronghold has become an irreligious society incapable of understanding religion.

Less than a third of the Dutch believe in anything. Only 25% identify as Christian. 5% as Muslim. Only 13% of Catholics believe in the basic elements of Christianity. So the numbers are even smaller.

The vast majority of the younger native population has no concept of religion. So is it any wonder that the “Allahu Akbar” violence of Muslim migrants is met with incomprehension and psychiatry?

The Dutch were once on the front lines of religious wars. They still are today. But the difference is that much of the country no longer recognizes or understands religion.

Recent research claims that 40% of the Syrian refugees in the Netherlands are suffering from mental problems.

Among Dutch people, it tops out at 14%.

Are 40% of Syrian refugees really disturbed or verward, the Dutch term that loosely translates as confused? Or are Europeans unable to process behavior and values different from their own?

In Europe, brandishing an axe while shouting at the entire street would be a sign of mental illness. So would smashing restaurant windows or tossing furniture out of the window into the street.

But Syria isn’t the Netherlands. And the Middle East isn’t Europe.

Public displays of anger and violence are much less aberrant in the Middle East. The values of the burghers of Rotterdam are not those of a Syrian man in his twenties. Nor is their scrupulous lack of conviction in anything more than civility and good behavior a match for his religious convictions.

His cry of, “Allahu Akbar” is not mad, but a threat. He may be a penniless refugee here, but his religion is greater than theirs. And will subsume the tidy precincts of Schiedam, The Hague and Amsterdam.

Integration is not an option. But disintegration is.

78% of Syrians are unemployed and don’t intend to leave. The Dutch government solution is to improve mental health services at refugee centers. That raises the question of just who’s really crazy here?

Meanwhile in another experiment, Syrian refugees are being housed in empty prisons. At least until they commit enough crimes to be sent to an actual prison. Instead of more psychiatric evaluations.

Dutch voters have made it very clear that they don’t want more migrants. And relatively few asylum petitions are being approved. But that just means that Dutch cities are filling up with failed asylum seekers who can’t be deported, who will no longer be subsidized and are ticking time bombs.

If they want to stay, all they have to do is commit a crime and land in one of the famously cushy prisons.

The Netherlands boasts what its defenders call an innovative mental health system. And in its prisons, the inmates are getting keys to their own cells.

Again, who’s crazy here?

Given a choice between having to get a job or shouting, “Allahu Akbar” before taking an axe to a police officer, who is under orders to aim at the feet in the extreme scenario that he has to use his weapon, it’s an easy choice. And more of those Syrian refugees, who won’t be integrating, are making it.

Is it terrorism? Is it gaming the system? Why can’t it be both?

Islamic terrorists have shown a real talent for gaming the system. And gaming the system, like terrorism, is just finding chinks in the armor to exploit. Welfare fraud and suicide bombing are different sides of the same coin. And in Europe, Jihadists have been known to finance their plots with dole money.

Just don’t call it crazy. When 40% of a population group is deemed loopy, that’s not crazy, it’s the new normal.

The Yishai Fleisher Show: The Ideology of Shortcomings

Back from Brooklyn, Long Island and Washington DC! Rabbi Yishai is reunited with Rabbi Mike Feuer to talk about the anti-Moses Jewish rebellion of the Korach faction. Were Korach, Nathan and Aviram self hating Jews or did they have legitimate grips? Then, strap on some Semitic tribes! And finally, Malkah Fleisher joins to discuss the UN's perfidy.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Trump’s Triumphs vs Korach’s Conflicts: Two Sides of the Same Coin


Parashat Korach 5778
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Question: Korach’s punishment is seemingly excessive in proportion to his sin; HaShem saw to it that there would not be even a grave which one could throw stones at; Korach was swallowed up into the bowels of the earth, never to be seen again. In contrast President Trump’s successes are “excessive” in relation to the short time that he has been in office. The US economy is healthy, unemployment is the lowest in many years, Wall Street is sizzling and there is no social unrest to speak of. Why?

Korach undermined the most critical presence of HaShem in this world. As the sole creator of all, He has the immutable right to do with His creations as He wishes, and certainly to mandate a hierarchy from the most primitive biologic entity to the highest spiritual human being.

This hierarchy exists in the upper spiritual world where HaShem created 7 levels of Shamayim (heavens) where the existence of angels is in accordance with their innate ability to grasp HaShem’s essence and is present in this world on a similar basis.

The hierarchy’s foundation is found in the Book of Bereishiet (Genesis). After the flood HaShem arranged the three sons of Noach – the progenitors of the human races – in a particular order according to HaShem’s discretion, as stated in Bereishiet 9,25-27):

כה) ויאמר ארור כנען עבד עבדים יהיה לאחיו:
כו) ויאמר ברוך יקוק אלהי שם ויהי כנען עבד למו:
כז) יפת אלהים ליפת וישכן באהלי שם ויהי כנען עבד למו:

25 And he said: “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem”.
27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Shem.

The lowest status of mankind is relegated to the race of Cham; a higher status was given to the children of Yephet (Japheth) when he is under the influence of Shem, and the superior race of mankind is the descendants of Shem.

HaShem continued to construct His hierarchy as brought in parshat Noach through the generations of Shem until Terach: Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Ever, Peleg, Reu, Nachor, Terach.

Terach’s son, Avram, whose name was later changed by HaShem to Avraham – the father of multitudes (of all humanity), was chosen to be the father of the future Am Yisrael.

HaShem chose Yitzchak, son of Avraham after rejecting Yishmael. Then He chose Ya’akov while rejecting Aisav. From Ya’akov’s 12 sons, the third, Levi was chosen to be the closest to HaShem. From the tribe of Levi, Aharon and his four sons were chosen to be Kohanim who would serve in the most sanctified place in the Mishkan and later in the Bet Hamikdash. From the Kohanim HaShem chose the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, who would enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, which was the “stairway’ to heaven from this world.

(This might seem to be a racist approach to humanity, to claim that the Jews are the chosen race, but in fact the Jews are anything but racist. Race is defined as a category of people whose definition is decided at the moment of birth and cannot be changed. A person of color cannot become white, just as a white cannot become a member of the black race. However, since a gentile can become a Jew through halachic conversion we are not racists.)

When Korach heard from Moshe that from the tribe of Levi, HaShem had chosen Aharon and his sons to be Kohanim and Aharon himself as the Kohen Gadol, Korach objected and claimed that HaShem has no favorites, hence all Jews are equally holy and therefore anyone can serve as a Kohen.

The implications of Korach’s claim was an unravelling of the entire human hierarchy that HaShem had instituted, implying that all men and all races are equal, and when taken to its extreme any human being can be a Kohen to serve HaShem. On the practical level, the thousands of gay marchers in Tel Aviv last Shabbat may claim not only recognition, but acceptance as equals to the most observant talmid chacham, because all men are equal. It is the prelude to United States’ liberalism which advances people not according to their virtues, but according to their minority status. (An unexperienced black woman has more chance of attaining public office than a white male trained public official).

Korach’s claim and its implications were so far reaching and detrimental to HaShem’s agenda that he was banished from all contact with others, dead or alive, so the ideas that he brought forth would never be repeated.

In contrast to Korach, President Trump is succeeding in every effort for only one reason; It’s not his brilliance, nor his personality – It is only HaShem’s blessing on the man who recognizes the uniqueness of the Jewish people, by his loyalty to the Jews in Medinat Yisrael.

The President represents tens of millions of Christian Fundamentalists who recognize that the Creator chose the Jews as His own. And despite the fact that they have a Christian agenda which has to become reality through the Medina and our return to the holy land, it does not matter at this stage in our history. President Trump will continue to succeed as long as he does not betray our Medina.

Two sides of the same coin. One side is recognition that we are HaShem’s chosen people, and the other side is Korach’s rejection.

Conclusion: The most basic principle of Judaism is that HaShem chose the Jewish nation from all other nations or races of humanity. One who rejects this basic principle can be a Jew in name but not in belief.

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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Rav Kook on Parashat Korach: The Secret of the Incense

“Aaron took [the fire-pan] as Moses had told him... He put the incense in it, and it atoned for the people. He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was checked.” (Num. 17:12-13)

From where did Moses learn the secret power of incense to arrest plagues?

The Gift of the Angel of Death

According to the Midrash (Shabbat 89a), when Moses went up to accept the Torah, the angels bestowed him with various presents. “You ascended on high, taking a captive [the Torah], receiving gifts among men” (Psalms 68:19). Even the Angel of Death presented Moses with a gift: the secret of the incense.

What is special about incense that it has the power to stay death? And why not take advantage of this capability to permanently rescind death?

Binding Together All Forces

All forces in the world, even the forces of death and destruction, contribute to the development and perfection of the universe. When all the realms and their forces, both spiritual and physical, draw together, each one provides a unique function. From this standpoint, the force of death also serves as a force of life.

The unique character of the incense reflects this message of harmony and inter-connectivity. The Hebrew word for incense, ketoret, is related to the word kesher, meaning a ‘bind’ or ‘knot.’ The incense unites together the core essence of all forces - life, matter, and spirit - according to the extraordinary recipe that God prescribed in the Torah.

The ability to overcome destructive forces, at a time when they rule freely and have not yet been converted into constructive and preserving forces, was an exceptional phenomenon. This hidden knowledge was granted only to Moses. This gift from the Angel of Death demonstrated the surrender of the forces of death to the pure splendor illuminating that faithful messenger, as he revealed the light of the Torah of life.

What is the root of the incense’s secret power? The ketoret also encompasses the forces of destruction, so that they may contribute to building and perfecting the universe. Thus, we find that the ketoret bound together many fragrances, including galbanum (chelbenah), which was an essential ingredient, despite its pungent, unpleasant odor. In this way, these forces fulfill their ultimate purpose, to build and complete. True realization of this transformation, however, will only occur in the distant future, as the path for sweetening the bitterness of the universe is hidden deeply within the divine secrets of Creation.

Only as a temporary measure for the need of that hour, the harmonious quality of the incense was able to stay the power of death. The secret given to Moses demonstrated the comprehensiveness of the Torah, and the unique splendor of those who study Torah - the source of peace, life, and rectification for all worlds and their myriad inhabitants.

Moshe Feiglin Sums Up Trump-Kim Summit

To sum it all up:

1. A peace-pursuing president with a saxophone, bad for Israel and beloved by Hollywood, who signed an “historic” agreement and turned North Korea into a nuclear threat.

2. A pro-Islamic president, who hates Israel and is worshipped by Hollywood, signed an “historic” agreement with Iran, received a Nobel peace prize and almost turned the entire Middle East into one big nuclear threat.

3. A brash president, good to Israel, detested by Hollywood, who cleans up after both of them and possibly saves the world from going up in a nuclear mushroom cloud.

Stop Talking and Start Moving

by Moshe Feiglin

Israel’s government ministers would be well-advised to express their loyalty to Jerusalem by moving their offices to the eastern side of the city. When the body language of Israel’s government will fit its bombastic declarations, and all the government offices will overlook the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives, for example, there will be no question as to where the next Eurovision or international basketball game will take place.

Telling the Honest Truth in Be’er Sheva

It began with yelling.
“You are racists! You are occupiers!” “You shoot everyone!”
The guy looked very Israeli. He was not Jewish. An Arab or Bedouin.
Who do you mean when you say, “you”? I asked him.
“You! You!” he shouted at me.
“What about me?” I asked. “Tell me what is bothering you.”
“Ummm… You don’t speak respectfully!” he yelled.
“Can you give an example?”
“10 examples!”
“One is enough…”
Of course, I didn’t get any examples. He was just yelling, so I began my very successful stroll through the Be’er Sheva marketplace, meeting many tried and true Likudniks who will be voting Zehut next time around.
When I returned to our Zehut stand, the yelling was even louder.
“I am the only person who respects you,” I turned to him.
“Do you know how I respect you?”
“Because I am the only person telling you the truth. Do you want to hear the truth?”
“The truth is that this entire Land, every place that you step, from Be’er Sheva to Gaza, from Tel Aviv to Hebron – the entire Land – belongs to the Jews exclusively and not to any other nation. This is the Land of Israel, not the land of Ismail. If you accept that, you are invited to stay with us, with all the human rights that you would never get in an Arab state. But if you are not willing to accept that, you will ultimately be thrown out of here.”
“And who will throw me out?”
“I will.”
“I don’t agree with one word of what you said,” he said to me. “But I respect you.”
“Okay, time for a selfie”.

Moshe Feiglin Speaks at Rally to Return Fallen Soldiers’ Bodies from Gaza

“Quiet is slime,” said Ze’ev Jabotinsky. I repeated those words on Friday at a rally to return the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul from Gaza. The government’s attempt to preserve “the quiet” has become its strategy. In the name of “quiet”, we are not dealing with the incendiary terror kites, which have already burned thousands of dunams of land in southern Israel. In order to preserve “the quiet” we do not eliminate Hamas chief Ismail Haniyah. I thanked the Goldin family for not living in peace with the quiet – and for keeping up the noise.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Taking Versus Giving

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

This week’s parashah begins, “Korach took” (Numbers 16:1). Korach’s whole interest in life was in taking. He yearned to take the leadership away from Moses and Aaron. His legendary wealth was the result of taking. He pursued honor and desired to take it away from others, as reflected in his telling Moses and Aaron, “You have gone too far” (16:3), interpreted by Rashi as meaning: “You have taken far too much greatness for yourselves.”

He generated controversies -- built upon insincere motives -- within the Jewish People, and these controversies brought tragedy upon himself, his family and his company: “The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses, along with all the men who were with Korach and their property” (16:32).

Moses, as opposed to Korach, was the embodiment of the trait of giving: “I did not take a single donkey from them” (16:16). He was humble, “more so than any man on the face of the earth” (13:3). When G-d sent him to lead Israel in their exodus from Egypt, Moses argued, “I beg you, O G-d, I am not a man of words... I find it difficult to speak and find the right language” (Exodus 4:10). Moses fled from honor, hence honor pursued him.

Right now, we must learn a lesson from the tragedy of Korach and his company. We must not be guided by selfish self-interest either on the personal or national level. Materialism must not stand at the center of our lives, since it leads to the moral breakdown of the individual and the community. Quite the contrary, we must yearn for and educate towards giving, towards altruism and morality, towards benefiting our fellow man, loving him and developing friendship with him.

It is true that we live in a materialistic generation: As Rav Kook wrote: “We have a tradition that spiritual rebellion will surface in Eretz Yisrael and among the Jewish People at large at the onset of their national rebirth. The material complacence which will beset part of the nation, thinking that they have already arrived at their final destination, will make them less spiritual... The longing for lofty, holy ideals will cease, and spirituality will automatically decline and wane” (Orot, page 94).

Yet the day is not far off when a revolution will transpire in the form of a great movement of repentance which will revive the nation and bring redemption to them and to the whole world. This will be the sort of repentance which stems “from the holy spirit which will proliferate then” (Ibid.). Through this, we will merit with our own eyes to see “a new light shining over Zion” (morning prayers).

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Chodesh Tov,
Shabbat Shalom.

They ... Descended Alive to the Pit

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

There is a very strange phenomenon in our parsha. Moshe Rabbeinu loved Am Yisrael deeply, and beseeched on their behalf many times, even to the point of foregoing his share in Olam Haba at the sin of the golden calf -- "If not, erase me now from Your book that You have written" (Shemot 32:32), which the Zohar explains as Olam Haba. Why was he so extreme in his punishment of Korach, seeking for him a death that did not exist before? "If Hashem will create a new creation, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them and all that is theirs, and they will descend alive to the pit -- then you shall know that these men have provoked Hashem." (Bamidbar 16:30) If Moshe had said that a snake should bite them, or that a fire should come forth from heaven and burn them, this would have provided the same proof that G-d sent him and that they are the disproven!

Rav Goren zt"l provides a novel interpretation of this strange phenomenon. The families of Kehat were appointed over the vessels of the Mishkan. "Their charge was the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Altars and the sacred utensils." (3:31) Midrash Tanchuma teaches that Korach was among the bearers of the Ark, and there was a special prohibition not to cause them death, "Do not let the tribe of the Kehati families be cut off from among the Levites. Thus you shall do for them so that they shall live and not die: when they approach the Holy of Holies..." (4:18-19) It says about this in the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 5:1):

This is what it says, "Behold the eye of Hashem is on those who fear Him ... to rescue them from death." (Tehillim 33:18:19) This is the tribe of Levi.

R. Elazar b. Pedat says: From what death are they saved? If from death of the world -- there is no being that doesn't die. Rather, from the death of the Ark. How so? At the time when Israel would travel, two sparks of fire would come out from the two poles of the Ark to strike the enemies ... and when the sparks would come out, the fire would knock those who bear the Ark and they would be burned and their numbers reduced ... Each and every one would run. This one would take the Table; this one would take the Menorah; this one would take the Altars; but they would avoid the Ark, since it would harm them...

G-d said to Moshe and to Aharon: Do something for the children of Kehat so that they will not be cut off from the world: "Thus you shall do for them so that they shall live and not die." (4:19)

Thus, Moshe and Aharon were especially commanded to look out for the lives of the descendents of Kehat, and were warned in this regard with a positive and negative commandment: "Do not let the tribe of the Kehati families be cut off from among the Levites;" "Thus shall you do for them so that they shall live and not die."

Accordingly, Moshe was forbidden to ask for the death of the children of Korach, the bearers of the Ark, in any form, because then he would violate the special commandment, "so that they shall ... not die." There was no death with which to kill them, because Moshe and Aharon were commanded to look out for their lives. Therefore there was a special request, "the earth opens its mouth and swallows them and all that is theirs, and they will descend alive to the pit," without dying.

This is, indeed, what happened. "The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them ... They and all that was theirs descended alive to the pit; the earth covered them over and they were lost from among the congregation." (16:32-33) The goal was not that they should die, but that they should be lost from the congregation. Therefore the Torah emphasizes, "The sons of Korach did not die." (26:11)

The Chassidic Masters say that Moshe asked that they should go down alive out of his mercy, so that during their fall they would have the opportunity to repent. This, indeed, is what happened: "They contemplated Teshuva in their hearts, and therefore a place was fortified for them in Gehenom and they sat on it and sang." (Sanhedrin 110a)