Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Matot 5776: Unexpected Agents of HaShem

Parashat Matot 5776
HaRav Nachman Kahana

Unexpected agents of HaShem

Megilat Esther 3,10:

ויסר המלך את טבעתו מעל ידו ויתנה להמן בן המדתא האגגי צרר היהודים:
And the king (Achashverosh) removed his ring from his finger and presented it to Haman son of Hamdata, descendant of king Agag (the Amaleki) nemeses of the Jews.

The Gemara (Megila 14a) records a conclusion drawn by Rabbi Abba bar Kahana from this pasuk:

גדולה הסרת טבעת יותר מארבעים ושמונה נביאים ושבע נביאות שנתנבאו להן לישראל, שכולן לא החזירום למוטב, ואילו הסרת הטבעת החזירתן למוטב.
The ring’s removal was more effective in drawing the Jews to do tshuva than the 48 prophets and 7 prophetesses who prophesied to the Jewish nation; none of the prophets succeeded in influencing them to do tshuva, whereas the ring’s removal moved the Jews to do tshuva.

A phrase that frequently appears in our Torah sources:

הרבה שלוחים למקום
HaShem has many agents (to do his bidding)

The phrase is usually cited to point out an unexpected, inappropriate, even evil person who unknowingly and by his own free will served as HaShem’s agent to influence Jewish history. Beginning with Nimrod who threw Avraham and his belief in HaShem into a furnace, on to Paro of Egypt and to Haman whose authority was vested upon him when receiving the King’s ring.

Just as the 55 prophets sent by HaShem did not succeed in restoring the Jews of their times to the Torah way of life, whereas Haman did motivate the Jews to do tshuva, so too in our time we have witnessed unexpected agents of HaShem who have brought us to our senses.

Were it not for Hitler, the German nation and the Shoah, there would not be today a Medinat Yisrael, because the Jewish people were not interested in establishing one; neither the majority of spiritual leaders, nor the rank and file of world Jewry. The Shoah created a situation where close to 2 million Jews in post war Europe and in Arab lands had nowhere to go. The Shoah proved to many Jews that there is no future for us in the galut, and for one instant at Lake Success on the 29th of November, 1947, two thirds of the member states of the UN were gripped with compassion for the down-trodden Jewish nation.

The millions of Moslems in Europe today are playing the role of HaShem’s unwitting agents in bringing European Jewry home. Many will come home, but most will settle in the UK, Canada or any of the other great Jewish havens in the galut.

What about the Jews in the United States, who will show them the way home?

Mr. Donald Trump has a message which could make him, his daughter and son-in-law benevolent agents for aliya of American Jewry. Their message should resonate with the Jews there.

Mr. Trump believes and says: “Globalization – No! America – Yes!” The American people have to strive for what is good for America and not carry the entire free world on their backs. Make America great again – rebuild the diminished army, strengthen homeland security, reconstruction of the outdated infrastructure and distancing of internal potential enemies.

Those in the American rabbinate who have not yet sold their souls to the seduction and temptation of American comforts and who really believe in the Torah can use Mr. Trump’s message to save whatever can yet be saved of the vanishing Jews of the US.

The message is “Galutization – No!  Eretz Yisrael – Yes!”

Whosoever has a spark of Yiddishkeit left in him, come forward to make Eretz Yisrael great again as it was in the time of King David, Solomon and the Maccabim. Strengthen the Jewish army, enhance home security, infrastructure building, distancing of our internal enemies and universal compulsory Torah study.

Mr. Trump’s message could be HaShem’s last wake-up call to American Jewry to come home before they will no longer be able to do so. “Make Israel Great” means to live in the Land. To feel its hallowed soil under your feet. To smell the beautiful aroma of Yerushalayim. To become part of the eternal bond that unites your brother and sister Jews from 100 different lands, despite our differences which are hugely out-weighed by what we have in common.

As far as the US election is concerned: no one knows what the outcome will be, but I pray “may the best man win”.

Whoever is Closer to the Land

In Devarim chapter 8 Moshe describes the richness and blessing of the Holy Land. Verse 8 states:

ארץ חטה ושערה וגפן ותאנה ורמון ארץ זית שמן ודבש:
Land of (1) wheat and (2) barley and (3) grapevines and (4) fig trees (5) and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and date honey.

The Gemara (Brachot 41,a) establishes two halachic principles regarding the preferential order of reciting a brachot (blessings):

כל המוקדם בפסוק זה מוקדם לברכה, שנאמר: ארץ חטה ושעורה וגפן ותאנה ורמון ארץ זית שמן ודבש.
1- the product (fruit) which is mentioned earlier in the verse has precedent in the bracha over a product which is mentioned after it, i.e. the bracha over wheat precedes the bracha over barley.
2- The critical factors in the verse are the two words “Land”, meaning: despite the fact that date honey appears last in the verse its blessing precedes that over grapes, because grapes appear third after the word “land” whereas date honey appears second after the second word “land”.

There is a profound principle underlying this halacha that reflects far and beyond the matter of blessings. Simply stated: whoever is closer to the “Land” is closer to God and closer to HaShem’s blessings.

No more need be said.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5776/2016 Nachman Kahana

Is Europe Helpless?

A civilization that believes in nothing will ultimately submit to anything.

By Bret Stephens, WSJ
At last count, members of the European Union spent more than $200 billion a year on defense, fielded more than 2,000 jet fighters and 500 naval ships, and employed some 1.4 million military personnel. More than a million police officers also walk Europe’s streets. Yet in the face of an Islamist menace the Continent seems helpless. Is it?
Was France helpless in May 1940?
Let’s stipulate that a van barreling down a seaside promenade isn’t a Panzer division, and that a few thousand ISIS fighters scattered from Mosul to Marseilles aren’t another Wehrmacht. But as in France in 1940, Europe today displays the same combination of doctrinal rigidity and loss of will that allowed an Allied army of 144 divisions to be routed by the Germans in six weeks. The Maginot Line of “European values” won’t prevail over people who recognize none of those values.
So much was made clear by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who remarked after the Nice attack that “France is going to have to live with terrorism.” This may have been intended as a statement of fact but it came across as an admission that his government isn’t about to rally the public to a campaign of blood, toil, tears and sweat against ISIS—another premature capitulation in a country that has known them before.
Mr. Valls was later booed at a memorial service for the Nice victims. It would be heartening to think this was because he and his boss, President François Hollande, have failed to forge a strategy to destroy ISIS. But the public’s objection was that there hadn’t been enough cops along the Promenade des Anglais to stop the attack. In soccer terms, it’s a complaint about the failure of defense, not the lack of a proper offense.
Then there is Germany, site of three terror attacks in a week. It seems almost like a past epoch that Germans welcomed a million Middle Eastern migrants in an ecstasy of moral self-congratulation, led by Angela Merkel’s chant of “We can do it!” Last summer’s slogan now sounds as dated and hollow as Barack Obama’s “Yes we can!”
Now Germany will have to confront a terror threat that will make the Baader-Meinhof gang of the 1970s seem trivial. The German state is stronger and smarter than the French one, but it also surrenders more easily to moral intimidation. The idea of national self-preservation at all costs will always be debatable in a country seeking to expiate an inexpiatable sin.
Thus the question of whether Europe is helpless. At its 1980s peak, under François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl, the European project combined German economic strength and French confidence in power politics. Today, it mixes French political weakness with German moral solipsism. This is a formula for rapid civilizational decline, however many economic or military resources the EU may have at its disposal.
Can the decline be stopped? Yes, but that would require a great unlearning of the political mythologies on which modern Europe was built.
Among those mythologies: that the European Union is the result of a postwar moral commitment to peace; that Christianity is of merely historical importance to European identity; that there’s no such thing as a military solution; that one’s country isn’t worth fighting for; that honor is atavistic and tolerance is the supreme value. People who believe in nothing, including themselves, will ultimately submit to anything.
The alternative is a recognition that Europe’s long peace depended on the presence of American military power, and that the retreat of that power will require Europeans to defend themselves. Europe will also have to figure out how to apply power not symbolically, as it now does, but strategically, in pursuit of difficult objectives. That could start with the destruction of ISIS in Libya.
More important, Europeans will have to learn that powerlessness can be as corrupting as power—and much more dangerous. The storm of terror that is descending on Europe will not end in some new politics of inclusion, community outreach, more foreign aid or one of Mrs. Merkel’s diplomatic Rube Goldbergs. It will end in rivers of blood. Theirs or yours?
In all this, the best guide to how Europe can find its way to safety is the country it has spent the best part of the last 50 years lecturing and vilifying: Israel. For now, it’s the only country in the West that refuses to risk the safety of its citizens on someone else’s notion of human rights or altar of peace.
Europeans will no doubt look to Israel for tactical tips in the battle against terrorism—crowd management techniques and so on—but what they really need to learn from the Jewish state is the moral lesson. Namely, that identity can be a great preserver of liberty, and that free societies cannot survive through progressive accommodations to barbarians.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why is Israel Chained to the Diplomatic Process

By Moshe Feiglin
We are used to thinking that the goal of the State of Israel is to achieve peace and that the problems our state faces are security, demographics, Palestinian nationalism, international pressure and economics.

But “peace” cannot be the defined goal of a state. Peace is the result of the proper definition and achievement of the goal. If peace were the goal, it would be easier to achieve it in another place, by surrendering our sovereignty, or by assimilation.

‘Security’ is not really the problem. The more that we progress in the ‘peace process’, the more that the security situation deteriorates. Buses and restaurants blown up by Islamic suicide bombers and missiles slamming into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were unheard of before the ‘peace process’. Years of experience have shown us that any quest for security should distance us from all diplomatic processes. So if we continue to sacrifice our families and friends ‘for the sake of ‘peace’, our problem is not ‘security’.

‘Demography’ is no longer the problem, either. The average Tel Aviv woman has as many children as her neighbor in Ramallah. According to the American/Israeli Demographic Institute the Jewish majority between the Jordan and the Sea – including the Arabs of Judea and Samaria - is expected to reach 80% in the next twenty years. National upheavals like those in the Middle East and Ukraine can certainly speed up the process – all without ‘peace talks’.

The “Palestinian” nationalism problem was an artificially created reaction to Zionism. There is no “Palestinian” problem in any of the lands in which there is Arab sovereignty: Jordan, Egypt, Syira or Lebanon. At the moment that Israel would G-d forbid disappear from the map, “Palestinian” Nationalism would disappear, as well.

“The goal of the Jews in the Land of Israel is to establish a Jewish state there. The goal of the Arabs in the Land of Israel is to prevent the Jews from doing so.” (British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, pinpointing the foundation of the conflict in a speech before the UN, 1947). Not much has changed since Bevin’s succinct explanation. There really is no “Palestinian” nationalism. There is the Arab nation, which does not accept Jewish sovereignty over Israel. This is also the reason why a “Palestinian” state has not yet been established and never will be established - despite the fact that no other group has ever received more international aid to create their potential state. The ‘Palestinians’ simply do not want a state. All they want is to prevent Israel from having a sovereign state.

‘International pressure’ is not the problem, as it always increases when Israel enters a diplomatic process. The economic boycott of Israel was largely an Arab boycott before Israel recognized the existence of the “Palestinian” nation and its rights to Israel’s heartland. But since the Oslo process, it has become a largely European boycott of Israeli products. Before the Oslo Accords, a large question mark hovered over the legitimacy of the PLO and its leaders. No such question mark hovered over the right of the Jews to their own state. Today, after twenty years of ‘diplomatic process’, the situation has reversed. We recognize them, but they do not recognize us and the world does not require them to do so. In other words, international pressure is exacerbated by the diplomatic process and cannot be used as an excuse to engage in it.

The diplomatic process does not solve the ‘economic’ problem, either. On the contrary: The Oslo Accords siphon off 10.5% of the national budget every year. They have cost Israel over one trillion (1,000,000,000) shekels since they were signed, not including items that cannot be calculated, such as the influence of the process on the cost of housing. Israel’s economic success is not in the merit of the diplomatic process, but despite it.

So if it is not ‘peace’, not ‘security’, not ‘demographics’, not ‘Palestinian nationalism’ not ‘diplomatic pressure’ and not the economy – why is Israel constantly pursuing a diplomatic process? The true and deep answer is that we seek legitimacy for our Israeli identity. This is explained by none other than the architect of the Oslo process, Dr. Ron Pundak:

“Peace is not a goal in and of itself. It is the means to bring Israel from one era to the next; to the era that I consider the era of the normal state. ‘Israelization’ of society instead of its ‘Judaization’ will foster the synthesis of Jewish nationalism, flourishing of Israeli culture, separation of religion and state and complete equality for the Arab minority in Israel.” (Ron Pundak, Jan. ’14)

Simply put, we strive for Israeli-ness instead of Jewishness. As long as our neighbors fight us and do not accept this new Israeli-ness as legitimate, we are thrown again and again to the Jewish-ness from which we started (and fled). That is why we desperately need a peace accord with the Arabs. Not because of security or demographics. We need an agreement with the Arabs at all costs in order to fulfill the dream of Israeli normalcy. The Israeli needs the Arab in order to forget that he is a Jew.

Thousands of victims of terror, surrender of vast tracts of our Homeland, the uprooting of settlements and their residents, missiles in Tel Aviv, loss of our existential legitimacy, loss of more than 10% of our national budget annually and much more damage –Dr. Pundak admits, are not the price of ‘peace’ nor the solution for the ‘demographic problem’. They are the price that we must pay for the internal conflict over the identity of the State of Israel.

Israel Deserves Better

By Yleem D.S. Poblete

  • The German intelligence service recently reported many clandestine Iranian attempts to obtain dual-use chemical, biological and nuclear technology.
  • In the Iran nuclear deal, the parties decided to engage "in different areas of civil nuclear co-operation," including construction and modernization of Iranian light water reactors, provision of technical assistance and on-the-job training. Meanwhile, Israel has been denied a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement with the US.
  • Israel's reported MOU requests on security assistance, missile defense, and regional qualitative military advantage are justified.
  • The terms of any U.S.-Israel agreement must withstand comparison to the concessions offered Iran in the JCPOA and show unequivocally that Israel, a trusted ally and major strategic partner, fared better in negotiations than an unconstrained enemy.
Israel is a major strategic partner, as declared in the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, enacted on December 19, 2014. The new law laid the foundation for expanded bilateral cooperation in a wide variety of spheres including defense, intelligence, and homeland- and cyber-security. Above, Israeli PM Netanyahu meets President Obama at the White House, May 20, 2011. (Image source: Israel PM office)
The one-year anniversary of the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Western powers and Iran focused public attention on the regime's activities and Obama Administration policies and actions regarding this avowed enemy. Virtually unnoticed, despite the linkage to Iran-related developments, were reports that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is being pressured to set aside reservations and accept the terms the White House is offering for the Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S.
As recent developments show, such an acquiescence would be mistake. There is cause for concern.

Islamism Rises from Europe's Secularism

By Giulio Meotti 

  • In France, the Socialist government imposed a "secularism charter" in every school, banning Christianity from the educational system. Municipalities have already changed the enrollment form for schoolchildren by eliminating the words "father" and "mother", replacing them with "legal manager 1" and "legal manager 2". It is George Orwell's "Newspeak".
  • After two major terror attacks in 2015, France, instead of promoting a cultural "jihad" based on Western values, responded to Islamic fundamentalism with a ridiculous "Day of Secularism" to be celebrated every 9th of December.
  • This narrow secularism has also prevented France from openly supporting Eastern Christians under Islamist oppression.
  • The empty 13th century Oude Kerk church in Amsterdam is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is "Sexyland", offering "Live F*ck Shows", a coffee shop for drugs and an "Erotic Supermarket" for dildos. For seven euros one can also visit the church.
The symbol of Euro-Secularism is the 13th century Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. The empty church is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is "Sexyland", offering "Live F*ck Shows", a coffee shop for drugs and an "Erotic Supermarket" for dildos. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
On October 2000, in the sunny French city of Nice, the 105-member European Convention drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Drawn up by the committee of former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the document only referred to the "cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe". The European Parliament had rejected a proposal from Christian Democrat MEPs and Pope John Paul II, to include in the text Europe's "Judaeo-Christian roots".
In the 75,000-word Charter there is not a single mention of Christianity. Since then, a wind of aggressive secularism has pervaded all EU policies. The European Court of Human Rights, for example, asked to remove crucifixes from classrooms: they were allegedly a threat to democracy.

Monday, July 25, 2016

France: After the Third Jihadist Attack

By Guy Millière

  • Successive French governments have built a trap; the French people, who are in it, are thinking only of how to escape. The situation is more serious than many imagine. Whole areas of France are under the control of gangs and radical imams.
  • Prime Minister Manuel Valls repeated what he already said 18 months ago: "France is at war." He named an enemy, "radical Islamism," but he was quick to add that "radical Islamism" has "nothing to do with Islam." He then repeated that the French will have to get used to living with "violence and attacks."
  • The French are increasingly tired of attempts to exonerate Islam. They know perfectly well that all Muslims are not guilty. But they also know that all those who committed attacks in France in recent years were Muslims. The French have no desire to get used to "violence and attacks." They do not want to be on the losing side and they feel that we are losing.
The French army is at the limit of its capacity for action: it already patrols the streets of France and is deployed in Africa and the Middle East. Pictured above: French soldiers guard a Jewish school in Strasbourg, February 2015. (Image source: Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons)
Nice, July 14, 2016: Bastille Day. The evening festivities were ending. As the crowd watching fireworks was beginning to disperse, the driver of a 19-ton truck, zig-zagging, mowed down everyone in his way. Ten minutes and 84 dead persons later, the driver was shot and killed. Dozens were wounded; many will be crippled for life. Dazed survivors wandered the streets of the city for hours.
French television news anchors quickly said that what happened was almost certainly an "accident," or when the French authorities started to speak of terrorism, that the driver could just be a madman. When the police disclosed the killer's name and identity, and that he had been depressed in the past, they suggested that he had acted in a moment of "high anxiety." They found witnesses who testified that he was "not a devout Muslim" -- maybe not a Muslim at all.
President François Hollande spoke a few hours later and affirmed his determination to "protect the populace."

The Beauty of Israel

By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Our Sages taught us (Kiddushin 49b) that “ten measures of wisdom descended to the world; the Land of Israel took nine, and the rest of the world took one. Ten measures of beauty descended to the world; Yerushalayim took nine and the rest of the world took one.” Other nations have a disproportionate share of wealth, poverty, arrogance, and might – all as the Creator saw fit to apportion.

Certainly faithful Jews accept the words of our Sages without question or hesitation, even if the notion of the pervasive wisdom in the land of Israel is not always obvious at first glance. Indeed, things happen here daily that cast doubt on that dictum. Even the beauty of Yerushalayim is not always apparent, unless the dictum refers to spiritual beauty, which it probably does.

Without being too brazen, I would edit the words of the Sages as follows: “Ten measures of beauty descended to the world; the Land of Israel took nine and the rest of the world took one.”

That seems about right.

There are many beautiful places across the globe, scenes of the majesty of nature, locations of such astonishing splendor that they serve as testimony to our Sages’ comment (Berachot 10a) “there is no Artist like our G-d.” I have been fortunate to visit many of them and even recite the blessing that acknowledges G-d “who made the works of creation.” I hope to visit others. But the Land of Israel is unique in the sheer number of stunning vistas that are compacted into what is, after all, a relative tiny country, barely the size of New Jersey.

I thought of this while gazing at three particular sites. To look out at the Mediterranean Sea as the sun is setting is to glimpse eternity, serenity and the infinite wonders of G-d’s world. The sea does not stop; it is as if there is nothing beyond it. It is exquisite in its tranquility. All the worries of life, all the turmoil around the globe –even in some of the countries that border on the Mediterranean – fade into nothingness. The Mediterranean, dubbed by our Sages the “Great Sea” because it borders the Land of Israel, has seen so much history and been at the center of civilization. Yet, its peace is undisturbed.

We spent two days in Mitzpe Ramon that overlooks the Machtesh Ramon, the Ramon Crater, Israel’s version of the Grand Canyon. (Yes, I know it is not technically a crater.) It was formed not by the impact of a meteorite or a volcanic eruption but by the receding of the ocean waters that once covered the Negev and receded during the third “day” of creation when G-d separated between the waters and formed dry land. It was essentially untouched since then, giving rise to rock formations of dazzling colors – and right in the middle of the desert. The canyon, the cliffs, the stark beauty of the hills and valleys all engender a profound sense of humility in the person who happens upon it. “A generation comes and a generation goes, but the earth endures forever” (Kohelet 1:4). That earth, that endures forever, is on spectacular display in Machtesh Ramon.

Just a few kilometers north of the town (which is less than 20 miles from the Sinai border) is the Kerem Ramon, the Ramon Vineyard, one of the largest vineyards in Israel. It encompasses hundreds of acres – and smack in the middle of the desert. The pioneers of early Israel vowed to make the desert bloom, in the famous cliché, and they largely succeeded. And here, modern pioneers, graduates of the Yeshivat Hesder in Mitzpe Ramon, have done it again. Across the street, literally, is desert, untended brown earth that has been barren for millennia. In the near horizon the mountains of the desert loom large, austere and forbidding in appearance. And that is what this vineyard looked like just a few years ago – bleak, brown earth – until faithful Jews acted on G-d’s promise to the Jews who would return to Israel after a long and bitter exile: “For G-d will comfort Zion and console all its ruins. He will turn its desert into Eden, and its dry places like G-d’s garden” (Yeshayahu 51:3). Indeed.

Perhaps the most striking feature that comprises the beauty of the land of Israel is the eye-catching array of colors. The blue of the sea and the blue of the sky; the greenery of the fields and the blue of the sky; the oases in the desert – the lush greenery set off against the austere brown - that offer  hope and suggest limitless possibilities. It is a panoply of rich and vibrant colors that bring nature, and the human imagination, to life, and invariably to appreciation for the handiwork of the Creator.

When I was a teenager, a Rebbe assigned our class a project in tefila (prayer). Each student was asked to choose a verse from the prayers and depict that verse in pictures. I chose a verse from Hallel: “The heavens are the heavens for G-d and the earth was given to man” (Tehillim 115:16). My pictures contrasted G-d’s domain with that of man and compiled them for my project. “The heavens are the heavens for G-d” – the azure sky with tufts of clouds lazily ambling about, the infinity of space where all is calm and peaceful, the sunsets that fill us with awe. “And the earth was given to man” – scenes of violence, terror, war and hatred (even then!). Scenes of the brutality of man to his fellow man that seemingly has no limits, no boundaries, and no end. Scenes of vulgarity and coarseness that belie the image of G-d with which every human being is endowed.

Of course, the Rebbe told me that I misconstrued the verse, which is just as well, but nonetheless. When will the beauty of the natural world – especially of the Land of Israel – be appreciated by mankind enough to call a halt to man’s volcanic eruptions of hatred, anger and violence?

Perhaps when, despite my emendation above, the Land of Israel also reclaims the nine measures of wisdom with which it was blessed and shares its conclusions with willing listeners across the world. Then the beauty above will be matched by beauty below as well and He who has made peace in the heavens will bring peace upon us, all Israel and His troubled world.

Europe is not Israel - Israel HaYom

“France must live with terrorism,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after the massive terrorist ‎attack in Nice last week. Understandably, his statement infuriated the French, who took to social ‎media to express their opprobrium.‎

And French President Francois Hollande, sounding almost as if he was being forced to speak, said, “We cannot deny that it was a terrorist ‎attack.”‎

After the massive Islamic State attacks in Paris in November 2015, political leaders proclaimed ‎themselves “shocked.” Whether this shock was feigned or genuine, at least they made a point, pitiful ‎as it was, of pretending that these massive terrorist attacks were something extraordinary that did not ‎have a habitual place in Europe.

Valls’ resigned declaration of tired surrender after the Nice attack, on the other hand, ‎amounts to the waving of a white flag in submission to the jihadis and is an indication that France ‎has little will to fight.‎

Valls and Hollande sounded like bewildered children at the helm of a ship that they are too ‎clueless to navigate. Imagine Winston Churchill declaring, “Britain must live with ‎Nazism.” ‎

Under its current government, France has busied itself with meddling in Israeli affairs ‎and organizing Middle East peace conferences, instead of spending every waking moment ensuring ‎the proper protection of its own population. It is not ready to fight against the jihad that has been ‎launched against it.

One major factor in this is that its elites blame France.‎ French Ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud, for example, wrote on Twitter: “Why is France ‎targeted? History (former colonial power), geography (proximity), first Muslim community of Arab ‎origin sensitive to M.E. issues.”‎

In other words: Colonialism and Middle Eastern “issues” — a diplomatic euphemism for the Israeli-Arab conflict — ‎are to blame, not the Muslims who commit the atrocities and certainly not Islam. A ‎Twitter user from India responded to Araud: “We Indians have been colonized by all European powers ‎including your country. Ever heard of Indian terrorists? Shame on you.” Indeed.‎
One of the best indicators of how massive terrorist attacks have become the “new normal” is the financial markets, famously and hysterically sensitive as they are. One ‎observer concluded after the Nice attack, “Gold is down and the euro is up. Financial markets ‎don’t care because it’s no longer an extraordinary event. Even European travel stocks and French hotel ‎stocks are only down a couple of percent. Because continued terror attacks for years are already ‘priced ‎in.’ According to the stock market, France has now become Israel.”‎

The sentiment that France and Europe have “now become Israel” has become something of a trend on ‎social media in the wake of Nice. But it is very far from the truth.‎

Europe is a dying continent, one that is walking toward its own cultural suicide with eyes wide shut. ‎In Europe, self-loathing began to gain ground over most traditional Judeo-Christian ‎values as long as a century ago. We see the results of that long process today: Official Europe does not ‎believe in anything. The main European project in recent history has as its goal only a vague ‎multiculturalism and the working toward “an ever closer union,” a self-referential and self-serving ‎empty shell of a vision. Ostensibly, the EU was meant to prevent future wars in Europe, but while ‎Europe has lost its taste for war, war — now in jihad style — has not lost interest in ‎Europe. The problem is that Europe cannot fight jihadis — people who believe so strongly in their ‎cause that they will die for it — if it believes in nothing, least of all the legitimacy of its own fight against ‎them. This will not change, regardless how many reservist forces France now calls up to help ‎protect the country. The fight becomes especially tricky, tragicomically so, when it is fought while ‎intensely fearing the causing of any offense.‎

In contrast, Israel is a vibrant place of almost endless faith. Not just in the traditional and religious ‎sense but a general and secular faith in the worth and the future of the country pervades Israeli ‎society. Israel believes in itself and is more than willing to fight for itself, and this belief manifests itself in ‎myriad ways, not only in its military prowess and in the countless innovations for which it has become ‎so famous, but in its celebrations of its Jewish past, present and future at every given ‎opportunity. It is also evident in the high birth rate in the country, while Europeans are not having enough children to maintain their own populations.

Israel may be located in a neighborhood that is full of enemies and terrorists, but Israel is also ‎committed to dealing with those security issues, whatever it takes. Israel is here to stay, ‎and Israelis are determined to keep it that way, never even contemplating resigning themselves to whatever ‎malignant plans others may have in store for them.‎

No, Europe is not Israel. Not even close.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

Palestinian Demographic Manipulation

By Ambassador (ret) Yoram Ettinger

The July 11, 2016 statistics, published by the Palestinian Authority - claiming that Jews are a minority west of the Jordan River – is a classic case of “lies, damn lies and statistics.” This practice – which manipulates statistics in order to misrepresent reality and mislead observers - has been employed, deliberately and systematically, by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), despite a powerful Jewish demographic tailwind and a rapid Westernization of Muslim demography west of the Jordan River, and throughout the Muslim World other than the Sub-Sahara region.

The misuse of statistics, by the Palestinian Authority, has afflicted Israel and its supporters with unwarranted demographic pessimism/fatalism. The aim has been to cajole Israeli policy-makers into a false assumption that conceding the Jewish geography of the over-towering mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, is a prerequisite to securing Jewish demography.

In spite of Palestinian statistics, and the display of gross negligence by the international establishment - which accepts the PCBS and all other central bureaus of statistics at face-value without proper auditing – in July, 2016, there is a solid, long-term, 66% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefitting from an unprecedented robust tailwind of Jewish fertility and migration. Moreover, in July, 2016, there is a gap of 1.15 million people between the PCBS contended number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria (2.9 million) and the well-documented number (1.75 million).

How has the PCBS manipulated its population statistics?  

The initial Palestinian smoke and mirror performance occurred during the June, 1997 (first) Palestinian census in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, with the artificial addition of 648,000 people. The census was conducted by the Palestinian Authority, which was concerned that the arrival in Israel of one million Soviet Jews, could dispel the myth of “the Arab demographic time bomb,” thus ending the Jewish nightmare of becoming a minority west of the Jordan River.

The 1997 Palestinian population census in Judea, Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza was puffed by the inclusion of 325,000 overseas residents, as documented by the PCBS’ website; the double-count of 210,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who were also included in the Israeli census; and the documented inconsistencies (of 113,000 people) between the PCBS, on the one hand, and the Palestinian departments of health, education and the Central Election Commission, on the other hand.

Moreover, in 1996, the population data of the Palestinian Central Election Commission (2.146 million) and Departments of Health and Education (2.270 million) were dramatically lower than the 1997 census (2.783 million), but almost identical to those of Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (2.111 million), which validated its numbers against the number of newly-issued ID cards and the immunization of all ages.

Demonstrating the creativity of Palestinian statistics, the Head of the PCBS, Hassan Abu Libdeh, admitted at a February 26, 1998 press conference in El-Bireh that – in violation of international standards – “we counted 325,000 people (13% of the total population!) living outside the Palestinian lands for more than one year.”

Furthermore, the inclusion of overseas residents in official counts has been also practiced by other Palestinian agencies. For instance, according to an October 14, 2004 press release by the Central Election Commission, 200,000 overseas residents were included in the (last) Palestinian election in 2005. 350,000 overseas residents were included in the Palestinian statistics, according to a 1993 study by the World Bank.

Explaining the inconsistencies between the PCBS and other Palestinian departments, Louie Shabanah, a former Head of the PCBS stated during a June 8, 2005 debate at Haifa’s Technion: “The Palestinian Health Department accounts for less births because – unlike the PCBS – it excludes overseas births….”

The aforementioned statistical bloats expand annually due to births, hence the widening 1.15 million gap in Judea and Samaria in 2016, which consists of:

*400,000 overseas residents, as reaffirmed by Hassan Ilwi, the Palestinian Undersecretary of the Interior: “Since 1995, we have registered about 100,000 children born abroad.”
*300,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who bear Israeli ID cards are doubly-counted as Israelis and as West Bankers.
*240,000 net-emigration of Judea and Samaria Arabs has been documented by Israel’s Border Police since the 1997 Palestinian census.
*Over 100,000 (mostly Judea and Samaria) Arabs have married Israeli Arabs since 1997, receiving Israeli ID cards, but are still (doubly) counted as West Bankers. In November, 2003, the Knesset passed a statue, terminating the automatic receipt of Israeli ID cards upon marrying an Israeli citizen.
*110,000 result from an inherent under-documentation of deaths (represented by the inclusion of Arabs born in 1847 in the June 2007 census…) and over-documentation of births (represented by a World Bank study, documenting a 32% gap between its own births documentation and the PCBS’ births statistics).

In 2016, Israel’s Jewish fertility rate (3.15 births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries, other than Sudan, Yemen and Iraq, reflected in a unique 75% increase in the number of births from 1995 (80,400) to 2015 (139,000), irrespective of the moderate decline in the fertility of the ultra-orthodox women, but due to the unprecedentedly robust secular (Yuppie) fertility. The norm of 1-2 births per woman among secular folks, twenty years ago, has now shifted into a norm of 3-4 births!

Recent demographic trends expose the unreliability of Palestinian statistics.  They bode-well for Israel’s posture in the negotiation process with the Palestinian Authority, but mostly for Israel’s economy and national security, which will benefit from an exceptionally high natural growth (quantitatively and qualitatively), compared to all other advanced economies, which may have to rely on foreign workers in order to sustain their economic growth.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Real Peace Plan

A Torah Thought for Parshat Pinchas 
By Moshe Feiglin

“Pinchas the son of Elazar the son of Aharon the Kohen has turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was very zealous for My sake among them, so that I consumed not the children of Israel in My jealousy. And so I say, behold I give him my covenant of peace.” (From this week’s Torah portion in Israel, Pinchas, Exodus 25:11-12)

Surprisingly, Pinchas’ zealotry and his uncompromising battle to preserve Israel’s separatism and national identity advance peace. Sometimes, it may seem that a blurred identity and essence will foster peace. The entire “peace process” and the “New Middle East” strategy are based on trashing the concept of borders and identities (Shimon Peres, The New Middle East, page 72 in the Hebrew edition). But the Torah teaches us that just the opposite is true. Only he who knows his own identity is capable of living at peace with himself and his neighbors.

To highlight this point, this week’s Torah portion ends with a section on the Sukkot sacrifices, in which all the nations of the world take part. When the Nation of Israel is settled securely in its Land, holy city and Holy Temple and makes G-d King of His world, we enjoy true peace. The world is waiting for us to be ourselves, and to fulfill our destiny. Then we and the entire world will merit a genuine, lasting peace.

Shabbat Shalom.

Could a Military Coup Happen in Israel?

By Moshe Feiglin

Not likely. True, the radical leftist Ha’aretz newspaper explicitly fantasizes about a coup. And until just a short while ago we had a Defense Minister who echoed the Ha’aretz stand and called upon IDF officers to publicly express their disagreement with Israel’sgovernment. But no, it does not seem that a military coup would take place in Israel – simply because, in many ways, the army already rules here.

Israel is an army that has a state, much more than it is a state with an army. Think about it for a moment… What is the first building taken over during a putsch? The radio, of course. As opposed to any other free country, Israel’s army already has its own radio station broadcasting to its citizens. And it is the most popular radio station in the country!

Despite the fact that there are almost no more Arab armies threatening Israel and in the face of the relevant threats all that is needed is an air force, technology and special units – in other words, much less manpower – there is a mandatory draft for all Israeli citizens, they do reserve duty and the army is the largest ever. Why? Precisely due to what is stated above. An army that has a state does not like to leave citizens outside its sphere of influence. In Israel, the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem is the Holy Temple, the Defense Minister the High Priest, the army officers are the priests in holy service and enlistment day is the Bar Mitzvah of Israeli-ness. A person who doesn’t serve in the army is not really “Israeli”.

The gatekeepers of the Israeli ethos enjoy immense power and unlimited faith from a public that does not have the professional tools or the conscious ability to criticize them. Take for example the last war in Gaza. For a month and a half, missiles slammed into   Tel Aviv and all that the IDF managed to create was a tie between the Israeli elephant and the Gazan fly. But a poll showed that public faith in the IDF had skyrocketed. Even the Second Lebanon War fiasco is sold to the public today as a success.

When the Prime Minister asked Chief of Staff Ashkenazi and Mossad Chief Dagan to prepare Israel’s forces to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, the two refused to obey his orders (Dagan publicly admitted this). They were not fired and they were not executed by a firing squad. They both continued in their positions and it was the Prime Minister who backed down. The Deputy Chief of Staff who compared those Israelis who do not agree with his values to Germans at the beginning of the development of Nazism was not relieved of his duties and was not put on trial. On the contrary, he was given great respect and recently accompanied the Prime Minister on his state trip to Africa.

So what is Israel? A state with an army? Or an army with a state? There is nothing to worry about. There will be no military coup in Israel. In too many ways, the army already rules here. What Israel really needs is a civilian coup.

Some Intellectual Honesty About the Gay Parade

By Moshe Feiglin

Shira Banky, was murdered at last year’s gay parade by a crazed anti-gay attacker. This year, the media is saying that whoever does not participate in the gay parade doesn’t really condemn the murder. Maybe he even supports it in his heart. And maybe he is a partner in the crime.

This is all very reminiscent of how the Left took advantage of Rabin’s assassination. Whoever did not support the Oslo Accords automatically became a partner to the murder.

The process unfolds approximately as follows:
1. First, a move that completely contradicts the values of the majority of the public is shoved down its throat.
2. The public stands up and protests.
3. The media portray the opponents to the move in a negative light and distance them from the boundaries of legitimate discourse.
4. The public becomes frustrated and enraged. More public opposition is met with more demonization.
5. Somebody (usually a psychopath) decides to employ violence – and succeeds.
6. Everybody is in shock.
7. The shock is used to obliterate the will of the majority. Whoever does not accept the minority position is a murderer.
8. The minority approach becomes the ruling position and is translated into laws and policies.
9. The minority has won and forces its values upon the majority.

But that is not all. The victory is really a lose-lose situation. Because there is something called ‘reality’ (the secular name for God). Ultimately, there are no winners and losers when people detach themselves from reality. Everyone loses. Oslo and the Disengagement from Gaza resulted in Tel Avivians with their noses in the ground and missiles over their heads.

And what about gay parades and the culture that erodes the family unit? They have a price tag - a very expensive price tag.

Sexual preference does not separate the good from the bad. Homosexuals are not less good. But homosexuality as a culture is very bad. The gay parade is not held to advance the cause of human liberty. On the contrary, it is held to force the culture of the minority upon the majority. Homosexuality as a culture and the collapse of the classic family structure and its values herald the collapse of civilization and accelerate the process.

For this reason, we must make a razor-sharp distinction between the individual and the culture. We must make room for the individual in our society and defend ourselves from the (anti)culture.

The psychopath who murdered Shira Banky at last year’s gay parade is an abominable murderer who must be condemned. But Rabbi Elkana Cherlow, who announced that in response to the murder, he will participate in this year’s gay parade, is like the sentry who opens the gates of the city to the besieging enemy.

It is easy to defend ourselves from a psychopath.

But dealing with the confusion sewn by Cherlow is much more difficult and requires much more public and intellectual courage

Uniqueness of Israel

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

The Gemara states (Berachot 12b) that Chazal would have incorporated parshat Balak in the daily recital of Shema, had they not been concerned about burdening the people because of its length. The reason behind this is that the Unity of G-d, which is the theme of Shema Yisrael, is closely related to the unity and eternity of the Jewish people. Chazal expound on Yeshayah's prophecy (43:12), "You are my witnesses, the word of Hashem, and I am G-d. -- If you are my witnesses, then I am G-d; if you are not My witnesses, then (figuratively speaking) I am not G-d." In parshat Balak, we find important principles regarding the essence of Am Yisrael and its relationship towards G-d, a relationship of closeness and love.

At the end of parshat Balak (25:3), the Torah says, "Israel became attached ("vayitzamed") to Ba'al Pe'or." Yet, the Torah states in Devarim (4:4), "You, who cling ("hadeveikim") to Hashem, your G-d ..." The Gemara (Sanhedrin 64a), in order to resolve this apparent contradiction, explains that the word "vayitzamed - attached" which we find in Balak connotes a relationship similar to that of a bracelet ("tzamid") which is worn around the arm, but is not actually connected to it. However, the term "deveikim - cling" denotes a relationship in which the two parties are completely connected to one another.

Because of this connection to G-d, Jews are unique, and differ from the other nations of the world. The innate nature of the Jewish people is G-dly; any evil which exists amongst them is only superficial, and can be cleansed and atoned for. Due to this, "A Jew, although he sins, is still considered a Jew." Similarly, "Your people are all righteous." (Yeshayah 60:21) Even when the Jewish people stray from G-d and worship idols, this desire is not inherent. Rather, as the Maharal writes, worshipping idols for the Jewish people is an aberration from the norm ("mikreh"), and not indicative of their innate nature ("etzem").

In the midrash, R. Yitzchak offers the following parable to illustrate the unique bond between G-d and Israel (Shir Hashirim Rabbah, Parsha 1):

Once there was a noblewoman who had a Cushite (black) maid, who went down with her friend to draw water from the spring. The maid told her friend, "My friend, tomorrow my master will divorce his wife and marry me!" [The friend asked,] "Why?" [The maid] responded, "Because he saw that her hands were blackened with coal." [The friend] said, "You fool, let your ears hear what your mouth is saying! If you are saying that his wife, whom he loves dearly, he is divorcing because her hands were dirty - you, who are entirely covered with grime and are darkened from birth, all the more so!"

Similarly, since the nations of the world taunt the Jewish people, "This nation exchanged their Glory for the likeness of an ox [at the sin of the golden calf]," Israel responds, "If we were punished so for one moment [of transgression], you all the more so! ... That is what is said, "Do not look upon me that I am dark, for the sun has darkened me." (Shir Hashirim 1:6)

The other nations believe that when the Jewish people sin, G-d will forsake them in favor of another nation. The Maharal (Netzach Yisrael ch. 11) explains, however, that in the same way that the maid erred, so, too, the nations of the world are mistaken. For, when the Jewish people sin, their sins are only with the actions of their hands, due to pressure from their evil inclination. However, these sins are only external, and can therefore be atoned for, whereas the Jewish people themselves remain pure.

Bil`am said (23:21), "He did not perceive ("hibit") any iniquity in Ya'akov, and did not see ("ra'ah") any perversity in Yisrael." The name Ya'akov represents the lower echelons within the Jewish people, whereas the name Yisrael signifies the elite. [It is explained in the name of the AR"I, z"l, that Ya'akov comes form the word "eikev" (heel), while Yisrael is composed of the same letters as the words, "li rosh" (my head).] Furthermore, the term "hibit," used in conjunction with Yaakov, is a penetrating sight that sees all, while the term "ra`ah," used in conjunction with Yisrael, refers to a peripheral look.

We can thus explain Bil`am's words, that the penetrating sight of "hibit" will not uncover any deep-rooted sins even amongst the commoners, for the sins of the Jews are all external, and not a part of their essence. Moreover, when examining the elite of the Jewish people, one does not find anything to be wrong even with an external viewing of "ra'ah".

The key to clinging to Hashem is being a part of the congregation. It is therefore important that every Jew belong to the group, and then G-d "dwells with them amid their contamination." (Vayikra 16:16) Similarly, the Sefat Emet explains that the basis of sin is separation from the congregation, and the basis of repentance is through returning to it.

Balak said to Bil`am (23:13), "You will see its edge but not see all of it." The masorah notes that the word "vechulo" (all of it) appears only twice in Tanach, here in Balak, and in Shir Hashirim in the verse, "vechulo machamadim - all of he is desirable." Therefore, Balak told Bil'am not to see of Israel, because he would not be able to curse B'nei Yisrael if he saw all of it. Similarly, it says, "Kuloch yafa r`ayati - You are all beautiful, my wife [B'nei Yisrael] - and you have no blemish." Chazal explain that when the individual is connected with the congregation, despite his personal, individual deficiencies, he merits all the privileges given to the congregation.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Pinchas 5776: Is Life an Inalienable Right or Privilege?

Parashat Pinchas 5776

Is Life an Inalienable Right or Privilege?

Zimri ben Salu, the prince of the tribe of Shimon, declared publicly before Moshe Rabbeinu and the Sanhedrin of his intention to commit a serious sin with the Midianite princess Kazvi bat Tzur. Pinchas, son of Elazar and grandson of Aharon the Kohen Gadol, entered Zimri’s tent and killed him and the Midianite woman.

Pinchas acted in accordance with the halachic principle that zealots may strike down the sinner, which is in force in limited circumstances – one of which is where a Jew publicly commits such a sin with an idolatrous gentile woman, and may be killed by a proven zealot who seeks only to honor HaShem out of no personal interest.

This halachic principle which stood at the base of Pinchas’ act is problematic. The halacha stipulates that capital punishment may be imposed on a sinner only after being warned three times by at least two witnesses of the penalty which he will have to face.

Where were the witnesses and the warnings in the matter of Zimri?

One answer given by Chazal is that the principle that guided Pinchas was an extrajudicial ruling told by HaShem to Moshe, with no questions asked.

I would like to explain the meaning behind HaShem’s extrajudicial message:

A sin is a sin is a sin. However, there are certain sins which result from one’s crossing a halachic red line from which there is no return and present a clear and present danger of affecting others. They are sins which touch upon the most basic, primitive human instincts and act as non-halachic killer viruses which have no known cure.

An inalienable (undisputable) right is totally distinct from a privilege. An inalienable right is a social or legal advantage granted to one by virtue of birth, social contract (agreement), group membership, or resulting from an investment of money, time or effort. The implementation of a right can be demanded either by moral consensus or in a court of law.

In contrast, a privilege is an advantage extended to one as an altruistic act which cannot be demanded, like a pure soul invested by HaShem into a Jew’s material body.

The US Bill of Rights contains ten articles specifying the rights of an American citizen:  Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition; Right to keep and bear arms; Conditions for quarters of soldiers; Right of search and seizure regulated; Provisions concerning prosecution; Right to a speedy trial, witnesses, etc.; Right to a trial by jury; Excessive bail, cruel punishment; Rule of construction of Constitution and Rights of the States under the Constitution.

Every American can avail himself of these rights by virtue of being a citizen; and if any of his rights are infringed upon he can take the matter to the courts.

The most basic right is the right to life, so eloquently articulated by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address of 1863, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Article 3 states: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

The most fundamental right of a human being as expressed in the above quoted documents is the right to life, that by virtue of just being born, one can demand his right to finish his life as long as God gives him breath.

The Torah is fundamentally opposed to the above statements regarding the right to life. To live is not an inalienable right. It is a God-given privilege which one cannot demand, but must offer thanks every moment to HaShem for the privilege of being alive. None of us has invested anything in order to be born! We were sent here by the Creator and He will withdraw each and every one of us from this world at the time He sees fit.

The Gemara (Nida 30b) relates that before a Jew is born HaShem warns the soon to be human being, “I will give you a pure soul. Guard it. If you defile the soul with sin, I shall take your soul from you”.

Every morning when rising from sleep we say:
מודה אני לפניך מלך חי וקיים שהחזרת בי נשמתי בחמלה רבה אמונמתך
I offer my thanks before You, Eternal King, who has compassionately restored my soul to me – great is my belief in you

The death penalty proscribed in the Torah for cardinal sins is based on the premise that since it is a privilege to live, if one over-steps that privilege he may no longer benefit from life, and a Bet Din of 23 judges has the authority to commit the sinner to death through four methods, corresponding to the severity of the sin.

In the case of Zimri the sin was so blatant and exposed that it did not require the rule of law to investigate and conclude that Zimri had forfeited his privilege to live. Hence Pinchas acted in accordance with the law and spirit of the Torah in stopping this abominable act.

Sinners who forfeit their privilege to life

The following are two contemporary examples of sinners who forfeit their privilege to live.

A terrorist’s right to life

It has been several weeks now that the moral conscience of the country is being challenged by alien gentile principles in the matter of Corporal El’or Azarya who killed a terrorist after the latter was mortally wounded and no longer presented a threat.

The national debate centered on the question of a terrorist who came to murder Jews, in this case IDF soldiers: what is his fundamental status regarding life as a result of his attempt or even just intent to murder a Jew? The Army’s position today is that the Corporal had illegally killed the Arab terrorist and must be brought to trial, based on the gentle premise that even a terrorist has a right to life.

What is the Torah’s position? Are there any Torah precedents to shed light on this question?

In parshat Shmot, Moshe kills an Egyptian for beating a Jew. The following day, Moshe witnessed a Jew about to hit another Jew, and the pasuk says (2,13):
ויאמר לרשע למה תכה רעך
And he (Moshe) said to the wicked one: Why would you hit your companion!?

A Jew who merely intends to hit another Jew is deemed in the pasuk to be a “rasha” (evil or wicked) even when he did not actually follow through with the act. That is certainly the case regarding a gentile who intends to harm a Jew and most certainly when he has actually harmed him (i.e., stabbed a soldier) which is an act of forfeiting his privilege to live.

The Egyptian task-master warranted death because he had overstepped his privilege to live.

The Tanach is replete with incidences of illustrious Jews who took the lives of others for what they did or intended to do to Jews.

In the case of Corporal Azarya, the halacha would declare that the terrorist had forfeited his privilege to live and his death is a technical procedure which can be conducted even without a court sentence. Corporal Azarya is innocent of murder, homicide and of manslaughter. The only accusation that could be leveled at the Corporal is that within the military framework of discipline he should not have acted on his own.

Corporal Azarya should be returned to his unit with a citation from his commanding officer.

The moral preferences of Jews were dictated by HaShem at Mount Sinai.

If left to mortal man to decide what is right and ethical, we would quickly arrive at a dead end as did the Greek philosophers who struggled to establish the ethical path for man to follow.

For example, Democracy is based on the premise that the greater the number of people who adhere to a particular point of view are closer to the truth than the minority. In India which is home to 7-9 hundred million Hindus, the moral thing to do to a widow is to burn her to death in order that she may follow her husband to Nirvana. In the United States with its meager 350 million citizens, the moral thing to do is to assist a widow. So, democratically speaking, the ethical thing to do would be to follow the lead of the majority, the Hindus.

The conclusion is that right and wrong cannot be left to human discretion.

Am Yisrael has no problem defining what is right and what is wrong. HaShem dictated the way we must live, regardless of our understanding or agreement with the revelation.

The Torah (Vayikra 18,22) classifies male deviants as “to’ayva” – an abomination and abhorrence. The sinning participants after disregarding three warnings by witnesses, have resigned their privilege to live and the bet din must condemn them to the most severe death of sekila.

Contemporary male deviants can establish shuls and hire rabbis and talk themselves blue into believing that they are not culpable of a shameful capital sin, but the simple truth is that would there be a bet din today they would be sentenced to death.

The non-permissive attitude toward grievous sinners is the Torah way. It is not the way of the Western World nor of Israel’s official establishment.

However, the day will come when the Jewish people will break out of our pitiful state of national amnesia and awaken to who we really are – God’s chosen people.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5776/2016 Nachman Kahana

Torch Bearers of Love of the Land

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

“A petition was presented by the daughters of Tzelafchad, son of Chefer, son of Gilead, son of Machir, son of Manasseh, of the family of Joseph’s son Manasseh” (Numbers 27:1). Rashi explains why Joseph has to be mentioned when the verse could suffice with mentioning their lineage back to Manasseh. The Torah is teaching that Joseph loved the Land, for he made the Israelites swear to bring up his bones to Shechem (Genesis 50:25). Joseph said, “You took me from Shechem. Bring me back to there” (Ba’al HaTurim, Ibid.). Tzelafchad’s daughters loved the Land, as it says, “Give us a portion” (Numbers 27:4). This teaches that they were all righteous. 

The love of the Land which burned in the hearts of Joseph and of Tzelafchad’s daughters has continued to burn in the hearts of myriad of our Jewish brethren down through the generations. In a procession lasting thousands of years, individuals and groups have merited in every age to walk -- or run -- before the camp, bearing the torch of love of the Land, a love which has been practically displayed through self-sacrifice, struggles and wars. Their intent has always been to bring merit to the Jewish People and to the entire world, through the revelation of G-d’s glory and light for all to see in our Living Land. 

In this century, which has witnessed the national rebirth and the ingathering of the exiles, the torch bearers of Love of the Land before the State’s establishment were those pioneers who settled the Land and made it flower from the Galilee to the Negev. Those people established the infrastructure for the State of Israel.

In our own day, the torch bearers and lovers of the Land who walk before the camp, benefiting all of Israel and literally defending, with their bodies, the State and Land of Israel from its enemies who long to destroy it -- albeit in vain -- are the settlers of Judea and Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Galilee, and everywhere else in our country. They are the saints of our generation, in whose hearts the love of the Land burns, that same love of Joseph and of Tzelafchad’s daughters. They will be beneficiaries of Jacob’s blessings to Joseph: “Joseph is a fruitful son, like a fruitful vine by the fountain, with branches running over the wall”; “In times to come, Israel will use you as a blessing. They will say, ‘May G-d make you like Ephraim and Manasseh’” (Genesis 49:22, 48:20). 

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.