Friday, December 02, 2016

If Israel has it, then I Demand it: A Torah Thought for Parashat Toldot

By Moshe Feiglin

“And Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil soup and he ate and he drank and he rose and he went and Esau despised the birthright.” (From this week’s Torah portion, Toldot, Genesis 25:34)

Esau is a practical guy. Modern. He isn’t interested in “birthrights,” titles and mysticism. He builds the world with his own two hands. Jacob’s soup smells good and if his primitive dreamer of a brother wants some intangible entity in exchange for the red stew, he is more than happy to sell it to him. After all, everybody dies in the end anyway, so what good is a birthright?

“When Esau heard the words of his father, and he shouted a great and exceedingly bitter cry and he said to his father, “Bless me as well, my father.” (ibid: 27:34)

Just a minute. Is this the same Esau who scorned the birthright? And even if now he has changed his mind and wants the blessing of the firstborn, he already sold it to Jacob. So what can he possibly claim? And why the change from one extreme to the other – from scorning the birthright to crying and shouting when he loses it?

To understand the mentality of the nations of the world regarding Israel, it is a good idea to join one of the groups that ascends the Temple Mount in purity. Although Ishmael prevails on the Mount, Esau also has his hands in the pot, albeit in a more subtle manner. As long as the Temple Mount was not in the hands of the Jews and abandoned, it interested no one. Even today, Arab children still play soccer on the Mount. And when the Arabs gather to pray, they face Mecca, with their hindquarters facing the site of the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount. Just one thing is important to them: that the Jews should not pray there. In other words, as long as the birthright and blessing is in their hands, it is meaningless to them. But from the moment that Israel has the birthright, it becomes very desirable and its loss evokes an exceedingly bitter cry.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Predictable Supreme Court

By Zvulun Orlev

Expected and Anticipated

From the time of Aharon Barak, we are continuously being exposed to rulings by the Supreme Court of Israel that greatly upset the nationalistic public in general and the religious people among them in particular. I am referring to rulings on the subject of religion and the state, settlement activity in Yehuda and the Shomron, the army and security, personal rights, giving preference to personal rights and freedom of expression as opposed to national rights, Jewish morality, and faith in the traditions of our fathers. This is in addition to judicial activism and the attitude that “everything is subject to judgement,” which has led to legal interpretation of laws in a way that is different from the original intent of the lawmakers, including the cancelation of various laws.

What follows is a very small number of examples. Religion and the state: Rulings related to the IDF Chief Rabbi and rapid conversions which begin in Israel but are completed hastily abroad; Settlements: The destruction of Amona and similar settlements; The IDF: Prohibiting a routine where enemy civilians are sent to knock on doors of suspected terrorists who are their neighbors; Security: Preventing expulsion of terrorists and their families and preventing keeping hostages from Lebanon in order to help in the attempt to free Ron Arad; Morality: Allowing the broadcast of pornographic material and permitting single-sex couples to adopt a child. I can discuss this last issue based on my personal experience – In the year 2000 I joined with the late Shulamit Aloni to ask the Supreme Court for an injunction against the Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasts to force them to block the broadcast of the Playboy channel even though it was prohibited by an explicit law. Our plea was rejected on the basis of “freedom of expression.” As a result of another request of mine for an injunction, asking for equal rights for religious education, I made a decision never to turn to the Supreme Court again on such subjects, since the results could reliably be predicted in advance.

Actually, the reactions of the rightist and religious communities to such rulings are also well known in advance. Proposals to change the situation by such tactics as modifying the composition of the committee for choosing judges or the majority needed in the committee to make a decision might indeed make a difference for a short time, as long as the coalition remains in power. But if the regime is replaced the situation will revert to where it was before. And attacks on the Supreme Court decisions by politicians are also to be expected, but they will not bring about any real changes.

We cannot allow this to continue! How can we put a square peg into a round hole? The religious Zionist approach requires us to preserve the strength of the State of Israel, including following the laws and strengthening the national enterprises. There can be no doubt that the Supreme Court should be included in these desires. Any action undermining the court impinges on our existence as a democratic state, and it is an act that threatens to saw off the branch of sovereignty on which we sit.

What can we do? Well, I have an answer: We must establish a Supreme Court for constitutional issues.

Judges for Law and Judges for Legal Principles

Supreme Court judges are chosen for their legal expertise and for the tone of their judgements. They are not chosen based on their political outlook or their way of life and their beliefs. This is very good, in order that both sides of a case will trust that their rulings will be based on justice, with no interference from the world outlook of the judge. However, these judges also serve as the Supreme Court, which also makes rulings based on world outlook – politically left or right, religious or not, faith, and morality. But they were not chosen in a proper way to enable them to fulfill this role!

What we should do is make two separate courts, one a High Court for Appeal and the other a Supreme Court of Justice. The Appeals Court will be chosen as the Supreme Court is chosen now, but they will no longer have the authority to cancel or modify the laws. Instead, a new court will be established which will have all the authority that the Supreme Court has today with respect to judging the constitutionality of laws, including interpreting the laws and repealing them. This is not a novel idea. In most of the existing democracies today there is a constitutional court which is separate from the appeals court. We have been taught, “If somebody tells you that there is wisdom among the other nations, believe it (but if somebody tells you there is Torah among the other nations, do not believe)” [Eicha Rabbati 2:13]. Yitro taught his son-in-law how to organize a justice system. Why shouldn’t we learn today from the other nations how best to organize a High Court for Constitutionality?

The judges of the constitutional court will be chosen by a nominating committee made up of representatives of the public, who will be a majority of the members. They will be appointed by MK’s and the government in proportion to the results of elections for the Knesset. Other members of the committee will be chosen by existing judges and the Israel Bar Association. The minimum criterion for being nominated as a judge on this court will be excellence in matters relating to law / spiritual morality / academic credentials / social experience. In this way, the High Constitutional Court will faithfully represent a cross-section of opinion in the nation, for the glory of the justice system. There are other details that remain to be worked out, but this is the only way to renew the faith of the people in its court system.

Fanaticism and Tolerance

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

In an essay in the book “Orot” about the disputes on opinions and faith, Rav Kook explains his approach to the issues of fanaticism and tolerance. On one hand there is fanaticism, which believes that its approach and its religion are absolute and immutable truth, and which denies that any other movement has any truth to it at all. As opposed to this, there is a more tolerant viewpoint which believes that all of the movements have some basis of truth, and that by gathering together the items of truth in all the different movements we will be able to achieve absolute truth and there will be peace in the world.

Rav Kook claims that both of these approaches are erroneous. We, in Judaism, do not merely have part of the truth, which would mean that we are in need of additional information from an external source to complete our knowledge. At the same time, we do not subscribe to the infectious fanaticism which claims that we exclusively possess absolute truth and there is nothing left to learn from others. “It is a bad sign for a party if it thinks that it alone is in possession of a living source of all wisdom and honesty – and that everything else is empty and void of any meaning.” [Igrot Re’iyah volume 1, page 17].

Here is the correct way of looking at things: Judaism does indeed include everything, but it does not deny that others also have parts of this whole. Even more than this, the power of every movement and every ideology stems from its specific point of truth. If it did not have at least one absolute truth it would not exist at all. The sages taught us that “falsehood cannot continue to exist.” [Shabbat 104a]. Falsehood has no way to stand up. All the letters of “sheker” stand on a single leg, as opposed to truth, “emet,” all of whose letters stand on a solid base of two legs. It is therefore important to reveal the elements of truth in every movement in order to know how to struggle against the movement. Only something that is totally false must be eradicated from the world. But if it has at least one element of truth there must not be any attempt to destroy it, because if you do so you are fighting against truth, and any such action is doomed to failure.

And for this reason Rav Kook felt that it was wrong to struggle against secular Zionism in a bitter fight to the end, as others did, since it is based on some true ideas. Some people said: If they move to Eretz Yisrael we will not do so. If they speak Hebrew, we will speak Yiddish. Rav Kook disagreed with these ideas. He insisted that the issues supported by Zionism are words of Torah which also obligate us. Therefore we must show our appreciation for the positive elements of truth in their approach and only afterwards argue against the falsehoods.

Rav Kook gave similar advice to parents in Russia whose children were caught up in the Communist movement. He said we should tell them that we appreciate their demands for social justice, because this is based on the Torah and on Judaism, and that there is no need to move away from Judaism in order to embrace the concept of socialism.

This can also help us understand Rav Kook’s analysis with respect to Eisav: “Let me tell you my opinion regarding foreign beliefs. The light of Yisrael should not try to destroy them, just as we do not intend to cause general destruction of the world and of all its nations, but rather to mend their ways and raise them up... The words of the GRA are enlightening: ‘I had hatred for Eisav’ [Malachi 1:3]. The hatred was for the things that had been added on. But the main thing, his head, was buried together with the great people of the world.’” Even Eisav had a point of truth which was put to rest near the Patriarchs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Rav Kook on Toldot: Jacob's Hand on Esau's Heel


The account of Jacob stealing blessings from his father raises many perplexing questions. How could Isaac not be aware of the true nature of his twin sons? Why did he insist on blessing his apparently wicked son Esau? And why was it necessary for Jacob to get the blessings that his father intended for his brother?


The Rights of the First-Born

We need to first analyze the concept of bechorah, the right of the first-born. Why should the family inheritance be determined by order of birth, without taking into account the relative merits of the heirs? The Talmud in Baba Batra 133b discusses this issue, advising against switching the inheritance, even if the first-born is wicked and his sibling is righteous. Why? The commentators explain that we should not make decisions based on the current situation; in the future, worthy children may come from the evil son.

Still, why not give preference to the son whom we know to be righteous and will use the inheritance for proper objectives? Why let the evil son utilize this wealth for corrupt purposes, just because of a possibility that he may have upright children?


Segulah Selection

Twelfth-century philosopher Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi explained the concept of segulah – how a particular people is chosen by God. The process of Divine selection is beyond human understanding and occurs in a hidden manner. The kernel of light and good is concealed in an enveloping darkness, just as the spiritual greatness of Abraham could not be foreseen in the wickedness of his idolatrous father Terach. Only in the time of Jacob was the segulah nature of his children revealed to all. At that time it became apparent that his entire family was a “seed blessed by God.”

Why should this kernel of future good be concealed in evil and wicked people?

Even negative character traits have their place in the world. Ultimately, they too will serve the greater good. In order to perfect righteous traits and straight paths, these bad traits and convoluted ways must be uplifted. This occurs when the righteous are able to utilize them for their true purpose.


Isaac’s Love for Esau

The process of Divine selection must be free to progress according to God’s design, without human intervention. Only God knows the path by which the pure will come forth out of the impure. Therefore, we should not disrupt the inheritance of the first-born according to what seems to us reasonable and logical.

Isaac felt that, despite Jacob’s obvious spiritual and moral superiority, it was not up to him to decide who will carry on Abraham’s spiritual legacy. Isaac assumed that the separating of the segulah was not yet complete. Perhaps from the cruel and brutal traits of Esau, his first-born son, would come an even greater heir, capable of utilizing and elevating those destructive traits.

Furthermore, Isaac knew that the world may be mended in different ways. It could be gently uplifted, as people stream from every corner of the earth to learn Israel’s teachings of kindness and truth. Or the world could be rectified through the complete destruction of those corrupt and violent elements from which no good will come (as we see in the obligation to destroy Amalek and the nations of Canaan). Jacob, the gentle scholar in the tents of Torah, did not possess the temperament necessary to wage wars and fight against cruel and vicious opponents. How could the segulah of Israel come from him? True, Jacob was righteous - but many righteous individuals lived before him whose progeny did not continue in their path.

Jacob appeared to totally lack these necessary traits of dominance and power. And Esau was anyway the firstborn, a sign that he was chosen by God. Isaac valued Esau’s potential to forcibly correct the entire world. The Torah thus explains Isaac’s love of his firstborn son: “Isaac loved Esau, for his hunt was in his mouth” (Gen. 25:28). Isaac appreciated Esau’s ability to hunt and dominate the beasts, the trait needed to dominate bestial peoples.

The Torah contrasts the different ways in which Isaac and Rebecca loved their sons. On the one hand, it says, “Isaac will love Esau” (with the conversive Vav switching it to the past tense). Isaac valued Esau’s future, his progeny, not his present state which even Isaac could see was savage and violent. But for Rebecca, the Torah uses the present tense: “Rebecca loves Jacob.” She loved and appreciated Jacob’s current state of righteousness.


Esau Under Jacob’s Hand

In fact, Jacob did have a connection to his brother’s traits of cruelty, but these traits were not an integral part of his soul. This is the significance of Jacob’s hand holding on to Esau’s heel when they were born. The heel represents instinctive nature (the Hebrew words for ‘foot’ and ‘habit,’ regel and hergel, share the same root), while the hand indicates willed and planned action. Jacob had a hold onto Esau’s heel, i.e., a connection to those savage traits that were an intrinsic part of Esau’s nature. For Jacob, however, these traits were not wild and undisciplined, but under the control of his hand and mind.

(We find a similar idea with regard to King David. The Midrash states that Samuel was reluctant to anoint David as king after he saw David’s ruddy complexion. Samuel feared this was a sign that David would spill blood like the reddish Esau. But God responded, “He has beautiful eyes.” Esau killed for his own pleasure, but David will kill according to the dictates of the Sanhedrin (the high court), which is called the “eyes of the people.”)

Jacob will be capable of performing the same brutal actions as Esau, albeit out of necessity and judicious choice. He will be distressed by the need to utilize his brother’s characteristics, but will recognize their usefulness in achieving the final goal.


Acquiring Esau’s Blessings
Now we understand why Isaac preferred Esau. But why did Jacob need to take his brother’s blessing?

Jacob realized that he was the true spiritual heir, and he needed the blessings of rule and sovereignty - “nations will serve you,” “you will be a like a lord over your brother.” But it was important that his father think that fierce Esau was the object of the blessing. These blessings require strength and leadership. They helped Jacob utilize Esau’s traits when necessary, even though they were not part of his inner nature. Therefore, his mother clothed him in Esau’s garments. For the sake of the blessings of stable rule and firm reign, Jacob’s outer appearance needed to be like that of ruthless Esau.

When Jacob announced to his father, “I am Esau your first-born,” he did not truly lie. Jacob had truly acquired his brother’s traits. He had become Esau, only in a better fashion. Most certainly, his father had spoken to him in the past about the need to acquire these negative traits for the sake of serving God. Jacob could now proudly report to his father, “I have done as you have requested,” And afterwards, Isaac was able to declare, “I have eaten of all.” All that I desired to taste, I have found in Jacob. “Yes, he shall be blessed.”

(Gold from the Land of Israel pp. 60-64. Adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 265-272)

Why was Amalek Chosen?

Toldot 5777
By HaRav Nachman Kahana

The Torah begins with the Creator establishing the basic “laws” of nature. On the first day the mineral world of water and all the other chemical elements and ingredients necessary for our world came into being. This was followed by the complex diverse world of flora, and the two trillion heavenly galaxies in our personal universe – each one with its over 100 billion stars. Then the multitudinous species of fauna, capped off with HaShem’s ultimate creative handiwork – the first man and woman. In the continuation of parashat Beraishiet, followed by parashat Noach we learn of the patriarchs from whom came forth the seventy basic races and nations which comprise humanity.

In the parshiot of Chayai Sarah and Toldot, the Torah takes a giant step forward and introduces the triangle of protagonists who will determine the future history of mankind.

At the triangle’s apex is Ya’akov the Jew, with the untamed Yishmael and murderous Aisav as the two angles at the triangle’s base, altogether making up the 180-degree straight line leading to the future fulfillment of HaShem’s ultimate plan for Am Yisrael and the world.

But unlike factors in a base that serve to enforce and enhance the apex, untamed Yishmael and murderous Aisav’s agenda is to demolish the apex, even at the expense of destroying themselves and the triangle.

It all began with murderous Aisav, who according to our tradition was the primogenitor of most of the European peoples. Aisav plotted to murder Ya’akov, but was prevented from doing so. Aisav sent his son, Elifaz, who was reared in the tradition of Ya’akov-hating, to kill Ya’akov when he was on his way to the house of Lavan. The Midrash (as quoted by Rashi in parashat Va’yai’tzai) describes how Ya’akov convinced Elifaz to desist from fulfilling his father’s request. Elifaz’s son, Amalek who was now the third generation of Ya’akov-haters. Amalek had to deal with more than one Ya’akov – with the twelve sons and their offspring. This required Amalek to make it a tribal, and later a national, goal to prevent the newly-emancipated Jews (who had escaped Egypt) from entering Eretz Yisrael (much like the British blockade in pre-Medina days) and eventually destroy the descendants of Ya’akov.

There is a Torah mitzva to destroy the nation of Amalek and obliterate them from all human memory. Why? It would not be wrong to conclude that there were righteous and moral people within Amalek. They must have had their medical personnel, social workers and “regular” good hard-working citizens who did not mix into politics. Why were they chosen to be totally destroyed?

The answer is: Indeed, there could have been decent people among them. However, the national ideology and practical goal of Amalek was to destroy the Jewish nation. Hence, whoever regards himself as a member of Amalek bears the collective responsibility of Aisav, Elifaz and Amalek. Just as all Germans today bear their national guilt by virtue of remaining part of the German nation. Auschwitz had a fine medical team under Mengele who treated the Germans and their allies professionally and with nice bed-side manners, but this did not prevent them from agreeing to the national goal of murdering all the Jews.

The followers of the untamed Yishmael who today are called Arabs, adopted the fascist, aggressive religion of Islam which uses God to further their very worldly desires. They have indelibly inscribed on their flag the destruction of Medinat Yisrael and eventually the murder of all the world’s Jews.

There are undoubtedly some “good” and even “well meaning” people among the Arabs in the Medina today, and perhaps even among some of the Arabs who dwell in the Shomron and Yehuda. However, they bear the collective responsibility of what their religious and political leaders have asserted in their name, with their total agreement. The hatred of Jews has been part and parcel of their educational and media systems for generations so there is no way to eradicate this from their consciousness.

When anti-Semitism and anti-Israel take center stage in universities, the media and in the public dialogue, there is no turning back and the quality of God’s justice comes forward to eradicate that society.

Their Failure is Inevitable

Untamed Yishmael and murderous Aisav, each one alone have demonstrated their inner hatred towards Ya’akov and to HaShem’s chosen people. However, when they function together against the Jewish nation, the dangers multiply exponentially, which arouses HaShem to act in His miraculous manner to save His chosen nation.

At the end of parashat Toldot, the murderous Aisav joins forces with the untamed Yishmael when Aisav marries Machalat, daughter of Yishmael.

In the Second World War the Yishmaeli Arabs headed by the Mufti Haj Amin Husseini actively backed the Aisavic Hitler, resulting in the Holocaust.

Opposition to the Medina’s establishment was inherent in the partnership of Aisivic England and the Arabs. England’s closure of the gates to the holy land prevented Jews who had escaped the Holocaust to enter, and was the tactical act of the Arabs’ strategic policy to “cleanse” the land of its Jewish population.

The Arab armies that invaded the land in the War of Independence, were armed and led by British officers and German volunteers.

The Six Day and Yom Kippur wars were the result of the backing provided by the Aisavic Soviet Union to the Yishmaelic Arabs.

And now the bonding of Aisav and Yishmael through the UN and its anti-Semitic members is continuing to try to weaken and destroy the Jewish State.

This will not happen, as the Torah testifies that neither Yishmael nor Aisav were individually able to destroy the Jewish nation – nor will they be able to do so even when functioning together.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5777/2016 Nachman Kahana

Why Did Israel Just Purchase the Biggest White Elephant in History?

By Moshe Feiglin,
Founder of Zehut

If Israel was not the recipient of American aid, would it have spent its own money to equip itself with the US F-35 jets? Clearly not. But yet, that is exactly what happened this week.

Development on the F35 has not yet been completed, and it is doubtful if it ever really will be. It is a plane that no Israeli pilot has ever flown or will ever fly before it lands in Israel. Israel is not allowed to attach its own missiles to the jet. Israel is not even allowed to provide its own maintenance for the jets without US authorization. In other words, at any given time, the US can neutralize Israel's ability to use the jets. This deal has given us an air force on a leash. Furthermore, the F35 cannot reach the nuclear targets in Iran and in its stealth version cannot even carry ammunition relevant to those targets. (The F15-I does that with no trouble).  A superficial overview of professional aviation websites shows that nobody argues that the F35 is one of the biggest white elephants in history (Ed. note: see The Pentagon's official F-35 bug list is terrifying - ExtremeTech).

So why is Israel purchasing this super-sophisticated piece of junk? For the same reason that we bought the US firefighting planes; the planes that at the moment of truth last week could not take off because it was too windy…

Have you ever asked yourself why an insolvent country like Greece has the most efficient firefighting plane in the world – the Bombardia 415 – (much more efficient than the US Supertanker) while Israel, with one of the best air forces in the world, does not have the plane and must wait for the Greek plane to arrive?

The answer is simple: American "aid".

Israel preferred the US planes, purchased with the US aid money. Who knows how many houses burned in Haifa while we were waiting for the Greek planes to arrive?

If this is the case with Israel's firefighting capabilities, we can just imagine how much the American "aid" has harmed Israel's security capabilities – not to mention its economy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Obama plans to rule America outside the White House

…and he might get away with it.

By Daniel Greenfield



Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

Barack Obama has two faces. After Trump’s victory and Hillary’s defeat, the public Obama has been gracious and diplomatic. His lectures to Trump, directly and indirectly, are couched in praise. He echoed the feeling of millions on both sides when he said, "We are now all rooting for his success”.

That’s a lie. Or rather a disguise.

Obama and his aides had, in one insider narrative, decided to don the “mask of decorum”. The contempt for Trump still seeps through the mask. And the mask hides Obama’s next big move.

President Obama is over. He knows that. There are still some things that he can do before he leaves office, but everything except the most destructive, can be undone by his successor. The next phase of his campaign will not be fought from the White House. It will be fought against the White House .

The other Obama is emerging in conference calls with his supporters. “One of the challenges that I’ve discovered being president is I’d like to be organizer-in-chief, but it’s hard,” he said in one call.

Obama can no longer be commander-in-chief. Instead he’s plotting to become organizer-in-chief.

The infrastructure for the organization was put into place long before anyone thought that Hillary might lose. Organizing for Action gave him his own organizing hub. If Hillary had won, it would have been a pressure group. Now that Trump won, it’s an axis to build a personal counterrevolution around.

In his post-election conference call with his OFA troops, Obama told them, “I’m giving you like a week and a half to get over it”. Then it would be time to “move forward not only to protect what we’ve accomplished, but also to see this as an opportunity”. What opportunity could there be in Trump’s win?

Obama is now the only major national figure still standing among the Democrats. After Hillary’s defeat, he’s worked hard to attribute the loss to her shortcomings, not his policies and decisions. That’s not just to soothe his ego. If he’s going to dictate the future of his party, he can’t afford to be blamed for its latest disaster. And Obama is still determined to dictate the future of the party and the country.

In conventional politics, Obama is done. There’s no way back into the White House. And Hillary’s fate won’t leave much enthusiasm for nominating the uncharismatic spouse of a charismatic ex-president.

But Obama is not a conventional politician. He’s an organizer and a campaigner at the vanguard of a radical movement that seeks to control traditional institutions, but doesn’t feel bound by them. Unlike Bill Clinton, his plans don’t begin and end with the White House. As an organizer, Obama is equipped to build bases of power outside traditional institutions. And that is exactly what he is doing.

The demoralization of the Democrats is, as Obama put it, an opportunity. Social chaos is a time for the left to overthrow and undermine traditional institutions. Fear, anger and despair are radicalizing. The left has always operated by throwing bombs and then profiting from the fallout. That’s Obama’s agenda. Having wrecked the country and the Democrats, he sees that not as a setback, but as an opportunity.

“The network that you represent, you're perfectly poised to do that,” Obama told his OFAers. “In other words, now is the time for some organizing.”

While the leftist rioters in the streets are garnering the most attention, the real threat comes from the network of staffers dubbed Obama Anonymous which are beginning to organize and coordinate. OFA is Obama’s equivalent of the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons built Clintonworld around staffers, but its goal was harvesting money. Obama Inc. is being built around organizing and activism. Like Clintonworld, it will be a network encompassing a variety of political and non-profit institutions. Unlike them, it will be much less focused on directing money to its bosses in preparation for an election. Instead it will function like a traditional leftist movement, merging influence operations with crowdsourced mobilization.

OFA will be far more dangerous in the wild than the Clinton Foundation ever was. The Clintons hoped to ride back to power on a giant wave of money. Obama is taking a much more radical course.

The staffers exiting government are being wired into Obama Inc. whether or not they take jobs directly working for him. The OFA alumni are building networks across organizations while taking their marching orders from him. They expect Obama to lead them back from the wilderness and into the halls of power.

He’s told them so.

“I'm going to be constrained in what I do with all of you until I am again a private citizen. But that's not so far off,” he assured them. “I'm still fired up and I'm still ready to go.” His next comments promised that radical political change could and would take place.

Obama isn’t going to retire. He’s not going to spend years puttering around with a presidential library. He’s not even going to set up a Clintonesque slush fund and try to make his wife president. Instead he wants to force radical change from outside the White House by using the network he’s built.

While the public Obama wraps up business at the White House, concludes yet another world tour, alternating between praising Trump and offering him condescending advice, the other Obama is preparing to deploy a network that will dominate the Dems and set the agenda on the left.

If Obama succeeds, then he will get another shot at picking his White House successor. But beyond that, he’s been handed the keys to an organizing machine that will allow him to set even more of the agenda for his party than ever before. And he has a cause that is sending the party reeling back into his arms.

Obama believes that he can rule America from outside the White House. And he might be right.

Political norms and old rules have been falling faster than leaves in an autumn wind. If Obama sets out to move the center of power outside the White House and into an organization that will control national politics through the left, it would be dangerous to assume that he can’t and won’t succeed.

The Democrats didn’t respond to their defeat, one of a sequence, by trying to move to the center. Instead there is every sign that they are moving further to the left. Keith Ellison, a radical leftist with an anti-Semitic past, is tipped to head the DNC. Schumer still has the Senate, but Elizabeth Warren may have it before too long. Combine that with Obama as the president-in-exile and the Dems will be more radical and extremist than they were even when Obama was sitting in the White House.

The Democrats are ceasing to be a national party. Instead they are becoming a nationalizing party. They are losing their presence in much of the country, from state legislature to state legislature, and becoming the party of major cities and the national government. Their agenda is to move power from local areas to central ones, from the villages and the suburbs to the cities, from states to D.C. and from locally elected legislators in D.C. to the satellite bureaucracies of the Federal government.

Obama sees Hillary’s defeat as an opportunity to burn the Dem’s last bridges with the larger country and its “bitter clingers”, to double down on nationalizing power and to define the political narrative around the agendas of urban elites. The left crippled the Democrats. Now it wants to utterly consume them.

Barack Obama is still being vague and coy about his plans. He informs reporters that he will attack Trump when it comes to "core questions about our values and ideals". But the “faithful” are getting much clearer signals. “You’re going to see me early next year, and we’re going to be in a position where we can start cooking up all kinds of great stuff to do.”

The election was a catastrophic disaster for the Democrats, but it opened all sorts of doors for Obama.

Hillary’s defeat removes the Clintons, his only real internal rivals, off the stage. Trump’s triumph in working class areas cuts more ties with the traditional Dem base and transforms it into a party of left-wing urban elites and their radical agendas. And the popular figures on the left, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Keith Ellison, lack his national stature, speaking skills and organization.

Obama will move to consolidate the left. And then the Democrats. He will function as a president-in-exile heading up the opposition to Trump. When it comes to verbally challenging Trump, Obama will be more likely to be interviewed and heard than Ellison or Schumer. And his people will coordinate responses across the left from street level organizing to think tanks and policy moves.

Some of it is ego.

Obama believes that he can find the key to beating Trump in the traditional tactics of the left. But most is ideology and power. Obama is not done transforming America. And America isn’t done with him yet.

From The Shamrak Report: State-Sponsored Chaos Must End!

...Since the State of Israel returned to the historical lands of Judea and Samaria in 1967, the settlement process in the area has lacked a clear governmental policy, often shifting with different competing political imperatives.
This is never more evident than when it comes to neighborhoods known as outpost communities, such as Amona, which are often called "illegal outposts," although it would be more accurate to refer to them as "unauthorized outposts". The reason is that outposts such as Amona were incorporated in an overall site plan that envisioned a future residential neighborhood, however due to political pressures, the necessary zoning or land use changes were never issued...
If Israel is looking for a comprehensive solution to prevent the recurrence of cases like Amona, it must pass a law that can solve the problems created by technological gaps from the past, a law that will settle once and for all the status of the land rights and which a clear land registration system overrides all others. (A proper land register of Eretz-Israel is long overdue! National land and property register will resolve many legal problems, for example, when Arabs sell land to Jews and deny the sale later, to protect themselves from persecution for treason and execution by the PA.)
Arabs Have NO Respect for Jewish Land!
Twenty-two people have been arrested on suspicion of arson or incitement to arson, security officials said on Friday
Israeli police chief Roni Alsheich said on Thursday that arson was the cause and it was likely “nationalist,” a phrase authorities use to describe attacks by Arabs/Muslims.
The fires, which began on Tuesday, have erupted throughout the country, blazing through parched forests, incinerating scores of homes and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of Jewish Home party, hinted at seditious Israeli Arab or Palestinian involvement, Tweeting: "Only those to whom the country does not belong are capable of burning it."
“Whoever burns down the country cannot be a citizen of the country, and their citizenship status should be revoked,” said Miri Regev, the culture minister, a threat usually reserved for Arab citizens of Israel, who form about one-fifth of the country’s population of eight million. (Unfortunately, this just another empty treat which is not supported by political will and legal legislation!)
No Active Fires Left!
Firefighters remain on 'high alert' as five days of fires finally end. There were no deaths but 122 people were treated for injuries, mainly smoke inhalation. Around 700 homes were damaged or destroyed.
Food for Thought by Steven Shamrak
International media outlets love reporting news from Israel – but not when it exposes the idiocy and cruel nature of so-called Palestinians, and when the news is in favour of or brings sympathy to Israel!
Education Minister and HaBayit HaYehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett met in New York with three staffers of President-Elect Donald Trump and asked that the new Administration not automatically adopt the two-state solution as its official policy, but examine alternatives to what has been the Obama and GW Bush administrations’ default approach. (Please, also read the Sinai Option: Road to Permanent Peace)
'Palestinians' and Arab World Celebrate. Some are taking credit for staring Israeli fires with #IsraelIsBurning. Likud MK Amir Ohana said that the fires show that “they want to destroy the one Jewish State more than they want to establish the 22nd Arab state.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted: “Only someone to whom the land doesn’t belong could be able to burn it.” (So-called Palestinians claim that Eretz-Israel is their land, than why are they so happy and not concerned that trees/land is burning?)
In a nearly unprecedented move, the IDF Appeals Court has cancelled a restraining order against a Jewish resident of Samaria, who had already been banned from entering Judea and Samaria for a year. The now-nullified order would have kept him out of his home for yet another three months. Appeals court rules that organizing demonstrations does not justify 'draconian' punishment. (Families of terrorists and stone-throwers are still not deported from Jewish land!)
A group of Egyptian helicopter pilots – 18, according to an estimate, landed secretly a few days ago at the Syrian Air Force base in Hama and were they are taking over the cockpits of Russian attack/reconnaissance Kamov Ka-52 helicopters, with which they were familiar. 
The United Nations has adopted an Israeli resolution to utilize agricultural technology for sustainable development. “Today’s resolution is not only about agricultural technology,” said Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. The Israeli resolution promotes making agricultural technology more accessible in areas stricken by poverty, drought and hunger. Israel is known for its drip irrigation system, solar energy and most importantly for the world - the production of water.
Quote of the Week:
“Today, we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime’s control with any volume of fire power (that we want) right from here… Islam has given us this wish, capacity and power to destroy the Zionist regime so that our hands will remain on the trigger from 1,400 km away for the day when (a confrontation with Israel)takes place.” - Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, Iranian Revolutionary Guard - Clear declaration of their intention to destroy Israel. It was said two years ago and repeated many times since!
AIDS is still a Suspect

by Steven Shamrak (January 2003)

Note: I know, this is “the old news” and it has been proven that Arafat indeed died from AIDS. Recently, the Palestinian Authority used millions of foreign aid dollars to open the Arafat museum. I am sure that they have happily made his Holocaust denial PhD, obtained in a Moscow university for international students during Soviet era, as a main exhibit. What about his Homosexuality and pedophilic tendency! (I wanted to share with you a link to a more recent article, but it is already blocked!)
A hospital spokesman 'said there would be no details (released) about the cause of Arafat’s death because of French privacy laws'. Why would Arabs, with cooperation of the Arafat family, need to invoke French privacy laws? Dr. Arafat (half brother) said that he met French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier on the day of his brother's death and discussed the issue with him: "He told me it is not in the interest of France or our (PA) interest to disclose the cause of his death. Holding any party criminally responsible for his death will create political trouble". Who will be in political trouble? Surely, if the trouble was meant for Israel the documents would be revealed immediately!
"The full medical report of President Arafat is a historical document for the Palestinian people," said Hassan Abu Libdeh, the PA cabinet secretary. "We will get the report and the Palestinian Authority will take the necessary decisions including informing the Palestinian people about the full details of the report". Yasser Arafat's nephew, Nasser al-Kidwa, obtained the medical records many weeks’ ago. The PA can’t blame the ‘evil widow’ for being silent anymore! How much do they pay her for silence? 
Why has Arafat’s nephew, who was so eager to tell the truth about Arafat’s death, suddenly became mute and evasive? He had plenty of time to study the official French report of his uncle's death. The only statement he has made, so far, is that his uncle had died of "unnatural" causes, implying Israel had poisoned Arafat. AIDS is an "unnatural" cause of death too! 
The toxicology tests were conducted during Arafat's two-week stay in a French hospital but "no poisons known to doctors were found." PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath has said: "We know what it is not. It is not malignancy or cancer anywhere in his body." But, uncharacteristically for modern medical practice, no autopsy was conducted. 
Years ago, Oriana Fallaci, an Arab sympathizer at the time, reported that Arafat’s headquarters in Tunis had a number of blonde German young men running around. She found that not only Arafat was homosexual, but that it was well known fact in his intimate circle. Later, as the rumors gathered force, Arafat arranged his pseudo marriage to his gold digging ‘wife’. The CIA had known about AIDS for some time and encouraged Israel not to assassinate him.
This saga reminds me the rumors about the death of another legend – the Great Communist leader Lenin. When I was living in the Soviet Union, I heard whispers about the real cause of his death. Only recently, the team of German doctors reviewed the notes of Lenin’s doctors and they officially confirmed the rumors – ‘the great leader of the Socialist revolution’ died from syphilis. For political reasons, this information, as well as, the possible cause of Arafat’s death has not been covered by international press!
I deliberately put a question mark at the end of the title of this article. It is not about Arafat’s homosexuality, it is about lack of political integrity! Only the release of the official French doctors’ report will stop to the rumors about Arafat death! Why is this information still concealed?

France's Politician Dhimmis

By Yves Mamou

  • "Moreover, it is puzzling and disturbing that France adopts a double standard in relation to Israel, while ignoring 200 territorial conflicts currently taking place around the world, including those taking place right on its doorstep." — Response of Israel's Foreign Ministry to France's new labeling regulations.
  • In the Ukraine, a few sanctions were imposed by France and EU, but there was never any labeling of food or cosmetic products.
  • Ironically, and sadly, the people most negatively affected by the French and EU regulations will be the 25,000 Palestinians employed by Israelis in the West Bank.
  • In just one year, 2016, France and its socialist president have made multiple hostile gestures towards Israel, which reveal more about raw anti-Semitism posing as anti-Israelism in France than about its unjustly solitary target.
  • The Muslim vote is now an important factor in French politicians' decisions. In 2012, socialist President Fran├žois Hollande was elected with 93% of the Muslim vote. That is how diplomacy is made conducted in France, and in Europe generally. It is a diplomacy solidly rooted in domestic policy. It is a domestic policy made by dhimmi politicians.
In France, retail chains and importers now have the legal obligation to label products originating in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
On November 24, the Official Gazette of the French Republic (JORF) published Regulation No 1169/2011, ordering "economic operators" to inform consumers about "the origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967."
This French regulation is an application of the interpretive notice issued by the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ), on November 12, 2015. The notice states that the EU "does not recognise Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and does not consider them to be part of Israel's territory" and claims it is responding to "a demand for clarity from consumers, economic operators and national authorities".

Monday, November 28, 2016

Palestinians: The 'Wall of Shame'

By Khaled Abu Toameh

  • "The equation facing the Palestinian factions is clear: Hand over the terrorists and there will be no wall. The Palestinians have proven that they are unable to take security matters into their own hands in this camp." — Lebanese security official.
  • These anti-Palestinian practices are regularly ignored by the international community, including mainstream media and human rights organizations, whose obsession with Israel blinds them to Arab injustice. A story without an anti-Israel angle is not a story, as far as they are concerned
  • Typically, Western journalists and human rights activists do not even bother to report or document cases of Arab mistreatment of Arabs. This abandonment of professional standards is why apartheid laws targeting Palestinians in several Arab countries are still unknown to the international community.
  • The Lebanese authorities also say that they decided to build the wall after discovering several tunnels in the vicinity of Ain al-Hilweh, used to smuggle weapons and terrorists into and out of the camp.
  • The new wall will not solve the real problem -- namely the failure to absorb the refugees and grant them citizenship. Palestinians living in Arab countries are denied citizenship (with the exception of Jordan) and a host of basic rights.
  • Now is the time for the international community to apply pressure to the Arab countries to start helping their Palestinian brothers by improving their living conditions and incorporating them into these countries.
  • The refugee problem will end the day their leaders stop lying to them and confront them with the truth, basically that there will be no "right of return" and that the time has come for them to move on with their lives.
A street celebration in Lebanon's Ain al-Hilweh camp, July 2015. (Image source: Geneva Call/Flickr)
It is no secret that Arab countries have long mistreated their Palestinian brothers and sisters, governing them with inhumane laws and imposing severe restrictions on their public freedoms and basic rights. Building a wall around a Palestinian community to prevent terrorists from entering or leaving, however, has raised the bar on such infringements.
This is precisely what is happening in Lebanon these days. The construction of a security wall around Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp (with a population of nearly 120,000), has drawn sharp criticism from Palestinians and revived memories of the abuse they regularly receive at the hands of their Arab brethren.

More Than Meets the Eye


By HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed 

Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham ben-tziyon ben shabtai

1. Two Approaches
2. A Comparison
3. Self-Restraint
4. Tzaddik Talks, People Listen
5. The Birth of Ya'akov and Esav
6. Internal Struggle


TWO APPROACHES
Two distinctly different approaches can be taken to the events that unfold in this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Toldot. At first glance, the story is filled with conflicts and other hardships; it opens with a report on Rivka’s barrenness, goes on to discuss the quarrels between the shepherds of Avimelech and those of Yitzchak, and concludes with Ya'akov's struggle to obtain the blessings designated for him. Ultimately, Ya'akov is compelled to flee from his brother Esav, who wishes to kill him over the blessings. The events have another, even deeper dimension as well. Yitzchak and Rivka quickly understand that their home will not be just any home. Far from it: from this abode, two distinct leadership approaches - as represented by Ya'akov and Esav - will be introduced to the world. In order to give birth to these unique children, much preparation, personal spiritual growth, and prayer is needed.

Yitzchak no longer limits his achievements to the spiritual realm. In fact, he becomes very wealthy despite the severe physical conditions in the Land of Israel at the time. At first, his successes arouse, in his neighbors, strong feelings of antagonism towards him. Paradoxically, as Yitzchak's strength increases, his neighbors come to appreciate its unique nature, and soon agree to strike a covenant with him. "We have seen that God is with you," they declare.

The blessing of the first-born, set aside for Ya’akov, hits a snag, with Yitzchak apparently interested in awarding it to Esav; the confusion and delay surrounding this issue are designed to reveal to Yitzchak, Ya'akov, and in fact, the entire world - the Divine, irrefutable nature of the match between Ya’akov and the blessings in question.

Just as in this week's Torah portion, everyone’s private life can also be viewed from two perspectives. The world can certainly be understood as a trouble-filled place, where innocent people often suffer great misfortune. And yet, it is also possible to see the world as a place replete with challenges, a forum in which each person is pushed to exhaust his individual potential, to give full expression to each one of his talents. Successfully confronting these challenges benefit not just the person immediately involved, but the world as a whole.

A COMPARISON
One cannot help but notice the sharp contrasts between the personalities and lives of Yitzchak Avinu and his father, Avraham. The latter is an activist determined to disseminate the fundamental belief in the world's one God; his outreach is evident in the assertion of our sages that Avraham converted men, while his wife Sarah converted women. Avraham's activism had tremendous impact on both his immediate environs and distant locations. His idealism comes to the fore early on, when, the midrash tells us, Avraham - the world’s first monotheist - miraculously survives Nimrod's fiery furnace.

At other end of the spectrum is Yitzchak, who is of an unquestionably passive character. In the course of his life, he doesn't seem to truly struggle or confront his surroundings. Even the basic task of finding a proper wife is "arranged" for him by his father's servant, Eliezer. On the surface of things, this would seem to be a flaw in Yitzchak's personality; one may have perhaps thought that a mature young man would be more active, take greater control of his own destiny.

SELF-RESTRAINT
A deeper look at Yitzchak’s personality and his role in the world, however, indicates that it is precisely because of his lofty nature and the sublime quality of his mission - that Yitzchak was relieved of dealing with "this-worldly" concerns.

Our rabbis explain that Yitzchak personifies "Midat HaDin" - literally, the attribute of Strict Justice. What does this quality mean, and how does it apply to a person? According to our tradition, "Din" relates to the extent to which a person has succeeded in completely attaining control over himself, and in Yitzchak's case, submitting himself to the will of God. In Yitzchak's life, this quality finds its most profound expression during the "Akeida," - when he showed that he was willing to sacrifice his very life in response to a Divine command. When Yitzchak is relieved of material concerns, he is freed up to sanctify and elevate himself to the status of what our sages call "Olah Temimah" - or "Pure Burnt Offering." This dedication does not simply contribute to Yitzchak's own personal path towards perfection; it also bestows blessing - in the form of both spiritual and physical bounty - on the entire world.

TZADDIK TALKS, PEOPLE LISTEN
After our teacher, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook of blessed memory, passed away, the late Rabbi Shlomo Goren was asked to deliver a eulogy in his honor. In the course of his talk, Rabbi Goren repeatedly said that Rav Tzvi Yehuda instilled a fear in people, an emotion that discouraged anyone he encountered from disobeying him or strongly disagreeing with him. Rav Goren explained that the sages referred to this phenomenon in the Tractate of Berachot with the following words: "Any one who fears Heaven - his words are accepted by others." When a person truly fears Heaven, when he submits himself to God's will, those around him experience first hand this person's strong attribute of self-discipline; it radiates outwards and prompts others to follow his directive...

This dynamic was certainly an essential element of the personality of Yitzchak Avinu. He submits himself to the Divine will, cultivates his own personal attribute of fear of Heaven, and from this internal greatness, he elevates daily life - as he grows in both importance and wealth. This upward spiral continues until all associated with him recognize his greatness. Even Avimelech chooses to strike a covenant with Yitzchak.

Yitzchak Avinu's role in reference to mankind is comparable to the role of the Sabbath in relationship to time. On Shabbat, we refrain from performing acts of creative labor; in fact, we completely detach ourselves from daily routine. All this with an eye towards our own spiritual improvement. A Sabbath observer is also able to subsequently inject blessing into the other six days of the week. So, too, Yitzchak's elevated status served as the source of blessing for the entire world. It took form on a personal level by miraculously bringing him great wealth. "That year, Yitzchak reaped one hundred times the regular crop..."(Bereishit 26:12) "And the man became greater and greater..." (26:13)

THE BIRTH OF YA’AKOV AND ESAV
After Yitzchak managed to withstand the trial of the Akeida, and after Avraham found just the right match for his son, we would have expected Yitzchak to continue unfettered on the path towards consolidating his home. But this is not what happened at all. At first, he could not father children, given the fact that Rivka was barren. Our sages teach us that Rivka suffered from a serious physical deficiency - she had no womb - and she therefore had no hope of giving birth to a baby. Despite the couple's predicament, Yitzchak and Rivka entreated God to heal her, to transform her body into one that could produce children. It worked.

In reference to Yitzchak's prayer, the Torah says, "Vay'etar Yitzchak." The plain meaning of this phrase is, "Yitzchak entreated." Through the midrash, we are offered two other explanations: According to Rabbi Yochanan, Yitzchak poured out his heart to God generously (literally, "in a wealthy fashion.") R. Yochanan bases his explanation on the fact that the root of the word "Vay’etar" - "Atar" - means "wealth." Reish Lakish, however, says that the term means that Yitzchak "overturned the decree" of barrenness on his wife, Rivka. Reish Lakish derives his explanation from the Hebrew word for a pitchfork, a farm implement used for "turning over" hay...

Rabbi Yochanan was known as a complete Tzaddik, a fully righteous person. He lived in Eretz Yisrael his entire life; he lived to a ripe old age; he lead a steady, consistent life and did not experience any major upheavals. It may be for this reason that he understands Yitzchak as having prayed "generously" - in terms of both the quality and quantity of our forefather's supplications.

Reish Lakish, on the other hand, was a Ba'al Teshuva - a penitent - and was thus on a higher level, in a certain sense, than his colleague. (The sages teach that a Ba'al Teshuva is greater in that he has had to overcome his evil inclination more than a complete Tzaddik, who has not had to face such challenges.) Reish Lakish gave "more of himself" to God. He was a sage whose life knew many ups and downs, numerous upheavals and revolutions. In fact, Reish Lakish was originally a robber, and "worked on himself" to such an extent that he was able to eventually become one of the prime scholars of the Talmudic era. Thus, Reish Lakish understood Yitzchak's fervent prayer - comparable to a pitchfork that picks up and tosses hay in a haystack - as having effected a major upheaval, even revolution - in his wife Rivka's physical health.

Our teacher, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook of blessed memory, used to say that the unique quality of the Land of Israel is that it has the power to transform reality, turn bad to good, impure to pure, forbidden to permissible. The Torah describes our land as a "Land Flowing with Milk and Honey." Milk, note the sages, should have been forbidden by the Torah, given the fact that it is extracted from a creature - a cow - while the animal is still alive. Nevertheless, the matter was discussed in Tractate Bechorot, and the sages eventually permitted the drinking of milk based on the verse that states that the Land of Israel "flows with milk and honey." If the Torah praised the Land as being a place flowing with milk and honey, they reasoned, it is hard to imagine that these very products would be forbidden to consume!

Although the honey cited by the Torah is a specific reference to date honey, it certainly also refers to honey produced by bees. At first blush, bee honey, too, should have been forbidden by the Torah - since it originates in the body of a live insect. Here, too, the sages conclude, however, that the special verse sanctions the consumption of this product. Milk and honey, two products that Eretz Yisrael is famous for- are symbolic, then, of the unique power of our land to sometimes overturn or transform previously-existing realities.

Yitzchak Avinu's self-discipline and mastery over himself, combined with the unique qualities of Eretz Yisrael, a land he cleaved to and never left - facilitated a miracle, by transforming the barren Rivka into an expectant mother.

INTERNAL STRUGGLE
Rivka's pregnancy did not mark the end of her suffering, though. The pregnancy itself became very complicated and rather painful - "The two boys ran about within her," says the Torah. Our sages explained this "running" in the following manner: When Rivka would pass by a synagogue, Ya'akov would kick, in an effort to get out (to worship in the Synagogue) Similarly, when she would pass by an idolatrous temple, Esav would press to leave (to worship there).

The ability to distinguish between good and evil develops within a person only as he matures; it is therefore very difficult to accept the sages' description of the pregnancy literally - as if Esav had already chosen idolatry as a way of life, while Ya'akov chose Torah! Esav was obviously not consciously aware that his mother was passing by an idolatrous temple - and Ya'akov didn’t consciously understand that his mother was passing by a synagogue.

If so, what is the meaning of the midrash?


The differences between Ya'akov and Esav don't derive from two variant worldviews; their differences are intrinsic. Ya'akov and Esav, so to speak, may even be said to be two different types of creations. Ya'akov, by his nature, is drawn to the world of spirit. Material reality, for him, is just a means by which he develops his spiritual potential. Esav, however, is drawn by his nature to the material, to the physical. Since the distinction between Esav and Ya'akov is natural and intrinsic, even before they were born, we read of them being drawn to the house of idolatry and synagogue, respectively.

The birth of Ya'akov and Esav was unlike any other. Two diametrically opposed paths were born, two clashing perspectives, each of which was to govern the world in his own special way.

There is no doubt that Ya'akov Avinu represents the natural and true heir to the legacy of Yitzchak and Avraham. It therefore follows that the blessing, which symbolizes the path of Avraham, should be awarded to Ya'akov. Here, too, though, the most natural and most correct situation did not come easy. Here, too, we encounter complications, and Ya'akov is forced to obtain the blessing of the birthright in a rather deceptive fashion. Why? Why was Yitzchak Avinu willing to choose Esav over Ya'akov?

Numerous commentators have attempted to explain Yitzchak's behavior, but it seems to me, that perhaps the greatest lesson can be learned if we are to leave this question unanswered. Suffice to say that the blessings bestowed by Yitzchak upon Ya'akov are not the "property" of Yitzchak; they are Divine blessings designated specially for Ya’akov and his heirs by God. Yitzchak is simply a messenger.

The Disconnect


By Rabbi Dov Beryl Wein 

Dedicated to the memory of Simcha bat Chana

I think that one of the more difficult situations that exists in the Jewish world of today, especially in my humble opinion in the Diaspora, is the widening disconnect between the vast bulk of the population in the Jewish world and the rabbinic leadership of Jewish society. While there are many rabbinic pronouncements on the minutiae of Jewish law, customs and observance there is very little that is said and heard about the major problems that face the Jewish world – the security of the Jewish state, the dire financial situation that threatens the entire system of the support of Jewish education, the astounding rate of poverty and unemployment (voluntary and involuntary) in religious Jewish society, children at risk because of one size fits all educational institutions, growing rates of divorce and family dysfunction, an unhealthy and misogynic system of dating and marriage, growing anti-Semitism and a seemingly unstoppable rate of assimilation, secularization and intermarriage that guarantees a shrinking Jewish population in a few generations. Rather than address these terribly difficult issues Jewish leadership is engaged in fighting over and over again the battles that destroyed the Jewish world of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Whether we like it or not, whether it is theologically acceptable to us or not, the State of Israel is a reality where six million Jews live. The predictions by many Jewish leaders made in the 1950 are that the state would not survive for twenty, thirty or fifty years have all been proven to have been incorrect. We have no choice but to support the state with all of our might, prayers, talents and resources. So why don’t we hear that call from our leadership, whether it be from any grouping of the Jewish people? The disconnect from reality is truly astounding!

The tuition rates for attending Jewish schools are rapidly reaching the breaking point. A small percentage of parents – those who pay full or almost full tuition at schools – are subsidizing the rest of the parent body who cannot afford the astronomical amounts that are called full tuition. But that group of people – those who can and do pay full tuition – is a rapidly diminishing breed. Instead of addressing this problem – the true time bomb that threatens the future of Torah education – we spread our wealth so thin that we are unable to help the situation. It may be important to help a father of a daughter to raise many thousands of dollars to buy an apartment for her and her prospective husband in Israel but it certainly is more important to provide for Jewish education to one’s own children and for one’s own community. This is part of the current disconnect – the inability to view the forest and remain fixated on the trees or even the bushes. The fact that there is an enormous proliferation of small yeshivot, all of which are basically similar in curriculum, method and purpose is not only very inefficient and enormously costly but it has yet to prove that its educational accomplishments and scholarship are in any way superior to a large institution that would prove much less costly per student to maintain. Part of the problem is that there is such a surplus of kollel "graduates" who have no other employment potential except for yeshiva teaching so that somehow there have to be many such institutions simply to absorb some of this surplus of talent and scholarship. This is also part of the disconnect that exists in our world.

Having just recently completed the production of a documentary film about the Jewish world of the 1930’s, I am very concerned about the similarities of the anti-Semitic mood of the present decade to that past decade. It is much more insidious today because this anti-Semitism is encased in the pious cloak of anti-Israel rhetoric and policy. And unfortunately there are many Jews who are themselves entrapped in this self-destructive dance. And many of these Jews live here in Israel! But again all voices against this threat are muted and very little leadership is exhibited to address the problem. This is not merely a matter for the Anti-Defamation League to fight. We are all in a precarious and vulnerable position. Our leadership should warn us about this situation. Again, silence is a great example of the disconnect that afflicts us. We should demand more from those that claim the ability and knowledge to lead us. Connection to the true large problems that face us is and should be a basic requirement of leadership and serious opinion.

Eisav, the Social Philosopher


By HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

[Editors note – Consider that Rav Yisraeli grew up in the early years of Communist Russia and that this sermon was delivered at the height of the Cold War and when socialism was strong in Israel.]



How could Eisav have succeeded in fooling his father to think he was worthy of blessings? 

Considering the strong indications that Eisav’s respect for his father was genuine, as was his regard for the power of Yitzchak’s blessings, it is surprising that we consider him such a wicked man. It also doesn’t seem to make sense that a son of Yitzchak and Rivka would be fully evil.

Eisav actually possessed elements of a fine person. The problem is that he attributed goodness to a person’s natural qualities and believed in the importance specifically of man’s behavior toward his fellow man. Eisav opposed mila (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 29) because he believed that man was created complete (he, indeed, was born very developed). Part of this outlook gave him great regard for his father and also a philosophy of human equality, which was behind his exclamation, "Why do I need the birthright?!" (Bereishit 25:32). This philosophy found expression in his choice of profession – hunting. As Rashi points out, a hunter takes his livelihood from that which is not owned. He doesn’t have to be involved in commerce with others. Marxists list hunting as an economic form that is appropriate for social harmony. Agriculture is problematic socially, as servants work the fields for owners. Eisav wanted to be free of this and left his father’s fields, which were tainted by the existence of servants. He wanted to know how to give tithes on salt and straw, which do not require tithes, because he did not consider the Torah’s moral limitations as sufficient for social morality.

Because Yitzchak was impressed by Eisav’s intentions, although not his actions, Yitzchak thought he could bring Eisav along slowly. However, time proved that Eisav went quickly awry and violated five severe sins on the day he came back from the field tired (see Bava Batra 16b, regarding Bereishit 25:29). Eisav’s mistake was that one who arrives at philosophies without accepting the yoke of Hashem is liable to stray. Human noble intentions do not suffice. 

Yitzchak tried to steer Eisav in the right direction and blessed him with a land with good agricultural conditions so he would not remain a hunter (ibid. 27:28). Yitzchak blessed him that he would be served by other nations (ibid. 29). In other words, hierarchy is alright. Even within the family, he could be a leader over his brother Yaakov. All he had to do was recognize "Hashem shall give you" (ibid. 28). 

However, not only was Eisav wrong, but Yitzchak also had the wrong educational approach toward him. While it is important to "draw close with the right hand," Yitzchak failed to "push away with the left hand." While still caring about his father, Eisav also awaited the day when his father would die so that he could carry out his schemes (see ibid. 41). Morality divorced from Torah and intended to replace it brings moral destruction. 

Yaakov was different. He was "one who sat in tents " (ibid. 25:27). He went from one yeshiva to another and did not rely on his good nature. He was self-critical and strove to learn from others. "Indeed, Eisav is a brother to Yaakov … I loved Yaakov and hated Eisav" (Malachi 1: 2-3).