Friday, November 17, 2017

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.”

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 Yishai Fleisher Show: Collision (Dis)Course

Video: Moshe Feiglin on the Investigations Against Netanyahu

In Hebrew with English subtitles.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Moshe Feiglin on Peace, Democracy and more (video in English)

Isaac loved Esau

by Rabbi Yaakov HaLevi Filber
Yeshivat Machon Meir

Rabbi Naphtali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv) in his commentary “Ha’amek Davar” (Genesis 24:35) explains why Rebecca and Isaac did not succeed in resolving their differences of opinion regarding Esau and Jacob. The reason is that at their first encounter, when Rebecca sat on the camel and saw Isaac who was still standing in prayer, he was then like a very awesome angel of G-d. From then on, fear and distance were fixed in her heart in her relationship with Isaac. It was not the same as the relationship between Sarah and Abraham, or Rachel and Jacob. In both of those cases, neither spouse avoided making suggestions to the other. In the case of Rebecca and Isaac, however, even though they had differences of opinion, Rebecca could not find the courage to make her opinion know to Isaac. That is how it happened that Isaac actually loved Esau and Rebecca loved Jacob.

Why did each have the preference that they did? Several explanations have been given for this: According to Malbim there are several reasons for why Isaac’s love was given to Esau. One is that Esau was the firstborn, and Isaac had never heard G-d’s prophecy to Rebecca that “The older one will serve the younger one” (Genesis 25:23. According to the Netziv, Rebecca, in her fear, did not tell him this prophecy). Isaac therefore thought that Esau the firstborn was fit to be the heir.

The other reasons for his love of Esau involve the way we interpret “tzayid be’piv” in Genesis 25:23. One rendering is, “Isaac loved Esau because Esau was a trapper with his mouth.” Esau would verbally ensnare his father, “displaying his [split] hooves like a pig,” as the Rabbis say [a pig has split hooves, but is still unkosher because it does not chew its cud].

Or the verse may be referring to Isaac’s mouth: “Isaac loved Esau because he would eat of his venison.” Esau would feed Isaac, thereby fulfilling the mitzvah of honoring one’s father. Rebecca, by contrast, knew the prophecy about the “older serving the younger,” and she also knew of Esau’s hypocrisy, so she loved Jacob.

The Dubna Maggid explains Isaac’s mistake as being due to his having been born in the home of righteous people -- Abraham and Sarah. That was a home in which nothing but total truth was ever uttered. Therefore, when Esau came to his father with questions such as, “Dear father! How do we tithe straw?” or, “How do we tithe salt?” Isaac was impressed and he said, “With this son I can rest assured that he will be intensely scrupulous in mitzvah observance.”

Rebecca, however, was born in the home of Laban the Aramean. Hence she had familiarity and expertise in the language of liars and hypocrites. She understood Esau’s slyness, his verbal deception. Rabbi Mendl of Kotzk would say, “People think that Esau was a coarse farmer who wore a checkered shirt, went barefoot and herded pigs, but that is not how he looked. Esau had a beard and side-curls. He was a community leader who spoke words of Torah at the third Sabbath meal. That is how he managed to deceive people.”

According to other commentators, Isaac knew precisely who Esau was, and he knew the difference between Jacob and Esau, but he loved him all the same. “Midrash HaGadol” explains why:
“‘Isaac loved Esau’: Did not Isaac know that Esau’s deeds were repugnant? And surely King David said, ‘Do I not hate, O L-rd, those who hate You?’ (Psalm 139:21). Why then did he love him? The truth is that he loved him only to his face in order to draw him near. He reasoned that if Esau’s deeds were so corrupt when he showed him love, how much more so that they would be corrupt if she showed his hatred and distanced him. The Rabbis said, ‘The right hand should always draw near and the left hand repel.’ That is why it says, ‘Isaac loved Esau.’”

S’forno comments, “‘Isaac loved Esau’ -- He loved Esau IN ADDITION, even though he without a doubt knew that Esau was not as righteous as Jacob.”

Finally, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains Isaac and Rebecca’s preferences in terms of “opposites attracting.” Isaac, who was a “perfect offering on the alter,” isolated in his home and set apart from bustling society, was attracted precisely to the personality of Esau, with his boldness. Rebecca, who came from the home of Bethuel, saw in Jacob the righteous figure so far removed from all the concepts of her father’s house. She was therefore attracted precisely to Jacob.

A Fruit and Its Husk

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

“These are the chronicles of Isaac” (Genesis 25:19). Rashi explains that Isaac’s “chronicles” [toldot] were Jacob and Esau. Rashi is thus emphasizing that Isaac had two sons, one righteous and one evil, just as Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, one righteous and the other evil. Only Jacob merited to have all his sons be righteous, as it says, “Your people are all righteous” (Isaiah 60:21).

The fact that Abraham and Isaac had wicked children teaches us an important foundation: All growth and development occurs in two stages. The first stage includes both good and evil, whereas in the final stage, occurring at the end of the growth and development, we merit to see that all was for the best.

To what may this be compared? To a fruit and its husk. When the fruit first appears, the husk envelops and protects it, yet that husk is bitter, and sometimes hard, like a nutshell.

Ishmael and Esau were bitter and hard for the Jewish People, but at the end of the process of growth, the sweet, pleasant fruit is revealed, once we remove the husk. Or, the husk itself becomes sweet (From orange peels one can make preserves).

It is the same with the history of the Jewish People. At first there are many complications and difficulties -- many “husks.” In the future, however, we will merit the sweet fruit. When all of Israel are redeemed, mankind, as well, will be redeemed together with them, as it says, “Liberators shall ascend upon Mount Zion to judge the Mountain of Esau, and dominion shall belong to the L-rd” (Ovadiah verse 21); “The L-rd shall be King over all the earth. On that day the L-rd shall be one and His name one” (Zechariah 14:9).

Today, we are at the height of a process in which the Jewish People are rising to rebirth. The sweetness and goodness of Israel, and their benevolence towards all of mankind, shall be more and more revealed.

At the same time, however, the hard, cruel husk is being revealed in the form of those evildoers who are fighting against the Jewish People. Yet the day is not far off when that bitter husk will disappear, and we will be privileged to see with our own eyes how “Judah shall remain forever; Jerusalem from generation to generation” (Joel 4:20). A new light will then shine over Zion, for us and for the whole world.

Looking forward to complete redemption,
Shabbat Shalom.

The Truth and Deception of Yaakov

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

"Give truth to Yaakov." (Micha 7:20) The primary trait of Yaakov is that of honesty. However, our parsha relates actions of Yaakov that stand in conflict with the trait of honesty. Yaakov takes advantage of Esav and purchases from him the birthright. He acquiesces to his mother's command and goes to deceive his father, Yitzchak. Yaakov later says to Rachel, "I am his [Lavan's] brother in deception." (Rashi Bereisheet 29:12) How can we learn the trait of truth from Yaakov?

The Netziv (Harchev Davar) cites the Midrash on the verse, "Fetch me from there two choice young kids of the goats" - good for you and good for your children. Good for you that you will receive the blessings through them, and good for your children, who will be atoned through them on Yom Kippur. What is the connection between the blessings and the two goats of Yom Kippur.

The Netziv explains that every trait has use, and "bad traits" have good in them, provided that they are used in proper measure. This is similar to poisons that are sometimes used as medicines, and they are good when used with professional supervision.

The same is true with the two goats. One was sacrificed on the Altar, whereas the second was sent to azazel, which is a kind of offering for the forces of tum'ah. This is also something positive when done upon G-d's command (cf. Ramban to Parshat Acharei-Mot). This is what Rivka meant. The two goats of Yom Kippur are equal in their mitzvah, even though one is for holiness, and the second - the opposite. So, too, the two traits that Yaakov is expressing now, one of truth, in listening to his mother, and the second of falsehood, in deceiving his father - both are considered a mitzvah to bring the blessings upon himself.

In Midrash Rabbah it says that Yaakov was punished because he caused Esav to "scream a great and bitter cry." His punishment was that Mordechai later, "screamed a great and bitter cry" in Shushan.

Why was Yaakov not punished for causing that his father "trembled very greatly?" The Netziv explains that to use a sin for pure intentions there is a need for extreme carefulness not to derive pleasure from the sin. This is unlike a mitzvah, where even if one derives pleasure from the mitzvah, the mitzvah remains intact. However, when doing a sin with pure intentions, it is not considered a mitzvah when one derives benefit from the sin.

This is expressed in the Gemara (Nazir 23b), where it says, "Great in a sin done with pure intentions," which is learned from Yael (who seduced Sisera and killed him). The Gemara asks, "But Yael derived pleasure from the sin?" and answers that the pleasure of the wicked is considered bad by the righteous. Based on this, when Yaakov scared Yitzchak, he did not derive any pleasure, and certainly felt bad, but was forced to do this. On the other hand, when Esav screamed, Yaakov felt inwardly happy. Since Yaakov was doing a sin for the sake of pure intentions, he was not allowed to derive pleasure from it and was therefore punished.

This was Yaakov's test, that he knows how to deceive, but does this with pure intentions and does not derive pleasure from it. Through this he proved that his trait is truth even at a time that he needs to lie. Everything is tested based on the its opposite. Avraham, whose trait was chesed, was tested with the trait of yir'ah - "Now I know that you are a G-d fearing man". (22:12) Otherwise, it would have been possible to think that the trait of chesed was natural to him, and is not so much of a virtue. Similarly, Yaakov, whose trait was truth, was tested whether he knows how to deceive when necessary without being affected and not to derive pleasure. Therefore he says, "I lived with Lavan and observed the 613 mitzvot," and I was not drawn to deceit like Yaakov.

Chazal comment in the Midrash that when Yaakov went in to Yitzchak, he prayed, "Hashem, rescue my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue." (Tehillim 120:2) This is most striking! He is going in to lie, and asks that G-d rescue him from falsehood? Rather, even though now he is rightfully going to deceive his father, there is concern that he might be affected by this also in the future, even when there is no need, and he prayed about this.

This is what Yitzchak said to Esav, "Your brother came with cunningness." (27:35) Why did Yitzchak have to say this to him and cause him anguish? Rather, he told Esav that he had mistaken in estimating Yaakov. Until now Yitzchak thought that Yaakov was completely straightforward, and could not lie even when necessary, so that he requires Esav's assistance in serving G-d. Now Yitzchak became aware that Yaakov also can come with cunning. Since he now sees that Yaakov not only "dwells in tents," but is also a man of the world - "Indeed, he shall remain blessed." (27:33)

Normalizing Anti-Semitism on Campus

By Dr. Richard L. Cravatts

Israeli Apartheid Week, the annual international anti-Israel showcase, in May 2010 on the University of California, Irvine campus, photo credit AMCHA Initiative.
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 639
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In the campus war against Israel, the all too familiar refrain from student anti-Israel activists, many of whom form the loose coalition of groups and individuals spearheading the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, is that their quarrel is only with Israel and its government’s policies, not with Jews themselves. But that specious defense continues to fall away, revealing base anti-Semitism. This represents a seismic shift. Jews are now being indicted not just for supporting Israel but for being Jewish.

More Than Meets the Eye

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

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

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.

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.

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.

After our teacher, HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook of blessed memory, passed away, the late Rav Shlomo Goren was asked to deliver a eulogy in his honor. In the course of his talk, HaRav 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. HaRav 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..."(Bereisheet 26:12) "And the man became greater and greater..." (26:13)

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, HaRav 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.

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.

Family Decisions, or why did Yitzhak want to bless Eisav

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

The troubling question that has persisted throughout the ages of biblical commentary on this week’s parsha is: What is Yitzchak thinking in regard to giving the blessings and heritage of Avraham to Eisav? Basically the comments and explanations fall into two categories. One of them is that Yitzchak is fooled by Eisav and is really unaware of his true nature and wanton behavior.

Rashi, quoting Midrash, interprets that Eisav "hunted" his father with his pious speech and cunning conversation. Yitzchak is fooled by Eisav and believes that Eisav, the man of the world and the physically powerful figure is better suited to carry on Avraham’s vision than is Yaakov, the more studious and apparently more simple of the brothers.

The other opinion, more popular among the later commentators to the Torah, is that Yitzchak is aware of the shortcomings of behavior and attitude of his elder son. His desire to give the blessings to Eisav is due to his wish to redeem and save his son, and to enable Eisav to turn his life around and become a worthy heir to the traditions of his father and grandfather. He thinks that by somehow giving the blessings to Eisav, Yaakov will not really suffer any disadvantage in his life’s work, while Eisav will find his way back to holiness through the blessings that he has now received.

These two divergent attitudes towards the wayward child in Jewish families is one that is enacted daily in Jewish family life. Later Yitzchaks either willfully allow themselves to be deluded regarding the behavior and lifestyle of children or they are aware of the problem and attempt to solve it with a giving nature and a plethora of blessings.

Rivkah, Eisav’s mother, is not fooled by her son’s apparently soothing words nor does she believe that granting him blessings will somehow accomplish any major shift in his chosen lifestyle. To a great measure she adopts a policy of triage, saving Yaakov and blessing him while thus abandoning Eisav to his own chosen wanton ways.

The Torah does not record for us the "what if" scenario – what if Eisav had received the blessings would he then have been different in behavior and attitude, belief and mission. However, from the words of the later prophets of Israel, especially those of Ovadiah, it appears to be clear that God somehow concurred with Rivkah’s policy and holds Eisav to be redeemable only in the very long run of history and human events.

The verdict seems to be that one must be clear eyed and realistic about the painful waywardness and misbehavior of enemies of Yaakov, be they from within or without our immediate family and milieu. There are many painful choices that need to be made within one’s lifetime and especially in family relations.

There are few pat answers to varying and difficult situations. Perhaps that is why the Torah itself does not delve too deeply into the motives of Yitzchak and Rivkah but is content merely to reflect the different emotional relationships each had with their two very different sons. The Torah emphasizes the role that human emotions play in our lives and does not consign all matters to rational thought and decision-making

The Left Hand Should Push Away and the Right Draw Close

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

As the two brothers, Yaakov and Eisav, were born and developed, Israel’s constant tension vis a vis Eisav’s descendants was set for generations. The struggle began with the prophecy before their birth that "one nation will overcome the other nation" (Bereisheet 25:23).

Let’s look at Hashem’s part in all of this. Rivka was barren and needed a miracle to conceive. Why did the miracle include a twin brother, who anyway is not part of the Chosen Nation? Taking various statements of Chazal, we arrive at an answer. Shir Hashirim Zuta (1:15) indicates that Eisav was born with the possibility of greatness, and the Tachuma (Shemot 1) blames Yitzchak for the failure by not disciplining Eisav. True, Yitzchak’s intentions were good, as he did not want to distance Eisav. However, he could have done what Chazal (Sota 47a) call having one’s left hand push away and his right hand draw close.

So, the two nations in Rivka’s womb could have turned into two tribes, and jealousy between the two could have pushed them toward greater spiritual achievement. However, instead, Eisav, and eventually Amalek, emerged from the lost potential. The epic historical struggle that ensued will end with "Saviors shall come from Mt. Zion to judge the mountain of Eisav" (Ovadia 1:21). However, the blessing of the conception of twins could have ended positively.

Indeed we can find areas of gentleness and goodness in Eisav. His treatment of his parents was legendary (see Bereisheet Rabba 65:16). Even his hypocrisy before his father stemmed from his sincere desire to make him happy. On the other hand, his bad attributes grew out of control, which led to transgressing five cardinal sins (Bava Batra 16b). How do these trends go hand-in-hand?
There is such a thing as a nature that one starts off with. Educational work is required to make the most of the nature, bridle it, and direct it. Eisav, the son and grandson of Yitzchak and Avraham, respectively, inherited very positive characteristics. But that is not enough. His personality as a whole had to be kept under a more effective guard. "I have created the evil inclination, and I have created Torah as a remedy" (Kiddushin 30b). That is the only way to restrain the wild side of an Eisav.

There are groups in Israel these days that talk about "Jewish identity." We know they are not happy about the situation; they wanted more than this. However, identity is just not enough. It is not enough for an Israeli to grow up knowing how his father and his grandfather prayed, without following them. Having some respect for his parents is not enough to prevent him from fooling them into thinking that he is more than he really is. We need youngsters to dwell in the tent of Torah, like Yaakov.

"The actions of the fathers are a sign for the children." The mistakes of our parents (i.e., Yitzchak) must also be a warning. Amalekites do not emerge immediately. It starts with Eisav, who at least had an element of embarrassment from sin. His grandson was a full-blown evil person. Pushing away with the left is an effective tool to accompany the drawing near with the right. We need this to fix our generation, as was the case throughout history.

Morrissey: Israel haters are just ‘jealous’ of the country

by Lee Harpin

New Morrissey song 'Israel' openly takes critics of the Jewish state to task - while a second song on his new album makes reference to a Holocaust related theatre production

Pop icon Morrissey has accused those who "rain abuse" on Israel of doing so because they are "jealous" of the country.

In the lyrics of his new song entitled Israel the former Smiths frontman also accuses unnamed enemies of wanting to instil their own “dark sky” on the Jewish state.

The near six-minute long pro-Zionist ballad is the closing track on Morrissey's new album Low In High School.

In typically hard-hitting fashion, the singer, who has regularly performed concerts in Tel Aviv, sings: “In other climes they bitch and whine/Just because you are not like them - Israel, Israel".

Referencing Israel’s critics, he adds: “And they who rain abuse upon you – they are jealous of you as well”.

Elsewhere in the song Morrissey appears to take issue with non-Jewish religious-based criticism of Israel, referring to "virgin priests”, perhaps a nod to his own uncomfortable Catholic upbringing.

Morrissey also attempts to avoid accusations of becoming an apologist for excessive Israeli military actions, suggesting he "can't answer" for army matters.

Israel is not the only track in which Morrissey deals with Jewish-related themes on the new album.

On a song called The Girl From Tel Aviv Who Wouldn't Kneel, the star pays homage to the theatrical production of the same name based on the diaries of Etty Hillesum, who was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943.

Morrissey’s positive stance on Israel stretches back over a decade –he once appeared on stage in Tel Aviv draped in an Israeli flag.

In 2008 he ignored calls by BDS campaigners to pull out of a concert there and ended a show saying: “God bless Israel”. He also appeared in a video with the word “Israel” tattooed on his forearm in Hebrew.

In 2012 Morrissey was given a key to the city of Tel Aviv by Mayor Ron Huldai . "I have become a small face of Tel Aviv. I will be very happy to represent with integrity and loyalty,” the singer said.

He also once attacked political critics for blaming the entire population of Israel for the election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But Morrissey has also drawn criticism for seemingly adopting chauvinistic views of non-white cultures in recent years.

His new album, which is his first since 2014, is out on November 17.

Princeton Hillel Rabbi Barred Israeli and Arab Speaker​s for Being Too Pro Israel

Rabbi Julie Roth
by David Bedein

This week, Princeton Hillel Rabbi Julie Roth barred Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely from addressing Princeton Hillel.

​This is in keeping with Rabbi Roth’s allergy to pro Israel speakers. ​

Eight years ago, in my capacity as the Middle East Correspondent of Philadelphia Bulletin, I was assigned to cover the appearance at the same Princeton Hillel of a pro Israel Arab activist, Nonie Darwish, except that her appearance was cancelled by the same Rabbi Julie Roth.

Jewish students invited Ms,. Darwish to speak on campus because they felt it was important to hear her critique of radical Islam.

The Islamic leader on Princeton campus, Muslim Life Coordinator, Imam Sohaib Sultan demanded that Hillel cancel Ms. Darwish’s appearance because, he contended, “she perpetuates stereotypes about Islam that implicate all Muslims, not just Muslim fundamentalists”.

In the spirit of academic freedom and dialogue, Jewish students on campus offered the Moslem students the chance to rebut and respond to Nonie Darwish after her presentation and to offer him equal time to express his point of view.

The Princeton Islamic students would hear nothing of any such suggestion for a dialogue in an academic setting and pressed their demand that Nonie Darwish’s lecture simply be cancelled.

IRabbi Julie Roth, the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Life at Hillel in Princeton, supported the campus Imam and told the students, “An invitation to Nonie Darwish is like an invitation to a neo-Nazi.”

Yet Rabbi Roth, who described herself as a leader in the promotion of “dialogue between the Muslim and Jewish communities on campus,” told me that she did not want to present views that disturb the sensitiivies of Muslims at Princeton.

So much for academic freedom and dialogue on an Ivy League campus.

From banning Nonie Darwish to banning Tzippi Hotovely, It would seem that Rabbi Roth’s academic standing should be questioned.

Europe's Collusion in Palestinian Illegal Land Grab

by Ruthie Blum

  • It takes particular gall for European Union representatives to express "humanitarian" outrage at Israel for razing illegal structures in the West Bank -- while the EU is in league with Palestinian criminals who have been brazenly stealing Arab-owned land.
  • There has been massive "behind-the-scenes" Palestinian construction, the goal of which is "to create irreversible facts on the ground," and completely encircle Jerusalem. Once the buildings – which "do not meet even the most minimum standards required by engineers, architects and housing planners" – are erected, the apartments are sold cheaply ($25,000-$50,000), to guarantee they are purchased and populated quickly.
  • If there is any debt to pay here, it is not Israel's to Europe, but the other way around. Belgium and the rest of the EU should be embracing its natural ally, the democratic Jewish state, against all forces that support and perpetrate violence, while rejecting peace.
Illegal Palestinian construction in the Jerusalem area.
In what is being called an "unprecedented move," eight European countries -- members of an initiative called the West Bank Protection Consortium -- recently announced that they had drafted a formal letter to the Israeli government, demanding the reimbursement of €30,000. According to Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Ireland and Denmark, this was the sum spent by the Consortium on materials provided for two structures (modular classrooms equipped with solar panels) erected for Palestinians and Bedouin in the West Bank, and dismantled by Israel at the end of August.

France: Muslims In, Jews Out

(Ed. note: this article dovetails quite nicely with: France: A Decomposing Civilization)

by Giulio Meotti

  • Suburbs have become transformed into one of the most visible signs of the Islamization of France. Anti-Semitism is devouring the French Republic.
  • While Jewish symbols disappear from France, Islamic symbols proliferate, from burkinis on the beaches to veils in the workplace. Jews who have not fled France are trying to become "invisible".
  • France's suburbs are rapidly becoming apartheid societies. Hatred of Jews has become the gateway to "la France soumise" -- the submission of France.
Pictured: French soldiers guard a Jewish school in Paris. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Suburbs ("banlieues") -- distant from the affluent boulevards and bistros of Paris -- form the "other France". They are the "peripheral France", ("La France Périphérique") as the geographer Christophe Guilluy calls them in an important book. They are where "living together" between communities has really been tested.
In the last 20 years, these French suburbs have not only become "concentrations of poverty and social isolation", but have gone from being some of France's most densely-populated Jewish areas to "lost territories of the Republic", according to the great historian Georges Bensoussan, in his book, Les territoires perdus de la République.
These suburbs have become transformed into one of the most visible signs of the Islamization of France.

"Allahu Akbar": Islamic Battle Cry

by A. Z. Mohamed

  • What the phrase "Allahu Akbar" actually means is that "Allah is greater" than any other god. When recited, it empowers Muslims, making them feel superior to the rest of mankind. "Allahu Akbar" has, in fact, been a jihadist tool since the early years of Islam.
  • Muslims do use it in various benign situations, as well. When it is shouted publicly as an expression of rage, however, particularly during an attack on others, it is intended to intimidate or threaten; its purpose is to emphasize that the assault is being committed on behalf of Allah -- submitting to his command to kill enemies -- and in the expectation of the reward of eternal paradise.
  • When mainstream media outlets in the West whitewash a key tenet of Islam -- jihad in the name of Allah -- these "fellow travelers" are both enabling the problem and obstructing its solution.
Sayfullo Saipov shouted the Arabic phrase "Allahu Akbar" when he exited the truck with which he murdered eight people and wounded more than a dozen others, during his October 31 terrorist attack in Manhattan. (Image source: Gh9449/Wikimedia Commons)
Within hours of the recent ISIS-inspired truck-ramming attack in lower Manhattan -- which left eight innocent people dead and more than a dozen others wounded -- much of the media began to divert attention away from the plight of the victims and focus instead on defending Islam. A common thread in the coverage of the mass murder was an accompanying analysis of the Arabic phrase "Allahu Akbar," which the terrorist, Sayfullo Saipov, shouted when he exited his vehicle and continued his rampage on foot.
The New York Times, for example, prefaced the tweet of an article about the use of the phrase, by saying: "'Allahu akbar' has somehow become inextricably intertwined with terrorism. Its real meaning is far more innocent."
The Times, like Shariah law apologist and Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, played down the definition of "Allahu Akbar," by insisting that it simply means is "God is great."

Yaakov and Eisav: What factors determine personality?

Parashat Toldot 5778
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Rivka suffered with her pregnancy and went to obtain advice at the yeshiva of Shem and Ever. There she was told that in her womb were twins who would become the forefathers of two nations who would change the course of history, and that the younger would surpass the older.

Why did Rivka go to the yeshiva of Shem and Ever, which according to some was situated in the northern city of Tzfat, while Rivka was living in Hevron; she could have taken advice from the greatest spiritual figure of her generation, her husband Yitzchak?

And altogether, how could Rivka act to divert the blessings to Ya’akov against her husband’s wishes?

I suggest that Rivka could not in any way confide in her husband with this matter, as follows:

Rivka knew that she was carrying twins. The Midrash says that when she passed a yeshiva, one fetus would become aroused, and when she passed an idolatrous temple, the second fetus would become aroused.

She knew that one of them constituted a bad seed from the moment of conception, so that nothing could change his basic nature.

Yitzchak was not aware of the terrible suffering of his wife, who knew she was going to give birth to an evildoer who craved idolatry. Rivka concluded that her innately evil son was her fault, as Betuel’s daughter and Lavan’s sister, and the righteous son could be credited to Avraham’s son Yitzchak.

When the twins grew up, Rivka could not tell Yizchak about Esav’s evil deeds and just how far he had gone in his wickedness, lest Yitzchak blame her for having brought that evil soul from the house of Betuel and Lavan. Rivka’s regular practice was therefore to praise Esav before Yitzchak.

Matters continued in that fashion until their bar mitzvah age. Ya’akov became a righteous man who sat in study, whereas Esav was a man of the field, a man of absolute licentiousness.

Rebecca heard that Yitzchak was about to bless “righteous” Esav thanks to her own words of praise over the years, and she understood that she had to correct the warped situation that she, herself had created by hiding the truth from her husband.

Rivka succeeded in hiding her great secret until Yitzhak understood by himself that Esav was evil when he married Canaanite women.

Many lessons that can be learned from Rivka’s conduct; but perhaps the most important one is do not tamper, pervert or conceal the truth.

More on Rivka’s Great Secret
Educators and psychologists struggle over the question: What is the major factor that fashions the human personality – heredity or environment? A person is composed of traits he inherits from his parents, but he is also influenced by his surroundings. Which of the two is decisive?

The question becomes incisive when we talk about twins who are polar opposites in their personalities.

Heredity and environment indeed, constitute primary components in fashioning the personality, but it appears that the decisive factor is the divine soul that HaShem breathes into one.

Like an artist who creates using various media: paper, cloth, parchment, canvas and glass. Oil paint will ruin paper and chalk will leave no imprint on glass. Likewise, an educational approach that stresses character improvement will be lost on someone totally selfish, just as the free spirit may be repelled by an approach that emphasizes strictures.

Yitzchak and Rivka strove to influence Esav to be true to Torah, but the call of the field was decisive. All of his parents’ words of Torah and chastisement were rejected in the face of his desire to lead a life of licentiousness and immediate gratification. Esav, thus remained Esav.

Rivka knew full well who Esav was, and Esav knew himself, as well. Esav’s twin, Ya’akov, knew very well who his descendants would have to deal with until the end of time.

When Rivka learned of Yitzchak’s intent to transmit the blessings to Esav, she was left with no choice but to prevent this occurring at any cost. She found herself in a situation that she herself had created by hiding the true nature of Esav from Yitzchak – the reality that Esav had a soul that detested holiness.

Rivka told Ya’akov, “Let any curse be on me, my son” (Bereishiet 27:13). I take upon myself the consequences liable to be caused by your deed, because I am responsible for the situation created.

Esav’s son was Eliphaz, who bore a son named Amalek. The Midrash states (Sifri on Bereishiet 33:4), “There is a well-known rule that Esav hates Ya’akov.” That hatred did not derive from anything Ya’akov did or said. Rather, Esav’s soul was the total opposite of Ya’akov’s, just as impurity is the opposite of purity.

The Talmud in Pesachim 118b relates that in the future the nations will bring a gift to the Messiah, and HaShem will reject Esav’s gift.

Nowadays, who are Esav’s descendants?

According to tradition, most of the population of Christian Europe is linked to Esav, including those who emigrated from Europe to other places like the Western Hemisphere. It is interesting to note that the flags of most of the countries of Europe, including the United States, include the color red which is associated with Esav.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5778/2017 Nachman Kahana

Rav Kook on Parashat Tolodot: Jacob Saved Abraham

According to an intriguing Midrash (Tanchuma Toldot 4), Abraham would not have made it out of his hometown of Ur Casdim alive were it not for the intervention of his grandson Jacob. King Nimrod ordered Abraham to be thrown into a fiery furnace because of Abraham’s rejection of idolatry. But Jacob came to the rescue, as it says:

“So said God to the House of Jacob who redeemed Abraham: Jacob will not be ashamed, nor will his face become pale.” (Isaiah 29:22)1

Even given the poetic license of Midrashic literature, Jacob could not have literally rescued his grandfather in an incident that took place before Jacob was born. Rather, the Sages wanted to teach us that Abraham was saved due to some special merit or quality his grandson Jacob possessed. What was this quality?

Two Paths of Change

There are two paths of spiritual growth that one may take. The first path is one of sudden, radical change, usually the result of some external catalyst. One example of such a transformation may be found in the story of King Saul. The prophet Samuel informed Saul that he would meet a band of prophets playing musical instruments. This encounter, the prophet told Saul, will be a turning point in your life. “The spirit of God will suddenly come over you, and you will prophesize with them. And you will be transformed into a different person” (I Samuel 10:6).

The second path is one of slow, deliberate growth. We attain this gradual change through our own toil; it does not require an external stimulus and thus is always accessible.

But why are there two different paths of change available to us? If God provided us with two paths, then clearly both are needed. We should first prepare ourselves and advance as much as possible through our own efforts. After we have attained the highest level that we are capable of reaching, we may then benefit from unexpected inspiration from the inner recesses of our soul.

Abraham was a spiritual revolutionary, initiating a revolt against the idolatry of his generation. Abraham is the archetype of radical change. The defining moments of his life were dramatic events of astonishing dedication and self-sacrifice, such as his brit milah (circumcision) at an advanced age, and the Akeidah, the Binding of Isaac. In the merit of Abraham’s far-reaching spiritual a his descendants inherited those soul-qualities which foster sudden transformation.

Future generations, however, cannot rely solely on Abraham’s style of radical change. As a normative path for all times, we need the method of gradual spiritual growth. The model for this type of change is Jacob. Unlike his grandfather, Jacob never underwent sudden transformations of personality or direction. Rather, the Torah characterizes him as “a quiet, scholarly man, dwelling in tents” (Gen. 25:27). Jacob’s place was in the tents of Torah. He worked on himself step by step, growing through perseverance and diligence in Torah study.

Two Names for Jerusalem

The Midrash teaches that the name Jerusalem is a combination of two names, indicating that the holy city possesses qualities represented by both names. Abraham called the city 'Yireh,' while Malki-Tzedek called it 'Shalem.' Not wanting to offend either of these righteous men, God combined both names to naming the city Yerushalayim - Jerusalem (Breishit Rabbah 56:10).

What does the name Yireh mean? The holy city, particularly the Temple, had a profound impact on all who experienced its unique sanctity. This profound spiritual encounter is described as a form of sublime perception - “Your eyes will see your Teacher” (Isaiah 30:20). This elevated vision inspired visitors to reach beyond their ordinary spiritual capabilities. Due to the spiritual transformation effected by perceiving Jerusalem’s holiness, Abraham named the city Yireh - “he will see.”

Malki-Tzedek, on the other hand, referred to the city’s qualities which assist those who seek to perfect themselves in a gradual fashion. Jerusalem is a place of Torah and ethical teachings, “For Torah shall go forth from Zion” (Isaiah 2:3). Therefore, Malki-Tzedek named the city Shalem (perfection), referring to this incremental approach towards achieving spiritual perfection.

Jacob to the Rescue

Returning to our original question: how did Jacob rescue his grandfather from Nimrod’s fiery furnace? In what way will Jacob “not be ashamed”?

The Kabbalists explain that the goal of humanity - the reason why the soul is lowered into this world - is so that we may perfect ourselves through our own efforts. This way, we will not need to partake of nehama dekisufa (the “bread of shame”), a metaphor for benefiting from that which we did not earn.

While this explanation fits the path of gradual change, it would appear that the path of radical transformation is an external gift that we do not deserve. Is this not the undesired nehama dekisufa that we should avoid?

Not necessarily. If we are able to take this unexpected gift and use it to attain even greater levels of spiritual growth through our own efforts, then there is no shame in accepting it. We can compare this to a father who gave his son a large sum of money. If the son simply lives off the money until it is finished, then the father’s gift is nehama dekisufa, an embarrassment for the son, reflecting no credit upon him. If, however, the son uses the money to start a new business, and through his efforts doubles and triples the original investment, then the son has certainly pleased his father and brought honor to himself.

This is exactly the way that Jacob “rescued” his grandfather Abraham. Left on his own, the most natural path for Abraham - whose revolutionary soul called for sudden, drastic change - would have been to achieve complete and absolute self-sacrifice in Nimrod’s fiery furnace. It was Jacob’s trait of gradual change that saved Abraham from the fate of martyrdom. Abraham adopted the path of measured spiritual change which his grandson Jacob exemplified. Abraham left the furnace, and over the years worked diligently to attain the spiritual elevation that he had relinquished inside Nimrod’s furnace.

Why bother with the slower path? “Jacob will not be ashamed.” By growing slowly through our own efforts, the spiritual gifts of radical change are no longer an embarrassing nehama dekisufa, but an honorable gift which we have utilized to the fullest.

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 289-292)

1 The simple reading of the verse interprets the phrase “who redeemed Abraham” to refer back to God, not to Jacob.

The Jewish-Arab demographic about-face

by Ambassador Yoram Ettinger

In 2017, Israel is the only advanced economy and Western democracy endowed with a relatively high fertility rate, which facilitates further economic growth with no reliance on migrant labor. Moreover, Israel's thriving demography provides for bolstered national security (larger classes of recruits) and a more confident foreign policy.

In contrast to conventional demographic wisdom, Israel is not facing a potential Arab demographic time bomb. In fact, the Jewish State benefits from a robust Jewish demographic tailwind.

At the outset of 2017, for the first time - and in defiance of projections made by Israel's demographic establishment since the early 1940s - Israel's Jewish fertility rate (3.16 births per woman) exceeds Israel's Arab rate of fertility (3.11). Actually, in 2017, Israel's fertility rate is higher than most Arab countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia – 2.1 births per woman, Kuwait – 2.4, Syria – 2.5, Morocco – 2.1, etc.).

The Westernization of the Arab fertility rate has also been in effect in Judea and Samaria: from 5 births per Arab woman in 2000 to about 3 in 2016; from a median age of 17 in 2000 to 21 in 2017.

The substantial, systematic Westernization of Arab fertility – from 9.5 births per woman in 1960 to 3.11 in 2016 – has been a derivative of the accelerated integration of Israeli Arabs into modernity, in general, and the enhanced status of Israel's Arab women, in particular.

For example – as it is among the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, whose fertility rate is similar - almost all Israeli Arab girls complete high school, and are increasingly enrolling in colleges and universities, improving their status within their own communities. This process has expanded their use of contraceptives, delaying wedding-age and reproduction, which used to start at the age of 15-16, to the age of 20 year old and older.

In addition, Arab women are increasingly integrated into Israel's employment market, becoming more career and social-oriented, which terminates their reproductive process at the age of 45, rather than 50-55 as it used to be. Furthermore, an intensified urbanization process has shifted an increasing number of Israeli Arabs from self-reliant agricultural to urban jobs, and from private rural homes to urban apartments, which has reduced the need for - and the convenience of raising– many children.

At the same time, since 1995, there has been an unprecedented rise in the rate of Jewish fertility - especially in the secular sector - resulting from a relatively-high level of optimism, patriotism, attachment to national roots and collective/communal responsibility.

From 80,400 Jewish births in 1995, the number surged to 139,400 in 2016, while the annual number of Arab births remained stable at around 41,000. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the 73% rise in the number of Jewish births took place despite the mild decline of ultra-orthodox fertility (due to expanded integration into the employment market, higher learning and the military) and the stabilized modern-orthodox fertility, but due to the rising fertility of the secular Jewish sector.

The unprecedented tailwind behind Israel's burgeoning Jewish demography is documented by the proportion of Jewish births in the country: 77% of total births in 2016, compared with 69% in 1995. Also, in 2016, there were 3.2 Jewish births per Arab birth, compared to 2.2 births in 1995.

Moreover, while Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel) persists in higher numbers than forecasted by Israel's demographic establishment (26,000 in 2016), it has a dramatically higher potential, which obliges Israel to reintroduce the pro-active Aliyah policy – in France, throughout Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, etc. – as it was prior to the Aliyah of one million Jews from the former USSR during the 1990s.

Simultaneously, an annual Arab net-emigration has been documented, persistently, from Judea and Samaria (about 20,000, annually, in recent years), while the annual net-number of Israeli emigrants (staying abroad for over a year) – total departures minus total returnees – has decreased substantially: from 14,200 in 1990 to 8,200 in 2015, while the population of Israel almost doubled from 4.5MN in 1990 to 8.4MN in 2015.

In 2017, the total number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria is 1.8MN, not 3MN as claimed by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, which includes in its count over 400,000 Palestinians who have been away for over a year; over 300,000 Jerusalem Arabs, who are doubly-counted (by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority); and 100,000 Palestinians who married Israeli Arabs and received Israeli ID cards, who are also doubly-counted. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority claims zero net-migration, ignoring the annual net-emigration of 20,000 in recent years and the systematic net-emigration since 1950. A September 7, 2006 World Bank studydocumented a 32% inflated number of births claimed by the Palestinian Authority.

In March 1898, the leading Jewish demographer and historian, Simon Dubnov, ridiculed the Zionist vision, claiming that by 1998 there will be no more than 500,000 Jews in the Land of Israel….

In October 1944, the founder of Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, Prof. Roberto Bachi, contended that under the best-case-scenario, in 2001, there will be 2.3MN Jews in the Land of Israel, a 34% minority….

However, in 2017, in defiance of demographic conventional "wisdom," there are 6.8MN Jews in the Land of Israel (including Judea and Samaria), a 66% majority, benefitting from a robust demographic tailwind.

Israel is not a Tzedakah Box

By Shmuel Sackett

With Hashem’s help, I am scheduled to return to Israel next week, after a long three week stay in the USA. I must admit that I have enjoyed the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts (maybe a little too much…), the sushi-filled kiddushes and watching the NFL on Sunday afternoon. Trust me that when I made aliyah over 27 years ago, it was not because life in America was bad. Not at all! I had a great job, my kids were in wonderful Yeshivot and my community life was centered around Torah. There were mikvahs, shiurim, youth groups in shul for the kids and my wife loved being close to family and friends.

We didn’t “run away” from America or anti-Semitism. Yes, it was tough financially – especially with the Yeshiva tuitions – but we were managing. The reason we made our life-changing decision to move 6,000 miles away was not because of something negative, rather the opposite! We didn’t run away from the bad… we ran towards the good! We packed up our house, said goodbye to our parents (which was not an easy thing to do) and moved to a country where we had very little family, almost no friends and where we did not speak the language well. We exchanged a solid school system for an unfamiliar one and a well paying job for a complete unknown… and we did all this because my wife and I believed that when the Jewish Nation calls, the Jewish individual responds! After 27 years I can honestly say that our only regret is that we didn’t move earlier.

Based on that, let me ask you a serious question. Is life all about comfort and convenience? I hope not. As Jews we strive towards greatness and our task of being the Chosen People is one that must be taken seriously. We cannot sit back and allow ourselves to become just observers of Jewish ritual. We are more than that… much more than that. We are a nation where “Homeland” is not just the name of a TV show. For 2,000 years we were exiled, persecuted, crusaded, pogrommed and holocausted (yes, I made up those words) but now we are home to build, grow, settle, fight and upgrade basic Judaism to Bet Ha’Mikdashism (ok, ok, I made that one up too…) We are in Israel to fulfill our destiny - and our Jewish life is intertwined with the Land of Israel.

I know that many of you agree with me. When you hear news about Israel, something inside of you starts to flutter. While we are concerned about the entire world, it’s simply different when the word “Israel” is heard. Even though it might have been 10 years since your last trip and you know more people in Florida than you do in Jerusalem, your body shakes when something happens there. To me, this proves that your Jewish soul is alive and well. The word “Israel” triggers a natural Jewish reaction. You may not know many people personally but you are connected nationally to everything that is going on there and your soul knows that very well!

This also explains another thing that I have noticed. In my few weeks in the USA, all Jewish newspapers are filled with ads for dinners supporting Israeli organizations. In these last 2 weeks alone there were ads for fundraising dinners for FIDF (Friends of the IDF), the One Israel Fund and for the city of Bet El. On one hand it is wonderful to see that Jews are taking some of their hard-earned money and sending it to support IDF soldiers and build settlements across Judea and Samaria. This proves what I wrote above, that Israel is a part of us. When IDF soldiers need help, we are there to do what we can. When Jews want to build kindergartens and medical centers in Bet El, Shilo or Elon Moreh, we are there to support those dreams and bring them to reality.

The only thing I don’t like about these fundraisers is that they make Israel look like a gigantic “Tzedaka box” and nothing can be farther from the truth. Many years ago – before the State of Israel was founded – Golda Meir ran around America raising money for basic needs of the young, idealistic Jews who were draining swamps just to live in the Promised Land. At that time, Israel was indeed a tzedaka box since the country lacked almost everything. Stories are told about Golda passing around a shopping bag for people to put money into! (I guess that would have made Israel a tzedaka bag, not box...) Today however, 70 years later, Israel is a world leader in almost every industry imaginable. From cyber-security to laser technology to medical breakthroughs to drip-irrigation systems to GPS traffic control, Israel is a word leader across the board. If that’s true - and it is - why do Israeli organizations run to NY, Chicago and Sydney, Australia to raise money to build nurseries and IDF training centers?

The answer is complicated and has both positive and negative sides to it. Allow me to focus on the positive angle only. The reason the IDF reaches out to Jews like Larry Ellison, Founder and CEO of Oracle, so that he can give $19.6 million (which he did last week at the FIDF dinner in LA) is because Larry Ellison needs a connection to Israel, even though he might never admit it. I know this may sound funny but the IDF does not need his $19.6 million. Yes, I’m sure they appreciate the donation but trust me on this one; if the IDF wants something – it gets it… no matter what the price tag is! The FIDF was set up for Jews like Ellison, and all the wonderful Jews like him who give whatever they could, so that their souls could be tied to the brave men and women of the IDF.

The same can be said of all these great organizations who build communities in Israel. When they reach out to Jews around the world, it’s not because they need them to survive. Bet El started with a handful of heroic families who sacrificed everything to bring that city to life and they could have continued the same way for the last 40 years and things would have been fine. When Bet El, Hebron, Efrat and Kedumim (as examples) started international fundraisers, it was because the Jews around the world needed the connection to these holy cities. Life in Boca Raton may be very comfortable for Jews but if there’s no connection to Biblical cities such as Hebron, a major void exists.

I realize this is a different way of looking at things but I believe it is true. Baruch Hashem, Israel is a wealthy country and she can build medical centers, schools and IDF training facilities on her own. Don’t get me wrong. I welcome the funds that are sent to Israel and if you can, send as much as possible. Just understand that you are doing this to strengthen your connection to the greatest gift Hashem gave our people in the last 2,000 years.

Israel is a lot of things… but it’s not a tzedaka box. It’s the fulfillment of a promise, the exile coming to an end and the Torah coming to life! Make sure you are a part of it with your funds, your dreams and eventually with your body, your soul, your family and everything you own.

The Shamrak Report: Allies by Mutual Necessity? and more.....

by Bob Mason
The times are changing in the Middle East as alien nations find common ground in a bid to avert Iran supremacy within the region. The opening of the dialogue between Israel and Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most significant shift in the region...
Both nations hold a common view on Iran and its rise to power within the region. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have a common ally in the US and the acting president also shares a similar view on Iran...
One particular article claimed that the Saudis had run tests on bringing down air defense systems to provide the Israeli Air Force a path of least resistance to Iran. Just this summer, former Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Sunni Arab countries and Israel face the same threat of a nuclear Iran.
News of a secret visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Israel in September suggests that the need for stronger ties is ever increasing...
A great divide in the Middle East may be on the horizon as Israel and the US may well become a significant force behind the split. A rebalance of power is seen as a must and how Congress deals with the Iran – U.S nuclear agreement will be considered a key step in the process.
For Israel, the benefits are significant and finding allies across the Arab world will be considered key in dealing with the old foe. The Shi’a-Sunni divide is never greater and any prospect of nuclear capability on either side of the divide is a chilling one...
The greatest concern within the region will be the improving relations between Turkey and Iran... Of particular concern will be the military cooperation between the two and how events unfold in Syria, where the two currently support opposite sides...
Israel and the Saudis certainly have an incentive to manage Iran’s prominence and the country’s allegiances. With the Middle East having more than half of the world’s oil reserves, the US is also ever-present, as is Russia who has also taken a greater interest.
Although, the Saudis have frequently played down news of closer ties with Israel. Concerns over a backlash from the Arab world continue to leave talks almost clandestine in nature. There is also the possibility that Congress goes ahead and ratifies the Iran – US nuclear agreement, though some may consider fresh sanctions a greater threat to regional peace...
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak
Isn’t it strange and hypocritical that Kurds who are struggling for reclaiming their own historical homeland, Kurdistan, which is occupied by four Islamic states, are often called “terrorists” and have no international support? But murderous thugs of a fake Palestinian nation, who are occupying Jewish land and aim to destroy Israel and killing Jews, are receiving endless political and financial immoral support from international anti-Semites!
Is Prime Minister Netanyahu for or against the death penalty for terrorists? Netanyahu was making a shiva call at the Salomon family’s home, he declared, on the record, that “the death penalty for terrorists is something for which the time has come. (But, as usual, officially he is playing a different tune!)
Saudi Arabia has charged Iran with perpetrating an act of war against Riyadh by supplying advanced missiles to its proxy group in Yemen, the Houthi rebels. Riyadh is also doubling down on Lebanon after its Prime Minister, Sa’ad Hariri, fled to Riyadh, saying that Lebanon appears to be declaring war on Saudi Arabia via aggression by the Iranian proxy terror group Hezbollah. (How many attacks have Israel have endured from Gaza, and threats of war from Hezbollah? Isn’t it time to end playing games and end the war?)
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot recommended that President Reuven Rivlin not grant Elor Azariya's request for a pardon. An IDF court sentenced Azariya to 18 months in prison. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called on Rivlin to accept the request for a pardon and to release Elor Azariya from prison. (When will Israel remove Labour ‘apparatchiks’ from the IDF and justice system?)
The UN General Assembly will condemn Israel nine times today (Nov. 10, 2017), “part of its annual ritual of enacting 20 Arab-sponsored resolutions singling out the Jewish state, and making no mention of Hamas stabbings, shootings or vehicular attacks against Jews in Israel. “While there will be a total of 20 resolutions against Israel this session, not a single UN General Assembly resolution is planned today or this year for gross human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela, China, Cuba, Pakistan or Zimbabwe” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.
A revolutionary ruling written by retiring Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, a Christian Arab, confirms that it is permitted to use private Arab lands to the betterment of local Jewish residents, and that such use does not defy International Law – because the settlers are also part of the civilian population.
Iran is building a permanent military base in Syria just south of Damascus, “Iran is devouring one nation after the other... “The good news is that the other guys are getting together with Israel as never before. It is something that I would have never expected in my lifetime,” Netanyahu said.
Even as PM Binyamin Netanyahu agreed with UN Sec Gen that future construction would be in accordance with law, UN prepares for new illegal construction. Declarations are one thing and deeds quite another! Only recently UNTSO has issued a tender for the demolition and reconstruction of one of the buildings built during the British Mandate in the Armon Hanatziv compound - in violation of the law and without a building permit. (Anything goes in anti-Semitic determination to destroy the Jewish state!)
Israel wants to start exporting its cannabis around the world. Cannabinoid drops has helped many of the 60 autistic children enrolled in a neuro-pediatrician program. Israel has reputation as a global center for medical weed research, development and exports. Belgium, Netherlands, Romania, Portugal, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland are major potential markets for medical marijuana. The market for medical weed will reach $33 billion in 2024.
Arabs, once again, are not missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. A week after the Palestinian Authority had announced that it had accepted responsibility for the Gaza Strip crossings, Hamas and Fatah are at odds over the management of those crossings. The longer the crossing to Egypt remains closed, the worse things are getting among Gaza’s civilians! (But they do not care – never have!)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman asked President Reuven Rivlin to approve the pardon plea of Elor Azaria, who had been convicted of killing an Arab terrorist who had already been downed in Hebron in March, 2016. But on Sunday night, Israeli media reported that the IDF Chief of Staff, the Military Advocate General, and the head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, have all recommended that the request for pardon not be accepted.
Quote of the Week:

“Relocating the Embassy would not adversely affect negotiations over Jerusalem’s final status or the broader Middle East peace process, nor would it impair our diplomatic relations among predominantly Arab or Muslim nations. In fact, by its honest recognition of reality, shifting the Embassy would have an overall positive impact on US diplomatic efforts.” - John Bolton, former US Ambassador to the United Nations.

Death of the Terrorist – still in Denial!
'Palestinians' held rallies to mark the 13th anniversary of the death of their revered former leader Yasser Arafat last Thursday. 
The Palestinians have long accused Israel of poisoning him, charges the Israeli government firmly denies. His body was exhumed in 2012 for tests but a subsequent French investigation found again no proof of poisoning.
13 Jan 2005 (for more click on the title)
Conformation - Arafat Died from AIDS
Ahmad Jibril, Secretary-General of the PFLP General Command, on Hizballah’s Al-Manar TV, publicly admitted the truth about Yasser Arafat’s death for the first time.
Ahmad Jibril: When Abu Mazen came to Damascus with his team, I asked them: “What happened to the investigation into the death of Abu Ammar [Arafat]? The Israelis killed him. He was my colleague ever since 1965 and used to sleep at my home. He and I followed the same path.” Is it conceivable that when Rafiq Al-Hariri was killed, all hell broke loose, even though he was just a merchant in Saudi Arabia, who later entered politics, whereas the death of Yasser Arafat, who for 40 years had been carrying his gun from one place to another, is not investigated? Is this conceivable?
They were silent, and then one of them said to me: “To be honest, the French gave us the medical report, that stated that the cause of Abu Ammar’s death was AIDS.” I am not saying this, they did. Now they pretend that they miss Yasser Arafat, and complain that (Hamas) entered his house in (Gaza) and so on... I say to every honorable member of the Fatah movement that he should be happy that we got rid of the plague, which had been imposed upon them and upon the Palestinian people. The Fatah movement now has an opportunity to renew itself.