Friday, May 28, 2010

G-d Dwells in our Midst

Illustration: Temple Institute

By Moshe Feiglin

Sing and rejoice, daughter of Zion; for, I will come, and I will dwell in your midst says G-d. And many nations shall join themselves to G- d on that day, and shall be My people, and I will dwell in your midst; and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me unto you. And G-d shall inherit Judah as His portion in the Holy Land, and shall choose Jerusalem again. Be silent, all flesh, before G-d; for He is aroused out of His holy habitation. (From this week's reading of Prophets, Zecharia 2: 14-17)

Behold I will come and dwell in your midst. True, you thought that you could live here without Me. You thought that you could be "normal" like all the other nations. Your left hand replaced me with socialism and universalism. Your right hand banished me with nationalism and state supremacism.

The non-Jews whom you so desperately wanted to imitate are waiting for My message of redemption and they are sure that you are the bearers of My word. On the one hand, they turn their backs on you, deny that you have a legitimate right to exist and arrest your leaders in Europe. If you are not My daughter, they wonder, what are you doing in My royal palace? On the other hand, they are counting on you to bring them closer to Me when I will dwell in your midst.

You have fled your destiny, you have denied your connection to Jerusalem. You surrendered it in 1948, you gave your beating heart - the Temple Mount - to the Moslem
wakf in 1967 and now - you are freezing, tearing and dividing My holy city. But I will choose Jerusalem once again and nobody will dare protest - not Iran and not Washington. Nobody will utter a word when I will restore My presence to Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who's afraid of the little old winemaker?

By Moshe Feiglin

3 Sivan, 5770
May 16, '10

Translated from the NRG website

The aristocratic atmosphere in the elegant hotel that hosted Israel's wine competition did not disclose the scene that was about to take place: A small boutique winery, Hararai Kedem, won
two gold medals and one silver medal. Hundreds of professional and amateur sommeliers watched in astonishment as the man with the beard and long sidelocks - who did not look particularly relevant to the glamorous event - hesitantly ascended the podium to accept his medals.

"There are two factors in this achievement," said Ariel. The first is that our vineyard is located in the blessed Biblical inheritance of Joseph. The second is that we fulfilled the laws of the Shmittah year. We simply did not attend to the vineyard, as dictated by the Torah, and didn't take finances into account."

Ariel thankfully accepted his medals and walked off the stage. His award-winning wines were produced from the grapes of the sixth year of the seven year Shmittah cycle. The experts told him that if he would not prune his vines during the Shmittah year, his entire vineyard would collapse. But just the opposite occurred - precisely what the Torah promises to the Jews who fulfill the laws of Shmittah: "
And I will give you my blessing in the sixth year and it will make produce for three years." (Leviticus 25:3). In the sixth year of the seven year cycle, Ariel's vineyard produced more than three times its annual average. Usually, quantity reduces the quality of the grapes. But in Ariel's case, both quantity and quality were extraordinary, as attested to by the medals.

At the beginning of the Shmittah year, Ariel divided his time between the permissible tasks in his vineyard and a strictly Jewish construction company that he had established. One of the major projects built by the company was the beautiful synagogue and yeshiva perched on a ridge overlooking his vineyard. The building permits were issued eleven years ago and the Housing Ministry even helped with some partial funding for the project. But the majority of the funding was from donations, while the building was painstakingly erected - stone by stone - by Ariel and his friends.

Ariel thought that during the Shmittah year, he would divert most of his energies from agriculture to construction. But a work accident forced him to change his plans. "I guess that our Father in heaven wants me to learn Torah during the Shmittah year," he said with a smile. When he was released from the hospital he joined the many young men learning Torah in the new study hall.

You may want to know where you can find more people like Ariel. I'm sorry to ruin your preconceptions, but in complete contrast to the media brainwashing - the place that you can fine Ariel and others like him is in Yitzhar - the settlement that the government and media love to hate.

The Hararei Kedem Vineyards

This week, the Ministry of Defense announced its plans to destroy the Od Yosef Chai synagogue and yeshiva that Ariel and his friends built. The last time in history that I can recall an official state decision to single out a synagogue for destruction was on Kristalnacht. Kristalnacht was preceded by a long period of dehumanization of the Jews of Germany. I assume that some of the incited talkbacks to this article will bear witness to the same process that has preceded this destruction order.

I do not believe that there is any reason to turn to the courts in an attempt to counter this evil anti-Semitism. The fact that this building had all the necessary authorization and that thousands of Arab buildings are sprouting throughout our Land like mushrooms after the rain with impunity does not interest the court. The people of truth in our Land do not have courts to protect them from the abuse of the authorities. Turning to them just lends legitimacy to the mechanism of evil directly aimed at Ariel and his friends. They fear people like him like darkness that fears light.

A small-time criminal acts against the law.
A medium criminal bypasses the law.
A big criminal uses the law.

I think that any soldier, policeman or citizen who will take part in the destruction of the yeshiva, G-d forbid, is a very big criminal - a first-class, law-abiding criminal. He is a pawn in the war that the auto-anti-Semitic minority has declared on the truest Jews in this country.

Editor's Note:
Ariel Sheetrit is just one of the recipients of your donations to the annual Manhigut Yehudit tree-planting project. May he go from strength to strength as he continues to build and settle every inch of our Holy Land!

Torah as Jewish Culture

Jaffa market mincha prayers

By Moshe Feiglin

If you ever go to the Jaffa flea market in the afternoon, you will be treated to a unique experience. At a designated moment, the peddlers stop hawking their wares, the shoppers stop inspecting the merchandise heaped in piles on the sidewalks and all gather for an open-air mincha (afternoon prayers) session. I love this marketplace prayer. It has a special grace. I always prefer to pray with working-people who stop in the middle of their toil to praise G-d than to recite the prayers in the synagogue. When the Torah becomes our national way of life, a culture that bursts forth far from the walls of the study hall, it carries the whisper of redemption on its wings.

The Scroll of Ruth that we will be reading on the holiday of Shavuot this Wednesday is the story of the Jewish People living their Torah culture in their Land. Boaz is not a yeshiva head or a famous rabbi. He is a Jew who works his land. The working people in the Scroll of Ruth remain in their Land despite the famine and abandonment by their leaders. They conduct themselves according to the cultural code of faith and loving kindness that they absorbed from the Torah and that is part of their lives.

That is also our goal; to turn our Torah into our culture. "You know," said one of the senior managers of the Knesset channel after I finished
last Wednesday's interview with Atila Shomfalvi, "all sorts of religious MK's come through our studio. I am secular - I try to understand them, but I just can't. You are the only person with a kippah on his head that I can understand."

I do not think that he meant that the religious MKs are not expressing themselves with enough eloquence. I think that he sensed the connection that Manhigut Yehudit makes between Judaism and reality.

The Scroll of Ruth teaches us that this authentic connection bears the secret of redemption. Many we merit to bring it soon!

Happy Shavuot

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jerusalem, Hebron and Shechem

By Moshe Feiglin

"How do you know that the prime minister is dividing Jerusalem?" one of the many interviewers with whom I have spoken over the past weeks asked me. "Just like the little boy knew that the emperor had no clothes - I simply open my eyes," I answered. "Just this morning I heard Housing Minister Ariel Atias explain that construction in Jerusalem has been frozen for half a year. So why are you still asking this question?"

Whoever does not see that Netanyahu is dividing Jerusalem - simply does not want to face the facts.

Slowly but surely, I am beginning to realize that the reason that we did not successfully convince the Likud Central Committee members that if they voted with Bibi, they would effectively be surrendering Jerusalem is because they have already begun to accept the division of our holy city as an unpleasant fact of life. Just like in the story of the emperor, it is infinitely more comfortable to march around, stripped of Jerusalem while decked out in illusory loyalty to it, than to actually stand up and fight for our capital.

Bogi Ya'alon and Benny Begin are members of Netanyahu's inner cabinet. They certainly knew about Bibi's promise to freeze construction in Jerusalem that was publicized by the US this week. But with their pledges of allegiance to Jerusalem, they helped Netanyahu soothe the consciences of the Likud Central Committee members so that they would vote with the prime minister.

In a clearly prescient observation, the Midrash in Breishit Rabba tells us that there are three pieces of property in Israel that the nations of the world cannot claim are stolen: The Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, the Temple Mount and the burial place of Joseph in Shechem. All of these places were bought by our ancestors. The purchases are clearly recorded in the Torah and Prophets. But the nations of the world have not read the Midrash and apparently not the Bible, either - and unabashedly claim that we have robbed these sites from their "rightful owners." As the Midrash predicted, it is specifically in Hebron, Shechem and the Temple Mount that the quintessential battle for the Land of Israel is being waged.

We cannot blame the nations of the world, though. It is we who surrendered Hebron and Shechem, bringing the battle to the gates of Jerusalem. And how have we begun to reclaim Hebron and Shechem?

My friend and veteran Hebronite Dovid Shirel told me that when the Jewish community in Hebron was starting out, it was extremely difficult to organize a quorum for prayer at the Cave of Machpelah. Except for the local Jews, the burial place of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs did not seem to interest anyone. People only began to wake up when it seemed that the government would surrender the Cave of Machpelah to the Arabs. And today? Today all the powers-that-be know that they cannot surrender the Cave of Machpelah because no fence or army can separate the Nation of Israel from its Forefathers.

Refreshing news from Joseph's Tomb in Shechem, as well. Who cared about the Tomb in the heart of an Arab refugee camp before it was taken away from us? Very few. But this week, on Joseph's day of the Counting of the Omer, thousands waited for the few buses that the IDF escorted into Joseph's Tomb. Soldiers emotionally joined the moving prayers at the Tomb. Some Jews regularly evade the army roadblocks and make their way to the Tomb, in the heart of Shechem, with no arms and no visible signs of logic. What happened in Hebron when the Jews felt that they were losing the Cave of Machpelah is happening now in Shechem.

Just wait to see what will happen when the Jews will understand that they are losing the Temple Mount. Just wait to see what will happen when the spark that has lit up Hebron and Shechem will ignite in Jerusalem and burn all that threatens the Jewish future of our eternal city.

Individual and National Rights in the Torah

By Moshe Feiglin

Illustration: Temple Institute

Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, by their polls; From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel: you shall number them by their hosts, you and Aaron. (From this week's Torah portion, Bamidbar, Numbers 1:2-3)

The ultimate purpose of the journey of the Israelites in the desert was the establishment of a kingdom of priests - a nation that testifies to the existence of the Creator and expresses His will in His world. To this end, the entire book of Leviticus delineates how to conduct ourselves as a holy nation that will enter the Holy Land and establish G-d's royal palace in the holy city on the holy mountain and crown the Creator of the world as King.

The Torah teaches us how to build G-d's royal palace, dictates its measurements and how to attend to it, how to build the Land and how to live in it. It tells us how the Nation of Israel should relate to its Land and how it should relate to itself. The entire treatise on proper conduct for a kingdom of priests and a holy nation ends with positive reinforcement for doing the job right - and alarming threats for failure to live up to the Torah directives.

After this introduction, the Torah opens the Book of Numbers with a census. Why a census? We are about to establish a kingdom of priests - we have the perfection of the world weighing on our shoulders - why do we need to count the individuals? With such lofty goals on our sights, what difference does it make exactly how many people are in each tribe and each family?

The 20th century era of revolutions catapulted the world between ideologies that erased the individual and those that erased the nation; between socialism and capitalism; fascism and democracy.

The Torah, however, includes both contradicting worldviews. The Land of Israel belongs to the Nation of Israel as a nation. But it also belongs to each individual. The state should not erase the individual as it did in Gush Katif, and the individual should not erase the state - even if that individual happens to be the prime minister.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is Manhigut Yehudit leaving the Likud?

By Moshe Feiglin

Translated from the article on Ma'ariv's NRG website

26 Iyar, 5770
May 10, '10

The media buzz surrounding Manhigut Yehudit's future in the Likud caught me by surprise. We had planned to keep the brainstorming process after last Thursday's Likud vote an internal affair - with only Manhigut Yehudit activists engaging in the debate. True, we knew that deliberations taking place among tens or hundreds of people would not be secret for long, but we did not estimate the great surge of public interest that the question of our future in the Likud would awaken. It seems that the stake that Manhigut Yehudit has planted in Israel's politics and collective consciousness is deeper than what we had assessed. When we move that stake just a bit, we create waves both inside and outside Israeli politics - surprising those in the eye of the storm.

Some people erroneously believe that our deliberations over Manhigut Yehudit's future in the Likud are the result of political failure, or because we failed in our attempt to prevent the Likud Central Committee from adopting Netanyahu's proposal, or because the Prime Minister has waged an all-out war against me. That is simply not true. If all that I was looking for was a place in the Knesset, I could have achieved my goal directly and with relative ease. It is not pleasant to be engaged in an ongoing political battle against forces larger and stronger than me; it is not pleasant when the chairman of my political home schemes with the High Court "judges" to remove me from the Knesset slot to which I was elected last year or to prevent elections altogether, as he has done now. I am way outside my comfort zone - but that is apparently the proof that we are on the right track.

As a result of last Thursday's vote, the Likud has redefined itself. It can no longer be considered the ruling party of the National Camp. Instead, it has become the ruling party of one man - in the service of the Left. The political alliance that has been formed between the chairman of the Likud (who also happens to be the Prime Minister of Israel) and the justice system allowed him to retroactively change the rules of the game to his advantage and to effectively sever the Likud from its members. From that point and on, nothing stands in the way of the Prime Minister as he charges ahead with his plans to partition Jerusalem.

Not one member of the small, rightist Knesset parties was anywhere near the arena on which the battle for Jerusalem took place last Thursday. Manhigut Yehudit, the movement that "always fails" made the prime minister sweat and deny the claims that the real story behind the Likud vote was Netanyahu's plans to divide Jerusalem.

Manhigut Yehudit's struggle was actually a mission impossible. In addition to the opportunity to vote themselves into position for life, Netanyahu treated the Likud Central Committee members to an all-star lineup of rightist ministers and senior Likud MKs who promised to safeguard Jerusalem: No less than Bogi Ya'alon, Benny Begin, Gideon Sa'ar, Yisrael Katz, Moshe Kachalon and Rubi Rivlin vowed their undying loyalty to Jerusalem. Under the circumstances, it was almost impossible to convince the LCC members that just the opposite would happen. But not even two weeks have passed and the US has already revealed the truth about Netanyahu's plans for our capital.

In other words, a regular citizen - not even a Knesset Member or minister - ascended alone onto the arena where the battle for Jerusalem was being waged and gave the prime minister and the government mechanism that protects him the only significant fight that took place. Thank G-d for such "failure."

Why then, are we considering leaving the Likud?
To understand this, we must first explain why we are in the Likud, in the first place:

The Zo Artzeinu demonstrations against Oslo were perhaps the most potent catalyst for Netanyahu's election victory in 1996. One hundred thousand people took to the streets only to see, one year later, the head of the National Camp, who had been elected on the wings of their demonstrations - hug the greatest murderer of Jews since Hitler - Yasser Arafat - and to declare to the entire world that he had "found a friend." Instead of nullifying the Oslo Accords and restoring Israel to sanity, Netanyahu gave the Oslo catastrophe the Right's seal of approval. All the wars, the exploding buses, the security guards and the fences, the loss of international legitimacy - the entire collapse that we have experienced since then, are the children of Shimon Peres, who brought Oslo into the world. But they became an indisputable fact of life in the merit of Netanyahu's hug with Arafat.

At that point, we at Manhigut Yehudit realized that there was no point in demonstrations. We realized that the large Jewish majority in Israel - the National Camp - needs leadership that is committed to Judaism's holy values. The natural party for our aspirations was and remains the ruling party of the National Camp; the Likud.

The problem is not the talent or the personal character traits of one rightist leader or another. The problem is that Israel denies its intrinsic holiness. Egypt's Sa'adat received the entire Sinai peninsula from Israel because he declared that every grain of its sand was holy to him. When veteran journalist Chaim Yavin asked me last Friday, "Actually, why shouldn't we partition Jerusalem?" I answered him quite simply: "Because Jerusalem is holy. Just like you don't divide your mother, you do not divide your holy city."

Israel urgently needs leadership that speaks in the name of Jewish holy values. Israel needs leadership that expresses its soul. Without this leadership, not only will we lose Jerusalem - we will lose Tel Aviv, as well. Israel's detachment from its soul has led the world to believe that we are 'pragmatic' and rational - and that this land is holy only to the Arabs. And that is exactly how we have lost the legitimacy for our very existence as a Jewish state.

I have no doubt that my dreams are the quintessential dreams of the large Jewish majority in Israel; traditional Jews, religious Jews, ultra-Orthodox Jews and even the remaining 19% who define themselves as secular Jews. I dream of a truly free state - for rich and for poor; for the strong and the weak. I dream of a Jewish State that lives in peace with its identity and its G-d - with no coercion. I dream of a state that is proud to fulfill the historic destiny of the nation that it represents - a state that strives to perfect the world and to sanctify the Name of G-d by establishing an exemplary society. I dream of a state that is firmly planted on its holy foundations - and not on pragmatism, alone. I dream of a state to which the nations of the world will turn to receive moral legitimacy - and not the opposite. I dream of a state that proudly embodies the soul of the Jewish Nation.

Does the path to national leadership that dreams this national dream still lie in the Likud? That depends: If the Likud will manage to rebound from the major blow that it has just received and to restore the democratic process that it has lost, then it will once again be capable of honestly representing the human tapestry that makes up the Jewish majority in Israel.

When will we know? I do not know. We will take all the time that we need to analyze the new situation and to make the correct decision. The Likud is still our political home and for now, we will remain in the party and continue to register new members with hope that the movement will overcome this blow and flourish once more. If it becomes clear that the Likud cannot regain its status as the ruling party of the national camp - I am sure that our Father in heaven will open a new channel for our efforts.

One thing is for sure: We do not have the luxury of sinking into despair and going home. Our children and grandchildren deserve a Jewish state in the Land of Israel.

No Holiness, No Jerusalem

By Moshe Feiglin

We explained, we shouted, we cried - nothing helped. The Likud Central Committee essentially erased the Likud and concentrated all the power in Netanyahu's hands as he heads toward the partition of Jerusalem. The national values that once motivated the fledgling state's magnificent underground movements have dissipated and can no longer head off trouble before it comes our way. For those to whom the concepts of holiness are foreign, the Land of Israel remains simple real estate. Including Jerusalem.

"Actually, why not partition Jerusalem and bring peace?" veteran broadcaster Chaim Yavin asked me in a radio interview last Friday. "Because it is holy," I answered. "You don't partition your mother and those who ask questions like that also lose their grasp on the Yarkon Park." (Tel Aviv)

Just as we predicted, as soon as Netanyahu got what he wanted from the Likud Central Committee, he scurried off to sell Jerusalem. As seasoned radio commentator Razi Barkai reported on Monday, "I am getting reports from all kinds of places on an agreement between Netanyahu and Obama on a building freeze in Jerusalem." The Ha'aretz newspaper reports that the negotiations will begin with core- issue discussions. In other words, on Jerusalem. All that we can do is to wait and see how much time will pass until the full extent of the betrayal will be clear to the Israeli public and if Am Yisrael will wake up in time to prevent the collapse.

It is not only Jerusalem that is on the drawing boards. The dismantling of Israel's nuclear capabilities is also open for discussion.
"Would you like to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons? No problem. Make 'peace,' retreat from the 'occupied territories' and dismantle your nuclear weapons. Just like everyone else." In other words, settlements-in-exchange-for-stopping-Iran was nothing more than an early-bird sale. Now the ante has been raised, and it will be raised even more. Why shouldn't it? If Israel allows everyone to walk all over her, that is exactly what will happen.

It makes no difference that there is no peace and that there will be no peace. It makes no difference that Iran will keep speeding ahead toward nuclear capabilities even after Israel will agree to dismantle its own. It is irrelevant that Israel never signed the nuclear non-proliferation pact and thus does not owe anybody any type of adherence. An international chorus from Egypt via Washington and the capitals of the West, and all the way to the editorials in Ha'aretz will vociferously demand the dismantling of Israel's nuclear capabilities. Israel's atom will be defined as the number one cause of the instability in the Middle East (while the opposite is true, of course) and countries from all around the world will call for sanctions against insubordinate, dangerous and aggressive Israel. All the green movements in the world will focus their protests on the nuclear plant in Dimona and on boycotting Israel and the local and international media will have a field day.

Bibi will try to "maneuver" and to win time in this impossible situation. Iran will continue to charge ahead with its nuclear program while world attention will refuse to deal with it, preferring, instead, to focus on Israel's bomb.

Then, sadly, we will be able to say "We told you so." In fact, it is already important for us to say "We told you so." Not because that will make us feel better (it won't!). Simply because the fact is that there was only one movement that warned of the impending storm and fought against Netanyahu when the entire Right praised his loyalty to Jerusalem.

When the extent of Netanyahu's betrayal will surface and the mad political scurry will begin, Israel will need brave leadership to replace him. Many of those politicians who remained silent or who even helped Netanyahu last week will try at that point to jump on our bandwagon. That is why it is important from right now - as the facts about Netanyahu's actions begin to assemble before our eyes - to remind everyone that we told you so. The same people who correctly read reality and had the courage to swim against the stream and sound the warning while everyone was still dreaming will have the tools to lead us to safe shores.

And now what?

We have been receiving an endless stream of telephone calls and supportive letters from Manhigut Yehudit supporters and from Jews throughout Israel and the world. There is no doubt that the struggle that revealed the betrayal of Jerusalem - the struggle between two very unequal forces - moved many good people.

"I was touched to see a politician cry over something - and even more so, over Jerusalem," wrote one person.

"I remembered the words of our Sages: He who mourns for Jerusalem will merit to witness its joy," wrote another.

"Don't give up, don't despair," wrote many more.

A young man who teaches in a yeshiva for newly observant Jews told me that what he saw on Thursday prevented him from disassociating from reality and waiting numbly for Mashiach's arrival. "When I saw a leader who really cares, it re-connected me to my Torah, back to reality and back to the Nation of Israel."

Those who think that we have been broken need not fear. We have never been stronger, more determined or closer to achieving our goals. It is impossible to stop the faith based revolution. It is already part of Israel's essence. It is bursting forth from all strata of Israeli society. In the future, nobody will remember the Bibi vs. Feiglin battles. But clearly, the State of Israel will be much more than Bibi's dream of "a place under the sun." Israel will be the state that heralds the Jewish message of perfecting the world in the Kingdom of Heaven - and all humanity will stop to listen.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Jewish Capitalism

By Moshe Feiglin

And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you; and every man shall return to his inheritance, and you shall return every man unto his family. (From this week's Torah portion, Behar, Leviticus 25:10)

We usually read the Torah portion on the Jubilee perfunctorily. The concept is a bit over our heads. What is the Jubilee? A game of Monopoly, in which every fifty years we re-shuffle the cards and re-distribute property and possessions? Is it really possible that the wealthy will share their assets with the poor?
The Torah teaches us that the righteous person's possessions are dear to him. Our Forefathers were billionaires. The Jewish economic principle is far from socialistic. Private property is just that - dedicated to its owner, alone. So why the sharp turn at the end of the Jubilee year?

Let us take a more exacting look at the Torah directive. In the verses on Jubilee, the Torah is talking about a person's portion of the Land - not one's cars, jewelry or savings account , and not even real-estate assets. Every Jew has his own inheritance in the Land of Israel. The relationship between the Jew and his portion of land is the same as his relationship to his wife: She is dedicated to him and sanctified unto him alone. Just as a man who goes bankrupt does not lose his wife to his creditors, he does not lose his portion of land, either.

The sanctity of personal possessions is a lofty Jewish value. But Jewish capitalism is different than current capitalism. It is delineated within the boundaries of sanctity. And if the economic game has breached the basic sanctity between a man and his inheritance, the Jubilee year proclaims liberty throughout the Land of Israel and reunites the inheritance with its owner.

This type of capitalism would render the proposed law to limit the huge salaries in the public service in Israel unnecessary. The Jewish Shmittah and Jubilee mentality that sanctifies private property while subservient to the Source of the property, to Whom everything belongs - would make greediness impossible. And if that mentality does not exist, can a new law rectify the situation?

Shabbat Shalom

Sunday, May 02, 2010

What Now?

By Shmuel Sackett

After our loss in the Central Committee referendum, many friends have called and asked me, “What now?” Here is my simple, right-to-the-point answer: More of the same! Let’s analyze the referendum for a second:

The vote was taken exclusively in the Central Committee where our strength is limited. Please remember that this is the same CC from 2002. We only have a total of 120 delegates in that committee. That’s all. But there’s more than that. Over the last 8 years, we have seen the same exact trend: Every time a vote comes before the CC that is a 100% ISSUE vote, we win, while every time a vote comes before the CC that is about a PERSON, we lose. Allow me to explain:

We initiated a vote before the CC regarding whether or not the Likud should support a Palestinian State and over 2,000 voted AGAINST… which is what we wanted. We initiated a vote before the CC regarding a new law that we proposed; that new members must wait 16 months before becoming eligible to vote. Once again this was passed by a huge majority (I do not recall the exact numbers but it was a landslide) so again, we WON that vote. However, every time a vote comes before the CC that is NOT about an issue but about a PERSON… we lose.

In previous years, the CC voted on the Knesset slate and every time we ran for a realistic spot on that slate we lost. In the past we ran Moshe and then Michoel and even Asya and each time we lost. It was only this last time (in Dec 2008) when the GENERAL MEMBERSHIP voted for the Likud Knesset slate that Moshe won a realistic spot. This is EXACTLY why Bibi made this a PERSONAL issue. In reality it was a silly, little, boring referendum but he turned it into a Bibi vs Feiglin item and rest assured, with this current CC, we cannot possibly win in that scenario. The conclusion is obviously clear. Our strength in the CC is limited while our strength in the party is much greater. Please remember that when Sharon took a referendum inside the party re: the Gush Katif expulsion, ALL POLLS said that he would win… but WE won. The Likud general membership voted AGAINST the expulsion. This is yet another example of our strength in the party. Inside the CC, however, we are definitely limited.

As stated above, we have only 120 delegates. We worked very hard and brought 483 to vote “against” in the referendum. That is 4 times our entire group! The media was right on the ball when all week they kept saying that Bibi’s “magic number” was 1,500. They knew that we could only get to about 500 so in order for Bibi to secure a 2/3 majority, he needed a voter turnout of 1,500. To his credit, he worked like crazy and brought out the vote. He hosted 6 conferences all over the country, called every CC member, set up real-time teams to check the online voter turnout, got his ministers involved (especially Bogey, Begin, Katz and Kachlon), put the entire Likud machine to work and made sure that his people came to vote. Personally, I do not buy the “cheating” line. I did not see it in any of the places I visited. He simply worked very hard and brought 2,100 CC members to vote. That is an incredible voter turnout (over 80%!!!). Therefore, there is no need to be depressed. No sky is falling down.

Let me be perfectly clear: With this current CC, if 2,100 come to vote – on what they perceive to be a “personal” thing (which is what Bibi succeeded in doing) – we will NEVER win!! We will put up a fight, give them a “run for their money” but – using an NBA analogy - our team is just not good enough to beat the Lakers. We have some good shooters, some wonderful defenders and some terrific rebounders but against Kobe Bryant, we are just NOT going to win! When a NEW CC is elected and we DOUBLE our power and get a much younger CC, then it’ll be like adding LeBron James and Michael Jordan to our team and that means the Lakers are toast! So relax, my friends. We put up a wonderful fight but – as I wrote above – our current team can only go so far. Today’s YEDIOT – page 2 - said it best:

“Feiglin worked very hard but still doesn’t have enough strength to defeat the big guns.”

I want you to read that line again. They did not laugh at us. They didn’t flick us off like a piece of dandruff. The biggest newspaper in Israel wrote that we “…still don’t have enough strength…” This means that one day we will! They know it. Bibi knows it. Moshe and I know it. We need YOU to know it, too! One last point regarding those that have written to me saying that it is time to leave Likud. Please think about this:

Efi Eitam – great war hero, beautiful Jew… but totally irrelevant in the world of politics.

Benny Elon – Torah scholar, wonderful Jew… but totally irrelevant in the world of politics.

BOTH of these men have realized what I wrote and LEFT politics.How about the current guys?

Ketzale – hero, builder of YESHA communities, founder of Arutz-7, a REAL amazing Jew who I love dearly… but totally irrelevant in the world of politics.

Michael Ben_Ari – proud student of my Rabbi (HaRav Kahane), great fighter, tough and proud Jew… but totally irrelevant in the world of politics.

I could go on but I think you understand my point. Now let’s take a look at one more guy.

Moshe Feiglin – loser of many elections, never made it to the Knesset, not an IDF general (although he was a combat commander in the Lebanon war), didn’t start his own radio station etc… but – VERY and TOTALLY relevant in the world of politics!!! Nobody is laughing at Moshe. In Israel’s “right wing” that is simply an incredible achievement. By now, he should have been laughed out of politics. But he is not. Yediot, Ma’ariv, Jerusalem Post and even Ha’aretz take him seriously. ALL TV and radio stations in Israel rush to interview him. And MOST IMPORTANTLY – the Prime Minster of Israel works night and day to defeat him!!! WHY????????????

One reason: Because he is fighting INSIDE Likud. He has not put himself in a ghetto but has entered the leadership party with his bold and daring plan. You must understand that had he used this SAME plan from OUTSIDE Likud, he too would have become a “has been”. The name “Feiglin” would have quickly been erased from memory and the dream of Israel as a proud and strong Jewish State would be over. Therefore, to answer the question: “What now?” I say “More of the same!!!” More signing up members for Likud. More gaining strength and momentum inside the ruling party. More opposition from WITHIN and no holding signs and protesting from outside!

When we entered Likud in Nov 2000 I wrote and said that we are embarking on a 10-15 plan. 10 years is the minimum and we are not even there yet. I assure you that we are on the right track. Let’s keep focused, stick to the game plan, pray to Avinu She’ba’shamayim, always work to sanctify our Father’s great and holy Name and we will succeed within the time frame we set!