Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Chukat 5771

BS"D Parashat Chukat 5771

The parasha relates a grievous incident in the thirty ninth year of our sojourn in the desert, just when the nation was set to enter the Promised Land. The people demanded water, which was a legitimate request, but was performed in a most inappropriate manner for those who were under the influence of the Torah for 40 years. And Moshe responded in a very uncharacteristic manner (Bamidbar 20:10):

ויקהלו משה ואהרן את הקהל אל פני הסלע ויאמר להם שמעו נא המרים המן הסלע הזה נוציא לכם מים:

Moshe and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and He (Moshe) said to them, "Listen, you Morim, can we bring you water out of this rock?"

Rashi suggests three meanings for the word "morim" which Moshe used when facing the unruly, ingratiated mob: refusniks, fools or disciples who seek to direct their teachers.

It appears to be quite out of character that Moshe, the great rabbi and mentor of the Jewish people whom Hashem called "the most humble of men", would "bad-mouth" his own people even when they acted or expressed themselves inappropriately.

So, I suggest that Moshe was not denigrating or defaming the people. He was simply pointing out to them a basic fact of life. That by conducting themselves in such a non-Torah manner, they were extricating themselves from the category of dedicated and loyal Bnei Torah and entering into the category of "morim" from the word "hora’ah" (to teach or to direct); that is people who lead their lives according to what is momentarily convenient, but not necessarily according to the dictates of the Torah.

(The categorization of people and objects is essential to the way our minds function. It permits us to focus rationally when viewing the manifold, detailed world in which we live).

Moshe then hit the rock twice before water began to pour from it. Perhaps to demonstrate before the rebels the end of a their life of total dedication to HaShem, and the beginning of their new misdirected, disloyal "kosher style" way of convenience under a thin veil of Judaism, which much later in history would be called Reform Judaism.

To depart from the requirements incumbent upon God’s chosen people; to depart from under the umbrella of sanctifying HaShem’s holy name through unwavering obedience to halacha, because of inconvenience or one’s desire to be accepted in gentile circles - all fall into the category of Reform Judaism.

HaShem appeared to Moshe and Aharon and announced that they would not enter the Promised Land. Not because of any wrongdoing on their part, for there was none; but because of the many reasons put forth by various commentaries of the Torah, which is beyond the scope of this week’s message.

There was an article in this week’s Jerusalem Post, that presented the numbers of olim to Israel from the United States over the past several years. It averages out to about 2000 a year from a potential Jewish pool of approximately 4 million people; that is 1 oleh for every 2000 Jews in the USA, or if there are 5 million Jews in the US it would be 1 oleh for every 2500 Jews. And according to the estimate that there are 1 million observant Jews in the USA, it is 1 oleh for every 500 religious Jews, or 10 olim for every 5000. Shame on the religious leadership in the United States!

There are 4 major categories that fit the Jews in the USA. They range from the Orthodox - including a wide selection of diverse sects and sub-cultures from the major yeshivot down to homosexual orthodox synagogues - on one side of the scale, to the totally unaffiliated JINOs (Jews in name only) on the other extreme. And between the two categories there are the Conservatives, who, I admit I do not know what they want, and Reform Jews who I described previously as "misdirected, disloyal, kosher style way of convenience under a thin veil of Judaism".

But now the uncomfortable question arises:

The JINOs and the adherents of Reform Judaism reject the historical fact of Torah from Sinai: "Halachic Shabbat is antiquated," they say, "We rest on the week-end by driving to our boat docked at the marina, and sail in the calming waters of the sea. Kosher is inconvenient, so when after a Broadway show we feel life threatening hunger pangs, and the smells from the nearby treif steak house becons, we head there". Or the all consuming love towards a gentile woman, who is clearly a God sent soul-mate.

The "rejectionist" Jew claims that "Halachic" Judaism is domineering, even tyrannizing. He prefers a more friendly relationship with God. So he picks and chooses from the shelves of the Judaic supermarket that which is convenient and not distasteful to his non-Jewish friends.

To pick and choose from out of the generous display of Torah mitzvot is the turning of one’s back on the basic and fundamental principle of Judaism - HaShem commands and we obey!

But Reform and Conservative Judaism are not monolithic. Some adherents keep a semblance of Shabbat but eat chazir, others eat kosher at home but choose to desecrate the Shabbat. Some recite kaddish for their deceased father, lest he appear in a frightening night-mare to them. Some even visit Israel when the price of the ticket is right.

Lets take this idea to the next step. What about the Boro Park, Flatbush, Lakewood, L.A., Williamsburgh etc., Jew who observes Shabbat, kashrut and even studies Torah, but is inconvenienced by bad luck to have been born after 2000 years of galut, when HaShem opened the gates of Eretz Yisrael for our return. Torah Shabbat - yes! Torah Kashrut - yes! Torah Eretz Yisrael with its military issues, pushy Israeli, and that Ivrit language, all of which demand self-sacrifice - NO!

In principle, there is little difference between the declared reform Jew who observes few mitzvot while choosing to reject the many, or the "frum" Jew who observes many mitzvot but picks and chooses not to follow the one difficult, demanding major mitzva of this generation of settling HaShem’s Holy Land.

In principle, the Jew who picks and chooses to direct his religious life according to his personal preferences fits into the category of "Morim". This was the category by which Moshe Rabbeinu distinguish the rebellious people who chose to lead their lives according to what is momentarily convenient, but not according to the dictates of the Torah.

Shabbat Shalom

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5771-2011 Nachman Kahana

The Art of Negotiation

By Tuvia Brodie

Did you see Gershon Baskin’s column, A guide to September (Jerusalem Post, June 28, 2011)? He is a regular writer for the Jerusalem Post whose column usually promotes a Left-leaning agenda. With this particular essay, he summarizes a recent New York Times op-ed piece (Buying into Palestinian statehood, June 24, 2011) to support his own plan for a Palestinian state: the UN should first declare that a new state of Palestine will be created with June 4, 1967 (pre-war) borders, and then declare that this new Palestine, upon its creation, will negotiate with Israel for agreed-upon land swaps (see Baskin’s article for all of his details). The plan clearly builds on US President Obama’s announcement in late May that Israel should retreat to pre-1967 borders before negotiations begin for a two-state arrangement, but adds other details, including a negotiation time-table, a UN component and a Declaration of Peace which both parties would sign. Mr Baskin, like all of his brethren on Israel’s Left, makes his own two-state proposal sound easy and straight-forward.

He is a good writer.

But in reality, this proposal is neither easy nor straight-forward. In fact, this proposal is too seriously flawed to work: once Israel surrenders land and goes back to pre-1967 lines—before negotiations even begin-- the negotiations might be over. Period. Having won those borders without yielding anything in return, the PA will be tempted to stonewall; for once Israel retreats to ‘Auschwitz’ borders and the leadership of the new Palestine tours their new military high ground above Israel’s population centers, they may conclude that negotiation is no longer necessary to address their grievances against Israel. Why? As recently as May, 2011, local Arab TV viewers were reminded (in Arabic) that Jews have been ingathered into Israel as part of a divine plan that would give the Arab people the honor of annihilating Jews in a great massacre —and when Arab leaders can finally look down on Israel from the mountain range above our coastal plain, where app 80% of our population lives, they could easily remember those words and have no interest in further negotiation.

Indeed, I would suggest that, given Hamas’ dedication to Israel’s destruction—and given the omnipresent hatred of Israel in Arab media and mosque— this is exactly how we should expect Hamas/Fatah to react upon standing on their new military high ground. Anyone who does not understand this should watch Arab TV for the next 60 days.

The Baskin peace proposal, like all two-state proposals, reminds me of something Yehuda Avner wrote in his book, The Prime Ministers (The Toby Press, 2010) about a speech he had crafted for Golda Meir in September 1973, to address contemporary European interest in creating peaceful co-existence between Arab and Jew in the Middle East (Avner quotes from European statesman Jean Monnet):

Peace depends not only on treaties and promises. It depends essentially upon the creation of conditions which, if they do not change the nature of men, at least guide their behaviour towards each other in a peaceful direction (p.220).

All of the two-state proposals I have seen are not only built on promises, they absolutely ignore the conditions Avner references—conditions that must be created if two nations are to live together in peace. If the Left truly wishes to propose a viable peace for Arab and Jew, they would be wise to spend their time discussing what these conditions should look like; because right now, the only ‘conditions’ we see the Arab creating for Israel have nothing to do with peace and everything to do with killing Jews.

The Left seems obsessed with ‘peace’ but appears to think of peace primarily as an abstract that is not affected by hate. As Avner reminds us, peace is not simply a piece of paper filled with promises. Peace is how people think about each other, talk about one another and treat each other. For anyone to claim that peace will be ours if only we retreat to pre-1967 borders before negotiations even begin, and before these conditions of peace have been implemented, is being disingenuous at best. Such peace would be an empty peace built upon empty promises. Once Israel pulls back to those borders, the only thing we might be able to negotiate at that point will not be a final peace, but land swaps which, essentially, means that Israel could be asking Hamas/Fatah to give back to us some of the land we have just given away to them.

This is what the Left calls ‘negotiations’ for peace? We surrender land to an enemy who swears to kill us and then negotiate with them to get some of the land back?

It would appear that the Left is either cunningly anti-Israel or they need to go back to the drawing board.

Which is it? As Bob Dylan once said, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows".

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Cottage Cheese Coup

By Moshe Feiglin

27 Sivan, 5771
June 29, '11

Translated from the NRG website

Editor's note: The price of a small cup of cottage cheese in Israel has recently risen in Israel to a whopping 8.00 NIS, triggering a Facebook-driven public boycott of the cheese.

The temporary solution for the unbridled surge in food prices is imports. Israel is a small market and our immediate borders are closed. A long tradition of centralized government has created a monopoly on basic goods. Even though Israel has long ago adopted a free market track, there are still a number of pockets in which no real competition exists.

When the vast majority of the production and marketing of milk products is concentrated in the hands of just a few companies while the market is closed to free import, the antitrust authorities can talk themselves blue in the face, but a cartel will be created. No phone calls, clandestine coordination or illegal actions are necessary to bring it to life.

When the government removed its supervision over the price of staple food products, it was supposed to encourage free market competition and reduce prices. But that is not what happened. Instead of competition replacing supervision, the cartel replaced it. In the instances where genuine competition replaced centralization, the prices fell while quality was enhanced. The vastly improved Bezeq phone company is an excellent example of how free market competition is supposed to work.

The only way to solve this problem is to open the centralized markets to genuine competition. But until independent producers and marketers enter the market, the way to alleviate the current crisis is to open the Israeli cartel to free import of staple products.
When Kadimah MK Roni Bar-On was interviewed this week about imports, he negated the option. It is impossible to import milk, he explained, because it is an issue of kosher standards and the Shas party will leave the coalition as a result. The interviewer accepted Bar-On's remarks without questioning why an Opposition member is suddenly so concerned with the stability of the Coalition.

Bar-On's reasoning is totally off mark. Nowadays, the milk sold in many foreign countries is kosher, with strict rabbinical supervision. In fact, in New York it is difficult to find milk that is not kosher. In other words, if we wanted to import cottage cheese with the finest rabbinical supervision at half price or milk at a quarter of the price, we could. Those people who insist on the kosher supervision of the Israeli milk company, Tnuva, can continue to buy cottage cheese for eight shekels. The fact that this exceedingly simple solution is not applied makes me suspect that there are other interests at work here, besides those of the companies.

That being said, import is just a temporary solution, until the market can become genuinely free. In the long run, Israel must be able to supply itself with its basic needs. The time has come to once again work the Land ourselves. If anybody thinks that Jews working the land is a thing of the past, they are invited to take a short trip to the hills of the Shomron and see how Jewish youths are farming and producing staple products – and succeeding in a most impressive way. Most of Israel's organic produce comes from Jewish labor on these hilltop farms.

The economies of the West are on the verge of collapse. Israeli exports will have a hard time retaining their current levels when the European market disintegrates and Manhattan will be longing for the days of the Great Depression. Israeli farms and firms that will re-invent themselves now to supply local demand will be the first to emerge from the crisis.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

War, Truth and the American Jew

By Tuvia Brodie

In a recent essay, Rav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Korach 5771, Rabbi Kahana asserts that announcements which portray Jewish construction in the heartland of Israel as illegal, are a declaration of war against the G-d of Israel. Although he elaborates on this declaration, it is nonetheless arresting:

-Isn’t he wrong to make such a harsh statement?

-In today’s world, where justice is so important, isn’t it correct to label such construction as at least illegitimate?

-Doesn’t Rabbi Kahana’s religion obligate him to speak of peace, rather than war?

These are important questions. They are questions that Jews in America ask. Unfortunately, there is just one answer to all of them: no.

Before I made aliyah, I saw many of my American Jewish friends subtly separate themselves from Israel. Their attitudes—implicit in the questions above—seem to reflect the extent to which they have unconsciously absorbed a non-Jewish, Christian-based liberal world-view: yes, you pray to the Deity of your choice, but then you live for freedom, peace, justice and equality. Their thinking seems to be, if we enjoy these benefits, how could we deny someone else, especially when that someone else cries out?

To look at the world from this point of view is to see Rabbi Kahana as both wrong and unacceptably harsh. How can he be so un-American?

I no longer live in America. I now understand three things that American Jews may not fully understand: (1) Israel is not a Christian-based nation; (2) our Arabs neighbors are not American and have no clue what America stands for; and (3) Rabbi Kahane is talking about something American Jews do not want to hear: the truth.

Rabbi Kahana strikes out because he does not speak their language. The truth is, if we still lived in 1955, when Israel was everyone’s darling nation, the Arab was no one’s darling—and everyone loved the new coral-grey Chevrolet-- American Jews might have the luxury to maintain these attitudes. But 1955 no longer exists, Israel is isolated by the nations of the world and the Left unites with the Muslim to remove Israel from the Middle East map.

lf you look at human history, you will see that one purpose of war is to seize land you covet and to satisfy your desire by removing a people from that land. The Philistines did it in Canaan in app 1400 BCE, the Assyrians sought to do it in Israel in app 730 BCE, just as the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and (perhaps) the Ottomans attempted to do it. Hitler’s Germany did it in Europe. Hirohito’s Japan did it in the far East. The Americans did it all over America, from Connecticut to Oklahoma to the seven community-property states in the American West.

War is the fact of life that has shaped and reshaped the map of the world, and it is what we have here in Israel today. More important, the war in Israel is not about land. The Arabs could have land many times over. They refused. It is not about land; it is about religion.

That’s why the Arab carts away 12,000 to 15,000 tons of debris from our Temple Mount—and then declares there is no evidence of Jewish life there; it’s why the Arab publishes a study that claims that the Temple Mount was never owned by Jews; it’s why the Arab claims that Rachel’s Tomb is a mosque; and it is why the local Arab-language media repeatedly tells its population that the Arab deity wants Jews to be massacred.

In the West, the drive against Israel is dominated and motivated by the Left, which is itself driven by a desire for a Christian-based Utopian Peace that supports a New World Order. Here, we will see peace, love and a Christian-inspired morality-- ideals that are comfortable for our American Jewish friends because this is the spiritual toxin they unknowingly ingest every day. But do you know about Utopia? We first saw this peaceful new world in a book ingeniously titled, Utopia, written by Sir Thomas More almost 500 years ago. It’s a beautiful story, filled with Christian love and Christian ideals. There is just one thing you should understand about Utopia: there are no Jews there.

Perhaps the West’s desire for a Christian-based world peace is what provoked (late last year) British Leftist Jenny Tonge to declare that Israel creates terrorism--because Israel is a source of such disgust and revilement, its very existence creates the desire for violence; so for those who seek world peace, Israel is a most obvious problem. Get rid of Israel and you may reduce terrorism sufficiently enough you can finally begin to think about Utopia as a reality.

The Arab and the Western Left want something. They want to get rid of Israel; and if, along with that, the Arab also can delegitimize the Jewish religion, well, the Left can live with that because after all, we all know the truth: there are no Jews in Utopia.

So when Rabbi Kahana talks about war, I know what he means. I do not live in America any more, and I do not live in an Anglo enclave where the American world-view might still pervade. I can see reality more clearly now: we are engulfed in a world-wide political and religious war against Jews, Judaism and the G-d of Israel. It is a war I see in Israel’s papers every week, often every day. It is a war to delegitimize, deconstruct, destroy and burn everything Israel and Judaism stand for.

The questions American Jews ask may not deserve an answer because they are the wrong questions. The American Jewish psyche may have marinated too long in non-Jewish ideals. Their view of what is right may be wrong.

Can my Jewish friends in America see this?

Right now, I believe they cannot.

This is not good because I also believe that the sight-impaired do not make good decisions on a dynamic battlefield.

Rabbi Kahana is right. We are at war. American Jews might be wise to understand this.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

US Presidential Candidate Representative Michelle Bachmann on Israel

Boycott Fourth of July Celebrations Until Pollard is Free

Manhigut Yehudit salutes Labor MK Orit Noked on her appeal to thousands of Israeli VIPs and politicians to boycott the US embassy's annual Fourth of July celebration as long as Jonathan Pollard remains in prison. The claim that America really does not care whether Israelis attend their Fourth of July celebration or not is unfounded. Obama's public standing has taken a beating and his negative approach to Israel is partly responsible for that. An Israeli boycott of the celebrations at the US embassy because of Pollard will wield considerable leverage for Pollard's release. On this issue, it is important to leave party loyalty behind and to join MK Noked in a public call to boycott the celebrations so that anybody who does attend will prefer to enter the embassy from the back door.

Rav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Korach 5771

BS"D Parashat Korach 5771

The destiny of many things is determined at the precise moment of their inception; like skin complexion, and the color of one’s hair and eyes, or a seed planted in the earth that will produce only according to the characteristics inherent in its DNA.

At the precise instant just prior to the Big Bang, our universe, and all that was to be in it, existed in its primordial form as a miniscule "thing" that was created by HaShem and subsequently expanded outward as a result of its internal infinite gravitational pressure.

Above all, the secrets of the worlds are alluded to in the very first word of the Torah "Bereishiet," for those who are able to decipher its elusive nuances.

Several small examples:

"Bereishiet" contains the words bara shiet (created six), referring to the six days of creation or the six Hebrew letters by which HaShem created all that there is.

Or: "Bereishiet" for the sake of "reishiet" referring to Am Yisrael, meaning that Hashem created all only for the appearance of the Jewish people.

Or by changing the order of the letters one gets "aleph be’Tishrei" - the first day of the month of Tishrei when Adam and Chava were created. And so much more is deduced from the single word "Bereishiet".

Our parasha begins:

ויקח קרח בן יצהר בן קהת בן לוי ודתן ואבירם בני אליאב ואון בן פלת בני ראובן:

And he took (the verse continues to tell who took) Korach son of Yitzhar son of Kehat son of Levi, and Datan and Aviram sons of Eliav and On son of Pelet sons of Reuven

The Torah does not disclose what it was that Korach actually took, so Rashi, in his commentary, explains that Korach "took" himself out of the national consensus that Aharon and his descendants would forever be kohanim, and demanded the kehuna for himself.

I believe that the great master Rashi would not be affronted if I would suggest an additional meaning to what Korach "took".

The entire episode of Korach - his discontent and ambitions - are contained in the one opening word "Va’yie’kach" (and he took). But even more, the entire episode of what is transpiring today in the world arena can be summarized with the word "va’yie’kach," as I will explain.

No more outlandish and absurd statement has ever been voiced by seemingly intelligent people than the United Nation’s (including the United States, the European Union and other friends) declaration that Jewish construction in Yerushalayim, Yehuda, Shomron and the Golan is illegal. The outlawing of loving one’s mother, or a requirement that all the taverns in Dublin serve only tea on the night of December 31, would be far more logical and respected than denying Jewish ownership - with all its attendant rights and privileges – to all parts of the Holy Land.

The allegation that Jewish construction in the heartland of Eretz Yisrael is a breach of international law is causus belli (direct declaration of war) on HaShem, and fraught with danger for the future of humanity. It is on a par with the efforts of the original "united" generation whose capital was Babylon, to construct a high tower for the purpose of making war on the Creator of heaven and earth. The first United Nations in Babylon and its present successor in New York, are ludicrous examples of people cutting the branch upon which they are sitting.

The only nation whose minimal borders are fixed in the Bible are those of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. All the area between the Euphrates that flows from present day Turkey, through Syria and Iraq into the "Persian" Gulf and the Nile of Egypt is the land promised by HaShem to the Jewish nation. And although Medinat Yisrael occupies at the present time an area far smaller than that which is stated in the Torah, it is temporarily sufficient for the needs of the five and a half million Jews now living here. When our numbers will increase through aliya or the return of millions of anusim (conversos), or will increase dramatically by the reappearance of the Ten Lost Tribes , we will witness parallel dramatic events which will expand our de facto possession on the entire Holy Land, as defined in the Torah.

Our claim to the Holy Land, which based on the Torah is not respected by the honorable representatives of the countries that comprise the United Nations. But this should not affect us, because we have undeniable, empirical proof that we are God’s chosen people and He has restored us to His holy land.

The proof is in the reality of our lives.

Picture for a moment two Japanese Sumo giants fighting over possession of a diamond ring lying on the floor between them. Each warrior weighs over 150 kilograms (330 pounds), and as they batter their bodies into one another with their huge tursos, a midget runs under their bellies and snatches the diamond ring away. Its a scene that is appropriate for a cinema cartoon. But who is to say that the history of mankind is not a cinema cartoon?

The two largest faiths are Christianity, that harbors the major characteristics of the Biblical hedonistic Aisav, and Islam through which we can perceive the personality of the wild, untempered Yishmael.

There are over one billion adherents of Christianity, whose churches extend the world over. The Moslem faith also has over one billion followers, who are beset with untamed global ambitions.

Over two billion gentiles - one third of the world’s population - have had their sights on the Holy Land for close to 2000 years. Caliphs, kings, princes, popes, crusaders, empires and UN mandate officials have passed though this land, made their little marks and departed to the foot notes of history.

As these two Sumo giants battle it out, HaShem, from behind the curtains of reality, ever so elegantly pulls the strings of history and restores the coveted, craved for Holy Land to the numerically insignificant nation of Israel. Two billion plus people with untold wealth and influence are unable to loosen the God given bonds between Am Yisrael and the Holy Land.

As stated previously, what is now transpiring around the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, and what will yet happen is alluded to in the first word of our parasha, "Ya’yie’kach,"-"And he (Korach) took".

Korach was one of the four Levites whose task was to carry on their shoulders the poles that supported the holy Arc. But this was not enough for the insatiable ambitions of this gifted man. He coveted the status of Kehuna with which Aharon and his sons were ennobled.

But Korach did not understand (or did not want to understand) that kedusha (sanctity) is not something that one "takes" (va’yie’kach). The most an individual can do is to prepare himself in the advent that HaShem chooses to grant him a spirit of kedusha.

The only man who was able to achieve prophecy at will was Moshe Rabbeinu; all others had to wait for the inspiration to fall upon them. The Tanach describes the first time King Shaul felt the spirit of HaShem; he fell into a convulsive state that he was totally unprepared for.

Kedusha is given as a gift to an individual or nation by the grace of HaShem, it is not something that one can "take".

Shvuot is called "zeman matan Toratainu" - the time of giving the Torah, not taking the Torah. When called to the Torah one recites the blessing, "Asher natan lanu et Torato," HaShen who has given us His Torah.

"And Korach took" was a profanation of the relationship between man and the Creator. Man cannot take HaShem’s spiritual gifts, they must be granted by HaShem.

HaShem gives kedusha to Am Yisrael. He does not give kedusha to the gentiles. The seat of kedusha in this world is Eretz Yisrael and Yerushalayim – they were presented to the Jewish nation by HaShem, they were not given to the Christians nor to the Moslems as numerous as they are. As much as these Sumo giant religions attempted to "take" the Holy Land, they were always denied possessing it for more than a short time in history.

Korach sought to take kedusha that was not meant for him, and today’s descendants of Aisav and Yishmael seek to take kedusha that is not meant for them.

In a much wider sense, the gentile world is transgressing by establishing organized religions with their premises and ideologies. By doing so, they are taking spiritual liberties not meant for them.

We perceive the world as consisting of two peoples: We who received the 613 mitzvot at Mount Sinai and are called Am Yisrael, as opposed to those who received 7 mitzvot (actually these 7 give rise to 39, as stated in the tractate Chulin 92a) and are called Bnei Noach.

An individual gentile can draw close to HaShem through study and good works, but not within the framework of organized religions. If a gentile has a spiritual issue, he has to confide with a rav who decides on these matters for both Jews and gentiles.

However, one could argue that in the absence of these organized religions the gentiles would turn to paganism, idolatry and hedonism, which are certainly contrary to the will of HaShem. To this I would reply: Paganism and idolatry, with their attending hedonistic customs are indeed far from the ideal life style required of the gentile world. But, on the other hand, their obsession to feed their never ending quest for pleasure would leave them no time to conceive, plan and erect gas chambers and crematorias.

Shabbat Shalom

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5771-2011 Nachman Kahana

Zionist Pragmatism is not Enough

By Moshe Feiglin

21 Sivan, 5771
June 23, '11

Translated from the article in the Makor Rishon newspaper

It was a short honeymoon: Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan won the Right's Moskowitz Prize for Zionism. But just two days later, he went on record against attacking Iran and promptly became the enemy of the Right. Maybe he really is the virtuoso that he is purported to be. It takes a lot of talent to collect the prestigious prize from the Right and then just two days later, to win the prizes that the Left knows how to give.

The Moskowitz Foundation erred in the same place that the Right - and particularly Religious Zionism - always trips up. Nationalism without faith in G-d does not last here. Either it deteriorates into something reminiscent of fascism or it swings to the other extreme and sheds all its achievements, Sharon-style. The Right also liked Former Chief of Staff Dan Halutz when he talked about the slight movement he feels in the wing of his plane when he unloads a ton of explosives over an enemy town. If he would have left the army before the Expulsion, maybe he would have won the Moscowitz Prize, as well - and he is only one of many examples.

A leader who has no faith but remains firmly attached to the values of Zionism certainly deserves all of our cooperation. But as worthy and good as he may be, he does not have the ability to complete the modern-day process of the Return to Zion. Ultimately, he will lead Zionism in a stage by stage retreat from all its accomplishments.

Former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir is an excellent example of this rule. During a time of crisis, Shamir chose to deposit our security in the hands of the nations. The Left praised him while we all ran into our sealed rooms and Saddam Hussein shot his scuds into our cities, unchallenged.

Shamir was motivated by the same pragmatic thinking that Meir Dagan has displayed: Why get involved in an unpredictable war if we can charge the big world with our safety and make do with defensive measures? The result was that we exchanged our status as a regional power for the status of a lame-duck pain in the neck. Instead of appreciating our restraint, the international community pressured us, Shamir lost the elections, Rabin won, signed the Oslo Accords and we all boarded the same train to hell from which we still have not managed to disembark. At every station on our journey, we shed another few cars from the train.

Like Dagan, Shamir did not see the entire picture. He did not understand that the Scud was not the major danger; our lack of response to the threat was.

Shamir's failure was even greater than Golda Meir's and has cost us more casualties than the Yom Kippur War. The victims of Golda's fiasco lost their lives in warfare, while the casualties from Shamir's terrible failure once again died the same way that Jews died before they returned to Israel and made a state for themselves.

Dagan also thinks that the entire problem is the bomb. He refuses to look at the bigger picture. Our lack of response to Achmadinijad's threats has brought about Israel's demonization in a manner far too reminiscent of the pre-Holocaust era. Dagan's remarks gave that process another push. Former Chief of Staff Ashkenazi's irresponsible comments negating any military action to release Gilad Shalit were another kick in the same direction.

Does that mean that our leaders are stupid? Certainly not. They are simply pragmatic Zionists. They all deserve prizes for Zionistic endeavors. But without a faith based and historical perspective, they cannot sense any reality above the physical - and cannot deal with its challenges.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Jewish Culture and Jewish Religion

By Moshe Feiglin

And Yehoshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefuneh, from those spying out the Land tore their garments. And they said to the entire congregation of the Children of Israel 'The Land through which we passed to spy it out - the Land is very, very good. If G-d desires us He will bring us to the Land and give it to us; a Land flowing with milk and honey. (From this week's Torah portion, Shlach Lecha, Numbers 14:)

The sin of the spies is not the average sin committed by a person who could not control himself. These were the leaders of the nation, sent by G-d. Certainly, they knew how to control their evil inclinations. Their sin was on a deeper and more serious plane. The spies did not fall asleep during their guard duty; they forgot what they were supposed to be guarding, altogether.

When former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan says that it is stupid to attack Iran, it could very well be that on a purely operational level - he is right. But once again, one of the leaders of the Children of Israel forgot that the problem is not the Iranian bomb, but the fact that Iran has planted a question mark over the right of the State of Israel to exist. The sin of the spies is the sin of missing the mark in an ocean of details. It is the sin of he who cannot see the forest through the trees.

Judaism has a destiny that can be fulfilled only through the Land of Israel. The Torah defines that destiny as,
"And you shall be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." In other words, the Jewish People must be a nation that lives its sovereign life in a way that bears testimony to its Creator. G-d did not command us to live a sanctified life but rather to live a sanctified sovereign life. This condition can only be met in our Land.

When the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and we were exiled from our Land, there was no choice. In order to preserve the nation, our Sages created a "virtual Temple" that was based primarily on Jewish law. In other words, Judaism turned into religion.

The spies wanted to remain in the religious dimension alone. They preferred to remain in the desert, safely outside historic reality. Not only did they miss the point, but they had a completely different goal in mind. The dimensions of their mistake transform it into an essential sin. Instead of believing in G-d and trusting Him, the heads of the Children of Israel chose the easy route - to be "religious."

The pinnacle of the connection between the physical and the metaphysical is the Temple and the Temple Mount. While this location has coordinates on a physical map, it is a place through which the Creator chose to manifest His Presence in His world; a place that a person can physically access and where he can find refuge in the palace of the King of Kings. While totally incomprehensible to us, this is what G-d commanded and it is for this purpose that He created the Nation of Israel. Our denial of the Temple Mount and the Temple, our attempt to leave them for the "Messiah" - smacks of that same desire to relegate Judaism to the dimensions of religion, alone.

It is only natural, then, that Manhigut Yehudit, the movement that strives to rectify the sin of the spies and to connect the Torah of Israel to reality, is one of the organizations heavily involved in the return to the Temple Mount.

This Tuesday, the 19th of Sivan, our monthly ascent to the Temple Mount will take place. We will meet at the entrance to the Temple Mount at 7:30 after all halachic preparations and in non-leather shoes. Please join us.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And You Shall Love the Convert

By Moshe Feiglin

14 Sivan, 5771
June 16, '11

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

Ruth the Moabite's conversion to Judaism has become the archetypical conversion, a model for the laws of converts. There are two basic principles for conversion that we learn from Ruth. "Your nation is my nation and your G-d is my G-d," Ruth says to her mother-in-law, Naomi. In other words, I choose to cling to the Nation of Israel and the G-d of Israel.

Jewish law has never sanctioned conversion based strictly on "Your nation is my nation" without the "Your G-d is my G-d" condition. In other words, there is no basis in Jewish law for a non-Jew to join the ranks of the Nation of Israel without practical acceptance of the Jewish faith. The ongoing controversy over conversion in the Jewish world is basically the debate between those who continue to abide by the principles of conversion that we learn from Ruth, and those who would like to determine a new principle; that it is possible to separate the two conditions and to include non-Jews in the Nation of Israel on a national basis only - without having them commit to the principles of Jewish faith.

"Why don't you accept me?" I was once asked by a friendly Russian man in the audience at one of my lectures.

"Please explain the problem," I answered him. "Have you not received Israeli citizenship?"

"I have received my citizenship," the man replied.

"Are you discriminated against in any way? Is there some benefit that you do not receive?"

"No, we receive everything - above and beyond what we could expect," he answered. But I cannot marry as I wish."

"You are right!" I answered him. "We must rectify this situation. When it will be up to me, you will be able to go to the Ministry of Interior and marry in a civil marriage. The clerk will give you and your new wife an official marriage certificate with the symbol of the state on top, and we will also throw in an official red seal with ribbons. As you leave the Ministry, we will even present you with a bouquet of flowers. Does this solve the problem?"

"No," he smiled sheepishly.

"Why not?"

"Because I want to be a Jew."

"So what is the problem? You can convert!"

"But they require me to keep commandments in which I do no believe."

'What a strange situation," I said. "As an Israeli citizen you were received here with open arms."

"True" he nodded.

"Now you want to be accepted not only to the State of Israel, but to the Nation of Israel. But you are not willing to join the club according to the rules that have been in effect for the last three thousand years. You want to join the club according to new rules that you will determine. Does that sound fair?" "The truth is," I added, "that you can undergo a Reform conversion, but you understand that that would be as good as a diploma bought from the University of Latvia."

"True," he nodded again.

"You understand that the true gate into the Nation of Israel opens through Orthodox Judaism - the Judaism that carries the mainstream of the Nation of Israel, the only stream of Judaism that has successfully negotiated all the crises of history and has brought us to this point. Reform Judaism is the gate out of Judaism, not into it. But now you are attempting to force your rules on the true representative of Judaism. Does that make any sense?"

There were no more questions on conversion at that lecture.

Rav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Shelach 5771

BS"D Parashat Shelach 5771

A fundamental principle in Halachic observance, perhaps the most fundamental, is

לא בשמים היא

that after the written and oral forms of the Torah were presented to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, all further halachic decisions would no longer be in the jurisdiction of the spiritual world (angels or prophecy), but would be decided on by one of three methods:

1- For textbook perfect cases, we follow what is found in a written Halachic source, which for us is the Shulchan Aruch and its accompanying commentators.

2- For non-textbook perfect cases, we rely on our scholarly rabbinic leaders to implement the principles of Halacha.

3- In the absence of such Halachic authorities, we follow the accepted the precedents as practiced by the majority of Jews in their respective places. And where there is no Halachic authority and no previous precedent, we are in Halachic limbo and do what we can and pray that HaShem will not let us falter.

However, the miraglim (scouts) episode poses a challenge to the above.

Let’s assume for a moment that we are part of the 600,000 men from the ages of 20 to 60 who were present when the miraglim returned from their mission to Eretz Yisrael. All our possessions are packed for the grand entrance into the land, and we are straining our ears to hear the technical data from the miraglim regarding the points of entry and what we will find upon crossing the Jordan River.

Silence passes over the all the assembled people as the 12 great rabbis who were chosen by HaShem to be the miraglim ascend the podium to deliver their report. It is an unexpected report. 10 out of the 12, to the exclusion of Yehoshua Bin Nun and Calev Ben Yefuneh, gave a terrifying account of what they saw. "The land is occupied by men of great physical height and strength, making our chances of surviving a military conflict almost nil, and certainly there is no chance at all of uprooting them from the land."

After the detailed military report, the last two miraglim, Yehoshua and Calev, rose up to speak. They did not deny the basic realities of the enemy’s strength, but they said that HaShem would perform miracles, as he had done before.

Now, we as innocent bystanders, have to make the halachic choice with whom to go. The great leaders of the tribes who constituted the majority and their dire warning of a holocaust if we were to enter the land; or the two rabbis who encourage us to believe that HaShem would make us victorious. As the moments pass, more and more men are accepting the pessimistic appraisal of the majority, until it appears close to a unanimous decision to refrain from entering the land, except for Moshe, Aharon and his sons, and Yehoshua and Calev.

So, we who were present at this time have to make the hard choice. However, our halachic training says that we must go with the determination of the majority of rabbis, and certainly when that opinion is upheld by 600,000 men.

So when HaShem declared that all those who chose the Halachic way would not enter the land, but would end their days during the next 38 years in the desert, we were confused and frustrated at the "injustice" of our lot.

So where indeed, lies the Halachic justice meted out by HaShem to that generation of 600,000 men?

I submit:

A group of hikers is lost at night in the thick jungles of Africa, but they know that they must continue in a northerly direction. The experienced guide says that north is to the right, but your expensive military compass that always points to magnetic north points to the left, which do you follow?

If you value your life you will follow the compass, for it is the most objective. HaShem built into the Torah a compass - it is called Eretz Yisrael. A Halachic decision that will draws one closer to the Holy Land, is the true one to follow; a decision that draws one away from Eretz Yisrael is fallacious and disastrous to one’s Jewish soul.

Our "innocent bystander" - one of the 600,000 who had to determine whether to follow the majority who said not to enter the land, or the minority who said that we must rely on HaShem’s miracles and enter the land - was not so innocent. He should have known that the majority view would distance the Jewish people from taking root in the Land set aside for them by the Creator of heaven and earth. He ignored the Torah’s compass and followed the crowd.

Here one might argue that the intention of the miraglim was indeed to distance the Jews from Eretz Yisrael, but their motive was highly spiritual - to remain in the desert under the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu. This is a convincing, rational, frum, yeshivashe point of view. But the problem with it is that HaShem disagreed.

Six hundred thousand Jewish men, who had stood at the foot of Mount Sinai when HaShem said, "I am the Lord your God who has taken you out of Egypt", were to die on the ninth of Av over the next 38 years, because they did not follow HaShem’s compass of Eretz Yisrael.

The magnetic north of a compass is an inhospitable place, and at times HaShem’s compass point of Eretz Yisrael can also be an inhospitable, dangerous place. But that is immaterial! Because the only border crossing between heaven and earth is Eretz Yisrael, and it is only here that HaShem makes Himself known to the world through His relationship with the Jewish people on the national level. Before Medinat Yisrael was established, the majority of the world’s population never heard of Jews or Judaism. Today, the entire world has an intense interest in the tiny land of the Jewish people where miracles seemingly never cease to occur. And with the miracles comes the name of Hashem Echad.

How unfortunate are those Jews who are today under the influence of the proteges of yesterday’s miraglim. The very presence of a Jew in chutz la’aretz diminishes the Holy Name, as stated by the prophet Yechezkel. Dialectic pseudo Halachic explanations of why it is essential to remain in the galut, which the Almighty knows are only cover-ups of spiritual weaknesses cultivated by various cults and sects there, will drag many galut Jewish individuals and communities down with them, in a repeat of what happened in the desert 3500 years ago.

And no man is immune to the spiritual poisoning of the Jewish soul in the galut. For who is greater than our father Ya’akov? In parashat Vayaitze, Ya’akov, while asleep on the Temple Mount, dreamt of Angels ascending and descending from heaven and heard HaShem speaking to him; but the same Ya’akov, after his sojourn in a foreign land, dreamt of sheep and goats.

Next week, on the 19th of Sivan, my wife and I will BE"H enter our 50th "Jubilee" year in Eretz Yisrael. There is no way we can express our gratitude for the brachot that HaShem has showered upon us. In all these years, we did not have the spectator feeling that we were witnessing great historic events, because we were part of the people making those events happen.

From day one, we became part of Israeli society and felt the huge brotherhood that was here, regardless if our fellow Israeli was a Torah observant person or not. Ivrit was our language. Torah learning and writing occupied me from dawn to dusk, with the huge co-operation of my wife. Military service. Teaching in yeshivot and writing sefarim, with a stint of serving as the assistant to the Minister for Religious Affairs. The liberation of Yerushalayim, the Yom Kippur War, all the ups and down of our relations with foreign powers. Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. Who can enumerate the joys of being part of HaShem’s great masterplan for His people in Israel.

While growing up in Brooklyn, I had my share of miraglim and their teachings. And if not for the grace of HaShem, I too could have fallen victim to their sweet, seductive promises of Paradise if I would only remain in the galut of America.

As we enter our Jubilee year here, I call out to all young Jews, men and women, "Make a life for yourself. Return to the source of who you are - HaShem’s nation, chosen to sanctify His name in the Holy Land, as we continue to write huge chapters of Jewish history and continue along the golden path towards the final redemption of our people and the world."

Shabbat Shalom

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5771-2011 Nachman Kahana