Thursday, March 29, 2012
Parshat Tzav and Shabbat HaGadol 5772
On the night of the 15th of Nisan, the seder night, each and every Jew is directed to envision himself as if he had experienced the exodus from Egyptian slavery. This is a near impossible requirement, because the deja vu experience cannot be elicited at will, it just happens or it doesn’t happen.
But twice in my lifetime, I came very close to feeling the exhilaration of freedom that closely paralleled that of our ancestors.
The first was on the 5th of Iyar 5708 (May 14, 1948) when the British mandate on Palestine was terminated and the State of Israel was declared, and the gates of the Holy Land were thrown open for the exodus of the Jewish people from their 2000 year galut.
The second time I experienced the exhilaration of freedom was on Wednesday morning, the 28th of Iyar, 5727 (June 7th 1967) when Hashem’s earthly angels in Tzahal’s olive green uniforms liberated the Temple Mount and all of Yerushalayim, after 2000 years under the control of the "zar" (the stranger).
On the seder night when I am directed to experience the feeling of freedom, I simple look back at what I had felt 45 and 64 years ago.
Freedom is a many edged sword. For some it is the license to entertain one’s lust without limit; for others it is the ability to present, previously prohibited, ideas for social betterment. A rabbit that is let out its cage will hop a bit and might even return to it; but a bird that is freed will soar on high.
The more than a century of Afro-American slavery came to a close in the middle of the 19th century, but as a group they fail to soar to great heights. The enslavement of the Jewish nation in Egypt was much longer and much more cruel. Nevertheless, 50 days after our emancipation, we received the Torah at Mount Sinai, and from that time on, our accomplishments and contributions to the world, in all fields of endeavor, have made us the object of jealousy and resentment. Take away the Jewish contribution and you would be left with a barbaric, brutish, idolatrous world, devoid of ideals or ideas. The organized religions that we know today would never have come about. And the concept of a Creator who sees and knows all, and judges every man according to his deeds, would have long ago been discarded, as it was in the time of Noach.
Probably, the closest experience of freedom that the Jewish nation has enjoyed since the day when King Solomon completed the first Holy Temple, was the establishment of the State of Israel. Never before has a nation in exile returned to its ancient homeland; and what’s more, after a 2000 year physical estrangement (I don’t include certain chareidi fringe elements in this Jewish equation, because they on a different mental planet than the main stream of religious Jewry).
So the big question is: Why do the Jews in the galut sit at their seder table pretending to empathize with the Jews of the exodus of 3000 years ago, while they remain apathetic, at best, to the modern miracles happening before their very eyes?
Are we in Eretz Yisrael made of a different cloth than our brothers and sisters who choose to remain in the galut? Is there something we know that they don’t?
Is the Gemara at the end of tractate Ketubot ,which speaks of the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael as opposed to the galut, censored out of the Talmuds that are printed in the galut?
Wherein lies the immense gulf of loyalty and preparedness to sacrifice for kiddush Hashem (the sanctity of the holy Name) in defense of the Holy Land?
One does not need a psychiatrist’s couch to unravel this dilemma.
Hashem, within the context of His total mastery and control over all that exists, has given us a tiny window called "free choice". Now, just as in the physical world there exists the phenomena of the survival of the fittest, so too in the spiritual world there is the survival of the spiritual fittest. As we draw closer to the "end of time", time passes more quickly, and the circumstances that determine who will survive spiritually and physically are sharper, more articulate and salient. Will the statistics of intermarriage move you to come home? Or possibly the increasing acts of anti-Semitism will convince you that the galut has served its purpose and HaShem is closing the door? Or perhaps the idea of freedom as a Jew in your ancient home-land means little to you, and you will decide to ride it out in the spirit of "tomorrow is another day".
On this coming shabbat ,"Shabbat Ha’gadol", we recall and commemorate the valiant act of our ancestors when they took the lamb, which was the symbol of Egyptian worship, in preparation for offering it as the Pessach sacrifice. This was an act of great courage, that took place on Shabbat the 10th of Nissan of that year. Forty years later, on that same day, the 10th of Nissan, the Jewish nation under the leadership of Yehoshua bin Nun, crossed the Jordan River with the intent to liberate the Holy Land from its Canaanite conquerors. This too was an act of great courage.
Permit me to make a suggestion to all those in the galut who read this .
This Shabbat, the day that saw great acts of courage on the part of the Jewish nation, take the leap of faith and decide that for you and your family it will be "This year in Yerushalayim" and forever!
I would suggest that you show this message to your local rabbi or rosh yeshiva.
If indeed, on this Shabbat you make the most decisive decision of your life to come home to your land and your people, please let me know.
Copyright © 5772-2012 Nachman Kahana
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Mark the date as you read it here first. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sealed his fate in political infamy by deciding to uphold the Supreme Court’s morally bankrupt position about evacuating Migron. That’s right folks because despite the assurances and Bibi’s pledge to find a mutually agreeable solution (which he did but it still ultimately meant a dispossess, just later rather than sooner), he has sold out these people with barely an afterthought while kowtowing to the monolith of the Left after they tossed out the brokered deal.
In true Santayana-esque fashion, he has decided to ignore the lesson of the Gush Katif expulsion and the toll it took on the nation and on the legacy of his predecessor Ariel Sharon. Let’s also not forget that he is also selectively forgetting (or perhaps not) his own role in fomenting that disaster.
For the record, if indeed the Knesset cannot find a way out of this travesty, and Gd forbid an evacuation is contemplated, the soldiers police et al, will not be met with tears hugs and kisses as they were in Gush Katif. No, this will be the resistance of Amona, considerably amped up with no doubt everyone’s favorite government goon squad the Yassamniks going in swinging clubs at Jewish skulls. There will be active resistance here with people coming from all over to prevent a repeat of the nightmare of Gush Katif.
When Sharon realized that he could never push the Gush Katif evacuation through the Likud, he bolted with the party dregs and formed Kadima (I wonder if there’s any way to let him know that his prime protégé, Livni, just had her head handed to her by Shaul Mofaz?) whose only raison d’être was to allow the expulsion to occur. I dare the current Likud government to allow Netanyahu political cover to allow this travesty on their watch. I dare the Likud to allow déjà vu all over again. It would be national suicide for the Likud and if Bibi is hell-bent on committing political seppuku, there’s no reason for everyone else to go down with him. Find a solution or make him bolt. Either way, if Gd forbid this comes to pass, Bibi’s career and anyone associated with him on this is over. On the positive side I wonder if this will finally be enough for all the people in Yesha to stop the recurrent process of self-immolation every election and finally not vote for Bibi over Feiglin as they have too often in the past because of some twisted Chelmian logic, jealousy, or just plain stupidity. I can only hope. Let the countdown to August 1 begin.
Monday, March 26, 2012
There has been a bit of a hiatus since my last letter. I was either busy staring out the window at the much needed rain our holy land received this winter or I was deep in contemplation marveling at how lucky I am to be amongst the “Light unto the Nations” despite the continued barrage of threats and anti-Semitism constantly spewing from the nations of the world - lead by the United Nations.
Having recently finished the holiday of Purim where the reading of the Megilla is a yearly reminder of the baseless hatred the Persians had for the Jews, we see daily that not much has changed, as Ahasverosh and Haman have merely been replaced by Khameini and Achmadinajad. Living in Israel you can feel the tension and can empathize with the feelings of the Jews over 2300 years ago in Shushan. If you think that by living in the Diaspora, everything has become a routine, religion is by rote, and our feelings have become inured by the passage of time, try living here. It brings you back to life.
Immediately after Purim we begin to prepare for Pesach and as it says in the Mishna Breura we begin to study the Halachot of Pesach 30 days prior to Pesach. Pesach brings us back to another country, this time Egypt. Over 3000 years ago we left Egypt after being enslaved and brutalized under the heel of the Egyptians. We fled Egypt and went through a purification process until we reached Eretz Canaan (now Israel). We now have a “New King” about to arise from the Muslim Brotherhood who did not know “Joseph” (Menachem Begin) and who wants to abrogate the peace treaty and befriend our enemy Hamas. The Pesach seder has deeper meaning in Israel because we recite the 10 plagues that took place in Egypt and we know that they are right next door and scheming of new ways to subjugate us.
While we recognize that although things change, they remain very much the same. We continue to enlighten the world and fight against evil. Our economy continues to prosper, we continue to create and invent things that benefit the whole world, we offer our help in many different areas including medicine, water sciences, solar energy, increased agricultural production and a host of other things; yet we constantly need to fight for our existence.
I was recently at an induction ceremony for new soldiers into the IDF. This was not the usual protocol when new soldiers are inducted into the army. This was for soldiers, who despite some sort of affliction, persisted in convincing the army that they could overcome their malady and help the IDF and the State of Israel. Each one proudly ran up, one at a time, to the presenting officers, and took a Tanach in their left hand and placed it over a rifle in their right hand and said אני נשבה (I swear) (to serve the State of Israel and to uphold the ideals and the morality of the Jewish people). These young adults who had every right to stay home and go to college or get a job, chose to be our warriors to spread the word of G-d in the world through their good deeds, their high ideals, and their commitment to the land of Israel and the Jewish People.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
When Lucy Dawidowicz wrote, The war against the Jews, 1933-1945 (New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975), her point of view ultimately got her labelled as an “intentionalist”—one who believes that the Holocaust was a top-down plan formulated (or ‘intentioned’) by Hitler. Some Historians of the Holocaust did not agree with her, arguing instead that there was too much focus on the Nazi leader as the cause of the Holocaust, and too little focus on Nazi functionaries (bureaucrats) who operated below Hitler. These historians tended to believe that the Holocaust grew out of the “anarchistic character of the Nazi state, its internal rivalries and chaotic decision-making.” (see Christopher Browning, speech in Paris, 1982, examining intentionalism and functionalism as a way to describe the origins of the Holocaust, quoted in Wikipedia, Functionalism versus Intentionalism). Those who believed that the Holocaust was top-down (intentionalists) still agreed with those who said it was bottom-up (functionalists): the horror of the Holocaust was real; their dispute was, who was responsible for it—leader or bureaucrat?
This question of responsibility for a state-mandated killing of Jews provokes a question: In Israel, we regularly hear Hamas or Fatah (proto-state rulers) talking about destroying Jews—or praising those who kill Jews; does their approach to their ‘Jewish problem’ compare to the Nazi approach, or is this Arab approach different?
It seems different, for two reasons. First, every Arab leader and every Arab bureaucrat accepts the ‘kill-the-Jew/destroy Zionism’ agenda that we see in PLO/Fatah and Hamas founding documents. ‘Intention’ and ‘function’ unite: leader and bureaucrat passionately embrace the same goal.
The second reason this approach might be different is that the Arab appears to invert Nazi priorities. One might be able to argue that the primary focus of Nazism is a xenophobic Nationalism based on Aryan supremacy and an almost primal need to defend Germany against subversion and foreigners; one might therefore attempt to argue that the Jew-hate that led to the Holocaust was actually secondary to and supportive of Nazi political goals. For the Nazis, it may be possible there was never a question of what was most important, National Socialism or Jew-hate: the principles of National Socialism came first, Jew-hate second. Jew-hate was indeed central to the Nazi world-view. But it might not have been their first political priority. For the Arab, however, the reverse might be true: Jew-hate first, then nationalism.
Look at the time-period, 1945-1950, the years immediately preceding and following the creation of the state of Israel. Contemporary news stories about those days did not discuss Jewish statehood versus Arab statehood. The issue of the day was not two groups fighting to create their own state on the same piece of land (a situation that could obviously lead to war); the issue of that day was, Jews wanted their state and the Arabs wanted to kill those Jews. Moreover, the Muslim leadership of the day in Palestine, the Waqf, was rabidly anti-Jew, had openly praised Hitler’s genocide, and called repeatedly to kill Jews. Statehood was not part of Arab leadership vocabulary. Nor was it heard on the Arab street. The Arab issue of the day was, kill Jews.
While Jew-hate is fundamental to Nazism, it may not have been the raison-d ‘etre for National Socialism in 1930’s Germany; but Jew-hate was certainly the main topic of Arab public discourse from before the founding of the Jewish state until Yasser Arafat refined that discourse with his ‘Palestinian people’ campaign. Then, even after Arafat appears (the early 1960’s), you notice that the primary focus in contemporary news was not nationalism, but killing Jews or ‘destroying Zionism’. For the Arab, it has always been, kill Jews first, nationalism second. Often, nationalism is not even mentioned.
This inverting of the Nazi priority in order to emphasize killing Jews above all else may be far more dangerous than Nazism. At least with Nazis, one could find some kind of social, cultural or economic ideals; one could study or visit Nazi Germany and marvel at the power, joy and even chilling beauty of the Aryan nation (consider the films of Leni Riefenstahl). With the Arab, that sense of power, joy and beauty is missing. In its place we find victimhood, Jew-hate and the celebration of destroying ‘Zion’. Instead of Deutschland Uber Alles, we get, ‘butcher the Jew’; the aesthetic just isn’t the same.
In the 1930’s, the world ignored the threat of Nazi intentions. Some openly admired German accomplishments. Some proposed appeasement. Some said, give land (Czechoslovakia) for peace. They were all wrong—and the nation which did not have Jew-killing as its top priority went on to murder six million Jews and perhaps another sixty million people. Imagine what you’ll get when you take the same road with those who openly make killing Jews their first priority.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Parashat Vayikra 5772
The qualitative distinction I made between tefilot (prayers) recited in EYY, as opposed to those recited in the galut (exile), continues to arouse visceral reactions. Of the last 10 replies that I received, 8 were negative - 3 of which were grossly insulting not to me but to the senders. Their words were filled with hate and with what is usually associated with hate - intellectual superficiality.
Of the remaining two who sided with me, one was a good Jewish brother living in EYY and the other was a Noachide gentile who wanted to learn what spiritual value Judaism places on the prayers and good deeds of Noachides.
It is to that gentleman that I dedicate this week’s message.
This coming Shabbat, in synagogues the world over, Jews will commence reading "Vayikra," the third book of the Torah, dealing with the many complexities of the Temple service and sacrifices.
The place that HaShem (the Holy Name) established for effectuating the sacrificial service is the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. The individuals who are designated to conduct the sacrificial service are the kohanim, the direct descendants of Aharon, brother of Moshe. And the people who are subject to the many and complex laws, procedures, schedules, specifications and components are the Jewish nation.
This is not to say that we have a monopoly on God. The merciless, egomaniacal, megalomaniac, narcissistic, homicidal Moslem Imams would have you believe that their God has deemed the highest spiritual goal man can achieve is to drive a truck loaded with TNT into a non-Moslem hospital or orphanage and be declared a shahid (martyr), since all non-Moslems are kofrim (infidels) and must be killed.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses is not as many Christians believe that man is born in sin and his only salvation is to accept the divinity of a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem to a virgin Jewish mother. And whoever does not accept the divinity of this Jew can expect to spend the rest of eternity in hell or purgatory.
At Mount Sinai, the Jewish nation met the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses who created a beautiful world to serve the physical and spiritual aspirations of the highest of His creations - human beings, Jew and gentile.
Traditional, rabbinic, historic Judaism negates the existence of organized religions. Our world view is that all men are created for the purpose of serving God according to His will and command.
Adam and Eve were commanded to live according to what we erroneously call today the "Seven Noachide" commandments – erroneous because they were initially commanded to Adam and Eve; and the seven actually encompass numerous details and applications within hundreds of laws, each with specific applications.
Prohibition against theft - shifting a land mark, repudiating a claim of money owed, overcharging, using false weights and measures.
Prohibition against sexual immorality in all its various perversions.
Prohibition against idolatry - against the belief that there exists a deity except the Jewish concept of monotheism, making any graven image.
Commandment to fear God and pray to Him, to honor the scholars, and to revere one's teachers.
Commandment to establish courts of law, to appoint judges and officers in each and every community;
From the entire population of the world, God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be the progenitors of the Jewish people. They were destined to become a unique and separate national, religious entity. They were to be elevated in their responsibilities to God from the ranks of the seven Noachide laws to the 613 Torah laws pertaining to every walk of life. God commanded His chosen people to forge a perfect society based on those laws, in the demarcated geographical area specified in the Torah that we call the Land of Israel. The peoples of the world would develop each in his own way in accordance with the orientations of their souls. Some nations would excel in scientific advancements, others in art and other in technology, while the responsibility of the Jewish nation in the Holy Land would be to serve as the conscience and spiritual guides of humanity. The Holy Temple would serve all peoples, according to the details of the Torah. And just as the Kohanim are the spiritual mentors of the Jewish nation, the Jewish nation would fill the role of spiritual mentors to the world.
There is no requirement for a gentile to become a Jew. Maimonides states that a gentile who believes that the seven Noachide laws were given by God for all humanity, and who abides by those laws, is considered to be a righteous person and has a place in the world-to-come.
Since we are prohibited to add religious requirements to what God has given the gentile world’s organized religions are all in breach of the Divine plan – no new Testament or Sacraments; no Ka’ba in Mecca, no Ramadan and no sharia laws.
No thinking person can deny that the world today is facing a bleak future, with the presence of nuclear weapons in the hands of unstable, fanatical leaders. It is a world where human life and dignity are not valued. It is a time of frustration, hunger - a time where there is little hope for an improved future, when nature itself cries out for salvation through earthquakes, tornadoes, drought and floods.
Because the world is in an unnatural state. The Almighty’s design for human beings is as stated above. The Jewish nation, in its entirety must be settled in the entire Land of Israel. The Holy Temple must stand in the sacred precinct of Mount Moriah. Kohanim must offer up sacrifices to God; with the Levites accompanying the service with song. Then humanity will be connected to the Creator through the Noachide laws, and the 613 Torah laws uniquely for the Jewish nation. The world will exist in peace and tranquility, and nature will sing its song of harmony in praise of the Creator.
This is the only hope for mankind.
We are in the throes of the Messianic period, when God has opened the gates of the Land of Israel for His children to return home.
The Jewish people must leave the lands of our exile, and righteous gentiles must do all in their power to assure that the entire Land of Israel be returned to its God-given possessors. This is the call of God to the gentile peoples as proclamed by Isaiah, the prophet of hope and salvation, in chapter 49:
7 This is what the LORD says—
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him (Israel) who was despised and abhorred by the nation,
to the servant of rulers:
"Kings will see you and stand before you, and princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
8 This is what the LORD says:
"In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ "They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.
11 I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up.
12 See, they will come from afar— some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan."
13 Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains!
For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
14 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."
15 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
17 Your children hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.
18 Lift up your eyes and look around; all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live," declares the LORD, "you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.
19 "Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste, now you will be too small for your people, and those who devoured you will be far away.
20 The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.’
21 Then you will say in your heart,
‘Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected.Who brought these up?
I was left all alone, but these—where have they come from?’"
22 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips.
23 Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed."
24 Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives be rescued from the fierce?
25 But this is what the LORD says: "Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior,
your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."
It is incumbent upon every rabbi to encourage his congregants to leave the exile and come home. We must rebuild the physical destruction of the Holy Land, and attain the spiritual level expected from God’s chosen people. Rabbis must restore the desire for the Holy Temple to the consciousness of the Jewish nation after 2000 years of artificial existence without the sacrificial service. And it is incumbent upon every gentile clergyman to direct his flock away from the falsehoods they all inherited, and lead them towards the seven Noachide laws as was commanded by the Creator.
This is the hope, indeed the only hope, for humanity to escape its descent into a future fraught with horror and destruction.
Gentiles of good will with God in their heart must join with the Jewish nation in directing the world towards a spiritual future, where all things will be measured from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
Copyright © 5772-2012 Nachman Kahana
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Why do the Jews and Israel exist? Haven't they caused enough trouble? With so many nations hating the vile Jew, why won’t they disappear? Wouldn’t the world be better off without them?
There is a strange truth here, about the Jew, something startling: the Jew proves that the G-d of Israel is real. This is a strange truth indeed because the G-d of Israel has no visible form or physical manifestation; and yet in this very physical world He is proven real.
The Jews’ survival proves that G-d exists. There is no other explanation for the survival of a people so hated, scattered, hunted and murdered by so many enemies for so many centuries as the recent barbaric murders in France demonstrate. No other people have survived such abuse. No other nation has been so horrifically deconstructed and then reconstituted after 2,000 years of exile, persecution and murder.
The Jewish holy texts have said for more than 2,100 years that G-d will disperse and scatter the Jews (for sceptics who believe only ‘science’, I use 2,100 years as my reference because that’s the approximate ‘scientific’ age of the oldest discovered Old Testament Dead Sea Scrolls). For more than 2,100 years, the Jewish Tanach has said that the sword will be against the Jewish people. For more than 2,100 years, the Jewish Tanach has taught that G-d would punish but never reject or forsake His holy people; and for more than 2,100 years, that same Tanach taught that G-d will once again bring His nation back to the land of their forefathers, the land called Israel. Today, the existence-- and the power-- of the state of Israel is the fulfilment of that 2,100+ year-old promise. The survival of the Jews proves that they have a G-d they can trust--a G-d who keeps His promise and speaks a Truth that becomes visible fact.
Can anyone else present a comparable 2,100+ year-old promise?
What individual Humanist has predicted so much so long ago that is now true? The Humanist rejects G-d but his word cannot compare to G-d’s Word. Only G-d’s Word has been Proven: promises recorded more than 2,100 years ago have become today’s reality--the desert blooms, the Jews gather into Israel, the Hebrew language is reborn as a daily language, Jews around the world return (religiously) to Him and the nations of the world now—before our promised Final Redemption— turn against Israel. All of this—and more—was written more than 2,100 years ago. All of this—and more—has come true.
The verdict is in. The judgment is public. History has the record: the Word of the G-d of Israel is True. The proof is modern Israel’s existence. If Israel exists our G-d is real.
This ability of the Jews and Israel to validate G-d marks their greatness. But simply existing is not the issue. The rebirth of Israel is not the issue. What matters is purpose. For example, what is the purpose of a beautiful woman? Does she exist only to be admired as a living statute of perfection? Does she exist so she can provide pleasure to a powerful ruler—or be destroyed by a jealous competitor? Does she exist only to enflame men’s passion and inspire poetry and war?
Are Israel and the Jews that beautiful woman? If so, what is their purpose? Perhaps it is to be a light unto the nations, to compel others by her beauty to understand that her G-d is real.
But a beautiful woman can change. Her beauty can fade through neglect or nature. Her worthiness can diminish. When the beautiful woman rejects what she needs to be beautiful—proper sustenance and attention—her beauty can wither. Every Humanist understands the effort beauty requires. The Humanist worships beauty.
If the Jews and Israel are that beautiful woman, then she, too, can change. Her beauty can fade. Her worthiness can diminish. Every G-d-fearing Jew understands the spiritual struggle necessary to keep Israel beautiful. Jews who believe in G-d, like the Humanists, understand the work needed to keep beauty from fading. But the Humanist faces a losing battle. He cannot escape decay. He cannot avoid death. The forces of the physical world always triumph. A beautiful woman can remain startlingly beautiful for only a short time; soon, the physical forces around her bring decay—and death.
Ah, but the Jews and Israel are different. She is not just a beautiful woman. She is more. She is G-d’s beloved. Her beauty, like G-d Himself, transcends the physical. G-d Himself longs for her to turn to Him. He has taught us how to do that. He has also taught us that the Jews and Israel live through Him alone.
G-d has proven He is real. His promises come true. This is the Truth that marks Israel’s greatness: she lives beyond tomorrow only because of G-d.
This is the truth that keeps Israel safe and the Jews alive. It is the truth that authentic Jewish Leadership must proclaim.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
Since 1948, Arabs have sought to exterminate the world's only sovereign Jewish state. They have tried at least three times to get the job done, in 1947-8, 1967 and 1973. Each time, they failed. In 2010, they developed a new idea: use the UN. Last year, they stood before the nations of the world and requested a new state, Palestine. But if some said their words were diplomatic, their actions were not: they minted new maps to show their Palestine in place of Israel. Through war or the UN, their goal remains constant--to remove the world's only Jewish state from existence.
Although there are perhaps fifty Muslim states today, there is no room for Jews. Instead, there must be fifty-one Muslim states. Each must be Jew-free. Ethnic cleansing is forbidden by UN. But when Arabs demand that the Jew must be cleansed from the new Palestine, the UN remains silent.
The Arab population that would live in the new ‘Palestine’ is ruled by two groups, Hamas and Fatah. Each of these groups has a Charter/Constitution that outlines group objectives. Both Hamas and Fatah want their new nation of Palestine to be built upon the destruction of a neighbouring sovereign state, which will then be depopulated so that Arabs can move in. Their shared goal is to destroy the ‘Zionist entity’. If you’ve never seen a ‘Zionist entity’, that’s okay because there is only one in existence—Israel. The UN Charter declares that Member states have the right to live with peace and security. But when the Arab threatens to destroy the world’s only Jewish state, the UN remains silent.
Since the moment the UN passed Resolution 181 to create the state of Israel, Arabs have killed more than 24,000 Jews in their attempt to un-create Israel. The UN was created to promote peace and prevent war. Why do they remain silent about Arab hate? The Arab is not secretive. He is so forthright about his intentions that he spells everything out in his Hamas Charter and Fatah Constitution. Have you read these documents? They’re worth reading. Use your search engine. You’ll find that nothing is left to the imagination. Both call for the eradication of the ‘Zionist entity’. Both seek the ‘liberation’ of Palestine. If you understand the traditional definition of ‘racism’, both documents are racist, for they seek to exclude and indeed eradicate an homogenous population based on citizenship, nationality and ethnic origin, so as to nullify the recognition of that people. This explicit racism is institutionalized into their founding documents. Moreover, this institutionalized hate is religious in nature, particularly in the more popular Hamas document. On this point their Charter is explicit: they call ‘Palestine’—modern-day Israel-- religious Islamic land which has been usurped [sic] by the Jews. Only Jihad [holy war] can face this usurpation. Only Jihad will liberate Palestine.
In case you fail to understand the focus of this hate, the Hamas Charter spells it out: their battle is “against the Jews” [emphasis mine]. The Charter declares, “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except Jihad…International conferences and initiatives [for peace] are…complete nonsense.”
The UN—created to fight hate—remains silent. Hamas hears that silence. For Hamas, such silence is acquiescence.
Fatah, meanwhile, appears to have rewritten its principal document (in 2009). Look, apologists say, the new ‘charter’ omits language about Israel’s destruction. But when you actually read that 2009 document, you realize immediately that it is an internal charter designed “to regulate the relationship between the members” and does not in any way alter the original Constitution. In fact, it states right at the beginning that it adheres to the original document’s principles and objectives. When you read these two Fatah documents, you realize that nothing changed in 2009. Israel must go.
What’s going on here? Why such institutionalized hate and acceptance of hate? Some say that, in the days preceding our final Redemption, Yishmael—the Arab—will inflict suffering upon the Jewish people (see Yalkut Shimoni) perhaps just as the nations of the world turn against us. These Arab charters of hate were written after 1948 and Israel has suffered because of them and the UN’s silence. Was the rebirth of Israel a spiritual signal for Yishmael (and the nations) to awaken fully, to play out their roles in our ultimate Redemption? If this is Yishmael’s destiny, he is not failing. Surely, he gets at least a B+ for his efforts.
The nations don’t seem far behind. Their mid-term grade might be B.
But what about Jews? If today we approach the threshold of our Redemption, what’s our mid-term grade? Some might suggest that our grades right now aren’t that good—and our leadership is certainly not helping us. Are we prepared to pass the Final?
Friday, March 16, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Parshiot Vayakhel-Pekudai 5772
ויקהל משה את כל עדת בני ישראל ויאמר אלהם אלה הדברים אשר צוה ה' לעשת אתם
And Moshe assembled the whole community of Israel and said to them, "These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do.
The presence of 600,000 men, and a much larger number of women, and innumerous children was an awesome spectacle. They were riveted together as a single body and mind, captivated by Moshe’s every word, as he described how, starting at that moment, they were to prepare for their future in Eretz Yisrael.
Moshe focused on the two dimensions which define Man’s relationship with his environment - time and space, and whose specific details define the Jewish nation’s relationship with the Creator; the time of Shabbat and the space of the Bet Hamikdash in Eretz Yisrael.
Gentiles may work without limitation, but on Shabbat the Jewish nation must refrain from all acts of a creative nature in the public domain as well as in the privacy of one’s home, as HaShem had done after the initial six days of creation. This collation and identification between Creator and a specific created entity - the Jews, is the Creator’s expression that the world, and all that is in it, was brought about only for the sake of the Jewish nation.
The Bet Hamikdash:
The temporary Mishkan (Tabernacle) to be erected while the Jews were still in the desert, was meant to prepare the people and the kohanim (priestly family that performed the sacrificial functions) for the Bet Hamikdash, to be built on the Temple Mount in Yerushalayim. Here again the exclusive preference of a specific place on the planet -Yerushalayim in Eretz Yisrael, is another of the Creator’s expressions that the world and all that is in it was brought about only for the Jewish nation who is commanded to live in Eretz Yisrael.
We cannot know how many times the audience stood up at Moshe’s words in thundering ovation. But "coincidentally", last week, we witnessed another very impressive event of a Jewish leader, who, like Moshe Rabbeinu is from the tribe of Levi, holding his audience spellbound at his every word. It was our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, addressing 13,000 people in Washington DC’s convention hall.
Mr. Netanyahu did not speak about Shabbat nor of the Bet Hamikdash. His subject was more basic than any of the 613 Torah mitzvot. He spoke of the existential threats facing the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, and by necessity Jews the world over; because as the Jews fare here, so goes world Jewry. Why "more basic?" Because the building of the Mishkan or Bet Hamikdash does not defer Shabbat, however, the saving of a Jew whose life is in jeopardy does defer Shabbat.
I saw the event on video. It was an amazing speech by the Prime Minister. The audience stood and clapped tens of times in total agreement and identification with the logic of his words. Iran and its resolve to build nuclear weapons and delivery systems to targets many thousands of kilometers away should awaken even the most apathetic of people.
But, the subject of this week’s message is not Moshe Rabbeinu directly, nor is it our Prime Minister, and not even Eichmann-Ajad of Iran; it is the 13,000 people who heard that speech in the convention hall!
Let’s project for a moment that all 13,000 are on their feet after the members of Congress had left. The chairman of the session requests that whoever has a gentile mother to kindly be seated. I estimate that about 1000 would sit down. Then he requests that whoever is married to a gentile as well as the gentile spouse be seated; another 2000 sit down. He then requests that whoever has a son or daughter married to a gentile to be seated; another 3000 sit. Whoever has a grandchild married to a gentile, please be seated; 3000 more sit down. He then requests whoever underwent a reform conversion to be seated; another 1000 sit down. That would leave about 3000 people standing on their Jewish feet.
This is not an exaggeration, it is the stark and ugly face of the failed American Jewish community.
The Jewish community in the United States is indeed a failed one. It is failing financially because the United States economy is in an unstoppable downward spiral; and it has failed spiritually because the vast majority turns their backs on the only spiritual life boat available today - Eretz Yisrael.
The situation is a bit better with the orthodox community. But they too will go the way of the others, albeit a bit more slowly, because they too are apathetic, at best, when it comes to aliya to the Holy Land.
It is thought that any estimate of the number of Jews in the USA, whether it be 4, 5 or 6 million, at least half are not Jews by halachic standards.
Whoever values his or her family’s 3500 years of being an important component in the family of Jews, must realize that the thread is running out. Membership in AIPAC and support of the Jewish State are certainly admirable, but in no way will they guarantee that one’s children will remain Jews.
Come home! That is the only path to save yourselves physically and spiritually.
At one point in his address, Mr. Netanyahu raised the specter of danger from Iran, imploring the sane world not to be oblivious to the words of the Ayatollahs.
Mr. Netanyahu said: "If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, what is it? It’s a duck! But this duck is a nuclear duck".
I recently saw an interview on Aljazeera that broadcasts from Doxa in the Persian Gulf, with a certain American. He has long peyis. He has a full beard. Wears a long kaftan and tzitzis and speaks with a deep accent. So what is he? He is closer to a duck than to a Jew!
He goes by the name Yisrael Dovid Weiss, and represents the Neturai CARTERr of the USA. The venom he spurts out is of the sort heard in Shushan, Rome and in Spain of 1492. He was so disgusting that the Moslem interviewer asked him, "Are you an anti-Semite?"
He, and the people he represents would declare a festival with shtreimel, white socks and all, if a calamity befell the Jews in Eretz Yisrael. I believe that even their spiritual mentor, the Satmar Rebbe, would disown them if he knew the "bad seeds" that grew out of his teachings.
These people travel to Teheran to embrace Eichmann-Ajad and wish him and his nuclear engineers success in developing the ultimate weapon of destruction. And all this in the name of the Torah!
The grievous sin of King Menashe of Judah, for which he lost his place in the world to come, was his perversion of Biblical texts.
My immediate reaction to this man was disbelief, then anger ensued, but at some point he turned into a comical figure, who I would place in Disneyland.
But this comical figure is a radioactive duck. Like the destroyed atomic reactors in Japan and in the Ukraine, he spurts out poisonous messages of hate that kill one’s soul.
One need not delve into the commentaries to understand who Datan and Aviram, the nemeses of Moshe Rabbeinu were. You need not go further than seeing this man and his cult.
But the great tragedy is that the Satmar Rebbe and these people have won the day in American orthodox Jewry. They are aware of the fact that they will not convince an American Jew to accept their own self-hatred; but it is sufficient for them to cool down the American Jews’ enthusiasm for the miracle of Medinat Yisrael. To create a doubt is enough for them, because the doubt will cause one to say, "I am not a Satmar Chassid. But the Rebbe was such a religious man, and his adherents look so frum, that I am not convinced enough that the final redemption of the Jewish people has begun, so I won't sell my house and change my life".
This tragic-comic figure and his cult demonstrate at the drop of a shtreimel, identifying with the poor downtrodden murderous Arabs in Eretz Yisrael.
You can find them influencing politicians and the media who drink up their words of hate toward the Jewish people, as a vampire bat laps up the blood of an animal.
May HaShem have pity on His holy name, and deal with these people as befits them.
As for us, we will continue to praise the name of HaShem, and look to the fantastic future promised to us by HaShem as we build a Torah society in our ancient Holy Land of Eretz Yisrael.
Copyright © 5772-2012 Nachman Kahana