Monday, March 31, 2014

Zionism as a Civilization

From the Jerusalem Post


("Jewish sovereignty insists that Jews are not interlopers in the Land of Israel: this is the “Jewish national home.”)

Zionism is not just supporting the State of Israel, it is the recognition of the historical connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. This connection is critical for understanding the state as the basis upon which a third Jewish commonwealth/ civilization is being created.

The most important factor in the creation of the state is the Shoah. It has shaped the consciousness of every Jew, in one way or another, and it is an open wound. The rise of Jew-hatred and its proxy, opposition to Israel, is a constant reminder that Jews are still vulnerable.

In response to the Shoah, Jews took three major directions.

First, there was an attempt – primarily by Hassidim and haredim (ultra- Orthodox) – to recreate the Jewish world that was lost.

Second was the creation of a sovereign state that would be able to rescue Jews and have the ability to defend itself.

The third response was to assimilate, in varying degrees; building secular or “traditional” Jewish lifestyles and culture, or, in extreme cases, abandoning any connection to Judaism and the Jewish people.

Zionism stepped into the breach by inviting everyone to participate – even, for many, without cost or commitment.

It became a substitute for Judaism, allowing identification with a Jewish cause that had meaning without demands or restrictions. It was not only a big tent, but the fulfillment of a dream, and even a model for redemption – so critical after the Shoah.

Paradoxically, however, Zionism’s success was also a source of Jew-hatred and jealousy – especially as Islamists, jihadists, etc., became more powerful, and Jew-hatred mixed with anti-Zionism and opposition to Israel’s existence.

Portraying modern Zionism as a response to the long history of Jewish persecution and vulnerability is understandable, especially in the aftermath of the Shoah. But Zionism is rooted in a more profound Biblical and historical basis which was expressed in the First and Second Temple periods, Jewish independence and self-determination with political and religious institutions.

These eras are marked as Jewish commonwealths, or civilizations; they could not have developed without Jewish sovereignty, a vibrant Jewish culture and a strong Jewish army.

As modern Zionism – self-determination of the Jewish people in its ancient homeland – developed in the 20th century it was based on three essential elements of civilization and national identity: land, language and literature – Eretz Yisrael, Hebrew and Torah, the Bible (Tanach), Talmud and subsequent Jewish-based writing on the subject.

In 1948, these elements coalesced in the establishment of the State of Israel.

This event was dominated by a war of survival, followed by many mini-wars which threatened the state’s existence. As a nation-state, Israel’s history has been seen through the lens of its politics, economic struggles and technological and medical achievements. But it is much more.

Israeli sovereignty and modern Zionism laid the basis for the third Jewish commonwealth: a political entity and Jewish civilization and culture. The revival of the Hebrew language was a major force for unifying many different groups of Jews. The discovery of ancient Jewish historical sites lends authenticity to Jewish texts and traditions and provides a connection to Jewish identity that binds Jews to the Land of Israel.

Committed to democracy and the values of Western civilization, Israel is a lone beacon of enlightenment in a dark sea of Arab/Muslim totalitarianism and repression. Shortly after the state was established, Jewish communities in every Arab state were uprooted; those who were not slaughtered escaped a systematic ethnic cleansing. This expulsion, however, although traumatic, was also part of a prophetic vision of Ingathering – and it continues.

Jewish nationhood and Jewish sovereignty, therefore, has created a new paradigm: it is basis for the third Jewish civilization.

Jewish sovereignty implies one state with sovereignty from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean with semiautonomous enclaves of Arabs who enjoy civil and human rights either as citizens of Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, or another country.

This conforms to international law as set forth in the League of Nations, British Mandate, UN Charter and international treaties and agreements. It ensures the security and stability of the region and is the only logical basis for future development of all inhabitants of what is called the Land of Israel, or Palestine.

Unlike all other forms of nationality, Jewish sovereignty is based upon a long and well-developed history, centered around the First and Second commonwealths that existed millennia ago. Jewish sovereignty is not just a political form, but the expression of social, religious and economic institutions upon which good government and democracy rest.

Jewish sovereignty is not about power, but principles and values shared by all enlightened countries. Based on authenticity – history, archeology and culture – it includes transparent, open and viable institutions. And it is based on a vision – not of domination, but of creativity and freedom. It is based on a society in which one can fulfill his/ her potential, rather than become a homicidal martyr.

Jewish sovereignty – the basis for Jewish civilization, the third commonwealth – is inclusive, yet rooted in Jewish history, traditions and culture – and Jewish law. That does not mean a halachic state – for which we are unprepared – but a state which respects and understands the Jewish legal system and the society which produced it. This is the basis for a Jewish renaissance.

We are, however, only beginning to understand the meaning and significance of Jewish sovereignty and Jewish civilization. Much work needs to be done by artists, writers, philosophers, jurists, academics and intellectuals. We need to think creatively how to make this work not only as practical solutions to everyday problems, but as a monument to human achievement and ingenuity. This is the challenge to new concepts of Zionism.

Jewish sovereignty, therefore, is the vessel in which a rebirth of Jewish civilization is nurtured and flourishes, and one that will enhance world civilization. It is not the symbol of power, but of Presence – of Shechina – the majesty of God.

PALESTINIANISM Those who object to extending Jewish sovereignty because it denies Arabs living in Judea and Samaria and many in Israel political self-determination, i.e.

statehood, fail to ask a simple question: will it be a force for peace, or war? Creating another Arab Palestinian state west of the Jordan River endangers the survival of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael. This reality cannot be ignored.

Independent evaluation by experts, such as the World Bank, according to which the PA is an economic failure and “unsustainable” is a wake-up call.

This assessment is in addition to the PA’s political and social failure, its glorification of terrorists, constant incitement and promotion of violence.

The obvious conclusion, therefore, is that the “two-state solution” as envisioned by those who created the Oslo Accords and those who still support it, is not possible.

Moreover, the descent of the Arab world into chaos, terrorism and instability directly threatens Israel’s security.

Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel is not only an alternative to this regional disaster; it is the basis for a realistic solution, one that offers affirmations of hope and inspiration.

For Arab Palestinians that means integration and equality in Arab countries, and/or peaceful coexistence.

Jewish sovereignty insists that Jews are not interlopers in the Land of Israel: this is the “Jewish national home.” Jewish sovereignty is the basis of ingathering of Jews from around the world and building a new civilization that will be a source of imagination and creativity, a model of human achievement, rekindling the flame of enlightenment that has guided civilization, and one that nurtures the destiny of the Jewish people in its homeland.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Pesach, Give Your Heart and Soul

By Shmuel Sackett
Manhigut International Director
I am a very optimistic guy and always look for a way at making sure the glass is half full... even if it is almost empty! The problem, however, is that in many cases I just can't figure out a way to make things seems right, no matter how hard I try. I realize that Hashem is testing us - and I accept these tests - but somehow I don't see the tests ending. Lately, it seems that everywhere I turn there is another challenge and another hurdle to overcome. Since "quitting" is not an option, I just keep pushing and trusting in full faith that Hashem will not let us down. It is not easy but where in the Torah does it say that being Jewish is "easy"? If it's there, I must have missed it.

Recently, one of my biggest concerns has been with our Jewish youth. I don't see the excitement anymore. I don't see the enthusiasm or the happiness for being Jewish. I see many of them keeping Mitzvot, but out of habit not passion, and this tends to end over time.

What has become of us - the proud and chosen people? Why do we feel the burden of being Jewish but not the privilege? As we approach the days before Pesach, how many of us will literally curse the work we do as opposed to thanking Hashem for a chance to rid the physical and spiritual chometz from our homes and lives? What an opportunity we have to cleanse ourselves - and not only our ovens and closets! Yet, we kvetch and have sour faces for weeks before this amazing holiday. We complain about Pesach prices, about the back-breaking cleaning and about how jealous we are of our neighbors who go each year to one of those fancy shmancy hotels. And worst of all, we pass this sad, bitter pill to our children and are then amazed why so many of them look elsewhere.

I am not a Rabbi nor am I as knowledgeable as I should be in halacha [Jewish law], but I have the feeling that it is better to relax some of our "chumras" [obligations in Jewish practice above the requirements of Jewish law] in order to make Pesach enjoyable and educational. Of course I am not saying to violate halacha, but lately, so much of what we do is not even close to halacha. It is a chumra on top of a chumra on top of a chumra. Every year there's new kitniyot [legumes] rules! Every year the amount of matza we must eat becomes larger and larger in less and less time. Every year we have to clean more than the previous year and every year there are more rules such as not eating "gebrokts" [matzah that came into contact with water], even though you ate it the last 50 years! I remember growing up, there was one family in the neighborhood who didn't eat gebrokts. Fine - that was their custom and we all respected it...but today? I tell people that I like matzo balls in my soup and they look at me like I just ate a cheeseburger!

I am not afraid to say that this craziness has to stop! Adding on all these chumras to an already challenging holiday does nothing but add pressure and stress. Actually, that is incorrect. It does a lot more than that - it takes away the fun of Pesach that we all had growing up. It turns this week, and the month prior, to a time we all can't wait to end. Sad, but true.

I have noticed this trend for a long time but never said anything until now because after assessing the situation, I came to the conclusion that it is negatively effecting the young generation. Our children are mirrors and tape-recorders and not only when they are 2-5 years old! Our teenagers look to us for guidance, direction, emotional support and - yes - also in how to be good and proud Jews. We must teach them that Judaism has much more than just a brain. Judaism has a heart and a soul as well A Torah way of life is not restricting - on the contrary! A Torah Jew is one who is truly free, happy all the time and full of life and vigor. Yes, we follow rules but just like a young driver follows rules in order to reach new destinations, a Jew follows rules to touch the Heavens! These rules are not boring or dry - they are life itself and just as our young driver follows them to stay alive so does the young Jew follow them to reach places most people on this world will never get to!

Dearest readers - please put down some of the chumras and turn the clock back to when you were a child. Remember those days when you ate Streits matzah and not just shmura the whole week? Remember the days when you actually made a "mezonnos" bracha during Chol Ha'moed? Let your kids have those memories as well. Give them the freedom of Pesach and not just the slavery. I promise you that they will cling to yiddishkeit [Jewishness, Judaism] more than ever and will love every minute of the holiday! Make them some matza brei and throw some "kneidels" in the soup on Seder night. Invest some time putting a little neshama [soul] into this - and every day of the year - and this investment will pay you dividends beyond your
wildest dreams.

Happy Chodesh Nissan to one and all 
Shmuel Sackett.

Legal confusion: Why does Israel accept Jordanian law?


Israel’s policy of recognizing Arab land claims based on Jordanian law is anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist and anti-democratic.
My recent article on the Ottoman Land Law (“Arab land claims: Are they valid?” February 11, 2014 ) explained why, according to this law, Arab claims of private ownership against settlements were baseless. Yet, Israel’s legal establishment – High Court justices, legal advisors, attorneys general, ministers and politicians – accept these land claims as valid.

The following analysis explains why and, hopefully, will encourage further investigation.

During its occupation of Judea and Samaria (1949-67), the Jordanian government divided areas under its control among local residents and registered them as land owners. After surveying, they assigned vast areas to families and villages, entitling residents with a form of deed. Since the amounts of allocated land were extensive, most of it remained unused. According to the Ottoman laws, which were applicable, state land that was given away but not used reverted to the sovereign power, the state.

That didn’t happen, however, because Jordan changed this law by registering Arabs as landowners, thereby creating deeds which allowed the new “owners” to sell and/or transfer rights. This was done to pacify local residents by creating a basis for their “West Bank” status, citizenship, and hopefully, loyalty. The Jordanian government added one restriction: selling land to Jews was made (and still is) a capital crime.

Hundreds of Arab land owners and agents living in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas have been imprisoned, and many murdered, for selling land to Jews.

By the mid-1970s, when the settlement movement began, and as it developed, the Arabs whose names appear in the Jordanian registry had died. In cases where the land had been vacant for many years, Israeli authorities declared it abandoned and allowed Jewish communities to build there with infrastructure provided by agencies of the state.

Recently, Peace Now and Yesh Din, representing Arabs who claimed inheritance rights, and sometimes without any claimants, appealed to the High Court against Jewish communities.

The state’s legal authorities (Civil Administration, legal advisors, etc.), based on the Jordanian land register, certified that the land in question was privately owned, although not necessarily by the Arabs who claimed to be inheritors. Relying on what the state presented and without verification, the High Court ordered Jewish communities destroyed.

The first problem is that all of the cases against Jewish communities were brought to the High Court, which does not examine evidence, rather than lower courts which are specifically mandated and equipped to decide questions of land ownership.

The High Court could have asked for an authoritative opinion from lower courts, but did not.

The second problem is that Israel’s legal establishment – unjustifiably – recognizes the legitimacy of the changes which Jordanian government made. Since Jordan’s occupation of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem was illegal and not recognized by any country, except Britain and Pakistan, Israel is not obligated to acquiesce to Jordan’s land give-away program, or any of its laws.

Israel’s recognition of Jordanian law – rather than Israeli, or at least Ottoman and British Mandate laws – as supreme has caused billions of dollars in damages to Jews, violates the principles and norms of democracy, and undermines the Zionist enterprise. Even more significantly, the policy of improperly certifying Arab land claims encourages condemnation of Israel and Jews for “stealing Arab/Palestinian land.”

Since this is one of the main charges of BDS campaigns, this questionable legal position undermines Israel’s reputation.

This cabal of legal and judicial professionals with virtually unlimited control has usurped Israel’s democracy. Operating by its own rules, it enforces its dictates through the state’s police powers and its institutions.

Hidden behind black robes, certified by emblems of authority, it functions as a semi-secret government, unaccountable and beyond the reach of elected officials.

Israel’s legal establishment has never challenged the right of Jordan to arbitrarily and unilaterally change prevailing Ottoman and Mandate law. Generations of Israeli lawyers have been trained to accept this absurdity and Israeli jurists made it law.

The acceptance of Jordanian land registrations by Israeli judicial bodies and High Court encourages Arabs to claim ownership of areas to which they are not entitled and on which Jewish communities, security barriers and water treatment facilities have been built.

If the reason for accepting Jordan’s land registration is in order to avoid a legal vacuum, this could be resolved by using a combination of Ottoman and Mandate regulations – as products of legal sovereigns – and Israeli laws without reference to Jordanian law.

Although Jordan renounced all claims to Judea and Samaria as part of its peace treaty with Israel two decades ago, strangely, Israel continues to honor and abide by Jordan’s illegal and anti-Israel legacy.

Israel’s policy of recognizing Arab land claims based on Jordanian law is anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist and anti-democratic. This matter should be legislated, not left in the hands of bureaucrats and legal officials.

Changing this policy would be an expression of Israeli maturity and integrity.

Coupled with adopting the Levy Commission report, which recommended special courts to decide property disputes, implementing a new policy with regard to land claims to prevent unnecessary destruction of Jewish homes and communities would affirm Israel’s legal, historical and moral rights and its sovereignty.

What is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu waiting for? 

The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tazria and Temple Mount Awareness Day

If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male"

(Leviticus 12:1)
2 Adar 25, 5774/March 27, 2014

When a loved one dies, (G-d forbid), family, friends, neighbors and associates all come to offer condolences to the bereaved survivors. But anyone who has ever lost a close family member or friend knows that only the birth of a child or grandchild brings any comfort or consolation. Perhaps this is one reason why this week's Torah reading, Tazria, Leviticus 12:1-13:59), opens with "If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male... " (ibid 12:1) Following last week's reading of the tragic and untimely deaths of Nadav and Avihu, the two older sons of Aharon, theKohen Gadol, the announcement of a new birth, a new soul in the world, is a powerful message of comfort and an affirmation of life.

There are many prayers and customs concerning the birth of a Jewish child. There are prayers before conception, there are prayers for an easy birth and a healthy baby, there are prayers for the birth of a righteous individual, there is, of course, the Brit Milah, (circumcision), for a male new-born, also mentioned in Leviticus 12:3, and there are a number of customs and ceremonies for celebrating the birth of a baby girl. But, as our parasha tells us, in the time of the Holy Temple, the new mother is commanded, (after a thirty-three day waiting period upon the birth of a son, and a sixty-six day period upon the birth of a daughter), to purify herself and bring an offering to the Holy Temple:

"She shall bring a sheep in its first year as a burnt offering, and a young dove or a turtle dove as a sin offering, to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, to the kohen." (ibid 12:6)

Imagine for a moment the awesome feeling of excitement and anticipation as the days and weeks pass by and the time draws near for the mother to re-emerge into the world and to thank G-d for the gift of her new-born child. There is, to this day, a mortal danger in giving birth, and infant death, though thankfully brought down to a minimum via modern medicine and health care, is still a grave concern. How much more so it must have been in ancient times. But every parent breaths a sigh of relief and murmurs a prayer of thanks as the first weeks of life pass by and they see that their baby is healthy and gaining weight.

It is at this point that the mother, fully recovered from the birth, is commanded to bring her offering to the Holy Temple. No doubt the father, older siblings, grandparents and other family members accompany her to participate in her expression of gratitude and thanks and together they celebrate once again the entrance into the world of a new soul. And no doubt the infant itself, still too tender to be away from the mother, is in her arms throughout the entire experience. How beautiful a bonding experience for mother and child to be together at the holiest place on earth, in the presence of the Shechinah, standing before the kohen and the altar, (the place of the birth of Adam, the first man), and together to make their offerings to G-d upon the altar. How beautiful that the infant, who at this point in his or her development, is fully absorbing every detail of the world around him on a conscious level and even on the subconscious level, imbibing it all through her five senses: the splendor of the Holy Temple, the music of the Levites, the aroma of the incense offering, perhaps even a touch of the wool of the lamb that is to be offered. Could there possibly be a more meaningful and triumphal way for a mother and child to start out their life together than to do so by way of an appointed meeting with G-d at the Holy Temple?

The Holy Temple is an affirmation of life, an utter rejection of the illusion of death. Filled only with the glory of the Shechinah - the immanent presence of G-d - there exists within the Holy Temple only the reality of the transcendent truth of life.

This affirmation of life is truly what the Holy Temple is all about, and it is the reason, above all other reasons, why we need the Holy Temple in our world today. This Sunday, (March 30th), we invite you to join us for our5th Annual International Temple Mount Awareness Day Live Streaming Online Event. We hope to share with you a glimpse of some of the people who are working day and night to make the Holy Temple a living reality once again in our world. Throughout the four hour program we will be in our online chat-room and invite you to join us, to share your thoughts, ask questions, and, most of all, to celebrate with us the joy and life affirming beauty of our shared vision for mankind in which G-d'spresence is in His Holy Temple, and His Holy Temple is in our world. Join us!

Professor Gabriel Barkay, archaeologist, Muslim destruction and denial of the Holy Temple

Zvia Savir, preparing a Biblical meal offering

Professor Jeffrey Woolf, 2000 years of Jewish prayer & presence on the Temple Mount

Knesset Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin, Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount

Aryeh Sonenberg, Temple Mount activist, freedom & prayer on the Temple Mount

Ascending the Temple Mount with Rabbi Chaim Richman

Friends of the Temple Institute speaking from their hearts

Singer-songwriter Yitzchok Meir Malek

A visit to the Temple Institute's newly opened Holy Temple Visitors Center

Arnon Segal, Hebrew language journalist, reviving Temple consciousness in Israel

The Awareness Day Special can be viewed on the Temple Institute'swebsite. It will also be available on other online locations, including Israel National News. We invite you to join Rabbi Richman and Yitzchak Reuven in the chat-room where you can share your comments, ask questions and meet other people who like you feel that the world will be a better place with the Holy Temple.

We are also calling upon participants to please help sponsor the event. Sponsorship can also be done by calling toll-free 1-800-941-3484. The Temple Institute depends upon the generous support of our many friends and followers. The International Awareness Day program is a major annual project of the Temple Institute and your support for this year's event will enable us to begin planning next year's event.

The names of our sponsors appear on the Awareness Day webpage and will be updated throughout the broadcast in our chat-room. If you have made a recent donation with the intention of sponsoring the program, but don't see your name among the sponsors, please contact us and we will add your name.

Hats off to Rebel MKs

MK Moshe Feiglin   
By MK Moshe Feiglin

The following article
originally appeared on on 3/20.  

Deputy Knesset Speaker, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud), sent a message of support Tuesday to MK Yoni Chetboun (Jewish Home) for defying Coalition discipline this week and announcing he would vote against the Enlistment Law Wednesday.
"Yesterday, I sent an SMS of support to MK Yoni Chetboun," wrote Feiglin on Facebook. "Not because I agree with him - but simply because I appreciate any person who goes against the stream and is willing to pay a price for standing up for his principles. I did this with MK Adi Kol, also, after she veered a little from the sacred Coalition discipline and was tarred and feathered by her boss. "This whole idea of Coalition discipline needs rethinking," Feiglin added. "Is it really the only way?"...   

"Sometimes, I entertain 'heretical' thoughts. I would like to set up a government without Coalition discipline. Let every MK be truly responsible for the laws he passes and also for maintaining the government. Let changing wall-to-wall coalitions and oppositions form around every law. Let the Knesset cease being a 'law machine' and restore lost pride to itself and its members."
MK Chetboun angered his party and the Coalition with the surprise declaration that he plans to vote against the Enlistment Bill. "On the one hand, the members of the Jewish Home party, and chief among them MK Ayelet Shaked, really made a very significant effort so that this law, as I have said in the past, will be workable for the hareidi community," he told Arutz Sheva Tuesday. "On the other hand, as time goes on - and particularly over the last 24 hours - I feel that we are creating a serious schism between us and the Torah world, and the hareidi community."
"I see Israeli society being split apart by this law. I'm sure nobody meant for that to happen," he continued. Talk surrounding the law "is creating a message that is against the Torah world, against the yeshivas. That disrespects them," he lamented. "I felt deep inside that I must listen to my conscience, and that I cannot vote for this law."
Last August, MK Adi Koll (Yesh Atid) was suspended by her own party from membership on Knesset committees and from proposing laws after she abstained from voting on the Governability Law. Koll was forced to apologize publicly for violating coalition discipline.                            

MK Feiglin is known as a maverick politician, who paid a price for his insistence on the right to ascend to the Temple Mount despite heavy pressure by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cease doing so. For over a year, Feiglin was barred by police from visiting the Mount, after his first visits there as an MK caused Muslim anger. In retaliation, Feiglin announced that he was suspending himself from Coalition discipline. He was then dismissed by Likud-Beytenu from the Knesset's Education Committee, as a punitive action.                  

Despite the Likud's decision to dismiss him from the committee, Feiglin emphasized that he does not regret his decisions. "The State of Israel's sovereignty on the Temple Mount, which is in the heart of Jerusalem and the nation, is dearer to me than any other role," he said.

Selfless Devotion


By Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovitch  

As a general rule, when a person must bring both a chatas offering and an olah, the chatas is brought first (Zevachim 90a from Vayikra 5:8). 

Accordingly, when the Torah deals with cases in which both a chatas and olah are warranted, it mentions the chatas first and the olah second. However, the offerings of a post-partum mother are an exception in this regard, the Torah (Vayikra 12:6) mentioning the olah offering prior to the chatas offering!

 The Gemara (Zevachim 90a) states that the order in which the offerings are listed (in Vayikra 12:6) is only למקראה,   for reading [the verses] in the order in which they appear (olah before chatas). Beyond that, it has no practical significance, and even with the post-partum woman, the chatas is offered before the olah (Rashi). But why would the Torah present things out of order? 
One of the important messages of the Torah is the sanctification of mortal life. We are not bidden to spurn the physical and material world; on the contrary, we are challenged to utilize it in order to serve Hashem and thereby sanctify it.   Thus, in Judaism, even mundane earthly activities can be spiritually uplifting. However, remaining focused on Hashem while at the same time, being involved with the material world, is not an easy task .

The readiness of a Jewish woman to devote herself to family building despite the pains of pregnancy and childbirth (see Niddah 31b), her readiness to get up in the middle of the night to feed her baby and  to keep the household running  -  all these seem like "mundane" activities. Yet it is precisely these seemingly "mundane" activities that enable the Jewish people to thrive and flourish.  Although the woman's mental focus at this time is ostensibly directed more towards her baby and less to Hashem, this is exactly what the Torah wants!

To emphasize that the Jewish mother is sanctifying Hashem by building and raising her family, the Torah gives precedence to her olah offering. An olah offering is completely burned on the altar, and is an indication of complete and total devotion to Hashem. And the Jewish mother is the model of true and total devotion. By devoting herself to her family, she is devoting herself to G-d. For the woman's attention to her family and to her little one, to building the Jewish people, is an exquisite and unparalleled expression of complete and selfless dedication to Hashem.     

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The National Blemish: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Tazri’ah 5774

Tazri’ah 5774

By Rabbi Nachman Kahana
National Nega = Tzaraat
Our parasha discusses the appearance of a whitish mark on the skin or scalp, which requires a Kohen’s determination if it is a tuma producing nega tzara’at (blemish). The determination is dependent on the mark’s degree of whiteness, ranging from the most tamai white as snow to the least white like the color of the inner membrane of an egg and the paling of the hair within the blemish. If the Kohen cannot make a determination, then the individual is placed in isolation for a week. If the area of the blemish became enlarged, and the hair in the blemish turned white the individual was declared by the Kohen to be tamei.
A healthy spiritual body, with a sound mental state and spiritual sensitivity require precision balance in each of these respective systems, and total synchronization of all systems together. Up to a certain time in our history, the tell-tale signs of spiritual imbalance were the physical appearances of nega blemishes.
At Mount Sinai, HaShem chose the Jewish people, blessing us with spiritual and physical perfection. The 613 Torah mitzvot created an everlasting bond between the Creator and His preeminent creation – the Jewish people – while forging a national bond between the twelve loosely connected tribes.
The national bond consists of a common land – Eretz Yisrael. A mutual language – Ivrit. A shared history – the temporary slavery experience under Paro exchanged for eternal servitude to HaShem. And the promise of an eventual perfect material and spiritual destiny.
As time progressed, the Jewish nation grew further away from the Sinai experience and coupled with 2000 years of exile we see within us tell-tale signs of national nega tzaraat of various ideological “colors” and distortions.
The Jews in Eretz Yisrael are faithful to the national aspect of our existence. We live in the God given land of our fathers. Ivrit is our “resurrected,” living language, which makes us the only people in the world who can converse comfortably with an ancestor who lived 3000 years ago. We have created one of the most lethal and effective military machines, and produced many technological advancements far above the ability of most modern nations. And although most Israelis do not define themselves as dati (religiously observant) the majority believe in the Jewish God and are traditional in practice. This is a marked improvement over the weakened spiritual norm that existed when I came on aliya 52 years ago. Nevertheless, anything less than total acceptance of our holy Torah and mitzvot by all people here is a nega (blemish) on our nation’s status as HaShem’s chosen people.
In contrast to the situation in Israel, the prevailing feeling among the orthodox Jews in the galut, specifically in the United States, is the reverse of what we find here. The orthodox (I don’t relate to reform or conservative who are on their way out of Judaism) are halachically observant, but have little or no conscious feeling of belonging to, or association with, or a common attachment to a separate, distinct nation.
As a boy growing up in Brooklyn, and attending a local “yeshiva” with its educational policy, Washington was my capitol and the ‘Star Spangled Banner” my national anthem. English was my language. (Nothing has changed in the many years which have passed, except that sports and food are now the most discussed subjects.) And the “stars and stripes” unfurling in the wind made my heart skip a beat. Our national identity was not with the tiny Asian land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, but to the then 48 states between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
As with a blemish where there is uncertainty if it is a nega, and the sufferer must be isolated to see how the blemish develops, so too will be the fate of these two blemishes on our nation’s ethos – the less than religiously observant average Israeli and the disconnected average orthodox Jew in the galut. HaShem is waiting to see how they will develop over time.
As it appears now, the nationalistic but less than Torah observant community in Israel is moving in the direction of Torah observance. Were it not for certain extreme elements in our religious society, the religious level of the general public would be much more impressive. As it is today, there is hardly a kibbutz or moshav that does not have a bet knesset. Places where the parents 20-30 years ago would never enter a bet knesset, have hotels and restaurants with the most strict kashrut standards. The majority of junior officers in Tzahal today are religious.
The hareidi and modern orthodox communities in the galut are also being given their time. As of now, they are distancing themselves ever more from the living words of the prophets regarding our return to Eretz Yisrael and the fulfillment of the dream of the rebuilt Bet Hamikdash. Their mind-set that the Mashiach will send them limousines to bring them back will be destroyed on the background of the realities of life.
When the Mashiach comes he will in all likelihood dispense to each person according to the efforts he expended in enabling the Mashiach’s return.
Those people who are less learned and less observant but live and sacrifice in Eretz Yisrael will be sent to the Mirrer yeshiva, Merkaz Harav, etc., to gain the knowledge deprived them by being born to families who themselves were deprived of Torah.
The very observant and learned Jews of the galut will be awarded a special task in the service of Hashem. There are over 7 billion gentiles in the world who have to be directed in fulfilling the 7 Noachide laws. The Mashiach will appoint the rabbis, grand rabbis, roshei yeshiva etc., now in the galut with the unique privilege to live out their lives in the galut, never to set foot in the Holy Land, as they perform their holy mission to teach the 7 billion gentiles the world over. Good luck!
The Para Aduma Lesson for Today
The tahara process necessitated by an encounter with a corpse was understood by only Moshe Rabbeinu. The Gemara (Yoma 14a) states that even the wisest of men, Shlomo Hamelech, after investigating the natural and supernatural aspects of Para Aduma threw up his hands, exclaiming that the matter was beyond his understanding.
God instilled in man the desire to obtain that which is just beyond his reach, either too distant physically or halachically prohibited. This characteristic is called “yetzer”. When it is for the car or the house on the corner which are just beyond one’s budget it is called “yetzer hara”, when the drive is for torah and wisdom it is called “yetzer tov”.
To understand that which the wisest of all men was incapable is certainly beyond the reach of mortal man, but that is what makes the matter all the more enticing – to try and succeed where others have failed.
When studying the matter of Para Aduma the following thought occurred to me, which might allow us a direction in making the matter just a little less obscure.
The atomic table contains (to my last knowledge) 115 elements, some natural some artificial. However, according to the Zohar’s table of elements there are only 4, which due to the qualitative and quantitative mixtures produce every physical object in the universe:
Afar – dust or soil
Mayim – water
Aish – fire
Ru’ach – wind
The Torah relates that at the early dawn of mankind there were 4 major holocausts:
1) When one-third of mankind was killed when Kayin murdered his brother Hevel
2) The deluge in the time of Noach
3) When the five centers of culture – Sedom and Amora and their three sister cities were destroyed
4) When the army of the then super power of Egypt was destroyed in the Red Sea

These holocausts relate to the 4 elements as follows:
1) Tradition states that Kayin murdered his brother with a rock and then buried him in the ground, over their dispute on ownership of Mount Moriah. All on the background of the first element “Afar” – soil and dust.
2) Humanity was destroyed in the time of Noach through the second element “Mayim” – water.
3) The advanced cities of Sedom and Amora were decimated by the third element “Aish” – fire.
4) The waters of the Red Sea (Parshat Beshalach) were split by the fourth element “Ruach” when a great wind raged all night and then the wind blew again to restore the waters to their natural state.

Para Aduma utilizes all of these elements: 1) Fire burns the para, 2) which turns into “afar” or ashes; 3) the Kohen then mixes the ayfer with water and 4) He does not pour the liquid on the person coming to be tahor but flings it on him using the wind which the Kohen creates by the force of his arm.
The lesson to be learned from this is that when each element is taken alone it brings death and tuma; however, when taken together through the Para Aduma the joint forces of all the elements brings tahara and life.
I don’t know if this is the true track to understanding Para Aduma, but the lesson is applicable to our time: that unity in the Jewish Nation creates an atmosphere of tahara, while disunity produces strife and tuma.
As an example, I would like to relate a most unfortunate incident which occurred several years ago in New York City. The major orthodox organizations were planning a prayer occasion near Wall Street, in view of the difficult military situation which was confronting the Medina at the time. Agudat Yisrael made their participation conditional on no one reciting the “mi sha’bay’rach” prayer for the Medinah for Tzahal.
When I learned of the condition imposed by Agudat Yisrael, I wrote a letter to one of their leading administrators, as if asking his advice in a delicate matter.
I have a son who is an officer in Tzahal. Many Jews owe their lives to the daily and nightly efforts of him and his soldiers.
What should I tell my son when he finds out the holy Agudat Yisrael refused to offer up a prayer and asks, “Abba, why didn’t they pray that I should come home safely to my wife and children?”
And when his wife, who is a talmida chachama (she knows more about korbanot being a teacher in an ulpana then most rabbis living abroad), asks me: “Abba why didn’t they pray that my husband should return safely to me and our children?”
And when their children ask: “Saba why didn’t they pray that Abba comes home safely to us””
I ask you learned rabbi: “What should I tell them?”
I did not receive a reply to my letter.
Let us inculcate the lesson of the Para Aduma: Disunity brings death and tuma, but unity brings life and tahara.
Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5774/2014 Nachman Kahana

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gravity Waves and the Glory of Gd

The glory of HaShem appeared to all the people"

(Leviticus 9:23)
2 Adar 19, 5774/February 20, 2014

The world was abuzz this week with good tidings: "A team of American scientists, led by astronomer John M. Kovac, said that it had found conclusive evidence for the existence of gravitational waves — gigantic ripples in the fabric of space-time that are caused by the sudden movement of large masses [...] And this, according to Israeli Professor Nathan Aviezer of Bar-Ilan University, "makes it clear that the universe had a definite starting point — a creation — as described in the Book of Genesis [...] To deny this now is to deny scientific fact.” (as reported in The Times of Israel)

In short, the scientific world has discovered its "Let there be light"moment, and this is truly very joyful news. Whether or not it was G-dwho instigated the big bang of creation or it was some pre-creational nameless bureaucrat who let creation slip out of the bag is an argument that can continue to occupy the great thinkers of the world, but as of now, scientists seem to agree, we have tangible proof of "Let there be light."

One thing that certainly can't be argued is G-d's apparently eternal sense of exquisite timing. No sooner had we rolled up our scrolls of Megillat Esther, whose every word pulsates with evidence, not only of G-d'shidden presence behind the scenes of our everyday mundane lives, but also His intimate involvement in every moment of our lives and our history, then the high priests of scientific reason and empirical proof for all phenomena raised their glasses and, in effect, toasted the G-d of creation.

But the cosmic smile lighting up the face of G-d's presence in our world is even greater. The "Let there be light" revelation of the American scientists occurred in the very same week that we are reading parashat Shmini (Leviticus 9:1-11:47) in our synagogues on Shabbat. For parashat Shmini, which deals with the actual inauguration of the desert Tabernacle, after all the weeks and month of preparation, contains its own "Let there be light" moment:

"And Moshe and Aharon went into the Tent of Meeting. Then they came out and blessed the people, and the glory of HaShem appeared to all the people. And fire went forth from before HaShem and consumed the burnt offering and the fats upon the altar, and all the people saw, sang praises, and fell upon their faces." (ibid 9:23-24)

What our blessed scientists found irrefutable evidence of, "a concentrated ball of light [which] 'exploded' into something bigger when it was only about a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth (10 to the minus 35) of a second old," the entire nation of Israel witnessed with their entire beings and in full glory on that eighth day of Tabernacle activity, which was, in fact, the first day of the month of Nisan.

There is something profoundly rewarding about witnessing our modern day physicists, who are truly men and women of integrity and vision, singing full-throated praise of G-d's unprecedented achievement in pulling off the big bang, similar, no doubt, to the praises sung by Israel, when they witnessed G-d's glory, as quoted above. But the truth be told, as incredibly impressive as G-d's "Let there be light" big bang creatio ex nihilo achievement is, the ability of the nation of Israel, fresh out of Egyptian servitude and finding themselves in a harsh desert environment, and employing their own hands and hearts and making use of commonly found materials, to create a Tabernacle - a vessel - that can receive and provide rest for that same supernal light of G-d's creative "Let there be light" impulse, is much, much more impressive. What our scientists have discovered an echo of, "a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth... of a second" in time, Israel, via the Tabernacle, and later the Holy Temple, was able to "capture" for all the world to benefit by, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

The first day of the month of Nisan, that moment in space and time when the light of creation first entered and illuminated the Tabernacle in the desert, occurs this year on April 1st. And as every year, on the first day ofNisan, that "gravitational wave," known otherwise as the Presence of G-d, will be pulsating particularly powerfully in our universe. It is for this reason that for the past five years the Temple Institute has been hosting our Annual International Temple Mount Awareness Day Online Event(Note: This year's event will be broadcast on Sunday, March 28, to facilitate greater participation.) Just as our scientists, we feel that the incontrovertible proof of the presence of G-d in our world, as is provided by the Holy Temple, is reason for celebration. We too can point to the coordinates where this breathtaking event will next occur: On the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the moment we make it happen.

Sunday, March 30th, (Adar II 28), the Temple Institute will be hosting its 5th Annual International Temple Mount Awareness Day broadcast. The four hour live stream video broadcast will begin at 5:00 PM Israel time, (10:00 AM Eastern time), and will be rebroadcast for a second showing after a brief interlude. These two broadcasts will give everyone an opportunity to see the entire program, at a convenient time. During both broadcasts, viewers will be able to communicate directly with Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven throughout the live streaming webcast, via our chat-room.
Help sponsor this exciting event!.
Click here for complete details and a preview of our guests.

Thank Gd for the IDF

IDF retreat Lebanon  
By Shmuel Sackett, 
Manhigut Yehudit 
International Director

I will surprise many of you by the following nine words: Nobody should be forced to serve in the IDF. My position, and the ideology and vision of my Manhigut Yehudit co-founder, Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, is very clear. We do not want soldiers who don't want to be there. To us, it does not matter why they feel this way. Maybe it is for religious reasons, maybe they want to start university, maybe it is for political reasons (right or left) or maybe they just want to sit home all day and watch TV. Who cares? We simply do not want a person putting on that holy uniform of the IDF if - for whatever reason - they don't see it as the greatest honor and privilege imaginable.
In Israel, everyone talks about religious coercion and how we must fight against it. Instead of forcing our brothers to keep Shabbat, we need to teach them, show them and guide them. Nobody ever became observant because a rock was thrown through their car window by some lunatic screaming "Shabbos"!!! We need to bring our brothers and sisters close to Torah by showing them the beauty and the sweetness. Forcing people may work in the short-term but it never lasts and is never transmitted to the next generation.
The problem with this logic is that people only think it applies to religious coercion when, in reality, it refers to secular coercion as well. Wait a second; did I just write "secular coercion"? Has anybody heard that term before? Well, I just proved my point! Nobody has ever heard about it because it is never discussed... but it exists! Last year a young, religious soldier in the IDF walked out during an army graduation ceremony that featured a woman singing. He did not make noise. He did not insist that she stop singing. He simply picked himself up and quietly exited the room. The media found out about this and went nuts! "Where is his respect?" they asked. "How dare he impose his beliefs on others?" they accused.  The same media that talks about tolerance of all was now demanding secular coercion. "The singing was part of the program and he must not leave!" They were absolutely twisting his arm - and the arm of all soldiers in that same uncomfortable position - to sit and listen to the woman sing. This is just one example of what I call "secular coercion" and there are many, many examples.
Moshe Feiglin and I are against all coercion. Stop forcing people to do what they don't want! Please understand that I am not talking about laws which are in place for public safety. Obviously every society needs rules to follow so that the public is safe - from road safety to building codes and everything in between! Rather, I am talking about forcing people to act or think in a certain way. That is totally wrong and societies built on these concepts often crumble quickly.
Let's now use this logic to discuss the IDF draft. This is the "hot issue" of the day and we must take a position on it. I love the IDF. When I made aliyah at the age of 29 with four children, the IDF did not want me. I sent letters, called whomever I could and eventually just walked into a draft center to sign up. Everyone there looked at me as though I was nuts but I didn't care. I came to Israel to build a Jewish Nation and fighting in the IDF was an important part of that dream. Baruch Hashem, they finally took me and I served, in the reserves, for 20 years in an anti-chemical warfare unit. When my son grew up, he proudly entered the IDF and joined the Nahal Haredi unit as a combat soldier. He became a unit commander, and to this day serves in the reserves, ready, willing and able to inflict pain on the Jewish enemy. All of my older girls served in 'National Service' and my 18 year old will be starting her service immediately after high school. In short, we consider service in the IDF to be one of the greatest Mitzvot humanely possible. Think about it; a soldier is not just doing something privately. All at once he is serving himself, his family, his community, his nation and above all - his G-d! There isn't a mitzvah that comes close to that.
That having been said, I do not want to force anyone to join the IDF if they don't feel the same way. Yes, I will try to convince them that they are wrong; that is called education! Yes, I will show them all the Torah sources about the great Jewish leaders - including Moshe Rabbeinu - who led military battles. However, when all is said and done, if the young men I speak with do not want to serve, or the young women do not want to perform national service - it is their right to make that decision and we must honor and respect it.
I have just one problem with this IDF Draft Law: The Chillul Hashem (Desecration of G-d's Name) caused by the people who gather to protest. This makes me crazy! Here, if I could, I would force myself on making them stop because when it comes to Chillul Hashem we do not say "live and let live". For the honor and glory of our Father and King, we must stop these ridiculous and shameful gatherings. In my mind, the people that attended these horror shows were not simply saying Tehillim. They were publicly desecrating the name of Heaven, even though they did not intend that in any way.
When 50,000 religious Jews come to a public place in Manhattan to protest against the draft - as they did 2 weeks ago, they open the door for anti-Semites around the world to condemn the IDF and the holy work they do. Don't get me wrong; there are many things that I do not like about the army but you will never see me talking about it in public. I desperately want to make changes and this is why I have dedicated my life to changing the leadership of the country. The soldiers - each and every one - are precious gems, but, at times the orders they receive are beyond comprehension. This is what we need to fight but not on the streets of Manhattan where the world looks and does not understand. They see 50,000 Orthodox Jews screaming against the army and they misunderstand. Trust me because I am involved in this 24 hours a day. The world uses this against us - "Even your own religious Jews are against the Israeli army" - and it causes Israel irreparable damage.
If the organizers of this shameful act had good intentions, they would have told everyone to gather in their local shul and say Tehillim at a certain time. It could have been synchronized perfectly and Jews all over the world who feel strongly about this issue could have said Tefillot; from California, to NY, to Canada and to Australia! That would have been fine but that was not the intention of the organizers! The intention was to mock, desecrate and delegitimize Israel as the Jewish state and this is something we must not stand for!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Muslim Rioters Attack MK Feiglin on Temple Mount

Adar Bet 18, 5774, 20/03/14 10:39
MK slams authorities for 'weakness' after police respond to rioting by Muslims by banning Jews from holy site.
By David Lev
Two Arab rioters were arrested Thursday for attempting to attack MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beteinu) as he visited the Temple Mount. Hundreds of rioters threw stones at Feiglin and several individuals who accompanied him. Feiglin was forced to leave the site, and police took steps to break up the riot.

As a result of the riot, the Temple Mount was closed Thursday morning to Jews and to tourists.

Feiglin has been a strong advocate of Jews' asserting their rights to pray on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Last month, Feiglin initiated a Knesset debate on freedom of religion and Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount. Although Jews are technically allowed to visit the Temple Mount, the decision on whether or not they will be admitted is generally in the hands of the Waqf, the Muslim religious trust that controls access to the site. Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount is illegal.

During the Knesset debate, Feiglin attacked the discriminatory management of the holy site, which is under the de facto rule of the Waqf. Jews are often forbidden from entering and arrested for having religious or national symbols. Behind the back of the people we have given up on any Israeli sovereignty on the Mount,” remarked Feiglin. “Any terror organization can wave its flag there -- the flag of Israel? Don't mention it even. And a verse of Psalms is pretext for an arrest. The police even recommend taking the kippah off your head.”

After being forced to leave the site Thursday, Feiglin said that “the incidents today show more than ever that the Temple Mount is such a powderkeg specifically because it is clear to the Palestinians that violence pays off. Israeli weakness encourages this violence.”

Police, Feiglin said, did an admirable job of protecting the Jews and tourists caught up in the riot and putting down the riot. “But cutting our visit short and clearing the Mount of Jews on the one hand while allowing the rioters to remain on the other left the victory in the hands of those who initiated the violence, and will only encourage more violence.”

On Sunday, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) was also forced to leave the Temple Mount after rioters threw stones at him. Then, too, police cleared the Mount of non-Muslims.

“A reality in which rioters determine the day's agenda on the Temple Mount, and prevent Jewish visitors from ascending [to the Mount], is unacceptable," Ariel stated after the visit. "I went up to the Mount this morning, I intend to keep on doing so in the future, and I demand that security forces help keep Jewish sovereignty intact and allow any Jew to ascend to the Mount freely."

The Temple Mount is Judaism's most sacred spot. Israeli police, in an attempt to appease the Muslim Waqf which was left in charge of the Temple Mount compound after the 1967 Six Day War, ban Jews from praying or performing any other form of worship.

Police sometimes close the Mount to Jews altogether in response to Muslim riots - for days or weeks at a time - despite evidence that such violence is usually planned in advance for the specific purpose of forcing Jews out.