Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Religion Of Oslo and Its Followers

Into the fray: Religion of retreat

Continued adherence to a quasi-religious belief in the efficacy of retreat threatens survival of the nation.
Left-wing activists rally in favor of Oslo Accords
Left-wing activists rally in favor of Oslo Accords Photo: REUTERS
The fixation of Israeli governments on “land for peace”, a policy that has resulted in the murder and maiming of more than 10,000 Jews, puzzles the pundits. They puzzle over the fact that regardless of which party or coalition of parties controls the government, the policy of land-for-peace continues, despite its obvious futility and fatal consequences.
They wonder what animates Israel’s ruling elites? Why do they continue to negotiate with terrorists, with Arabs or Muslims steeped in a fourteen- century religion driven by hatred of “infidels”…
[They] also wonder why the people of Israel, who exercise the franchise, tolerate their ruling elites? …why don’t the voters elect statesmen possessing enough courage, wisdom, and integrity to face the truth about the implacable nature of the enemy – statesmen who can pursue a strategy whose goal is to defeat the enemy? Why do the voters repeatedly elect governments that appease the enemy via the futile and fatal policy of land for peace?

– Prof. Paul Eidelberg, The Fixation of Israel’s Elites on “Land for Peace”, 2007.
If the proponents of the discredited land-for- peace principle and the two-state prescription for resolving the Israel-Arab conflict had any intellectual integrity, they would hang their heads in shame.
If the political discourse in Israel were conducted with decency and honesty; if substantive truth determined public stature in the country, these merchants of fraudulent, foolhardy fantasies would have been marginalized, consigned long ago to the enduring irrelevance, ignominy and commensurate ridicule they richly deserve.
Dramatic discontinuity in Zionist endeavor
We are now approaching almost a quarter- century since the fatal concoction of the noxious, Oslowian brew in the early 1990s, that culminated in the so-called “Declaration of Principles” (Oslo I) on the White House lawns in September 1993.
In effect, these events marked a dramatic discontinuity in the evolution of Zionism, fostering the previously spurned notion of Palestinian statehood as an acceptable – even preferred – policy option for the mainstream.
Not only did the event grossly distort the founding ethos of Zionism, it inverted its essence and the thrust of Zionism’s fundamental principles. What was once vaunted as virtue became vilified as vice.
Indeed, the agreement spawned an approach that put surrender of homeland and abandonment of kin at the apex of enlightened values. It denigrated any assertion of Jewish identity and solidarity as ethnocentric “racism”.
In a surreal twist of irony, the Oslo Accords, signed by soon-to-be Nobel Peace Laureates, proved to be a harbinger of unprecedented violence, sowing trauma and tragedy across the country.

Unchastened by failure
This was both predictable and predicted.
After all, at the outset of this pernicious and perverse historical process, there were advocates who promised that Oslo would provide great benefits, and apprehensive opponents, who warned it would wreak great havoc.
Today, after over two decades, the results are in. Prevailing realities reflect almost precisely the ominous prognoses of the opponents, and the exact negation of the rosy predictions of proponents. Indeed, the Oslo-initiative precipitated virtually all the dangers that were foretold, but none of the benefits pledged.
It is hard to imagine any greater professional failure than that of the pro-Oslo/two-state advocates.
Oblivious virtually to every principle of political science, international relations, and other relevant disciplines, desperate to conform to the dictates of trendy political correctness, they brought those grim realities into existence that their “extremist” opponents warned were coming.
As Prof. Efraim Karsh acerbically points out: Had such professional misconduct occurred in the natural or physical sciences there would have been serious consequences: e.g. the collapse of a bridge following specious engineering calculations, dangerous side effects hidden from oversight during the development of a new medicine…It would seem that when it comes to the social sciences or the humanities, researchers can escape punishment for every kind of malpractice.
Indeed, unchastened by the scope of the debacle, the endorsers of this eminently foreseeable tragedy still identify themselves as voices of clarity and reason.
Article of religious faith 
Disdainful and dismissive of dissent, they doggedly deny error and steadfastly adhere to dysfunctional dogmas and doctrines.
Instead of bowing their heads in shame and slinking off in disgrace quietly and inconspicuously, these intellectuals strut around like morally superior peacocks despite their record of unmitigated failure.
Far more disturbing than refusal to admit error is their refusal to acknowledge even the possibility of error.
In last week’s column, I mentioned that, over the years, I have been making an effort to get two-state proponents to conceive of a theoretical scenario, which, were it to come to pass, would persuade them that their support for the two-state principle was mistaken, and thus bring them to retract their call for a significant retreat from Judea-Samaria.
After all, if one cannot admit to at least a theoretical possibility that one’s policy position might be refuted, that position is no longer based on a rational political perspective.
They are operating on an article of “religious faith” irrespective of prevailing realities or any changes that might occur.

“Sherman is a very intelligent psychopath” 
Such beliefs require no proof to corroborate them. Their innate truth is held to be self-evident by its adherents. All contradictory evidence is either deemed irrelevant or ignored. All opposing analyses—however cogent—are declared, ispo facto, invalid.
Any “heretical” counter-arguments are belittled and those who articulate them besmirched, even branded mentally impaired for failing to recognize the “shiny” path of indisputable truth.
As an edifying example, take the reaction of my Jerusalem Post colleague, Gershon Baskin to my last week’s column. Baskin was one of the “two staters” mentioned in it who declined to stipulate the parameters of some theoretical scenario whose occurrence might induce him to abandon him current position.
In his “carefully crafted, tightly argued” response Baskin, posted the following “erudite” talk-back: “Sherman is a very intelligent Pyschopath”
But sarcasm aside, Baskin’s retort is significant in illustrating the point I have been making as to the devout fanaticism of “two-staters” to the articles of their obsessive faith.
For by deeming me “very intelligent”, he seems to acknowledge that I am capable of mustering arguments of some persuasive force, but by ascribing me a mental disorder, absolves himself of any need to contend with them on their substantive merits—something he is clearly unable to do.
Articulate but asinine
“Two-staters” have always been eager to shut down substantive debate on their political credo, for they know it cannot survive scrutiny.
Indeed, they have been conspicuously cavalier with the facts in a desperate effort to mask the fading relevance of their futile fetish.
A recent article (June, 19) by the usually articulate Ari Shavit in Haaretz provides an instructive example of just how asinine — read “disingenuous and irrational” — “twostater” arguments have become. Apparently apprehensive that the abduction of the three youths two weeks ago could result in a setback for the popularity of the “two-state” approach, Shavit, unsurprisingly, condemns Israel for not taking advantage of “seven good years” of relative calm to reach agreement with the Palestinians. In a breathtaking misrepresentation of facts, he writes: “Until the abduction of the three youths in Alon Shvut a week ago, no strategic attack had been launched. The bloody attacks on Israeli cities and even the attacks on the settlements and settlers dramatically diminished. The economic prosperity, cultural boom and good life…since 2007 were possible only because the violent reality we had lived in was replaced with a reality of quiet borders, a quiet West Bank and astonishing stability.”
‘Two-state uber alles’?
Shavit laments: “We misused the calm that descended on the West Bank’s roads and towns and settlements. We wasted the laid-back prosperity that visited Israel’s cities and shopping malls. We let the seven good years slip through our fingers.”
A recent Post editorial (June 19) takes him to task for his gross distortion of the truth, aptly pointing out that: “Shavit conveniently ignored the hundreds of Kassam rockets and mortar shells shot over these years…He also ignored several incidents of murder, dozens of foiled kidnapping attempts, and hundreds of incidents of rock-throwing and firebombings…throughout the West Bank.”
So the argument that Shavit appears to advance is that just because Israel has been able to foil a myriad of attempted terror attacks, the Palestinians’ failure should be taken as a sign of their goodwill, and therefore Israel should make perilous concessions that would give such attacks greater chance of success. Really, Ari.
Indeed, one might be excused for concluding that it is not the “hedonistic and apathetic” Israeli public or its “callous uncaring” government that the extended period of relative calm lulled into a false sense of security, but rather the “two-state-uber alles” zealots, like Shavit.
ISIS and the Irrelevance of Abbas’s bona fide
For “two-staters” the speech given last week in Jeddah by Mahmoud Abbas, in which he firmly condemned the abduction of the three Israeli youths, was a veritable “shot-in-the-arm” — particularly as it was given in Arabic and clearly intended for an Arabic-speaking audience.
I do not know if Abbas is sincere in his occasional declarations of goodwill and his desire to conclude a lasting peace agreement with Israel. And neither does any avid “two-stater”! However, as I have been at pains to underscore, whether he is or he is not should be entirely irrelevant for the formulation of Israel’s long-term strategic policy.
The main concern about the viability of the two-state paradigm has been that its durability cannot be assured, no matter what deal may be struck, no matter with whom it may be struck.
In the past this concern was centered on (a) whether the party contracting on behalf of the Palestinians has the requisite authority and sincerity to “deliver the goods”; (b) even if he did, what is to prevent him from reneging on his commitments; and (c) even if he does not renege on his commitments, nothing prevents his replacement by a successor who would renege.
In recent months, however, a new element has entered the equation, which, even if none of those scenarios materialized, is likely to make an agreement with any Palestinian worthless.
With much of the Arab world in bloody turmoil and the rapid erasure of previous international borders, the increasing pressure on the stability of the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan makes the prospect of regime change an essential working assumption of any responsible Israeli government.
Even if an otherwise durable pact could be concluded with some trustworthy Palestinian, how would his mini-micro-demilitarized state cope with the kind of Islamist forces now routing the Iraqi army? The specter of an ISIS-affiliated regime taking control in Amman, or seriously destabilizing the country and undermining the rule of law must be considered a plausible outcome that Israel should plan how to deal with.

Strategic peril  
Who would defend the nascent Palestinian state, so that radical Islamists do not deploy on the ridges overlooking Greater Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion airport? With the fall of the monarchy in Jordan increasingly on the horizon, can anyone seriously advocate relinquishing the Jordan Valley or the highlands of Judea-Samaria, the only barriers between urban Israel and the kind of horrors we now witness in Syria and Iraq?
These, and many other related questions, must be urgently inserted into the public discourse. Unchastened “twostaters” must be pressed to give persuasive responses to these concerns.
Until they do, their adherence to what can only be understood as irrational, quasi- religious belief in the efficacy of retreat, must be considered a tangible strategic threat to the survival of the nation.
Martin Sherman ( is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (

Connecting the dots of the boiling Arab Street

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
According to the Saudi Arabian-based newspaper, Arab News, "the Arab Spring is not about seeking democracy, it is about Arabs killing Arabs… about hate and sectarian violence…. The Arab Spring is an accumulation of years of political corruption, human rights violations, sectarianism and poor education systems. It showed that the Arabs were never united and are now divided beyond anybody's imagination. We hate each other more than we hate the outside enemy.  Syrians are hurting Syrians and the Israelis are the ones who treat the Syrian wounds [in an Israeli field hospital built on the Golan Height]." 
Connecting the dots of the increasingly boiling Arab Street highlights the 1,400 year reality of intense intra-Arab violent intolerance, hate education, transient (one-bullet) regimes, tenuous policies, non-compliance with intra-Arab agreements which are usually signed on ice and not carved in stone, explosive unpredictability, lack of intra-Arab peaceful coexistence and a savage violation of civil liberties.  In 14 centuries, the Arab street has never experienced freedom of religion, speech, press, association or movement, which constitutes a prerequisite for free elections and peaceful coexistence. The Arab world is swept by domestic, regional, national and intra-Arab terrorism, systematically and intentionally targeting civilians and employing car bombs, bullets, missiles and chemical warfare. Ethnic cleansing has engulfed Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya, underlying the lack of national cohesion on the Arab street and the merciless intra-Arab/Muslim fragmentation along ethnic, tribal, cultural, geographic, ideological and religious lines. The national cohesion of the three most powerful Arab countries throughout the 20th century - Egypt, Iraq and Syria - has collapsed, threatening Iraq and Syria with chaotic disintegration. Studying the fate of minorities in Arab countries, reveals the expected devastating Arab/Muslim attitude towards the "infidel" Christian, Jews or Buddhist.    
Connecting the dots of the increasingly boiling Arab Tsunami has intensified anxiety and panic among the inherently unstable pro-US regimes of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Bahrain. These regimes are aware that Egypt's Mubarak, Libya's Kaddafi, Tunisia's Ben Ali and Yemen's Salah (possibly joined by Syria's Assad) were perceived to be as stable as the Rock of Gibraltar, but were overthrown summarily and brutally by fanatic Islamic terrorists. They are cognizant of the clear, present and lethal threat posed by Iran and Iran's adversary, the ISIS ("Islamic State in Iraq and Syria"), which intends to sweep Jordan, Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf. They are concerned about the lava erupting from the endemic civil war in the intractably fragmented Yemen, which controls the route of the oil tankers from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean.
Connecting the dots of the increasingly boiling Arab Street emphasizes the mutually-inclusive nature of the Arab Streets.  The December 2010 Tunisian upheaval fueled the February 2011 Libyan and Egyptian eruptions, which fed the February 2011 turmoil in Yemen and Bahrain, and provided tailwind to the March 2011 civil war in Syria.  It intensified terrorism and disintegration in Iraq, thus posing an imminent deadly threat to the Hashemite regime in Jordan, which could be transformed into another heaven for Islamic terrorism on Israel's longest, and most vulnerable, border.
Connecting the dots of the increasingly boiling Arab Street accentuates Israel's unique role as the only stable, reliable, effective, democratic and unconditional ally of the US, whose posture of deterrence – in the face of Islamic terrorism and Iran - is a life insurance policy for the Hashemite regime and other pro-US Arab regimes in the Middle East.
Connecting the dots of the increasingly boiling Arab Street underscores the recklessness of past pressure on Israel to retreat from the Golan Heights, as well as the current pressure on Israel to withdraw from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which dominate the border with Jordan (the Jordan Valley) and over-towers Jerusalem, Israel's international airport and 80% of Israel's infrastructures and populations in the 9-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean (the pre-1967 Israel). An Israel without the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria would be transformed from a producer – to a consumer – of national security; from a strategic asset to a strategic burden.
Connecting the dots of the increasingly boiling Arab Street exposes the gullibility of well-intentioned peace negotiators, who consider the Arab Tsunami an Arab Spring, transitioning itself to democracy, embracing Western norms of peaceful coexistence, compliance with agreements and civil liberties. They believe that a signed agreement can overrule a14 century old shifty and devious culture.  They ignore the fact that the Arab-Israeli conflict has never been "the Middle East conflict;" that the Arab Tsunami has revealed the Palestinian issue as a marginal player in Middle Eastern politics; and that the Palestinian issue has never been the crown-jewel of Arab policy making or the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  They ignore the aforementioned reality-driven analysis by the Saudi Arab News, thus pressuring Israel to go through suspension of disbelief, lowering its security threshold and relying on peace-driven-security, rather on security and deterrence-driven peace, while the Arab Street is boiling.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Our Strength is in Unity

By Zvulun Orlev
As I write this column we still do not know the fate of our children who were kidnapped by the Hamas. Let us hope and pray that when this is available in public we will be able to thank and praise the Creator of the World for the kindness of returning the youths to their homes in peace. We have been through several weeks of fear, nerve-wracking tension, and deep thought because of our uncertainty and our lack of knowledge of what is happening. Is this a necessary price for us to pay because of our deep attachment to Eretz Yisrael in general and to Yehuda and the Shomron in particular?
Our Family
What can be added to what the families have said, or to the jabbering in the media? But our feelings do not let us ignore what is happening. These are our innocent children,part of the family of the broad camp of religious Zionism, who wanted to reach their homes in peace starting out in Gush Etzion. The "Law of Intertwined Religious Families" has once again been demonstrated in this matter. Who among our families doesn't have some sort of connection with at least one of these noble families through our diverse family ties? (This is true for my family too. My son was a study colleague of one of the boys in the Shaer family in a Hesder yeshiva. My daughter-in-law works with the father of the Fraenkel family.) Every one of our families feels personally involved in this kidnapping.
We are deeply moved once again by the showing of a will to sacrifice and the dedication of the commanders and the fighters of the IDF, the Security Service, and the Police, in their efforts to bring the boys back home safely. The revelations of companionship and unity of the nation, and the full backing given to the war against murderous terrorism, are worthy of all manner of praise. David Ben Gurion said, "Let every Jewish mother know that she has handed the fate of her children over to the commanders," and we can add more to this: "and to the hands of the people and the leaders, who have shown that in troubled times they will fight in unison to bring them back to their mothers safely."
In these painful times, many people are asking: What can we contribute to the success of the efforts by the Security Forces? My answer is: First of all, we must expand our prayers to the Creator of the World, asking Him to have mercy on the children and their families. Second, we must remain unified, show national solidarity with the political and military leaders, and show our support for their behavior, and in addition encourage them to continue on the right path. At such times it is best for the leadership, with all its variability, to be able to concentrate only on the main task, bringing the boys home, and not to be required to set aside resources of time, thought, and spiritual and emotional energy while trying to cope with accusations and opposition complaints based on political considerations. Only when we return to normal times can we allow ourselves to return to the routine of disputes, fights, accusations, divisiveness, and political controversy – opportunities that we never forego.
Entering the Land during War
The sages have taught us, "There is nothing that is not hinted at in the Torah" [Berachot 9a]. Rashi explains that the Five Books of Moshe are the foundation of the Prophets and the Writings, "and everything in them can be found in a hint in the Torah."
The generation of the desert left Egypt and went through the hardships of the desert in a miraculous and unnatural way. In their wars, they were told, "G-d will fight for you, and you shall remain silent" [Shemot 14:14]. For sustenance, they received manna from heaven, water from the rocks, meat from the quail, and so on. It is not surprising that this generation, which had become used to "behaving in an exalted manner... that was completely above and beyond nature" (from the Natziv's introduction to the book of Bamidbar), believed the slander of the scouts and therefore died in the desert. This generation was not capable of conquest of the land "in a natural way, based on the mystic guidance of the Kingdom of Heaven" [Natziv, ibid]. The generation which enters the land, on the other hand, experiences its first battles in this week's Torah portion, and conquers Sichon and Og and their nations in a natural way. This new generation did not need the techniques of the previous one. To expand a well-known Hebrew expression,"We have gotten through Pharaoh, Sichon, and Og. We will also manage to get through the Hamas."
The high point of the return to Zion in our generation was our sovereign rebirth, and this took place by natural processes (of course, it was with the help of heaven that we experienced the "beginning of our redemption" – "atchalta d'geula." For more than 130 years (starting in 5642-1882, many years before the modern "settlements"), our enemies have refused to recognize our rights to return to the land that belonged to our forefathers, and we have been forced to fight against them. After they failed in their attempts, our evil opponents try to harm the elderly, the women, the young children, and many who are not connected in any way with the armed forces or to the "settlement" movement. They make use of despicable methods which do not differentiate between a warrior or a woman, between a soldier and a student.
We have been taught a vital lesson by the families of Shaer, Yifrah, and Fraenkel – the path of faith, the link with the entire community of Yisrael, and the proper way to cling to the land and to the country. We have been given strength by the revelation of the spiritual power and strengths of these remarkable families. We have learned a valuable lesson of warm support on family and community levels, and we admire the warriors who are spending night and day in their efforts to bring back our children, who are their children too.
With prayer, with unity, and with determination, let us hope for good news.
Bring our Boys Back! Bring our Boys Back!

Dealing with Contradictions

                Herschel Shachter
By Rabbi Hershel Schachter

For many years the twenty third Psalm was the most popular among American Christians. It conveys the impression that religion can have a very calming and soothing effect on one's life. Some ministers would "sell religion" to the masses by claiming that one who is devoutly religious will not have any contradictions in his life and will always be at peace. Rav Soloveitchik never liked this approach.

Shlomo Hamelech commented (Koheles 7:23) that he thought he could understand everything but soon enough he realized that there is much that is simply beyond him. According to tradition (Yalkut Shimoni, Melachim, #178) he was referring to the mitzvah of Parah Adumah. The details of this "chok" are simply contradictory. The main purpose of the ashes of the parah is to help one purify himself from tumas hameis, but at the same time it causes one who handles those ashes to become tameh. How can it be that the same thing can be metaher the tehorim and metameh the temeim?

The truth of the matter is that the world is full of contradictions. According to quantum physics a particle can indeed in two places at once and can travel in an infinite number of directions at once. A cat may be thought of as dead and alive at the same time. It is absolutely impossible to explain quantum phenomena using traditional principles of physics. If someone says he can think about quantum physics without becoming dizzy, that only shows that he has not understood anything whatsoever about it (see "Quantum Physics, Jewish Law, and Kabbalah", by Aaron M. Schreiber, z"l, pp. 14-16.)

Whenever we recite a beracha, we always start off in second person ("Blessed are You...") and conclude in third person (e.g. - "Who has brought out bread from the ground.") We often have the sense that G-d is very close to us, and on other occasions feel as if he is very far away from us. Both impressions are simultaneously correct. We are expected to both love Hashem and fear Him at the same time. These two miztvos are clearly interconnected. To the extent that we love Him, we come close to Him; and to the extent that we fear Him we withdraw from Him. When we recite Ashrei we continually switch back and forth between second and third person.

In Sefer Tehillim (chapter 8) Dovid Hamelech describes the duality of man's nature. On the one hand (in possukim 4 and 5) when we observe the vastness of the universe man's role seems so insignificant and petty that it leads one to wonder why G-d should think about man at all! And on the other hand in the very next possuk(6) Dovid Hamelech states, "You have created him (man) only slightly lower (in stature) than the angels, and crowned him with honor and glory, and gave him control over the entire creation."

The gemarah (Yoma 19b) derives from a passuk that when one is in the middle of reciting Krias Shema he ought to interrupt in order to show respect for someone else (mipnei kavod barhiyos.) but when one is in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei we consider man as insignificant and ignore him.

According to Professor Schreiber z"l (ibid p. 31) the Avnei Nezer deals with the possibility of tartei d'sasrei in Halacha in over thirty of his responsa. Rabbi Soloveitchik z"l adopted this notion of the Avnei Nezer and this was a recurrent theme in many of his shiurim (see Sefer Mipeninei HoravYoreh Deah, the section aboutTalmud Torah). If in the natural world there seem to be glaring contradictions, we ought not to be surprised if in halacha as well there will be contradictions.

Religion will not resolve any contradictions at all! If anything it will make us aware of more contradictions. Parah Adumah is not the only instance of the contradictory nature of Halacha. The parsha opens with the statement, "This is the chukah of the Torah." All of the Torah is one big chukah; the entire creation is one vastchukah. The midrashim on the opening passuk in Breishis make the comment that Hashem looked into the Torah and used it as a blueprint for creation. All of nature is interconnected with Torah.

Just as the study of physics guides us to maneuver with all the contradictions in the natural realm, so too the halachah guides us in how we should deal with contradictions in the spiritual realm.

Copyright © 2014 by The TorahWeb Foundation. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at a swanky Vegas gig in early June, Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic lil’ instrumental version of Hatikva.

Wasting Potential

A Torah Thought for Parshat Chukat 

By Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovitch

According to R’ Akiva (Yoma 14a) a tahor person who purifies a tamei person (by sprinkling him with the water of purification) is himself rendered tamei.  However, thehalachah follows the dissenting opinion of the Sages (ibid.) that purifying another person does not make you tamei (Rambam Hil. Parah Adumah 15:1)
How then can we explain Bemidbar 19: 21: “Someone who  sprinkles the water-of-purification must immerse his clothes (a high degree of tumah affecting both him and his clothes), and someone who touches the water-of-purification shall be tamei (a lower degree of tumah affecting only his person) until nightfall”?  Doesn’t this verse teach that sprinkling the water contaminates the sprinkler?
It does indeed; but it is not discussing someone who is sprinkling to purify a tamei person or object!  This is why the Torah here is careful not to say that the water is being sprinkled on a tamei person or thing!  (Rambam ibid.)
Moreover, it can be demonstrated that the second part of the verse is also not discussing “touching” the water in order to perform purification.  How so?
Touching water is always treated like carrying the water, since the contact makes a ripple, and moves the water  (Hil. Avos HaTumos 6:13).  How is it then that one who touches the water contracts a lower level oftumah than one who carries it? The answer is that water-of-purification generates a severe level of tumahonly when there is a critical quantity of it present, the minimum necessary to perform a purification.  But less than this critical quantity, does not generate a severe level of tumah.  Consequently, even though touching water is treated like carrying, touching less than the critical quantity does not generate a high level of tumah (Hil. Parah Adumah 15:1).  The verse that teaches that touching generates only a low level oftumah must be referring to the touching of less than the minimum needed for performing a purification. Clearly, then, this touching cannot be in order to effect a purification.
The rabbis therefore took the first part of the verse as likewise referring only to someone who is handling the water with no intention to purify anybody or anything.  When the verse mentions “someone who sprinkles” and does not specify that he is sprinkling on a tamei person or object, he is not sprinkling in order to purify  (Rambam ibid.; see also Rashi Bemidbar 19:21).
It may now be suggested that the tumah discussed in this verse is tumah that derives from wasting and abusing the huge positive potential with which the water of purification is endowed.  A person who has this water in sufficient quantities to purify someone tamei, is in possession of great power; but by handling it for no reason at all he abuses this power and potential and is therefore deservedly rendered tamei.  If a person has in his possession the capacity to heal and to purify, and destroys or wastes this opportunity – does he not deserve to be rendered tamei?

The Ferocious and Mighty Jewish Army vs. Unbridled Evil and the Festering Sore of the Middle East: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Chukat 5774

Chukat 5774

Parashat Chukat 5774

The Ferocious and Mighty Jewish Army

The parasha relates the introduction of the nascent Jewish nation to their gentile neighbors on their way to establishing the first Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.
The order of introduction was: The nation called Edom who were descendants of the evil Esav, followed by King Sichon of Emori and King Og of the northern region of Bashan (today’s Golan Heights) – both from the lineage of Cham son of Noah.
All three kings refused to allow the Jews to pass through their lands on their way to the Promised Land. In each instant, Moshe’s reaction was quite unexpected. When Edom refused and even met the Jews at the border with an army, Moshe complied and took a wide berth around the lands of Edom.
However, when Sichon refused to let us pass, we went to war and destroyed all the Emorites. This was repeated when Og and his army and his entire nation were decimated, with all their property and cities falling to the Jewish nation.
What was behind the Jewish tactic of retreating before Edom but standing firm before Sichon and Og?
While yet in the desert, the victorious Jewish army had achieved a reputation for ferocity and might. However, despite the obvious merits of being a super-power, HaShem knew that this would rebound negatively in our history. It was HaShem’s will to put the Jewish army into service in destroying evil peoples who could in the future endanger the Jews in Eretz Yisrael. To this end, HaShem commanded Moshe to show cowardice before Edom in order to lead Sichon and Og into assuming that we were weak and then going to war. This would give the Jewish army the opportunity and moral sanction to destroy them.
The tactic succeeded. However, Edom – as the bait – escaped, albeit only temporarily as the prophet Ovadia states (1,21)
וְעָל֤וּ מֹֽושִׁעִים֙ בְּהַ֣ר צִיֹּ֔ון לִשְׁפֹּ֖ט אֶת־הַ֣ר עֵשָׂ֑ו וְהָיְתָ֥ה לַֽיהוָ֖ה הַמְּלוּכָֽה
Deliverers will ascend from Mount Zion to judge (govern)the mountains of Esav. And the kingdom will be HaShem’s.

Unbridled Evil

The establishment of Medinat Yisrael, as everything else initiated by HaShem, has multiple purposes.
1. The Medina marks the end of the exile period when HaShem seemingly concealed Himself from His people.
2. It beckons to, and welcomes with open arms, all Jews who wish to come home.
3. The Medina is the foremost therapeutic agent for the Jewish nation in our recovery from the debilitating diseases we acquired while residing among the gentile nations of Esav and Yishmael.
4. It is the world’s unmatched Torah center for providing halachic solutions in a dynamic, turbulent, changing technical world.
5. It is preparing the Jewish nation for the re-establishment of the Sanhedrin and rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash.
6. However, the most dramatic role of the Medina and Tzahal is our function as HaShem’s prime mover in destroying the evil peoples and beliefs preventing humanity from recognizing the centrality of HaShem in the world.
Even as I write these sentences, the evil of Yishmael is spreading its poison. The kidnapping of our three boys and not making contact is just one more proof of their sadism.
What the Shi’ites are doing to the Sunnis and vice versa – in places such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen – is a small example of what they would do to those who are not Moslems.
We once believed that the Germans had reached the lowest point in human behavior. However, there is no recorded incident of a German or any of their allies committing suicide to kill a Jew. The Moslems who seek the status of “shahid” do not think twice when entering a gathering of people and blowing themselves up for the sole purpose of killing and maiming innocent people.
Torah Judaism brings out the best in people. Islamic doctrine brings out the worst in them. When the Arab population reaches about 10% of any society unfortunate enough to have them in their midst, the general population begins to suffer from their suicidal, maniacal and destructive tendencies. Moslems are the personification of Amalek in our times.
It is not surprising to read in Succah 52b that Yishmael is one of the four entities that HaShem regrets having brought into the world. The other three are galut, yetzer hara and Kasdim (Babylon). HaShem regrets, but seems to have had no other choice in order for the world to play itself out according to His plan until the year 6000.

The Middle East is a Festering Sore

One need not be a prophet or be endowed with the wisdom of King Solomon to understand where the world is going – except if you happen to be the U.S. President or its Secretary of State.
The Middle East is a festering sore, which when punctured will release the Islamic social-religious pus to contaminate the West and Africa and indeed much of humanity.
The unbridled bloodletting in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan – and soon to spill over into Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iran and wherever there are a significant number of Moslems – will vindicate all the positions taken by the State of Israel. And just as Tzahal saved the world by destroying the nuclear reactor of Saddam Hussein of Iraq, the free world will look again to Am Yisrael to save it.
Medinat Yisrael with its only six million Jews might appear to some irrational Arab leaders to be an easy prey. They thought so in the 1948 War of Independence and in the 1967 Six Day war, and fell into the trap that HaShem had set for Sichon and Og. It will happen once again but never more, because after the next time Yishmael will cease to exist.
This might appear to be an impossible scenario, but it will happen and will draw the world’s attention to HaShem’s chosen nation and the miracles He performs for us daily.
I cannot repeat this often enough. As humanity is quickly deteriorating morally to a point of no return, the safest place on the planet will be Eretz Hakodesh.
The Jews of France and Ukraine have learned this lesson the hard way. Clever Jewish people will see it coming and act appropriately.
Eretz Yisrael is beckoning its children to return before it is too late. And that could be sooner than we expect.
Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5774/2014 Nachman Kahana

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Moshe Feiglin at Knesset Reception for Gov. Huckabee: Israel Doesn’t Need US Financial Support

At a Tuesday Knesset reception for Governor Mike Huckabee, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon called for America to stop funding the Hamas. “Why should the US stop funding the Hamas,” MK Moshe Feiglin asked, “when every month, Israel sends truckloads of cash into Gaza to help fund the Hamas?”
“We have something in common, you and I, ” Feiglin continued. “I listen to your speeches, and every time, I hear you saying something that I hear myself saying all the time. You say, ‘I believe in G-d.” Without that, the delegitimization of Israel will continue,” said Feiglin, arguing that the belief in G-d who gave Israel to the Jewish people is the true legitimization of Israel.
“If we run away from our identity, we open the gate to delegitimization. What do you want from the Arabs and the Americans? If we ourselves came and said in the Oslo agreement that the heart of the Land belongs to a different group, and they’re not even a nation…once we did that we lost our strongest weapon – justice,” stated Feiglin.
Feiglin added “Israel doesn’t need the financial and military support (of the US), Israel needs America and America needs Israel to herald the message of freedom. We share the same values.”

Tragedy Brings Unity

By Shmuel Sackett

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we fight like dogs and cats until tragedy strikes? Why does it take the kidnapping of three precious boys to bring us together? It tears my heart that the Jewish world is splintered, fragmented and divided. I have no problem that each one of us has unique minhagim and special ways to serve Hashem but why can’t we respect each other more than we do? Why can’t we realize that it doesn’t matter if a Jewish man wears a black hat, knitted kippa or no hat and no kippa? And women are the same. Some cover their hair, others don’t, some wear long skirts while others find pants more comfortable. Obviously, it is important to observe the Halacha, and it is our responsibility to teach those who do not, but this must be done with love, friendship and lots of tolerance. I always think of my parent’s generation. How many of the religious women covered their hair back in the 1940’s and 50’s? How many weddings had separate seating? How many butcher shops were Glatt Kosher? While I am happy that things have improved, we need to understand that what we have today was built on what was done yesterday – so those things aren’t as bad as you think!
We always do this to ourselves and never learn from our mistakes. During good times we are fighting with the Gabbai, complaining about the Rabbi and pointing fingers at the neighbor’s kid. We are jealous of our friend’s success and complain about everything humanely possible. We don’t like the Yeshiva, the Eruv and even find fault in the shul’s Kiddush (What, no chulent???)! We return from a trip to Israel and kvetch about the traffic in Jerusalem, the price of coffee (more expensive than Starbucks…) and even the weather (how come it’s so hot in that country?). In short, we change the famous Rabbinic teaching of “Say a little and do a lot” to “Appreciate a little and complain a lot”.
And then it happens; tragedy. 3,000 New Yorkers die on 9/11. Hurricane Sandy destroys thousands of homes and lives. And now this one – three teenage boys in Israel are kidnapped as they come home from school. Where are they? How are they? What is happening to them? We run to daven for their wellbeing. We give extra charity, increase our Torah learning, light Shabbat candles early, bake Challahs for the boys and sit quietly in shul. Suddenly, even without noticing it, we do a major thing; We start loving every Jew on the planet! Overnight, our differences disappear and there are no more labels. Who cares about silly terms such as Yeshivish, Modern, Sefardic, Ashkenazic, Chassidic, Haredi or Hiloni??? Those are all gone. Instantly, we are simply the Jewish Nation. We are one people, serving one God and begging Him to have mercy on Eyal, Naftali and Gilad. All the walls of division are gone as we also pray for the holy soldiers who are risking their lives searching for the boys. The same 100,000 Jews who demonstrated in Manhattan – just a few weeks ago – against the draft are now davenning for the Israeli army to succeed in its mission.
In addition to the above, another magical thing happens. We stop calling the Jewish complaint department. We become thankful for what we have and we see the good in everything we do. Trivial complaints – which used to ruin our entire day – are deleted and we say “Baruch Hashem” even though our back is killing us. We look at the parents of these beautiful boys and realize what they are going through. After that, the high priced coffee in Mamilla or long lines at the supermarket mean absolutely nothing.
My question is simply “WHY”?? Why can’t we live like this all the time? Why can’t we live in a Jewish world where we respect every brother and sister we have and not cast evil eyes upon them? Every mother and father wants their children to get along – so isn’t the same thing true with our Father in heaven? While I don’t claim to know anything about Hashem, I feel certain that He wants His children to respect one another. Obviously, His children are different, that’s perfectly ok – as long as those differences don’t cause internal wars. I feel that when they get out of hand, Hashem reminds us of the need to live and act as one, by sending some tragedy which brings us all closer. The trick is to try to be united without the tragedy!
Therefore, here is what I recommend. In addition to everything else you are doing to help tip the scales in favor of the boys, take upon yourself an oath that you will stop dividing between Jews. From this day forth you will accept all Jews with love and tolerance and will welcome every Yid with a warm and gentle smile – especially the ones that don’t look or dress like you. You must also stop complaining and start living a life of “Gam Zu L’Tova” – that everything that happens is for the good. Make these pledges now and keep them, even when this horrible kidnapping story is over. Let’s show Hashem that we are truly one family and that we don’t need tragedies to keep us close. Make that commitment today!

Why I Walked Out of the Knesset TV Interview with Arab MK Agbaria

By Moshe Feiglin

Yesterday, on the Knesset Channel, I had my shortest interview ever. Arab MK Afu Agbaria compared our IDF soldiers to the terrorists of the Hamas. By participating in the conversation – even if I had given all the facts and truth – I would still have been lending legitimacy to Agbaria’s comparison. Instead, I simply got up and left the studio. This effectively set new boundaries on what is and what is not within the realm of legitimate discourse. I call upon all the MKs, both Right and Left , to boycott all the Knesset speeches of speakers who compare our IDF soldiers to Hamas terrorists.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Wicked Act


The world’s organized hostility to Israel would be kind of funny if it didn’t have such serious consequences, or potential consequences. There are some 200 nations in the world. Many of them are very bad actors: dictatorships, terror states. And it is tiny, democratic Israel that is the focus of the world’s hostility.

The latest is that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — not to be confused with the Presbyterian Church in America — has voted to divest from Israel. Thus does a major American church join the worldwide BDS movement. (“BDS” stands for “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” — against one country, Israel.)

If Israel did not exist, the United Nations might not have much to do. Last year the General Assembly adopted 25 resolutions against particular countries. Twenty-one of those resolutions were against Israel; the other four were against Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Burma. Not since the apartheid regime in South Africa has a country been so stigmatized by the world. And foes of Israel, of course, promote the lie that Israel is an “apartheid state.”

Consider a few steps in the effort to delegitimize Israel. Stephen Hawking, one of the most famous scientists in the world, joined the academic boycott of that country. He has been happy, however, to go to Iran and China. The American Studies Association voted to boycott Israel. In Scotland, the West Dunbartonshire Council forbade local libraries to carry books printed in Israel. Israeli athletes are often harassed, and prevented from playing; same with Israeli musicians.

It used to be that, when a performer refused to perform in Israel, it made news. Now it makes news when a performer has the nerve to show up in Israel. A few years ago, Elton John shouted from an Israeli stage, “Shalom! We are so happy to be back here! Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop us from comin’, baby!”

One consequence of anti-Israel boycotts is that they harm Arabs. They do so by perpetuating two myths, related. The first is that the Arab–Israeli conflict is Israel’s fault, instead of the fault of people who refuse to coexist. The second is that the Arabs’ lamentable condition is Israel’s fault, instead of the fault of people who refuse to reform, liberalize, or democratize.

By the way, one opponent of anti-Israel boycotts is Yasser Arafat’s successor as the PLO chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe he could have a word with the Presbyterians?

Mainly, the boycotts serve the delegitimization of Israel, and the dehumanization of Israelis. They call into question Israel’s right to exist. They make Israel a pariah state. They soften Israel up for . . .

Well, Iran and other enemies of Israel have pledged to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. It is true that Israel is backed by U.S. military might. It is further true that it has military might of its own: nuclear weapons. But its survival is no sure thing. These boycotts and other protests are not “freebies” — rebukes of a nation that is going to be fine no matter what. They are not mere acts of political correctness. They undermine a country whose very existence is threatened every day. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has now joined a nasty and growing mob

INN: Feiglin Blasts Livni’s ‘Disgusting Incitement’ against Divorced Dads

MK Feiglin demands explanations from Justice Minister over ‘delusional’ and ‘terribly insensitive’ campaign against divorced fathers.

In a sharply-worded parliamentary question to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua), Likud-Beytenu MK Moshe Feiglin is demanding some answers regarding a highly controversial advertisement campaign that he says appears to encourage “gender warfare.”
 The campaign encourages divorced mothers to make use of a new “fast track” for child support debts in the Hotzaa Lapoal, Israel’s Collection Agency, which enforces judgements regarding debts. Long lobbied for by genderist women’s groups, the fast track’s employees will save mothers who are owed child support much of the hassle that accompanies the collection of money that is owed them.
The campaign depicts divorced mothers dressed in military camouflage fatigues, as a way of driving home the message that they are “fighting a war” for their children by making use of the fast track.
“These days, your ministry produced a delusional and disgusting campaign of incitement,” wrote Feiglin in the parliamentary question. “In this campaign, the father is depicted in his child’s eyes as the person responsible for the fact that his mother cannot buy cereal, a shirt or a ballet lesson for the child, and the mother is supposed to wear combat fatigues and fight his father as if he were a national enemy.
“With terrible insensitivity, your ministry mixes up truly harsh cases of fathers who shirk their responsibility, with the majority of cases, involving normative fathers, who certainly seek their children’s welfare, but who have been pushed into a state of inability to pay – by your ministry’s policies, among other things.”
“In view of all of the above, it appears that it is not children’s welfare and their right to child support that your ministry’s decision makers have in mind, but the persecution of men in divorce proceedings, even at the expense of the children.”
MK Feiglin noted that just recently, a law was passed stipulating that no more citizens would be arrested for debts to the Hotzaa Lapoal – but that the only group the law does not apply to is fathers who owe child support. As a result, he said, “100% of the arrests are carried out against 3% of the debtors.” These are all fathers, because Jewish law does not require mothers to pay child support.
The bill was supported by reasoning that said that jailing a person for debt constitutes “a grave breach of human rights,” noted Feiglin. The jailing of debtors is “an illegitimate measure” and creates “terrible pressure” on the debtor and his family, the bill’s intiators wrote. Indeed, it has turned out that discontinuing the policy of jailing debtors has resulted in a 29% increase in debt collection, he added.
Feiglin explained that the child support debtors being arrested are often men “whose world has crashed down upon their heads, and who are told to pay large sums of money that they have no practical means of obtaining. In many cases, these are normative men who decided or had no choice but to separate from their spouse,” and who undergo a period of crisis, often suffering separation from their children and not having a home of their own.
The family courts, meanwhile, “mete out high child support payments and do not truly take account of the father’s financial situation.” Fathers who have been fired from their jobs must continue to pay as if they are still earning the same salaries, and the court often determines that a man’s “earning potential” is greater than what he actually earns, and sets chid support payments accordingly.
In 2013, MK Feiglin wrote, 6,016 arrest warrants for debts were handed out – all of them for child support debts – and of these, 500 ended in actual imprisonment. A “debt unification” option which the Hotzaa Lapoal makes available to other debtors as a way of reducing the burden of multiple debts is also not given to child support debtors.
MK Feiglin wants Minister Livni to tell him if her ministry has considered discontinuing the use of the threat of jail for child support debtors, as it has for all other debtors, and whether it will consider allowing child support debts to be unified with other debts.
He asks if the fact that the threat of jail against a debtor is made any more legitimate by the fact that the debtor is a man, and whether this does not constitute “harsh gender based discrimination”.
In addition, he wants the minister to say whether or not the fast track service, which is presented in a campaign for women only, “while severely inciting against men,” does not contravene the law against discrimination.