Thursday, April 30, 2015

Israel Should Employ the Education Voucher Method

By Moshe Feiglin

Control over the huge education budget and an enormous amount of jobs translates into a great deal of power.
And the education?
When were our children more educated? When Gideon Sa’ar was the Education Minister, or when Shai Piron filled the role?
Ministers come and go, money is spent as if it is water and the level of education? Well…
An Education Minister who wants to truly change the education system must implement reforms that completely contradict the essence of politics: He must forgo 90% of his power…
That, of course, will not happen and so there is very little importance to who is filling the role of Education Minister.
The real problem with the education system is not the money; the system has that in abundance. The real problem is that according to Israeli law, the responsibility for the education of our children is on the shoulders of … the Education Minister. You read correctly. Israeli law absolves the parents of the responsibility to educate their children and deposits it in the hands of (the Big Brother) Education Minister.
This is antithetical to any concept of liberty and human rights regarding what every parent holds most dear, but we will leave that issue unaddressed right now and focus on the education itself.
There are 1.6 million students in Israel (may their number increase). A simple calculation shows that the State of Israel invests approximately 2300 NIS per month in every student. Approximately 90% of that sum goes to salaries (not just for teachers). So let us conclude that the direct investment in each student – not including buildings and accessories – is approximately 2000 NIS per month.
Let us assume that you are an Israeli family with three children who are currently ‘customers’ of the education system. On the surface, the State invests approximately 6000 NIS per month of taxpayer money in salaries that are supposed to educate your children. The State also prohibits you from giving your children alternative education.
What would you do with that money?
With 2000 NIS per student plus 300 NIS rental and accessory funds, it is possible, for example, to put together a small group of 10 students (instead of 40), to hire a private teacher for 20,000 NIS and a private classroom for 2000 NIS plus other expenses.
If we make a true calculation that includes the entire public investment (from our pockets, of course) in education and we include the private tutoring and other incidentals that we must fund from outside the system we would easily conclude that with the same budget, we can provide a much better education for our children than what is offered by the State.
So what is my message to the Education Minister? Close the ministry?
Of course not.
Education is a basic value accepted by everyone. We all have a common interest in the proper upbringing of the coming generation. This is not just a private issue and thus, it is the right and duty of the State to tax its citizens so that the parents of every child will have the ability to fulfill their responsibility and educate their children.
The situation today is just the opposite: The state takes the responsibility – and the money – from the parents and educates their children instead of them. And it does not do a very good job.
How can this proposal be accomplished?
The voucher method – education coupons.
The parents will receive an education voucher for every child. He may redeem the voucher in any educational institution that will open and teach a minimum of required hours. The Education Ministry will recommend study programs, will ensure that the parents understand what material their children must learn in order to be accepted to academic institutions  – and that is all! The Ministry will not interfere with the content of the learning material. The responsibility will return to the parents and they will be very involved in their children’s education. The parents and children will treat the teachers with the respect given today to private tutors. (Have you ever heard of a child who disrupts a private tutor during the lesson? Of a parent that curses him?)
And the teacher? He will give the small and intimate group of students his entire heart and soul because he will be able to be truly involved in the success of every student. An added incentive will be the fact that he will have many competitors for his highly paid and respected job.
Three notes:
  1. This method has been successfully employed in the maternity wards in Israel. Social Security gives every expecting mother a voucher to be redeemed in the hospital of her choice. We all see the difference in the level of service in the maternity wards as opposed to the other wards in the health system.
  2. The education voucher method has been employed on some level in a number of countries and has been very successful.
  3. The method assumes that the State belongs to the citizen and not vice versa. It dissolves the thought monopoly and will foster the education of children as per the values of their parents – not the values of politicians and power hubs. The latter will not easily surrender their power and hold on the keys to the country’s consciousness. I do not currently see a leadership that will try to face off against them and thus, I do not see a serious chance for the implementation of this simple and wonderful idea – which can lift our children out of mediocrity to the highest peaks of study and development.

Jewish Justice

By Moshe Feiglin

One manner of law and fear of Heaven are the only guarantees for personal liberties. Somewhere beneath the desolate sands of Gush Katif, between the twisted metal and chunks of cement that used to be flourishing settlements, the human rights that Israeli democracy granted its citizens have been laid to rest. In any type of regime in which “one manner of law under G-d” is the law of the land – even if it is not a democracy – the crime of Expulsion could not have been perpetrated. On the other hand, any democracy that does not meet these basic standards will necessarily metamorphose into a cynical, manipulative regime that serves a strong elite and enslaves all the rest.
The authentic Jewish state that we are striving to build must live up to the Torah directive of a justice system that judges everybody according to the same standards. With G-d’s help, that day will be soon!
Shabbat Shalom

The Principle of the Hesder Yeshivot

By Rabbi Yisrael Rozen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

In the Wake of the Funeral Procession
On Rosh Chodesh of the month of Iyar, Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein was called to the heavenly place of learning. Reb Aharon, as he was universally known, was a lion of a man who made Aliyah from the "Babylon" in America, bringing with him the Torah approach of the United States in the form of the methods of the "Rav" – his father-in-law, Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, who raised the banner of involved academic Torah, the type of Orthodox Judaism in that land. Much has been written about Rabbi Lichtenstein in the press, and he has been crowned with many titles with respect to his traits, personality and ethics, and his world outlook. I have therefore decided to forego any attempt to add some more notes to his epitaph, and I will write today about one aspect of his written legacy – the Hesder yeshiva.
Three Ancestors
Reb Aharon left a legacy in the Har Etzion Hesder Yeshiva, along with its branches of offshoot yeshivot, of the Brisk style of learning, according to the traditions of Lita, which passed through the land of New York and was enriched by positive aspects of Western Culture. In this way he broadened and extended the labors of Rabbi Chaim Yaacov Goldvicht, who blended this Torah method with a Jerusalem-Chassidic approach in Kerem B'Yavneh, the first and the archetype of the Hesder Yeshivot.
A third type of Lita-style erudition in the study of the Talmud, which preceded the two mentioned above, was extant in "Merkaz Harav," in the form of the classic style of the yeshivot of Lita ("Volozhin"), with the added inspiration of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael and the concepts of the coming of the redemption.
These three yeshivot (with the fourth "archetype," Yeshivat Shaalavim) served asthe precursors of the Zionist yeshivot, and I venture to suggest that all the other yeshivot and batei Midrash can be viewed as derivatives based on these innovators.
Integrated Army Service
However, with respect to integrated army service within the framework of the Hesder yeshivot, combining Torah study and military skills, "I see a topsy-turvy world in front of me" (see Bava Batra 10b). As opposed to what might have been expected, Merkaz Harav has not fully accepted the integrated framework, in spite of the sanctity of the country and the army that are part and parcel of its approach. To this day this integrated approach is not an intimate part of its program. The students at Merkaz put on uniforms, but each student does so in his own time and following his own path – for short or full army service – but not as a standard program in the yeshiva.
As opposed to the spiritual path of Merkaz Harav, the "practical" approach of the Hesder was fully incorporated into Kerem B'Yavneh in the early sixties. The Rosh Yeshiva there accepted the outlook of his students, dedicated members of Bnei Akiva, that service in the IDF (including Nachal units) is the heart of showing loyalty to the State of Israel, and that there is an obligation to be fully integrated into the system. As far as I am concerned, this approach was accepted a priori (I was there myself!), recognizing the action as a challenge and an obligation of the first degree. After all, the ideology of integration is the heart of religious Zionism. The "vav" – "and" – of integration was transferred from the slogan "Torah and Labor" to a similar combination of "Torah and the army." Thus, the institution of the Hesder symbolized the extension of the religious settlement activities, which depended solely on this integration of goals.
Other Hesder Yeshivot were founded after the Six Day War – the Kotel, Golan, Har Etzion (and Shaalavim, which we mentioned above). They all followed the pattern of Kerem B'Yavneh, on the ideological basis of "Torah and..." as an ideal. And then Reb Aharon came and modified the approach somewhat, as far as I can see, on an intellectual level. In volume 7 of Techumin (5746-1986), we printed his essay, "This is the Essence of the Hesder." (It was also published in issue 100 of "Alon Shevut" in 5743.) This essay includes the following abstract – " A Hesder Yeshiva is the norm, a pure yeshiva is an anomaly." In this article there is no mention of the "vav of integration," rather it emphasizes the moral viewpoint that rejects standing off to one side, the need for "kindness," and the prohibition, "Do not stand by when your colleague's blood is in danger" [Vayikra 19:16], among other things. The nationalist obligation to "support Yisrael against an enemy who attacks them" [Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 5:1] is not prominently displayed in the article, and neither is the mitzva of conquering the land and taking possession of it, both of which serve as the basis of Rav Kook's support for settlement policies. Ethical and humanitarian considerations are what characterized all of the behavior and the outlook of Rabbi Lichtenstein, and he viewed the "essence of the Hesder" through the same prism.
In any case, Rabbi Lichtenstein saved his historical enthusiasm of the enterprise of the Hesder Yeshivot and his pride and excitement in the fact that he had been privileged to lead such a "creation" for the sentence he wrote as a summary of his essay: "When he stood with tears on the peak of the Mount of Olives with the depressing sight stretched out before his eyes and with the insight that 'the holier something is, the greater its destruction' (a quote from a letter that the Ramban wrote to his son), what would the Ramban have given in order to have served as the head of a Hesder Yeshiva? "

An Oasis of Gd within the Desert of Man: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Emor 5775

Parashat Emor 5775
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Our parasha states (21,6):
קדשים יהיו לאלהיהם ולא יחללו שם אלהיהם כי את אשי ה’ לחם אלהיהם הם מקריבם והיו קדש:
They will be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. Because they present the offerings to the Lord.
And Rashi on the phrase “They will be holy to their God” comments:
על כרחם יקדישום בית דין בכך:
The court is charged with ensuring that the Kohanim live a life of sanctity.

Hashem’s Communication with Man

The very thought that HaShem would cease His continuous dialogue with His nation Yisrael, albeit temporarily, is fundamentally flawed.
Granted, the last authentic prophet in the world was our own prophet Malachi – claimed by some to have been Ezra HaSofer who restored the Second Bet Hamikdash some 2360 years ago. And granted that the “bat kol” – a voice from nowhere which was heard occasionally in the bet midrash of the Amoraim – has also ceased. And granted that the concept of “da’as Torah” ceased being relevant the moment two great rabbis issued contradictory halachic decisions.
Nevertheless, HaShem sends very clear messages if one has the appropriate receptors. These receptors are the objective ability to interpret how current events are designed specifically for the Jewish nation, even if they occur 1000 kilometers from the nearest Jew.

Nepal Nafla – Nepal fell

What is happening in this land of the Himalayas, and why just now?
The feelings one experiences when standing before the Himalaya mountain range is one of majestic glory, of grandiose immovability, of unyielding implacable permanence. The 8800-meter-high Mt. Everest, its little brother K2 as the second tallest mountain on Earth at 8611 meters, and Kanchenjunga as the third tallest mountain on Earth at an elevation of 8586 meters.
However, as looks are often deceiving, there is a cauldron of fiercely churning magmas of ever increasing pressure under the range seeking a release.
The Himalaya range consists mostly of uplifted sedimentary and metamorphic rock. According to modern theory, their formation is a result of a continental collision which brought the Indian tectonic plate horizontally below the Tibetan Plateau, forcing the plateau to fault and fold upward.
The Indian plate is still moving at 67 mm per year (it will travel about 1,500 km into Asia over the next 10 million years). This movement is causing the Himalayas to rise by about 5 mm per year, making them geologically active. The movement of the Indian plate into the Asian plate makes the region seismically active and prone to earthquakes. Moreover, given the steep slopes across the region, there is an imminent risk of deadly landslides.

Ever-Increasing “Earthquakes” Dislodge the World Order

In the 5775 years since Man first trod on the planet, humanity has developed into a more or less Global Village. We live in an ordered and systematic world regulated by international agreements of many sorts, political systems, trade agreements, executive agreements and diplomatic protocols.
The agreements assume a variety of form and style: conventions, agreements, protocols, declarations, charters, covenants, pacts, statutes, final acts, general acts, and less formal agreements such as “exchange of notes” or “exchange of letters.”
These are all necessary for adapting international law to changing circumstances brought about by rapid technological developments and the ever-growing interdependence of nations.
Without these agreements, there would be no financial trust and dealings, no import and export, no investments, no development on the scale needed for the 7 billion people on Earth.
These agreements serve to extinguish flash-ups between nations which could easily erupt into continental-wide and international wars.
The mail and delivery systems are based on these conventions, as are air flight and ocean carriers bringing the produce of one hemisphere to the other.
These conventions govern what the satellites hovering overhead at 500 miles in the sky may or may not do. Your bank accounts, credit cards, health services are under these agreements.
One can rightly say that these instruments are the mountain ranges behind which man and society are protected and guaranteed a level of services and security.
However, to the degree that the world proceeds to be anti-Israel, it will find itself engulfed in ever-increasing “earthquakes” which will dislodge the world order.
Although the Global Village might appear to be healthy and robust, its corrupt underpinnings are as fragile and as vulnerable as the throbbing uncontrollable magma under the seemingly immutable Himalayas.
HaShem is telling the world to wake up.
In the 1930s, the “enlightened” world ignored the threats of Hitler because who was he threatening anyway? The Jews?!
It is to the credit of Mordechai that he believed Haman.
The riots in Baltimore are just the tip of the iceberg of hatred that will spread over the US by the “have nots” of society, and over Europe by its Moslems and Africans.
Within the next decade, the spirit of Bavel will prevail over the world, when the accepted mores of society will be no more.
World order will turn chaotic, with the break-down and destruction of the international regulatory systems and will by necessity drive Man to seek HaShem for salvation.

However, we, the Jewish people have a barrier far stronger than even the most impressive mountain ranges. It is HaShem’s pledge as stated by the prophets Yoel and Ovadya:
רּבהר ציון תהיה פליטה
In Zion there will be refuge.
What is unfolding before our eyes is the period of the Mashiach when all Jews will return home, even against their will. Just as Rashi’s commentary above that Kohanim must live a life of sanctity even against their will.
It is not a coincidence that Israel has just discovered huge gas deposits and that we are independent in the matter of water in a region of the earth where it is at a premium.
We are an oasis of HaShem within the desert of Man.
Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5775/2015 Nachman Kahana

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In Nepal Aftermath, Feiglin Has Questions on Gays, Surrogacy

Iyar 9, 5775, 28/04/15 08:10
Firestorm over ex-MK's thoughts about the gay men who hired surrogate mothers for the babies now being extricated.
By Gil Ronen
Moshe Feiglin – who was a Likud MK in 2013-2015 – is out of the Knesset, for now at least, but his nonconformist thinking continues to arouse interest and spark fiery debate.

Feiglin took issue with the uniformly uncritical and adoring way Israel's media has been covering the plight of gay parents who were stranded with their newborn babies in harsh conditions, following the Nepal earthquake. These men hired poor Indian women to serve as surrogate mothers for their babies and then brought them to Nepal in order to give birth, because Indian law no longer allows gays to enter the country for the purpose of taking babies who were born through surrogacy.

About 20 such babies were born in Nepal in the days that immediately preceded the earthquake there. As a result, their gay parents reported situations of extreme distress. TV reports show the back seats of cars replacing the incubators in which some of the preemie babies had been held, and other difficulties faced by the parents.

In a Facebook post, Feiglin quoted two such men, who had been staying at a hotel that collapsed, as telling the press: “We got away with the children but the state [Israel – ed.] is not helping us. We have no diapers, there is no Materna [breastmilk substitute – ed.] and it will soon be nighttime, and it is starting to rain.”

Feiglin noted the obvious: the reason the fathers cannot feed their babies is that "they do not have breasts": "In other words, suddenly, when the outer shell of enlightenment and progress was abruptly shed, when the shaking earth left you and your child alone with it, without go-betweens – it suddenly turned out that a man has no breasts, and he cannot feed a newborn baby.”

"Of course,” he added, “one can conclude that whoever cannot breastfeed should walk around with a spare can of Materna on him, 24/7. Because you never know when an earthquake will catch you. That is the natural and obvious (and technically true) conclusion – for those who stick their heads in the sand.”

"But perhaps there is a deeper conclusion. Maybe, only maybe... it is not just the physical need that only the mother can satisfy. Maybe there is a spiritual equivalent – a kind of spiritual milk, you could say – that only she can provide? And maybe, only maybe, tempting a Third World woman to give birth to a child she will never see – is terrible cruelty? Did you think motherhood is an on-off thing?”

Feiglin noted that he is writing his post with trepidation, for fear of the backlash from gay activists. He explained, however, that he feels the need to write it because the children involved “are doomed to be motherless from the day they were born.” He also cited a recent US National Health Interview Survey that found that emotional problems were over twice as prevalent for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Here we go again: Israel to help Nepal

By Shmuel Sackett

Help is on the way! A major earthquake rocks Nepal and thousands are feared dead. While most of the world sits silently and simply watches the news, Israel put together a team of medical experts plus a search and rescue team that will risk their lives looking for survivors. I have to be honest. You may get excited when Israel sends emergency teams and supplies to help in international disasters, but I do not. Sorry for being so blunt but I do not jump for joy when I see my brothers and sisters running to Haiti, Indonesia or Pakistan, unless it is to save Jews who are trapped there. Since this sounds very selfish, mean and un-Jewish (aren’t we merciful people?) allow me to explain.

According to the official website of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs( Israel has provided humanitarian aid to 140 countries in the last 54 years! Whenever a problem arises, you can be sure that little, tiny Israel will be there to help. Sounds nice, right? What could be bad about that? Just to see what I am talking about, please go to the website above and read the list of countries that Israel has helped. It is a lesson in geography with countries listed in alphabetical order from Albania and Angola to Zaire and Zambia. And yet, despite all the good intentions, I am totally against these missions.
Before explaining my position, allow me to remind you of what Israel has done in the last few years. In January 2010, after a devastating earthquake in Haiti, the IDF set up a field hospital and provided search and rescue teams to look through the rubble. In December 2004, when one of the worst tsunamis in history hit the Indian Ocean, Israel sent 60 tons of aid to Indonesia – a country with the largest Moslem population in the world! In addition it sent 82 tons of relief supplies including medicine, water, food, blankets, tents and electric generators to Sri Lanka. In November 2005, Israel provided aid to Pakistan after a major earthquake hit Kashmir. Israel provided thousands of Pakistani families with food, blankets, socks, coats, heating kits and iron sheets to shield temporary shelters from heavy snow.
In addition to the Israeli government, there are several non-profit organizations that have been set up in Israel to help international efforts as well. These include IsraAID which was founded in 2001 and which has provided relief work in countries like Rwanda, Mexico, Congo, Chad, Sudan and Malawi. An organization called FIRST (Fast Israeli Rescue Search Team) has sent search and rescue teams to disaster zones in Peru, Turkey, India, El Salvador, Greece and New Guinea. These are just two examples of many organizations that are involved in this international humanitarian work.
So why am I against this? What can be bad about such wonderful and pure efforts? The answer is that my reason has nothing to do with the work being done. Yes, chessed is a wonderful thing and should be encouraged, but let’s look at the other side of the coin.
A person who is like a doormat gets no respect. Simply put, if you let people “step all over you”, they will constantly mistreat you. Trust me that I am the first one to lend a helping hand and assist a friend in need. I do not expect nor even want anything in return but at the same time, I also don’t want to be spit in the face by the guy I am helping! I don’t mind if the person who I helped turns his back on me down the road – the Torah speaks about this and still obligates me to help him. I am not talking about that. I am talking about helping a guy who later condemns me, hates me, tries to destroy me and does everything possible to hurt me and my family. To still help that guy is not doing chessed… its being a “friar” (Hebrew for “sucker”). Helping someone who then stabs you in the back causes you – the helper – to lose respect and be considered a fool in the eyes of the community.
If what I am saying applies to an individual, how much more so does it apply to a nation? We, the proud Jewish nation, the sons and daughters of the King, have a major guilt complex. Since nobody helped us during the Holocaust, we feel compelled to help anyone and everyone in need. We fly planes loaded with soldiers, volunteers and supplies half way across the world to help any country in need… and this is what I object to. We should not simply help “any country in need”… we should help only those who don’t turn around and spit in our face – and if Nepal fits this description then fine, let’s go! Trust me that I am aware of the fact that Israel needs relations with the international community and I am prepared to deal with, and ignore, many things. But Israel is not a national Rodney Dangerfield… we better get some respect around here!
Let me give you just one example of what I mean. In July 2014 the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to condemn Israel for “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operation in Gaza.” This council, known as the UNHRC is made up of 47 member countries. It began on June 19, 2006 and since that time, has voted to condemn Israel… 52 times! Countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Peru, Greece and Turkey have been members of this council. All of these countries have received humanitarian aid from Israel in their times of crisis, yet when it came time to vote on whether or not Israel is a human rights violator – every single one of them voted against Israel! These votes are not meaningless UN votes – they have international ramifications! It is precisely votes such as these that have increased anti-Semitism in the world and have caused millions of Jews much pain and anguish.
In the vote stated above (July 2014 re: the recent Gaza war), only the United States voted in support of Israel! Not one other country – including many who received emergency help from Israel – was there to support Israel. Instead they sided with our enemy – who has never lifted a finger to help anyone but themselves – while simultaneously condemning and insulting Israel. Once again, this stirs the pot of Jew hatred around the world and fuels the fire of anti-Semitism, which is at a post WWII high. Think about it for a minute; if the country you live in condemns Israel and convinces you that Israel is a human rights violator, would you support Israel or would your blood boil when you see an Israeli flag and even a Jew with a kippa? All of this stems from the message being sent by the countries of the world that trash Israel 24/7 but are the first ones to call her when an earthquake or tsunami hits. My message to them is clear; If you are not going to vote with and support Israel in the UN, then call someone else when trouble heads your way. Sorry, but the number you are trying to reach has been temporarily disconnected!

The Iran challenge: Is there another way?

President Obama asserted on April 2, 2015 that he was ready to conclude an agreement with the Ayatollahs "only if Iran came to the table in a serious way." On April 6, 2015, Obama stated that it would be "a fundamental misjudgment" to precondition an agreement with the Ayatollahs upon the transformation of thenature of their regime.
Indeed, the Ayatollahs must come to the table in a serious way for an effective agreement to be concluded - advancing peaceful coexistence, rather than fueling violence.  However, "a serious (peace-driven) way," on the one hand, and thenature of the Ayatollahs, on the other hand, constitutes an oxymoron.  
The well-documented nature of the Ayatollahs consists of: Islamic supremacy; violent intolerance of the Christian and Jewish "infidel;" apocalyptic and megalomaniac worldview and policies; worshipping martyrdom/suicide bombing; ruthless domestic repression; hate-education in K-12; sponsorship of global Islamic terrorism; subversion and terrorism against all pro-US Arab regimes; collaboration with all anti-US regimes; nuclear cooperation and co-development of long-range ballistic capabilities with North Korea, a rogue nuclear power; expansion of economic, military, gas and nuclear cooperation with Russia, which collaborates with Iran in Syria and Yemen; undermining the US position in Latin America via the enhancement of economic, military and gas cooperation with Venezuela and Bolivia, which supply uranium to Iran, as well as overall cooperation with Argentina and uranium-rich Ecuador; demonization of the USA in schools, media and mosques - "the Great Satan;" celebration of the November 4 "Death to America Day;" systematic non-compliance with agreementsthrough the art of nuclear concealment, double-talk and deception (Taqiyyah).
The nature of the Ayatollahs' regime constitutes a clear and present threat to vital US interests.

An effective agreement must not subordinate reliability to desirability. Therefore, the track record of the Ayatollahs should override - and must not be sacrificed on the altar of - the hopes and aspirations of reaching an agreement.  The reality inside the negotiation halls must be determined by – and not conflict with - the reality of Iran's track record outside the negotiation halls.  As pertinent as are the details of an agreement, the details of the Ayatollahs' track record – domestically, regionally and globally - constitute the dominant element which will shape the ripple effects of an agreement: will it promote peaceful coexistence or intensify violence?
Short-term political convenience and assessments must be subordinated to long term assessments of the imperialistic goals and rogue foreign and national security policies of the Ayatollahs.
An agreement with a rogue regime cannot be effective unless preconditioned upon the dramatic transformation of the nature of the regime.
The ethos, mission and long-term vision of the Ayatollahs are reflected most authentically and lucidly in their school textbooks, which were analyzed by theCenter for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP). According to CMIP, which analyzed 115 textbooks, "Hostility towards the USA is apparent everywhere in the textbooks, backed by a set of titles of which 'the Great Satan' is exclusively reserved for the USA…. Iran prepares its school students to fight the West – the US in particular – as an indispensable phase of the Islamic Revolution…. Much emphasis is put on Jihad[Holy War] and martyrdom…. Iran's school system prepares its pupils for World War III in the name of Islam against American world hegemony…. A life-or-death global war against the infidel oppressors….  'O Muslims of the world, you should overcome the fear of death and leverage the passionate and martyrdom-seeking youths…. We shall not cease until the annihilation of all of them (Islamic Viewpoint, Grade 11)'…. 'The exalted God gives eternal Paradise to anyone who becomes a martyr [Islamic Culture and Religious Instruction, Grade 8]…. There is a clear differentiation between Islam and the other monotheistic religions. Islam is considered superior… the only valid religion…. Israel is presented as a base created by Western Colonialism for the control of the Arabs and Muslims [Geography, Grade 11]…."   
Unlike the USSR which adhered to the principle of mutual assured destruction (MAD),the apocalyptic worldview of the Ayatollahs – who had no compunction in dispatching 500,000 children to clear minefields during Iran's war against Iraq - considers MAD-driven martyrdom an inducement, a sublime prize. Furthermore, the Ayatollahs believe in the imminent emergence of the 12th (Hidden) Imam, the Mahdi – Muhammad's successor - through apocalyptic events, which could be accelerated via military confrontations, including nuclear.
While negotiating with the USA, the Ayatollahs follow core Islamic principles such as the Hudaybiyyah Treaty – which allows Muslims to conclude an agreement, to be abrogated, in order to overcome the "infidel" – and Taqiyyah, which legitimizes deception in the pursuit of Islamic goals. For example, on November 5, 2004,notwithstanding the facts, the current Foreign Minister, Zarif, wrote: "The predominant view among Iranian decision-makers is that possession of nuclear weapons would only undermine Iranian security…. There are also serious ideological restrictions against weapons of mass destruction…. A costly nuclear weapon option would reduce Iran's regional influence and increase its global vulnerabilities." On September 12, 2002, Iran's current President, Rouhani, proclaimed on ABC-TV: "We are not pursuing nuclear, chemical, biological weapons."  On March 21, 2003, theSupreme Ayatollah, Khamenei, stated: "The statement that the Islamic Republic wants to obtain chemical weapons and the atomic bomb is totally false."
Against the backdrop of the track record of the Ayatollahs, it would be a well-intentioned fundamental misjudgment – which could lead to a global chaos, including a nuclear war - not to precondition an agreement with the Ayatollahs upon the drastic transformation of the nature of their regime.   

Friday, April 24, 2015

We Remember, We Bleed, and We are not Silent!

By Rabbi Yisrael Rozen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

"After the two sons of Aharon died..." [Vayikra 16:1]. "I will be sanctified through my holy ones, and I will be honored in front of the entire nation. And Aharon was silent." [10:3].

"The Secret of Redemption Lies in Remembering"

The past two weeks have been filled with sadness and grief. Last week included the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and for the Victims of Terrorism, and the week before that we marked Holocaust Remembrance Day and its dreadful times. Yom Haatzmaut (the Day of Independence) which we celebrated in the last few days is a direct consequence of the previous sad days, and it gains its great strength from the memories. My feeling is that these memorial days are the high point of our national patriotic feelings. They express our stiff-necked national attitude with strength and pride, together with our eternal cry, "The nation of Yisrael lives!" This in a way is more vital than the celebrations of Yom Haatzmaut with its ceremonial character and its flags and barbeques.

I am writing this article soon after Holocaust Remembrance Day, before Memorial Day and the Day of Independence, and I can still hear in my ears the talk of Holocaust survivors who live amongst us. Their horrifying personal memories bring out amazement, appreciation, and wonder: "How could you return to normal lives, at least in external appearance, after the frightening experiences that you had?" The answer that they all gave was: the eternity of Yisrael - the G-d of Yisrael, and the nation of Yisrael. The individual weaved his or her life from the point of view of the community as a whole, and this was their source of strength and life.

We Remember Together

From this we can move smoothly to the memory of the fallen soldiers, with added emphasis on the victims of terror attacks. Murderous terrorism strikes against us without pause.

For the last few years a very impressive event has taken place in Jerusalem on the eve of Memorial Day, called "We Remember, we Sing, and we Tell." The entire evening is a way of giving an embrace to bereaved families. This event is organized by the organization "Zochrim" (We Remember), headed by Dov Kalmanowitz (the first victim of the First Intifada, now a member of the Jerusalem city council), who recovered from very serious burns and dedicated himself to initiating a national project that enhances the pride of bereaved families and of us all. Thousands of people gather at the Sultan's Pool, outside the walls of Jerusalem, and listen breathless and with tears in their eyes to words, music, and poetry all saluting those who were injured in the battlefields, both those wearing uniforms and in civilian clothing. The unique element of the evening is the tremendous cooperation between IDF injured and victims of terrorism, between nonreligious, religious, and Chareidim (!), between Jews and non-Jews (Druze, Christians), between the fallen and incurable injured ones and those who have made remarkable recoveries.

As I write this article I still have strong memories of last year's event. This edition of Shabbat-B'Shabbato will be published after this year's gathering, which will have taken place in the intervening week, and which I also hope to attend. To our great sorrow, every year new families are added to the legions of the bereaved, with their own stories of national and personal heroism. This year we salute the warriors who participated in Operation Protective Edge, those who sacrificed themselves and were either killed or injured while performing their duties. We also remember the three young men who were kidnapped in Gush Etzion and their amazing families, together with many people who were stabbed in the cities and roads throughout the land, in addition those who were purposely run over, killed or maimed at bus stops, train stations, and hitchhiking stations.

"He who avenges the blood will remember them" [Tehillim 9:13] – This refers to the Holy One, Blessed be He, and we follow in His footsteps. From the depths of our hearts we cry out about the car attack which cut short the life of a young man in his prime, Shalom Yochai Cherki, son of our colleague Rabbi Oury Cherki, also injuring his close friend – and we wish her a speedy recovery. There can be no more eloquent words than the cry of a father at the funeral of his son, a martyr because he was a Jew, whom no other creature can stand up to. (See Bava Batra 10b.)


After Aharon's sons died, we are told, "And Aharon was silent" – as quoted above. This "silence" means that the one who experienced the suffering was quiet, but that those around him are commanded to console him, by trying to calm him down and by crying out to G-d: "Enough!" As our sages taught us, "'And Aharon was silent' – To be quiet means to offer consolation." [Avot D'Rebbe Natan, Chapter 5].

A big sin is perpetrated for the people themselves and for the families by those who have adopted the "modern" practice of a foreign culture of mourning, best described by the verse, "He sits alone and is silent" [Eicha 3:28]. This is not the way of Judaism, which has been blessed with a number of mitzvot related to consolation, including the instructions to the mourners not to lock the door for people who come to offer consolation. And even beyond this, sitting alone in mourning is a missed opportunity. The practice of "shiva" provides an opportunity to remember the good traits of the deceased and to praise him or her as an educational or ethical example, so that "the living can take the matter to heart" [Kohellet 7:2].

The mitzva of consolation goes hand in hand with the mitzva of attending a funeral. Since I have raised the subject of mourning, I will take note of an event which has upset me very much since a funeral which took place on the first day of Chol Hamoed Pesach: The command is to "accompany" the deceased and not to push and crush other people. What was the Holy One, Blessed be He, trying to hint at in the terrible tragedy of the deaths of "two sons of Aharon" who were trampled to death "in their close approach" to the coffin of one of the Torah giants of this generation, Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Vazner? Only G-d has the answers! It is silly to blame the police or the organizers of the funeral. Only G-d has answers, and we at a loss about what to do...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 is The 70th Year: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Yom Ha’atzmaut 5775

Yom Ha’atzmaut 5775 
Rabbi Nachman Kahana

2015 is The 70th Year

On Parashat Ki Tisa of 5767-2007, I quoted the gemara in Megilla 14a that Esther requested that the Anshei Knesset Hagedola (Men of the Great Assembly) record the episode of Purim as the 24th book of the Tanach.
Her request was initially rejected based on a verse in Mishlay 24 which was understood to mean that Amalek may be mentioned no more than three times in the Tanach. The three times were already taken up in parashat Beshalach (book of Shemot), parashat Ki Taytzay (Devarim) and the victory of Shaul over Amalek in the book of Shmuel. So the addition of the Purim story would bring an unacceptable fourth time.
Subsequently, Esther’s position was validated when the rabbis agreed that the two times Amalek is mentioned in the Torah – parashat Beshalach and parashat Ki Taytzay – would be considered as one, the Book of Shmuel two and Megilat Esther three.
What does this mean?
I suggested that the pasuk in Mishlay limiting the mention of Amalek in the Tanach to three is telling us that the final redemption will occur when, in an average life span of 70 years, Amalek will be defeated three times, whereas a fourth time cannot happen.
We have a long and prestigious track record of defeating our enemies, beginning with the ancient Egyptians, continuing with the Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, etc.  However, no three Amalekite empires were ever defeated in the life span of 70 years; that is, not until our time with the potential for this to happen.
Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, and 46 years later in 1991 we witnessed the downfall of the Soviet Union – two candidates for the infamous status of Amalek. The third will be the defeat of the Iranians (and others), heirs to the Persian dream who threaten daily to rid the world of the Jewish State and later the Jewish people.
In the time frame of 70 years (one average life time), beginning with the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, the 70th year will be this year 2015.

Pray Like Eyov

In Parashat Lech Lecha 5772 (2012), I quoted the Zohar at the end of parashat Beshalach, that the descendants of Yishmael (defined as those nations who practice circumcision by religious law or custom – Islam in general) are destined to cause three catastrophic wars: one on the sea, another on land and the third close to Yerushalayim.
We have been informed that US and Iranian war ships are on their way to the Straits of Bab Al Mandab, which strategically links the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. On the eastern side of the strait lies Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and on the western side Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa. It is Israel’s and Egypt’s sole outlet to the Indian Ocean from the Red Sea, on the way to southern Asia.
This explains why Iran is backing of the forces fighting to overthrow the Yemenite government (which is supported by Saudi Arabia) in order to control the straits from land.
In addition Iran has warships by the Straits of Hormuz, the outlet from the Gulf of Arabia (Persian Gulf) to the Indian Ocean, through which flows 30% of the world’s oil.

On Parshat Noach 2014, I quoted the midrashic compilation called Yalkut Shimoni in the section dealing with the book of Yeshayahu.
א”ר יצחק שנה שמלך המשיח נגלה בו כל מלכי אומות העולם מתגרים זה בזה, מלך פרס (אירן של ימינו) מתגרה במלך ערבי והולך מלך ערבי לארם (ויש גורסים אדום שהוא אירופה) ליטול עצה מהם וחוזר מלך פרס ומחריב את כל העולם (הסדר העולמי) וכל אומות העולם מתרעשים ומתבהלים ונופלים על פניהם ויאחוז אותם צירים כצירי יולדה, וישראל מתרעשים ומתבהלים ואומר להיכן נבוא ונלך להיכן נבוא ונלך, ואומר להם (הקב”ה) בני אל תתיראו כל מה שעשיתי לא עשיתי אלא בשבילכם מפני מה אתם מתיראים? אל תיראו! הגיע זמן גאולתכם, ולא כגאולה ראשונה (ממצרים) גאולה אחרונה כי גאולה ראשונה היה לכם צער ושעוד מלכיות אחריה אבל גאולה אחרונה אין לכם צער ושעבוד מלכיות אחריה.
The Midrash informs us that in the future (now) Paras (Persia-Iran) will be feared by the entire world. World leaders will “go back and forth” frustrated in their attempts to save what they can – to no avail.
Iran will make war on the King of Arabi (Saudi Arabia), who will plead for aid from foreign nations.
Am Yisrael, too, will be petrified by the pending disaster.
And at that time, HaShem will say to us, “Why are you afraid? All of this I have done in order to bring you the long-awaited redemption. And this redemption will not be like the redemption from Egypt, which was followed by suffering. This redemption will usher in a world of peace.”

So here is the setting: 
The time – 2015.
The place – the Middle East.
The participants – Moslems on both sides of the arena. Iran and Saudi Arabia are at each other’s throats over Yemen, and the world’s leaders are too timid to intervene.
The world is progressing in a precise, fine-tuned staccato “march of time” to the drum beat of what our rabbis have said will occur.
In addition, I have in the past warned that the US will by necessity restore the draft to increase the military which is at the present undermanned. The draft will sweep up your sons and daughters like a vacuum cleaner from out of the yeshivot and seminaries, to fight for their adopted country in such exotic places as Asia and Africa.

And now, what about us in Eretz Yisrael? There are two essential acts which HaShem requires of us at this time: 1- To prepare our army to the best of our ability and resources, and 2- to pray to HaShem.
What should we pray for at this very fragile time in history? 
I submit:
1- The normal reaction of a person who is experiencing excruciating pain is to pray to HaShem for even a few minutes of respite from his suffering.
The classic example of a man whose suffering was incomprehensible is the Biblical Eyov (Job). He lost everything that could be defined as a good life. His wife and children died. All his wealth was lost and his body suffered great pain. A man in his situation would welcome a few painless moments.
However, the Gemara (Nida 30b) informs us that Eyov prayed to HaShem to give him back the ultimate physical pleasures of this world. He prayed to relive the physical and mental delight as a fetus in his mother’s womb, which according to the Gemara is the ultimate state of joy in this world.
Now what was Eyov thinking?

2- The Birkat Hamazon – grace after eating bread – contains a seemingly inappropriate request. We ask HaShem to bless us with extraordinary great wealth “as He did to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov”.
Is this what we ask from HaShem? Are we entitled to such abundance?
The answers appear in a Mishna in Bava Metzia 49a.
  1. Yochanan ben Matya sent his son to hire field laborers.
The son reported to his father that he had hired them and had included lunch in the work contract. R. Yochanan instructed his son to go to the men before they began working and describe in detail what their “lunch” would consist of, because an “open ended” menu would give the men the halachic right to demand the best food available. When seeing his son’s consternation, the rabbi explained that in their day-to-day lives they are laborers. However, as the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov they have the status of princes who can demand the best that money can buy.
Herein lies the guiding principle when praying to HaShem. We must present our Father in Heaven with our ultimate requests for two reasons: 1- As the descendants of HaShem’s beloved disciples – Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov – we are the nobility of HaShem’s creations; 2- Just as it would be an affront to come before a billionaire philanthropist and request one shekel, it is an affront to ask HaShem for less than the maximum. After the request is made by His Jewish children, it is in His realm to decide what to do with the request.
The lesson, as taught to us by Eyov, is pray for the maximun despite one’s actual situation.

To return to the issue before us concerning the threats facing the State of Israel.
Do not pray that HaShem should reduce the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran from two years to ten. Do not pray that terrorists be apprehended before they are able to carry out their plans. Pray that Iran should no longer exist. Pray that the evil surrounding us should dissipate as smoke from fire. Pray that all the lands promised us by HaShem be given to us. Pray for the total and immediate recovery of all Jews who are ill. Pray for the Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash.
On this Yom Ha’atmaut when reciting Hallel, think about the development of Medinat Yisrael from less than nothing in 1948 to being one of the most advanced nations on earth – a clear miracle. But in our heart of hearts, we should tell HaShem that we deserve more because of everything we have sacrificed over the last 2000 years to sanctify His holy name!
Yom Ha’atzma’ut Sameyach!
Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5775/2015 Nachman Kahana