Friday, February 26, 2016

Roulette in Eilat and at the Damascus Gate

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen 
Dean of the Zomet Institute

"I lavished them with silver and gold, and they gave it to the Baal" [Hoshaya 2:10].

A Huge Sinkhole

That is just what we are missing now – a new casino! It will serve as a site for unhealthy addiction to gambling, a swamp for sexual crime and drugs, and a center of attraction for those who would destroy the world, who do all they can to disturb its peaceful existence. The fact that economic reasoning is used to justify this proposal, as has been publicly announced, makes the deal much worse: The Finance Ministry expects to collect taxes (15%) of more than a million shekels a day! This seems legendary, from a movie plot, way beyond anything we could imagine. This is not a productive industrial area which will yield the fruits of its labors or a fertile high-tech area that will produce profits for the country as a whole, and not even a farmer's market or an arts-and-crafts fair selling the handiwork of its artisans. A million shekels a day, no less, for vain pleasure-seeking and setting up an area of sin! Just think of the dimensions of the "sinkhole" that will be opened up here if this "vision" comes true, heaven forbid. This sinkhole will swallow up huge numbers of youths and adults alike, and there is no way that any selection between Israelis and visitors will be put into effect. And I am really upset, to the point of nausea, in the way this project is being touted as "blooming of the Negev desert." It is interesting to speculate how David Ben Gurion would have reacted to this proposal, as the harbinger of the vision of the Negev and bringing life back to the desolate land!

I assume that even the Prime Minister, who proposed this zany idea, knows that it is not a real proposition, at least for the time being. Can it be that he wanted to please his benefactor, the multimillionaire Sheldon Adelson, and some of his friends, also casino operators? Or perhaps he has decided to remind us that he is, after all, the Minister of Economics, lest we forget this important fact. G-d has the key to all enigmas, but from a practical point of view we can assume that the dander of this proposal will be blocked by Iron Domes, both those made of real metal and those knitted ones (kippot) that religious people wear on their heads! The arguments in favor, based on the fact that there already is a casino ship in the Red Sea, and that everybody who has a yearning for gambling can satisfy his desires anyway through the internet and in dark sites at the margins of the cities of Israel – do not justify giving formal legitimacy and allowing the dancing around the Golden Calf in public. As proof, just see the fact that we do not even consider legalizing the sale and use of addictive drugs in public because in any case it takes place in hidden back yards. We have already rejected the proposal to open brothels under official supervision, for similar reasons, and those who opposed the idea brought as proof the famous words of the author of Akeidat Yitzchak – that the reason it was decreed that Sedom would be destroyed was that it gave formal and legal permission to commit sins and crimes because "they were taking place anyway..." [Torah portion of Vayeira].

From the Jewish point of view, even though gambling is not a direct Torah violation or even a rabbinical prohibition, the sages waged war against it by means of a public ban that was very efficient at the time: "These are the ones who are not accepted (as witnesses): One who rolls dice, one who lends for interest, and one who races pigeons (Rashi: saying, if your pigeon lands ahead of mine, I will give you an agreed-on sum of money)... because these people are not involved in settling the world." [Sandhedrin 24b].

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Terrorism Roulette – An Existential Danger

Somebody has tried to start a cruel rumor – that the Prime Minister wants to get the public's mind away from another type of roulette – the Terrorism Roulette that is taking its toll among us. I do not accept this evil idea, but I do see an association to this death-related roulette which strikes out at us – the daily gamble involved in normal activities, such as going to a mall for shopping, to work, or on a field trip, when you must always be on the alert for a knife wielded against you. I cannot help but remember the words of Daphne Meir, who was murdered at the front door of her home in Otniel: "The situation is not simple. This sometimes feels like Russian Roulette, and we have trouble sleeping." This statement is a true reflection of the morale of half the nation.

Two weeks ago I wrote in this column about the Defense Minister ( written as "sar" with a samech, implying that there is a lack of defense). I received many compliments but also some sharp criticism, both on the contents and on the style of writing. A (former) security expert in Israel came out with the following: " The State of Israel can hold out with an even larger number of weekly killings, and this has already happened in the past. The existing level of terrorism is not an existential threat to Israel." Here is my reply: The current wave of terrorism is indeed an existential threat to Israel, very much so! Our enemies have discovered a weapon against which we have no defense, since the enemy has no specific identity. This weapon will not cease to cause "a breach and wailing in our streets" (see the opposite in Tehillim 144:14), until a Palestinian state will be declared (something that is supported by a quarter of the people). And such a state, which will be formed on a "tray" made from these knives unless we learn to shatter them first, is indeed an existential threat, as is clear to anybody who looks at the previous map of Israel with its "narrow middle section." Afterwards, born on the waves of their victory, our enemies will continue to stab and stab again with the hope of destroying us completely.

The only solution is the destruction of the homes of close relatives of the terrorists and their supporters, in addition to expelling them from our midst and taking over their property. Only such drastic measures will cause others to give us advance information in order to stop these attacks. I have already stated this in the past – there is no other way to fight against this roulette of terrorism!

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