Monday, July 16, 2018

Why Do Palestinian Leaders Oppose Helping Their People?

by Bassam Tawil
  • Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank-based government seek to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They want the international community to continue to believe that Israel is responsible for the ongoing, intense suffering of the Palestinians. They are hoping to use the crisis there to pursue their campaign to delegitimize Israel.
  • Palestinian leaders would prefer to see their people starve than make any form of concessions for peace with Israel. Yet Al-Aloul and Abbas are not the ones who are facing starvation. There is nothing more comfortable than sitting in your fashionable house in Ramallah or Nablus and talking about starvation and humanitarian aid.
  • The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, who are desperate for jobs and a better life, do not really care about Trump's upcoming peace plan. They also do not really care about a settlement or a checkpoint in the West Bank.
  • This is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Palestinians' number one priority -- the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general -- is destroying Israel. They would rather die than give up their dream of destroying Israel.

The border between Israel and the Gaza Strip remains open for delivering food and humanitarian and medical aid into Gaza. (Image source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

For years, Palestinian leaders have been complaining that the Gaza Strip was "on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe." Time and again, they have warned that unless the world helps the Palestinians living there, the Gaza Strip will "erupt like a volcano."

Israel and the US are now offering to help improve the living conditions of the Palestinians living under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. But guess who is fiercely opposed to any attempt to resolve the "humanitarian and economic crisis" in the coastal enclave, home to some two million Palestinians? Answer: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction.

In the past few weeks, both Israel and the US administration have come up with different ideas to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.

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Have Putin and Netanyahu Struck a Grand Bargain?

by Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 896

: On July 8, Israel allegedly conducted an airstrike in Syrian territory that struck once again at the T4 base near Homs. Interestingly, Israel did not conduct any airstrikes to stop the concurrent advance of Syrian and Hezbollah forces southward. This might suggest that a grand bargain has been offered by Russia to Israel – one in which Moscow assures Jerusalem of an Iranian withdrawal in return for Israel’s acceptance of the consolidation of the Syrian state. This might explain Israel’s passivity, but it is by no means certain that Moscow will prevail on Tehran to withdraw from Syria.

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9 Ideas for the 9 Days

by Shmuel Sackett

The “3 Weeks” have now become the “9 Days” and life has just gotten far more difficult. No laundries, no showers, no swimming and no pastrami sandwiches. Seems like the big expression around here is simply; “Just Say NO!” Therefore, please allow me to change things up a bit. I have always trained myself to think differently so here is a list which you won’t read anywhere else. It is a list of things which you can actually say “YES” to during these 9 days. I call it my “9 ideas for the 9 days”.

  • Say “YES” to living a meaningful 9 days. Don’t be bitter, mad and depressed. Don’t focus on the negative and how many hot dogs you could have consumed. These are very special days and you need to focus on the positive. These 9 days connect Am Yisrael together because – all over the world – Jews are pressing the pause button in their busy and modern lives. Instead of the fun summer barbeques and beach parties (don’t worry, you will have plenty of time for these things) we connect to our roots and our history. We remember Hashem’s house and what it means to live as Jews without it. We connect to those who gave their lives “Al Kiddush Hashem” and to those who fought battles so we could be strong and proud Jews today. During these 9 days you need to think about these great heroes and identify with their struggles. When you do that, your 9 days will be quite special and meaningful.
  • Say “YES” to getting to know everything about Machon Ha’Mikdash – The Temple Institute. For 30 years this amazing organization led by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel and Rabbi Chaim Richman have educated our nation about the Mikdash. Just walk into any Judaica store and see how many books, pictures, puzzles and games there are which explain the beauty and significance of the Bet Ha’Mikdash. All of those items – every single one – are a result of the groundbreaking work done by the Temple Institute. They have published in depth scholarly seforim on the Mikdash and recently a 400 page sefer on the menorah! They have published Mishnas (such as Midos and Pesachim) and various Gemaras (such as Yoma) that explain the Bet Ha’Mikdash as never before. They have published Machzorim and Siddurim that focus on the holidays and the prayers in the Mikdash and their Pesach Haggadah is incredible. They have children’s story books and coloring books and games and software that makes teaching about the Bet Ha’Mikdash fun and educational. Finally, they have an amazing website that is constantly updated with videos, shiurim and fascinating information: Therefore, during these 9 days, put down Facebook and Instagram and spend quality time on the website of Machon Ha’Mikdash. You will not regret it.
  • Say “YES” to your family. These days are perfect for quality family time and you don’t need a vacation to do it! Since you can’t go to the pool or the movies or even the mall for a fun shopping spree, why not sit at home and get to know your own family?? Talk to your spouse and your kids. I realize that this sounds silly but when was the last time you actually did that? With all the crazy distractions we have and all the things pulling us in different directions, these 9 days are perfect for family and you don’t even need to fire up the barbeque! A simple spaghetti dinner is perfect to chat with your kids about camp. Sit down at night with your spouse over a nice cup of coffee and since you can’t watch some stupid movie, look at each other and talk about the kids and how much nachas they bring you. This may actually bring you great enjoyment and pleasure but guess what? It’s 100% permitted during the 9 days… so do it!!!
  • Say “YES” to learning from an older person. We don’t realize the treasure we have in the older generation. Every one of the older men and women in your shul or community can write a 500 page book on their life experiences. They are walking and talking museums and have priceless stories. During these 9 days, go over to an older man after the morning minyan and ask him to tell you about his life. Ask him to share some of his experiences with you. I promise that you will be amazed by their reaction and by their stories. They will share incredible things with you, which will brighten both your day as well as theirs. I remember doing this recently with an older man in my shul in Herziliya. He comes to shul every Shabbat and is all alone. I never saw him with a wife or with children so I became his friend and asked him about his life. What this man told me was amazing. He was a partisan fighter during the Holocaust, came to Israel after the war, married and had 2 kids and worked as a spy for the Mossad!! You read that right… the guy was a spy!! How cool is THAT?? A few years ago his wife passed away and his kids live outside of Herziliya so he is alone in an assisted living center. I took my daughter to talk to him as well and over the years we have become close. The man is a hero but until I spoke to him, he was just some old guy in shul. Please, get to know these men and women and have them share their lessons in life with you. The problem is that you will need much more than 9 days to do this!
  • Say “YES” to learning Torat Eretz Yisrael. I am not talking against any kind of learning you presently do – all Torah is holy – but focus these 9 days on the Torah of the Land of Israel. This is the period of time where we were thrown out of the Land so this is a perfect time to study about what makes Israel so special. There are many books today in English by the great Rav Kook including online shiurim that explain his holy words. Listen to these shiurim during the 9 days. Learn the sefer “Em Ha’banim Se’meycha” (available in English) written by Harav Teichtal shortly before he was murdered in the Holocaust. Visit the website of Rav Nachman Kahana – who wrote the ground breaking commentary to Tosfos called “Mey Menuchos”. His website is replete with Torat Eretz Yisrael and can be found at Use these 9 days to open your eyes to the world of Torah that explains and describes the beauty and holiness of our special Land.
  • Say “YES” to inreach. This is a word you may not be familiar with, but it is important. We all know what “outreach” is and how vital it is to bring Torah close to those outside our world but “inreach” is just as important. This word means to reach out to those IN our community who might have fallen a bit to the side or who find little or no excitement in a Torah was of life. Inreach can be performed with kids still IN Yeshivos, not just the ones who ran away. We tend to rush and invite those kids who are already off the derech – and that is a wonderful thing to do – but what about those who are still on the derech but making several wrong turns? By doing proper inreach, we can prevent the need for outreach at a later date! Therefore, during these days when you have time, look around for people in your community (and not just kids) who seem bored with Judaism. These 9 days can be real trouble for them because all they see are depressed people complaining about dirty clothes, no swimming and all the baked ziti they are eating. You need to counter those complaints with positive energy and how special our nation is to have the ability to connect to events from thousands of years ago. What other religion does that? Who else in today’s modern world thinks about yesterday… let alone 2,000 years ago? How special does that make us that we identify and salute the great men and women from long ago? What an honor to be part of this nation!! Tell that to these bored and miserable people who are simply crying over their lack of steak. Reach out INSIDE our community and light these people up with enthusiasm and energy for Torah and tradition.
  • Say “YES” to calling and meeting with Nefesh b’Nefesh. What a better time than the 9 days to open your Aliyah file? All the great Kabbalists say that our job is to do a “tikun” – to rectify and repair the mistakes of old. Well, 2,000 years ago our grandfathers and grandmothers made some serious errors and were driven from the Land. So… now is the time to repair those mistakes and return to the Land. We all know that “sinas chinam” is what destroyed the Bet Ha’Mikdash and all the Rabbis say that it will take the opposite – “ahavas chinam” to rebuild it but I say that this is not enough. Yes, we must do teshuva and love every Jew but we must also move back to Eretz Yisrael! You really think you can just love all Yidden and then stay the next 120 years in Queens, New Jersey or South Africa? Seriously? Call Nefesh b’Nefesh today. Call on Tisha B’av if you have to… right in the middle of the kinos!! This is our #1 job and something that requires a big and happy “YES”!
  • Say “YES” to living a life of Kedusha (holiness) and not just Halacha. I know that you realize that the two go together – and they definitely should – but they often do not. I have seen people keep halacha with all the stringencies but, sadly, kedusha is far removed. This article is already too long so I will not go into this concept is detail but allow me to write this one thought: Be honest. You know exactly what I mean when I say Kedusha. The Nesivos Shalom speaks a lot about this. He states, many times in his wonderful sefer, that the concept of holiness is foreign to all nations except the Jews. All other religions have holy men or holy women but they never have the notion of the entire nation being holy. In our Torah, over and over again it says; “Kedoshim te’he’yoo” which commands every Jewish man, woman and child to be holy. What a special opportunity we have, which has not been given to anybody else! Therefore, use this time – these very special 9 days – to do more than follow the Halacha. Connect your soul to Hashem and infuse Kedusha into your home and life.
  • This last “YES” suggestion is the greatest and best one of all. I call it; Say “YES” to being part of history. With the help of Hashem, this will be the last time we keep the 9 days in this way. By next year, these will be great and happy days with lots of meat… the meat of the Korbanos in the Bet Ha’Mikdash! Wine will be flowing and happy songs will be sung by the Leviim. We will dance during these 9 days and celebrate with our children and grandchildren. Therefore, make these 9 days memorable because they will be the last ones with all the restrictions. You will be able to tell your future generations that you fasted on the last Tisha B’av! Never again will we go 9 days without eating ribs and veal chops! Never again will we miss our morning coffee and have migraine headaches during all those fast days that mourn the Bet Ha’Mikdash! Never again will we wear dirty clothes! From now on it’s serving the King in His palace and teaching the world about Hashem. What great days are in store for us!

Therefore, use these suggestions to have a meaningful, holy and very special 9 days and remember to take notes and lots of pictures because we will never do this again!

The Nation-State Law rises again

by Vic Rosenthal

Five years since its initial introduction by MK Avi Dichter, the Nation State Bill is being hotly debated in the Knesset once again.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence announced the creation of “A Jewish state in Eretz-Israel,” and added,

The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

These principles are generally referred to by saying that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state. The democratic part is further explicated by several Basic Laws including those that describe the details of Israel’s political democracy, and which guarantee individual rights, liberty, and dignity.

(That isn’t to say that the state always lives up to these commitments. For example, two recent serious lapses have been the treatment of the young suspects in the Duma arson/murder case, who were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and the persistent leakage of transcripts from the police investigations of PM Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu, both of which appear to violate the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty).

Basic Laws serve the function of a constitution in Israel, and because they serve as touchstones for court decisions (especially the Supreme Court), have great influence. The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty is especially frequently cited by the Supreme Court.

The concept of the state’s Jewishness, however, is not elucidated any further by existing Basic Laws. Many Israelis (I among them) feel that there is an imbalance in the Basic Laws, such that the Jewish nature of the state is often in practice subordinated to its democratic nature. This feeling could be expressed by saying that there is more to a Jewish state than just a Jewish majority. Or, to put it another way, a Jewish majority is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a Jewish state. This is addressed by the attempt to pass a new Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.

The reason the bill is so controversial – despite the present version being highly watered down – is that there are competing visions of what the State of Israel should be. One view, which is preferred by Arab citizens and the Jewish Left, is that it should be a liberal democracy, period. Many Arabs would also like to see ethnically-neutral national symbols. Some would even prefer a binational state, with the Arab minority given a veto power over laws passed by the Knesset, a Law of Return for Arabs, and more (the Haifa Declaration of a committee of Israeli Arab academics is an extreme example).

As long as there is a Jewish majority, that isn’t likely to happen. But there is also a view that the Jewishness of the state is simply a function of its Jewish majority, and the only special benefit provided to Jews is the Law of Return. The Jewish character of the state, by this view, comes from the fact that Jews are in the majority and will naturally determine the symbols, holidays, language, and culture of the state.

Finally there is the position, reflected by those that favor the passage of a nation-state law, that Israel should explicitly define herself as a Jewish state. Having basic principles anchored in law could be practically important. For example, the current version of the nation-state bill in the Knesset includes the statement that “The State will act to ingather the exiles of Israel and to promote Jewish settlement in its territory and it shall allocate resources for these purposes.” In a case involving a conflict between claims of individual property rights and a settlement in Judea/Samaria, the courts would have to give weight to the need to promote Jewish settlement, and perhaps find a solution short of demolition.

Or, for example, consider that someone might petition the Supreme Court to improve access to the Temple Mount for Jews on the basis that “The holy sites shall be protected against desecration and all other damage and against anything that would interfere with freedom of access of religious groups to places holy to them or to their sensibilities regarding said holy sites,” one of the clauses in the law.

There is also the more abstract value of making explicit Israel’s primary function as a vehicle for Jewish self-determination, as well as the responsibilities of the state to the Jewish people as a homeland and a refuge. It might seem obvious to some Israelis, but not to others and certainly not to the rest of the world.

Parts of the bill are very controversial, like one that gives the right to a “community” (without defining that, except to say that ethnic and religious categories are included) to establish a “separate community settlement” where members of a different “community” would not be accepted. Yesterday’s Knesset debate about this was highly acrimonious, with several members being removed for bad behavior. President Rivlin, in a rare foray into politics, wrote a letter strongly opposing this clause, and my guess is that it will be significantly changed or removed from the final law.

In the next week or so, the bill will have its final two readings in the Knesset, and proponents say that they have the votes to pass it even in its present form (which I doubt, given the storm produced by the President’s letter).

Some who object to the law ask “Who needs it? We know who we are. It will damage the state among the peoples of the world.”

Israel is a special kind of state, in fact the only one of its kind. It is not only an ethnic nation-state, it is probably the only one established by the return of a nation to its homeland after a prolonged exile, and one whose first principles include the necessity of being a refuge for a persecuted people.

It is presently weathering an intensely hostile political climate in a world where ethnic nationalism is considered evil, both in the abstract and in particular for the Jewish people.

Rather than hide who we are, we should broadcast it. It might not make the world like us any more, but at least they will better understand what we are fighting for.

Where are They Going to Go?

by Shmuel Sackett

Every time anyone speaks about moving Arabs out of Eretz Yisrael, the first question is always the same: “But where are they going to go?” This article will answer that exact question.

On July 9, 2018 an article was published by “Yahoo Business Insider” which stated that a whopping 800,000 foreign workers have left Saudi Arabia in the last two years!! 800,000!! Nowhere in the article did it state where they went because that wasn’t the point… they simply left. They went wherever their heart and dreams took them. They packed up their homes and their possessions and moved out of Saudi Arabia. They left permanently and I highly doubt many even looked back.

You might say that the reason these 800,000 left were because they were replaced by the local Saudi population… but, actually, the complete opposite is true! The article states clearly that employers have a serious problem because “young Saudi men and women are lazy and not interested in working.” Therefore, Saudi Arabia needed these workers and, because they left, have a gaping hole in their workforce. The article further states that employers are “struggling to fill jobs”. Hmmm… 800,000 workers are needed in a Moslem country that speaks Arabic… Any ideas who could possibly replace those missing workers?

Let’s think this through for a moment. Saudi Arabia is a country with a tremendous amount of open, undeveloped land. Yes, much of that land is desert, but look what Israel did to its own desert… it made it bloom! Israel is leading the world in desalination plants and agriculture hi-tech and would gladly help its neighbor develop and populate the desert. People moving there could get large amounts of land for free and could build the homes of their dreams. Think about an Arab crammed into a little apartment in Gaza, Ramallah or Hebron. With a guaranteed job in hand, why would they not move to Saudi Arabia and live in a palace?

Wait, I’m not finished yet, it gets even better! According to the Zehut party platform, all Arabs wishing to emigrate from Israel (Israeli Arabs as well as those living in the West Bank / Gaza) will be compensated for their property at market value. The State of Israel will purchase their homes and also pay all moving expenses to Saudi Arabia. These Arabs will then arrive in a country where they speak the language and whose religion is their own. They will have money from the sale of their home and the entire move won’t cost them a dime. They will have instant jobs, be able to have property 10 times the size of their current residence and live a quality of life better than 90% of their Arab cousins. This plan protects their human rights, their religious freedom and safeguards their financial future.

So, the next time someone asks, “But where will they go??” give them this article. If they truly want to help the Arabs of Israel gain a better future for themselves and their families, this is the plan that must come to fruition.

US peace initiatives – Quo Vadis?

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

All US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives, initiated by Democratic and Republican Presidents, aimed at advancing the cause of peace, while enhancing the US strategic stature. However, all failed on both accounts.

The well-intentioned US peace initiatives were doomed to failure by the tendency to downplay the complex intra-Arab/Muslim Middle East reality, since they conflicted with the eagerness to advance peace ASAP, wishful-thinking and oversimplification.

US peace initiatives were the casualties of the inherent conflict between Western eagerness for quick-fix and short-term convenience, on the one hand, and the long-term and complicated nature of the intricate reality and national security, on the other hand.

US peace initiatives were frustrated by the tectonic forces which have shaped the well-documented intra-Arab/Muslim labyrinth since the birth of Islam in the 7th century: explosive unpredictability, violence, intolerance (religiously, ethnically, politically and socially), absence of peaceful-coexistence domestically and regionally, minority/rogue regimes, disregard of civil liberties, brutal domestic fragmentation (tribally, ideologically and religiously) and the tenuous/provisional nature of regimes, policies and agreements.

Moreover, the US peace initiatives were further derailed by the politically-correct assumptions that the Arab-Israeli conflict has been “The Middle East Conflict” and that the Palestinian issue has been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a core-cause of Middle East turbulence and a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making.

Such assumptions have been dashed against the rocks of Middle East reality, as highlighted by the 2010 eruption of the still-raging Arab Tsunami (erroneously named “the Arab Spring”), which has been totally unrelated to the dramatically less significant Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue.

Furthermore, the preoccupation with the Palestinian issue – at a time when the Middle East and the US are confronted with significantly more pivotal national and homeland security challenges/threats – has damaged the US posture of deterrence and its regional and global standing.

All US peace initiatives attempted to force Israel into making major concessions to the Arab/Palestinian side, thus rewarding systematic Arab aggression, which encouraged further aggression. These initiatives exhibited the self-defeating moral equivalence between (Arab) aggressors and the intended (Israeli) victim; between the most effective, unconditional strategic ally of the US (Israel), and a close ally of enemies and rivals of the US, such as Nazi Germany, the USSR, the Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela (the Palestinians); and between the role model of counter-terrorism (Israel) and a role model and a major training ground of anti-US terrorists and a shrine of hate-education (the Palestinians).

The subversive and terroristic track record of the Palestinians, and their closest allies, sheds light on the inherent contradiction between the need to minimize Middle East instability and violence, on the one hand, and the attempt to establish a Palestinian state, on the other hand.

US peace initiatives have forced the Palestinians, in particular, and the Arabs, in general, to outflank the (“infidel”) US from the maximalist/radical side, thus further intensifying conflict and disagreements.

Contrary to the well-meant goal of the US peace initiatives, this added fuel – not water – to the fire, exacerbated instability and undermined US diplomatic and geo-strategic posture and interests. One may note that in spite of the US presidential recognition of the PLO, its support for the idea of a Palestinian state and sustained pressure on Israel to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the US has been systematically terrorized by Shite and Sunni Islamic terrorism.

While all US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives have failed (e.g., the 1970 Rogers Plan, the 1973-75 Kissinger initiatives, the 1982 Reagan Plan, the 1989-92 Bush/Baker initiatives, the Clinton initiatives, the G.W. Bush initiatives and the Obama/Kerry initiatives), Middle East reality has highlighted the indispensable role of the US as a facilitator – not initiator – of peace initiatives, which were launched directly between Israel and Arab entities. Thus, it was the critical US support of the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan initiated peace processes – during their intermediary and mature stages - which propelled them to fruition.

Furthermore, the cardinal US role in facilitating and coalescing Israel’s enhanced cooperation with pro-US Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula – which has not been preconditioned upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians - has projected a realistic US policy in the Middle East. It has been a policy which recognizes the order of regional and global priorities, highlighting the intensified lethal threats of Iran’s Ayatollahs and Sunni Islamic terrorism to the US’ homeland and national security, as well as to every pro-US Arab regime in the region, none of which is related, directly or indirectly, to the Palestinian issue.

Will the US benefit from the lessons of its many well-intentioned (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives by avoiding past errors?!

Will the US leverage its peace-making experience by focusing on its game-changing, constructive role as a facilitator, rather than an initiator?!

Will US policy-makers adhere to the life-saving advice, shared with drivers in West Texas: When smothered by lethal sandstorms (the Arab Tsunami…), don’t get preoccupied with the tumbleweeds on the road (the Palestinian issue…)?!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Katie Hopkins in Israel: Why Jewish youth flock to Hebron from around the world

The Yishai Fleisher Show: The Borders of the Land of Israel

What are the borders of the Land of Israel, and how did we, and do we, keep them safe? Rabbi Mike Feuer joins Rabbi Yishai in understanding the Torah's command to kill off the Midianites, to establish cities of refuge, and not to give enemies "parking" in the land. Then, Malkah Fleisher joins to discuss the problem of Kosher meat and the Fatwa of the Mufti of Jerusalem.

Your money or Your Family

by Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

If money is all that a man makes, then he will be poor. Poor in happiness and poor in all that makes life worth living. -Herbert N. Casson

The nation of Israel had just vanquished two major kingdoms on the eastern side of the Jordan River, across from the land promised to them. After the battles, and with all the pasture around them, two tribes approached Moses. The tribes of Ruben and Gad came up to Moses and declared that they were laden with vast amounts of animals and the current land they were in was perfect for them. They wanted to stay, to settle outside the Promised Land, with their flocks.

Moses gets angry, there ensues a discussion, and the tribes of Ruben and Gad declare that they will leave their flocks and their families in the east and go battle with the rest of Israel in the west, until the land is fully conquered. After the expected conquest, they will return to the land, to their flocks and family.

What is most telling is the order which these two tribes phrase their request. They place the flock before their family. Many of the commentators highlight the priorities these two tribes are exhibiting as well as Moses’ response to them. Moses flips the order, basically saying, take care of your family before you take care of your flock.

Rabbeinu Bechaye on Numbers 32:2 (Matot-Masai) takes the criticism even further. He claims that because the tribes of Ruben and Gad put their financial gains and greed before their families’ wellbeing, all their financial gains were cursed.

By being more concerned with their material wealth, their livestock, with animals, rather than with human beings and their own flesh and blood, they doomed themselves, and eventually were left with neither. Indeed, the tribes to the east of the Jordan would be the first to be exiled and seemingly lost to Jewish history.

Rabbeinu Bechaye ends his criticism with the famous dictum from Pirkei Avot (Chapters of our Fathers) which asks rhetorically, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.”

May we be thankful for all the blessings in our life and especially for the one of family.

Shabbat Shalom.

The State of all its (Non-Zionist) Citizens

by Moshe Feiglin

The debate over the right to separate settlement in the Jewish State Bill is actually a debate over what we are first – a Jewish state or a democratic state.

Israel was established so that the Jewish Nation would have a state. As such, Israel is a Jewish state. It adopted democracy as its form of government, and it is good that it did so.

Israel was not established so that there would be another democracy in the world. That is not what we dreamed of for 2000 years. That is not what we were slaughtered for and fought for, that is not why they are fighting against us today. It is not for democracy that we send our sons to fight on our borders.

We do all this so that there will be a Jewish state in the world. Period.

In the days of the Rabin government, however, the radical Left, led by Chief Justice Aharon Barak, successfully swept the state and the myopic Right into a revolution that turned everything around. They added the word ‘democratic’ to the definition of the state, with the stated intention of turning Israel into a state of all its citizens.

The Jewish right to establish a Jewish village in their Land stems from the fact that Israel is a Jewish state. As a result of the revolution (the coup, for all practical purposes), expressions like “the Juda-ization of the Gallil and Negev”, which were once positive Zionist expressions, are now considered racist. In the first years of the State, it was clear that democracy was the “lid” of the Jewish State “pot” – but not the “pot”, itself. Today, the President of the State of the Jews (as always, a rightist) has adopted the ‘Jewish and democratic’ mantra. By doing so, he is effectively undermining the foundations of the Jewish State and its very reason and right to exist.

There is also a lot of hypocrisy in the opposition to the Jewish State Bill. It is true that when a village is built for the ultra-Orthodox, it is permissible for any non-observant Jew to also buy a home there and when a village is built for Arabs, it is permissible for any Jew to live there. But that claim rests on the fact that the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs see no value in the Jewish State. The ultra-Orthodox themselves will show a woman who is not modestly dressed the way out of their village. And a Jew who will wave the Israeli flag on Independence Day in the Arab village of Um El Fahm will also be shown the exit.

In other words, President Rivlin and all the proponents of a state of all its citizen actually support a state of all its non-Zionist citizens.

The Jewish State Bill is a good bill.

But the Left need not fear. In its present form it will not pass and the High Court will continue to block any possibility of establishing a Jewish village in the Jewish state.

It’s sure a good thing that the Right is in power…

Moshe Feiglin on Channel 10: Israel Enjoys Less Democracy than in Past

This week an international research institute based in Sweden published a report on the state of democracy in the world. It analyzed 170 countries in parameters such as liberalism, free elections and equality. Israel came in at 53rd place, as opposed to 48th place last year. According to the report, Israel moved down from a liberal democracy to an electoral democracy.

Moshe Feiglin was interviewed on Israel’s Channel 10 on the topic.

He said that the ability of a state to deal with insubordination – to allow it and to mete out punishment for it – is the true yardstick of the level of democracy that it enjoys.

Feiglin also mentioned the biometric law as proof of the deterioration of democracy in Israel. He added that in the US, citizens do not even have a state-issued ID card, because the identity of the individual belongs to him, and not to the state. “The state will always use the security excuse to negate its citizens’ liberty. Does anyone in Israel feel more secure because he now has a biometric passport?” he asked.

Moshe Feiglin on Galei Israel: Right Doesn't Know How to Set Borders of Discourse in Israel

Moshe Feiglin was interviewed on the Galei Yisrael radio station on the topic of insubordination. The following is a translated excerpt of the interview.

Why is the destruction and expulsion of an entire Jewish city part of the legitimate discourse in Israel, while it is unthinkable to even speak of doing the same to an Arab town?

The answer is that the Left knows how to set the borders of insubordination for the State, according to its worldview. The Right, on the other hand, with its empty rhetoric, always finds itself walking down the Left’s trodden path and ultimately implementing its policies of destruction.

Will the refusal of an IDF soldier to expel his parents from their home destroy the IDF or save it?

The IDF is currently unable to even fight a kite because the Right never bothered to clarify for itself the foundations of liberty and morality. Instead, it left it up to the Left to delineate and dictate its own borders of morality to the State by means of insubordination.

A rightist who repeats the ridiculous mantra of obedience at all costs abandons the army into the hands of the Left, effectively destroying it. In the name of the very same fascist claim, the Right today sends innocent young boys to prison and torture (Bennett: Do you want the ceiling to cave in on us?) and directs its own sons to obey and destroy their own homes.

Dear friends, wake up. And if you don’t, don’t cry when you get another Gush Katif and Yamit – this time from Netanyahu and Bennett.

Insubordination or Democracy?

by Moshe Feiglin

This week in Israel, Minister Ofir Okines decided not to recommend Professor Yael Amitai for a coveted position at the Israel-Germany Research Fund because of her signature in 2005 on a petition against IDF service in Judea and Samaria.

It is Professor Amitai’s full right to support insubordination, just as it is the full right of the rabbis to support insubordination. Insubordination – accompanied by willingness to pay the price – is a balancing and vital democratic tool against the tyranny of the majority.

Minister Okines’ imperious response expresses a culture that is far from understanding the essence of democracy.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Klipos and Germs

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

The Children of Israel took all the women of Midian captive with their children, and looted all their animals, their livestock, and all their property. (Bamidbar 31:9)

WE ARE WELL into the Three Weeks now, Kabbalistically, and often historically, the most dangerous time of the year for the Jewish people. This is the time for a Jew to lay low, and avoid any potentially dangerous situations. We’re even told to postpone surgery, if it is elective.

It’s kind of ironic, therefore, to be reading this week’s parsha at this time. We have to, if we want to read Devarim on Shabbos Chazon, because of its connection to “Eichah.” But, here we are worrying about the precariousness of the time, and we’re reading about the military success of the Jewish people in their war against Midian. Is there anything to learn from the overlap?

The truth is, there is, right off the bat. Yes, the military campaign against Midian was completely successful. However, the spiritual campaign failed. So much so, in fact, that Moshe Rabbeinu became furious with the leaders of the troops and consequently lost the opportunity to teach the all-important laws of kashering gentile utensils for usage. It was a BIG deal.

What went wrong?

The army captured and brought back with them the very women with whom many had sinned back in Shittim, causing the plague that killed 24,000 of Shimon. It also resulted in the execution of 176,000 others who became involved with idol worship because of the “Daughters of Midian.” The Jewish army brought the “disease” back into the Jewish camp that very recently almost eliminated them!

The incident did not take place during the Three Weeks per se. But it highlights the kind of danger that a Jew faces at all times, and ESPECIALLY during the Three Weeks. We tend to think only in terms of physical harm, which only affects us in this world. The real danger is the spiritual harm, which affects us in this world AND the next world.

It has to do with something called the “Klipos.” I have explained this concept many times before, but it is worth hearing it again, because of its role in life. We haven’t forgotten what the yetzer hara is, but outside of Kabbalah, we rarely talk about the Klipos.

The best analogy is germs. Germs are EVERYWHERE. They’re just hovering around, waiting to find a way into our body’s system so they can infect us and make us sick, maybe even kill us. It’s as if the world belongs to them, and we’re just unwelcome visitors. WE’RE the ones who have to remain alert and vigilante against THEM. Let your guard down by not protecting your immune system, and they can take over just like that.

Klipos are to the spiritual world what germs are to the physical world, and more. Germs don’t really have a diabolical leader to command them, and help them devise ways to make you sick. They’re just an occupational hazard of living outside of the Garden of Eden.

The Klipos, however, are the agents of the Sitra Achra, or Satan. As his name implies, the Satan exists to spiritually obstruct a person, to challenge them, so that they can choose either to capitulate and do his bidding, or meet the challenge, do battle, and come out on top doing the correct moral thing.

In this world, the Klipos are just about everywhere. It can be a perfectly sunny day, and the air can smell so fresh, but the Klipos are there, waiting to pounce on a person and make them sin. As we see from this week’s parsha, a person can be on a Divine mission and still be misled by the Klipos in a very destructive manner. If a Kohen Gadol can become a heretic at the age of 80, the Klipos must be incredibly strong and even in holy places.

If this is true all-year-round, then it is especially true during the Three Weeks. The Klipos have free reign in certain areas of Creation, and at certain times of the year, but most of all during the Three Weeks. That is when Divine protection is weakest, and the Klipos, therefore, are strongest.

Since most people do not even know what the Klipos are, or what they do, they are sitting ducks for their negative influence. The Klipos can latch on to them without them even knowing it, influencing their perspectives and decisions in the wrong way, like they did to the soldiers in this week’s parsha.

What is so unique about these three weeks that empowers the Klipos so much?

It’s a lot like a person who is super afraid of certain experiences in life because their initial one was frightening. So often, the first time we do something in life affects the way we do it the rest of our lives. If it was a positive experience, then it will always be a positive experience. If it was negative at the beginning, then it will tend to be experienced as negative in the future, even if it is actually positive. Childhood fears have a way of haunting adults.

The same thing is true of history. Whatever happened in the beginning of history impacts what will happen the rest of history. So, for example, since there was a period of time, prior to Creation, during which the Klipos were very strong because God hid His light, they have tended to be strong every year since, when God hides His light again.

In other words, there was a pre-Creation year, according to Kabbalah, during which “Tohu,” the primordial chaos mentioned in the second verse of the Creation, reigned for three weeks. It was the period between what would have been the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, the pre-Creation year. Subsequently, every year since then it has resulted in the same time of spiritual experience at that particular time of year.

This is why the Spies failed their mission. Any other time of the year might have allowed them to overcome their yetzer haras to speak badly about Eretz Yisroel. They spied the land during the Three weeks, at a time the Klipos were strong, and it impacted their perspectives, and their decisions.

This is why Yehoshua needed extra protection for the mission, and Caleiv went to Chevron, to ask Avraham Avinu to intercede on his behalf in Heaven. It wasn’t the Spies they worried about, because they could have feigned support until they returned to the “safety” of the camp. It was the Klipos that worried them, which they knew were strong at that time. They were worried that they too might be affected by them, especially away from “home.”

Even for a person who is aware of the Klipos, life is tricky business. Unlike germs, they are “clever.” And, they often know a person better than they know themselves. They certainly tend to be aware of a person’s weaknesses better than the person. That’s why we tend to fall prey to desires we would have rather avoided, lose our temper after resolving not to, and miss spiritual opportunities we thought we were ready for. Being aware of the situation is at least an initial line of defense, especially at this precarious time of the year.

Rav Kook on Parashat Matot: Atonement for the Soldiers

God commanded Moses to attack Midian after their devastating scheme against the Israelites. The Midianites had used their daughters to lure the Israelite men into worshipping the licentious idolatry of Peor, resulting in Divine anger and a terrible plague.

The war against Midian was a remarkable success: not a single soldier fell. After the battle, the generals and captains approached Moses:

“We wish to bring an offering to God. Every man who found a gold article - an anklet, bracelet, ring, earring, body ornament - to atone for our souls before God.” (Num. 31:50)

The officers had followed God’s command, waging war against Midian. Why did they feel a need for atonement?

The Sin of the Soldiers

The Sages explained that the soldiers committed no actual sins; but they were not free of improper thoughts. Rabbi Ishmael expressed this idea with a curious phrase, saying that “their eyes feasted on the immodest sights” (Shabbat 64a-b).

When the soul’s innate sense of purity is strong and healthy, it will not absorb degrading, inappropriate sights. Such visual stimuli are inconsistent with the soul’s overall makeup and will be promptly rejected.

If, on the other hand, the soul has failed to retain its pristine purity, it will lack an orderly defense against defiling images. Improper sights will have a negative impact on a person’s emotional and imaginative faculties. They generate confusion and turmoil within the soul.

Rabbi Ishmael described this phenomenon as a ‘feast’ of the eyes. When we feast and derive benefit from something, that points to a natural connection between us and that object. The soldiers were not immune to the sights of Midian. The images of the Midianite women and their ostentatious ornaments found a place in their souls, and “their eyes feasted on the immodest sights.”

True, the soldiers did not act upon these stimuli. But the very fact that they found them alluring was a sign that the soldiers needed atonement and spiritual cleansing. As the officers announced, they wished to “atone for our souls before God.”

Superficial Attraction

The gold ornaments were an apt metaphor for the corrupting deception that confronted the soldiers in Midian. The Sages wrote that the ornaments were fashioned into lewd shapes. The golden pieces of jewelry lured the eye with their dazzling exterior of glittering beauty. Their influence was a function of the magnetism of their superficial attraction. On the inside, however, their true essence was, as before, crude and repulsive.

(Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, pp. 114-116)

The Israeli Labor Party and Its Palestinian "Partner"

by Prof. Shmuel Sandler

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 891

: The low standings of the Zionist Camp list in public opinion polls floated a new demand for change at the top. As a result, the Labor party, the Zionist Camp’s senior partner, is again challenging its newly elected chairman, Avi Gabai. Despite replacing its leaders with each election campaign, Labor has never made a comeback to govern Israel. Because it is identified with Ramallah’s demands in any future settlement, Labor has suffered electoral punishment. An analysis of Labor’s performance over the past two decades reveals that its leadership has not yet internalized that instead of replacing its frontrunner, it should replace its alleged partner for a durable peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Continue to full article ->

The Three Weeks – a Time for National Soul-Searching

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

During the Three Weeks, between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, the Jewish People mourn the bad things that occurred to Israel during this period. On the 17th of Tamuz, five troubles befell Israel: the tablets were broken in the Golden Calf Incident; the Daily “Tamid” offering of the First Temple was cancelled; Jerusalem’s wall was breeched during the Second Temple period; the Torah was burnt by wicked Apostomos, and an idol was installed in the Temple Sanctuary. On the 9th of Av, the First and Second Temples were destroyed; it was decreed that our ancestors in the desert would not enter the Land; Beitar was captured and tens of thousands were murdered by the Romans. On this day, the Temple Sanctuary and its environs were ploughed, thereby fulfilling the verse, “Zion shall be ploughed as a field” (Jeremiah 26:18).

At this time of year, we have to arouse our hearts and look for ways to repent; to think about our own deeds and those of our ancestors. Their deeds were like ours, and those deeds brought both them and us suffering. Recalling these things will make us repent and become better.... Therefore, every Jew must repent during this period, examining his own deeds and making amends” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:1). Today, we must search our souls not just as individuals but as a nation as regards our relationship to the People, Torah and Land of Israel.

Regarding our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, we must return to ourselves. We must learn and recognize, study and make ourselves aware, become acquainted and inform others of what we are, what our destiny is and what our specialness consists of. We are not like all the nations, we are set apart from them. We are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Our historic task on earth is to shower light upon the world and to bring goodness to mankind, in accordance with G-d’s command to Abraham: “I will make you a great nation.... and you shall be for a blessing.... All the families of the earth shall be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3). As Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook taught in Orot 55: “We are greater than any other people; if we recognize this greatness, we will recognize ourselves, and if we forget it, then we will forget ourselves. A people that forgets itself is small and lowly... Forgetting ourselves constitutes forgetting our greatness.”

As far as our relationship to the Torah of Israel, our sages long ago said, “Each day, a heavenly voice resounds from Mount Sinai proclaiming, ‘Woe to the people for their disregard of the Torah!’ (Avot 6:2). Rav Kook adds, “We must study Torah and give it the appropriate respect, and we must relate to it reverently. Surely when one ponders the Torah, one finds that everything is contained within it, every delight and every splendor” (Orot HaTeshuva 4:9). Our holy Torah is a living Torah for us and for the entire world, as we say in our prayers, “Everlasting life did He plant in our midst”. We, as a nation, must repent, and bring ourselves and our children once more to study Torah lovingly. By such means, we will merit that our people, rising to rebirth in Zion, will have a new heart and a new spirit.

As far as our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, we must rid ourselves of the fundamentally erroneous assumption that Eretz Yisrael is just a means towards achieving existential goals such as security, prosperity or even spiritual and religious goals. (Eretz Yisrael is not an external acquisition of our nation. It is “an independent entity tied to the nation by a living bond, enveloped in inner virtues inherent to it” – Orot 9). Eretz Yisrael is not a topic for negotiations. It cannot be handed over to any individual or people on earth. Just as one does not concede his own life, so are we forbidden to concede our land, not one single millimeter.

Unfortunately, our present political leadership, and portions of the public, are suffering from a kind of confusion, and a weakness of faith, that have brought them to unprecedented effeteness and lowliness in their relationship to Eretz Yisrael. That relationship is expressed by the plan for expelling Jews from our land and for establishing a state for the Arabs who long to destroy us. By repenting nationally and as individuals vis-à-vis the people, Torah and Land, we will merit that these days will be transformed from a time of mourning and pain to a time of joy and gladness. As Zechariah said, “The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons. Therefore love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Q&A with Moshe Feiglin: Why Doesn’t Zehut Join up with Rightist Party Otzma Yehudit?

What can possibly be achieved by merging Zehut with Otzma Yehudit? The Right has been in power for most of the years since 1977 and is continuously gaining strength.

If a purely rightist government (without Lapid and Livni) doesn’t manage to deal with a kite…but does manage to destroy settlements one after the other, to torture young boys for no reason, to surrender on the Temple Mount and on every other significant front…If after the IDF destroys an empty car, all of southern Israel has to enter bomb shelters for a night of missiles – and the next morning, everything is back to ‘normal’ (in other words, Israel is deterred by the Hamas), then what will you get with more of the same?

Can it be that the Right is not the solution, but rather, part of the problem?

Soon we will be publicizing the new forward to the 2018 edition of my book, “Where There are no Men”, which analyzes the true source of the problem.

It is important, however, to understand: Zehut’s goal is not to play the familiar game of the Right, which always leads to more retreats.

Zehut has set its sights on a true revolution. And revolutions do not happen by themselves. Revolutions happen with the nation. My goal is not to enter the Knesset as some sort of intra-parliamentary protest. My goal has remained to create a leadership alternative with a completely different plan of action.

I like the Otzma Yehudit people very much, but with all due respect, they express just the opposite. They are part of the cat and mouse game between the two hands of Zionism: Right and Left. The Right is incapable of stating what it wants. All it can say is what it does not want. With that, you cannot go to the public and offer it an alternative. Zehut – for the first time in the annals of Zionism – is a nationalist party, loyal to the Nation and the Land, that does not march on the path set out by the Left (or against it, offering no real alternative). Instead, it offers a real alternative in the economy, housing, education, security – in everything.

A merger with Otzma Yehudit will create an insoluble contradiction between our declarations and our political body language. It will distance a lot of potential voters to whom we are turning with our unique message of liberty. Even if it would be a sure ticket to a Knesset seat, it will distance us from our goal. We do not see ourselves as part of a political camp or bloc – certainly not of the camp that is responsible for most of the destruction of Jewish homes. We will continue to work independently, with loyalty to the Land of Israel and not to a particular camp.

Bennett, Gabai and Netanyahu are really all the same??? Completely! (video)

Be sure to click on the cc icon at the bottom of the YouTube screen for English captions. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parshiot Matot Masai: A Lush, Holy Land

The Shamrak Report: Miracle of Entebbe

by Jonathan Feldstein
This July 4, the US celebrates its 240th anniversary of independence. At the same day, Israel and those who support the Jewish state will celebrate the historic milestone and miracles connected to the rescue of hostages and the heroic counter terrorism operation at Uganda’s capital, 42 years ago. The celebrated operation was comprised of tremendous bravery and numerous miracles.
On 27 June 1976, an Air France plane with 248 passengers was hijacked by Arab and German terrorists, and flown to Entebbe, Uganda’s main airport. Uganda’s government provided cover for the hijackers who were welcomed personally by dictator Idi Amin. In the ensuing week, as the United States was gearing up to celebrate its 20th anniversary of independence, Israel was gearing up for a brave, imaginative, and outrageously bold operation to rescue hostages held by the terrorists as yet another battle in a decades long fight to secure its independence.
While Israel had been fighting Arab terrorists for decades, the involvement of German terrorists brought back haunting memories of Jews being rounded up and murdered throughout Europe just 35 years earlier...
During the time between the hijacking and the rescue, Israel’s Mossad built an accurate picture of the hostages’ location, the number of hijackers, and the involvement of Ugandan troops from the released hostages...
Operation Thunderbolt was led by Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, composed entirely of elite commandos. His unit was given the primary task of attacking the airport terminal and rescuing the hostages...
It would have been impossible for Israel to transport a convoy of planes and equipment 2500 miles alone...
Israel received Kenyatta’s permission for the IDF task force to cross Kenyan airspace and refuel at Nairobi’s International Airport. After the operation when it became public, it also became clear that Kenya’s President, a Christian, understood God’s imperative to bless Israel...
Indeed, with the rise of Islamic terrorists threatening Jews and Christians, and western civilization and the rest of the world, there are many inspiring lessons that can and should be learned from this to help in our fight against a new generation of the same terrorists.
FOOD for THOUGHT. by Steven Shamrak
Most Middle-East analysts, due to political bias or fear for their work positions, are not interested in thinking outside of the box! All arguments they present against destruction of Hamas, like - finding alternative to Hamas, creating governmental anarchy in Gaza, the political and economic burden to Israel control of two million Gazans would present - will not be an issue, if Hamas and its enthusiastically supporting its terror agenda population are removed from Gaza to Sinai! Let the UN and international anti-Semites deal with the mess they created and artificially have been maintaining by subsidising fake Palestinians for over 70 years!
The High Court of Justice issued a temporary injunction preventing Israel from carrying out plans to demolish an illegal West Bank Bedouin village. the residents had been offered to be moved to a modern village. After a years-long legal battle, the Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar in May. The state says the structures were built without the relevant building permits. (Government of Israel must be able to enforce laws - that is why the law reform is urgently needed! And, as usual Europeans anti-Semites are not happy.)
Slovak National Council is on its way to moving their embassy to Jerusalem. Slovakia will be joining the Czech Republic and Bulgaria as European Union states, who are breaking with EU policy on Jerusalem.
MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli says PM's decision to allow MKs to ascend Temple Mount a few times a year is not enough. "Security officials have stated many times that the ascension of MKs to the Temple Mount does not pose a risk and does not cause unrest, compared with the Arab incitement apparatus that does not want a foothold of Jews on the mount," she said. (Netanyahu Revokes Ban on MKs Temple Mount Visits)
One of the most important sites is the Mada’in Salih – which features 111 ancient tombs that are carved into rock that are so impressive they are registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. UNESCO describes the site as: “The largest conserved site of the civilization of the Nabataeans south of Petra in Jordan..." (Saudi Arabia has always been reluctant to disclose its archaeology to outside world! Is it a ‘Trump factor’? Nabataeans were Jews!)
"Strategic Plan” to Reform the Court System
A third of all Israeli judges have been appointed by Ayelet Shaked. The reason for the increase in the number of judges elected during her tenure was that at the end of the term of her predecessor, Tzipi Livni, there were unmanned positions. The minister further explained that dozens of new positions for the selection of new judges were added as part of the “strategic plan” to reform the court system.
The Israeli parliament has passed a law to withhold money from the Palestinian Authority over its payments to families of Palestinians jailed by Israel or killed while carrying out attacks. The legislation will freeze part of the $130m (£99m) in tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA each month. It is estimated that the PA spends about $330m each year - about 7% of its budget - on welfare for relatives of prisoners and "martyrs". (The fund must be used to pay Israeli victims of terror and finance Israel’s military anti-terrorism expenses!)
The IDF Built a Bakery for Syrian Refugees
The IDF has built a bakery for 12,000 Syrian refugees outside the Syrian Barika village, 1,200 meters from Golan border, while also providing the refugees with water and medical treatment. (What would Arabs do to Jews in this situation?)
Extreme leftist Israeli jurist the Hersch Lauterpacht Chair in International Law and former Dean of the Law Faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is elected chair of UN Human Rights Committee (UNHCR). It is the first time an Israeli has been appointed to this senior position. He has also been a member of anti-Zionist NGO B’Tselem, and is generally identified with the most extremist (anti-Zionist) line in the Israeli Supreme Court. (After WW2, Austria elected a Jewish traitor as its chancellor to cover-up its participation in Nazi committed atrocities! Now the UNHCR does the same.)
Only 3% of Jewish Israelis view 'settlements' as a roadblock to peace and 65% of the Jewish public in Israel believes that Israel needs to achieve a clear victory through military confrontations with the “Palestinians” in order to end the conflict. (Peace will only be achieved after Israel decisively reclaims and reunites Jewish land!)
The Presbyterian Church (USA) Assembly passed eight resolutions against Israel and called it an “apartheid state.” In contrast, only one resolution against the ongoing carnage in Syria and another on Iran were adopted.
Well before the Trump administration peace plan for the region has even been unveiled, the Palestinian Authority government has already ramped up its population to demonstrate against the blueprint. The protest conveniently also urged citizens to express their support for the Abbas government. There is growing unrest among the Arabs in the Palestinian Authority, who are angry at Abbas for his refusal to lift the sanctions against Gaza. (Any peace with Israel is not acceptable!)
President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin said at the memorial ceremony for Operation Protective Edge "As long as Hamas continues running Gaza while holding our soldiers who didn't return from battle, Gaza won't be rehabilitated." (Gaza needs complete 'cleansing' from the enemy population, which supports Hamas. Jewish rehabilitation of it will follow!)
QUOTE of the WEEK:
“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” - Mohandas Gandhi
The Writing is on the Wall
They may be made of bricks, stone, cement, wire, steel and even earth. Hadrian used his to keep the Empire free of the ‘Barbarians’. Quin Shink Quan used another version to protect the Chinese borders from the ‘Nomads’. The communists built the Berlin division to keep out the western ‘Fascists’. The Kilke Incas constructed the amazing Sacsayhuaman structure of Peru for major ceremonies. And Jerusalem’s Western Wall was built by ancient Israel as a retaining wall for the Jewish Temple in the Temple Mount area.
Today, walls are getting a bad rap. Maybe contemporary western world’s axiomatic emphasis on inclusiveness and multi-culturalism has displaced former pride in national cultures and homogeneous societies. Walls are hence seen as symbols of social inequity and division - sources of international friction.
But reflex reaction against walls is shooting the messenger, not addressing the real problem. Germany’s wholesale indiscriminate intake of immigrants has resulted in a wave of violent crime and national discontent as cultures and mores refuse to mix. Even the limited intake of ‘boat people’ in Australia in the past decade has caused a crime spree including home invasions and robberies that have been unheard of in the peaceful Australian society. In Israel, a whole section of Tel Aviv is the fiefdom of anti social immigrant Mafioso terrorizing the local residents.
No wonder contemporary societies are building ‘walls’. Not the grand architectural wonders of the past, but ‘policy walls’ of restricted entry, tighter visa application laws, and even heavy-handed policing of national borders.
The problem is not ‘the wall’ – be it physical or legal. It is fear. It is an expression of threat to the innate human desire to live peacefully in a well-regulated, economically equitable and safe environment. Shooting the messenger by blaming walls is a useless and lazy diversion.
In Yiddish, there is a colloquial expression: Geredt tsu di vant’ - meaning wasting your time by ‘speaking to a brick wall’. And if we don’t identify the true causes of social discontent and solve the malaise, then like the Babylonian king, Belshazar, discovered, ‘the writing is on the wall’. (Israel built the wall only after so-called Palestinians intensified the terror attacks from the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, since then it became mostly quiet on ‘the ‘Eastern front’!)

Desert Wanderings were a Warning

Parashat Matot-Masei 5778
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Our parasha enumerates the 42 stations where the Jewish nation encamped in their 40 years of wandering in the desert; some are well known, others are just markers on a map.

Wandering is the essence of Jewish history when HaShem banished us from His holy land.

To have to leave the land in which you and your parents were born, in order to begin a new life in foreign surroundings, with the knowledge that in three or four generations your descendants will also have to leave for a new place, is traumatic. But these situations also held within them the survival of our people. The feeling that we are “permanently temporary” decreased the degree of assimilation into the cultures of our “host” countries. Some might argue that the “treatment” was much too harsh in combating the disease. Perhaps! But it worked.

Some of the places of our wanderings are well known: Babylon, Rome, Madrid, Paris, London, New York. But some are tiny, impossible to spell villages in Poland and — Ukraine, and equally difficult places to pronounce in Morocco or Yemen.

We wandered double speed on foot to escape the raw end of whips held by Spanish priests and paralyzing blows of Cossack murderers. The death marches, so skillfully conducted by the ever-orderly German army, made their way from Poland back to Germany to escape the advancing Russian army.

The terrain we walked was as varied as the very earth itself. We trekked through deserts, up steep mountains, across dangerous ice glaciers, under the glaring sun and bedeviled subzero cold. We did it all, and Hashem kept us alive to tell the tale of our tormentors who are no more.

The means of transport were also varied. Usually it was by foot; occasionally by horse or horse driven wagon. The Russians used trains to transfer tens of thousands of Jews to Siberia. Rusty old cargo ships brought many Jews back to Eretz Yisrael; that is, those that succeeded in running His Royal Majesty’s naval blockade. Jews from Yemen sat upon the “wings of silvery eagles” with four motors, that whisked them back across 2500 years of history to Eretz Yisrael.

The wanderings in the desert were a warning of what was awaiting us in the future, to wander over the face of the planet.

The little car that killed

I mentioned that some of our wanderings were with trains. So, I want to tell you about two trains that serviced our people; actually, two cars of two different trains.

The first car is on display at Yad Vashem, here in Yerushalayim. If you would not know, you would even find the car sort of “quaint”, with its strange kind of roof and disproportionate large wheels. At second glance it might strike you as being strange because it has no windows. The first time I saw it, I was reminded of a childhood story book “The Little Engine That Could”, although the proper name for it would be “The Little Car That Killed”.

If this car could speak, you would be deafened by the screams emitted from its slatted walls. You wouldn’t understand what the screams were saying anyway, because they are in a jumbled, muddled cacophony of different languages. However, if you try hard you would be able to discern the same words in many different accents: “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokaynu Hashem echad”.

This little car carried its human baggage on the Warsaw-Auschwitz route, and after dispensing its “baggage” turned around to collect more fuel for the fires of Satan.

Now, not all trains are alike. Some spew out coal fumes others are electric powered, clean machines. Some have comfortable seats with scenic windows, others are no more than four walls astride a platform with heavy steel wheels. Some are for humans to transport animals; this car was built for animals, but it transported Jews. The “passengers” were compressed together in a dense, congested, airless mass of torsos and arms and legs. An inescapable stench reeked from every corner.

As the train stopped in the picturesque villages of Poland, the Jews inside who were still capable of standing would call out for water to the locals who had gathered to see the now frequent sight of Jews “getting what they deserve for killing God”. The goyim would open their water bottles, and while approaching the Jews who were near insanity from thirst, would lift up their cups and spill the water on the ground.

Now let’s talk about a different train car, in a different time, and in a way on a different planet.

The seats in this car are padded for ultimate comfort, and the car is airconditioned, so the commuters arrive fresh for a new day of productive work. The seats are wide enough so that one would not trespass on his neighbors “territory”. Many of the passengers carry water bottles to prevent dehydration during the 45-minute ride to the city.

I myself did not have the zechut (merit) to see it, but was told, and with no small degree of pride, that the passengers don’t speak to one another. Not because they are antisocial: on the contrary, they are all good friends. But because they are deeply immersed in the large blue covered volumes which each one is holding. This is one of the many “daf” cars of many trains converging on the city from all directions.

Two train cars, light years away from each other in every way save for one – both are part of a holocaust which befell the Jewish people and is continuing to this very day.

Jews, ten times the number of words on an average page of the Gemara, intermarry daily in the United States and other places in the galut. But, instead of drawing the obvious conclusion that galut was and forever will spell death for us, the leaders of our people look into the mirror image of their lives, and like the mythological Narcissus who fell in love with his own image say, “How beautiful we are”.

The lesson to be learned from our parasha is inescapable. The wanderings and innumerable unpleasant, and even terminal experiences of the desert prepared the Jewish nation to enter the Holy Land, in order to begin the eternal odyssey of being God’s Chosen People. But, unfortunately, some people never learn, no matter how clear the indicators.

Datan and Aviram challenged Moshe Rabbeinu until their death. They saw the miracles which Moshe had wrought in Egypt and witnessed Moshe’s unprecedented relationship with the Creator. Nevertheless, they were unable to inculcate what they had seen into their own lives.

Unfortunately, many of our brothers and sisters will never learn from other peoples’ experiences and certainly not from the writings of our prophets or even from the miracles that their own eyes see. People like this will learn only when they themselves will have to take a train ride.

Teshuva and justification for annulment of vows

Parashat Matot begins with the authority given to a father to annul the vows of his daughter; and to a husband to annul the vows of his wife.

This authority is also given to rabbanim (rabbis) in the matter of vows of the general public. A recognized talmid chacham may do so by himself; and in his absence it may be performed by three people with knowledge of Torah.

However, there are basic differences in the performance and results of these two authorities: annulment performed by a father or husband is called hafara; whereas the act of a bet din or recognized Torah authority is called hatara.

Hafara does not require the consent or approval of the daughter or wife; whereas, the annulment performed by a bet din or rav is predicated upon a request by the party who took the vow and must also be justified as to why the vow should to be invalidated.

But there is a more basic and fundamental difference. In hafara performed by a father or husband the vow is retained in its reality up to the moment of the annulment; whereas, hatara performed by a bet din or rav retroactively eradicates and uproots the very existence of the vow from the moment it was taken, rendering it not only invalid but never having been a part of reality.

A practical difference between these two results is in the case where one takes a vow, violates it, and afterwards the vow is annulled. In the case of hafara where a father or husband invalidates the vow, the fact that it was violated prior to its annulment is recorded as a sin and dealt with accordingly. But when a bet din or rav uproots the vow retroactively, the vow is rendered as never having existed, and subsequently its violation and resulting sin are erased from existence.

In the midrash called “pesikta de’rav Kahana”, in the chapter dealing with the month of Nissan, a pasuk is quoted stating that when the time for our redemption arrives, Hashem will be oblivious to the sins of Am Yisrael. Hashem is the father of Am Yisrael as well as the “husband” as cited in many sources; but most of all He is the ultimate bet din which has the power to obliterate, uproot, erase, delete, cancel, annul, revoke, abolish, repeal, abrogate etc., retroactively the sins of Am Yisrael. But in keeping with the rules of hatara this process must be proceeded by a request for teshuva and justification for the annulment.

We are dealing here with the future of Am Yisrael on the grandest national scale. The matter therefore includes Jews who are fortunate to have had a Torah education, as well as those who are less fortunate. We can conclude then that this act of teshuva relates to things with which all Jews can identify. The only thing which exists as the common denominator in our times, is the return to our ancient historical homeland. Hashem will erase the sins of Am Yisrael retroactively when we return home.

Due to intermarriage and zero population growth of Jews in the galut, in contrast to the increasing numbers of Jews here through natural reproduction and aliya, the time is not far off when the majority of Jews in the world will be here in Eretz Yisrael.

It is noteworthy that the Minchat Chinuch states, with proof, that the Bet Hamikdash can be built only when the majority of Jews in the world are present in Eretz Yisrael. The question posed to him is: How then did Ezra Hasofer build the second Temple when only a minority of the world’s Jews were here? Harav Yehoshua May’kutna suggests a far-reaching answer. He says that it is true that the Bet Hamikdash requires that the majority of the Jewish nation be present in Eretz Yisrael. But the issue is who is included in the census? He states that on the one side are the Jews of Eretz Yisrael, weighed against those Jews in chutz la’aretz who wish to come here but are unable to for halachic reasons (sickness, infirmity etc.); to the exclusion of those Jews who have no interest or show no initiative in coming. That group of people are not even included in the count; they are me’chutz la’machaneh (outside the camp). This conclusion is shocking and requires much thought on the part of the leaders in chutz la’aretz.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5778/2018 Nachman Kahana