Friday, April 20, 2018

The Yishai Fleisher Show: ZIONIC

For the first time, Rabbi Yishai is... overwhelmed. The power, majesty, and beauty of Israel's 70th birthday is just too much!! Rabbi Mike Feuer joins the show to help transition between the bereavement of Memorial Day to the redemptive Independence Day. Then, Yishai teaches leadership Torah at the Knesset. And finally, Rabbi Tuly Weiss talks about putting out the incredible new Israel Bible.

The Generation That Transformed Jewish History

by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

The establishment of the state of Israel sixty years ago, on 5 Iyar 5708 (May 14, 1948), was by no means inevitable.

From the moment the United Nations passed the partition resolution the previous November 29, the Arabs, desperate to thwart its implementation, ruthlessly intensified their attacks on the Jewish population of Israel.

Nearly 1,200 Jews, half of them civilians, were murdered by Arab marauders in the six months before statehood, and that instability – and fears for the survival of this remnant of Jewry that had survived the Holocaust – engendered a desire in many quarters to postpone statehood indefinitely.

General George Marshall, President Truman’s secretary of state, warned of an impending massacre of Jews that American soldiers would not – and could not – prevent.

The Brisker Rav, Rav Velvel Soloveitchik, strenuously opposed a declaration of statehood on the grounds that it would precipitate a war, and lead to the “destruction, God forbid, of the entire yishuv.”

These sentiments were fomented by voices in the Arab world predicting just that, most prominently the infamous boast of Azzam Pasha (secretary-general of the Arab League) on the radio that “this will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”

The political pressures on the Jewish leadership were enormous – augmented by the painful loss of life, the ongoing siege of Jerusalem, and the sense that the approximately 25,000 ill-equipped Jewish soldiers – almost completely devoid of any heavy artillery or aircraft – could not adequately defend the nascent Jewish state against the Muslim hordes, vastly superior in numbers and weaponry.

At least seven Arab nations – some only independent states for less than a decade – were poised to strangle the Jewish state in its infancy. Conversely, for the first time in 19 centuries, the opportunity existed for Jews to be sovereign in their own land.

But at what price?

The Jewish Agency, under the direction of David Ben-Gurion, was itself bitterly divided. Should a state be declared, even with the knowledge that it would provoke immediate hostilities? If yes, then pursuant to what boundaries?

The partition boundaries – a truncated Israel consisting of three barely linked triangles in parts of the Galilee, the coastal plain, and the Negev – were not only unworkable on paper but had already been bypassed by facts on the ground. And what would this new state be called?

The United States government was fragmented in a remarkable and public way. President Truman wavered, though he was reasonably inclined to push for statehood and immediate recognition. Secretary Marshall was vehemently opposed, even telling Truman that if the Jewish state were recognized, he (Marshall) would publicly declare his intention to vote against Truman in that fall’s presidential election.

In one stunning episode in March, Truman had guaranteed Chaim Weizmann that the United States would support statehood, only to learn on the very next day that the American delegation to the United Nations had voted – upon instructions from the State Department and in defiance of Truman – for a UN resolution supporting a continued trusteeship in the land of Israel and suspending the implementation of partition.

Truman recorded in his diary that he was made to feel for the first time in his life “like a liar and a double crosser….There are people…in the State Department who always wanted to cut my throat. They are succeeding in doing it.”

* * *

Rank Jew-hatred was another obvious factor in mobilizing opposition to a Jewish state. Conspiracy theorists who feared Jewish “world domination” (venomously ironic in light of the just concluded Nazi Holocaust that murdered six million Jews and that underscored the reality of Jewish powerlessness) campaigned vigorously against the formation of a Jewish state.

Some Christian theologians correctly perceived a Jewish state as a repudiation of the doctrine of the “eternal wandering Jew,” punishment for our “heretical” beliefs. Some liberal Jewish leaders dreaded that statehood would inevitably spawn accusations of “dual loyalty” against Jews in foreign lands, and that Jewish nationalism would erode the universalistic dimensions of Judaism they so prized and preached – to the exclusion of Torah, mitzvot, and the prophetic vision of the return to Zion.

Secretary of Defense James Forrestal played the Arab oil card and attempted to convince Truman – and the rest of the cabinet – that a Jewish state would endanger American security by angering the Arabs. That card, worn and tattered after seventy years, is still on the table, even if the United States today produces more oil than Saudi Arabia. Forrestal also averred that a Jewish state – under Socialist-minded rulers – would invariably fall into the Soviet-Communist orbit, further jeopardizing American interests in that region.

Further muddying the waters, the Soviet Union in early May 1948 (perhaps anticipating that the Jewish state would become a Soviet client) called for Jewish statehood and announced that it would recognize the Jewish state.

By Thursday, May 13, nothing had yet been decided, either in Israel or in the United States.

In Washington, Truman defied most of his cabinet and the political establishment and sent word to Marshall that if a state were declared, the United States would recognize it.

In Israel, Ben-Gurion, acting with vision, courage, and foresight, argued that if statehood were not declared immediately, history would not be forgiving, and the opportunity lost might not be regained for generations.

He submitted his motion to declare a Jewish state without defined borders to the Provisional Council. The motion not to specify borders carried 5-4; the motion to declare a state, on the following day, passed 6-4. One or two votes spelled all the difference.

After briefly considering the name “Zion,” the Council approved the name of the first Jewish state since the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash in 70 C.E. – Medinat Yisrael, the State of Israel.

* * *

At 4 p.m. that Friday, the 5th day of Iyar, with the British Mandate due to end at midnight, Ben-Gurion, out of respect for the sanctity of the approaching Shabbat, read the Proclamation of Independence. He declared to the world the establishment of a Jewish state, “by virtue of our national and intrinsic right.” Rabbi Maimon of Mizrachi recited the Shehechiyanu prayer.

Statehood went into effect at midnight in Israel – 6 p.m. Washington time. At 6:11 p.m. the United States extended de facto­ recognition to the Jewish state. The Soviet Union, several hours later, became the first nation to recognize Israel de jure.

In what Rav Yosef Soloveitchik termed one of the “six divine knocks” on the door of the people of Israel to herald His renewed, overt involvement in world affairs, both the United States and the Soviet Union agreed on the establishment of the Jewish state. They would agree on little else for the next 50 years.

Truman, at 36% in the polls in May, won reelection in November with barely 50% of the vote, defeating his main opponent, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.

That same Friday, the last defenders of Kfar Etzion were taken captive. The provisional Government of Israel, in its first official act, abolished the British White Paper of 1939 that had cruelly barred the gates of Israel to European Jews during the Holocaust, and plans to evacuate Jewish displaced persons from European camps were immediately put into effect.

The British authorities and most soldiers sailed that night from Haifa harbor. Early on Shabbat morning, the Egyptian Air Force bombed Tel Aviv, the armies of seven Arab nations invaded Israel in an effort to carry out Azzam Pasha’s “war of extermination,” and the deadliest of Israel’s wars ensued.

When hostilities ended, approximately 6,000 Jews – 1% of the population – had fallen in battle, but Israel had successfully expanded its territorial holdings far beyond the boundaries of the 1947 Partition Plan that had been summarily rejected by the Arabs.

Israel’s sovereignty extended over the Galilee and the Negev all the way to Eilat, the coastal plain was expanded, and Jerusalem itself – the “New City” – came under Israeli jurisdiction.

As the notion of the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” had not yet entered the world’s legal or moral lexicon (that clever bit of hypocrisy would be concocted to torment Israel only after the Six-Dar War), no retreat to the 1947 borders was contemplated, and the battles ended in the signing of armistice agreements – but no peace treaty – between Israel and most of its adversaries.

The concerns of some of the opponents of statehood – Jews and non-Jews, religious and otherwise – were not illegitimate. War did come and exacted a heavy toll in Jewish lives lost but the yishuv was not destroyed and was able to repulse the invaders. Israel did not fall into the Soviet orbit – something that in a very short time would cause the Soviet Union to turn against Israel with a vengeance.

In the meantime, the process of state-building – the first for the Jewish people in almost two millennia – unfolded. Rav Reuven Grozovsky, speaking for the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel, pledged to participate in the governance of Israel, saying that abstention from Israeli politics would mean “relinquishing our basic rights.” And in retrospect, Ben-Gurion, forced to make an agonizing decision, was right, and Truman’s judgment was vindicated. When Israel’s chief rabbi, Yitzchak Herzog, visiting the White House in 1949, told Harry Truman, “God put you in your mother’s womb so you would be the instrument to bring the rebirth of Israel after two thousand years,” the president burst into tears. Ben-Gurion, who knew that war was inevitable, chose to fight it on his own terms from a position of moral strength – a nation fighting for its independence and not relying on the kindness of strangers or the cult of victimization.

Israel’s founders had a profound knowledge of the Bible, of the modern state’s place in Jewish history, and of the wars that needed to be waged to found and preserve the Jewish state.

In one sense, those wars have never ceased, although their nature has changed in the recent past. The era of “peace” signaled by those agreements has not yet materialized, and the hatred and intolerance that lingers in part of the Muslim world show no signs of relenting in the near future. In Israel, the wishful thinking and indulgence of fantasies of the Oslo era have receded for the most part, its extravagant oratory and ceremonies drowned out by the din of too many suicide bombs, bullets, rockets and missiles. A greater realism has engendered sounder policy judgments, reasoning, and execution. That, too, can change in an instant, motivated politically by a potential new array of leaders, Arab and Israeli, who will try to sell again the same used rug of territorial surrender and Israeli concessions as the panacea that has not yet been tried. But it is also engendered by this spiritual reality: every mitzvah has a yetzer hara that counters it and tries to undermine or weaken its observance. The mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael is no different, and its yetzer hara is couched in conferences, treaties, international popularity and acclaim, and intense pressure to relinquish the land itself. It can be difficult to resist once it is proffered – and it will be proffered again. The Oslo mentality has been shattered but not completely purged from the Israeli mindset. Israel’s leaders are still largely hesitant to move the nation’s destiny forward and therefore refrain from asserting fully its rights that are grounded in God’s gifts, the Torah, and the dictates of morality and justice.

Yet, Israel, with G-d’s blessings, is in a remarkably good place as its seventieth anniversary is celebrated. A temporary rapprochement has been achieved with many of the countries surrounding Israel – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and others – born not necessarily of love of Israel but of fear of their common enemy, Iran. That Israel would form an alliance with an arc of Sunni Muslim states to ward off the common threats from Shiite Iran could not have been predicted even ten years ago. Would that Israel’s leadership were better able to exploit this moment in history – a friendly American president and alliances with its Arab neighbors – to change the entire dynamic of the conflict and move beyond preserving the status quo.

In another extraordinary development, the attitudes of much of the Arab world toward Israel have shifted from hatred to jealousy, even a grudging admiration of what Israel has been able to achieve – a prosperous, stable, just, free and diverse society – all of which stands in stark contrast to the economic hardships, political instability, and notable lack of freedom that plague their own countries. For sure, many Arabs still harbor the fantasies of Israel’s disappearance but many more, especially the modern ones, would love to emulate the openness and success of Israeli society. Israeli ingenuity, technological genius, and economic success are conspicuous in the Middle East especially and in the world generally, and Israel’s willingness to expend its resources saving lives and rescuing innocents across the globe is in the best tradition of the aspirations of our ancient, holy people. Many would never admit it publicly but Israel is perceived as a beacon of morality and human rights.

Those who listen closely can already hear echoes of Yeshayahu’s prophecy of old in the voice of the nations of the world: “It will happen at the end of days. The mountain of G-d’s House will be firmly established as the head of the mountains, it will be lofty above the hills, and all the nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘come, let us go up the Mountain of G-d, to the Temple of the G-d of Yaakov, and he will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths.’ For from Zion will go forth the Torah and the word of G-d from Jerusalem” (Yeshayahu 2:3). Is it not uncanny how so many nations today crave Yerushalayim, want a share in Yerushalayim, and cannot – for reasons they cannot articulate – embrace President Trump’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital? Indeed, but that day of acceptance is fast approaching as well. There is still a road ahead to be traveled but that road has guideposts pointing in only one direction.

Seventy years ago, in Iyar 5708, for one moment in time, true and gifted leaders made decisions – without consulting pollsters or reading tea leaves and in defiance of some of their closest advisors. Theyled, knowing that their choices would have adverse consequences, but with the confidence that the positives far outweighed the negatives. They made decisions recognizing that war would follow, casualties would ensue, criticism was sure to follow, and political defeat might be their personal fate. They understood that the good is not the enemy of the perfect, and that inertia is often fatal to both personal and national aspirations.

In our generation, we look back longingly on Ben-Gurion’s determination and steely resolve and Truman’s courage and political will, and marvel at how great leaders with a sense of history can, in fact, shape history and even transform it.

They were neither infallible nor beyond reproach; they were both flawed and biased people who made mistakes before, during and after these events transpired. Yet we recognize that “the Omnipresent has many agents” and that “the heart of a king is like streams of water in the hands of God; wherever He wishes, He directs it” (Proverbs 21:1). Such gifts of leadership, we pray, lurks within our Jewish leaders of tomorrow. Israel’s 70th anniversary is most meaningful if we internalize the spirit of 1948 – acknowledging the benevolence of our Creator, the justice of our cause, the magnitude of our choices, and the awesome responsibility thrust upon those who are G-d’s partners in building the Torah state and advancing the era of redemption.

May the majestic moment of the Jewish people’s reentry into the world of nations – as overseers and landlords of our own independent, sovereign country – continue to inspire us to build the Israel of tomorrow, the homeland of all Jews and the foundation of God’s kingdom on earth. Seventy years later, Jews and friends of Israel across the world can only bless the Creator of all who kept us alive, sustained us and brought our generation to this moment in history.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Moshe Feiglin: President Rivlin Should Not Attend March of Living (video with Eng subs)

Nearly 8.5 Times More Terror Fatalities Since Oslo

by Moshe Feiglin

Why argue when you can just present the facts? As we approach Israel’s 70th Memorial Day, Social Security and the Defense Ministry have publicized statistics regarding the number of civilians who have been murdered in terror attacks since Israel was established. Here are the numbers:

Since Israel was established, 3134 civilians have been murdered in terror attacks. This number does not include fallen soldiers.

According to the Social Security 2007 “Civilian Casualties of Acts of Hatred” document, the total number of terror fatalities from 1947 until 1993 – in other words – just before the establishment of the State of Israel until the Oslo Accords – was 578.

A quick calculation shows that despite the obvious improvement in Israel’s internal security since Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the ratio between the casualties in the 46 years until Oslo and the 24 years since Oslo is 4.4 times more terror fatalities since Oslo. The average casualties per year before Oslo were 12.5 citizens murdered by terrorists annually. Since Oslo, the yearly average is 106 citizens murdered annually. In other words, the updated ratio of the average annual number of terror fatalities prior to and subsequent to the Oslo Accords – civilians alone – is 8.475 times more murdered civilians annually since Oslo. This is based on the updated, official data of Israel’s Social Security.

Nearly eight and a half times more terror murder victims. That is what we have gotten from Oslo to date. This is not a political opinion. It is simply the cold, hard facts.

Please remember these facts for the next time that somebody tells you that Oslo has been a success. And thank you to all those who have joined Zehut to finally create an alternative to the murderous Oslo Process.

Israel at 70 – Exactly what are we Celebrating?

by Shmuel Sackett

The entire country is blue and white! Flags are flying everywhere and Yom Ha’Atzmaut will be the biggest and best ever. Everyone is in the holiday spirit and – in addition to counting the omer – millions of people are counting down the hours until the big kickoff begins… no, not the Super Bowl… the kickoff to Israel’s 70th birthday party!!

Amidst all this fun, games, glamour and excitement, I have one simple question: Exactly what are we celebrating? The enemy on our northern border is pointing lots of rockets at us, the Bedouin tribes are stealing more land each day – particularly in the Negev, hundreds of thousands of Jews live in Israel below the poverty line and if you say “Shema Yisrael” on the Temple Mount you spend 24 hours in the slammer. So what are we celebrating?

Let me be perfectly clear. Things in Israel are far from perfect. The few problems I listed above are just a handful of what needs to be improved… I could easily list another 50. Yet, I too will celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut! I will say Hallel with a bracha, will dance with my friends in Park Herziliya, will grill some “dogs” and steaks and will wave my flag all day long. But why… what am I really celebrating?

To me, it all comes down to one word: Potential.

Think about this: When we sing and dance at a wedding, what are we celebrating? The young couple hasn’t done anything yet! They’re just starting… but the potential is there. With Hashem’s help, these two flowers will blossom, will bear fruit, will increase the Jewish world and will continue the unbroken chain from Avraham Avinu. Will they fail along the way? Probably… but who didn’t? So at the wedding, we don’t celebrate success, we celebrate potential.

The same is true when a baby is born. Mazel Tov!! What a simcha, what joy, what a miracle! Yet, when you look in the crib and see a very cute squashed prune, did you ever ask yourself what the happiness is all about? Maybe we should wait for the kid to grow up, become a “mensch”, learn Torah and when he/she gives a deep D’var Torah with fascinating insights we can finally scream “Mazel Tov”? But it doesn’t work like that. We jump for joy the moment we hear the good news and why??? Potential. This kid could be the Moshiach. He could be a great Tzaddik. She could be an amazing Eishet Chayil. What happens later is called “reality”, which could be great or absolutely lousy… but that’s not what we are dealing with now. Right now we cheer and praise Hashem for giving us a healthy baby and for the potential that baby now has.

The same is true with the modern State of Israel. On one hand there are problems; believe me I know about most of them. On the other hand there are incredible miracles happening every day. Prophecies are coming true and forgotten mitzvot have come back to life! The gift that Hashem gave us in 1948 is something we must recognize and publicly declare. We need to thank our Father and King for this priceless treasure called potential. Not individual potential like a newborn baby or a newly married couple but national potential. Finally, after 2,000 years we can take ourselves and our communities and return them to their natural state of being part of the Jewish Nation! With that ability, we can bring our prayers to life! The Sanhedrin, the Davidic dynasty, the ingathering of the exiles, the settling of the land… everything we daven for three times a day has the potential of coming to fruition! Will there be problems, challenges, successes and failures along the way? Yes, but we’ll deal with them to the best of our ability and keep moving forward.

That is why we celebrate, say Hallel with a bracha and give thanks to the Creator of the world because He gave us the potential to get out of the mud and return Jewish life to the way it was designed to be. The worst sin imaginable is to let that potential slip away. Let’s do the best we can with the gift Hashem gave us. Happy Yom Ha’Atzmaut everybody!

Holocaust, Remembrance and Independence

by Moshe Feiglin

Holocaust Day is Jewishness Day. In the cattle cars to Auschwitz, the western, assimilated Jews suffocated together with the extreme Ultra-Orthodox Jews of the East. When the doors of the cattle cars opened to the smoke rising from the chimney, the westerners understood that in this place, their medals of honor from World War I would not help, nor would their civic identity. The easterners understood that here, their religious identity would not be enough.

They took their names from them and turned them into numbers. They took their families, their honor, their clothing, their hair, their humanity. In the gas chambers, bare of any other identity, just one, final identity remained. Absolute and unifying – like death, itself. Their Jewish identity.

Memorial Day is Israeli-ness Day. Under the military headstones are buried devout seculars and tenacious religious Jews. They are from all sectors and faiths, Right and Left, kibbutzniks and settlers.

Their uniforms unified them. No enemy was able to differentiate between them. In the battlefield, all the identities in which they had garbed themselves lost their meaning. The debates and struggles melted away. Death – absolute and shared by all – unified them under the headstone with one shared identity: Israeli identity.

Thank G-d for Independence Day. Blessed is G-d, Who has enlivened us and brought us to this time. Our hearts broaden, how wondrous, how huge and amazing is this day. Yet, we are still trying to figure out how to fill the pits of emptiness that glare at us on Independence Day, pinching our hearts.

Independence Day will really happen when we learn to live and unite our two identities. And not to die with them.

Easy Murder: Parashot Tazria-Metzora

by Ben Tzion Spitz

Murderers are not monsters, they're men. And that's the most frightening thing about them. -Alice Sebold

The Torah spends several chapters on the ritual treatment of a biblical spiritual malady called “Tzaraat” popularly mistranslated as leprosy. The person who suffered from the Tzaraat, called a “Metzora”, while not a leper, did suffer from an unusual skin condition that was cured in biblical times by exile from the camp and then a ritual purification and sacrifice process.

Most rabbinic commentators explain that the malady of Tzaraat affected primarily those guilty of gossiping. Gossiping was so onerous a crime that God Himself would alter the laws of nature and personally intervene to strike the offending gossiper with this strange and unusual malady.

Rabbeinu Bechaye on Leviticus 14:2 quotes the Talmud that states that gossiping is so horrendous that it is actually worse than murder, illicit relations and idolatry COMBINED.

I always thought this Talmudic dictum somewhat of an exaggeration, until I had the misfortune to witness first-hand the destruction caused by gossip. It has to do with cutting bonds.

Murder is the cutting of the bond of life; cutting off or destroying the connection between a body and a soul. Illicit relations is the cutting of the bond of family. Adulterers destroy the bond between a husband and wife, sabotaging that basic unit of society. Idolatry is the cutting of the bond with God. Idolaters sever the connection between man and the divine.

Then why is gossiping worse than all three of the cardinal sins put together? Because a gossiper destroys all of these bonds, and more. Gossip destroys the bonds of self, of family, of faith, and of community. It is a betrayal of the trust that is inherent in any group, destroying all the bonds that make us who we are. There are few murders that are worse than that.

Rabbeinu Bechaye adds another Talmudic dictum that gossip kills three people. It kills the gossiper, it kills the listener and it kills the person being gossiped about.

So the next time you want to share a juicy or even innocuous tidbit about someone you know, think again. You may be committing murder.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Place of Tumah in the Human Experience

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

Sefer Vayikra through Parashat Shemini deals with a description of the divine service and the inauguration of the Mishkan. Parashat Acharei Mot contains a detailed account of the service of Yom Kippur. In our two parshiyot, Tazria and Metzora, a different topic "interrupts": the various causes of tumah (ritual impurity) that affect man. These can be broken into two categories: those that affect men or women without being a response to wrongdoing, such as tumot related to the reproductive cycle; those that can be attributed to man’s wrongdoing, i.e., tzara’at afflicting the body, garments, or structures.

Rashi (Vayikra 12:2) tells us that the laws of man are specified after those of animals, just as man was created after animals. Man, unlike animals, wavers greatly between greatness and lowliness. "If he has merit, he precedes the ministering angels; if he lacks merit, a mosquito precedes him" (Bereishit Rabba 8:1). Since creation was made with man in mind, he has a great obligation to improve the world and not spoil it. He has two opposite sides: he is made of earth and has the spirit of life that Hashem breathed into him. Man stands between his animalistic side and his divine side, between impurity and sanctity. Both elements follow him throughout his life; he should not be naïve and ignore the danger that lurks around his spiritual state.

A child is born, and at the same time there is tumah (Vayikra 12:2). On the eighth day, a Jewish baby boy is circumcised (ibid. 3). Only a baby whose mother has tumah at birth can have his brit on the eighth day even on Shabbat. The connection is that the brit mila is made to fight tumah, for if man does not fight the tumah, it will overtake him spiritually and he will be liable and deserving of the various forms of tzara’at.

Hashem acknowledges that He created evil and attached it to man (see Micha 4:6; Berachot 32a). But it was created so that we should fight and overcome it. We use special "spices" such as Torah (Kiddushin 30b), thus called because like spices change a food’s taste, so Torah turns a person from bad to good.

Sometimes a person errs by being too far away from Hashem, and sometimes he sins by approaching Hashem in the wrong way (see Vayikra 16:1). The latter can come out of arrogance of a type that can lead to lashon hara and tzara’at. Tzara’at comes to signal man about his problem. Fortunate is the one who responds properly to the sign. On a national level as well, there are forces of good and of bad: when one goes up, the other goes down (Megilla 6a).

Why do we tell man that if he is successful, he is greater than the angels? For a similar reason that we tell him he could be lowlier than a fly. Lack of recognition of the dangers in both directions need to be countered. Therefore, we should tell the "Levites" of all generations, i.e., Torah scholars in our times, the power they possess and what they need to do. In such a confusing world, we need to concentrate on logic and a clear head and win the battle over the direction of our lives.

The Mitzvah of Circumcision

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

From the time of our father Avraham, circumcision has been the cornerstone of Jewish identity. We acknowledge this in our prayer after meals daily "we are grateful to You for your covenant that you have sealed into our flesh." The rabbis of the Talmud indicated to us that the Jewish people accepted this commandment of circumcision willingly and happily and therefore it has persisted amongst Israel uninterruptedly for all of these many generations since the time of Avraham. Though many claims of physical health benefits have been made over time for the efficacy of this procedure, the Jewish people have always viewed it as being the supreme symbol of personal Jewish identity and role. Over the ages the enemies of the Jewish people have attempted at various times to ban Jewish circumcision. The great classical Greeks considered it to be a mutilation of the body and in that body worshipping culture it was held to be repugnant and unacceptable. Much more recently the "progressive, democratic, peace-loving" Soviet Union prevented Jewish circumcision. In all cases, from Antiochus to Gorbachev, there were Jews who risked all to fulfill the commandment of circumcision. However, it bears note that the enemies of the Jews saw in Jewish circumcision a spiritual weapon of the Jews that would help guarantee their survival against the prevailing government, mores and culture. As is often the case our enemies are more astute in recognizing and identifying the true strength points of the Jews than many Jews are themselves.

The commandment of circumcision is that the procedure is to take place on the eighth day of the young boy’s life. There are physical circumstances that can allow for a postponement of the actual circumcision but the obligation of circumcision remains a personal obligatory one upon the Jew throughout life. For instance the Talmud records that a person who is a hemophiliac obviously should not undergo a then life-threatening procedure such as circumcision. However, even though that person has more than a legitimate excuse for remaining uncircumcised he still is considered to be uncircumcised according to halacha and therefore excluded from those rituals that the Torah explicitly requires that only circumcised Jews may participate in. This is a further indication of the stress and importance that the Torah places upon this commandment and how vital it is to the Jewish being and future. It is therefore most understandable why the performance of this commandment occasions the necessity for a festive meal and a great gathering of friends and family. It is not only the circumcision of that actual child that is being celebrated as much as it is a celebration of the ceremony itself, an affirmation of Jewish tradition and identity that is millennia old. Over the centuries, Jews have paid with their lives for being circumcised but the ceremony itself is seen as an affirmation of life and holy commitment. Physical health benefits have been ascribed to the procedure and its result. But Jews perform this commandment out of belief and joy and conscience and not out of any other considerations.

The Kedusha Within

by Rabbi Meir Goldvicht

Dedicated to the memory of Asher Ben Haim

Our parasha opens with the laws of a yoledet (a woman who gives birth). As we go through the section discussing these laws, we find a passuk that commands us to perform the mitzvah of brit milah on the eighth day, from which Chazal learn that the brit milah must be performed by day, not by night, and that it is performed even if the eighth day falls on Shabbat. This raises the following question, asked by both the Chizkuni and the Ohr HaChaim: Why does the Torah interrupt the halachot of yoledet with a passuk discussing brit milah? This passuk seemingly belongs in parashat Lech Lecha with the rest of the halachot of brit milah, not here in the middle of the halachot of yoledet!

The Chizkuni and Ohr HaChaim suggest that we might have mistakenly thought that brit milah was performed on Shabbat only before kabbalat haTorah, but now that we have the mitzvah of Shabbat, the brit milah would be pushed to Sunday if the eighth day was Shabbat. This passuk therefore teaches us that even after kabbalat haTorah, brit milah on the eighth day trumps Shabbat. Although the answer of the Chizkuni and the Ohr HaChaim explains the necessity of this passuk, it doesn't seem to explain its seemingly incongruous placement in the middle of the section discussing yoledet! This, then, is our first question: What is the passuk of brit milah doing here in the middle of the parasha of yoledet?

The Torah goes on to obligate the yoledet to bring a korban chatat (a sin-offering). What exactly was the sin of the yoledet? The gemara in Niddah (31b) explains that the chatat is brought in order to atone for the woman's oath during childbirth never to give birth again because of the intense pain involved. The gemara's explanation is difficult to understand, however, because certainly not every yoledet, even with the great pain of childbirth, takes an oath to never again give birth! Yet the Torah obligates every yoledet to bring a korban chatat, not just those who take this oath. Our second question is: What sin did the yoledet commit that obligates her to bring a korban chatat?

To answer these questions we turn to the Ramban on sefer Bereishit. When HaKadosh Baruch Hu created the world, He regarded every aspect of the Creation as "ki tov, That it was good." The Ramban explains that ki tov means that Hashem desired that His handiwork last forever. The only thing HaKadosh Baruch Hu does not regard as ki tov at the time of its creation was Man. When HaKadosh Baruch Hu created Adam HaRishon, the Torah says, "vayyitzer, And He created," with two yuds. Rashi explains that one yud represents a yetzirah for this world and one yud represents a yetzirah for olam haba. In other words, when a person is born, it is unclear whether his creation was a good thing. As Iyov puts it, Man is born a wild animal" (11:12). Man is born a wild animal but must ripen into an Adam. If a person works on himself to be spiritually reborn, then he can be described as ki tov, for at that point HaKadosh Baruch Hu certainly desires that His handiwork last forever.

How does one achieve spiritual rebirth? The only way to accomplish this is to bring oneself to live a life of kedushah and taharah. Tumah comes into being wherever there is a termination of life or of the potential to create life. One who touches a live animal does not become tamei, but one who touches a dead animal does. Similarly, one who touches a live person does not become tamei, but one who comes into contact with a dead person does. This is also one of the explanations for tumat niddah—since potential for new life existed within the niddah, when this potential is terminated, tumah is created. In contrast, a pregnant woman does not have tumat niddah since she is actively involved in the creation of life.

In general, tumah arrives after a state of taharah or vice versa. Only at one time do tumah and taharah appear simultaneously—at the moment of birth. On the one hand, the baby represents taharah and new life. On the other hand, at that very moment the yoledet becomes t'meiah. The reason for this is that the baby has already begun to die, as it is one moment closer to its predestined time. (This is why Chazal refer to the womb as "קבר, grave" since it is not only the source of life, but the source of death as well.) The Ba'al HaTurim explains that this is in fact the reason the brit milah is on the eighth day of the child's life, since we must wait for the seven days of aveilut for the child to pass, as it were.

All of this is because of the sin of our great-grandmother, Chava, who ate from the eitz hada'at. This, then, is the reason why the yoledet brings a korban chatat—together all of the chata'ot will atone for the sin that brought death to the world and bring us back to eternal life. The way to fix the sin of our great-grandparents Adam and Chava is to strive for lives of kedushah and taharah.

This also explains why the mitzvah of brit milah appears in the middle of the parasha of yoledet—the brit milah reminds one of the kedushah within, through which we merit the ability to transform every nega (plague) into oneg (delight) and every tzara’at (leprosy) to atzeret (holiday). This ability comes about through the middah of anavah. The gemara in Erchin (16a) says that tzara'at afflicts a person because of ga'avah, lashon hara, and tzarut ayin (stinginess), all of which reflect the opposite of humility. The more we work on achieving anavah, the more we bring kedushah and taharah into our lives, and the closer we come to the fulfillment of the words of the navi, "And I will sprinkle pure waters upon you and purify you from all of your impurities..." (Yechezkel 36:25).

This Shabbat, the first of Chodesh Iyar coming after Nissan, is a unique opportunity to continue the process of beginning our spiritual lives anew, imbuing our lives with kedushah and taharah, and preparing ourselves to receive the light of the Geulah.

"Unpleasant" Laws, Ultimate Oneness

Parashat Tazria-Metzora
by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham ben-tziyon ben shabtai

Rabbi Shmuel Bar Yitchak once noted that certain laws of the Torah, even though they seem to be disgusting and therefore inappropriate to discuss in public, are "sweet to God." Some examples of this area of law: halachot governing impure emissions from the body, the menstrual impurity of a woman, etc. According to the prophet Malachi, "the offerings of Judea and Jerusalem will be sweet to Hashem as in former days..." is a reference to the Torah portions of the male and female who each have impure bodily emissions; they could have been written in one unit, but they were not. They were to be discussed, "savored" separately by God.

The laws of ritual purity and impurity, though they seem unpleasant, are a direct function of the greatness of the people of Israel. Only Israel, a nation mandated to continually rise to higher spiritual levels, is required to distance itself from impurity to such a great extent. Today, these Torah portions don’t speak to us so much. We cannot truly imagine what it must have been like to live in such a reality, with complex laws of purity and impurity governing our lives, what it must have involved to sacrifice the Pesach offering in purity. We lack a sense of Kedusha, or holiness. We do not have the Beit Hamikdash, the Torah-mandated holiness of the Teruma offering, etc. Thus, no laws of impurity are practically applicable. In the meantime, when we discuss matters of ritual purity and impurity, we "darshen" try to get a peek into the internal mechanisms of purity and impurity.

Tza'raat is the leprosy-like illness mentioned in our portion. Our sages explain that "Metzora," the Hebrew term for the person stricken with this illness, is an acronym for "Motzi Shem Ra" - someone who is a purveyor of slander against others. When we deal with Tz’araat, we discuss the mitzvah of guarding one’s tongue and the like. In other words, as opposed to studying the illness itself, we examine the factors that bring it about. All of the various types of impurity mentioned in this week’s Torah portion are impurities that emanate from, and become evident on, the surface of the human body. Only after a sore manifests itself in the case of Metzora - or blood in the case of a Zav or Zava, does the impurity appear - on the skin, clothing, vessels... Once the respective impurities appear the process of healing can begin. When the impurity manifests itself, it "escapes," and the person is freed from the turmoil that was brewing inside of him...

Speech also helps bring out that which was bound up inside the person. If talk is positive and productive, it brings in its wake all sorts of positive results. But, if God forbid, one speaks slanderously of another, one thereby emits all sorts of unhealthy forces that spread and impact on him as a person: on his skin, hair, clothing and home.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook of blessed Memory discusses three different levels on which man expresses his connection to money and material possessions: in reference to Tz’araat sores, in reference to our father Ya’akov and regarding the great sage, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai.

In reference to Tz’araat sores, our Torah portion says: "When you arrive in the Land of Cana’an that I will give you as an inheritance, and I will provide the blemish of Tz’araat in the homes of the Land of your inheritance." To this, the Tosefta responds: "There never was and never will be a home smitten with Tz’ara’at. If so why was it written? To teach you that it is a value to elucidate the law and thereby receive merit." All of the laws and sundry details were given so that we learn these mitzvot and thereby receive merit.

Rabbi Meir notes that in reference to the illness of Tzaraat, the Torah commands the Cohen, the Priest, to remove even minor clay vessels from the smitten home, lest they become defiled. He adds that the people generally smitten by the illness are those of a low moral stature, people who have been guilty of speaking slanderously and improperly. Therefore, concludes R. Meir, the Torah is concerned with even the most minor vessels of wicked people!

A similar theme is evident in the life of our forefather, Ya'akov. "And Ya’akov remained alone." Said R. Elazar: he remained back in order to collect small clay pottery. After Ya’akov had guided his family across the river, and even though only minor possessions were left back at the camp, he went back to get them. He would not even forfeit the smallest clay vessels...

This midrash is quite perplexing. Ya’akov Avinu, we are taught, remained alone because he went back to retrieve tiny clay jars? He seems to be a real miser! This aloneness, however, that characterized Ya’akov gives our forefather a quality otherwise reserved for God - Who is also "alone".
When Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai fell ill, his students came to visit him. At the moment of his death, he said: Take the vessels out of this room due to the impurity [of my body once I am dead.] Prepare the throne for King Hezekiah the King of Judea..." Even if one can explain the eventual arrival of Hezekiah as preoccupying R. Yochanan before he dies, why should this great sage be worried about clay pottery and be worried that they be taken out of the building lest they be disposed of due to impurity?

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook offers an explanation as to the linkage between the above elements. We live in a world of separation, between light and darkness, Israel and the other nations, between the Shabbat day and the other days of the week. When the world was initially created, however, light and darkness were unified, and only thereafter are we told that God separated between light and darkness. In the future, the prophet Yeshaya tells us, the distinction between the light of the sun and the moon will disappear. In other words, at the foundation of all existence - all levels of the world are united. Only when they emanate into physical reality do they become divided; we thus experience darkness vs. light as well as various gradations of darkness vs. light. But in the future, these phenomenon will all unite. So, too, the distinction between Israel and the nations will become blurred, as the prophet Zephaniah teaches us: "Then, [says God], I will provide all of the nations with one mouth, to call in the name of God and to worship Him jointly".

In the future, all days of the week will be melded into one grand day that is completely Shabbat. The mundane will unite with the holy, forging one united reality of holiness. The distinction between the holy and profane is not an intrinsic, absolute division; it came to the world as a result of the sin of the Garden of Eden, which resulted in a split between the physical and spiritual worlds. But when the world is ultimately rectified and perfected, when all creatures call out in the name of God, then these divisions will dissolve. In the meantime, the light must impact on the darkness, the holy on the mundane, Israel on the gentile nations, etc.

This unity is characteristic of our forefather Ya'akov. Ya'akov, like God, remained "alone." In the end of days, as well, God will be "alone," in that no other gods will be worshipped aside from Him. The clay jugs were important to Ya'akov not because he was miserly, God forbid, spending his time on trite matters, but because he saw the jugs as part of an entirety of existence, a reality that encompasses all things big and small. Clay jugs also have their purpose!

Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai - before his encounter with the World to Come, mentioned the throne of King Hezekiah and called for the removal of vessels so that they would not be contaminated with the ritual impurity his dead body would create. At that moment, like Ya'akov our father, R. Yochanan understood the unity of all existence and the function of the most seemingly insignificant of objects:

Our sages teach that Hezekiah could have been the Mashiach, the Messiah; why then was he not allowed to be? Because he did not recite the Hallel on the great miracle that benefited him, when God killed in one night the entirety of the Ashur army. It was not Hezekiah, but the land, that then opened its mouth, so to speak, and sang. Rav Kook explains that although in Hezekiah’s day, Jews found themselves on a high level relative to both Torah study and spirituality in general, Hezekiah failed to translate that strength into an earthly holiness. It was not he who sang, but the earth itself that had to sing! Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai thus called for the preparation of a place for Hezekiah the King of Judea, as well as calling for the removal of vessels lest they become impure. These two approaches, though they represent opposite relationships and sensitivities to the fusion of physical and spiritual realities, are part of the same process. And R. Yochanan ben Zakkai understood that the process of redemption must engage and apply all matters, however contradictory...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

May our eyes see Your return in mercy to Zion –70 Years to the State of Israel

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Sixty-two years ago, in 1956, Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook said: “We have to be very joyous on Independence Day. We must be joyous over the revelation of the Divine Presence, the return to Zion, and the rebirth of the Jewish People. All the rebuilding, rebirth and survival of the State of Israel is interwoven with great miracles that G-d has shown us… Fifty years ago who could have imagined that the Turks, who ruled triumphantly over our land, would be entirely ousted? Ten years ago, would anyone have thought that mighty England would be forced to give up its rule over our country? Every tractor and tank and plane defending our country has divine holiness. Every aspect and every detail is a revelation of the divine, national content of the holiness of Israel. Even if many lack this awareness that it is Divine Providence which guides what is occurring, that is the reality. It is solid fact that will not go away, whether or not people recognize it…

“True, the entire land has not yet been conquered – even Jerusalem, the sanctuary of our kingdom is not yet entirely in our hands (This was eleven years before the Six Day War). In both quality and quantity, our rule over the Land must be completed and developed. Yet the State’s establishment constitutes the revelation of the Divine Kingdom, and we must be exceedingly joyful on Yom HaAtzma’ut over our having merited to become an independent country…” (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, on the 5th Israel Independence Day).

If seventy years ago, when the State of Israel was at the start of its path we were required to rejoice over the kindness G-d performed for us in establishing a State, all the more so now when over five million Jews live here. Israel is making enormous strides. It is today becoming one of the strongest countries militarily and economically. We see clearly how the words, “May our eyes see [tirena] Your kingdom” are being fulfilled – through our tangible nation state. The day is not far off when we will all merit the fulfillment of the entreaty, “May our eyes see [ve’techezena] Your return in mercy to Zion,” not just the restoration of the kingdom, but the restoration of the soul to the Temple sanctuary. We have merited “tirena”, referring to external vision. Now our eyes are raised to G-d in hopes of “techezena”, a more spiritual vision. (ibid., Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook).

With blessings for a joyous Israel Independence Day,
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Who is the Person who Wants Life

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

The Midrash comments on the pasuk, "This shall be the law of the metzora" (Vayikra 14:2):

This is what it says, "Who is the man who desires life." (Tehillim 34:14) There once was a peddler who traveled around the villages near Zipori, and would declare, "Who wants to buy the elixir of life!" ... R. Yanai was sitting ... He imposed upon [the peddler], and he went up to him. He took out a book of Tehillim, and showed him the pasuk, "Who is the man who desires life." What does it say afterwards? "Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit." (34:15) ... R. Yanai said: My whole life I read this pasuk, and I did not realize how simple it is, until this peddler came and told me, "Who is the man who wants life." Therefore, Moshe warns Israel and says to them, "This shall be the law of the metzora" - the law of the motzi shem ra (slanderer).

This passage is baffling. What novel idea did this peddler reveal to R. Yanai that he did not know beforehand?

In the sefer Be'er Moshe, the Admor of Ozrov points to a similar Gemara in Masechet Avoda Zara (19b):

R. Alexandri declared: "Who wants life? Who wants life?" Everybody gathered and came to him. They said to him. "Give us life!" He said to them: "Who is the man who desires life ... Guard your tongue from evil." Perhaps a person will say, I guarded my tongue from evil, and my lips from speaking deceit, I will now go and indulge in sleep." The pasuk teaches, "Turn from evil and do good." (34:16) Good is none other than Torah, as it says, "For I have given you a good purchase, do not forsake my Torah."

From the pasuk, "Who is the person who desires life...," one could understand that turning away from evil is enough to grant life. This could be the conclusion of the Gemara, "Perhaps a person will say, I guarded my tongue from evil, and my lips from speaking deceit, I will now go and indulge in sleep." In other words, since he guards his mouth and tongue from speaking evil, this is the perfection of the attribute of speech. To this comes the continuation of the pasuk: "Turn from evil and do good," that it is not enough to guard the tongue from speaking evil, but rather it should be used for positive purposes, for good, and "Good is none other than Torah, as it says, 'For I have given you a good purchase, do not forsake my Torah.'"

"Life" does not mean simply the lack of death, but rather a life of positive value. Thus, for one who desires life, it is not enough to avoid evil, but there is need to do good.

This is what the peddler asked, "Who is the man who desires life" – inherent life. To this the answer is: "Guard your tongue from evil ... and do good!"

To this the Torah says, "See- I have placed before you the life and the good." (Devarim 30:15) Life is linked with good. Therefore, the answer to the question, "Who is the man who desires life?" ­– is: "Guard your tongue from evil ... and do good."

Parshas Tazria and Metzora are usually read during the sefira period, which are days of preparation to receive the Torah. As we say in the prayer after the sefira counting, they are days that are special "To purify us from our imperfections and contaminations," i.e., to free ourselves from all evil that sticks to us. However, this is not enough, and we ask, "I should be purified and sanctified with a holiness of Above."

The Torah portions are also arranged in this manner. Tazria and metzora deal with removing all evil and contamination, and afterwards come the portions Acharei Mot and Kedoshim, which deal with the sanctity of Shabbat and the festivals, which elevate man and sanctify him with the holiness.

Therefore, the sefira days are begun with the korban of the omer, which is from barley – animal food, and conclude with Shavuot, when we offer the two loaves from wheat, which is human food. This teaches that before spiritual ascent, a person first has to distance himself from animalistic actions, and only afterwards can he pursue human activities and sanctify himself with a Divine holiness. – "Be holy!"

Rav Kook on Parshiot Tazria/Metzora: Purifying Time and Soul

The Torah discusses various types of tum'ah (ritual impurity), the most prominent being tzara’at, a skin affliction similar to leprosy. Purification from these forms of impurity includes immersion in a mikveh (ritual bath) or natural spring. Immersion alone, however, is not sufficient; even after immersing, the individual remains impure until the start of the evening.

“The sun sets and then he is ritually clean. He may then eat the sacred offerings that are his portion.” (Lev. 22:7)

Waiting until the Day is ‘Clean'

Curiously, the Talmud (Berachot 2a) interprets this verse in a forced fashion: “The sun sets and then it” — the day — “is clean” (i.e., finished). The Sages explained that the day must be completely over before the individual may partake of his offering.

Why not understand the verse literally: when the sun sets, the person is ritually clean? Why emphasize that the day must be ‘clean’?

According to Maimonides in his Guide for the Perplexed (III: 47), different forms of tum'ah correspond to various flawed character traits, erroneous beliefs, and impure acts. The Sages wrote that tzara’at, for example, is the result of slander and haughtiness. It is logical, then, that the various stages of purification — immersion in a spring or mikveh, waiting until nighttime, and bringing an offering — will be connected to the correction of these faults.

Two Aspects to Repair

The Talmud refers to two levels of purification: purifying the day ("tehar yoma"), and purifying the individual ("tehar gavra"). What is the difference between the two?

Our goal in life should be to grow spiritually and become closer to our Creator. When we sin, we stray from our overall objective. We have also misused time that could have been utilized for spiritual growth. A full life is one in which all of the days have been employed towards one’s principal objective. Abraham, the Torah tells us, was ba bayamim, “well advanced in days” (Gen. 24:1). His days and years were full and complete, wholly occupied with spiritual pursuits.

When we stray from our spiritual aspirations, we need to make two distinct efforts in order to return to our original path. If I were to upset a friend, I would first need to correct my hurtful behavior. However, that alone would be insufficient to restore the friendship to its former state. The relationship will remain fragile until I have made an additional effort to rebuild the ties of friendship and affection.

The first stage — correcting the faulty behavior or flawed character trait – is analogous to the cleansing action of immersion in water. We immerse ourselves in the mikveh, leaving behind negative traits and flawed deeds. As we immerse ourselves in spiritual repair, we restore to the dimension of time its original purity. The day has not been lost to sin. With the setting of the sun, we begin a new day and a new start. This is the first level of purification, what the Sages called tehar yoma. The day has been purified; we have rectified the dimension of time.

Yet, we have not completely regained our previous state of purity. We still need to restore our former closeness to God. This is achieved through the final stage of purification: “he may then eat the sacred offerings.” With renewed desire to be close to God, we bring an offering. The offering (in Hebrew, korban, from the root karav, to draw near) enables us to draw closer to our Maker with awe and love. At this point, we repair our relationship with God. Not only has the element of time been rectified, we too have become cleansed and renewed. This is the level of tehar gavra, when the individual is fully purified, and his errors are transformed into merits.

(Gold from the Land of Israel. pp. 195-197. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. I, pp. 2-3.)

My Kinda Guy: Birthright Founder Gives Middle Finger to Anti-Israel Protesters Outside Gala Dinner

Michael Steinhardt, the co-founder and major funder of Birthright Israel, flashed his middle finger at protesters outside a gala dinner in honor of the 18th anniversary of the free trip to Israel for young Jewish men and women.

More than 150 students from colleges in the New York and New England areas protested in front of the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York, where the annual gala was held on Sunday evening. The students represented groups including Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance and the Democratic Socialists of America.

The protest was led by Return the Birthright, a campaign supported by Jewish Voice for Peace and Independent Jewish Voices. (An Anti-Israel and BDS Group). It calls on young Jews to boycott Birthright and to support the right of “Palestinian” refugees to return to their homes in Israel. During the event, the anti-occupation group IfNotNow projected on the ballroom building an image with the words “Birthright Lied To Us,” and “Jewish Youth Demand the Truth.”

A quote attributed to the evening’s honoree, billionaire philanthropist Sheldon Adelson — “Israel Isn’t Going to Be a Democratic State – So What” — also was projected on the wall.

Adelson, a major Birthright funder, was presented with the “Guardian of the Jewish Future” award at the event.

The student protesters wrapped themselves in personalized Jewish prayer shawls and demonstrated by returning symbolic Birthright plane tickets. They also read out the names of Palestinian villages destroyed 70 years ago, and the names of the 32 protesters in Gaza killed in the past three weeks during the Great Return March protests.

A photo of Steinhardt and protesters was posted on Instagram by a photographer for Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.

Buried by The Times

by Rabbi Yosef Bitton

In the past, and in a different context, I’ve written about the mistake of conceiving Judaism as a "religion", instead of understanding it as the "Constitution of the Jewish People." This may seem like a simple and superfluous game of words, but when we understand the origin of this distinction, and especially the terrible direct or indirect consequences of taking away from Judaism its national aspect, we can better appreciate its magnitude.

The story of the differentiation between Jewish people and Jewish religion began around 1840 in Germany, when the first Reform Jews deliberately renounced to any idea that could relate them to the land of Israel, a fundamental element of the people of Israel. In a famous declaration signed in Frankfurt de Main in 1845, the first Jewish reformers explicitly renounced to a Messiah who would take them back to Israel and rebuild the Bet haMiqdash; they also renounced to pray for their return to Jerusalem or to cry for its destruction. All these element, which constitute the "national" aspect of Judaism were deliberately eliminated from the prayer books and from the new Reform ritual. The idea was very clear: Reform Jews saw themselves as "patriotic Germans", an integral part of the German people and their heroic history and destiny. And as a matter of loyalty to their "mother country" they openly and explicitly renounced everything that could be perceived as an expression of double loyalty. The first Reformers (I must mention that this has changed in our days) called themselves proudly "Germans" of "Mosaic religion" (they tried to use as little as possible the word "Jewish" or "Jewish religion"). They sought to compare themselves with other religious groups such as Catholics or Protestants, who had no alternative allegiance, national or geographical.

The terrible consequences of this seemingly innocent paradigm shift were not long in coming. One example: In 1840 there was a blood libel in Damascus, Syria. The Jewish community of that city was falsely accused of killing a Christian child to use his blood to knead the Matsot de Pesah (sic!). Several community leaders were imprisoned, tortured and forced to “confess” this crime. The Jewish leaders of Europe, like Sir Moises Montefiore of London, Adolphe Crémieux of France, Eliyahu Picciotto of Austria and many others, moved heaven and earth to help free these poor Jews, and after an inexhaustible struggle they managed to get them out of prison. There was an exception to these efforts: rabbi Abraham Geiger, the most important leader of the Jews of Germany. Geiger, considered by many historians as the founder of the reform movement, refused to help those Jews because he had nothing in common with those "Arabs". This had nothing to do with Sephardi / Ashkenazi distinctions. Geiger, rather, saw himself as belonging exclusively to the German people, and for him, consequently, there was no national (or emotional) link with any other Jew outside of Germany. The fact that these "Syrians" practiced the same creed as him, was totally circumstantial and secondary. Geiger owed nothing to them. Geiger surely was not the first Jew who refused to help other Jews; but as far as I know, he was the first Jew to use this new argument, renouncing the idea of ​​a Jewish people, to disassociate himself from "Israel", the land and the nation, and justify in this way his lack of action, his apathy and his indifference towards other Jews. All this was done in pursuit of being perceived as an exemplary and patriotic German citizen, and being accepted as equals in their society (I don't need to tell you the rest of the story...).

But what does this have to do with the Shoah and the New York Times?

Unfortunately, very much.

As painful as it is to talk about this matter, I think that it teaches us a very important lesson, relevant for our days, where information and deliberate misinformation carries so much power and influence.

Let's see. Between 1939 and 1945 there were around 5 million Jews living in the US. Many of them very influential in the government and in American culture. However, there was very little that American Jews actually did to influence Roosevelt and save their brothers in Europe, when they needed it most. Europeans Jews were desperately asking for the Americans to bomb the railroad tracks that took millions of Jews to death. Or to bomb the concentration camps. And as we all know, none of this happened ... until it was too late.

But why?

One of the reasons to explain this silence and inaction is that the vast majority of American Jews (and non-Jews, as admitted by Eisenhower himself) DID NOT KNOW what was happening: they had no idea of ​​the magnitude of the massacre that was taking place in European soil ...

Why? A book called "Buried by The Times" by Laurel Leff, explains this enigma. Leff concludes that the man responsible for this deliberate misinformation was one of the most influential men in the USA at that time: Arthur Hays Sulzberger, editor in chief and owner of the New York Times (his family still owns this newspaper), the most important newspaper in the world.

We began to write about the role played by the prestigious newspaper The New York Times and the lack of information about the Holocaust in the American population.

It should be noted that the New York Times, especially in the 1940s, was not only the most important newspaper in the world, but also the "leading" newspaper, in the sense that thousands of other newspapers and newscasts in the US and around the world got their information from the Times and followed its leadership (this, obviously, is changing in the modern news-media-world).

We will see now some examples that illustrate the biased attitude of the New York Times in reporting the atrocities that were occurring in Europe.

A New York Times article of July 2, 1942 reports the killing of 700,000 Jews, "one fifth of the entire Jewish population of Poland." It even mentions concentration camps and gas chambers. The article says: "Children in orphanages, elderly in hospices, sick in hospitals and women were killed in the streets. In many places Jews were detained and deported to undisclosed destinations or massacred in nearby forests. " The article continues to list how many Jews had been killed in each province, and then says that "the massacre still continues in Lvov."

This story is typical. The information is objective, detailed and even contemporary. However, the American public was largely unaware of the magnitude of what was happening. Then that generates two questions. The first question is, how did this happen? And then the second question is, why did this happen?

How? The answer is that these news were buried in the middle of the newspaper. The article of July 2, 1942 appeared on page 6 under a small subtitle reserved for unimportant material.

Another article of June 27, 1942 that describes the same massacre as "probably the biggest mass slaughter in history", was on page 5 and had no title!

Why? This tendentious down-playment of the Shoah did not occur because the front page of the newspaper was full of momentous news. The day this horrific story appeared in the New York Times, the front page featured articles about tennis shoes and canned fruit.
Then we ask ourselves again why?

The answer is: Arthur Hays Sulzberger. Sulzberger was the owner and editor of the New York Times. And what makes it so amazing is that Sulzberger was Jewish.

Sulzberger felt no religious or emotional connection to the threatened mass of European Jews. Although hard to believe, it seemed that, on the contrary, he did the impossible to ignore them.

Sulzberger wrote the following:

"There is no common denominator between the poor and unfortunate Jew led [to death] in Poland and ... .I. Certainly, in Poland, this Jew is part of a persecuted minority. ... fortunately, I'm not in that category. "

According to Leslie Leff, the author of "Buried by the Times" who denounces Sulzberger's silence and minimization of the information about the Shoah, Sulzberger's lack of empathy and tendency towards European Jews was due to his reformist ideology. Sulzberger's political grandfather, Isaac Wise, was the founder of the Jewish reform movement in the US. In those times reform Judaism promoted the idea that Jews are not a nation but simply followers of a creed.
Sulzberger was an assimilationist Jew: for him Jews are not a people, in the same way that Catholics or Protestants are not a people. In December 1942, in a note to the staff of the New York Times he wrote: "I have been trying to instruct the people of my newspaper on the subject of the word 'Jews'; that they are not a race or a people, etc. "

Former New York Times journalist Ari Goldman, in his review of Leff's book, writes:" There is no doubt that Sulzberger's views on Judaism influenced what what he did in his newspaper. "

Again and again the views of Sulzberger are reflected in the editorials of the New York Times, in which the difficult situation of the Jews is not mentioned but is rather deliberately ignored.
On the German refugee children, almost all of them Jews, the New York Times generalized: "[those children] are of any race and faith."

On the Hitler regime, the New York Times wrote: "It is decency and justice that are being persecuted [by Hitler], not a race, nor a nationality, nor a faith."

On the millions of Jewish refugees, the New York Times said: "They have nothing to do with a specific race or creed. It is not a Jewish or a Gentile problem. "

And notably in an editorial on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943, the New York Times did not mention Jews at all!

Leff also examined the positions and actions of the editorial staff of the Times. Leff concludes: Sulzberger's bias was shared by other Jewish staffers who decided to minimize, bury and downplay the news about the killings of Jews: "Between them and influential Catholics among the crucial night editors, who decided where to place news items, the imperiled Jews of Europe had no advocate in the NYT's newsroom."

US bombing Syria – mission accomplished?

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

The US bombing of Syria could resurrect the US’ posture of deterrence and evolve into a geo-strategic game-changer in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the globe, provided that President Trump learns from – rather than repeats – critical errors committed by his predecessors in their battle against Islamic terrorism.

Trump’s predecessors assumed that their counter-terrorism mission could be accomplished through a series of limited, immediate and tactical operations, bringing the troops back home ASAP. However, contrary to their expectations, their well-intentioned actions undermined their comprehensive, long-term, sustained and strategic mission to clip the wings of Islamic terrorism and enhance homeland security. While they won certain battles, they failed to clip the wings of Islamic terrorism and did not win the overall war.

For example, on August 20, 1998, President Clinton declared victory following the US bombing of a few terrorist bases and a deadly nerve agent VX processing plant in Afghanistan and the Sudan, in retaliation for the August 7 truck-bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 persons. However, resting on the laurels of the tactical bombings, and failing to intensify a long-term offensive against Islamic terrorism, exacerbated the latter’s assault on the US. It led to the October 12, 2000 suicide-vessel bombing of the USS Cole (killing 17 sailors) and the September 11, 2001 suicide-aircraft bombing of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, killing 2,996 persons, injuring some 6,000.

On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq ended with the US and its allies prevailing. A large “Mission Accomplished” banner provided a backdrop to Bush’s speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln. On June 5, Bush told US troops in Afghanistan: “America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished.” In 2018, both Afghanistan and Iraq are major global platforms for Islamic terrorism, which is increasingly afflicting larger parts of the globe.

The George W. Bush Administration overthrew Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and purged members of Saddam’s Sunni Baath Party from the civilian and military sectors, which catapulted Iraq’s Shiite majority to domination, incentivized former Sunni government officials and military personnel to join Sunni terrorism, exacerbated Sunni-Shite violence, and provided an unprecedented springboard to the Shiite Ayatollahs’ aspirations to control Iraq as a critical bridge to Syria, Lebanon and the Mediterranean, as a prelude to an Iranian domination of the Middle East and the Muslim World.

In 2012, President Obama was determined to topple Libya’s ruthless Qaddafi regime, by leading a concerted bombing campaign by NATO forces. The effective bombing was initiated, irrespective of the fact that Qaddafi had been engaged in the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear, chemical and ballistic missile infrastructure since December 2003, as certified by US and international inspectors. Moreover, the vicious Libyan dictator was consumed with an intense battle against anti-US Islamic Sunni terror organizations and provided the US with vital counter-terrorism intelligence. The execution of Qaddafi, by his domestic terror-driven opponents, transformed Libya – the 4th largest country in Africa – into a leading and chaotic platform for international Islamic terrorism.

Will President Trump learn – and refrain – from the critical errors of his predecessors?

Will Trump focus on the primary - rather than secondary - source of clear and present threats to the national security and homeland security of the US, the Free World and the pro-US Arab countries?

While one must not underestimate the savagery of Assad, the Butcher of Damascus, its regional and global destabilizing impact is dwarfed by the impact of the ferociously tectonic Ayatollahs, a minority regime which has repressed the Iranian people since 1979.

The Shite Ayatollahs have played a key role – next to Russia - in sustaining the Alawite (branch of Shite Islam) Assad regime, investing some $10BN, annually, in the form of credit lines, oil and military assistance, including the funding of some Russian military systems and the maintenance of Hezbollah terrorists.

In fact, regional chaos – Syrian style - has fueled the Ayatollas’ rise to regional prominence. Their expanding presence in Iraq and Syria has adrenalized their megalomaniacal aspirations, which aim at uprooting the US presence in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Ocean and the entire Middle East.

Moreover, the unprecedentedly effective regional profile of the Ayatollahs brings their machete closer to the throat of every pro-US Arab regime such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait and Oman, fueling subversion and terrorism, and providing anti-US Islamic terror organizations with easier access to chemical and biological weaponry and ballistic capabilities.

Furthermore, the considerable entrenchment of the Ayatollahs in Iraq and Syria has been accompanied by the Ayatollahs’ upgraded destabilization and anti-US presence – directly and through terror elements - in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Central and Latin America and the USA.

The increasingly global village, and the unprecedented global proliferation of Islamic terrorism, have eliminated the option of isolation. The US and its allies are faced with the choice of confronting the Ayatollahs and Islamic Sunni terrorism in the trenches of the Middle East or at homeland. One may assess such a dilemma against the background of an old American football rule: The closer you get to the end zone of the other team, the closer you are to scoring a touchdown; however, the closer you get to your own end zone, the closer the other team is to scoring a touchdown.

The Currency of the World To Come

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

God told Moses, “Tell the Children of Israel that if a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, then she will be ritually unclean for seven days, as if she had her period.” (Vayikra 12:1-2)

THE DAY BEFORE Yosef was supposed to stand before Pharaoh to interpret the king’s dreams, he barely knew two languages, Hebrew and Egyptian. The next day, he knew all 70 languages, plus Hebrew. He obliviously took one of those online crash courses and learned them all the night before, right?

We read about Yiftach in the Haftarah for Parashas Chukas. There we learn that he did not have the best “yichus,” and was basically rejected by even his own family. Then his services were necessary to fight back an enemy nation, and he became a judge overnight. He must have crammed like crazy, no?

He wasn’t the only to achieve such quick Torah success. It turns out that the first Sanhedrin was not made up of the biggest talmidei chachamim of that time. At least not at first. Instead, the Jews who had protected their brothers from beatings back in Egypt had the merit to sit on the first Sanhedrin, miraculously gaining the knowledge to do so—just like that.

To be sure, there is no replacement for learning Torah, and you can be certain that someone who is lazy in that respect will not get any free gifts of knowledge from God. As the Talmud says, only a person who makes an effort to perform a mitzvah and is prevented from doing so for reasons beyond their control gets the mitzvah anyhow (Brochos 6a). Unless history requires otherwise, God does not deny a person success if they did their part of the job to make it happen.

There are countless stories of people who have physically and spiritually succeeded beyond what they should have. Sometimes it can be that the situation around them made them succeed, a function of Divine Providence, and they somehow rose to the occasion in ways they never thought possible, a function of even great Divine Providence.

Kabbalah explains some of the main methods employed by Heaven to boost a person’s ability. The main point is not so much how it happens, but that it does happen, and sometimes in very big ways. And, though it may seem like “cheating,” in truth, it is not when one recalls the main purpose of life in this world is free will.

We’re here to accomplish, but the greatest accomplishment a person achieves in life is mastery over their will. We’ve see how powerful a person’s will can be when it comes to going after the “wrong” thing. The question is, how powerful can a person’s will be when it pursues the “right” thing?

People sometimes put their lives at risk to satisfy some physical desire. They are prepared to risk everything just to have what their body desires. They can make what almost seems like a superhuman effort to enjoy a physical accomplishment to which they totally relate. The test in life is in harnessing that same power of will to do what God wants.

We need to remember that the currency of the World-to-Come is “Mesiras Nefesh,” which is self-sacrifice. It is not called self-sacrifice when a person risks a lot and makes a great effort to satisfy a “tayva,” a personal physical desire. That is called sacrifice FOR the self, and that earns Gehinom instead.

It is called “Mesiras Nefesh” when a person overcomes the desire not to do the moral thing, and does that moral thing anyhow. It is called “Self Sacrifice” when the self would rather indulge in the material pleasures of this world, and a person gives these up for a nobler goal. THAT is what shows a person’s loyalty to God and truth, and earns them reward in Olam HaBa—the World-to-Come.

Such a level of will control is not something that comes overnight to a person. It is something that has to be built up over time. We are born selfish, and sacrificing FOR self is quite natural for us. The process of growing up is a process of LEARNING how to sacrifice for things more important than personal material desires. We’re allowed to physically enjoy life, but NEVER at the cost of truth.

We learn Torah in order to learn this, and to build up a commitment to this way of life. We perform mitzvos to train us to such a way of life. And, if a person is able to stay with the program, emotionally as well as intellectually, then they are able to become masters of their own will and to use it in ultimately meaningful ways. Over time, they become what we call “Tzaddikim,” (Righteous People).

We’ve also seen how some people have been able to reach high levels of will in relatively short periods of time. How were they able to do that? It can be because of a number of reasons, including how they were raised as children. It can be that the world around them imposed it upon them, through a war, for example. There’s nothing like crisis to make people grow up faster and take life more seriously.

Sometimes it can be that history requires it, as, for example, in Yosef’s case. He was already a tzaddik, but not one that needed to know all the 71 languages of his time. But, God wanted him to become second-in-command over Egypt by a certain time, and that required him interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and, apparently, knowing one more language than Pharaoh. So God gifted it to him the night before his audience with Pharaoh.

Then there is the case of Moshe Rabbeinu. He knew all of Torah, not just what was known in his time, but even the elucidations of Torah that would ever emerge throughout all of history. Was 120 days on Mt. Sinai enough time to learn AND remember all of that? Of course not.

In fact, the Midrash says, God kept teaching Moshe Rabbeinu all of Torah each day, and he kept forgetting it. At the end, the Midrash says, God just gave it to him as a gift. Moshe Rabbeinu all of a sudden didn’t just know it, but he never forgot any of it. But then again, as the Talmud and Kabbalah teach, Moshe Rabbeinu was spiritually unique from birth, and yet was the humblest man to ever walk the face of the earth.

Exactly. Moshe Rabbeinu received such gifts because he was so special. Yosef HaTzaddik was supernaturally helped because he was so righteous and devoted to God’s plan for history. How can an “average” individual ever hope to be gifted such high levels of knowledge without ever actually learning them? It may be possible for SOME to benefit from such miraculous gifts, but the rest of us?

In the world of humans, if a person gets A+ without trying, he is not only gifted, he is great. As long as a person doesn’t cheat, great success is a great accomplishment even if not the result of great effort. We might even admire such a person even more because of their remarkable gift.

In God’s world, it works differently. “A” really is for EFFORT, because it is EFFORT that reveals a person’s level of will to do something. Effort is self-sacrifice, and when it is for something God appreciates as well, it means the world to Him, even if means little to others. And it is THAT which brings supernatural gifts of knowledge even to “average” people.

What does this have to do with a parsha that begins with the mitzvah of Bris Milah, covers the laws of Tzara’as, and ends with the laws of Niddah? Well, considering that all of them are the result of being banished from the Garden of Eden because of a misuse of will, everything. Furthermore, it was the illicit pursuit of Godly knowledge that was the basis of the sin that led to all the matters of Parashas Tazria and Parashas Metzora. Explaining that however would take at least another page.

"Sharp Power": Hamas's Dirty War Against Israel

By Prof. Eytan Gilboa, April 17, 2018

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 800, April 17, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In the so-called “March of Return,” Hamas is utilizing a new kind of power in international relations called “sharp power.” This term originally referred to the subversion, manipulation, distraction, and lies authoritarian governments employ to undermine liberal democracies. The concept can now be applied to terrorist organizations like Hamas.

Continue to full article ->

“YOU WERE WRONG”: A Letter From Yehuda Meshi-Zahav To His Uncle, Rav Amram Blau, Founder Of Neturei Karta

The following letter written by ZAKA founder and head Yehuda Meshi-Yahav to his late uncle, HaGaon HaRav Amram Blau ZT”L, leader of the Neturei Karta. It was published in Makor Rishon (from Yeshiva World News).

In honor of my dear uncle Rabbi Amram Blau ZT”L, leader of Neturei Karta,

When I was young, I was a small soldier in the campaign, when I joined the demonstrations you were leading – whether it was every Saturday in demonstrations against Chilul Shabbos, or in the middle of the week against any other breach. You were for me the figure of the general, the leader, the fearless and uncompromising fighter for the principles of Judaism. I remember how we stood amazed each time anew by the blows you’d get lovingly from the police, or when you were arrested again and again. We grew up with your stories of heroism, such as putting your head in the Edison Cinema ticket window in Jerusalem to prevent chilul Shabbos, when you were beaten with clubs until you lost consciousness.

On your knees I grew up and was raised. From your mouth we have heard again and again about the great danger inherent in the Zionist state, to the extent that you have often asked to cross the border and to protect the shadow of the Kingdom of Jordan. We heard about the decrees of annihilation of the Zionist regime, whose sole purpose was to transfer the Jewish people to its religion and faith. We heard your warnings that within a few years there would be no remnant or refugee from the people of Israel. I remember from you that the Zionists are the greatest haters of the Jewish people in the world, worse than the Greeks who came to Israel, to destroy the people of Israel.

In your many sermons at public meetings, I was shocked by stories about various events during the campaign of destruction waged by the Zionist regime. “Cantonist decrees” you called them. You said that the Zionists are guilty of all the troubles of the people of Israel, including the terrible holocaust.

As I grew older, with the fervor of faith in your method and on your way, I was also involved in organizing demonstrations and protests. I was arrested countless times, and my bones were crushed by the beatings of the “Zionist soldiers.” But you have taught us that every red sign in the body from these blows is another level and a citation in the lofty ranks of “self-sacrifice,” and therefore we did not feel the pain either.

Today, after 70 years of a Zionist state, we are happy to inform you, my dear uncle, that your fears have been proven false: We have a wonderful Jewish-Zionist state that serves as a model for all the countries of the world, Education, health, immigrant absorption, and Judaism – about 7 million Jews – over fifty percent of the Jewish people – already live in the State of Israel, and in Jerusalem alone we are approaching one million residents, which is not certain even during the time of the Beis Hamikdash.

Who would have believed that 73 years after the terrible Holocaust, when the people of Israel were almost extinct, and there was hardly any trace of Torah and Chasidism, we would have a Jewish state of our own. The State of Israel. A state in which the world of Torah will reach a prosperity unparalleled in the history of the Jewish people. Since Melech Chizkiyahu, there has not been so much Torah study in the Land of Israel as it is today, and you will be surprised to hear who is the greatest Torah scholar in the world: the Zionist regime. Every year the Israeli government invests billions of shekels in the Torah world.

It is hard to believe that only 75 years ago, not hundreds of years ago, a Jew could not find a way out. No one wanted us. We were the lowest and most despicable people, we rolled between the death camps and the forests of Europe as animals in a daily struggle for survival. At the end of the terrible war, every refugee returned to his home, but the Jews were the only ones in the world who had nowhere to go, neither home nor country. Until the establishment of the State of Israel. Thousands of generations of Jews dreamed of a state, and here we have won what many did not. The State of Israel arose and was against all odds.

Rav Amram, the leader of Neturei Karta, see that in the Zionist state of destruction 73 percent of the citizens light Chanukah candles, 78 percent fast on Yom Kippur, and each year over 200,000 people take part in the last Slichos. How much you had to fight for every road and road in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, to have them shut on Shabbos. Today it is hard to believe that even Meah Shearim Street and Kikar Shabbos were closed only after countless demonstrations that you led. On the 70th anniversary of the Zionist state, there are seven cities, headed by a chareidi representative, whose roads are hermetically closed on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim. In other cities, in neighborhoods where chareidim live, the closing of roads on Shabbos is taken for granted and you no longer have to fight for this.

The anthem of Neturei Karta, which we would sing loudly at the demonstrations, said that “we do not believe in the rule of the infidels, and we do not participate in their laws. We would get beaten up and even arrested, and we were sure that we were MeKadesh Shem Shomayim”. And here, in the Zionist state, the degree of “devotion” reached the highest place, such as who constitutes the symbol of self-sacrifice, the Divine Tanna Rabbi Akiva. Nearly 24,000 IDF soldiers were killed when they gave their lives for the sake of sanctifying G-d’s name and defending the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

The anthem of Neturei Karta, which we would sing loudly at the demonstrations, said that “we do not believe in the rule of the infidels”, if you knew what wonderful youth there is. Several times a year, thousands of youngsters raised in the Zionist state gather near the remnant of our Temple, swearing their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the sanctification of G-d in defending the homeland and the people of Israel. How many tears did I shed during this holy occasion when I saw my two sons enlisted, one for the Golani and the other for the paratroopers and swore like that. No one forced it on them. They did so of their own free will, which proves that there is no contradiction between Safra and Saifah.

“The state of Sodom and Gomorrah,” as you mentioned in your articles in the “HaChoma” of Neturei Karta the Zionist state. Then my uncle, Rabbi Amram, come hear what this state has, the world’s leading state in the number of charitable organizations that exist in it.

The first to offer help and assistance in every disaster in the world. A state that actually illustrates the concept of mutual responsibility, of “all of Israel are guarantors of one another.” The Zionist state is doing all it can to help any Jew wherever he is in times of trouble or distress, and sometimes even at risk of operations beyond imagination, such as Operation Yonatan. Not only that, but most of the great charitable organizations in the Zionist state were founded by chareidim: Yad Sarah, Ezer Mizion, the various Hatzalah organizations, ZAKA, and more, and these organizations are staffed by chareidim. The Zionist state has not yet managed to transfer the thousands of chareidim who head and mange these organizations to Shmad R”L, but rather U’Mekadshem Shem Shomayim in Israel and around the world.

In the state of relying on one’s own strength (ה”כוחי ועוצם ידי”), when there is a fear of drought, the Minister of Agriculture organizes a mass tefilla as the Kosel to be mispallel for rain. It is a country in which trumos and maasros are separated from 100 percent of its agricultural crops. A state that supports hundreds of millions of shekels for farmers observing shmitah.

If your generation rightly feared the Zionist state, 70 years later it was proven that the State of Israel, with the help of G-d, is the one that saves and protects the people of Israel, and it is the safest place – the best place to live as a Jew who observes Torah and mitzvos.