Friday, February 15, 2019

Rav Kook's Ein Ayah: Share Secrets Carefully

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:45)

Gemara: A scholar from the Galil was asked to expound upon the ma’aseh merkava (the description of Hashem and His Heavenly abode). He said to them: “I will expound to you according to the way Rabbi Nechemia did to his friends.” A hornet came out of the wall, bit him on his forehead, and he died. They said: “It was from him that it came to him.”

Ein Ayah: Regarding inquiring about lofty divine matters, which are at the heights of the philosophies of hidden ideas, as long as they are not at the point to be revealed to the uninitiated, it is uncommon that this would cause damage to those who think straight and guard their thinking. The difficult thing in this realm of deep matters is the question of how to reveal matters of this type.

When one arranges the “storage rooms” of knowledge in a methodical way, there can sometimes be a hidden “poisonous fly,” which represents a deadly false piece of knowledge. It can attack the place where the deep matter begins to become revealed. This is represented by the forehead, which is the area that covers the root of thought in the brain.

It is not the essence of the holy thoughts that are at fault for this tragedy, but the matter depends solely on the one who is doing the revealing. When he leaves the realm of how it was accepted and reveals such matters and strives to come up with his own new ideas, specifically then would the “edifice” become a place that harbors “deadly flies.” If, on the other hand, the inquirer of divine, lofty matters uses the content and the language of the “fathers of wisdom,” who speak with a near prophetic spirit of holiness, to be his guiding light, he will be protected from stumbling blocks.

That is why he said to him: “It was from him that it came to him.” In other words, it was the fact that there were new ideas that came from him. If it could happen to such a tzaddik, who made but a small mistake, that there could be such a great stumbling block, it could only be because of the concept that “Hashem is exacting with the actions of those who are close to Him to the breadth of a strand of hair” (Yevamot 121b). Even such a stumbling block did not come from the depths of the knowledge itself, but in the way it was explained and revealed. Any such matter requires great care in accordance with the value that the expounding relates to. It is according to the way the gemara (Chagiga 13a) adapts the pasuk(Mishlei 27:26) of “your clothes will be kevasim (lit., be made from sheep/wool, but is taken in the following way)”: those things that are about the secret matters of the world should remain under your clothing (i.e., concealed).

Cannabis and the Cronies

by Moshe Feiglin

The threat was loud and clear. “If you continue to pressure (about cannabis) you will not be a Knesset Member any longer,” MK Oren Hazan’s father threatened me.

Now you can understand why Oren Hazan is fighting so hard against legalization.

“MK Feiglin is falsely accusing us,” cried the General Manager of the Sarel Company. If he did not enjoy parliamentary immunity, we would sue him now for libel.”

“At this moment I remove my parliamentary immunity,” I answered. “You are welcome to sue me.”

Of course, no libel suit ever surfaced from the Sarel Company of insiders and cronies, which enjoys a permanent exemption from competing in tenders for furnishing supplies to Israel’s government-owned hospitals. The well-connected and cynical company fully understands the gold-mine potential of the Israeli cannabis market.

As an MK, I managed to insert some changes in the cannabis “reform”. But instead of opening the market so that the ill could get their medicine, instead of allowing Israeli agriculture to thrive and instead of affording Israel’s citizens the liberty to decide for themselves what they would like to smoke – the reform ultimately concentrated all of that potential in the hands of one Mafioso group.

Imagine if 20 years ago, someone had understood the potential of the up-and-coming high-tech industry and would have established a “reform” that would allow only insiders to enter the field. Imagine if they would have formed special police units to prevent the development and export of Israeli high-tech without a license (which of course, would only be given to those in the insiders group).

How would Israel’s economy have looked today? How would Tel Aviv’s skyline have looked?

Cannabis is a health and economic potential of the same caliber. Israel was already researching and developing thousands of strains specific to various illnesses. Most of this potential has already migrated overseas. This is a huge export potential that could create tens of thousands of jobs in smart cannabis farms in Israel’s outlying areas.

Above and beyond everything else, these strains of cannabis can save the lives of cancer patients – sometimes literally curing them – and provide relief for many serious medical conditions. These medicines are currently cruelly and cynically barred from Israel’s ill.

The ZEHUT party will continue to fight for legalization.

When ZEHUT will be the decisive factor in the formation of the next government coalition – there will not be a new government formed without legalization from the very start of the new Knesset term.

The Prime Minister is Wide Awake

by Moshe Feiglin

“We call upon the Prime Minister to wake up!” the people at the demonstration following the brutal murder of Ori Ansbacher called out.

Another murder.

“He is very awake,” I said to myself.

But out of respect for the (apolitical) gathering, I did not say that in my speech.

He is very awake and aware of the fact that all those shouting there, with the exception of the ZEHUT voters, are all deep inside his pocket.

He is very aware of the fact that after he embraced Arafat, was willing to surrender the Golan Heights, gave Hebron to the PLO, released thousands of terrorists, supported the Expulsion from Gush Katif, was defeated at the Marmara, surrendered to the Iranians, destroyed Amona, destroyed Netiv Ha’avot, destroyed the Ulpana neighborhood, destroyed homes in Ofra, destroyed outposts, froze construction, surrendered on the Temple Mount, was defeated in Operation Protective Edge, pays protection money to the Hamas and is preparing the division of Jerusalem with Trump – he is very aware that just this morning, the head of the New Right party committed to endorsing him – and only him - for the premiership after the elections.

There has never been a leader like him, who is so beloved by his constituents even after he repeatedly slaps them in the face.

So why should he make a change to what is working so well?

He is very aware that the Land of Israel is very important to his electoral support base. But that tribalism and defeating the Left is even more important to them.

Our Prime Minister is actually very awake. And for that reason, the murders – and the privileges afforded the murderers – will continue.

“How can you say that the rightist bloc doesn’t interest you at all?” a childhood friend who was expelled from Gush Katif asked me yesterday.

“Have you forgotten what party expelled you from your home?” I answered.

Our prime minister is wide awake.

For the sake of the Land of Israel and the security of its people – it would be best if he went home to get some sleep.

Moshe Feiglin at Protest Over Murder of Ori Ansbacher HY”D

At a protest last Saturday night following the murder of 19 year old Ori Ansbacher by an Arab terrorist, Moshe Feiglin said the following:

"We are here tonight because we have to publicize what happened. We are here tonight because we are sick and tired of gag orders, silencing orders and denial orders. We are sick of the denial of the war that is being waged against us unilaterally. There is a direct line between the protection money that we are paying for the quiet in Gaza - after we were defeated with 500 missiles - and the gag order that is attempting to deny and silence the murder of Ori.

I will never forget the shiva of the family of Netanel Arami, my God avenge his blood. I went to pay a condolence call to the poor family in Lod. I entered an empty room - because the Shabak had spread word that the cause of the murder was apparently criminal. I had to fight to convince the police and security apparatus to admit that this was a nationalistic murder. Later I learned that there are about two hundred families here in Israel who know that their loved ones were murdered by Arab terrorists. But they are denied, they are silenced.

“Silence is slime,” said Jabotinsky. Do you hear there, in the ruling party? Silence is slime – and you are part of the slime. You empower the slime. We will not let you silence us. We will publicize, we will talk, we will not allow more murders and rapes and war under gag orders."

The Upside of Evil

by Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table. -W. H. Auden

In describing the construction plans of the Holy Tabernacle, the Torah adds a short line about the fuel needed to light the Menorah, the golden candelabrum, which was one of the special fixtures of the Tabernacle. It states as follows:

“And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.” – Exodus 27:22

The Berdichever focuses on the choice of words of “beating” the olive to get light. He compares the olive in this case to one’s evil inclination. The evil inclination is constantly enticing us to follow our base desires, to indulge in what is forbidden and to separate us from spiritual and divine service.

The solution is to “beat” that desire and then elevate that very same desire, to channel it into divine service. To use that passion, that interest, that energy, in holy ventures. We need to consider that if we have some physical yearning, how much stronger should our yearning be for the infinite, for God? If we have some physical fear, how much stronger should our fear and awe of the divine be?

When we’ve managed to convert that evil inclination, those base desires into spiritual energy, into holy actions, then that evil has become a base, a powerful springboard for good.

This is one of the reasons God has created some distance, some obfuscation between us and Him. For if we constantly, diligently served him without fail, with pure clarity and devotion, then God would not have the same level of satisfaction from our efforts, from our struggle to overcome our evil inclination, by our conquest of our animalistic instincts and converting ourselves into more spiritual beings. A state of constant bliss is not really bliss. Us mortals need the ups and downs. We need the encounter with our evil inclination to appreciate good, to fight for good, to conquer evil on a regular basis, predominantly in ourselves.

When circumstances have us at a spiritual distance from God and we then “beat” the evil inclination, break the masks that hide us from God and cleave to divine service, God is overjoyed, and it causes a divine light to spread forth.

May we always overcome our negative natural impulses and turn our inner demons into radiant light.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Shamrak Report: Declassified anti-Israel UNRWA and more...

by Jackson Richman
A new report by the US Government Accountability Office accuses the US State Department of misleading Congress over the past couple of years regarding actions by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, over the distribution of textbooks that promote Palestinian Authority violence against Israel...
For months, the GAO blocked the report’s release due to the State Department requesting it be classified...
According to the report... “In all three of the reports, State omitted information concerning whether UNRWA found that any educational materials used in its schools do not comply with 2 of 4 elements, dignity and not inducing incitement.”
“It is unacceptable the textbooks that are used delegitimize Israel and demonize the Jewish people; it is unacceptable this program attempts to engrain this hatred in the hearts of children, it is unacceptable American’s hard earned money went towards its funding and it’s unacceptable the State Department lied to Congress about these very realities,” Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Scott Perry (R-PA) said.
Zeldin added, “We must ensure funding for UNRWA remains frozen while this and other important issues remain uncorrected... (For the US State Department, it is business as usual - it has been continuously undermining President Trump’s pro-Israel policy!)
When will it be ENOUGH for the Israeli Government?
Ori Ansbacher, 19, was brutally murdered in Jerusalem!
Her body was found in a wooded area near Ein Yael in southwestern Jerusalem, next to the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. Ori is the daughter of Rabbi Gadi Ansbacher, the rabbi of the yeshiva in Tekoa. Her parents said that “Ori served at the youth treatment center in Ein Yael, Jerusalem. She was a holy soul in search of meaning and sensitive to every person and creature, with an infinite desire to fix the world with her goodness.” (The governments of Israel have done nothing to stop it! 'Symbolic' measures of retaliation are not the solution – the removal of hostile, terror infested enemy population from the Jewish land is!)
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
Immediately after Israel won the War of Independence, “population transfer” – transfer of Arabs from Israel – became illegal, in reality, for Israel only! Several billion of dollars are spent each year on already the 4th generation of ‘unique’, ‘professional’ Palestinian refugees with one goal only – to undermine the legitimacy and existence of the Jewish state!
Please, read and distribute!
Israel has announced it will reactivate its “virtual embassy” for Gulf countries which is essentially a Twitter account called ‘Israel in the Gulf’ launched for the first time in 2013 but then abruptly stopped in 2014. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states have shared interests with Israel, especially regarding the effort to forge a united front against Shiite Iran’s regional ambitions. These warming strategic ties have translated into tangible benefits. (Not beyond the shared interests. They’ll turn on Israel once they don’t need Israel any more.)
The Russians have switched their focus to Lebanon and are hailing Hizballah as a “force for stability and security” ahead of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow on Feb. 21. Moscow backs Hizballah ahead of Netanyahu visit, eyes Lebanon’s gas! (Putin has already secured gas exploration off the coast of Syria.)
New Right Chairman Naftali Bennett called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to implement a law that would dock money that is used to pay jailed terrorists from the Palestinian Authority. Bennett's remarks come following the murder of Ori Ansbacher by an Arab from Hebron. (It is long overdue, but triggered by awful terror attack and an election season! Israel is always 'reacting’ to terror attacks, instead of creating solid policies. They are still not talking about compensation to terror victims and cover for additional security expanse due to enemy’s terror!)
The Palestinian Authority (PA) government rejected a US-led conference on Middle East peace and security due to take place next week in Warsaw, branding it an "American conspiracy". (Avoidance is a common practice to keep the status quo!)
The US Army has purchased the Iron Dome from Israel, the missile defense system that for over a decade has been protecting Israelis from rockets launched from Gaza. The Iron Dome is equipped with 24 pounds of explosives and can intercept an incoming missile from 2.5 to 55 miles away. It also has the ability to monitor the projectile’s trajectory and calculate if it will land in an open area or population centers and operate accordingly. (Will they steal the technology, as it was done with Israeli developed drones?)
A worrying phenomenon appears to have developed on the border with the Gaza Strip that sees parents of children taken to Israel for medical treatment abandon their offspring in order to remain in the country as illegal residents. This occurrence began a few months ago is not showing signs of slowing down. (They hate Israel, so why do they not go to Egypt for medical treatment or work?)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Israel Resilience Party leader and Benny Gantz, saying the former IDF chief "said he will carry out a second disengagement in Judea and Samaria, and Mahmoud Abbas wished him luck in the elections." Responding to Netanyahu, Gantz said, "You expelled Jews. You paid protection racket to Hamas. Your time is up, we're moving forward," referring to Netanyahu's votes in favour of the Gaza Disengagement in 2005 and the Qatari money the Netanyahu government has agreed to allow into the Gaza Strip in recent months. (Both of them are right! Israel needs true Zionist leadership, not self-absorbed politicians!)
There were 1,119 rockets and mortar shells that hit Israel in 2018. Palestinian terrorism throughout 2018 showed two main trends: the increase of violence from the Gaza Strip after about three and a half years of relative quiet, and the increased number of Arab terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, primarily stabbing, vehicular and shooting attacks. (It has been clear since 1922 that so-called Palestinians will never live in peace with Jews. Israel needs leadership that is willing to realise it and remove the cancer of terror from Jewish land!)
The Senate passed a pro Israel/anti BDS bill. It passed 77-23. The list of US Senators who voted against the bill included only one member of the GOP: Rand Paul. The other 22 senators were Democrats, including four US senators who have announced their intentions to run for president in 2020: Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
1. The IDF arrested two Lebanese men who crossed the border into Israel and were discovered to be carrying 11 kilograms (25 pounds) of hashish
2. The military arrested five terrorists, who crossed into Israel from the southern Gaza Strip with knives.
Hamas terrorist organization planned at the start of last year to deprive Israeli Jews and visitors to the Holy Land of one of its most precious resources: its natural beauty and its nature reserves. Where the earth was scorched in a nature reserve near Kibbutz Be’eri, anemones have begun to defiantly blossom nevertheless. The fields and hills are green in southern Israel. Local residents embarked on a planting campaign, and in places where terrorists chose to burn and destroy, Israelis planted new trees instead. “They burn, we plant!”
Quote of the Week:
"We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants 'Death to America' and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism, or those who spread its venomous creed. With one voice, we must confront this hatred anywhere and everywhere it occurs" - US President Donald Trump in his State of the Union speech – Enemies of Israel in Gaza and Ramallah are also chanting “Death to America”, at the same time as “Death to Israel”!
Time to “Leave Egypt”.
by Steven Shamrak.
Every year Jews celebrate the exodus from Egypt and freedom from slavery. It took place 3,320 years ago. It was a fundamental event in Jewish history. At the same time, it symbolizes not just freedom from physical slavery. Passover reminds us that internal freedom of mind and spirit are even more significant. This freedom allows us real freedom of choice.
Jews have nothing to apologise for. We have the right to live in peace on Jewish land in our own country. We lived in Galut (exile, slave mentality) for too long. It is time to say – “NO more”!
I am ashamed and feel sorry for those Jews who have no self-respect and are helping enemies to destroy Israel. Why do they hate themselves so much?
I do respect non-Jewish people who do not know and do not care about the Arab-Israel conflict. They are honest hard working people who have their own problems and interests. At the same time, there is a danger when opinions are formed under the influence of selectively presented information, provided by mainly a press that is biased against Israel. People become attached to the belief system they have adopted and it is difficult to change it. For Jews the understanding of the conflict and support for Israel is existential! I would like to remind all of them: 
1. Israel is on a front line of the war between Arab-Muslim expansionism and Western democracy. This war has already shifted to America and Europe. 
2. According to the UN’s own legal opinion: Judea, Samaria and Gaza do not belong to any country at the moment. Therefore, it is wrong to call them ‘Occupied Territories’. They used to be a part of Jewish land 2000 years ago and were allocated by the League of Nations for the creation of Eretz-Israel in 1922. There was never an Arab country in Palestine. 
3. So-called Palestinians are Arabs and Muslims who moved to the territories during the last 130 years, after the Zionist pioneers started to revitalize the land. 
4. Arabs have no intention of living in peace with Jews. When the former president of Egypt Nasser was asked: Why do you continue to fight Israel after so many defeats? His answer was: “Because. We need to win only one war!” Please make no mistake, the Arabs’ aim is total destruction of the Jewish state!
5. Arabs do respect charisma and strong leadership. It is time for Israel and her government to show it and end terror.  
6. Enemies and so-called friends have never treated the Jewish people as equals. They will never support Israel unconditionally regardless of facts. They do not care about facts and deliberately distort or falsify them (remember the fake massacre of Jenin and how much noise they made about it).  
7. After 60 years of wars and terror, it is time to become an Independent nation with self-respect and be equal among equals. No more double standards!
8. Israel was created to fulfil a 2000 year-old national inspiration of Jewish people. Jews have the right to regain control over all Jewish land. The time is NOW!
At the same time, I am ashamed and feel sorry for Jews who advocate destruction of Israel. Why do they hate themselves so much?

The Anti-Israel Religion

by Dr. Asaf Romirowsky

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Anti-Israelism is the modern face of anti-Semitism and just as toxic. Anti-Israelism is a modern-day religion in that it demands unquestioning adherence to a dogmatic doctrine and rejects non-believers as morally inferior.

Continue to full article ->

Holy Garments

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

You shall make holy garments for your brother Aharon, for honor and glory. (Shemos 28:2)

AS RASHI EXPLAINED in last week’s parsha, the Aron was comprised of three boxes, one within each other. The outer most box was made of a thin layer of gold, as was the innermost one. These two boxes sandwiched a thicker, inner box made of wood, which certainly made it lighter and easier to carry.

Lightness was probably an important consideration, but there was also an important lesson being taught by this construction. Everything about the Mishkan was a lesson about life and how to live it, and this was especially true when it came to the Aron.

Of the many lessons that the Aron taught, one was about who we are. The inner layer of gold represented the eternal soul. The outer layer of gold represented the need to project the reality of the INNER eternal soul on the OUTSIDE. Clothing to do not “make the man,” but they are a VERY good indicator of what kind of person is wearing them, projecting to the world how the wearer views himself.

The wood inside represented the body which, like wood, is transient and subject to decay. The very nature of the body should make a person humble, as Dovid HaMelech often reflected in Tehillim. This is what the rabbis emphasized here:

Akavia ben Mahalalel would say: “Reflect upon three things and you will not come to the hands of transgression. Know from where you came, where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give a judgment and accounting. From where you came—from a putrid drop; where you are going—to a place of dust, maggots and worms; and before whom you are destined to give a judgment and accounting—before the supreme King of Kings, The Holy One, Blessed is He.” (Pirkei Avos 4:1)

The world has it all wrong. Billions of dollars are spent each year on clothing for the body, not the soul. Of course all clothing goes over the body, and covers it. But much of the clothing, especially the kinds that people spend a lot of money on, is designed to focus people on bodies, not souls. Instead of having their “wood” sandwiched by two layers of “gold,” they are two layers of “wood” on top of their layer of “gold.”

This parsha makes this point. It’s talking about the kohanim, but the message applies to anyone seeking a meaningful life. It says:

You shall make holy garments for your brother Aharon, for honor and glory. (Shemos 28:2)
In everyday terms, this would simply mean make regal clothing, as befitting the spiritual leader of the Jewish nation. It had to be clothing that would impress upon him and the people that he held one of the highest and most important offices in the history of mankind. It had to be clothing that when worn, it helped the Kohen Gadol to never lose sight of his high ranking position.

In more Kabbalistic terms, the verse refers to clothing that reflected the Kohen Gadol’s inner essence, his SOUL. There is nothing more honorable or glorious than the human soul, the essence of a person and their divine resemblance. The clothing a person wears is only honorable and glorious when it reflects this reality on the outside.

A similar concept is alluded to by the following verse:

All honor [awaits] the King's daughter who is within; her raiment is superior to settings of gold. (Tehillim 45:14)

All honor [awaits] the King’s daughter who is within, etc.: Those who deserve all honor, and they are the nation of the King who behaved with modesty, now their garments will be more esteemed than the settings of gold of the High Priests. (Rashi)

Modesty is not one of man’s fortes. God made mankind with an appealing appearance, and the ability to “appreciate” it. Consequently, people with limited spiritual awareness tend to cater to that appreciation, one way or another, and USUALLY at the cost of modesty. Countless billions of dollars are spent on an ongoing basis just to take advantage of all of this.

Modest behavior, whether we’re talking about clothing or mannerisms, is a reflection of the extent to which a person’s soul has a say in their direction in life. We all have ambitions, and some are so important to us that we feel as if we’re missing out on life if they’re not fulfilled. But the greatest ambition of all has to be, living a soul-led life. Though that may not fetch us the attention we crave in THIS world, it WILL get us the attention we will cherish in the NEXT one.

It’s a hard call, evident by how confusing it can be even for those who purportedly service their souls over their bodies. But one hard and honest look into a mirror can reveal the truth, if not an actual mirror, then at least a spiritual one. “When I look at myself and how I live,” we have to ask ourselves, “is it the honor and glory of my soul that I project, or that of my body?”

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Titzaveh: Holy Healing

Hang Arafat Irfaiya!

(Ed. note: as long as he dies slowly and painfully, it works for me.)

by Victor Rosenthal

Arafat Irfaiya is the monster that raped, murdered and mutilated a beautiful 19-year old girl last week because she was a Jew living in Eretz Yisrael. He is guilty of crimes against the Jewish people, and he should be executed for them.

There is a law in Israel that prescribes the death penalty for crimes against the Jewish people committed during WWII or “the period of the Nazi regime.” The limitation to the Nazi period is illogical and should be removed. Murdering Jews, qua Jews, in 2019 is not different than doing it in 1943. Murdering them in order to try to destroy the Jewish state is a crime against the Jewish people no less than deporting them to Auschwitz.

Military courts can impose a death penalty for crimes committed in the territories, but unfortunately the site of the murder was just inside the Green Line, so the trial will be in a civilian court.

The leniency shown by the Jewish state to murderers motivated by “nationalism” – Palestinian Arab Jew-hatred – is remarkable, including almost Scandinavian-style prison conditions, regular salaries paid by the Palestinian authority, and often early release as part of political deals or as blackmail for hostages.

This is stupid. The smiles often displayed by Palestinian Arab terrorists like Irfaiya as they are sentenced testify to the fact that they see themselves as victorious despite their conviction.

Keeping these creatures in prison is expensive, provides an incentive for hostage-taking – you may recall that in 2011 one Jewish soldier, Gilad Shalit, was exchanged for 1027 terrorists, many of whom were guilty of murder – and, thanks to the Palestinian Authority’s payment system and the adulation they receive in Palestinian society, probably encourages further terrorism rather than deterring it. When they are released, they often return to terrorism. In 2015 it was reported that six additional Israelis had been murdered by prisoners released in the Shalit deal.

Every time – and there have been many times – that a Palestinian Arab terrorist commits a particularly horrible murder, there are calls for the imposition of the death penalty. And every time, it doesn’t happen.

There are numerous objections to the death penalty in general. But in this case, and in most cases of Palestinian terrorism, they don’t apply. There is no doubt of Arafat Irfaiya’s guilt; there is physical evidence, including DNA, plus a confession and reenactment of the crime.

It is often said that the death penalty is not a deterrent, and this may be true in the West, especially in places like California, where the probability of a death sentence being carried out in a reasonable time is almost zero. In the Middle East, however, there are cultural factors that have the opposite effect. In our region, not executing a murderer is a sign of weakness, a signal that the victim’s family or tribe is too weak to preserve its honor. And a tribe without honor is a tribe whose members can be murdered with impunity. Failing to impose the death penalty actually has the opposite of a deterrent effect – it encouragesmurdering Jews.

Since 1967, Israel and the Jewish people have undergone a continuous loss of honor relative to their enemies, as they have made a series of unrequited concessions (starting with the surrender of sovereignty over the Temple Mount). With Oslo the pace of the concessions – and the concomitant terrorism against Israel – accelerated greatly, and there are beginning to be murmurs that still more is about to be expected of us.

If we wish to survive as a Jewish state, the pendulum must be forced to swing back the other way. I believe that a comprehensive policy to regain the initiative – and our honor – is needed. A small part of it would be to actually punish terrorists in proportion to their crimes. Executing Arafat Irfaiya would be a start.

But only a start. How did it come about that there are so many like Irfaiya? Why did two young Palestinian Arabs viciously slaughter five members of the Fogel family including a 3-month old baby girl? Why did another Palestinian Arab teenager climb through a window and stab Hallel Yaffe Ariel to death in her bed? Why have there been hundreds of terror attacks against Jews by Palestinians in the past four years, many by perpetrators who are not known to be directly associated with traditional terrorist groups?

The answer is not complicated. When Israel invited Yasser Arafat back from exile and allowed the establishment of the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo accords, one of Arafat’s first actions was to decree that every institution in the territories under his control – schools, mosques, summer camps, newspapers, radio and TV – would teach violent hatred of Jews and Israel. Every anti-Jewish trope was included, from traditional Muslim “apes and pigs” slanders to memes borrowed from European antisemitism. Terrorists who murder Jewish women and children are treated as military heroes who have carried out successful “operations.” The project was continued by Mahmoud Abbas after Arafat’s death, and in Gaza after the Hamas takeover. Its effect has been to paint Jews as vermin that it is not only permissible, but laudable, to kill.

At some point, Abbas introduced the policy of paying salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons (if they should be killed during their attacks, the stipend is given to the family). Despite threats from the US and Israel to cut payments to the PA (the US has already reduced aid to the PA in accordance with the Taylor Force Act and PM Netanyahu has promised to start deducting equivalent funds from import duties collected on behalf of the PA), the PA continues to pay terrorists, which Abbas has called his top priority. Salaries are proportional to the length of prison sentences, which means that they are proportional to the severity of the crime.

The combination of the coordinated program of indoctrination, plus financial incentives for terrorist acts, has bred several generations of monsters like Arafat Irfaiya.

What this means is that the leaders of the PLO and Hamas, who have programmed the murderers and who pay them, are also guilty of murder. Indeed Irfaiya and the other monsters are no more than hitmen. The root of the problem is planted higher up.

We have a long road to travel to recover from the errors we’ve made since 1967 and since Oslo. But we have to start small.

As a first step, let’s hang Arafat Irfaiya and go on from there.

The Yishai Fleisher Show: Amalekites, Antisemites, Jihadists, Oh My!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Rav Kook on Parashat Tetzaveh: The High Priest's Golden Crown

Perhaps most striking of the special garments worn by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) was the tzitz. This was a gold plate tied around the forehead, engraved with the words “Holy to God.” What was the significance of this priestly crown?

Rav Kook explained that the tzitz, fashioned out of pure gold, reflected the loftiest spiritual riches. The crown’s placement on the forehead - the location of our inner drive (ratzon) for good and holiness - symbolized the kohen’s aspirations for the highest good contained within his inner soul.

The Talmud teaches that the tzitz encircled the kohen’s forehead “from one ear to the other” (Shabbat 63b). What is the significance of the ears in relation to the tzitz?

Two Types of Listening

The ear is an organ which we use to hear and listen. One aspect of listening, represented by one ear, is directed above - receptive to the inner voice of elevated thought. The tzitz extended from this ear to the forehead, indicating that its function was to conduct these lofty thoughts to the kohen’s inner will. In short, it symbolized the kohen’s aspirations to actualize his loftiest goals, implementing them in life, character traits, and deeds.

The second aspect of listening, our awareness of the physical world below, is represented by the second ear. This connection allows the physical world to acquire a new inner content, while providing practical knowledge which could not be attained in the spiritual realm. Here the spiritual is enriched through insight into the material world, its actions and emotions.

The tzitz encompassed both types of listening - receptiveness to lofty ideals from above, and practical understanding from the physical world below. It provided a channel connecting these two realms, uniting the world with all of its disparate parts.

In this way, the Kohen Gadol became whole and integrated, aware of how the physical can extend and enrich the spiritual realm. He could serve as a unifying force for the people, who share this yearning for complete unity.

This ability to bridge the physical and spiritual worlds corresponds to the essence of the mission of the kohanim. They are a conduit, connecting the Jewish people to God and God to the Jewish people. The Talmud describes them as sheluchei dedan - our representatives, as they bring Israel’s offerings to God. And they are also sheluchei deRachamana - God’s emissaries, bringing God’s blessings and Torah to Israel.

The placement of the tzitz, encompassing both ears, indicated that the Kohen Gadol should not suffer from a disconnect between his spiritual and physical sides. As a conduit between humanity and God, he needed to be attuned to the spiritual, while still in touch with the material world.

(Sapphire from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, Shabbat 6:72, p. 113)

Tetzaveh and preparation for Purim

Parashat Tetzaveh 5779
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Shemot 27:20

ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך כתית למאור להעלת נר תמיד
And you shall command the Children of Israel, that they take to (for) you clear oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the eternal flame ablaze

The Midrash Raba (Scriptural exegesis) on this week’s parasha compares the Jewish nation with olive oil in two respects: olive oil does not combine with other liquids; and when added to another liquid olive oil rises to the top. So too, the Jewish people maintain a hard core who have never inter-married with Gentiles and never will, and when permitted to, we always rise to the top of society.

But there is a third comparison between us and olive oil: Just as the olive delivers its pure oil through pressure, so too do the Jewish people express their unique genius under duress. However, I take issue with the last comparison that we function best under duress. I understand the comparison to mean that we function best not when we are the victims of duress, but rather when we cause pressure, duress and suffering upon our enemies.

The Gemara (Megila 7a) relates the aftermath of the great miracles that occurred in the days of Mordechai and Esther:

!אמר רב שמואל בר יהודה: שלחה להם אסתר לחכמים: קבעוני לדורות

Rav Shmuel bar Yehuda said:
Esther sent a request to the rabbis, “Establish me for all generations,” which Rashi explains as her desire that the rabbis decree a new festival in Israel to recall the miracles by feasting and reading the events.

The request was rejected when the rabbis said to Esther:

שלחו לה: קנאה את מעוררת עלינו לבין האומות

They replied: Your request, if granted, will arouse zealous jealousy of the nations against us

And Rashi explains that the rabbis feared the Gentiles might regard our celebrations not as thanks to the Almighty for saving us, but as expressions of joy over their downfall, thereby paving the way for the shedding of more Jewish blood.

Esther replied to the rabbis:

שלחה להם כבר כתובה אני על דברי הימים למלכי מדי ופרס

I (the details of the episode) are already written in the chronicles of the kings of Medes and Persia.

Now, at first glance, Esther’s reply reflects the thought: since the entire episode was recorded in the national chronicles, the “genie was already out of the bottle”, hence since the Gentiles had already suffered a great defeat, any further symbols of celebration would not increase the hatred more than it was already.

Rashi, however, explains Esther’s reply differently:

ושם יהיו רואין מה שאירע להם על ידי ישראל

They (the Gentiles) will see in the chronicles what happened to them at the hands of the Jewish people.

Rashi’s commentary places the emphasis on the fear factor of the Gentiles, who would surely be reluctant to harm the Jews after they had seen what befell them at our hands.

This is a song of a very different melody!

Esther, the beautiful, refined, gentle, nice, elevated Jewish girl is teaching the rabbis of the day a lesson in Jewish history: if we desire to live as free people, then we have to remind the anti-Semites around us that HaShem has blessed us with an iron fist.

Because the rabbis heard the message, we now and forever have the holiday of Purim.

Purim is not an isolated event in Jewish history. It has repeated itself in almost every generation, with, of course, a change of language. At times, the hate has been expressed in Latin, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, German, Polish, Arabic, Farsi, English, in fact in almost every language in the world. That is why the halacha (Torah law) states that if a megillah is written in any other language beside Ivrit (Hebrew), one has completed his obligation of reading the Megillah (scroll) on the condition that he understands that language.

Over the last 2000 years of galut (exile) we were unable to use our “iron fist” to smash the anti-Semite. But with the grace of HaShem we have now returned home to the land of the Patriarchs, King David, the Maccabi’im and others, and have begun to return to ourselves. We prefer to be “a people of the Book,” but reality has caused us to be also “a people of the sword”. And when TZAHAL (the IDF) uses the sword with cunning and craftiness, HaShem grants us miraculous victories.

This is the spirit of Eretz Yisrael, where the single lamb among the 70 wolves not only survives but thrives, to the astonishment of the wolves.

Unfortunately, there are too many Jews who do not understand that the spirit of Eretz Yisrael makes it incumbent upon us to excel in all the myriad facets of national life. Too many shirk their religious and national responsibilities in the quest for a life of leisure, leaving the future of Am Yisrael in the hands of the hard-core few who study Torah, and take up arms in defense of the Holy Land, and build the nation for the future.

Escape works until one’s Jewish conscience begins to rattle in his brain at night. But if one’s conscience does not cause him duress, he should know that like certain tuma (a state of Halachic impurity) situations, where the infected person is ejected from his home and city, so too is the placid, indifferent, passive, blasé, nonchalant, aloof, unmoved, disinterested, apathetic Jew, not part of the vibrant “hard-core” eternal Am Yisrael.

The reason for the near calamity at the time of Mordechai and Esther was the apathy of the Jews who callously partook of the king’s feast, served on vessels taken from the holy Bet Hamikdash.

The dream of returning to Eretz Yisrael and rebuilding the Bet Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was no longer part of their Jewish agenda.

The building of a Jewish religious, cultural and social life in Persia and other sites in the galut took such precedence over the restoration of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael in accordance with Torat Yisrael, that when Ezra returned to the Holy Land, less than 43 thousand Jews accompanied him.

The scenario is very similar to Jewish life in today’s galu’yot, with the exception of one major factor – there is no Mordechai and Esther in the USA or elsewhere to save the Jews from their fate at the hands of their neighbors.

Seventy years ago, and perhaps even 100 years ago, the unstoppable, irresistible steamroller of Jewish history began moving in the direction of Eretz Yisrael. There is no human force in the world, in any configuration, that can prevent the Jewish people’s return home to all the land promised to us by HaShem, and the eventual rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash.

For the present time, all Jews still have free choice to climb aboard the irresistible steamroller. But history has its time limitations and waits for no man.

Probably, the most forceful and emphatically religious statement in the Megillah is when Mordechai senses Esther’s hesitation in involving herself, and declares (Esther 4:14):

כי אם החרש תחרישי בעת הזאת רוח והצלה יעמוד ליהודים ממקום אחר ואת ובית אביך תאבדו ומי יודע אם לעת כזאת הגעת למלכות

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

If the Jews in the galut will join with us, we will all share in the merits. If they do not, who knows what fate awaits them. For it is only here, in Eretz Yisrael, where the words of Esther as explained by Rashi come true, that:

שלחה להם כבר כתובה אני על דברי הימים למלכי מדי ופרס

I (the details of the episode) are already written in the chronicles of the kings of Medes and Persia.

And Rashi says:

ושם יהיו רואין מה שאירע להם על ידי ישראל

They (the Gentiles) will see in the chronicles what happened to them at the hands of the Jewish people.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5779/2019 Nachman Kahana

"The Kohen Gadol [High Priest] Among His Brothers"

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

The Kohen Gadol's job was to atone for the entire Jewish People and bestow of his benevolent spirit on the entire nation, lovingly. As the kohanim say each day, blessing G-d "who sanctified us with the holiness of Aaron and commanded us to bless His people Israel with love." Indeed, there were two ornaments on his outfit, and they contained the names of all the tribes of Israel. There was the breastplate [choshen], on which were embossed twelve precious gems, each different from the rest, and engraved on them were the names of the tribes. As it says: "The stones shall contain the names of the twelve sons of Israel, one for each of the twelve [stones]. Each one's name shall be engraved as on a signet ring, to represent the twelve tribes" (Exodus 28:21). The breastplate lay on the Kohen Gadol's heart as it says, "Aaron will thus carry the names of Israel's sons on the decision breastplate over his heart when he comes into the sanctuary. It shall be a constant remembrance before God" (verse 29).

The second ornament, the sardonyx stones were on the Kohen Gadol's shoulders, over his apron [ephod]. On them as well were the twelve names of the tribes engraved, as it says, "Take two sardonyx stones, and engrave on them the names of Israel's sons six names on one stone, and the remaining six names on the second stone [inscribed] in the order of their birth.... Place the two stones on the two shoulder pieces of the ephod as remembrance stones" (28:9-12).

The entire Jewish People, in all their tribes and variations, down to the very last Jew, are engraved on the heart and weigh on the shoulders of the Kohen Gadol as a constant remembrance before G-d. The heart hints at the Kohen Gadol's great love and the shoulders hint at the responsibility resting on the Kohen Gadol.

Already with the Exodus from Egypt, the Jewish People had two leaders: Moses, our political leader who led us through the desert, gave us the Torah and judged all Israel. Along with him was his brother, Aaron the Kohen, who bestowed of his benevolent spirit on the people. Aaron "loved peace and would pursue it. He loved his fellowman and would bring him closer to Torah" (Avot 1). During the First and Second Temple periods as well we had high priests some of whom bestowed of their benevolent spirits on the political leadership, i.e., on the kings and on the entire nation.

In our own generation, the generation of national rebirth and the ingathering of the exiles, the further we move along the ascending path towards complete redemption, the more we encounter difficulties and complications from within and from without. Precisely at this time we need responsible, strong and wise political leadership that will know how to lead the nation to the goals and destinations for which purpose it was created. And alongside that political leadership we need moral and spiritual leadership, like the air we breath, which can bestow of its spirit on the nation and its leaders, just as the Kohen Gadol did.

Our generation has been privileged in that G-d, who plants in our midst the souls that each generation needs, planted the magnificent, benevolent soul of Rav Avraham Yitzhcak HaKohen Kook, zt"l. He was like the Kohen Gadol of our generation and of the generations to follow. Rav Kook bore the nation upon his heart and his shoulders. He loved our nation infinitely Just as G-d loves Israel, and just as we bless G-d who "chooses His people Israel with love." Rav Kook bequeathed to us the light that illuminates our pathways and our souls, as well as the souls of the generations to come, until the advent of a righteous redeemer, speedily in our day. The day is not far off when the light of Rav Kook will illuminate the path of the Jewish People, in all their streams and all their variety, and will be revealed for all to see. Then we will be the living fulfillment of, "A new light shall shine over Zion, May we all speedily merit that light."

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Moshe and Aharon - The Menorah and the Ark

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

"You shall command Bnei Yisrael that they shall take for you pure, pressed olive oil." (Shemot 27:20) The placement of this topic here is strange; it should have been written earlier in Parshat Teruma, adjacent to the instruction of the Menorah!

Furthermore, what is the connection to Moshe of this specific mitzvah: "You shall command," "they shall take for you"?

The Netziv explains this based on the Midrash Rabbah on the Parsha:

"Bring near to yourself." (28:1) This is what it says, "Had your Torah not been my preoccupation, then I would have perished in my affliction." (Tehillim 119:92) When G-d said to Moshe, "Bring near to yourself Aharon, your brother," he was upset. [G-d] said to him, "I gave you the Torah. Without it I would not have created my world."

In many places in his commentary to the Torah, the Netziv addresses two styles of learning towards the correct Halacha. One is the method of comparing one case to another, and the other if called "pilpul" of Torah," which means clarifying the Halacha based on the methodologies through which the Torah is expounded. The Netziv generally writes against the method of learning through pilpul, and he degrades it, because the commonplace manner of differentiations and pilpul not for the sake of Torah do not bring to clarifying the truth. However, here we are dealing with "the laws that are the rules of the Torah," and this is leads to the climax of learning which is called "Torah lishma." [He calls this "pilpul of Torah," to exclude the disrespect of the maskilim who objected to involvement in theoretical issues.]

These two styles of learning have legitimate place in Am Yisrael, and they have paradigms, Moshe and Aharon.

In Nedarim (38a) it says: "The Torah was given only to Moshe and his descendents." The conclusion of the Gemara is that this refers to "pilpul." According to the Netziv, this was Moshe's strength, to reach a conclusion based on the rules through which the Torah is expounded. In contrast, it says about Aharon, "to instruct Bnei Yisrael," i.e., Aharon's strength was through comparing cases through logic. In one instance, he outreasoned Moshe on the issue of the goat sin-offering. There it says, "Moshe heard, and he approved." (Vayikra 10:20)

With this, he explains a fascinating point in the matter of the mekoshesh at the end of Parshat Shelach. After he desecrated the Shabbat, and "it had not been clarified what should be done to him," they "brought him to Moshe and Aharon, and to the entire assembly." (Bamidbar 15:33-34) However, Moshe and Aharon were relatives, so how could the two sit together on a case? Rather, the two of them were heads of different Sanhedrim, each one in his own way. When they were uncertain of the law of the mekoshesh, they brought the case before Moshe, perhaps he would rule through investigating the methods by which the Torah is expounded, and also to Aharon, perhaps he would clarify it through logic.

This is what it says, "If a matter of judgment is hidden from you ... you shall come to the Kohanim, the Levites, and to the judge who will be in those days." (Devarim 17:8-9) The kohen rules though the method of logic, whereas the judge through the method of "pilpul."

There are two vessels that indicate this in the Mikdash, the Ark and the Menorah. The Ark contains the two Tablets, which are the written Torah and represent comparing one to another. However, the Menorah is the "pilpul" of Torah. This is indicated by the seven candles, which correspond to the seven wisdoms, which are the kaphtorim and flowers of the Menorah. Therefore, when a talmid chacham would say something nice his colleagues would say "kaphtor vaferach." Therefore, in the times of the second Temple, when there were many Yeshivot and many students, they merited the miracle of the Menorah. One who sees olive oil in his dream, should expect the light of Torah.

Thus, we understand the placement of the portion here, and not in Parshat Teruma. Immediately after the commandment to Moshe, it says, "Bring near to yourself Aharon your brother," and the Midrash says that Moshe was upset. Therefore, G-d prefaced by saying to Moshe that his share in Torah in chiddush and pilpul is greater than Aharon's share. Thus, the making of oil applies especially to Moshe, and the Torah says, "You shall command," "they shall take for you" - for yourself. Therefore, the Midrash says, "Had your Torah not been my preoccupation" - by delving in deeply and analyzing it, and this is the joy of learning in a manner of pilpul!

Down to the Earth and Up to the Sky (Address in America, 1952)

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli, zt"l

In describing the dwelling of the Shechina (Divine Presence) in the Mishkan, our parasha says: "I shall dwell in the midst of Bnei Yisrael … I took you out of the Land of Egypt to have My Presence dwell in your midst" (Shemot 29:45-6). Rashi says that Hashem took Bnei Yisrael out on condition that He would have His Shechina among them, and the Ramban adds that this dwelling of the Shechina is for Hashem’s benefit.

It is not possible to fully appreciate words of Torah without having made a mistake about them. We recognize light only through the experience of darkness. We do not feel the extent of our connection to Eretz Yisrael and the extent of the connection of the Jews of the Diaspora to Eretz Yisrael without visiting chutz la’aretz.

Here, Eretz Yisrael represents a grand aspiration for a full Jewish life that a Jew in the Diaspora does not believe he can bring to fruition. When one is abroad, Eretz Yisrael is like a mikdash. Whatever exists in Israel is not evaluated according to its material aspect, but it is elevated to spiritual values.

Even if Jews abroad have freedom and feel totally secure and steeped in plenty, even if they have authentic Torah and yeshivot, it is not the same thing. It is true that the Shechina goes to the place where Bnei Yisrael are sent into exile (Bamidbar Rabba 7:10), as they experienced in Egypt, where yeshivot were set up (ibid. 95:3), but it is still different.

The main thing that is missing here in chutz la’aretz is not the element of the Shechina that is for the purposes of man. The bigger problem is that which is missing as far as the dwelling of the Shechina for the purposes of Hashem – the idea of "Israel, that in you I [Hashem] will be glorified" (Yeshayahu 49:3). It is the situation in which a holy nation lives as a self-sustaining country, and puts the forms of government in place. Their nation is built not around the competition of athletes, taking journeys, or having a comfortable life. Rather they live as a nation in order to implement justice, seek the spiritual side of life, have the Shechina dwell, and thereby coronate Hashem in the world. The task of life, which is engrained in the blood of every Jew and makes him strive for such excellence, makes him want to connect himself to Eretz Yisrael.

Sometimes, due to the daily struggles, this matter is forgotten. That is why there is a value to hear from those who are coming from the outside and be reminded how special life in Israel is. We do not want this Land because of its material advantages. We want it because we feel that the content of our life is not complete without it. This we should remember even when things are trying.

The Holy Temple: A World of Splendor

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, beit El

Dedicated in honor of Adina Chaya Ita bat Erika

When we read the Torah portions dealing with the construction of the Tabernacle, we receive a lesson in the Torah's approach to art, splendor, and beauty. We are made aware of the fact that the Torah demonstrates aesthetic appreciation of forms of art such as drawing and weaving. The priestly garments must be made with incredible perfection, right down to their buttons and flowers. The same goes for the Ark and the Cherubim thereupon.

The Torah portions dealing with the Tabernacle dispel the mistaken impression that the Torah instructs man to confine himself to an abstract spiritual world and that the entire goal of the Jew should be to occupy himself with the Torah and the commandments without entering into other exterior realms, without developing deep natural talents, like art, beauty, imagination, and aesthetics.
This, though, is not the case. To the contrary, the Torah tells us to deepen all of our natural facets, to develop all of our talents, not to relinquish even one capacity, but to adopt and perfect it. For only through all of the existing channels can a person serve God. "This is my God, and I will glorify Him." - "Adorn yourself before Him in Mitzvoth" (the Sages on Exodus 14:2).

Here, in the most holy of places, the location of the resting of the Divine Presence among Israel, in the Holy Temple's Holy of Holies, here is where the height of artistic talent must be employed in order to build the entire Temple and its vessels in all of their beauty and magnificence.

The Holy Temple is referred to as the "Splendor of the World." The Almighty is not satisfied with the general commandment to construct a beautiful Holy Temple, magnificent, and flawless, but gives a detailed plan of how to make each and every vessel, and how everything ought to appear together. The Holy Temple is supposed to possess lofty and Divine beauty. Everything in the Temple must be in accordance with what Moses was shown on Mount Sinai. "And see that you make according to the pattern which is being shown to you on the mountain" (Exodus 25:40); And you shall construct the Tabernacle in accordance with that which was shown to you on the mountain" (Ibid. 26:30).

From here one may conclude that when Moses ascended to the heights of Mount Sinai, the Almighty showed him the heavenly Holy Temple and commanded him to build a similar earthly Holy Temple. The beauty, perfection, splendor, and magnificence of the Holy Temple, then, stem from the greatest of heights.

"Yet," one might ask oneself, "Should not we be concerned that the emphasis upon superficial beauty will damage spiritual concepts and cause a person to take a shallow approach; instead of delving into the lofty significance of the Holy Temple in which the Divine Presence rests, one is liable to become caught up in superficial and external appearance; instead of discerning the face of the Divine in the Temple, one is liable to become caught up in the beautiful and impressive vessels.

Such questions arise only because we have become distanced from our land and from the days of the Holy Temple's glory, for when the Holy Temple stood and the Divine Presence rested therein, faith would fill the entire heart. The dwelling of the Divine Presence in the Temple was felt in all of the spiritual senses, and there was no conflict between a person's outer and inner senses, between the "lights" and the "vessels." Rather, there was perfect harmony between all of the spiritual facets, and it was impossible for it to be otherwise, for the greatness of the Divine Presence appeared in the complete magnificence of the vessels. Only after the Destruction, in the Exile, was a contradiction between the content and the vessels themselves born, and only then did a conflict between the external and the internal make itself felt. Such is the sick nature of exile. This is not the case, though, when the Holy Temple is standing and the nation is healthy.

This is what we are anxiously awaiting - the speedy reconstruction of the Temple, in which, and through which, all of the facets will unite in perfect harmony, such that the Divine Presence once again reveal itself in the House of God, the "Splendor of the World."

The Garments of The Kohanim - Honor and Glory

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

The garments of the kohanim - the priests of Israel - occupy a great deal of space in this week’s parsha. These garments were meant to bring "honor and glory" to those who donned them. But they were also meant to be "honor and glory" to all of Israel. For when our religious leaders are objects of "honor and glory" we, their followers and public supporters also share and bask in that "honor and glory." The garments of the kohanim represent their sense of devotion and service to the God and people of Israel. This sense of devotion and holiness was supposed to cover the kohein at all times and to become part of his personality and worldview. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch points out that this was the message of the rabbis that stated that nothing was to be between the actual body of the kohein and the clothing that he wore. The garments of "honor and glory" were to become the very being, the skin if you will, of the kohein himself. Only if he constantly operated on the lofty plane of service and honor to God and Israel could he meet the challenge of being a kohein. Clothes may or may not make the man but the sense of honor, duty and loyalty that the garments of the kohanim represented certainly defined the sense of greatness that was expected from him. Once having had the privilege of wearing those holy vestments, the kohein was bound forever after to the concept of "honor and glory" that those garments represented and demanded.

Clothing plays a great role in current Jewish society. Certain sectors of our society identify their closeness to God and tradition in terms of the clothing that they wear. There is no doubt that clothing makes an impression upon those who see us and upon those who wear it. Research has shown that schools that have a school uniform have an ability to deal with problems of student discipline more easily than the free and open schools of casual, whatever you like type of dress. But there is a responsibility that comes with wearing special clothing. And that responsibility is to be people of "honor and glory." The Talmud states almost ironically that he who wishes to sin should travel to a place where he is unknown and to wear "black clothing" so that his behavior will not reflect on the whole of Israel. There are differing interpretations of what "black clothing" means in this context. But it is clear that it means a type of anonymous and casual clothing that will not reflect upon the Torah community and Judaism generally. One cannot wear the garments of "honor and glory" and behave in a fashion that contradicts those values of "honor and glory." Wearing garments is something that should never be taken lightly. For with the garments come the responsibilities and challenges as well. In the Second Temple when the anointing oil crafted by Moshe no longer existed, the rabbis stated that donning the garments of the priesthood was the installation ceremony itself of the kohanim. I think that this is true in our world and time as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Polls, Politicians, Peanuts and Popcorn

by Shmuel Sackett

As soon as elections are announced – anywhere around the world – the media immediately starts running polls. Where does this one stand? What about her? What if this guy drops out – how does it affect the ones that remain? Dozens of questions are thrown at the population, even before things have been finalized, and the media reports on these polls as though they were given at Sinai. I must admit, that although I have been actively involved in politics for over 20 years, I am still amazed at how people take these polls so seriously.

Yes, polls are an important tool, but not when conducted in 2-3 days, as 90% are. A reliable poll should take no less than 30 days. It should include at least 6 focus groups for an in-depth analysis. These 6 groups should be equally divided as 3 men’s groups and 3 women’s groups. The questionnaire should contain at least 40 (yes, 40) well-planned questions and asked to 1,000 people from a diverse background. The method of reaching the people should be via a combination of landline telephones, cellphones, internet, email and WhatsAPP. This will accurately reflect the society being tested and produce serious results. After the data has been gathered, it must be analyzed by statistical experts who can then arrive at intelligent conclusions. When a poll, following these rules has been taken, open your eyes and read it because the results will be very close to the final reality.

Unfortunately, the polls printed in the media are nothing like I listed above. They do not have focus groups, contain just 6-10 questions, use landline and cellphones only and the random sample of the population is between 400 and 500. This is why they are tremendously inaccurate. I realize that all polls have a slight margin of error but recently, many polls have been horribly inaccurate. Consider these few examples:
  1. This past August, Andrew Gillum ran in the Democratic primary for Governor of Florida. Polls had him in 4th place at 12%. The result? Andrew Gillum won the primary with 34% of the vote.
  2. This past November, many states across America voted for Senator. Believe it or not, 40% of the polls predicted the WRONG winner!
  3. Let’s go to Brazil where, this past October, there was an election for President. The front runner was a guy who had already been president twice. He left office in 2010 and was now running for a 3rd term. His name is Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. All polls showed him winning. Trailing close behind him was a woman named Marina Silva. Polls had her just 2-3 points away. In 3rd place – at just 15% - was Jair Bolsonaro. Here is a direct quote from a Brazilian website; “Bolsonaro does not poll well, even for the number 3 man in the line-up…” Well, guess who won and is now President of Brazil??? Jair Bolsonaro, the guy who “does not poll well”!!!
  4. Back to the USA: I don’t think I have to remind you of what happened in November 2016. Every poll had Hillary Clinton as the winner. All the “experts” predicted it and the polls backed them up. According to the polls, it wasn’t even going to be close. Sorry, Mrs Clinton, but just like the other examples above, the polls were horribly wrong.
  5. And finally – let’s travel back in time to May 31, 1996, in Israel. It was the first – and only time – that Israel had a direct election for Prime Minister; Shimon Peres vs Benjamin Netanyahu. All polls – yes, every single one – had Shimon Peres as the winner. Mina Tzemach, considered to be Israel’s leading political pollster (who is still being used today by all media outlets, although I have no idea why…) printed her final poll on election day; A seven point victory for Peres. That’s a big lead on the final day; seven points! Yet, as we know, Peres lost and Bibi became Prime Minister of Israel.
I could easily give other examples from recent elections all over the world, but this is an article, not a thesis. The point is clear; polls that are taken quickly to just get some data into the morning newspaper are highly unreliable and not worth the paper they are printed on. The only polls that are to be taken seriously are those that are conducted in a scientific manner, following the professional methods I listed above. Based on that, please keep reading because you are about to be pleasantly surprised.

Timor Group is an international political consulting firm. They have managed dozens of winning presidential, parliamentary and municipal campaigns on four continents and have an amazing, proven record of success. In December 2018, an American “Political Think Tank” decided to conduct an in-depth, deep analysis of the new Israeli political party, Zehut. They considered all of the Israeli polling companies but quickly realized that Timor Group was in a different league. They hired Timor to conduct this scientific, in-depth analysis of Zehut and two weeks ago, Timor presented a 60 page report of their findings. This wasn’t just a simple poll to see how many seats Zehut will get. It was about potential. It was about issues and how the Israeli public understands, identifies, supports or opposes the Zehut ideology on such core issues as legalization of marijuana, school vouchers, separation of religion and state and much more. It studied the entire Israeli population and broke down the data by gender, age and political affiliation.

Let me get right to the point. After all their data was gathered and analyzed, the official conclusion of the Timor Group was that 15% of the Israeli public are ready to vote for Zehut in these coming elections on one condition; they must be convinced that Zehut will pass the “minimum threshold”. (Note: in order to enter the Knesset, a party must win a minimum of 4 seats – which is approximately 140,000 votes) I must explain that 15% translates to about 630,000 votes (18 Knesset seats) so really, there’s nothing for Israelis to worry about. The problem is that according to Timor Group, Zehut – right now - is polling at just 2 seats because the public is deeply worried about the “minimum threshold”. In different words, 630,000 Zehut voters are worried that Zehut won’t get 140,000 votes! Yes, you read that right. 630,000 people want to vote for Zehut but need to know that 140,000 will actually do it!

The political consultants at Timor stated that – in all their years of experience – they never saw anything like this. Normally, a party that is currently polling at 2 may have a potential of 5. They have worked for other Israeli parties who were polling at 8 but had the potential to hit 11. That is the norm. However, in the case of Zehut, polling at 2 but a potential for 18?? That has simply never been done in political history!

Is a political revolution headed towards Israel? It certainly is possible! Elections are less than 2 months away so stay tuned.