Friday, December 14, 2018

Rav Kook on Parashat Vayigash: The First Exile

We need to analyze the purpose of exile. The Jewish people have spent more years in exile than in their own land. Why was it necessary to undergo these difficult trials? Could they not be punished by other means?

In fact, the Midrash states that the Jewish people are particularly suited for exile. They are called “the daughter of exiles,” since the Avot(forefathers) were sojourners and refugees, subjected to the whims and jealousies of local tyrants (Midrash Eicha Petichta1 on Isaiah 10:30).

Exile accomplishes two goals:

The people of Israel were created to serve God. The nation needs a pure love of God, undiluted by materialistic goals. Clearly, people are more prone to become absorbed in worldly matters when affluence and prosperity are readily attainable. In order that the Jewish people should realize their true spiritual potential, God made sure that the nation would lack material success for long periods of time.

Exile serves to spread the belief in one God throughout the world. As the Sages wrote in Pesachim87b, “The Holy One exiled Israel so that converts will join them.” Similarly, we find that God explained the purpose of exile and redemption in Egypt, “so that Egypt will know that I am God” (Ex. 7:5).

The major difference between these two objectives lies in the conditions of the exile. If the purpose of exile is to avoid significant material success over a long period of time — to prepare the Jewish people for complete dedication to God and His Torah — then such an expulsion by definition must be devoid of prestige and prosperity.

If, on the other hand, the goal is to influence and uplift the nations of the world, then being honored and respected in their land of exile will not contradict the intended purpose. On the contrary, such a state of honor would promote this aim.

Jacob’s Exile

Jacob had spiritually perfected himself to the extent that nothing in this world could dampen his burning love for God. His dedication was so great that he could interrupt the emotional reunion with his beloved son Joseph, after an absence of 22 years, and proclaim God’s unity with the Shemaprayer (Rashi on Gen. 46:29). Certainly, for Jacob himself, only the second goal of exile was applicable.

Jacob’s descendants, however, would require the degrading aspects of exile in order to purify them and wean them from the negative influences of a materialistic lifestyle. As their father, it was fitting that Jacob be led to Egypt in iron chains. But since Jacob personally would not be adversely affected by worldly homage and wealth, he was permitted to be exiled in honor, led by his son, viceroy of Egypt.

(Gold from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 233-241)

Zehut's Plan for Young Couples in Israel

Brought to you by MIGA: Make Israel Great Again

How to get Divorced

by Moshe Feiglin

“Commanders for Israel’s Security” is the name of a very well-funded group that has posted their signs on billboards throughout Israel in an attempt to convince us to “divorce the Palestinians”.

Beilin, Peres and Rabin convinced us of that in the past. It certainly did not bring “security for Israel”.

Shortly after the Oslo Accords were signed, Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin attempted to calm public apprehension in Israel and said in a television interview:

“The test of Oslo will be a blood test – if more blood will be shed after the Accords than before”.

Uri Noy of Zehut’s Research Department has taken up the challenge and complied a bloodshed report based entirely upon the official data of Israel’s National Insurance, which pays stipends to the families of the fatalities. This is the official report card of the Oslo Accords after 25 years of blood and tears.

Israel’s security is too important to abandon it once again in the hands of the same “commanders”.

Click here for the Hebrew version of the report. The English version is being prepared.

Zehut is not against a divorce from the “Palestinians”. Actually, we are in favor, and we also have a step-by-step plan to implement it, ensuring that we remain in our home at the end of the process. See the Zehut One-State-Solution video below.

Moshe Feiglin on Radio Tel Aviv: The Pornography Bill

The battle over the Pornography Bill, which says that internet providers in Israel will be obligated to offer the customer a package that blocks offensive content, has awakened a lively public discourse. In an interview this week on Radio Tel Aviv and on his Facebook page, Moshe Feiglin said the following:

When a person wishes to buy an internet package, the provider should remind him that pornography harms children and ask him if he wishes to include a pornography filter in his internet package – and to fulfill his order with no further questions.

Similar to the warning on the cigarette package, or the warning of allergens in food, manufacturers cannot pass responsibility on to the consumer alone. They must inform the consumers and afford them the right to choose.

Clearly, I oppose any government tracking or listing of citizens’ preferences. I also do not think that the role of the State is to educate its citizens. However, it is well-known that pornography is very harmful – especially to children. Internet providers should warn their customers of the danger and leave the choice in their hands.

Just as I would not allow a person to open a polluting factory under my home, because there are values that take precedence over freedom to do business, so, too, personal freedom to access pornographic content must be set in the right place on the values continuum.

The infringement of this proposal on the freedom to watch pornographic content is minimal (if it exists) and is certainly justified relative to the severity of the damage that it does to almost all children in the modern world.

Spiritual Food Chain

by Rabbi Ben Tzion Spitz
The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth. -Frances Moore Lappe

The end of this week’s Torah reading describes Joseph’s economic efforts, how he singlehandedly saved the Egyptian people from starvation, redistributed the land and imposed a tax rate of 20% on the Egyptian farmers.

The Berdichever explores the unusual phraseology “You will give a fifth to Pharaoh and four hands will go to you to eat and for your household.” (which means Pharaoh gets twenty percent of your produce, you get to keep the remaining 80%). Expounding on the verse and the “four hands,” the Berdichver explains that God established four different levels of creation in our world:

“Inanimate”: earth, water, stones, minerals (“Domem” in Hebrew);

“Grows”: vegetables, plants, trees (“Tzomeach” in Hebrew);

“Alive”: animals (“Chai” in Hebrew);

“Speaks”: man (“Medaber” in Hebrew).

He quotes from Kabalistic sources that detail God’s plan and desire for each element to be elevated and raised to the next level:

When earth, water, minerals and other nutrients are converted from their base state into some type of vegetation, they are somehow elevated to a higher spiritual level. They have moved from the lowly “Domem/Inanimate” state to the slightly more elevated “Tzomeach/Grows” state.

When plants, in turn, are consumed by animals, they are now elevated from the “Tzomeach/Grows” state to the even higher “Chai/Alive” state.

Finally, when man consumes the flesh of an animal, be it fish, poultry or beef, that person is elevating those molecules from the “Chai/Alive” state to the highest terrestrial level of “Medaber/Speaks.”

Man’s God-given ability to somehow convert the matter around him, be it mineral, vegetable or animal into a part of his very self, is nothing less than a form of creation. It relates to a Talmudic discussion as to the phraseology of the blessings we recite when we eat. We bless God, who “creates” these products. We say “creates” in the present tense, as opposed to “created” in the past tense, because it is a current, ongoing, creative act by God.

The quarks, atoms and molecules that make up our reality are constantly given life and existence by God. It is that divine aspect that also allows us to absorb these elements into our being and in some fashion that we have trouble comprehending, elevate the spiritual sparks of these items by consuming them.

May all our consumptions be for divine purposes and may we succeed in elevating them and ourselves higher.

Shabbat Shalom.

Ocasio-Cortez, Auntie Gringa, and Jewish Ancestry

Recently, Ocasio-Cortez speaking during a Hanukkah celebration, at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center claimed, “One of the things that we discovered about ourselves is that a very, very long time ago, generations and generations ago, my family consisted of Sephardic Jews.” Sephardic Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, and settled in the Middle East, North Africa, Southern Europe, and later the Western Hemisphere.

Ocasio-Cortez explained that she was descended from Jews who fled Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, when “many people were forced to convert on the exterior to Catholicism but on the interior continued to practice their faith.” Although she has identified as Catholic, she said her understanding of her ancestry came from “doing a lot of family trees in the last couple of years.”

“A strong group of people, strong-willed, that were determined to continue living life as they wanted to, decided to get on a boat and leave Spain,” she continued, “Some of those people landed in Puerto Rico,” where her mother was born, her father is also Puerto Rican, although born in America.

Well, if Ocasio-Cortez wants to claim Jewish ancestry, she better be ready for it!

What did Ocasio-Cortez think would happen, when she compared Jewish Holocaust-era refugees to the Central American migrants, “the caravan,” seeking to enter America today?

She obviously never gave it much thought.

If she wants to attribute connection to the “tribe,” she should learn some of “her history,” throw off her shackles from the Galut/Exile, and identify openly with the struggle of her own people, the Jews, including their return to the ancient homeland they were forcibly exiled from, Israel.

Stop being an Auntie Gringa!

Gringo (m.) or gringa (f.), is a derogatory term, a foreigner from the perspective of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking culture. Like an Uncle Tom, it was originally used in Spain to degrade any foreign, non-native speakers of Spanish, like the Sephardic Jews of old.

The derogatory term “Morranos” in Spanish, literally, “pigs,” was also used to refer to Jews. Probably because of the Jewish prohibition against eating pig meat. Ironically, in Mexican cuisine today, a gringa is a flour tortilla, with al pastor pork meat and cheese, served with chilli sauce.

Listen, the Catholic Hispanic world hated you Alexandria, that is Jews, in the Iberian peninsula and later Hispanic New World. Stop pandering to the Hispanics, those people who inquisitioned, tortured, burnt (the last as late as 1850 in Mexico), murdered, and exiled your people.

Stop identifying with the oppressor.

Ocasio-Cortez has been outspoken, and ignorantly anti-Israel since her campaign. While Gazans were rioting, burning down Israeli crops with flaming kites, attacking Israeli security personnel along the Gaza-Israel border, and sending into Israel explodable balloons, Ocasio-Cortez running against Rep. Joseph Crowley in the primaries, condemned the deaths of a few Palestinians on the border, as a “massacre,” ignoring what was happening to “her own people.”

In July, she criticized the “occupation of Palestine,” but then admitted later, she was “not the expert” on the issue.

In the past, many Jewish converts to other faiths, like Pablo Christiani have caused the Jewish people endless suffering. So too, have descendants of converts, like Tomás de Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor, during the Spanish Inquisition, Karl Marx and possibly even Adolph Hitler.

The children of a Jewish father but not mother, making them non-Jews according to Jewish law, sometimes cause great problems too.

Take Frank Collin, a follower of George Lincoln Rockwell, and founder/leader of the National Socialist Party of America in Chicago during the 1970s. Collin’s father, Max Frank Collin, born Max Simon Cohn, was a Holocaust survivor who had changed his name from Cohen to Collin. Frank Collin’s mother was a Catholic. Frank Collin tormented Jews in the “Skokie Affair,” when his NSPA threatened to march in Skokie, IL, a town where one in six Jews were Holocaust survivors. The notoriety gained from this incident btw, led to the NSPA being spoofed later, in the 1980 film, The Blues Brothers.

Ocasio-Cortez, get off the fence (or is that a wall you're on), you have to decide, are you part of the problem, or part of the solution. Are you identifying with the oppressors of Jews or coming back home?

Don’t think you can use the, “I’m descended from Jews” line, as a shield to deflect accusations of anti-Semitism or anti-Israelism. African-American comedians and rappers, can say “nigger, nigger, nigger,” and not be accused of racism, while others would be, but you Alexandria, we really don’t know about.

Why not convert, observe Torah and Mitzvot (why they hated us so much), and move back to Israel, your ancestral homeland, where you can live as a free, proud, open Jewess and help in a historic project, the rebuilding of Jewish civilization. Then we’ll know for sure that you’re Jewish.

Alexandria, come out of the closet, and bring your menorah!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Louis Farrakhan: America's Foremost Anti-Semite

by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The best known and most virulent full-time anti-Semite in the US is Louis Farrakhan, the long-time leader of the Nation of Islam. He attacks the Jewish religion and people as well as the State of Israel, using a broad array of classic anti-Semitic motifs, and has called Adolf Hitler a “very great man.” Though Farrakhan has spent decades inciting anti-Semitism, he is legitimized by his many interactions with prominent Americans.

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"I am Yosef"

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Yosef wasn’t able to restrain himself before those around him. He called out, “Remove every man from around me!” When everyone else had left, Yosef made himself known to his brothers. He cried out loud [and] Egypt and Pharaoh’s household heard. Yosef said to his brothers, “I am Yosef, is my father still alive?” (Be-reishis 45:1-3)

THERE ARE MANY stories in which important historic moments have come and gone, basically unnoticed. For example, there is one of a rebi who was teaching his students when, all of a sudden, their rebi told them, “Too bad. Moshiach could have come this moment, but we did not merit it.”

Probably the students had no idea what their teacher was talking about at the time. It was probably a day like any other, and the class was also nothing out of the ordinary. So, when the rebi made the statement, they probably wondered to themselves, “Why that moment, what should we have done instead, and how did our rebi know?”

Who knows how many such moments have come and gone like that throughout history? There is one however that we DO know about, and it is in this week’s parsha, although many probably don’t realize that is what it was. On the contrary, it seems like such a happy moment that came to fruition exactly as intended.

Yosef wasn’t able to restrain himself before those around him. He called out, “Remove every man from around me!” When everyone else had left, Yosef made himself known to his brothers. He cried out loud [and] Egypt and Pharaoh’s household heard. Yosef said to his brothers, “I am Yosef, is my father still alive?” (Be-reishis 45:1-3

Finally, at long last, the play was over. The suffering was over, Yosef’s, his brother’s, and soon their father’s as well. After 22 years of separation, a family union was at hand. What had gone wrong was now being made right. It was a dream ending to what had been a nightmare.

Yah? Really? Actually, not, and the verse hints to this. It says:

Yosef wasn’t able to restrain himself . . .

as if he was compelled to PREMATURELY reveal himself. Really he had wanted to hold out longer, but his brothers’ pathetic situation forced Yosef to spill the beans before . . . Before what?

Personally, the answer to this question changed my life. I first learned of it 30 years ago, at my oldest son’s Bris. My Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Noach Weinberg, zt”l, who recited the brochos at the Bris, gave it over just prior to the Bris. It was part of a short Dvar Torah he gave to put everyone there into the proper mindset.

“What was Yosef waiting for?” Rav Noach asked us. “What was left to be accomplished? Yosef had already brought his brothers to the point of desperation,” he explained, “so why hold out any longer?”

No one gave an answer, so the Rosh Yeshivah gave his: “Yosef was waiting for them to say, ‘You are Yosef! You have to be! Who else could know what you do about us . . . would ask so many questions about our family . . . would put us through all of this?!’ But they just didn’t get it, and to avoid all-out war, Yosef had to reveal himself to them instead!”

The answer blew many of us away, as many of our Rosh Yeshivah’s insights tended to do, but this one especially. Over the years I not only found great supports for this explanation, but I used it as the basis of some of my most important presentations.

The Rosh Yeshivah explained that saying those words, “You are Yosef,” would have fixed everything, and ushered in the Messianic Era. It would have meant that the brothers had expanded their way of thinking in order to see below the surface of people and situations, to know and do what God really wants. It sounds simple, but we still haven’t mastered it and this is the reason why we have gone through all we have, and still await Moshiach’s arrival.

In fact, this is really what made Chanukah possible. There was a moment in time that the Chashmonaim took advantage of, and they won the war against all the odds as a result. Had they let the moment pass, the situation would only have worsened, and fighting back would have become more than impossible.

But after victory, when the moment came to give the kingship back to Yehudah, they let that one pass. The result was their loss of independence to Rome, and the rest of the torturous history that followed. Had they used the moment properly and restored the Malchus to Yehudah, history would have been different, perhaps even Messianic.

But how is someone supposed to even know when such an epic moment has arrived, and how to respond to it?

You can often sense something is special about a moment, even if you can’t figure out what. But, if you stay sensitive, then often you will get a better picture of the opportunity as it reaches its climax. As the Talmud says:

Rebi Abin HaLevi said: If one is pushed off because of the moment, the moment will be pushed off because of them. (Brochos 64)

A person has to respect the moment. Normally moments in life just whiz right past us and go unnoticed, but that’s a mistake. If we don’t respect time, and appreciate how each moment has its own potential to allow us to accomplish big things, then when the really big ones come, we won’t recognize them either. That is, until after they have passed, and the next moment becomes one of regret.

Nishbar Li

by Victor Rosenthal

The history of nation-building — of human nation building — is this: we are in America. What happened? There were some Indians. Then some white people came and they killed the Indians, and they took over. That’s what happens with countries. If I get your territory, if I win a war, I either kill you, I subjugate you, or I expel you. In rare cases I would make you citizens, on my terms. That’s the way the world works.

The Jews were survivors of [the] Holocaust and of pogroms, and did not have a state for 2000 years. So they can re-invent the wheel. ’67 war? They decided not to annex, and not to kill the people. Not to expel them, but to do some kind of — God knows what it is — a very complicated Talmudic thing, nobody knows, even the Jews cannot figure it out.
Tuvia Tenenbom

Nishbar li. It’s not easy to translate: I’ve had enough, I won’t take it anymore.

Back in 2011, Young Palestinian Arabs butchered five members of the Fogel family, including almost cutting the head off of a 3-month old baby. Two years ago, a Palestinian Arab climbed in a window and stabbed 13-year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel to death in her bed. And this week Palestinian Arabs shot and critically wounded a 30-week pregnant woman, Shira Ish-Ran, and her her unborn child in a drive-by shooting.

In between there have been too many murders for me to count, too many stabbings, car-rammings, shootings. There was Rabbi Raziel Shevach, volunteer medic and father of six. There was Ezra Schwartz, a student from the US after whom a new youth baseball field is named. There was Ari Fuld, whose last act was to save a woman being chased by the terrorist that had just stabbed him. There were so many more. So many more.

So ma pitom? Why, suddenly, do I say that I’ve had enough? Surely I’m used to the daily — yes daily — attempted and successful murders of Jews by Palestinian Arabs?

Believe it or not, there is something special about this case, something in addition to the beautiful young family that has been so horribly wounded.

Here it is: security footage shows that there were a number of uniformed soldiers there, who rushed to the aid of the victims of the shooting, and even fired at the car containing the fleeing terrorists. They were nearby, but the terrorists aimed and fired at the pregnant woman.

Uniformed soldiers were nearby, but they aimed and fired at the pregnant woman.

Do I need to add anything? This is who (or what) the Palestinian Arabs are. They will brag about the successful “military operation” they carried out, but it was not a military operation. It was simply an act of sadism, because violent sadism is the way to establish that, despite the nakba and the other humiliations they believe have been inflicted on them, they are “men.”

They are not men, the ones who did this. They are not even human beings. I pray that when the IDF or the police come for them, they will not go quietly, that they will be destroyed.

By the way, I don’t buy the argument that terrorism is a strategy intended to make us abandon the land, and “go back to Europe.” Most Israelis were born here, and about half of them have roots in the Middle East or Africa. But none of us are going back anywhere. And I believe that the terrorists know this. They don’t care; they like to kill, especially children and young women, religious Jews and “settlers” (but they see every Jew in the Land of Israel as a “settler”).

I don’t want to hear about “peace plans” anymore. I don’t want to hear that we should improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza, where the creatures are still throwing themselves at the border fence in what reminds me of a scene from World War Z(video). I don’t want to hear about the “international community” or “civil society.” I don’t want to hear about another “Talmudic thing.” It’s too late for any of that for for me.

No, I want to see the traditional human solution to the classic problem of two tribes fighting over the same piece of land, the solution in which one of them wins and the other disappears. I want to see us make the Palestinian Arabs disappear.

Nishbar li.

[Update: 13 Dec 2018] The child has died.

Deterrence Is Not Everything

by Col (Res.) Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel’s decisions a) to contain Hamas’s continuous provocations rather than use them as a casus belli and b) to refrain from an immediate military response to the discovery of Hezbollah tunnels into Israeli sovereign territory in the northern Galilee highlight the issue of deterrence as a core factor affecting the Israeli image in the region. Assuming the current Israeli modus operandi is the product of rational and thoughtful staff work, it can be inferred that deterrence is no longer either a decisive factor or even a strategic goal in the asymmetric conflicts with Hamas and Hezbollah.

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Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Vayigash: Becoming Whole

The Yishai Fleisher Show: The Murder of So Many Things

At the terror attack at the Ofra Junction in the Benjamin region, a young pregnant mother was shot. Her child was born through emergency C-section and was fighting for his life until succumbing to his wounds. In honor of his young memory, Rav Mike Feuer joins Rabbi Yishai to talk about Joseph's revelation of his identity to his brothers. Then, Malkah Fleisher on Israeli anger at the murder of the baby and on true German regret.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Israel is a Terror Supporting State (Eng. subs)

Defense Minister Netanyahu promises to catch the terrorists who carried out the shooting attack last night near Ofra. But Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to transfer millions to the arch-terrorist Abu Mazen, who uses the money to pay salaries to the families of terrorists.

When the State of Israel pays a monthly sum to a body that funds salaries for terrorists and names streets after them – it essentially defines itself as a terror-supporting state.

All That Hashem Does is For the Good

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg 
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

"On that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One." (Zechariah 14:9) Is this to say that nowadays Hashem is not One? R. Acha b. Chanina says: The world to come is not like this world. In this world, on good tidings one says the bracha of "hatov vehameitiv" (the One who is good and does good), and on bad news one says "dayan ha'emet" (the true Judge). In the world to come, everything is "hatov vehameitiv." (Pesachim 50a)

The commentators explain that in the future, not only will everything be good, but we will also realize that everything for which we had said "dayan ha'emet" in the past, thinking it was bad, was in reality good, as well. We will realize that everything that Hashem does is truly for the good.

The exile of the Jews in Egypt was an event of awesome proportions, and because of this Chazal tried to determine what sin caused such a harsh punishment. One of the possibilities, which bears a relevant message for us, is the severity of "sin'at chinam" (baseless hatred) between the brothers and Yosef. However, in truth, the exile was already predestined at the "brit bein habetarim." Yosef's errand to his brothers at Dotan, the immediate cause leading up to the exile, was guided by Divine intervention to bring about the fulfillment of His master plan. Chazal say that Yaakov should have been brought to Egypt in iron chains, but Hashem had mercy on him and brought him to Egypt in an honorable way to meet his son, the viceroy to the king. He was like a cow that does not want to walk to the slaughterhouse because she subconsciously senses her fate, so her calf is led ahead of her, and she follows it to her death.

In our world, where everything occurs through cause and effect, it is not always possible to discern the Divine plan. Even Yaakov did not discern it, and said to his sons, "Why did you cause evil to me?" (Bereisheet 43:6) To this Hashem responds, "I am making your son a king of Egypt and you say 'Why did you cause evil to me?!'"

In this idea there lies a deeper point. It is obvious that Hashem controls everything that occurs. Moreover, when man tries to counteract Hashem's plan, not only will he be unsuccessful, but also ultimately it will become apparent that the very action is what caused Hashem's plan to be fulfilled. This can be seen from the fact that all of the actions that Yosef's brothers did to counteract his dreams eventually led to the fulfillment of those same dreams. When Yosef said to his brothers, "And now: It was not you who sent me here, but G-d" (45:8), the brothers finally realized their tremendous mistake. Perhaps this is the reason they were unable to answer him, "Because they were left disconcerted before him" (45:3), when they recognized the Divine Truth.

A similar story is recounted in the Gemara in Succah (53a) about two of Shlomo Hamelech's scribes. They were sitting before Shlomo when the Angel of Death sadly approached. Shlomo asked the Angel of Death why he was sad, and he replied, "I was sent to take away these two scribes." Shlomo quickly sent the scribes via demons to Luz, a place where the Angel of Death has no power. When they arrived, however, they died. The next day, Shlomo saw that the Angel of Death was happy. Shlomo asked him why he was so cheerful. The Angel of Death replied, "You sent the scribes to the exact place where I needed them." Shlomo exclaimed, "Man's legs are his guarantors; they bring to the place where he is needed."

Chazal associate the pasuk, "The faith [Emunat] of your times will be the strength of your salvations, wisdom and knowledge; fear of Hashem -- that is [man's] treasure" (Yeshaya 33:6), with the six sections of the Mishna. "Emunah," faith, refers to Seder Zera'im, because belief in Hashem and His laws of nature are necessary before any man will plant. In the planting process, the seed rots, which is seemingly the opposite of the desired effect. Only through faith in G-d does one plant and hope to harvest fruits in the future.

We are told, however, that in the future, "The plowman will meet the reaper" (Amos 9:13), as there will be no time gap between the planting and harvesting. As soon as one plants, he will see the final results of his labor. We will become accustomed to perceive reality from a Divine standpoint, for "Eye to eye they will see, when G-d returns to Zion." (Yeshaya 52:8) Our eyes will perceive as eyes from above, and when we return to Zion we will be "like dreamers," realizing that we have been viewing the past mistakenly. On everything that appeared bad to us we will be able to bless "hatov vehameitiv," and then Hashem will be truly One.

"Do Not Argue on the Way”

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Yosef Hatzadik sends his brothers from Egypt back to their father Ya'akov, saying to them, "do not argue on the way".

Rashi explains that he was worried that they might quarrel over his sale on the way, each of them accusing the other, one saying that the other was the instigator of his sale, and the other retaliating by saying that the first spoke lashon hara of Yosef, causing them all to hate him and such like.

As of now, Am Yisrael too is on a long journey of thousands of years and we have not yet reached a state of peace and tranquility. Yosef's request of his brothers, "Do not argue with one another and do not accuse one another", must light our way, especially at the moment, when we are fighting for our hold on our land, we must find a way to unite, all of us together in opposition of those who wish to remove us from our land.

The way to unity passes through the roots, just as a tree in which the roots - and the trunk which draws its life-source from it - unite and join all the branches, so too in our nation, the roots are that which unite us. The forefathers are our ancestors, the grand Jewish history belongs to us all, our Father in Heaven is everyone's Father, and He loves all of us, as we say in the blessings of Shema, "the one who chooses His nation of Israel with love".

And through the connection to our Jewish roots, we will grow and flourish and bear fruit, overcoming all difficulties from within and without, meriting redemption speedily and in our days.

In anticipation of redemption,
Shabbat Shalom!

UN Approves Terror, Torpedoes Peace

by Bassam Tawil
  • Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist groups have interpreted the failure of the US-sponsored resolution as an internationally sanctioned license to continue killing Jews.
  • What Hamas is telling the UN and the rest of the world is: "Now that you have refused to brand us terrorists, we have the right to launch all forms of terrorist attacks and kill as many Jews as possible." Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders are, in fact, threatening not only to continue, but also to step up, their terrorist attacks on Israel.
  • When Hamas and its supporters celebrate, the few Palestinians who are described as moderates and pragmatists and who are opposed to violence and terrorism, will have to hide.
  • Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah have boasted that what happened at the UN was a "slap in the face of the US and Israel." In fact, what happened at the UN is a severe blow to the "moderates" among the Palestinians and to any chances of reaching a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now that the UN has legitimized Palestinian terrorism, no Palestinian leader will be able to return to the negotiating table with Israel. Thus, with this move, the UN has expertly torpedoed even the remotest possibility of peace talks.

The UN General Assembly on December 6 voted down a US-sponsored resolution condemning the activities of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe)

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas could not have wished for a better birthday gift than the one with which the United Nations General Assembly presented it last week.

In a few days, Hamas will hold a massive celebration in the Gaza Strip to mark its 31st anniversary. Hamas leaders are expected to pass on to their supporters the nice gift the terrorist group has just received from the UN -- a gift that enables them to continue launching rockets at Israel and planning how to kill as many Jews as possible on the way to eliminating Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state.

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HaRav Nachman Kahana: Still Fighting for Our Survival

Parashat Vayigash 5779
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Jews often wonder, “Even now, after returning to our God-given homeland following 2000 years of repression and degradation, why must we still fight for our survival. Rebono Shel Olam – Isn’t enough?”

The answer is an emphatic NO!

I will explain:

In parashat Beshalach, Shimon and Levi annihilate the residents of Shechem for failing to bring Shechem ben Chamor to justice for what he did to their sister Dina.

What was behind this seemingly excessive and disproportionate reaction by two nice Jewish boys?

Avraham Aveinu arrived in Eretz Yisrael over 100 years before, where he was met by the pagan, tribal descendants of Cham, son of Noach: The Canaani, Chieti, Emori, etc.

Despite the religious and cultural opposition of these pagans, Avraham made impressive advances in the teachings of monotheism; even establishing a yeshiva-hotel where many gathered to hear the word of God.

This was anathema to the religious and political establishment. Avraham was undermining the core beliefs of society by introducing God and morality to matters such as family, law, treatment of slaves, ethics in business and more.

At the time of parashat Vayishlach, the charismatic Avraham and his wife Sarah were long gone. Yitzchak was old and disabled. Ya’akov, the ben Torah, had not been seen in Eretz Yisrael for over twenty years. The only relevant descendant of Avraham was Aisav, with whom the idolaters got along fabulously, considering him as one of their own.

For all intents and purposes, Yiddishkeit was no longer a threat to the religious and social fabric of the land. The idolatrous natives could happily return to their old ways, uninterrupted by pangs of conscience or guilt caused by those “holier-than-thou” Jews.

Suddenly, Ya’akov the Jew and his family reappear in Eretz Yisrael.

His arrival could have been restrained and muted like that of our Zionist chalutzim (pioneers) at the beginning of the last century, when they bought “a dunam here and a dunam there”, built a house here and a house there, planted orange trees and drained swampland, with no impressive message signaling their presence.

However, HaShem “speaks” to people in the language that they understand. To Am Yisrael, HaShem speaks in the language we comprehend – as a father teaching Torah. To the gentiles, HaShem speaks in the language that they comprehend – the language of strength, aggression and violence.

Ya’akov returned. The evil inhabitants of Shechem were felled by the swords of Shimon and Levi in the name of common decency and justice.

It took less than a day for the electrifying news of Shechem’s destruction at the hands of Ya’akov to reach all the land and beyond.

From then on, the Canaanite occupiers of Eretz Yisrael would have to learn that life in the Holy Land would no longer be the same.

HaShem, the ultimate playwright, brought about Ya’akov’s return to the stage of history in an explosive manner. The reappearance of the Jewish people and their zealous conduct in the name of good over evil created the desired impression upon the descendants of Cham. It was the language the gentile understood – the language of strength.

When Ya’akov and his 69 relatives left the Holy Land to join Yosef in Egypt, the land was once again devoid of Jews and Judaism. It was not until 250 years later, under the leadership of Moshe and Yehoshua, that the two superpowers of Og, King of Bashan and Sichon, King of Emori were annihilated and 31 idolatrous city states were destroyed.

The news reverberated throughout the Middle East and beyond. The world was in shock! The Jews have returned! “Moral conscience has returned to haunt us. Where have we gone wrong?” was the pitiful wailing of the sons and daughters of Cham.

Once again, the chosen of HaShem reentered the land, not by a “dunam here and dunam there,” but in the language of strength that the gentiles understood.

For the last 2000 years, the main body of the Jewish nation was in exile, with only a small remnant remaining in the land.

With the Holocaust, our enemies were certain that it was only a matter of time before the world again would be “free” of the “conscience-arousing” teachings of Judaism. The “Wandering Jew” would soon become the “Vanished Jew”.

Then in 1948, the Jewish nation in Eretz Yisrael again leaped onto the platform of history with an explosion that caught the attention of the world.

On the day following our declaration of statehood, the nascent Jewish State was invaded by seven Arab armies in the “War of Independence”.

The world was certain that 600,000 people with only a ragtag army, no air force and no mechanized armaments would not be able to withstand the ferocious Arab onslaught.

But despite an arms boycott on Israel enforced by the United States and European countries, Israel trounced the Arab forces; doubling the land area of the State.

The world stood in awe – Ya’akov had returned home!

In 1967, we were again in existential danger. The combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and others, had sworn to erase Israel from the map. It took two hours in the morning of June 6th, 1967 to demonstrate to the world what King David wrote (Tehillim 20,8-9):

Those come with chariots and those with horses. And we come in the name of the LORD, our God.

They have bowed down and fallen, and we have risen and stood upright.

News of the Medina’s miraculous military victories and its development at the cutting edge of almost every scientific and intellectual field has reached the far corners of the world.

In the not so distant future the God of Yisrael, through the Medina, will again put the world into a state of shock when we will destroy all those who now seek to uproot the Jewish people from our God-given homeland.

In time, Medinat Yisrael will be HaShem’s medium to bring His message of Torah to all Jews, and the Noachide laws and hope to a fractured, dissonant gentile world.

Welcome home, Ya’akov. Baruchim Haba’im, the holy people of Am Yisrael.

Finding Clarity

Often, we are challenged by situations which are beyond our comprehension. Why did this happen to me? Where did I go wrong? How can I extricate myself from this maze of spider webs? And then a moment of clarity arrives, and all the pieces fall into place.

We find a perfect example of this in parshat Vayigash. The brothers are crazed by the circumstances being spun around them for no rational reason. What began as a commercial trip to Egypt to purchase food was now turning into an absolute calamity.

They were compelled to convince their elderly father to part with his beloved Binyamin for a limited time. However, when circumstances contrived to imprison Binyamin for life, they could not return to their father without Binyamin! “Where is the God of our father Ya’akov, of our grandfather Yitzchak and the God of our patriarch Avraham?”

Then, in one moment, the Viceroy of Egypt rose from his throne and called out two words – “ANI YOSEF,” – I am Yosef – and all that had transpired became crystal clear.

Ya’akov ponders why did misfortune befall him and his righteous family? He survived more than 20 years with the evil betrayer Lavan and escaped the diabolical plans of his brother Aisav. So, what went wrong so that his holy daughter had to undergo such an atrocious experience, and his sons were forced to take so many lives?

In reply to this, Rashi (35,1) quotes a short sentence from the Midrash Tanchuma which explains all:

לפי שאחרת בדרך נענשת ובא לך זאת מבתך
Because you tarried on the way (to Eretz Yisrael) these misfortunes befell your daughter

Like the two simple words “ani Yosef” clarified all that befell the brothers, one simple sentence explains all of Ya’akov’s trials and tribulations – his tediously long delay in returning to Eretz Yisrael.

What we should all learn from this is that the agonies of the 20th century which befell our people could very well have been the result of one short sentence: our religious leaders’ failure to encourage the Jews to hastily leave the galut.

To add tragedy to misfortune, a similar scenario is being repeated today in the lands of the galut.

There is a saying in our army: “Soldier – here there is no such thing as ‘I can’t – it is only I don’t want’.”

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5779/2018 Nachman Kahana

The Shamrak Report: Anti-Israel Population Transfer Law and more....

by Steven Shamrak
When the term “population transfer”, as a resolution to unprecedented terror which Israel continuously has been facing since its independence, is mentioned most people, especially Jews, don’t want to hear about it and become quite vocal and even aggressive! They are not aware or just disinterested to know that population transfer has been reasonably successfully used to resolve many conflicts throughout the world before its adoption and also after, often with the blessings and participation of the League of Nations and the United Nations!
In 1923, close to 2 million people, Greek Orthodox and Muslims, most of them were forcibly removed and transferred from their homelands. Although the politically correct term is used now is "population exchange"!
After World War II, there were approximately 50 million refugees in Europe. Now, there are none! Some of them returned to their homes, most were resettled in other countries of Europe, or migrated to the US, Canada, Australia, South America and Israel.
The partition of British India at midnight on 14–15 August 1947 created almost 12 million refugees. They were moved between India and Pakistan, including Bangladesh at the time. Unlike the so-called Palestinians, not one of them is registered as a refugee now, or is still subsidized by the United Nations!
Article 49 of Fourth Geneva Convention, which was adopted in 1949 and is now part of customary international law, prohibits mass movement of people out of or into of occupied territory. Interestingly, it has became an issue only after Israel won a war against seven Muslim states, and the removal of the enemy population became a necessity to prevent further acts of aggression and terror against Jewish population!
Since its adoption, the Fourth Geneva Convention has been preventing only Israel from transferring enemy population! There have been many conflicts throughout the world since it was adopted when the population transfer was successfully conducted. Most of the time, it was facilitated by the United Nations, in violation of its own ruling, under the name of refugee resettlement program!
At the same time, this deeply anti-Semitic organization stubbornly maintains the refugee status of the fake Palestinian people, who left Israel on orders from their leaders during the War of Independence, to facilitate genocide of Jews and the speedy defeat of newly created Jewish state by advancing Muslim armies. The UN has been spending billions of dollars each year on maintaining these fake refugees - of 4thgeneration already!
In Europe, the last major population transfer involved the deportation of 800,000, and displacement of 250,000 other ethnic Albanians, during the Kosovo war in 1999. It was the single largest population transfer in history of modern Europe after the expulsion of Germans from Poland and other states after World War II, which involved more than 12 million people.
Turkish military invasion of the island of Cyprus in 1974 resulted in the capture of approximately 40% of the island. Over 120,000 settlers came to Cyprus from mainland Turkey. This was a violation of the Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (still nothing has been done about it). Around 150,000 people (more than one-quarter of the total population of Cyprus, and up to one-third of its Greek Cypriot population) were expelled from the occupied northern part of the island. A little over a year later in 1975, almost 60,000 Turkish Cypriots (half the Turkish Cypriot population), were ‘displaced’/transferred from the South to the North.
Many millions of Sudanese refugees fled the country from Darfur and Southern Sudan! Conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria created huge number of refugees. Many of them have been resettled under underfunded UN refugees program. At the same time, after over 70 years, the ‘Ugly Nazi’ is still financing the existence and is unwilling to review and change the status of the fake Palestinian refugees!
According to even the UN legal definition - Judea, Samaria and Gaza are disputed not occupied territories. Just because Arabs and others say agree with bogus Palestinians claim on Jewish ancestral land it does not make it a legitimate one!
The latest case of pending ‘population transfer’, the correct description would be ‘population return’, is the expulsion from Myanmar of Rohingya Muslims. In spite of all noise, condemnations and claims of progress, they will be resettled in Bangladesh - the place of their origin. The same should apply to the so-called Palestinians!
Most of the non-Jewish population of Israel and territories areArabs, Egyptians, Sudanese, Algerians, Kurds, Cherkesians, Turkmen and even Bosnians! They were moved or resettled by occupied powers - the Ottoman Empire first and British later - to the Jewish land immediately after the modern Zionist movement made an announcement about the intention of Jews to return to their ancestral land. They love Israel so much! Why do they stay? Why can’t they be returned to the countries of their origin?
More than 75% of the Arab population on the PA controlled territories supports terror attacks against Israel/Jews. Although, many of them would love to leave! The PA and Hamas have declared many times that their objective is to destroy Israel and create another Arab state on Jewish land! Any other self-respecting country, facing such level of terror and hate from hostile non-indigenous population, would have removed them a long time ago! Israel has enough military and security reasons to conduct transfer of enemy population to the neighboring Arab states and let the United Nation and the Arab league to take care of them, as they habitually do. It is long overdue! Israel must not wait for permission from them – it will never come!
Happy Chanukah!
Hanukah represents the Jewish national struggle for freedom. Small group of Jews liberated the Eretz-Israel from the Greek occupation. May the spirit of the Maccabees inspire the government of Israel to free all the Land of Israel from Arab occupation!
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
I am unable to understand the anti-Zionist tendency many Jews still have. We fought so hard to obtain statehood to become an independent and a proud nation again. For how long will those Jews remain submissive to anti-Semitic masters of the West and Muslim worlds, who have been using the media and control of international organizations, quite skillfully and deliberately, in their modern anti-Israel "blood libel" propaganda? It is time to shake off this “victim mentality" so deeply ingrained in Jewish psyche, and stand up for our rights as a proud people! The Maccabees did it almost 2,000 years ago, we can do it too!
Please, read and distribute!
Hezbollah places its forces on combat readiness, cancelled leaves in all its military units, in nine regions of southern Lebanon in response to Israel’s demand that UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army dismantle a tunnel. Israel delivered a strong protest to UNIFIL commander against Hezbollah’s flagrant violations of UNSC Res 1701 by digging terror tunnels under the border. (UNIFIL has never done its job properly when confronting Hezbollah was required – often cooperating with the terror group! Why would this case be different?)
With Netanyahu's approval, there was the second monthly transfer of $15 million from Qatar transferred to Hamas in Gaza, which will allow for the payment of salaries to Hamas employees. (This undermines completely the US withdrawal funds from the PA and is providing direct financing of terrorist organization, enemy of Israel!)
Hezbollah has only been able to convert “a few dozen” of their estimated 140,000 missiles in Lebanon into precision-guided weapons. There have been numerous reports of a direct air route from Iran to Lebanon, with planes landing at Beirut’s international airport bearing arms.
French Republic 2018 Human Rights Award is given to the Jerusalem-based B’Tselem and its Ramallah-based partner al-Haq. The prize will also be awarding to human rights defenders from China, Colombia, Belarus and Niger. (Jew haters, with the help of self-hating Jews, equated the only true democracy in the Middle East with the worst human rights violators!)
In the wake of Operation Northern Shield, Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri condemns Israeli 'violations' of Lebanon's sovereignty but said that there is no reason for a military confrontation with Israel despite the IDF's Operation Northern Shield to destroy Hezbollah terror tunnels along the Israel-Lebanon border.
The Shin Bet prevented 500 terror attacks in 2018. In a special ceremony, Prime Minister Netanyahu recognizes Shin Bet operations and the agents behind these groundbreaking undertakings; "The citizens of Israel owe you their lives."
German chancellor Angela Merkel waged a campaign to stop European Union nations from following the lead of the United States and relocating their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem.
Military court in Gaza sentenced 14 people for "collaborating" with Israel. Six of the people were sentenced to death, including one woman, while the others were imprisoned for up to 10 years. (Enough is with shooting at empty buildings!)
Court acquits a soldier of attacking a leftist activist, ruled he acted in self-defense! Mitzpe Yair, lives one mile south-east of Susia in the southern Hebron hills, went out to chase away a flock of sheep belonging to nearby Arabs, when a leftwing activist from the NGO Ta’ayush, who was accompanying the shepherds, pushed him, and the soldier punched him in the face. The court sharply criticized the police for arresting and interrogating the soldier on Shabbat, unnecessarily and contrary to the procedures. (Members of left-wing NGOs often instigate Arab provocations against Jews living in Judea and Samaria. Israeli police ignore them most of the time!)
Hamas on Thursday welcomed the failure of the US-drafted resolution to condemn it at the United Nations General Assembly. While the US resolution achieved a majority of 87 countries that voted in favour, that majority was not a two-thirds majority and thus the resolution was not approved. 57 countries voted against the resolution, and 33 countries abstained. (Hamas fired 460 rockets fired at Israel - not enough for UN to condemn Hamas! Israel must remember it when 'Ugly Nazi' will adopt anti-Israel resolutions. There are still 33 anti-Semitic ‘prostitutes’ in the UN! At least, 57 Muslim states are consistent in perusing their objective!)
Quote of the Week:
"We Jews have a secret weapon in our struggle with the Arabs; we have no place to go." - Golda Meir 
The UN General Assembly in New York approved six anti-Israel resolutions including two that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. The primary resolution on Jerusalem, that passed 148-11 with 14 abstentions, also disavowed Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. Both that text and a second more global one on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which passed 156-8, with 12 abstentions, spoke of Judaism’s most holy site – The Temple Mount – solely by its Muslim name of al-Haram al-Sharif.
The third text, which was approved 99-10 with 66 abstentions, called on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights. The United States, Canada and Australia voted against all six resolutions, which are the first batch of some 20 resolutions that the UNGA annually passes against Israel. (Israel must retaliate to this consistent and deliberate anti-Semitic discrimination by removing all UN personal from Israel and territoriesThere only 50 Muslim-majority countries, The Arab League has 22 members. Anti-Semites always happy to support enemies of Jews!)

Rav Kook's Ein Eyah: Circles and Straight Lines

(“סָבִיב רְשָׁעִים יִתְהַלָּכוּן; כְּרֻם זֻלּוּת לִבְנֵי אָדָם. (תהילים י"ב:ט)

“The wicked walk around; and the exalted matter is scorned by people.” (Psalms 12:9)

Why does the psalm describe the wicked as those who “walk around”? What is this exalted matter that people fail to appreciate? And what is the connection between the two parts of the verse?

Two Realms

The Kabbalists distinguished between two realms in the universe: the realm of Circles, and the realm of Straight Lines.

The natural world is a world of Circles. The heavenly bodies are spherical, rotating and revolving in space. In this view of reality, there is no right or wrong. There is just constant, eternal movement, turning along the never-ending cycles and gears of natural processes.

The purpose of creation, however, is its moral and spiritual progress. When we recognize this inner direction, we are perceiving the realm of Straight Lines. When we utilize our free will to choose the correct path, we gain perfection for ourselves and for the entire universe. The realm of Straight Lines is the inner reality of linear progression, of right and wrong, of purpose and meaning.

The Power of Prayer

The Talmud explains that this verse is specifically referring to prayer. Prayer is a wonderful, exalted gift. Many, however, belittle and even ridicule the value of prayer. Why is prayer not properly appreciated?

Because many perceive the world through the viewpoint of Circles. They only see the continual, unchanging, and amoral aspect of the universe. In a world ruled by the laws of nature, what good is prayer? Why should praying influence the outcome of natural processes?

That is why the psalmist describes the wicked as people who “walk around.” They follow the cycles of the natural world. They look at the universe as a harsh reality of unforgiving laws of nature and immutable fate.

But the enlightened are able to discern the realm of Straight Lines within reality. They sense the world’s inner purpose and moral direction. They recognize that we are meant to advance the goal of universal perfection through proper application of our powers of free choice.

With this outlook on the world, the efficacy of prayer is clear. Prayer is effective in refining our desires and directing our choices. It is an integral aspect of the purposeful world of Straight Lines.

(Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. I, p. 26, on Berachot 6b)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fathers and Sons

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

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

Approaching the Fathers of the Nation

This week's Torah portion, "VaYigash ," depicts the peaceful resolution to the episode of the selling of Joseph. Recently, a student approached me with the following question: "How does one go about teaching the story of Joseph and his brothers to youngsters? True, our Torah commentators have given all sorts of interpretations, yet upon sitting down and reading the plain, unadorned text of the Bible, one receives a most appalling impression of the brothers and becomes very apprehensive of their behavior."

The question, of course, extends far beyond the episode of the selling of Joseph. There was once a teacher at one of our religious public schools who asked: "How can we even compare the behavior of, say, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagen, the "Hafetz Haim," a personage of outstanding moral stature, with that of..." - It is forbidden to even repeat his words - "King David." I bring this statement only for the sake of addressing it. In truth it is forbidden to even consider such a comparison. "King David lives on," says the Talmud . King David composed the Book of "Tehillim," Psalms. King David was the greatest Torah authority of his generation. The daily practices of King David are related to us by our Sages: how he constantly poured over the Torah, rose up early in the morning to study Jewish law, and busied himself composing songs of praise to the Creator.

Indeed, one who reads the Scriptures alone, without studying the words of our Sages, runs the risk of understanding things incorrectly.

When dealing with Joseph and his brothers it is important to remember that they were moral giants. The same is true of King David. The Torah did not find it necessary to teach us this obvious point. Later, though, when the Rabbis detected that the passage of time was giving rise to mistaken impressions, they found it necessary to teach us that, "Anybody who thinks that David sinned is mistaken."

The dispute between the brothers was a deep and penetrating one. We are not trying to claim that what took place here was justified, for the Sages themselves inform us that the famous "Ten Martyrs" were put to death as a result of the selling of Joseph. Still, one must possess the fundamental understanding that we are dealing here with thefathers of the nation . The fact that our nation has managed persevere for so many generations, and with such distinction, is, in itself, testimony to the greatness of the forefathers. "There were," in actuality, "only three forefathers," says the Talmud - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After these forefathers came Jacob's sons: the fathers of the Twelve Tribes and the heads of the nation in the wake of the forefathers. The entire nation stems from them. Everything that has transpired, right up until today, goes back to these very roots. The remarkable history of our people teaches us that the roots - the forefathers - were mighty indeed.

The twelve brothers grow up together in Jacob's house where they lead a deeply spiritual life. Because of this intensely spiritual environment, because of the great ideals and weighty responsibility bound up in it, tension arises between Joseph and his brothers. Their dispute is the result the great responsibility that they bear - the responsibility to uphold and preserve the spirit of the House of Jacob.

Understanding the Dispute of the Brothers

a. Joseph the Idealist
It is possible to approach the dispute between Joseph and his brothers from a number of different angles. It is possible to see Joseph is an idealist, dreaming dreams of redemption and salvation, as the Sages teach, "Come and see: All that befell Joseph befell Zion as well... It is written concerning Joseph, 'And Joseph had a dream ' (Genesis 37:5), and it is written concerning Zion, 'When God will return the captivity of Zion , we will be like dreamers '" (Psalm 126). Joseph dreamed, for he had great ideals. True, he brings a bad report to his father concerning his brothers, but this is only because he makes such great behavioral demands of them; he feels that they are capable of more. Because of the weighty implications involved he sees no other course than informing his father, Jacob, concerning the behavior of his brothers. The brothers, on the other hand, take a different approach - they are more realistic, more pragmatic.

It is possible to view this conflict in light of our present-day situation - for, are we not, after all, the great grand children of the forefathers? And just as Joseph was despised for being a dreamer who longed for the redemption, so too today hatred is often fostered towards those who yearn for the redemption of Israel. They go misunderstood and are often accused of dragging the nation into imminent danger or self destruction. People believe that these dreamers want the unattainable, and the hatred is at times so great that, "They could not say a peaceful word to him" (Genesis 37:4).

It is told, in the name of the Vilna Gaon , that all those who exert themselves settling the Land of Israel, reestablishing the Holy City of Jerusalem, and advancing the redemption - those who strive to secure Jewish control over the Land of Israel, possess something of "Mashiach ben Yoseph," the Messiah from the line of Joseph. They continue in the spirit of Joseph, and they - like Joseph - go misunderstood. The true validity of their approach goes unrecognized, as it is written, "Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him" (ibid. 42:8),

Joseph possesses a great and deep vision, and others do not succeed in understanding him. If only they were willing to recognize Joseph's leadership, says the Vilna Gaon, redemption would come immediately.

b. Joseph the "Internationalist"
Rabbi A.I. Kook explains the dispute between Joseph and his brothers in a different manner. They disagreed concerning the correct way to spread God's light in the world. Joseph believed that the best way for the Jewish People to make their impact felt in the world was by creating a "new Middle East", through attempting to influence the entire world. By associating freely with everybody, strengthening our ties with the other nations and overlooking differences, we will, Joseph felt, succeed in bringing everybody close to God. This, of course, does not imply the complete denial of all differences; rather, it means overlooking them for the sake of maintaining good relations. It means not behaving like a "nation that dwells alone," elevating itself above others. The approach of Joseph calls on the People of Israel to go out and associate with all the other nations of the world, thus influencing them.

The rest of the tribes - Judah at their head - thought differently. Their approach calls on the Jewish People to build themselves up from the inside - to ascend, sanctify themselves, and set themselves apart. Only after reaching a high level perfection, only then, as a unique people standing aloof, are we able to serve as a light unto the nations. Not through proselytizing or through a downplaying our uniqueness, but through banding together, joining forces and striving to attain inner perfection.

In our generation, as well, there exist different approaches when it comes to education. Lubavitch Hasidism teaches that one who knows "alef, bet" should go out and teach "alef bet." If one knows a little, one teaches a little. The more one learns, the more one teaches - whatever you've got: Give! There is another approach, though, that says that before one goes out to influence others, one must himself be full to the brim with knowledge. The more a person is overflowing himself, the greater his capacity to affect others, for his knowledge is not of a superficial character, but deep-seated and genuine.

Joseph views the Jewish People as possessing enough strength to influence the rest of the world. We have nothing to fear by going out, interacting and developing relations with the rest of humanity. They will be receptive to our message, and we will not come out any worse. The truth of the matter is, though, that this is slightly more complicated than it sounds. Rabbi Kook mentions the passage: "Ephraim amongst the nations assimilates," explaining that the disciples of this approach are not always successful. Sometimes there are failures and crises. It is not uncommon that one goes out with the intention of influencing - and returns influenced. Yet, if a basic inner foundation is firmly established, allowing us to rise up to great and elevated heights, afterwards, it is possible to influence the entire world.

It may appear as if we are simply projecting all sorts of profound ideas upon the dispute between Joseph and his brothers. Yet this is not the case. In the course of our long history we find these tendencies reoccurring in the Jewish People.

The Sages of the Talmud teach us: "Joseph, for sanctifying God's name in a hidden, private manner, was rewarded by having a letter from God's name (the Tetragrammaton - YHVH) added to his own." The Hebrew Yoseph later became Y'hoseph , an additional 'Heh,' or 'h' being added - taken, as it were - from God's own name. "Judah," the Talmud continues, "for sanctifying the name of God openly, publicly, merited receiving a name that was made up entirely of the letters of God's name." The Hebrew Yehudah contains, albeit rearranged somewhat, all of the letters of God's name. The above appears to be in keeping with what we have been saying up till now. Joseph is an introspective type. He possesses inner spiritual might. He is not afraid to go out and gather followers because he possesses unseen inner strengths. Therefore. Judah, on the other hand, sanctifies God's name openly, this is the appearance of the Kingdom of Israel.

Joseph opens up channels - "gets the ball rolling," so to speak; such is the nature of "Mashiach ben Yoseph.""Mashiach ben David," The Messiah of the house of David, comes along and completes the work. There are those who possess the might, the courage and the bravery to initiate, yet they don't possess the qualities needed to finish the job - this is not their strong point. Such is the nature of Joseph. Judah, on the other hand, represents culmination, completion. These, in essence, are the roots of two distinct approaches that afterwards appear and reappear throughout Jewish history. We are called upon, each one of us, to approach the sons of Jacob, the fathers of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, with an appreciation for their true greatness, and in so doing, to learn whatever possible from the significant courses that they followed.

The Centrality of the "Bet HaMidrash"

The Midrash explains, regarding the words of the Torah, "He (Jacob) sent Judah on ahead of him to make preparations... [in the Goshen district of Egypt]" (Genesis 46:20), that the purpose of this mission was to establish a house of gathering so that there be a place for Jacob to teach Torah, and for his offspring to study, upon their arrival in Egypt. Judah, then, was sent on ahead in order to establish a "Bet-Midrash," a study hall. The first thing that must be done is to secure a Bet-Midrash .

Here in the settlement of Bet-El, this rule held true. When we came to settle Bet-El, more than twenty years ago, we lived, initially, in the near-by army base. When we were finally given the land needed in order to build the settlement, even before a city plan was drawn up, we approached an architect with the request that he prepare a blueprint for the building of the Bet-Midrash. His immediate response was, "You can't begin building a thing until you have a city plan. What if your Bet-Midrash turns out to be in the middle of where a road ought to be? First draw up a city plan, then decide where you want to put this study hall of yours." We told him, "It's written in the Shulhan Aruch that the Bet-Midrash has to be situated at the highest point in the city, and so that's where we plan on building it. The roads will have to be planned out according to the position of the Bet-Midrash, and not the Bet-Midrash according to the roads." This we learned from the behavior of Jacob, our father, when he sent Judah on ahead "to make preparations . And that is exactly what we did. We began by building our Bet-Midrash - the first stone structure built in Judeah and Samaria after the Six Day War. The Bet Midrash takes precedence above all else.

"Shema Yisrael" 

The Sages teach that when Jacob finally reunites with Joseph he cries out, "Shema Yisrael." He had not seen his son for so many years - finally, they meet again. Joseph hugs his father and kisses him, yet Jacob recites the "Shema." What sort of a response is that? Could Jacob find a no more appropriate time for his daily recitation of the Shema prayer?

The truth of the matter, though, is that the moment of Jacob's reunification with Joseph is a most appropriate time for reading the Shema. That moment of joy and elation is the best of all possible times, for it allows Jacob to elevate all his joy to its true source.

Many years ago I went to visit my grandfather at his home, and I was told that he went to the synagogue to pray. I went to look for him there. I entered the synagogue and my grandfather caught sight of me while in the middle of the recital of the Kaddish prayer. Suddenly I heard his voice rise up above all the others, "Yehe Shmeh Rabbah..."Afterwards, when he met me he told me the reason that he raised his voice so. "I was reminded," he said, "of the story of Jacob and Joseph, how Jacob recited the Shema upon seeing his long lost son. The Hassidic Rabbis say that he desired to elevate his joy to its true heavenly source. Therefore, when I saw you, I shouted for joy, in order to infuse my prayer with the personal joy I was experiencing.

It is incorrect to view the forefathers as detached, emotionless types, completely out of touch with the physical world of reality. Rather, existence itself was, for the forefathers, elevated to an altogether higher plane. The recital of the Shema at the precise moment of Jacob's reunion with Joseph was an indication of the true content of the joyous atmosphere of the reunion.

The Sages, of course, describe these events according to their own viewpoint and understanding. We, through studying their books and wisdom, see things primarily according to their perspective. We learn how the Sages understood the attitude and behavior of Jacob: his giving precedence to the Bet-Midrash, his crying out "Shema." We recognize this to be the approach of the Sages. Their outlook, of course, is the result of their greatness of Torah. Whether it was the "Shema" that Jacob recited or something else - some other type of spiritual elation - is not the point. What interests us is the overall approach, the approach that asks the question: "On what sort of spiritual plane did the forefathers exist?"

We continue this very same spiritual course. This means striving to reach a level on which we exist in a world of Torah that is not detached from day to day life. It means making Torah an essential part of life, part of the spirit of life within, a living and breathing Torah. The wording of the blessing: "For they (the commandments of the Torah) are our life and the length of our days," is not a mere figure of speech that we recite in prayer. These words are the expression of an actual concrete inner reality that resides in the deepest recesses of the Jewish People: The Torah and life are one. May it be God's will that we merit to internalize these lessons, and to walk in the ways of the forefathers.