Friday, April 19, 2019

Getting Ready For Korban Pesach This Year

What’s the real reason that we might not offer Korban Pesach (the Passover Offering) on the Temple Mount this year? I’ll tell you, one word, FEAR!

No, not fear of the gentiles. We had enough of that, from the last 2,000 years of abuse at their hands. No, I’m referring to fear of the Israeli police and government.

Really, there’s no good reason not to bring the Korban Pesach. Most of the halachic (Jewish Law) issues have been solved in the last couple hundred years, at least since the time of the Chatam Sofer, and particularly in our generation. Halacha is not the barrier. Go check it out.

Fear of the Israeli Authorities, is the only thing that holds back the Korban Pesach from being brought D’Orayta (as commanded in the Torah), on the Temple Mount.

So, the Passover offering that is supposed to symbolize complete faith in the G-d of Israel, and His redemptive process, has degenerated into eating more Matzah at the end of the Seder (the Afikoman). That, after we’ve already had our fill of Matzah earlier; instead of taking the symbol of the oppressor, chaining it in public for a four days, then slaughtering it, roasting it in a way that the evil ones can see their “power” being destroyed, and then eating it, Real Korban Pesach! Just like before we left Egypt.

I really lust to bring the Korban Pesach to the Bet HaMikdash, and worship the G-d of Israel, the way He intended me to do, as described in His Holy Torah. Every year, I hope that this year, will be THE YEAR!

In fact, every committed Jew should desire the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash (the Third Holy Temple, the House of God) on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But even before that, the Korban Pesach can be brought. As I said earlier, there are no halachic problems, to prevent it from being carried out properly today.

Interestingly, there is a similarity between Korban Pesach and Israel’s redemptive process unfolding before our eyes, in our time. Unlike other Offerings, if the majority of the nation is Tamei (Ritually Impure), as it is today, the Korban Pesach can be brought in an impure state.

So too, Israel’s Redemption comes whether the Jewish People are religiously observant or not. See Talmud Sanhedrin 97b, where Rabbi Yehoshua insists that “even if Am Yisrael does not do Teshuva (repentance), they will be redeemed.”

So, God has His own plan... And, we Jews, just have to have simple faith and trust in Him, and do what needs to be done.

Whether Jews of little faith understand it or not, every stabbing, every shooting, every act of terror and war by Arabs and Muslims against Jews, is a part of a long religious war taking place. That’s how they understand it. Well, let me tell you, there are Jews who understand this too. We shouldn’t let fear of the world or fear of the Israeli government, stop us from carrying out a Commandment of the Living God.

A couple years ago, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Palestinian Authority Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, threatened that if Jews “...hold Pesach (Passover) religious ceremonies on the Temple Mount...and continue attacks against the Muslim and Palestinian holy will turn the entire region into a ticking time bomb and cause a religious war, who’s results cannot be fathomed.”

“...A religious war, who’s results cannot be fathomed,” Hussein quipped. Well, we know what the results will be, just like every other war against the State of Israel, victory for the Jewish people again. See Talmud Megillah 17b, “The beginning of redemption comes through wars.”

“HaShem Ish Milchama...’’ The God of Israel is a Warrior, the Lord is his name (Exodus 15:3).

What prompted this outburst of the mufti? The mere attempt to reenact Korban Pesach – not even the real thing – by the Temple Institute and other Temple Mount organizations, near, but not on, the Temple mount in Jerusalem.

This year, on April 15th, the Sanhedrin will again oversee a full-dress reenactment of the Passover offering, for the eighth year. The ceremony will be held at the Davidson Center adjacent to the Temple Mount, as it was last year. By the way, the Arabs did nothing last year, or the year before.

But why a reenactment? FEAR!

The Yalkut Shimoni – a midrash – on the Book of First Samuel (106) teaches us an awesome lesson about the Churban/destruction and exile by the Romans, Rabbi Simeon Bar Menasya said, “Israel was only exiled after it rejected the following three things, Malchut Shamayim/the Kingdom of Heaven, Malchut Beit David/Kingship from the House of David, and the Beit HaMikdash/the Holy Temple.

We learn from this, that the cause of the exile of the Jewish people, was because we took too lightly, Torah observance (God’s rule), we should have demanded a rightful Davidic descendant be appointed as king, once the Maccabees drove out the Syrian Greeks, and Jews didn’t care enough about the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

A variant text in the Yalkut Shimoni explains from a different angle, why the Roman exile would be so long, as opposed to the limited seventy years of Babylonian exile, after the destruction of the First Temple. Rabbi Simeon Bar Menasya predicted, “In the future the following three things will be despised by Israel, the Kingdom of Heaven, David’s kingdom [the Messiah], and the building of the [Third] Temple.”

By the attitudes and behavior of most Jews today; the secularization and assimilation; apathy about the Messianic concept and the Temple Service; or FEAR of greatness in serving God, Rabbi Simeon’s prediction seems to have come true.

An Israeli Policy: How to Annex Judea and Samaria

Israeli PM Netanyahu recently dropped a bombshell during an interview on Channel 12 television.

“I obtained President Trump’s declaration on the Golan Heights, which says that it is our territory forever,” Netanyahu said. He continued, “I persuaded him to recognize Jerusalem. I will not divide Jerusalem, I will not uproot a single settlement and I will make sure we control all the territory west of the Jordan.”

Then he dropped the bomb, “Yes, I’ll apply sovereignty. I don’t separate the large [settlement] blocs from the isolated points [settlements in Judea and Samaria].”

He’s only talking about parts of Area C...

Later, in an interview with Arutz Sheva, PM Netanyahu stated, “I prefer to do it with American support. I spoke about it with the relevant authorities and it takes time to coordinate. I am not talking about the entire area, but first of all about the settlements. Not just the blocs, but the blocs and the isolated settlements, I do not [intend to] abandon them or transfer them to Palestinian rule, which would destroy them.”

When asked about whether he agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu said, “There will be no Palestinian state, not as people talk about it. It will not be because I am making sure of it. I am not uprooting settlements, rather applying sovereignty to them. I am maintaining a united Jerusalem and I am maintaining our control on the entire area west of the Jordan River to prevent another Gaza.”

But control does not necessarily mean sovereignty...

“This is my policy,” he continued. “I told that to the Americans, President Trump and President Obama. Vice President Biden told me that this is not a state. I told him to call it whatever he wanted. He said it was not sovereignty. I said that that’s what I'm willing to do, that's all.”

Netanyahu said he planned on carrying out the annexation gradually and with American agreement. “I brought President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, the transfer of the embassy and the recognition in the Golan Heights, which is very important to what I plan in Judea and Samaria.”

Netanyahu’s recent change of heart, supporting sovereignty, is still muddled thinking...

It follows a growing list of Israeli public figures who support Ribonut (The Sovereignty Movement), that’s been spearheaded by Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover, from “Women in Green.” Yet these pubic figures haven’t provided many details on exactly how they will carry it out, actual policies.

Woman in Green has promoted a plan called Tama 100, but it fails to discuss economic incentives to Arab emigration from Judea and Samaria, or reform of the Arab educational system, a “De-Palistinazification Program” for example. Nor does it discuss a path toward full integration of those Arabs left in Judea and Samaria, into the State of Israel. In fact, in their March issue of “Sovereignty: A Political Journal,” it says clearly about the Tama 100 plan, “Arab settlement blocs remain outside this track – there is no change in the status of the Arabs.” This is a sure prescription for accusations of Apartheid, and for failure.

By contrast, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Israel Hayom, in mid February, “We [her and Bennett, the New Right] are in favor of applying Israeli law to Area C, where 100,000 Palestinians live. They will be able to choose to become citizens or residents, whichever they prefer.”

When asked whether 400,000 residents of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods would also receive full Israeli citizenship and the right to vote in Israel’s elections, Shaked said, “Jerusalem’s residents choose to receive residency, not citizenship. But, if we apply Israeli law to Area C, I’ll live peacefully with the fact that we gave 400-500,000 Palestinians, Israeli citizenship, and allowed them to vote in the Knesset’s elections. I’m not worried. Their birthrate is identical to our birthrate.”

More muddled thinking…

In 2017, Betzalel Smotrich wrote about his “One Hope Plan,” where he talked about economic incentive to encourage Arab emigration from Judea and Samaria and then said, “The Arabs of Judea and Samaria will conduct their daily lives on their own terms via regional municipal administrations lacking national characteristics. Like other local authorities these will hold their own elections, and will maintain regular economic and municipal relations between themselves and authorities of the State of Israel. In time, and contingent on loyalty to the state and its institutions, and on military or national service, models of residency and even citizenship will become available.”

Yet, there’s no talk of Israeli control over infrastructure, no discussion of changes to the educational system, and it allows the Arabs in Judea and Samaria to immediately choose their own municipal leadership and pay municipal taxes. The timeline is fuzzy, and there is no talk of a De-Palistinazification Program.

And, what’s this about military service for a recent enemy population…?

Smotrich addresses the possible “Apartheid” accusation, by saying they’ll hold their own elections. But, since he doesn’t discuss serious policies, about improving the life of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria (what I call “Sovereignty with Responsibility”), nor clear timelines for status issues, his answers to the “Apartheid” accusation are weak, in my opinion.

The Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, has a master plan, called “Hazon Ha-Million” (the Vision of One Million), to double the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria, which currently numbers 450,000, to one million, within the next ten years.

“If you look at all of the investments in infrastructure in the past 10 years, there was relatively little in Judea and Samaria,” says Hananel Dorani, chairman of the council. “Today, we are busy making master plans for electricity, transportation, water, alternative energy, industry, the economy, and the environment. If there will be four-lane highways here, it will give greater momentum to further settlement.”

They emphasize that their plan addresses the “Apartheid” issue. Planned improvements to the infrastructure will benefit both Jews and Arabs. CEO Yigal Dilmoni explained, “We are certain that we will be here and that we will stay forever, and we know that Arabs will be here as well. So, when I worry about the construction of a new road, so that there will not be accidents, it is not a road that will be for just for me, but rather, it will be for the Arabs in the area as well. When we add improvements in infrastructure of water and electricity, it is the same infrastructure that will be supplied to the Arab villages who live in the area. My worries and concerns for the future of the area are for the entire region. The Arabs will benefit from improvements to the roads, water, and electricity, and will enhance their well-being. When that happens, the area will be calmer.”

Although Likud, Union of Right-Wing Parties, and others on the right, support settlement in theory, the Nahala Movement, a settlement group, is doing something about it. They are promoting an Israeli settlement plan introduced under the government of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in the early 1980s. The main objective is to settle 2 million Jews in Judea and Samaria. Nahala activists have been demanding the next government work toward the settlement of all of Judea and Samaria, and to abandon the idea of a two-state solution.

They have been collecting signatures on a petition that reads, “I hereby commit to be loyal to the land of Israel, not to cede one inch of our inheritance from our forefathers. I hereby commit to act to realize the settlement plan, for the settlement of 2 million Jews in Judea and Samaria, in accordance with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's plan, as well as to encourage and lead the redemption of all the lands throughout Judea and Samaria. I commit to act to cancel the declaration of two states for two peoples and replace it with the stately declaration: The Land of Israel: One country for one people.”

Likud members who have signed this declaration include Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Culture Minister Miri Regev, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, Communication Minister Ayoub Kara, Immigration and Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, both of the New Right party, also signed the petition.

Exercising sovereignty means massive Jewish re-settlement of Judea and Samaria and encouraging Arab emigration from there. It means total control over the infrastructure, and the lives of the former PA Arabs who stay. And, it also means responsibility, to help improve the lives of those Arabs who choose to stay and live peacefully with Jews.

According to a mid-February poll conducted by Commanders for Israel’s Security, which opposes annexation, they found that 60 percent of those surveyed were against annexation, while 24 percent supported it, and 16 percent were undecided.

In late March, a survey by the Geocartographia Institute, found that 73% of Israelis oppose withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and the division of Jerusalem in order to establish a Palestinian state. Of those who oppose a Palestinian state, 85% support one of three proposals, application of sovereignty over Jewish settlements only (45.%); application of sovereignty over all of Area C (18.7%); or application of sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria and granting residency status to the Arabs, such as in East Jerusalem (21.3%).

If those numbers are anywhere near accurate, then just putting the annexation issue onto the agenda isn’t enough. To win over a majority of Israelis, annexation plans must be presented in more detail than is currently being discussed. They need to be made more realistic, and address the numerous issues involved in applying Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria.

Now let’s look at some:

Policy Ideas for Extending Israeli Sovereignty to Judea and Samaria

1. Nullify the Oslo Accords and pass a bill in the Knesset to apply Israeli law over Judea and Samaria, for the establishment of Jewish Political Sovereignty to areas A, B, and C, i.e. Annexation.

2. Establish total military and security control over all of Judea and Samaria, including the Arab cities, towns and villages, and de-militarize the Arab population.

3. Develop a Jewish Re-settlement Program to encourage Israelis and Jews from the diaspora, to re-populate the Biblical Heartland of Israel, rebuilding cities, towns, and villages, that were wiped out during nearly 2,000 years of foreign occupation.

4. Forcibly dismantle the Palestinian Authority.

5. Arrest and try the PA leadership and Palestinazi terrorists and activists (or eliminate them if arrest is impossible), for their encouragement and support of terrorism, i.e. crimes against the Jewish people, like what was done with Eichmann, and as should have been done to Arafat.

6. Introduce throughout the Arab sector in Judea and Samaria (the former PA), a comprehensive De-Palestinazification Program similar to what America introduced into Germany after their defeat in World War II.

7. Establish an Emigration Authority and the Monetary Encouragement Act to help encourage and fund the migration of Arabs from Judea and Samaria who choose to leave to another country.

8. For those Arabs who chose to stay, and take the citizenship path, a New Citizenship Council will be established. The council will have the authority to deny citizenship to those Arabs who break the law, which of course will included any form of resistance to Israeli Sovereignty. Deportation without compensation will be the lightest penalty; more grievous violations will receive the death penalty.

9. With Sovereignty comes responsibility, so Israel will establish a network of Israeli Police Stations throughout the Arab sector in Judea and Samaria, just as in the Jewish sector. The purpose, to keep law and order, and provide security to those Arabs who choose to live peacefully under Israeli rule, i.e. protect them from bullying and terror, from “Palestinazi Activists” who haven’t yet been arrested, tried and convicted.

10. With the Dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, Israel as sole Sovereign in the Area, will take control of all public services and municipal administration. Monies shall be invested into improved infrastructure, e.g. roads, electricity, water, and the sewer system.

11. By taking control over the educational system in the Arab sector, Israel can introduce a new pro-Israel, peaceful coexistence curricula, which includes it’s De-Palistinazification Program. Financial encouragement of Israeli Arab educators to work in the Arab sector of Judea and Samaria, should help introduce pro-Israel attitudes and Hebrew into the population.

12. A Healthcare improvement initiative will be started, including the financial encouragement of existing Israeli Arab medical personnel, to work in the Arab sector of Judea and Samaria. More contact between Israeli Arab citizens and the Arab citizens of Judea and Samaria, will help with their integration into Israel, long-term.

13. The new Arab citizens of Judea and Samaria, will be entitled to full civil rights and equality before the law with Jews, including civil and criminal adjudication in the Israeli court system, just as Israeli Arabs. They also will be responsible to pay all taxes, just like other Israelis. They also will be required to do National Service (but not army service), as will Israeli Arabs.

14. Starting in 2048, and upon approval of the New Citizenship Council in coordination with the security services, municipal self-rule will begin to be progressively introduced into the Arab sector of Judea and Samaria, contingent upon their cooperation with Israeli authorities and peaceful, proper and lawful behavior up until then. Cities, towns and villages that qualify, will then be given the opportunity to hold democratic elections and elect their own municipal administrations under the auspices of the of the New Citizenship Council. Those towns would now be allowed to collect their own tax money and fund and administer, their own municipal budgets.

15. But, as a former enemy population, they are are not entitled to national self-determination within the State of Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People. Therefore, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, are not entitled to vote in Knesset elections. Full citizenship, like Israeli Arabs, which includes the right to vote in national elections, will be offered to them in three generations or seventy years whichever is longer, contingent upon their full cooperation with Israeli authorities, good and lawful behavior, and with the approval of the security services and the New Citizenship Council.

I have presented here just one possible scenario, policies that still need to be fleshed out with even more detail, of what to do with the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, once Israeli sovereignty has been established there.

As the issue is put on the top of the political agenda, all scenarios being presented to the public, need to be well thought out, explained in detail and fully discussed, to achieve support and total success. This generation’s major challenge is, how the Jewish people will achieve full integration of Judea and Samaria (the Biblical Heartland), into the modern State of Israel.

Judea Pearl Renounces NYU Distinguished Alumnus Status as School Prepares to Award Students for Justice in Palestine

Turing Award winner Judea Pearl has renounced his status as a distinguished alumnus of New York University, following the school’s decision to award its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter — which orchestrated an ongoing boycott of Zionist student clubs — for “extraordinary and positive impact on the University community.”

Pearl, who graduated with a doctoral degree from NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering in 1965, was granted a Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Polytechnic Alumni Association during a campus lecture in 2013 and is currently a chancellor’s professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also leads a foundation named after his late son, journalist Daniel Pearl, who was killed by Islamic terrorists in 2002 while on assignment in Pakistan.

“In the past five years, SJP has resorted to intimidation tactics that have made me, my colleagues and my students unwelcome and unsafe on our own campus,” Pearl wrote in a letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton. “The decision to confer an award on SJP, renders other NYU awards empty of content, and suspect of reckless selection process.”

Pearl stated that his efforts to engage with university officials over these concerns “have been met with platitudes about ‘free speech’ despite the fact that the US State Department now includes, in its definition of discrimination, intimidation based on race, religion and ethnicity.”

“Mr. President, I have been in academia for close to 50 years, and I know the difference between free speech and campus norms,” he continued. “Entrusted with the mandate of maintaining a climate of learning and mutual respect, your office should distance itself from the SJP selection and explain to the campus why such distancing is necessary. In the absence of a corrective action by your office the academic standing of this university is begging for other voices to call out the Orwellian character of (SJP’s) award.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called NYU’s decision to honor SJP “a slap in the face to the Jewish community, including Jewish graduates and significant donors.”

“It is devoid of any ethical basis, rewarding professional propagandists who legitimize terrorism and demonize the Jewish State of Israel,” he argued, before encouraging other NYU community members to follow in Pearl’s footsteps.

In an email last week, an NYU alumni relations official told Pearl that according to university spokesperson John Beckman, the President’s Service Award is annually granted to more than 50 extra-curricular clubs and 100 individuals, which are selected by a group of student affairs staff members and a student representative.

“While many in our university community disagree with the SJP, we will continue to defend the rights of our students and others to express their opposing views,” the official asserted.

SJP first revealed that it would be receiving the award, which will be presented on Wednesday, in a Facebook post earlier this month.

“We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected to receive a presidential service award at NYU,” the group wrote. “Despite the pushback we have received from our institution, we agree that we have made ‘significant contributions to the university community in the areas of learning, leadership, and quality of student life,'” SJP added, quoting a letter it said it had received from the university.

The news was met with concern by some NYU students and alumni, who pointed to SJP’s blacklisting of campus clubs with opposing views and its introduction of a resolution supporting the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, which was adopted by the Student Government Assembly (SGA) in December.

The controversial campaign has been long denounced by major US and global Jewish groups for rejecting the existence of a Jewish nation-state in the Levant and promoting antisemitic tropes. Supporters say it seeks to force Israel to abide by international law and rectify injustices inflicted on Palestinians by the state’s creation.

NYU said at the time it would not adhere to the SGA resolution, noting that President Hamilton’s “opposition to boycotts of Israel is long-standing and well-known.”

The university also shared a 2016 statement by Hamilton, who called academic boycotts of Israel “contrary to our core principles of academic freedom, antithetical to the free exchange of ideas, and at odds with the University’s position on this matter.”

This stance is rejected by SJP, which last April led more than 50 campus groups in announcing a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, as well as “Israeli goods and goods manufactured in the Occupied Territories, except for those manufactured by Palestinians.”

SJP’s coalition further committed to boycotting Realize Israel and NYU’s other Zionist student club, TorchPAC, with signatories agreeing not to co-sponsor events with them.

Several off-campus groups were also included on the SJP blacklist, among them the Anti-Defamation League civil rights group.

Later that same month, two students were arrested and subsequently released after allegedly stealing and burning an Israeli flag while participating in an SJP protest of “Rave in the Park,” an annual celebration held by the NYU club Realize Israel.

Also last year, SJP led more than 30 others groups in an October pledge“not participate in or apply to study abroad programs hosted at NYU Tel Aviv,” while supporting an SGA resolution last March that called on NYU to review “its nondiscrimination policies for Palestinian, Middle Eastern and other affected students traveling to the State of Israel and attending NYU Tel Aviv.”

Responding to news of SJP’s selection, Realize Israel said last week it was “outraged that the University would award an organization that has spent the last several years making Jewish and pro-Israel students feel unwelcome and unsafe on campus.”

“Members of SJP defaced Israel’s flag and physically assaulted pro-Israel students for openly celebrating their identities, and members of SJP brought forward not one, but two one-sided and factually inaccurate anti-Israel resolutions to the Student Government Assembly through a non-transparent, unbalanced, and undemocratic process,” the group noted.

“By presenting the NYU President’s Award to SJP, not only is our university condoning violence and discrimination against members of the NYU community, but it is declaring that this type of behavior represents the ethos of our university,” Realize Israel continued. “[It] is high time that the administration put an end to this endless cycle of intimidation, and we plan to voice our concerns about the systemic anti-Semitism perpetuated by anti-Israel activism that is plaguing our campus.”

SJP, which later appeared to mock Realize Israel’s concerns by claiming the group was “bitter” that it was not selected to receive an award, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Pesach we were Redeemed and set Apart

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Every holiday has its accomplishment and the light unique to it, light that is akin to the first light that was showered on Israel. Through fulfilling the mitzvoth commanded to us, “reminding us of the Exodus”, that light shines upon us, like the light that shined on us at the start when we triumphantly left Egypt.

The mitzvoth involving chametz and matza serve to remind us and to teach us that until the Exodus from Egypt, Israel were mixed among the rest of the nations, like “one nation out of another” (Deuteronomy 4:34). It was at the Exodus that we were redeemed and set apart. How so? The chametz, the regular bread that we eat all year long, is suited to man’s nature. It is easily digestible and tastes good. Our sages compare chametz to man’s evil impulse. Yet there is something special, the Pesach holiday, in which Israel were commanded to entirely avoid seeing or housing chametz in our possession. By eating matza we diminish the power of the evil impulse and our tendency towards the material, and we increase our affinity for the spiritual, for our Father in Heaven.

Matza is our bread of faith. By such means we merit that same light and bounty unique to Pesach, time of our freedom, in which we were redeemed and set apart (see Ramchal, Derech Hashem, IV:8). In every generation a person must see himself as though he, himself left the slavery of Egypt. It was in this regard that G-d commanded us, “Remember that you were a slave” (Deuteronomy 5:14). As Rambam puts it, “As though you, yourself, were a slave who went free and was redeemed” (Hilchot Chametz U’Matza 7:5). In our generation, the generation of national rebirth and of the ingathering of the exiles, we can see with our own eyes the emergence from exile to redemption, from darkness to light, and it is relatively easy for us to view ourselves as though we, ourselves, just left exile for redemption. Yet as stated, at the Exodus we were not just redeemed but set apart from all the nations.

We recognized our identity, which makes us unique and sets us apart from the Egyptians and from the nations, that G-d chose us from all the nations and He loves us, as we daily say, “G-d chooses His people Israel, with love” (blessings of the Shema).

Especially on the first night of Pesach, but in general as well, we must not only remember the redemption but also the separation between us and the nations. By such means we will merit, before Gd, whose word created the universe, to sing a new song, with enormous joy:

“When Israel went out of Egypt, Jacob’s household from a people of strange speech, Judah became G-d’s sanctuary, Israel His dominion” (Hallel).

With blessings for a kosher and joyous holiday,
Looking forward to complete redemption,
Shabbat Shalom.

The Selling of Chametz

by HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Har Bracha

The sale of chametz began due to the distress of whiskey merchants in Europe * After the rabbis established the sale of chametz for merchants, the custom expanded to the general public * Today, the sale of chametz is essential for the marketplace, and for the food industry * Despite the claims that this is a fiction, the vast majority of poskim rule that the sale is valid * In principle, every individual may sell all chametz, but ideally, it is recommended to use the sale only for doubtful products, or to prevent a significant financial loss * Since it is possible to sell chametz in situations of uncertainty, many halakhic questions can be avoided * According to halakha, chametz that was sold is permitted to be eaten after Pesach

The Roots of the Sale of Chametz

By midday of the fourteenth of Nisan, every Jew must have disposed of the chametz in his possession. In the past, Jews would plan their food purchases and their meals so that by Pesach they would have finished consuming any chametz foods and thus not have to dispose of large quantities. They would leave only a small amount of chametz with which to fulfill the mitzva of bi’ur chametz in the best possible manner: by burning it.

However, occasionally one’s plan would backfire and he would find himself possessing a large quantity of chametz when Pesach arrived. In such a case, if he did not mind losing the chametz, he could burn it or give it as a gift to a decent and deserving gentile. If he did not want to lose the value of his chametz, he could sell it to a gentile before Pesach, since, as long as the prohibition has not gone into effect, it is permissible to sell the chametz and receive its full value. The prohibition against deriving benefit from chametz goes into effect on the sixth hour on the day of the fourteenth of Nisan, and until that time it is permissible to sell the chametz.

This was especially important for food merchants who would remain with large stocks of chametz before Pesach and had no choice but to sell to a gentile, in order to avoid great financial loss. Even if a gentile could not be found who was sincerely interested in buying all of the chametz, our Sages teach that it is permissible for a Jew to say to a gentile, “Even though you do not need so much chametz, buy all of my chametz for the full price, and if you want, I will buy it back from you after Pesach” (based on Tosefta Pesachim 2:7).

The Problem of Whiskey Merchants

About 400 years ago, many Jews living in Europe began to support themselves through the production and sale of whiskey. This was because the barons, the landowners, would often contract Jews to manage their affairs, and it was common for them to lease their distilleries and inns to Jews in exchange for a fixed price and/or a percentage of sales. This whiskey, which was made from barley and wheat, is considered chametz gamur (absolute chametz, in which the leavening process has been completed). To prevent the great financial loss that would come each year with its disposal before Pesach, it became necessary to sell it to a gentile before Pesach and buy it back again immediately thereafter, in order to continue selling the whiskey as usual.

How the Practice of Selling Chametz Spread

Over time, rabbinic leaders noticed that the sale was sometimes carried out improperly, leading to serious problems. If the sale is improper, the chametz remains in the possession of the Jew, and with every hour that passes he violates bal yera’eh (the prohibition against chametz being seen in one’s possession on Pesach) and bal yimatzei (the prohibition against chametz being found in one’s possession on Pesach). Additionally, it is forbidden to derive benefit from such chametz after Pesach, and it must all be completely destroyed. Therefore, rabbinic authorities began to oversee the sale of chametz, in order to ensure its proper sale. Seeing that the sale was being carried out in an orderly manner, other Jews began to participate in the transaction, in order to save their own chametz from being lost. This is how mekhirat chametz began to spread and become increasingly common.

The Sale is Essential for Manufacturers and Dealers
In recent generations, new storage methods have been introduced that allow us to preserve food products for long periods of time. As a result, food manufacturers and dealers are in constant possession of large inventories of food, and they need to sell their chametz before Pesach in order not to lose the value of their stock. Moreover, if food manufacturers were to make a point of exhausting their entire inventory before Pesach, it would take days and even weeks to restock and market their products, and in the meantime, they would lose business. Even if no competitors were to seize the opportunity, it would cause a great inconvenience to buyers, who would be unable to purchase chametz foods during the weeks after Pesach. Therefore, factory owners, food chains, and stores sell all of their chametz to a gentile before Pesach, and as soon as Pesach passes, they buy it back again and remarket it.

Claims against the Sale

However, about four hundred years ago, some of the Gedolei Yisrael, foremost the author of ‘Tavu’ot Shor‘, who himself was a whiskey maker, claimed that mekhirat chametz was not a real sale, but merely a fiction. In the first place, it is clear that after Pesach the chametz will return to the Jew. Moreover, no sales tax is paid to the government on this sale. Thirdly, in a normal sale the buyer pays for all of the chametz and physically takes it into his possession, but here the gentile neither pays the full price, nor takes the chametz with him. In addition to the principle claim that this is not a sale but a fiction, they also argued about the manner in which the sale was actually performed, such as the acquisition was not performed according to halakha, or that it was done with a gentile who did not understand its legal ramifications.

In practice, some poskim wrote that only in extreme situations, in order to prevent a significant loss, it is permissible to rely on the sale. Some even instructed not to rely on it at all (Gaon from Vilna).

The Rabbis’ Consent to Rely on the Sale

Nevertheless, the opinion of the vast majority of poskim is that mekhirat chametz may be relied upon and is as valid as any sale. By law, the gentile can refuse to sell the chametz back to the Jew after Pesach, consequently, it is a bona fide sale, not a fiction. Nevertheless, in order to avoid even the appearance of a fiction, the rabbis made a practice of being very meticulous about all details of the sale. Since there are different halakhic opinions regarding the proper mode of purchase when a gentile buys from a Jew, the rabbis are careful to execute the sale using all forms of acquisition, so that it is clear that the sale is effective according to all opinions. In addition, they make sure that the sale is effective according to state laws as well (see MB 448:17, 19, and BHL ad loc.).

Every Jew, before selling chametz, should read the authorization contract he will be signing, so that he understands that he is empowering the rabbi to sell his chametz, and that the sale is absolute. Nonetheless, if instead of reading the contract one simply relied on the rabbi, the sale is valid, for, if the gentile comes during Pesach to take the chametz, and the rabbi tells the Jew that the chametz indeed belongs to the gentile and that he must give it to him, the Jew will do so.

A Proposal to Strengthen the Matter

It would be fitting for the Chief Rabbinate, together with the television networks, to randomly select ten people each year who sold their chametz to a gentile, and film the gentile knocking on the door of the Jew’s house when coming to pick up the chametz he had bought, and the response of the members of the household. If there was an argument, the rabbi who mediated the sale would be brought in. They would then estimate the extremely low price the gentile must pay as determined in the sale, seeing as the sale is done at floor prices – as normal for products already found in one’s home – and conclude the story with the gentile eating some of the food and taking the rest home. Thus, on each day of Chol Ha’Moed, two visits would be arranged. By doing so, the understanding that the sale is indeed valid would be strengthened.

Is the Sale Intended for an Individual?

In principle, anyone may sell his chametz to a gentile via the mekhirat chametz organized by his local rabbis. He may do so even if he only wishes to sell a small amount of chametz – for example, a package of pasta – because once it has been sold, the Jew no longer violates the prohibitions relating to chametz.

Some are stringent and prefer not to rely on mekhirat chametz since it appears fictitious: the chametz remains in the Jew’s house, the gentile will almost certainly not come to take it, and the Jew resumes eating the very same chametz as soon as Pesach is over. According to these poskim, it is only possible to sell chametz in order to prevent a great loss; concerning a small loss, one should not sell his chametz, in order to avoid possible transgression.

A Recommendation for All – Sell Uncertain Products

Nowadays, all are advised to participate in mekhirat chametz, because some food products and flavored medicines may contain small amounts of chametz, and they should not be destroyed just because of this possibility. On the other hand, these must not be kept because they may actually contain chametz. Therefore, to avoid all doubt, the best thing to do is to sell them. Similarly, there are those who maintain that one who has money invested directly or indirectly in stock of companies that produce chametz must sell these shares before Pesach. Consequently, all chametz sale documents include clauses regarding stocks and shares in these types of companies.

Concerning chametz gamur, people are advised not to sell insignificant amounts of chametz, so as not to use the mekhirat chametz for small needs. However, when a significant loss is involved, it is permitted, even le-khatchila, to sell the chametz.

Not to be Meticulous about Questions Concerning Uncertain Chametz

There are people who, because of their concern about the opinion of the stringent poskim who claim the sale is a fiction, wish to avoid it as much as possible. As a result, they often bother rabbis with various questions: first, about all the products in their home that do not have kashrut for Pesach – are they considered actual chametz or uncertain chametz, and whether they should be sold or not. Second, after they realize they contain uncertain chametz, whether their value justifies relying on the sale.

However, there is no point in bothering rabbis with such questions, for today, the sale is designed to resolve them. In other words, any uncertain product should be included in the sale.

When is it Permissible to Use Chametz after Pesach?

After Pesach, it is best not to use the chametz that was sold until one can assume that the Chief Rabbinate has bought it all back for all. When necessary, though, one may take out some chametz immediately after Pesach with a willingness to pay the gentile for it, were he to request this. It is best that the beit din make an explicit condition with the gentile that the Jew will be obligated to pay for any sold chametz he takes, if the gentile so desires. Thus, there will be no question about the Jew taking chametz immediately after Pesach.

Chametz That Was Sold – The Stringent Poskim, and the Halakha

Some people are strict and do not eat chametz that was sold because, according to stringent poskim, such a sale is not legitimate and this chametz has the status of chametz she-avar alav ha-Pesach (chametz that belonged to a Jew during the holiday), which one may neither eat nor derive benefit from.

In practice, however, one need not be concerned about complying with this stringency, because the prohibition of chametz she-avar alav ha-Pesach is rabbinic, and whenever there is uncertainty about a rabbinic law, halakha follows the lenient opinion. This is all the more true where only a small number of poskim are strict, while the overwhelming majority permit. Indeed, there were eminent rabbis who, after Pesach, would make a point of eating chametz that had been sold through mekhirat chametz, in order to demonstrate that the sale was done in keeping with halakha.

Rav Kook's Ein Ayah: Hallel and Nirtza

(condensed from Olat Re’iya, Rav Kook’s Commentary on the Haggada)

Hallel: When the state of life follows a straight path and all stay on the beaten path, then matters are set so that especially enlightening times will enable great spiritual elevation. This is a time at which one can go beyond the framework of normal life, to praise the Name of Hashem with a special power of an abnormally uplifted spirit.

However, exceptional uplifting of the soul should not accompany man on a regular basis. This is because the proper balance between the physical and the spiritual is the most precious blessing of peace that man has. For this reason, one who reads the psalms of Hallel every day is considered a blasphemer (Shabbat 118b).

It is unpleasant to note that recognizing Hashem naturally takes a person out of his spiritual comfort zone, which is not good even if it is with the intention to raise himself above the standard of spirituality in his life. Staying indefinitely in a situation of abnormality, even if it is in a good situation, will turn into a nuisance and even a type of sickly situation, which creates an opposite effect to that which is created when there is proper elevation of the soul.

In contrast, when elevation comes from time to time, after one properly lived his normal life in sanctity, as even normal life is by nature pure, then it is inestimably beautiful when one sings special songs of praise. It enlightens one’s life beyond the moment of the praise and serves as a pillar of light that gives off a special aura even after the moment is over. This impression lasts until the time comes for a new impression that elevates the spirit, one which complements the indulging and restfulness of the special time. Then one will enjoy his contact with Hashem, through thanks and songs of praise.

Nirtza­ (having the Seder accepted in good will): The accumulation of matters that make an impression – the general and the specific, the natural and the intellectual, the critical and those that relate to broader matters – has a pleasant and holy effect on the nation and all its constituents. It sets a desirable nature, in which one does not require further steps to strengthen himself. Rather, it already becomes part of one’s gentle nature so that all of his senses and strength go in the direction of the loftiest goal. Then, the recognition of the actions of the Creator of all, Who stands behind Israel, brings one to the point that he does not only choose to follow the way of Hashem. Rather, he is actually nirtza– he acts in the desired manner without having to put inordinate effort into it.

One should understand the depth of the character of the soul of a Jew, and understand how the Torah leads those who follow it in the most complete manner, so that his soul is the result of the universal and individual natural spirit. The nature of the soul is to desire to be free to be tied and connected to the tendencies of universal inclinations. It strives to be exposed to the divine light and Hashem’s goodness to His nation and all that He created in His mercy for goodness and blessing. This is the goal of freedom, which is an eternal pillar, based on Hashem’s promise that lasts forever. The fruit of Hashem’s connection to His nation is that He desires it and adorns its righteous people with His salvation.

Netanyahu wants to kill the two-state solution. Good!

by Victor Rosenthal

PM Netanyahu’s pre-election promise to extend Israeli sovereignty to settlements in Judea and Samaria created great consternation among American Jews. The Reform and Conservative movements and several satellite organizations were so upset that they sent a letter to President Trump urging him to oppose the annexation of any territory in Judea and Samaria (which they, following Jordanian usage, refer to as “the West Bank”). The letter argues that such actions could “destroy any chance of a negotiated two-state solution” (the expression “two-state solution” appears five times in a one-page letter).

Although many headlines refer to Netanyahu’s intention to “annex the West Bank,” his promise referred only to Jewish settlements. But two-staters see this as a threat against the whole two-state enterprise. They fear that applying sovereignty to the settlements will make it impossible to dismantle them. And if the settlements cannot be removed, then their stubborn presence will prevent the establishment of a sovereign and contiguous Palestinian state. Only such a state, they think, can avoid the “insoluble” dilemma that Israel must ultimately either make citizens of all the Arab residents of the territories and give up its Jewish majority, or annex them without making the residents citizens, and give up democracy.

But there is almost nothing more dangerous (except perhaps an Iranian atomic bomb) to the survival of Israel than a sovereign and contiguous Arab state in Judea and Samaria.

The reason is simple: a Palestinian state would be hostile to the Jewish state, and it would be strategically located on high ground next to the center of the country where it could do huge damage almost at will, with simple and cheap weapons like those used by Hamas in Gaza. It could invite armies from other hostile states into its territory. As a sovereign state – like Lebanon, for example – it could support terrorism against Israel, while any attempt by Israel to counter it could be characterized as aggression.

Those who predict the future by wishing for a particular outcome say that a Palestinian state need not be hostile. But those whose predictions are based on past behavior, on analysis of the statements, character, and ideology of Palestinian leaders, and by observation of their current actions – that is to say, on reality – understand that it is certain that the state would be a violent, belligerent enemy. Here are just a few reasons:
The Gaza precedent. Even before the Hamas takeover, Gazans fired rockets at Israeli communities across the border, and launched terrorist attacks. The Hamas takeover opened the floodgates of terrorism, with massive rocket barrages, tunneling, and so on. In Judea/Samaria, even if the PLO were interested in peace, it could easily be overthrown by a more-militant group like Hamas – or worse.
PLO ideology. Despite strenuous lobbying by President Bill Clinton, the PLO never actually eliminated those parts of its charter calling for violent “resistance” to Israel. The Palestinian Authority media and its educational system have never stopped claiming that all of Israel is in fact “Palestine,” was stolen from the Arabs, and will be returned to them by means of violent “resistance.” PA media consistently praises terrorists and incites Palestinians to murder.
Palestinian authority policies. Despite Israel and the US acting to cut off funds that are used to pay terrorists and their families, the PA has continued to pay them – even when it means that funds for medical care for ordinary Palestinians will be cut.

I could go on, but why bother? Since there is no way to ensure that a deal made with a Palestinian partner today would be operative tomorrow – or that that partner would still be in power tomorrow – the exercise is academic anyway. The only way to prevent the creation of a belligerent Palestinian state is to prevent the creation of a sovereign state at all.

It’s doubtful that such a state could survive on its own anyway. “Palestine” would be a tiny state, much smaller than Israel, and – if the economies of the PA and Gaza are any guide, not viable. Palestinians will tell you that their economies are hobbled by “occupation,” but the fact is that the PA and Gaza receive help in various forms from Israel and have fewer expenses than they would as a sovereign state. Their economies are wracked by corruption, addiction to handouts, and – in the case of Gaza – the diversion of resources into making war against Israel.

But what about the “insoluble dilemma” that would prevent Israel from being both Jewish and democratic if there were no Palestinian state? In fact, there are several solutions. One of them is to create an autonomous Palestinian entity that would allow for economic development and allow the Palestinians to rule themselves with no interference from Israel – insofar as they refrain from terrorism against the nearby Jewish state. It needn’t be contiguous, and probably it’s better that it not be.

Control of borders and airspace must remain with Israel, and the Palestinian entity must be demilitarized, in order to prevent it from becoming a threat to Israel. In that respect, it would be less than a sovereign state. There would be complications: it is not as easy as simply annexing Area C. But there is no other alternative that allows for a peaceful Palestinian entity alongside Israel.

The Palestinians would not accept this at first and would continue their diplomatic and kinetic warfare against Israel. But they would do so anyway; and it would be easier for Israel to protect herself against them than if they had a completely sovereign state.

At this point, the objection may be made that such an arrangement would be unjust.Shouldn’t the Palestinian people have a sovereign state, too, like the Jewish people? Don’t they, in the words of Barack Obama, deserve a state?

In a word, no.

The Palestinian Arabs didn’t even self-identify as a distinct people until the 1960s, when the PLO was formed as a joint project of the Egyptians and the Soviets as a tool to attack Israel. Suddenly the Palestinians, who had disparate origins in the Middle East – most families have only been in the land we call Eretz Yisrael since the late 19th or early 20th centuries – became a “people” with a “national liberation movement.” Suddenly the Jewish people, who had good historical and archaeological evidence for their claim to be the aboriginal inhabitants of the land, became “European colonialists,” while the Palestinians made scientifically ludicrous claims to be descended variously from Canaanites or Philistines. From the beginning, the only specifically “Palestinian” aspect of their culture has been their opposition to Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael.

Their demands have always been maximal, and they have rejected numerous compromises, usually violently. The Arab response to the 1947 UN partition resolution was war, and Arafat’s answer to the Camp David summit was the Second Intifada. Since before the founding of the State of Israel, Palestinian Arabs have expressed their frustration with the Jewish presence, and now sovereignty, by murdering Jews. Although they were not the first to use them, they popularized airplane hijacking and suicide bombing. Palestinians didn’t perpetrate 9/11, but they were its spiritual father. Today they have created an even more inhuman weapon, a generation of children raised to believe that nothing is more praiseworthy than slaughtering a random Jew in the street.

Most Israelis understand all this quite well, and that is why – despite their myriad problems with him – they have democratically chosen Binyamin Netanyahu to be PM yet again. Security has always been the political issue that overrides all others, and they are convinced (one hopes correctly) that Netanyahu will stand up to the pressure coming from antisemitic Europe and uninformed America – including liberal Jews – and will not make another disastrous mistake like the Oslo Accords.

The American Reform and Conservative movements love the idea of democracy, and talk about it all the time. They would do well to get used to the idea that the results of the democratic process may not always be to their liking.

My Last Day in Galut and my Arrival in Israel

Pesach 5779
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Approximately three thousand five hundred years ago, seventy direct descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov left Eretz Yisrael for the exile of Egypt as individuals within a family. Two hundred and ten years later their descendants left Egypt numbering in the millions to return home as a nation. Two thousand years ago we as a nation were exiled from our land to eventually return home as individuals from 100 different lands to merge, coalesce and regroup into the great nation that we are today, as each and every oleh brings with him the richness of their worldly experiences.

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming autobiography (be’ezrat HaShem) depicting my last day in galut and arrival in the holy land.

Feiga and I were greeted at Idlewild airport (today’s JFK) by our many relatives and friends. I recall looking around and wondering, how many of them believe that we will return to America after facing the realities of life in a country beset with economic hardship and security dangers; while I believed how unfortunate they are for not wanting to face the challenges of rebuilding our ancient homeland.

The public address system announced that all passengers on the EL AL flight to Israel should now embark on the plane. After last minute kisses and hugs we descended into the warm June evening air to enter into the cavernous jaws of the winged “eagle” that will bring us home.

The spirit of Israel pervaded the plane. Israeli music was playing and the crew, and most of the passengers, were speaking Hebrew. The fact that I was able to understand and converse with them brought home to me the new reality of our lives. The moment of truth arrived. The plane rolled away from the boarding area. We saw our family and friends waving from the visitor’s deck, as the plane began to taxi down the runway to prepare for takeoff.

Shemot 19,4:

ואשא אתכם על כנפי נשרים

“And I shall carry you upon the wings of eagles.”

“How ironic”, I thought, “that that which was prohibited for the great Moshe Rabbeinu, who for all his suffering wanted nothing more than to enter the Holy Land – is now so readily granted to us”.

In addition to the requirement that we follow the Torah, every Jew has unique goals in this world which only he or she can fulfill. One of my goals, I believed, was to bring my family back to its roots in Eretz Yisrael. The first steps were taken that night; the final one would be taken ten years later, when my parents, Feige’s parents, and Meir and his family came on aliya. Feige and I crossed the bridge but when the rest of the family came, the bridge was burnt.

After a stopover in France and Italy, the plane took off for its final destination – Eretz Yisrael. As we flew over Cyprus, I recalled the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda (Tractate Gitiin 8a) that the western border of the Holy Land extends far over the Mediterranean Ocean. Thus, we are now essentially over the Holy Land. A thin line of land became visible to the east. As it loomed larger, the city of Tel Aviv appeared. It was very much smaller than today and surrounded by intermittent patches of green fields and yellow sand dunes. The plane descended and made a turn to put it on line with the runway.

Those first few moments will never fade from my memory. The plane touched down. The doors opened and the first gusts of avira de’eretz yisrael (the air of Israel – which grants one understanding) filled my lungs. We descended the stairs and were greeted by an Israeli policeman; a real live Jew in a handsome uniform greeting us in our ancient revived language – the language of the holy Torah.

We knelt down to kiss the dust about which the great Yehuda HaLevi wrote in his classic poem

ציון הלא תשאלי:

‘אפל לאפי עלי ארצך וארצה אבניך למאד ואחונן את עפריך’

“I shall fall prostrate on your land and shall greatly desire your stones and shall love your dust’.

We took our first four steps in the land of Israel, the reward for which is a portion in the World-to-Come.

The airport consisted of a modest building with a tower. The arrival hall was a small room with a long wooden table resting on removable legs, with a ceiling fan which made more noise than air. I felt insulted that the customs official was inspecting my bags for smuggled goods – as if I, Nachman Kahana, would do something against the law of my newly-adopted land.

Waiting for us was my aunt Shoshana, her son Ya’ir and a representative of yeshivat Nechalim where I was scheduled to teach. We arrived at my aunt’s home in Ramat Gan, where we ate our first meal in Eretz Yisrael. I never realized that a tomato could taste so good, that a modest cucumber could be as appealing as a frankfurter with mustard and sauerkraut, and that a glass of water could be as delightful as fine champagne. It was like eating the manna in the desert, where one’s thoughts influenced the taste of what was being eaten.

Early the next morning, I went into the street and met a man who I asked in Ivrit “where is there a bet knesset?” He answered with directions which I understood. I arrived at the central bet knesset of Ramat Gan where I took my place with the other kohanim in reciting the Kohanic blessing. Though I was used to reciting it only on holidays, however, this was truly a holiday.

That morning, we went to Tel Aviv where I learned my first and most fundamental lesson in absorption. We went to the main branch of Bank Le’umi to open an account. In America, banks are conservative institutions where the clerks and clients are expected to act with great reservation and speak no louder than a whisper. Despite the June heat, I was wearing a suit and tie as I was accustomed to dress in America. I approached one of the clerks who was wearing short pants and an open shirt. He began filling out the necessary forms while holding in one hand a tomato sandwich which was dripping on the form. I thanked him for his help, which went further than he could have ever imagined. I removed my jacket, took off my tie, rolled up my sleeves, and exited the bank a different man than when I had entered.

On the second day after our arrival in Eretz Yisrael, we went up to Yerushalayim. I was drinking in the rapidly changing landscape, from coastal plain to agricultural areas, from the beginning of the Judean foothills, to the rapid climb on the Judean mountains from sea level to 800 meters. We were traveling in a shayrut (taxi service) in a stretch Desoto limousine the likes of which I had never seen before. My inquisitiveness got the better of my manners, and I asked the driver how he obtained such a magnificent car? He replied, “I enrolled my two sons in a missionary school in Jaffa and they helped me purchase the vehicle”.

I was overtaken by a mixed sense of disbelief and disgust. Here I was sitting in a car purchased by the sale of two innocent Jewish souls, by a father whose greed had made him sell his own soul to the devil, and here in Eretz Yisrael.

After arriving in the holy city and walking around for several hours, we entered an imposing building called “Heichal Shlomo”, on King George Street (Israel is the last former colony of the British Empire to retain a major street so named). At that time the building housed the Israel Chief Rabbinate, and the appellate division of the religious courts. We entered the court, where an elderly couple were noisily taking their turn in mutual accusations. They were the surviving son and daughter of their deceased mother and were arguing over the estate. The daughter accused her brother of never really loving ‘mama’, but was only after her money, and the brother retorted with similar barrages of sibling niceties.

Here too, I was gripped with a feeling of great disappointment.

Little did I know that G-d and His hashgacha prateet (divine providence) was “setting us up” for a great lesson.

We left Heichal Shlomo and found ourselves standing in front of a lovely white building on Betzalel street – the municipal community center of the area (Beit Ha’am). The door was closed, but I knocked anyway. The custodian appeared and was seemingly annoyed because his siesta between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 P.M. was disturbed. To his question of what we wanted, I replied that we are olim chadashim (new immigrants) who had arrived just two days ago. In a more affable tone of voice, he ushered us inside and said that he has something very interesting to show.

We ascended three flights of stairs and arrived in a very large hall with rooms off to the side, at the end of the hall was a barred area that contained a perfectly made bed military style, a night-table upon which rested a book and a book mark, with a pair of neatly placed slippers and several other items. What made the entire scene look like a Kafkafian apparition was the fact that this small chamber was enclosed with bars. At that moment I heard the words, “You are standing before the cell of Adolph Eichmann.”

Eichmann, who organized the transports of millions of Jews from all parts of Europe to the various extermination camps, escaped to Argentina and was brought to Israel by the Mosad where he was put on trial and sentenced to be hung for crimes against humanity and against the Jewish people. The film of the court proceedings of that day were flown to the States, and we would be “frozen” to the television every evening to relive the unprecedented tragedy which befell our nation at the hands of this man Eichmann and too many like him. He was hung one week before we came to Eretz Yisrael; his body was incinerated and the ashes thrown into the wind over the ocean, and here was I standing before the cell which housed the “master butcher” of my people.

At that moment I felt the hand of hasgacha prateet. The message was loud and clear: there were and will always be individuals like the taxi driver and the brother and sister whose arrogance and greed pervert their conduct. But the collective entity of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael stands higher than the human frailties of its individuals. Only such an entity, which consists of a Jewish army and covert organizations such as the Mosad, with courts of law and a national conscious, is capable of actions on the highest national level.

It is our religious duty to become part of that collective and imbue it with the spirit of Torah, so that its actions will be a kiddush HaShem on a global level, which indeed is in our hands if enough G-d fearing Jews come home.

Among the things which I remember when standing before Eichmann’s cell, one stands out and affects me to this day – the book. There was a book on the table and within its pages stood out a bookmark. When he was taken to be hung, this “master” of order and discipline returned the bookmark to its place, because to do otherwise would not be “correct”.

He was hung in Ramle prison. His ashes were thrown into the ocean, as the Gemara relates (chapter 5 of Gittin) regarding the ashes of Titus, the Roman general who destroyed the Holy Temple. Titus ordered his body to be burned and the ashes thrown into the ocean, so that the Jewish G-d will not be able to inflict punishment upon him. The Gemara relates that daily G-d retrieves the ashes, inflicts punishment upon the body and returns it to ashes until the following day.

From here we continued up Jaffa Road, in an easterly direction towards the Central Post Office. About one hundred meters after the post office, a high wall blocked any advance. This was the wall that the Jordanians erected in order to divide the holy city into two – the eastern part which included the Old City and the western part called the “New City”. This wall stood for the first nineteen years of the State of Israel, and it was not rare for a Jordanian soldier to shoot at random at a passing Jew. At that time there were only two cities in the world divided by a wall, which were eventually torn down – Jerusalem and Berlin. The destruction of the Berlin wall resulted in uniting east and west, when the Jerusalem wall came down after the Six-day war, heaven and earth became united.

From there we made our way to Mount Zion, where we climbed a high minaret from which one could look into the Old City. I was thinking to myself that maybe my grandchildren or great grandchildren will have the opportunity to stand before the Temple Mount. It did not enter my thoughts that in just five years, I will have the monumental privilege of being able to stand on the mountain where my Kohanic ancestors served G-d in the Holy Temple.

I am writing this 57 years later, who could have believed!? We are so thankful to HaShem for all He has blessed us, including children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, all of whom are here in Eretz Yisrael, and for all the miracles He has shown us to this very day.

The holiday of freedom – Pessach – appears in two forms. There is the Pessach of the Jewish nation when we are freed from foreign domination, and Pessach of the individual Jew who is freed from state of galut.

The exodus from Egypt was the national Pessach, but every Jew who escapes the punitive state of galut to return home experiences his personal holiday of Pessach.

Chag Pessach kasher vesamayach.
Nachman Kahana

Rav Kook on Pesach: The Strong Hand and the Outstretched Arm

“Remember... the strong hand and the outstretched arm with which the Eternal your God brought you out [of Egypt].” (Deut. 7:18-19)

We are familiar with this phrase from the Haggadah, read every year on Passover. But what exactly do the “strong hand” and “outstretched arm” refer to?

Strong Hand - Dramatic Transformation

If the objective of the Exodus had been only to liberate the Israelites and raise them to the level of other free nations of the world, then no special Divine intervention would have been necessary. By the usual laws of nature and history, the Jewish people would have gradually progressed to a level of culture and morality prevalent among nations.

However, God wanted the newly freed slaves to swiftly attain a high moral and spiritual plane. In order to prepare them for their unique destiny, they required God’s “strong hand.” This metaphor implies a forceful intervention that neutralized the natural forces of the universe. God’s ’strong hand’ dramatically raised the Jewish people from the depths of defilement and degradation in Egypt to the spiritual heights of Sinai.

We commemorate this sudden elevation of the people, the ’strong hand,’ by eating the rapidly-baked matzah. This rationale for eating matzah is stated explicitly in the Haggadah:

“Because there was not time for the dough of our fathers to leaven before the King of all kings, the Holy One, revealed Himself to them and redeemed them.”

Outstretched Arm - Toward the Future

The “outstretched arm,” on the other hand, implies an unrealized potential, a work in progress. The Hebrew word for “arm” is zero'a, from the root zera (seed), indicating future growth. Even today, the ultimate goal of the Exodus has still not been fully achieved. The process of perfecting and redeeming the Jewish people is one of gradual progression.

If matzah commemorates the sudden redemptive quality of God’s “strong hand,” which Passover mitzvah symbolizes the “outstretched arm”? That would be the maror, the bitter herbs. The maror reminds us of the bitterness of slavery. The very fact that we felt this bitterness is an indication that servitude contradicts our true essence. By virtue of our inner nature, we will slowly but surely realize our true potential.

While the “strong hand” gave the initial push, it is through the “outstretched arm” that we steadily advance toward our final goal. This gradual progress is accomplished through the mitzvot, which refine and elevate us. It is for this reason that all mitzvot are fundamentally connected to the redemption from Egypt.

Hamas's Honesty and the Deal of the Century

by Khaled Abu Toameh
  • Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar's threats serve as a reminder that Hamas and other Palestinian terror group consider Israel one big settlement that needs to be annihilated. Above all, Hamas has never accepted the "two-state solution" or changed its charter, which explicitly states: "When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad [holy war] becomes a duty binding on all Muslims.... We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the [Islamic] Umma, clash with the enemies and join the ranks of the Jihad fighters."
  • Hamas cannot reach any political deal with Israel because it does not agree to Israel's right to exist. This is the message that Sinwar and leaders of all Palestinian terror groups want the world to hear. For the terrorist leaders, the only peace they will accept is one that results in the elimination of Israel and the evacuation of all Jews from their homes.
  • The Hamas Charter is a straightforward, unambiguous message that says: "[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas]....There is no solution to the Palestinian problem expect by Jihad.
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has undoubtedly read the Hamas charter. He knows that if he accepts any peace plan that does not include the expulsion of all Jews from their homes, he will be denounced by his rivals in Hamas as a traitor. Abbas is also aware of Hamas's threats to shower Israel with rockets. He knows that at the same time as Hamas attacks Israel, it will seek to flatten him for "betraying" Arabs and Muslims in "allowing" Jews to continue living in "their" state. This is the Palestinian reality that the "Deal of the Century" is about to be dealt.

April 15 marked the 18th anniversary of the firing of the first Hamas rocket toward Israel. Pictured: Armed Hamas militiamen on parade with a vehicle-mounted rocket launcher in Gaza, in August 2016. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)

April 15 marked the 18th anniversary of the firing of the first Hamas rocket toward Israel. On this day, 18 years ago, Hamas's military wing, Izaddin al-Qassam, launched its first rocket attack at Israeli population centers near their border with the Gaza Strip.

On the eve of this occasion, Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader of the Gaza Strip, threatened that his movement will continue to fire rockets at Israel. The rockets, he said, will be fired at Israeli "settlements" not only near the border with the Gaza Strip, but also at supposed "settlements" in the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod and Tel Aviv.

Sinwar said that the recent Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire understandings between Hamas and Israel are not a peace agreement. The understandings, he explained, do not require Hamas to disarm or halt, near the border with Israel, the weekly demonstrations, also known as the "Great March of Return."

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The Yishai Fleisher Show: Passover Seder Guide!

Yishai is baking matzo in Beit El! He intro's a lesson of a model Passover Seder by the preeminent Rabbi Eli Mansour. This incredible lesson was almost lost but Yishai plays it for you to prepare for the commandment of retelling the tale of the exodus at the Passover Seder. Blessings for a Kosher and happy holiday!

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Pesach: Emancipation from Mental Slavery

Why US Jewish leaders have a problem with Netanyahu

by Victor Rosenthal

Earlier this week, I wrote about the foolish and arrogant letter sent by the American Reform and Conservative movements and some of their associated organizations to President Trump, demanding that in the light of newly re-elected Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s intention to extend Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, he should act to preserve the holy “two-state solution” (2SS).

As Jonathan S. Tobin argued, Israelis democratically elected Netanyahu’s Likud party. And if you consider the breakdown between parties that favor the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea/Samaria vs. opponents of it, the election can be seen as referendum on the 2SS – a referendum that those opposed to the 2SS won by a true landslide. So the decision of American Jewish organizations to oppose the will of the great majority of Israeli citizens can be seen as contradicting the democratic right of Israeli citizens to decide their own fate, or, in Tobin’s words, “trashing the verdict of Israeli democracy.” The fact that the letter was addressed to Trump, rather than Netanyahu, shows even more strongly that they reject Israel’s pretension to self-government. The US, they think, guided by the “wisdom” of the leaders of its liberal Jewish community should force Israel to do its will. They are uncomfortable with a sovereign Jewish state, and would prefer a banana republic, with themselves calling the shots.

I find myself speculating about the political and psychological motivations for this letter. And although the writers imply that they are moved by concern for Israel’s well-being, I suspect several other impulses that are both more likely and less admirable.

The movements have satellite movements in Israel, and would like to see them recognized by the Israeli government as legitimate forms of Judaism, and receive subsidies from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, like Orthodox synagogues. They would like their rabbis to be able to perform marriages and conversions in Israel, and they would like a measure of control over religious sites. They would like a section of the Kotel to be made available for mixed-gender prayer.

As long as the Chief Rabbinate is in control of these things, and as long as it in turn is dominated by the Haredim (the so-called “ultra-Orthodox” Jews) that represent some 12% of the Jewish population of Israel, these wants will never be satisfied, no matter how many Supreme Court decisions there are in their favor. Netanyahu has been forced – as his center-left opposition also probably would have been – to include Haredi parties in his coalition, and for this reason the demands of the liberal movements remain unmet. Netanyahu has made the political calculation that Haredi support for his government is more important than the approval of Diaspora Jews that can’t vote; and they are bitter about this.

Despite misleading poll results, very few Israelis – according to Shmuel Rosner, less than one-half of one percent – are affiliated with the Israeli versions of the liberal movements. But the egos of the American leaders are bound up with their success (or lack thereof) in attracting Israelis to them. They need to believe that there are strong reasons to attend a non-Orthodox synagogue other than a lack of Jewish education. So they are trying very hard to get their movements into the Israeli mainstream to prove this, and they see Netanyahu as an obstacle.

In addition, the Israeli Left has good connections with the liberal movements in the Diaspora. They speak English and are well-represented in the media. Directly, and through media outlets like the Ha’aretz English website, they present their point of view to the Diaspora much more effectively than Netanyahu’s supporters, many of whom are working-class people who speak only Hebrew.

Finally, there is the fact that most of the members of the liberal American Jewish denominations and virtually all of their leadership are sympathetic to the progressive wing of the Democratic party. This political constellation, especially beginning with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, has become increasingly anti-Israel. Although Obama made his pro-Arab sympathies evident from the very beginning, even by 2012 some 70% of Jewish voters voted to re-elect him. In his second term, he did not disappoint, ramming the Iran deal through Congress in a process which included viciously attacking PM Netanyahu. His administration played on traditional anti-Jewish themes when it suggested that Jewish opponents of the deal were more loyal to Israel than to the US, and wanted the US to engage in war with Iran for the benefit of Israel. His final gift to Israel was US abstention on (and some say, promotion of) an anti-Israel Security Council resolution.

Nevertheless, Liberal American Jews and their religious movements have continued to embrace the progressive ideology represented by Obama, and have for the most part joined the fierce Democratic opposition to the Republican president, Donald Trump.

And this has placed them at cross-purposes with Israel, because Trump has proven himself to be the most pro-Israel American president since Harry S. Truman. Trump recognized Jerusalem as capital of Israel, reversing an obnoxious policy that held since 1948 that no part of Jerusalem – not even the ground under Israel’s Knesset – belonged to Israel. He became the first president to enforce the will of Congress to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, after three previous presidents – Clinton, Bush, and Obama – found excuses not to do so. He removed the US from the disastrous Iran deal and re-imposed sanctions (compare this to Obama’s paying off the Iranians with pallets of cash). He cut US funding for the UNRWA Palestinian “refugee” scam, and began to enforce the Taylor Force Act, which deducts payments made to terrorists from the aid given to the Palestinian Authority. He recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. And – although this is not yet confirmed – it is beginning to look as though his “deal of the century” will not include a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea/Samaria.

Trump broke through Israel’s pariah status as the only nation in the world that can’t choose its own capital. He cracked the myth of the “Palestinian refugees” that must be nurtured and helped to grow like no other refugee population, and that can never be resettled anywhere but in Israel. He may yet put the final nail into the coffin of the Oslo process. These are accomplishments that a successor will find hard to reverse.

Can Netanyahu be excused for claiming that some of this is due to his “close personal relationship” with the American president? Apparently not for these “leaders,” for whom Trump is the Devil incarnate.

Trump’s actions toward Israel have all been in both US and Israel’s interests. In some cases, such as Jerusalem, they have righted long-term wrongs that should have been corrected long ago. If any other President had done these things, he would have been applauded and embraced by American Jews that cared about Israel. But this president is Donald Trump – and these American Jews have forgotten why there needs to be a Jewish state and what their connection to it is.

And so we have American Jewish leaders attacking an Israeli Prime Minister that has been democratically elected, arrogantly implying that they know what’s better for Israel than Israelis that vote, pay taxes, and send their children to the army. They have chosen to attack him on an issue – whether or not there should be a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea/Samaria – that many Israelis consider existential; and they have done so for the narrow interests of the tiny Israeli branches of their movements and because of their political bias against the American president.

My guess is that Netanyahu doesn’t care. And fortunately for Israel, Trump – who knows that these “leaders” are without a single exception his bitter political enemies – is unlikely to take their advice.

Speak of Something New

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

Someone remarked to me recently that he did not see or feel how anything new could be discussed at his Seder table – everything that could have been said and analyzed had been said and analyzed over all of the past decades of his commemorating Pesach. I told him that I thought he had too narrow and focused view concerning the commemoration of Pesach. The broad human and particularly Jewish issues of bondage, freedom, individual and national purpose and destiny, renew themselves in our lives on an almost daily basis. Our great young associate Rabbi, Itiel Goldvicht, had a discussion with me about the enslavement of the present younger generation to texting and to their smart phones. He pointed out to me that in spite of all bans, filters and other methods meant to free one’s self from the grip and thrall of these devices, their constant use has become almost impulsive and obsessive, certainly amongst the student generation here in Israel and I am certain that this is true regarding the student population in the rest of the current Western world as well. Slavery takes on different forms and disguises. There is a great difference between slavery and work. Slavery is a state of compulsion and obsession that stunts the creativity of the human mind and soul and leads to disenchantment, boredom and eventual physical, moral, physical and mental deterioration. One of the great attributes of the holiday of Pesach is that it allows us a new and fresh view of things. By cleaning out the chametz of our homes and souls we open ourselves up to new vistas and fresh challenges that can inspire us and deliver us to a higher level of purpose and accomplishment.

The Seder allows for a family discussion of issues, since the Haggadah itself raises almost all possible human issues – family, tradition, Torah, the land of Israel, the purpose of Jewish life and of an individual's existence, the recognition and understanding of evil and the ultimate human necessity for reliance on faith in the Creator. These issues are extremely relevant in today's world and I believe affect every family and home. For most of the year we have little time or inclination to dwell on these matters for the distractions and obligations of life are many and omnipresent. But on this night of the Seder there is time, mental capacity and psychological freedom to engage with these issues. My wife, of blessed memory, told me that when she was ten or eleven years old a great rabbi was a guest for the Pesach Seder at her home. The great rabbi talked to the the young girl, taught her melodies to sing, have her advice for life and instilled in her an appreciation for the depth and with of Jewish tradition. She often told me that that Seder experience influenced her greatly and was a defining moment in her life. She did not attend a Jewish school and was a lonely Orthodox, Sabbath observing child in the midst of a completely nonobservant Jewish group of friends and fellow public-school students. She told me that the Pesach Seder experience that year fortified her for the rest of her years in high school and college and gave her an enormous gift of self-confidence, self identity and Jewish pride. I think that that is exactly what the Pesach Seder should accomplish for all of us.

The rabbis of old enjoined us that the more we speak about the Exodus from Egypt, the more praiseworthy we become. This is in line with the further statement in the Haggadah that "in every generation one must be able to see one's own self as though one was present for and participated in the Exodus from Egypt itself." The Seder is meant to make the Exodus from Egypt relevant to everyone sitting at the Seder table, even today more than three thousand years later. It transports us back in time while in the very same rituals brings the past to bear upon our current situations and challenges. The Exodus from Egypt is an ongoing story and not merely a one time commemorating of a past event. That is the secret of the strength of the Seder experience and of its fresh new quality year in and year out. So therefore there is always something new to be said and expressed at the Seder table. And it is this constant renewal of ideas and traditions that gives Pesach its unique ability to represent true freedom and psychological, spiritual and mental liberty. Those ancient rituals provide us with the tools for dealing with the relevant and seemingly modern problems that face us. The Seder night should therefore be treasured, appreciated and loved.