Friday, July 30, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
By Moshe Feiglin
18 Av, 5770
July 29, '10
Translated from Ma'ariv's NRG website
What is so terrible about the sin of the spies? What is it about this sin that prevented the Israelites from entering the Land of Israel, sending them instead for a desert trek that lasted forty years? And if that is not bad enough, why do we continue to pay the price of this sin until our very own times?
In Hebrew, the word for "sin," chet, also means to "miss the mark." With the sin of the spies, we missed the mark - the mission that Abraham started and that continued with the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. We were simply unprepared to carry out the mission for which we set out on this journey. The forty year delay in the desert was not a punishment. It was a consequence of the dismal reality that surfaced with the sin of the spies.
To understand how this happened and how the sin of the spies is connected to the Ninth of Av and the destruction of the Holy Temple, we must understand the Jewish mission. We must understand why G-d directed Abraham to establish the Nation of Israel, why He brought us through the crucible of Egypt, miraculously redeemed us from there, gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai and brought us to the Land of Israel.
Our mission as Jews is to connect heaven and earth; to live our physical lives in the most natural and realistic manner - but with G-d ever-present in our midst - as individuals and as a nation. This is how we testify to the presence of the Creator in our world and to the manner in which humanity is expected to conduct itself.
A skeptical Frederick the Great once asked his court chaplain for proof that G-d exists, to which his chaplain replied, "The Jews, your majesty, the Jews." "The Jews are the conscience of the world," said Hitler, may his name be blotted out," and thus must be destroyed."
The purpose of our journey is to create a modern and completely relevant nation that conducts itself morally and whose very existence and way of life points to its Father in heaven: a nation that is predicated on G-d. In the past, this was called an "exemplary society." In our prayers, we express this idea as "perfection of the world in the Kingdom of the Almighty." The pinnacle of this mission is embodied in the Holy Temple - the royal palace of the King of the world, the place where the physical and metaphysical converge; a place where all the inhabitants of the world can come to touch the eternal.
In the desert we lived like angels. Our war with Pharaoh was conducted by none other than the Creator, Himself and our sustenance fell daily from Heaven. When it came time to enter the Land of Israel and to work for our bread, to fight our wars and to conduct ourselves on the basis of earthly reality, we turned our backs on our national mission and preferred to remain in the desert. We preferred to be "religious" and to leave the responsibility for reality to others. We attempted to prove the complete opposite of our destiny -to prove that a nation is incapable of living in this world with G-d in its midst.
When the entire generation of the desert died, we entered the Land of Israel and later built the Holy Temple. But then the opposite problem surfaced. We clung to simple routine and surrendered our connection to holiness. In the Land of Israel, we preferred to be strictly "secular." The Holy Temple was no longer the means to connect the holy and mundane. On the contrary - the religious rituals in the Temple took place detached from the corruption outside its walls. The Temple became a fig leaf for life devoid of holiness. Thus, it was destroyed.
We are still motivated by our Jewish destiny: to connect heaven and earth. Without this destiny, we cannot exist. The lesson of the Ninth of Av is that in order to carry out our mission we must be simultaneously secular and religious - responsible for reality and firmly ensconced in holiness. The separation between the two is the sin of the spies. The destruction of the Temple is its consequence.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The Jewish Nation has brought many important values to the world. One of those is the value of family. The nuclear family that Jewish tradition and culture have nurtured throughout the ages has been a source of strength and love for those who are blessed to experience it. Family harmony, mutual respect between husband and wife and respect for elders have created fertile ground for the Jewish creativity with which the Jewish Nation has been blessed throughout the ages. The State of Israel is the only Western state in which the family is growing instead of contracting. This good news is true for observant and non-observant families, alike. It is part of the traditional Jewish values system and has been accomplished without dazzling media campaigns.
Currently, the State of Israel, under pressure from a small, marginal yet vocal minority is working through the offices of the Tourism Ministry and the Tel Aviv Municipality to market Tel Aviv as the homosexual capital of the world.
Nobody asked the many families in Tel Aviv if this marketing is in harmony with their values. Nobody asked the citizens of Israel if the encouragement of debauchery in our Holy Land is consistent with the morals in which we believe. Nobody asked us if we are willing to be advertised world-wide as the standard-bearers of the "homosexual awakening."
Nobody in the State of Israel invades his neighbor's privacy. The homosexuals are the only group that is actively working to externalize their sexual preference in the most public way. Essentially, they are coercing their way of life on the majority that is opposed to public displays of lewdness.
Homosexual activism has a purpose. It dovetails with many other struggles in Israeli society. Some of the activism is carried out by naive people with good intentions. But the ultimate goal of all these struggles is to strip Israel of its values and legitimacy as a Jewish state.
It is fascinating to see how (secular) journalist Ben-Dror Yemini has begun to go public with what we have been feeling for a long time. His series of articles on the New Israel Fund is a ray of welcome sobriety in a society being driven over the brink. Those of you who read Hebrew can see his articles here, here and here.
The drive to detach Israel from its Jewish values has become a mighty weapon in the war against our country. To triumph, we must "market" - and make - the State of Israel a Jewish State firmly planted in its Jewish values.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
By Michael Fuah
And to the tribes of Reuven and Gad I gave from the Gilad. And I commanded you at that time, saying: 'Havayah your God has given you this land to possess it; you shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all the men of valor. (From this week's Torah portion, Devarim, Deuteronomy 3: 16,18)
Moses could have stubbornly refused to change his mind. But he was a true Jewish leader. He listened and was willing to change his opinion 180 degrees, from accusing the tribes of shirking their national duty, to actually commanding them to do what they had requested to do. The heads of the tribes of Reuven and Gad also displayed true leadership. After Moses' criticism of their request, they responded by quietly and respectfully explaining their position, as we learned in last week's Torah portion.
Baseless hatred is often the result of a simple lack of willingness to listen, to accept another point of view and to be convinced. Often, it is also the result of a lack of willingness to respectfully convince another of one's point of view. The example of Moses and the leaders of the tribes of Reuven and Gad must be a guiding light for us. In the days preceding the Ninth of Av, we must redouble our efforts to rectify the sin of baseless hatred and rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem - the city that unifies the entire Nation of Israel.
Monday, July 12, 2010
The following article was written by Moshe Feiglin last Friday and appeared on Ma'ariv's NRG website. In the meantime, thank G-d, David Yosef has moved his arms and legs. He is currently heavily sedated and on a respirator. Please continue to pray for David Yosef ben Faigeh Perel.
20 Tamuz, 5770
July 2, '10
My dearest son David lies unconscious in the hospital with a serious head injury. His friends, the fire department volunteers, saved his life, and now the doctors continue to save him. If you would like more insight into this incredible kid, see the article I wrote about half a year ago, " Sweet Defeat on the Hermon."
Since David's accident last Monday, I have practically not left the hospital. The last thing that I planned was to write articles, and I had already notified NRG that - at least this week, I would not be writing my weekly article.
My wife and I and the entire family are focused only on our David. Not on the newspapers, the radio, television, internet – none of it. I had no idea what was going on in the world and it also did not interest me. Many people have tried to call to wish us well. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart and apologize for the fact that my phone is off.
Now it is Friday, and I came home to bring clothing to the hospital for Shabbat. I decided to turn on the radio to hear the news as I drove home. I also saw the headlines of the newspaper at the grocery store and I understand that extreme pressure is being applied to Netanyahu to have Gilad Shalit released at all costs. I decided to write this article simply to attempt to save lives.
Every day, I pray for two captives: Jonathan Pollard and Gilad Shalit. Every day. I have the utmost respect for Gilad's parents, Noam and Avivah Shalit. It is impossible not to be impressed with them. It is also inappropriate to argue with them. I think that from my situation now I can identify with their pain even more.
But I ask all the people marching and pressuring Netanyahu to please stop. The Prime Minister is simply right. I know that you are motivated by warmth and love and that you want only the best. But there is no such thing as "at all costs." The statistics do not lie: Most of the terrorists murder again. There are those who argue that just because the sun set yesterday does not mean that it will set again tomorrow. Logically, there is truth to that argument, but practically, it is totally unacceptable.
Please understand that for all practical purposes, you are demanding that the Prime Minister allow an unknown number of soldiers and citizens to be murdered in exchange for Gilad. The question is not if they will be murdered – just how many will be murdered.
I am returning to the hospital. I will continue from there to pray for Gilad and I ask everyone who can to pray for the complete recovery of my son, David Yosef ben Faigah Perel. Thank you.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
"And you shall drive out the inhabitants of the Land and you shall dwell in it. And if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the Land from before you and it will come to pass that those that you leave will be thorns in your eyes and thistles in your sides and they will harass you in the Land in which you dwell. (From this week's Torah portion, Matot, Numbers 33:53-55).
The Midrash tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites came to conquer the Land of Israel, they presented the Canaanite inhabitants of the Land with three options: He who wishes to leave should leave, he who wishes to make peace may make peace and he who wishes to make war may do so.
The severe warning issued in this week's Torah portion refers to those inhabitants of the Land who choose to make war. But what happens to those inhabitants of the Land who choose to remain? Do they automatically become equal citizens? The answer is a resounding "no". Full citizenship in the Land of Israel is reserved for Jews. If a non-Jew wishes to be a full citizen, he must undergo a complete conversion, accept all the Torah commandments and become an inseparable part of the Jewish nation. If he chooses not to convert he can remain as a foreign resident who accepts all 7 Noahide Commandments and enjoys full human rights in the Land of Israel, without citizenship.
The warning in this week's Torah portion is the reality in which we live today. If Israel is simply another state of all its citizens bereft of its Jewish destiny, what gives us the right to "conquer" Tel Aviv and Haifa from its inhabitants? Our enemies are empowered by our weakness. We do not know how to explain what we are doing here to ourselves, and lose the moral justification to fight, as a result.
The way to regain our moral high ground is to renew our connection to our Jewish identity and destiny. Once we have set our sights firmly on our Jewish goals, we will be able to tell the non-Jewish inhabitants of this country that they can make peace, leave or fight.
With prayers for a complete and speedy recovery for David Yosef ben Faigeh Perel,
By Moshe Feiglin
Like everyone else in Israel, I applaud Israel Aircraft Industry's success in launching the Ofek 9 satellite. This is a technological achievement that we can all be proud of. The Ofek 9 will give us a clearer picture of how close the Iranians are to their nuclear bomb. Now, an Israeli satellite will pass over Bushehr every half hour instead of every hour, and its telescopic lenses will penetrate deep into the ground - a truly remarkable feat and we salute the Israeli engineers for their accomplishment.
But a nagging question must be asked: Will this information advance Israel's defense capabilities even one inch?
In Israel, technology is rapidly replacing content. Paradoxically, the stronger Israel becomes both economically and militarily, the weaker it becomes politically. To paraphrase Churchill, when leadership chooses disgrace in fear of war, it gets disgrace - and war as well. When advanced technological capabilities interface with true leadership and a clear vision, the technology becomes a significant power multiplier. But when advanced technology interfaces with small-time politicians concerned only with dousing the crisis at hand, it becomes a fig leaf.
Apparently, Israel's current leaders have already decided to stand by as the Iranians race toward nuclear capabilities. They will look the other way as Hezbollah acquires more advanced missiles that reach Eilat and will smile sheepishly as the Gaza port freely unloads state-of-the-art weaponry - because we have nothing to worry about: We have advanced technology.
Tragically, we are repeating the mistake of the Yom Kippur War. Instead of acting with conviction in the justice of our Jewish destiny in the Land of Israel, our leaders hide behind pompous military theories that glorify our technological ability to contain the first strike.
Israel's leaders must change the rules of the game and make the act of tampering with Israel's existence a venture too painful to consider. Its civilian population must be prepared for war - not peace. Protective gear must be distributed swiftly to the populace. Every person in the greater Tel Aviv area must know where he will find shelter in Judea or Samaria in an emergency.
Gaza and Lebanon must understand that missile attacks against Israel will be dealt with according to the Golan Heights model: Pictures of the abandoned Syrian villages there must be distributed widely. Since the Yom Kippur War, the Golan Heights model has proven itself as the only way to achieve lasting peace.
Those who think that they will be able to hide behind cutting edge technology in the approaching inevitable war would be well-advised to think again. Israel must go to battle with firm faith in the G-d of Israel and its Jewish destiny. With those two decisive factors in place, our cutting-edge technology will be a powerful tool for victory and not a fig-leaf for catastrophe.