Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's in our DNA

By Moshe Feiglin

One day, a rabbi came to the classroom with an impressive photo album. The album contained beautiful pictures of the reproductions of the Temple vessels and the priestly garments. The Temple Institute had not yet been established, Yamit was still a vibrant town in the Sinai and Rabbi Ariel was its Chief Rabbi. But that was the first time that I had ever encountered a modern reproduction of the Table, the Altar, the Menorah and the other vessels and priestly garments.

I remember the excitement in the classroom. The Rabbi did not allow the students to pass the album from one to the other so that it would not become worn out. Instead, he held it in his own hands and showed it to each student. The same sense of awe and excitement still fills me every time I read the Torah description of the Tabernacle and its vessels.

When the Jews would ascend to the Holy Temple on the three annual festivals of pilgrimage, the priests would exhibit the Temple vessels for all to see. If a photo of a reproduction can elicit such excitement, I can only begin to imagine what an impression the genuine articles made on the celebrating Jews.

That's how the Jewish people are. They get involved with all their hearts. When, in last week's Torah portion, they were asked to give to the Golden Calf, they (tragically) gave. And when they were asked to give to the Tabernacle, they gave wholeheartedly. It's the genetics of bringing the world a new message. Jews are always the first in whatever revolution takes the world's fancy; Communism, liberalism, you name it. From the socialist kibbutz movement to unrestrained capitalism - we are always at the forefront.

Ultimately, we will stop our flight from our genuine identity, build the Holy Temple and bring the world the message that truly is embedded in our DNA: The perfection of the world in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Surprised and the Amazed

By Moshe Feiglin

20 Adar I, 5771
Feb. 24, '11

Why didn't Mubarak send in the tanks? Why didn't Tahrir Square turn into Tiananmen Square? Is the Egyptian regime less cruel than its Chinese counterpart?

How is it that all the dictatorships in the Arab world have suddenly gotten weak in the knees over unarmed civilians doing nothing more than demonstrating? After all, the regime is all-powerful; they have built their security forces over decades in concentric circles so that the inner circle will owe its existence and power to the ruler and will always do his bidding. And if the need will arise, it will always force the ruler's will on one circle after the next until it reaches the very last citizen. What brought about the collapse of all these mechanisms of oppression?

We all look on in amazement as history unfolds before our very eyes. Nevertheless, we must differentiate between the amazed and the surprised. When rightist former MK Geulah Cohen stood up in the Knesset thirty years ago and spoke of the aliyah of millions of Jews from the USSR, current President Shimon Peres mocked her and said that she was hallucinating. When the Camp David Accords were signed, there were those who promised eternal peace, while others warned that war was just a question of time and the risk and price were not worth the return. And then came the Oslo Accords, when the "surprised camp" euphorically reveled in the New Middle East and World Peace, while the "amazed camp" went out into the streets to warn of the national catastrophe. Why are all the wise men - all the foreign affairs commentators, former ambassadors and professors - always surprised, while the regular people look on in amazement, but are not surprised in the least?

The answer is simple. The "surprised camp" is the camp of the utopian hallucinators that detached itself from reality - the Holy One, Blessed Be He. They pretend to create reality themselves and when that doesn't happen, they are surprised.

The "amazed camp" is made up of the people connected to reality. These are the people who knew that the Egyptian regime was a dictatorship that would fall sooner or later. They knew that the all-out war between decadent and decaying Europe and the sword of Islam would not be settled with the Western-style democratization of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. They are the same people who, even at the entrance to Auschwitz, knew that one day the Jewish Nation would return to its Land, as the Creator had promised. They did not know how it would happen, just as we do not know how the Jewish State with Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as its spiritual center will take shape and form. What we do know is that it will happen and that it is more certain than all the learned pontifications of the "surprised camp." We stand amazed as we watch the tapestry unfold, just as Eliezer the servant of Abraham watched in amazement as Rebecca drew water for him, understanding that G-d had crowned his journey with success.

What is causing the revolutions taking place before our eyes?

Sovereignty in any type of regime is always in the hands of the nation. When the nation does not view the leader as being legitimate, all the mechanisms propping up the regime are of no avail. They will all collapse like a house of cards. This is true for dictatorships and democracies alike. The difference is that in democracies, a mechanism is in place for the orderly transition of government. Often, the regime will manipulate democracy to fool the public and into thinking that it chose the existing regime and that it desires its rule - even though nothing could be farther from the truth. These tricks can postpone the revolution - but they cannot prevent it.

Here in Israel, we are somewhere in the middle. Israel is not a dictatorship by its simple definition. It has broad freedom of speech. But where the borders of freedom of speech end, democracy also ends and turns out to be a dangerous illusion. And woe to he or she who expresses an opinion that is beyond the limits set by the Israeli Thought Police.

We live in a dictatorship of thoughts, constantly under the watchful eye of the Thought Police. It is not easy to sense our dictatorship. That is why people in Israel are not demonstrating in the city squares. But the suffocation feels the same - the suffocation that doesn't even have a Tahrir Square to light up the end of the tunnel.

But there is something we must remember: The Egyptians did not go out to the streets because their economy was bad. Is the average Egyptian worse off now than he was five years ago? All the attempts to explain the revolution in Egypt with one reason or another do not adequately explain what happened. It isn't the economy, not the oppression, not Facebook and not Twitter. It is simply the Divine removal of the legitimacy of the regime. While it may seem overly simplistic to say that the revolution in Egypt was Divinely inspired, that is the basic truth.

Does this mean that we can go home and wait until G-d hands us the leadership on a silver platter? Certainly not. We must be on the playing field, in the best shape possible and completely prepared. But we must understand that the necessary process of faith-based revolution - a process that will surely occur, for we have no other option - has its own timetable that is not dependant upon us.

We will do our part and when the time comes, the legitimacy will be taken from the current regime, will return to the nation and from there to the faith-based leadership that it deserves. We must take the responsibility to prepare for that day and pray that it happens soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Makes Bernie Run?

By Rabbi Meir Kahane H”YD

Once there was a television program which centered about the theme of intermarriage called "Brigitte Loves Bernie". The heroes of the piece were named Bernie and Brigitte. The American Jewish Establishment put great pressure on the particular network that televised the series and the program was ultimately dropped. Bernie and Brigitte were no longer. They had been canceled…

How relatively simple it was to cancel Bernie and Brigitte on television and how much more difficult to struggle against the curse and cancer of intermarriage and assimilation that exists in real American Jewish life. How simple to picket a television series to death and how hard to stamp out the disease that afflicts us daily in the real-life existence that is the lot of American Jewry. lf we no longer find Bernie and Brigitte strolling hand in hand across our television screens we need only look at our campuses, at our streets at our neighborhoods, Bernie is alive and well.

What makes Bernie run? What makes Bernie run after Brigitte? What makes Bernie run away from Judaism and cut the chain of generations? What makes Bernie run away from the Judaism that his great-grandfather clutched at the risk of loss of happiness material wealth and so often very life? What makes Bernie run?

This is the question that drives the American Jewish Establishment to frantically set up committees, study groups, surveys and commissions. This is the question that drives them to study the problem again and again and then again. This is the question to which they allocate so much time and so much communal money. This is the question that is at the top of their puzzled order of priorities, over which they scratch their collective well-groomed heads: What makes Bernie run?

The puzzled shepherds of the American Jewish communities can close down their study groups and their commissions and their committees: they can put an end to the learned and expensive surveys. They can stop spending Jewish communal funds. What makes Bernie run away from Judaism? Who created that Bernie who turns from Judaism in disgust or in indifference? Who created the Bernie who pants after a shiksa or who marches for Jesus or Trotsky or Arafat or Guevara or for nothing Jewish? Who created a Bernie who finds Judaism as unimportant as the color of his hair?

Why, the answer is obvious: The very same Establishment groups who are busily creating the committees, commissions, study groups and surveys to find out the answer to these questions. Who made Bernie run away from Judaism? The American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the B’nai Brith, the federations on every level and in every locality, the temple rabbis and Bernie’s most intimate Establishment figures- his parents.

All of these are the criminals. All of these had a hand in murdering Bernie as a Jew. All of these robbed him of his heritage, of the beauties of his inheritance. All of these make Bernie run.

The Jewish Establishment groups – The AJCommittee, the Congress, the B’nai Brith, the federations, ALL the spokesmen for the American Jewish community – the ruling clique, uniformly marched down the American road with a melting pot under their arms, beating it over and over again and shouting forth the Eleventh Commandment to the American Jew: Thou shalt melt!

Thou shalt melt, thou shalt integrate, thou shalt amalgamate, thou shalt be an American as all others. They beat the drums for interfaith, exchanging pulpits with ministers enthusiastically, in a frantic effort to prove to Christian and Jew alike that there is essentially no difference between them. They were partially successful – the Christians were not convinced but the Jews were.

Thou shalt melt, thou shalt integrate, thou shalt Americanize thyself and so they raised high the banner of the public school and fought, with a zeal no one knew that they possessed, the one weapon that might have given Bernie knowledge, and a sense of pride and roots. In fear and with hostility, they declared a holy war against the Jewish Day school, the parochial school, the yeshiva. They piously rationalized their struggle on the sacred grounds of separation of church and state but the real reason for their war (and they took the lead among all Americans in fighting the slightest aid to parochial schools) was their fear and consequent hatred of the parochialism and separatism of the yeshiva. The yeshiva threatened them with too much Jewishness! What would the gentile say if Jews were too Jewish, If they looked and behaved too differently, if their profile was not properly low? How did one mix easily with gentiles in the non-kosher country clubs they were so eager to join; how did one assimilate if Jews did not learn to drop the embarrassing customs, habits and old ritual baggage?

The public school! This was the way to equality, to uniformity, to mixing and assimilating and to the death of anti-Semitism. And so, they urged their flock to send Bernie to the public school (and the flock, as eager to mix as the shepherds, needed little urging). Bernie went to public school.

And today as the shepherds run frenziedly about surveying Bernie and asking him, where did you meet Brigitte? he calmly answers: “Why, in the public school in the public school; in the public school to which you sent me!”

Who made Bernie what he is? Who made Bernie run? The Establishment groups, and leaders who took a Judaism of particularism, of separatism, of uniqueness, of DIFFERENCE, and who- in their fears, insecurities and ignorance- created an American brand that leveled all uniqueness, ‘proved’ that Jews and Christians were no different, and eliminated every logical and moral reason to be different. They created Bernie: they made Bernie run.

And who else made Bernie run away from Judaism? Who else made Bernie what he is and is not? The massive, gaudy musoleums that dot the landscape of every Jewish suburb. The conservative and reform temples. The temples whose senior rabbi is the caterer. The temples that perform human sacrifice rites each Sabbath morning, and they call them, The Bar Mitzvah.

The Bar Mitzvah, that is not the beginning of a Jew but his end, his spiritual death.

The Bar Mitzvah – that culmination of an empty, vapid, childish, shallow Jewish “education” taught by men and women whose ignorance and lack of Jewish content makes them superb vehicles for the “education” they pass on. The Bar Mitzvah, that obscene cult of ostentatiousness, the ultimate in Jewish status seeking, the competitive drive to bankrupt that pathetic and hapless “father of the Bar Mitzvah.” The Bar Mitzvah where the young lamb babbles the words he neither understands nor cares to, to the accompanying nachas, pride, of beaming women and men who would not know a correct word from a mistake, whose ignorance is sublime and whose disgusting display of conspicuous vulgarity sends G-d fleeing from the musoleum in wrath…

The Bar Mitzvah whose necessary “religious” interlude long ago was subordinated to the piece-de-resistance of the entire immorality play – the “reception”. The sickening waste of money and degrading of Judaism, where materialism runs amok in the guise of religion, where drunks and half-dressed women dance and give praise to the L-rd, with African dance, American tunes, and universal abomination. The Bar Mitzvah where the assimilationists, ignoramuses and despoilers of Judaism, beam with patronizing pleasure as the decrepit grandmother – Bubby – is resurrected from her nursing home or Miami Beach condominium and trotted out to light a candleto the applause of the go-go girls and dirty comedians waiting to do their act.

The temple, that was created to give G-d a Place on earth on condition that He know exactly what His place is. The temple, where man thinks up G-d rather than admit that He made him. The temple, where the Jew can create any kind of religion that he cares to and call it Judaism. The temple, where things too difficult are junked and where from the Board of Directors shall come forth Torah and the voice of the L-rd from the approving Sisterhood membership. The temple, run by men whose ignorance of Judaism is exceeded only by their arrogant insistence on saluting it. The temple, where Bernie visits “G-d” and meets “Judaism” and flees from it in horror. The temples: they created Bernie, they made Bernie run.

And who else made Bernie run from Judaism? The reform and conservative temple rabbis. The kept theologians who knowingly preside over fraud and grotesque jokes. The well-paid functionaries whose salaries are payments to hold their silence and to declare light, darkness and darkness, light: to give their stamp of kashrut on the impure meat that their temples serve up as “Judaism”. The bribe takers whose eyes are blinded and consciences dulled by kavod, the honor of sitting on the pulpit before the eyes of the congregants, and by the comfortable salary augmented by the offerings of thankful beneficiaries of weddings, funerals and unveilings. The false prophets who hold their silence as Judaism is twisted, perverted, turned into a humorless joke and who, knowing their own corruptness and fraud of soul, rush to justify the fraud by ‘rabbinical’ or lingo that pronounce them “good”. The temple rabbis who take a Judaism of Divinity and truth and go about Reconstructing it and Reforming it and making a mockery of Conserving it.

The temple rabbis who took the age-old axiom of Revelation, real Revelation, upon which is built the Divinity of Torah and junked it. The temple rabbis who made Judaism the product of “wise men” (and if so, are there not wise Christians and Buddhists and atheists) and thus removed any sacredness and necessary reason for observance. The temple rabbis, so many of whom do not believe in G-d, who took the real and awesome Jewish G-d of history who made man and Created all and who rewards and punishes, and exchanged Him for a “god” who is “the spirit within man”, indistinguishable from indigestion…They are the models of Jewish “religious” leadership we give unto Bernie, these empty vessels whose greatest fortune is that their congregants know even less, about Judaism than they do.

These are your rabbis, Oh Bernie, and then we wonder why he refuses to enter the temple over which they preside. Only they themselves know what frauds they are; only they, in their hearts, know what a life of lies they lead: only they, in the inner recesses of their being, know the self- hate and contempt they feel for themselves each day that they have to perform acts of faith they no longer believe in and teach a religion that long ago they secretly began to doubt. The temple rabbis; they created Bernie, they made Bernie run.

And who else made Bernie run away from the embrace of Judaism into Brigitte’s waiting arms? The parents, the good Jewish parents. The loving Jewish mother who took off her golden nose rings and made a Golden Calf which she worships avidly. The Golden Calf called “success” and “money” and “making it” and “my son-the-doctor.” The Golden Calf of material success before which she burns incense and for which she threw the G-d of Jewish values into the trash cans of medieval obscurantism. The Jewish father whose values are those of the garment center and the race track and bagels and lox on Sunday morning before taking the family out to the Chinese restaurant on Sunday after-noon. The Jewish father who tries to think like a gentile, act like a gentile, dress like a gentile, drink like a gentile, and curse like a gentile and then demand that Bernie marry a “nice Jewish girl”.

The Jewish parents whose credo is upward and upward in wealth and status and who created a comfortable Judaism that would accommodate their needs. Who moved to the suburbs and created a suburban Judaism, and a suburban G-d, ethical and cultured and nice- a vaguely Jewish Santa Claus. Who turned down the Orthodox synagogue of their parents, grandparents and generations beyond because it was too Jewish and too out of step with modern times and too difficult and too outmoded and not compatible with the new pagan-Jewish lifestyle they were creating. Who turned either to the Reform that gave both status (how familiar their Christian friends would find it if ever they stopped by) as well as license (one could be almost anything and do the same in that incredible anarchy known as Reform or – better still – to that new and upcoming movement known as “Conservatism”.

How many Jewish refugees from Brooklyn and the Bronx arrived in their new status symbols in Massapequa find themselves surrounded by strange natives known generally as “goyim” with large tribal groups called “Protestants”? How many of the Jews, in panic, fearing that Bernie would come home with a Mary rather than a Shirley banded together to build a quick temple of “Jewish Center” to save their precious ones? How many of them who did not know a Jewish concept from a Catholic catechism decided to call it ‘Conservative’ because Orthodox is ‘too old-fashioned’ and Reform is ‘like a church?’ And how amazed was the minuscule, unimportant Conservative movement to be suddenly besieged with requests for ‘Conservative rabbis’ that did not exist? And how many Conservative temples were suddenly hiring Orthodox rabbis who prostituted themselves to the Long Island god of gold? And how true it is that it was not the Conservative movement (sic) that built all the new temples that suddenly made them so prominent but the ordinary, ignorant Jews who bought a temple just as they bought any other commodity they needed and who set the terms of the deal.

Bernie’s Parents bought their temple and their rabbi and proceeded to create Judaism and G-d in their own image. The garment center knew exactly how to cut a suit to fit…

Judaism, but not too much, If Bernie was sent to that vast cultural wasteland known as the “religious” or “Hebrew” school which he so despised, it was not so much that he become religious as so that he might acquire ‘culture.’ (At least enough to let him babble the proper words on the great day of Bar Mitzvah initiation rites.) lf he came home and mentioned something about Sabbath observance or a ban on ham and bacon, his parents smiled and told him that “we are not sending you there for that” or “you do not have to listen to everything the teacher says”. They played games with Bernie and thought that they could deceive him never realizing in their own stupidity, that no one can ultimately deceive a child. They created a fraud and thought that they could foist it on their Bernie. They created a Judaism that was created in their own image- a Cohenism or a Goldbergism or a Schwartzism and tried to pretend that it was Judaism.

They defrauded themselves because it so suited them and thought that Bernie would grow up to be as fraudulent, hypocritical, materialistic and disgusting as they. But he did not. That which makes Sammy run does not necessarily affect Bernie.

They thought that Judaism was a faucet that could be turned on and off at will. They wanted to give up the uncomfortable and the inconvenient things but still keep the ‘important’ things, like marrying a Shirley. Bernie was honest. He took the whole thing and junked it. He turned on the faucet all the way and Judaism spilled out in to it. He married Brigitte to the wailing of hisparents who shrieked to one and all: Where did we go wrong??

Where did they go wrong??

Where did they go right??

When one thinks about it, the gall and the arrogance of Bernie’s murderers are stupefying. All of them- sleek Jewish Establishment organizations and their portly leaders; the million-dollar temple-musoleums; the temple rabbi-functionaries; the pitiful and hapless parents. All those whose yardstick was “what will the gentile say” and who proceeded to tailor their ‘Judaism’ to fit not the Jew but the gentile; all those spiritual schizophrenics who did not know whether they were Jews or not, fish or fowl, meat or milk; all these now point their grubby accusing fingers at Bernie and shout indignantly:

“Why are you such a bad Jew? Why are you a traitor to your people? Why can’t you marry a nice Jewish girl, Iike your mother? Why do you want to marry Brigitte the shiksa?”

The hypocrisy is nauseating and amusing at the same time, but Bernie listens and finds nothing humorous in it. “Why do I want to marry Brigitte? Why not? She is good looking, polite and doesn’t nag. Why do I want to marry Brigitte? Why not?

What is a nice Jewish girl like my mother? One who desecrates the Sabbath like my mother? So does Brigitte. One who eats non kosher food like dear Mom? So does Brigitte. One who comes to synagogue three times a year to parade about it in our version of Eastern parade? Brigitte has the real thing.”

Of course, what Bernie is really saying — NO, CRYlNG OUT — is: “Tell me someone. Why should I be a Jew? Why is it so important to be a Jew? What difference does it make? Why not knock down the barriers between religions, nations and groups once and for all? What is there to Judaism that is so unique and special that I should adhere to it faithfully and marry within my faith? Why be a Jew!!!”

It is an agonizing cry from the souls of tens of thousands of young Jews who assimilate, integrate and disappear into the outer space beyond Judaism. It is THE cry, THE question. It is asked by young men and women who have seen the emptiness and the vapidness of the Judaism they grew up with. It is asked by young Jews who have seen the ugliness and the vulgarity of their empty temples and the fraud and bankruptcy of their temple rabbis. It is asked by young people whose ‘Judaism’ gives nothing, absolutely nothing, in terms of ideals, self-sacrifice and meaning. It comes from those who equate the ‘Judaism’ they know with ostentatious wealth, fat and contented leaders paying lip service to G-d and ‘religion’ and the reality of that religion in the form of rabbis who do not believe in the Divinity of Torah or (increasingly) in G-d and in lay people whose ignorance of anything Jewish is compensated for by Hadassah and UJA checks.

Those who murdered Bernie took a Judaism of their ancestors that was strong and powerful enough to withstand inquisitions and Crusades and pogroms and Kishinevs and Auschwitzes, big and small. It was a Judaism that lived because its adherents were ready to die for it. It was a Judaism of the zeyde who believed in G-d and proved it by observing His commandments. It was a Judaism that came from G-d and not from man. It was a Judaism whose rabbis and leaders knew Torah, not the latest best-selling book list and who did as they said, setting a supreme example for the Bernies of old who knew why Judaism was different, who never for a moment thought of Brigitte.

The murderers took this and threw it away, exchanging it for ‘American Judaism,’ a grotesque mixture of Myron Cohen jokes, Miami Beach, UJA checks, Hadassah membership, Jewish food and Moshe Dayan eye-patches. It was a ‘Judaism’ that was stripped of all non-essentials so as to lighten the burden on the long-distance Jewish swimmer through the American waters of assimilation, equality and brotherhood. It was a “Judaism” whose adherents beamed as their leaders got it down to “ethics.” Ethics! As if that was the beginning and end of Judaism. As if Christians and Shintoists could not be ethical, too. As if Brigitte was necessarily less ethical than Shirley. Ethics- intoned the well-paid rabbi from his magnificently furnished pulpit. Ethics- that is Judaism. lf that’s all there is, then Bernie knows that Judaism has lost any exclusive hold on him.

Everyone, today, is ethical. George Soros is ethical and Mahamoud Abbas is ethical and Ron Paul is ethical and King Abdullah is ethical and the late King Faisel was ethical as are his un-countable sons. Is that all there is to Judaism? lf that is all there is, then stop lecturing Bernie as he marches into the sun with his ethical shiksa. Bernie wants to know what is exclusive about Judaism, what is unique, what is special, what it has that others do not. Bernie wants to know this and those who murdered him have no answers for him. The head of the B’nai Brith has no answer for him. The temple caterer has no answer for him, nor the Board Chairman, nor the Sisterhood president. The temple rabbi has no answer for him. Mother and father surely have no answer for him. All of these have no answers for him because all of these have no answers for themselves.

Judaism lives or dies on the unique fact that G-d Revealed Himself at Mount Sinai and gave the Jew a truth that no one else has. Judaism lives or dies on the fact that the Bible and the Talmud with their laws, commandments, statutes and ordinances were divinely revealed and that the only way to holiness and true goodness comes from the observance of Torah laws. This is what kept Bernie’s zeyde and bubby Jewish; nothing else. This is a reason for being Jewish. This is a reason for not marrying Brigitte. All the rest is fraud and buff. Poor Bernie, victim of the worst kind of robbery – the taking of his heritage and reason for being. lf only he would realize that the ‘Judaism’ that he saw his entire life was anything but that. lf only he realized that he was the victim of the worst kind of spiritual swindle.

How fortunate he would be. How joyous and happy and how meaningful would his life become if he rediscovered the Judaism of his ancestors that was sold on the American continent for thirty pieces of dross. Jewish is beautiful if you do not play games with it- or with yourself. lf only Bernie understood. How fortunate he would be. He could then turn in his Brigitte for a reason for being. A reason for being Jewish.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Perfect Balance: Torah, Temple, Physical and Metaphysical

By Moshe Feiglin

I am not sure if there is another Torah portion with a pace as frenetic as Ki Tisah. The parshah takes us from celestial heights to the lowest of the lows and back again.

Ki Tisah opens with the Temple and its vessels - the purpose of creation. It engages us in the secret of the incense and the secret of Shabbat - the sign of the covenant between G-d and the Jewish People, between the Creator and His Chosen Nation.

From these lofty heights, we fall straight into the sin of the Golden Calf. Could there be a more mortifying descent than this one? But it is specifically from the low point at which Moses found the Nation during the sin of the Golden Calf that he attains an even greater apprehension of G-d and is even allowed to see Him. G-d gives Moses the Second Tablets and the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy and promises him that He will expel the nations living in the Land of Israel.

How can so many different extremes all come together in one Torah portion? The first thing we must remember is that the closer we come to attaining our goals, the more we have to fine-tune our tools and methods. This can be likened to a conquering army. As the soldiers progress, their supply lines become longer and more vulnerable. It is specifically the proximity to the finish line that engenders previously unseen dangers. The greater heights include the potential for more spectacular falls.

In our generation of renewal, we feel this truth very clearly. We were never as close to the Land of Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple as we are now. But in a certain way, we were never farther. In the exile, we dreamed of the Temple. Here and now, few dare to dream such a dream.

The second, deeper insight into the extremes in this week's Torah portion is that the fusion of all the extremes is not default, but rather, the way things are supposed to be. The essence of our world and of life is the connection between body and soul. The message that the Torah and Temple bear is the point of connection of the physical with the metaphysical. Torah does not teach us to exalt the physical, as does Islam. It does not teach us to revere the meta-physical as detached from the physical, as in Christianity. Torah teaches us the perfect balance between the two. The Torah brings this message to humanity that is constantly teetering between the two extremes, via the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel.

The Arab world surrounding us is lurching between liberalism and Islam. Nobody can foresee exactly what will happen there. But one thing is clear: It is not going to be calm. It is reasonable to assume that just the opposite will occur. Not only will they not achieve balance and calm, but additional spheres of humanity will likely be drawn into the chaos - whether in the form of abandonment of the material in search of spirituality or just the opposite.

They cannot achieve the perfect balance because it is concealed here, in Jerusalem, the physical point on earth chosen by the Metaphysical Creator - as the home for His Divine Presence.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Until the Very Last Grain of Sand

By Moshe Feiglin

14 Adar I, 5771
February 17, '11

Translated from Ma'ariv's NRG website

When the Hezbollah kidnapped and murdered IDF soldiers Goldwasser and Regev, may G-d avenge their blood, it used - among other weapons - mortars and machine guns made in Israel. No, these weapons were not stolen from the IDF. Israel had sold them to the Shah of Iran back in the 70s and they easily made their way from Iran to the Hezbollah.

What should concern us here is not this specific case. Let us assume that nobody could have anticipated the Islamic revolution in Iran. But we should be mightily concerned by the fact that nobody seems to have learned the lesson of that revolution. Those people who witnessed the rise of the Ayatollahs and nevertheless sent the IDF to train in Turkey are captive to pre-conceptions that do not allow them to learn the lesson of reality. They will step on the same landmines time and again, and will always be surprised.

Even when the peace accords were signed with Egypt, experts explained that in non-democratic countries, you do not sign an agreement with the country, but rather, with the regime. While a dictatorship lasts longer than a democratically elected government, when it is overthrown, there is no guarantee at all that the new regime will honor the agreements of its predecessor.

It is quite obvious that the days of Mubarak's regime are numbered. We can reasonably assume that the Islamic undercurrents in Egypt will surface now, as they are surfacing throughout the Moslem world. Those undercurrents will flood the islands of true liberty in Egypt that are vastly outnumbered by the Islamic Brotherhood and other religious factions. Ultimately, we will be facing an Iran-like Egypt.

In the intra-Arab battle in the Moslem world there is only one thing that unites the Shiites and the Sunnis and overcomes all the disputes between the factions; the desire to be rid of the Zionist thorn that is stuck in the heart of Dir-El-Islam. For the Moslem - any Moslem - the existence of a sovereign Jewish state on the Moslem expanse is strictly temporary.

On the basis of those desires, a "secular" Egyptian leader embarked on the Six Day War and attempted to become the official leader of the Arab Nation. Achmadinijad and Erdogan are motivated by those very same desires today. They both strive to unite the Moslem world under their hegemony. Israel-bashing is the ultimate tool for any aspiring Moslem leader. We can safely guess how the new Egyptian ruler - not secular, but religious - will act as the leader of the largest Arab state situated on our southern border, just a two hour drive from Tel Aviv.

In light of these developments, it is worthy to give some thought to the wisdom of our peace accords with Egypt. As part of those accords, Israel surrendered a huge strategic expanse in the Sinai Peninsula - an expanse that saved us in the surprise attack on Yom Kippur 1973.

It is easy to see what we lost in those accords. We lost parts of our Homeland, flourishing towns, abundant oil wells and a vastly important strategic expanse. We also showed our enemies that they can only gain by attacking us. Even if they lose the war, they will get all their land back by making "peace."

Since our peace deal with Egypt, Israel's international standing has steadily deteriorated. The US was presented with an additional ally in the Middle East. Sophisticated Western weaponry, including AIWAC planes, F-16s and Abrams tanks began flowing into Egypt. Since Israel's peace treaty with Egypt, policy makers in the US began to claim that Israel was a strategic burden - not a strategic asset as had been the case when we securely held the Sinai. And true to form, American aid to Israel steadily decreased since those accords and now amounts to less than half the amount that it was on the eve of the signing of the Camp David Accords.

And what did we gain? Some people will claim that we gained peace with Egypt. True, the brave among us can still go for a hike in the Sinai (not beyond). But if by 'peace' we mean quiet and security, then 'peace' with Egypt has not supplied the wares. Weapons and infiltrators enter Israel almost freely over the Egyptian border. Does anyone really think that the Hamas arsenal gets to Gaza without the silent agreement and initiative of the Egyptian government?

It looks like we are now going to eat the rotten fruit that the leaders of the past planted for us when they surrendered the Sinai to Egypt. Will we learn from this lesson and spare our children? Or will we also leave them a similar legacy in the form of a "peace" agreement - this time, not two hours away from Tel Aviv but two minutes from Kfar Saba and ten minutes from the Ben Gurion airport.

Another important point: Even if Syria and Egypt were the middle-eastern duplicates of Switzerland and Norway, I would also oppose giving one grain of our Holy Land to a foreign nation. But as you know, talk of holy land is only acceptable for Saadat, who told Begin, "I am willing to sacrifice one million soldiers and not to surrender one grain of sand of the holy Sinai." In the end, Saadat got all of Sinai, until the very last grain of sand, without sacrificing even one soldier. The pragmatic Begin got a piece of paper.

That's how it works in the Middle East. Holiness is part of the rules of the game. If you do not take it into account, you lose the most significant player on the chessboard - even before the game has begun.

Friday, February 11, 2011

BS"D Parashat Tetzaveh 5771

By HaRav Nachman Kahana

Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, chapter 2):

...והסתכל בשלשה דברים ואי אתה בא לידי עבירה דע מה למעלה ממך: עין רואה ואוזן שומעת וכל מעשיך בספר נכתבין:

"And if you will be conscious of three things you will not sin. Know what is right above you: An eye that always sees you, an ear that always hears you and that all your actions are inscribed in a book".

The word "book" used here could mean: 1- the soul of each individual, 2- the Torah, 3- the Book of Life that is opened on Rosh HaShana, 4- the "guest" book when entering the next world. Anyone one of them, or all four.

Moshe Rabbeinu in his defense of Am Yisrael before the wrath of HaShem that threatened to destroy the worshippers of the Golden Calf and perhaps the entire nation, prostrates himself before the Almighty and says (Shemot 32:32)

אם תשא חטאתם ואם אין מחני נא מספרך אשר כתבת:

And now if you will carry their sin (be patient and not destroy the people), but if not then please erase me from the book that You have written

"Erase me from the book" - eradicate my feeling of self, my feeling of being an entity apart from all others, my humanity - as if I were never a part of the reality of Your world. Total invisibility.

There are situations in life where a Jew distances himself so far from his commitment to the urgent needs and demands of Am Yisrael at that time in history, as if declaring to HaShem: "Erase me from the book that You have written".

I have in front of me a letter that appeared in the chareidi magazine "Mishpacha" wherein the author explains why she opted to live in Lakewood and not in Eretz Yisrael. She concludes her letter with the following: "As long as Eretz Yisrael remains mostly a secular country I cannot move there. It just hurts too much. I will just wait for Mashiach - hopefully, not too long".

I would ordinarily not relate to this kind of letter - although it pulls at my heart strings to learn of her great suffering from our goishkeit, as she write "It just hurts too much". But I will answer her for two reasons:

1- There is an unconventional, neoteric "chidush" to her approach. Our rabbis have taught that women have a natural love for Eretz Yisrael much more than men. And that is why not one woman took the side of the Biblical meraglim (spies) when they spoke badly of the land. But among the other irrational positions taken by certain contemporary chareidi groups, we find that even their woman do not feel the intrinsic love to the land of their righteous mothers.

2- The ideas expressed by this righteous Jewish woman are unfortunately rampant among certain circles of "bnei Torah" in the galut. I would like to tell her and all of them what "hurt" really means.

The hurt and pain of a wounded soldier - dati and not so dati - who has just lost a leg in defense of our right to live in Eretz Yisrael is a bit more than the "hurt" of that righteous Jewish woman’s pain.

Or the pain suffered by the parents of a soldier killed in battle or taken prisoner while defending our country.

The holy people of this land - dati and not so dati - who are living the words of our prophets that HaShem will restore us to this land are more "Jewish" than the most observant person in Lakewood, New Jersey, USA. We are the followers of Yehoshua Bin Nun who liberated the Holy land, but those in the galut are followers of the other 10 men who went with Yehoshua and Calev to scout the land.

The thousands of rabbanim and teachers found in every corner of Eretz Yisrael sacrifice in order to disseminate Torah among people who unfortunately did not have the privilege of a Torah education. Their physical and financial sacrifices are succeeding, as attested to by the many batai knesset and yeshivot that are established in places one would never dream that Torah would enter.

I would like the good people in Lakewood to experience for one day what our sons and grandchildren go through every day in the military to insure that the murderers don’t enter our land. They would probably run back to Lakewood!

The hurt born by the holy people of Eretz Yisrael - dati and non dat yet- in our quest to rebuild Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael is a bit more than the devastating "hurt" our righteous Jewish woman suffers when she sees a car going on Shabbat in Tel Aviv, which drove her to escape the pain by fleeing to the Gan Eden of Lakewood.

The righteous Jewish woman’s letter appeared in the magazine Mishpacha, but unfortunately she and those like her are not part of my "mishpacha", because by their actions and words they have declared to HaShem: "Erase me from the book that You have written".

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rule of Law Gang Goes Too Far

By Moshe Feiglin

This week's Torah portion opens with the priestly garments and the precise and unique honor with which we are commanded to relate to the High Priest.

This week in Israel, our news "portion of the week" is the arrest warrant against Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, issued by Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and his cohorts. The arrest warrant was issued after Rabbi Lior refused to go to the police station for questioning on his approbation of the book, "Laws of the King" written by Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira. In the book, Rabbi Shapira discusses Jewish laws pertaining to war, among them, the laws pertaining to killing enemy civilians in a war situation. Rabbi Shapira's conclusion is that it is permissible to kill enemy civilians in war if they endanger Israel's soldiers. Rabbi Lior maintains that as a rabbi, he must give his opinion on Jewish law when asked, and can give his approbation on a book that he deems worthy from a Jewish law aspect - even if it ruffles the feathers of the State Prosecutor's office.

The "Rule of Law" Gang is spearheaded by the Thought Police, the political police unit that will not disband despite government instructions to do so. The Unit for Special Assignments is headed by Deputy State Prosecutor, Shai Nitzan, who never misses an opportunity to accuse the Right of crime, as preposterous as the case may be. Nitzan's predecessor, Talyah Sasson, was also an avowed leftist who joined the radical Left Meretz party upon retirement from her position. The entire gang has convinced me that we must all buy the book, "Laws of the King" and read it cover to cover.

In the words of Professor Hillel Weiss:
"For years, the Nation of Israel has been abandoned to an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel justice system that has been nurtured since the Six Day War. It is the product of symbiotic political and legal decisions that represent the values of pseudo "enlightenment", a euphemism for the support of assimilation and the abandonment of the Biblical Land of Israel."

We have already gotten used to the fact that the legislative branch of our government has been conquered by the judicial branch. Just last week, we looked on in amazement as the High Court in Israel nullified the appointment of the new Chief of Staff chosen by Israel's elected officials. This week, we were treated to the spectacle of the judicial elite attempting to force our spiritual leaders to conform to their opinions.

From the reaction of the Religious Zionist rabbis, it looks like they have learned the lesson of the Har Bracha fiasco. This time, there is wall to wall support for Rabbi Lior. Finally, it looks like the Religious Zionist public has merited a united spiritual leadership that safeguards the honor of the Torah and the public that it serves.

Besides publicizing "Laws of the King" beyond the author's wildest dreams, Shai Nitzan can chalk that fact up as one more positive outcome of his dubious intentions.

Shabbat Shalom

Ministers and MKs at Manhigut Yehudit VIP Wedding

By Shmuel Sackett

Want to know how effective Manhigut Yehudit is inside Likud?
Consider this:
Last Tuesday night (Feb. 1st) the daughter of Michael and Malki Fuah married the son of Rabbi Uri and Ronit Cherky.
Michael Fuah is Moshe Feiglin’s "right hand man" in Manhigut Yehudit and responsible for all of Manhigut Yehudit's political activity.
Ronit Cherky is a member of Manhigut's Board of Directors.

The wedding was held in Bet Shemesh. 14 Likud Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MKs attended the festivities.
Ministers: Gideon Sa’ar, Gilad Erdan, Moshe Kachlon, Limor Livnat and Yuli Edelstsein
Deputy Ministers: Leah Ness and Gila Gamliel
Speaker of the Knesset: Ruby Rivlin
MK’s: Tzippy Hotoveli, Yariv Levine, Tzion Pinyon, Miri Regev, Danny Danon and Carmel Shamah

Why did these 14 major players in Likud attend this wedding?
It wasn’t held in the Hilton so being at a "fancy" dinner was certainly not the reason.
It is not election season so they were not campaigning.
No money people were at the wedding either.

The reason is simple.
These 14 men and women (representing over 50% of the Likud members of Knesset!) understand that without Moshe Feiglin, Michael Fuah and their supporters, their own political lives are in jeopardy. Ministers in the government realize the strength that Moshe and Michael have and they take us VERY SERIOUSLY.

The following link is to an article and some very nice pictures from the wedding. It is from the Hebrew Arutz-7 website:
Even if the Hebrew is difficult, please take a look at the pictures. You will see Michael Fuah with Minister Gideon Sa'ar and with Minister Limor Livnat, some great pictures of Minister Gilad Erdan dancing, a nice picture of Speaker of the Knesset Ruby Rivlin and a wonderful picture of Minister Moshe Kachlon listening to the Torah thoughts of the groom's father, Rabbi Uri Cherky.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The People: The Source of Authority

By Erez Nir

david copy

The fact that David was elected by God Himself – was insufficient; the consent and support of the people were essential for King David to reign over Israel. David waited for the authority of leadership to come from “the heart of the people” – the ancient concept of sovereignty over the people.

What is the basis of the authority of our leadership according to Judaism? If we are to look for the spirit of Judaism on this subject in the Bible, we may well have a problem: the system of government in Biblical times was monarchy, in other words a totalitarian dictatorship. However, since there is an eternal spiritual foundation in Jewish tradition, we may identify spiritual principles in the unique characteristics of this form of government that are relevant today.

Early Israeli sovereignty during the days of the Judges was described by the expression: “In those days there was no king in Israel, every man did what was right in his own eyes.” At the end of that period, Samuel’s leadership, characterized by his sensitivity to personal liberty and an aversion to government by a single person, was prominent. When the nation asked Samuel to crown a king over them, he warned them – “A king] will take your daughters to be his perfumers, his cooks and his bakers …” Indeed, Samuel’s great sensitivity to personal liberty was conspicuous against the background of recognized regional totalitarian regimes – Egypt, rule by terror or the kings of Canaan.

It is only with the beginning of monarchy in Israel that we can consider its unique character and pinpoint the basis of its authority. In our search for the ideal monarchy in Israel, we focus on the most successful king, as the Bible notes – who was also the prototype of the kings who succeeded him – King David. How did David seize power and establish the basis of the power of royalty?

It is generally understood that the authority of a king over Israel would begin from the moment the Prophet anoints him. But a deeper study reveals that there is no direct relationship between the assumption of authority and the anointing. The prophet Samuel anoints David in the latter’s youth but David did not actually become monarch for many years. Moreover, David never used the argument that he had been anointed king by the Prophet in order to gain the throne but instead undertook a long, complex route to gain the crown. If we were to analyze that route, we would find one important parameter of authority that continually repeats itself: What the Bible calls “the heart of the people.”

David becomes close to King Saul after the defeat of Goliath and wins his favor, but Saul’s feelings towards David are reversed at a very specific moment – when the women of Israel applaud the victorious King Saul and David – but applaud David more. King Saul is well aware that “the heart of the people” is the source of the king’s authority and thus he feels threatened by David from that moment onwards and persecutes him from then. Saul is threatened by David not by his “contacts” or by David’s standing amongst the “high society” and not by any other material power but because “the heart of the people” follows David and it is the “heart of the people” that matters.

This was also the situation after the death of King Saul. David did not immediately rush to replace Saul in reigning over Israel. At first he only ruled over Judah, despite his impressive military prowess and his ability to conquer the remaining territories and impose his authority on the other tribes of Israel. David became king of Israel only after Abner, who had been Saul’s Chief of Staff, had promised David that he would “turn the whole of Israel towards you.” David did not seize the throne by force even though he was strong enough to do so and even though he had been anointed king. He waited for authority to lead the people to come from “the heart of the people.”

The most pronounced, if difficult, example is actually an opposite one. Following the illegal, immoral rebellion of his son, Absalom, King David resigns his throne at once. The reason that David immediately accepts the change of government is given in the Bible. ‘And a messenger came to David saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom.’ Later on in the story, when Absalom is pursuing David in order to kill him and it becomes apparent that David has the power to overcome Absalom, he nevertheless resigns his kingdom because he understands that the source of the king’s authority in Israel is the “heart of the people.” Had he lost “the heart of the people” there would be neither meaning nor importance to his leadership.

The nation of Israel, a nation born with the exodus from Egyptian slavery, came into being with a clear ethos of individual and national liberty. It stores the true principles and roots of democracy in its depths. The reign of any sovereign is problematic, since it compromises individual freedom. However, since leadership is a vital and existential need, its power will always stems from “the heart of the people.” This, indeed, is the true meaning of sovereignty over the people.

Monday, February 07, 2011

State Games

By Moshe Feiglin

Last Thursday, a major simulation exercise was held at the prestigious Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliyah. The exercise, which was impressively and professionally planned, attempted to examine how Israel would respond and what would happen in the event of the following scenario:

More and more countries join with those that have already declared their recognition of a "Palestinian" state in the 1967 borders. The issue is brought to vote in the UN, which votes by a large majority to establish the "Palestinian" state. In two days, the UN Security Council will convene to ratify or reject the decision.

The simulation exercise examined those two critical days. Tens of the most senior experts in academia, security, media and politics in Israel, represented all the major players in the "game" to the best of their ability. Former Israel ambassador to Washington Zalman Shoval acted as Obama, surrounded by additional experts on American policy. The Arab states, the European Union, China. Russia, the "Palestinian" Authority and even Al Qaidah were portrayed in the most professional and authentic way possible. Former Mossad Chief Shabtai Shavit acted the part of Israel's Prime Minister. MK Einat Wilef of Ehud Barak's
Atzmaut faction acted as the Defense Minister while Efi Eitam played Foreign Minister Lieberman. Military Correspondent Alon Ben David acted as the Chief of Staff. I represented the ideological Right in the government.

Immediately at the start of the urgent cabinet meeting, it became clear that the strategy that motivated the PM (and apparently, would motivate him in reality) was to attempt to keep doing the same thing. In other words, to return to the negotiating table. Lieberman adopted the same position, as did, of course, Ehud Barak. The difference between the two (Eitam and Wilef) was that Lieberman wanted to negotiate as a delaying tactic while Barak wanted to negotiate with the genuine intention to retreat.

I tried to convince the PM that his more-of-the-same-game was irrelevant. "The world is sick of our pointless initiatives, it already made a unilateral decision, we must make a historical decision and this crisis can actually create great opportunity," I said.

"What do you mean?" the PM asked.
they made a unilateral decision, so can we," I answered. "We must announce immediately that we are declaring our sovereignty over all the areas controlled by the IDF.

Not surprisingly, my proposal was rejected. The PM was called out time and again to meet with Obama and ultimately managed to attain a postponement of one half year until the Security Council decision - on the condition that he would immediately embark upon meaningful negotiations.

In his remarks, Professor Uriel Reichman said that the simulation proves that Israel must never reach the point at which the nations of the world decide for us upon the establishment of a "Palestinian" state. His logical conclusion was that we most embark upon our own political initiative. In other words, we must retreat of our own will before we are forced to retreat.

Efi Eitam claimed just the opposite. It became clear during the simulation that all the countries concerned - including China and Russia - were afraid to force a unilateral solution on Israel. The proof? Despite the overwhelming majority in the UN, the Security Council decided to postpone its decision and to allow Israel additional time.

I was also surprised by how apprehensive the world was about forcing Israel to implement unilateral actions. Apparently, we are considered to be much stronger than we think. Despite the fact that my proposal was rejected, it worried all the countries in the simulation.

At the end of the simulation, the top-notch experts and policy-makers gathered for summaries. All of them were of the opinion that Israel must continue with the political process. All of them but one.

"Ladies and gentlemen," I opened my concluding remarks, "most of our time today was spent with our response to events. We encountered more and more trees until we forgot - or perhaps we never understood - what forest we live in. The scenario prepared for us by the Interdisciplinary Center has already taken place in reality. The question of the Land of Israel has already been raised at the UN. It was in February 1947, when England transferred its mandate on the Land of Israel to the United Nations. On that occasion, British Foreign Minster Ernest Bevin (of White Paper fame) explained the root of the conflict to the nations of the world:

The purpose of the Jews in the Land of Israel,' Bevin explained, 'is to establish a Jewish State. The purpose of the Arabs, by contrast, is to oppose Jewish sovereignty in any part of Palestine - until the very end.'

Nothing has changed since Bevin defined the goals of the two sides in 1947. Never in human history has any ethnic group received so much aid from the four corners of the earth - including from Israel - to establish a state. And that state has not been established. It has not been established because it is not the goal of the Arabs living here to establish it. Their goal is to oppose Jewish sovereignty in any part of the Land.

The basic assumption of all those present today is that since they want a state and since Israel has unfortunately already agreed to this state in principle, this shared will must dovetail at some point on our common ground. But that common ground is imaginary. It does not exist. The Arabs are in an entirely different space. The Jews are from Venus, the Arabs from Mars.

Why then, do the Arabs continue to conduct the "peace process" with Israel? Why do they always demand a state? Because although they do not want peace, they do want the peace process. The peace process serves the purpose defined by Ernest Bevin 64 years ago. When Israel negotiates over retreat, it admits that it exists on land that is not hers. With that starting point, loss of international legitimacy is simply a matter of time. The Arabs do not need to fight us with weapons. All they need is to conduct incessant negotiations with us, while in the background, the sands in the hour glass of our existential legitimacy continue to run out.

If we do not wish to reach the point at which the world will feel secure enough to impose its will upon us, we must take advantage of the first opportunity to jump from the train; we can already see its final destination on the horizon. We must turn to a new path based on the justice of our existence in the Land of Israel.

The conflict between Israel and the Arabs is not fueled by Arab despair. It is fueled by the hope of our collapse. Negotiations stoke the flames of those hopes. Our strong stand for our faith will douse Arab hopes and open the road to normal life for both sides."

My words evoked a stormy debate. The experts had a hard time departing from their basic assumptions. But the many graduate students allowed to observe the simulation were very interested, and flooded me with questions. It is encouraging to see that Israel's younger generation is open to thinking out of the box dictated by its elders.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Connecting to Eternity

By Moshe Feiglin

And they will make me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst. (From this week's Torah portion, Terumah, Exodus 25:8)

Last week's Torah portion,
Mishpatim, deals mostly with "regular" laws. The French also know that a son must not hit his father and the Russians know that a person who digs a pit that causes damage must take responsibility and pay. On the surface, Mishpatim would need only cosmetic changes to serve as a codex for every nation on earth. Last week we pointed out that the entirety of Jewish law creates an essential difference between it and other national law systems: the complete liberty of the Jew.

In this week's Torah portion, we no longer need to search for the liberty peeking out from the forest of laws. The entire ebb and flow of life, from laws of the individual until the Jewish holidays described in
Mishpatim now come together in the dimension beyond the physical world. In Mishpatim, G-d instructs us as to how to live our lives throughout the year. But the routine cannot end up as eternal, pointless subjugation to life's cycles. In Terumah, we connect to eternity.

"And they will make me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst." The proper, balanced and precise way of life that we learned in
Mishpatim - as individuals and as a nation - allows us to connect between the physical and the meta-physical in this week's Torah portion. It allows us to pour eternal meaning into our lives, to crown the Creator as King upon us and to be liberated from any and all human subjugation. The place that G-d chose for this connection, the Divine royal palace from which His Presence dwells in the entire world - is the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount.

Building the Holy Temple is not an optional privilege. The King of the world desires to infuse the world with His Presence and to
rule over His world - specifically in this manner. Our entire existence here in Israel draws its strength from this destiny. The more that we deny it, the more our existence loses its significance and legitimacy.

"He who rules over the Mount rules over the Land,"
explained the poet of rebuke and faith, Uri Tzvi Greenberg.

When we establish true Jewish leadership for Israel, we will restore our control over the Mount, and as a result, over the Land.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Economic and National Liberty

By Moshe Feiglin

The Shishinski Report is another chapter in the never-ending struggle between socialism and capitalism. Is it permissible for a state to appropriate profits (in this case, from a natural gas discovery) that it deems unreasonable, to renege on previous commitments and signed contracts with investors (in other words, to rob) and to distribute those profits to "society?"

The Torah approach to private property is clearly capitalistic. The Torah laws of returning lost items to their owners, for example, do not exist in any other national codex. The Torah relates to an individual's property as to part of his body - an integral component of his being. When one returns a lost item to its owner, he has actually restored a piece of his life. There is no other worldview with as deep an understanding of property rights as is taught in the Torah.

Absolute socialist ideologies - the type that completely nullify property rights - always led to mass murder: Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot hold the world records for mass murder in their own countries.

Is the Torah strictly capitalistic? If so, what about the laws of Jubilee, when all the portions of land are re-distributed on a "social" basis? And what about the laws that obligate a field-owner to leave part of his yield for the poor? What if he doesn't want to give to the poor? What if he thinks that if they want to eat, they should go to work? These laws seem to contradict the principle of property rights.

The Torah definition of economic liberty draws its authority from G-d - not from man. Capitalism? Yes! But not capitalism that places man at center stage. Capitalism has to place G-d at center stage. It must be informed by the knowledge that all is from Him and all flows to Him. Capitalism must elevate personal property to the status of a 'loan' from G-d, to Whom everything belongs. 100% property rights between one man and the next; zero property rights between man and G-d.

And what happens when capitalism places man at center stage? While the ultimate outcome of man-focused capitalism is not as bad as socialism, it eventually broadens societal gaps so that only a relative few enjoy society's wealth. The inevitable revolt will generally send the pendulum swinging back in the direction of socialism.

It is only the Jewish liberty paradigm that unties the Gordian knot between the two economic approaches and paves the way for true economic liberty.

And what of national liberty?

The entire world is in an uproar over the El-Jezirah leaks. The Creator is telling His children - loud and clear - "The Land of Israel is yours! I have designated the Land of Israel exclusively for you. You cannot give it to anyone because you have received it from Me. I have entrusted the Land of Israel to you so that you may fulfill your destiny from within its boundaries.”

Even an individual Jew cannot give his portion of the Land to anyone else forever- but only until the Jubilee year. Not only is the Land holy to the nation as a whole, but it is also holy to each and every individual Jew.

The source of our national liberty is the fact that the Land does not belong to us, but rather, to G-d. In the Torah, G-d promises that even if we lose our hold on the Land, no other nation will establish a sovereign entity within it. And true to that Divine decree, no other nation-state has ever risen in the Land of Israel since it was initially conquered by Joshua. All the attempts to establish a "Palestinian" state within its borders will never succeed.

It is not difficult to understand that the Arabs of Gaza and Shechem have no intention of establishing a "Palestinian" state. Never has an ethnic group received such generous aid and beneficial conditions with which to establish a state. Nonetheless, that state has not been born.

From the standpoint of the Arabs of Gaza and Shechem, the current situation, in which they are being provided for by the entire world in their "national" struggle against the Jews, is perfect. Their strategic goal is the destruction of Israel. Their short-term goal is to leach whatever they can from it. True, once they succeed in their strategic goal, they will no longer have a source of sustenance. But that type of contradiction only exists in Western thinking. It does not exist in Islamic thinking. A perfect example of this type of thinking is former MK Azmi Bashara and the hefty salary he was being paid by the state, which didn't prevent him from helping the Hizbollah aim its missiles into Israel's cities.

Israel has maneuvered itself into a place in which all the states in the world recognize "Palestine" under conditions that no government in Israel can accept. This is a great success for the leadership of the Arabs of Gaza and Shechem - a success that is completely the fruit of Israeli efforts. When the UN will recognize "Palestine," Israel will become a foreign conqueror and its leaders will officially be criminals. No Israeli leader will be able to leave the country. In short, the Arabs will get much more than they ever wanted. They will bring Israel to its knees. But they will never, G-d forbid, get what they fear most: a "Palestinian" state.

In the words of British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin in his 1947 speech transferring the British Mandate to the UN, "For the Jews, the main point is the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state. For the Arabs, the main point is to oppose Jewish sovereignty in any part of Palestine to the very end."

The Arabs have proven time and again that they have no genuine aspirations for a state of their own. Their true goal is to prevent the Jews from having a state of their own. And what is the source of their motivation to keep fighting after watching Israel grow and prosper all these years ? Not despair, as the Left would have us believe, but hope that they are nearing their goal. Hope that the State of Israel has fanned into a flame that has become a true threat to its existence.