Friday, May 31, 2013

Atheists for Feiglin!

22 Sivan, 5773
May 31, ‘13

A letter to Moshe Feiglin from an unlikely admirer. You can see what an impact Moshe is having on Israelis of all walks of life.

Dear Moshe,

I must tell you that until I saw you speaking over the last months, I lost all interest, faith, love and desire to remain in Israel. Most years, I did not even trouble myself to go and vote, because I knew that there was no hope for the world and for the rotten country in which I live. I thought that there was no reason to take action because I was not planning to continue to live here. I just wanted to finish my degree and escape the stupidity and craziness.

I still have the same opinions today, but with one major change: You gave me hope; hope that when my generation gets into the government (if at all) they will say worthy things from the Knesset podium; hope that there are other people in the government who understand that the justification for their existence is for them to act and fight for the good of the citizens of the country. You have no idea how refreshing it is to hear a Member of Knesset speaking so rationally, eloquently, passionately and with such wisdom. Not only on cannabis; it began for me when you were the first who did not fear to publicly speak about the profits of the drug companies (to be honest, I thought that it would lead to attempts on your life). My admiration grew when you displayed expertise in each of the reports and studies on cannabis (finally somebody was using facts and science to base his claims, and not whims and emotions). It continues with every deliberation, Knesset committee meeting or media appearance that I watch.

You have restored my faith that perhaps one day we really will be a free people in our land. As an extreme atheist, I must say that you also kindled within me something positive about anything that has to do with religion. It is so nice to hear you speak of human liberty as a supreme value, about separation of religion and state and the senselessness of coercing one way of life on all the citizens whether or not they have chosen it. The main message that you project is of acceptance, tolerance, help for others and love of mankind; a message that, if it would be assimilated by all, even an atheist like me would be able to be proud of the fact that I was born and live in a Jewish state.

May there be more people like you in the government and in the world.

Don’t give up! Clear logic will prevail and one day we will all sit together outside Plato’s Cave and barbeque (not on Shabbat) and maybe we will even pass around an aromatic, legal thorny crown.

If only the present prime minister would know how many votes and what positive public relations one intelligent person in his party can bring in, maybe he would trouble himself to find and put in others like you. In the next elections, I will vote for whatever party you belong to. May I see you one day as prime minister. It won’t hurt me to have something to be proud of when I think of the State of Israel.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Moshe Feiglin’s reply:
Thank you, S.A. You have moved me very much. May I be worthy of even a small bit of your praises.

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Shelach 5773

Parashat Shelach: The parasha of the Meraglim (scouts) who spoke badly of HaShem’s holy land.
Part A:
Rashi begins his commentary on parashat Shelach by explaining the connection between the last episode in last week’s parasha (Beha’alot’cha) of Miriam’s criticism of Moshe and the episode of the meraglim (scouts) at the beginning of this week’s parasha Shelach. Rashi explains hat the conduct of both Miriam and the Meraglim were affronts to the two most fundamental precepts of Judaism. Miriam degraded the Torah by insulting Moshe who is the personification of Torah, and the Meraglim degraded the mitzva of “yishuv ha’aretz” – to reside in HaShem’s holy land of Eretz Yisrael.
Indeed Torah study and Eretz Yisrael are the twin pillars which support and sustain the relationship between HaShem and the Jewish nation; however there is a fundamental difference between them.
Torah study is available to all, with success dependent upon the quality and quantity of grey matter one is born with, combined with 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
Eretz Yisrael is another story altogether. Residence in Eretz Yisrael is an exquisite, unique mitzva reserved only for those who Hashem desires to host in His land.
Yishmael and Aisav were expelled from the Holy Land. The meraglim and their generation of 600 thousand men were denied entry into the land. Twice, when we sinned, HaShem exiled us from the land. And those who are here today are invited guests and those who are not are not invited.
Part B:
In the more than five decades of living in Eretz Yisrael, I have seen people come and go. There are those who merited a successful aliya, being absorbed into society and contributing to the advancement of the Medina in many ways, and those who were rejected and expelled from the land . There are also many people who have never even tried to come home.
Now since living in Eretz Yisrael is a major Torah requirement, why are there so many observant Jews who are still in the galut? And how is it that some Jews are expelled from the land?
From two words in this week’s parasha – “ru’ach acheret” (a different spirit or inclination), we can learn who is desired by Hashem. The Torah states that Calev ben Yefuneh was permitted to enter the land because out of all the other 600 thousand Jewish men there was a “different spirit” within him. Yehoshua was in a different category than even Calev, as he was endowed with the Godly prophetic spirit which emanated to him from Moshe. The Godly spirit of Yehoshua and the “ru’ach acheret” of Calev were the factors that determined Hashem’s choice to permit them to enter the Land.
The meraglim were more deeply steeped in the knowledge of Torah than any of the Torah giants in whose shadows we walk today, and their spiritual level was far above any tzadik who we wish to emulate! Yet they do not posses that profoundly mysterious “ru’ach acheret” that drove Calev to defy all rationality as he thirsted to enter the land and do battle with giants. Calev and Yehoshua possessed total confidence and emuna that HaShem would bring them victory and fulfill His promise to make the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov sovereign over the Holy Land.
Hashem, who knows the inner thoughts of all men, rejected the 600 thousand, who although outwardly appeared to be God fearing, were in fact more fearful of man than of God.
Part C:
I was witness to “ru’ach acheret” from a most surprising source.
I have a cousin by marriage who is a radical leftist with high sensibilities for the rights of the poor Arabs. His best friends are Arabs and he produces motion pictures to further their cause. But for some strange reason he sincerely likes me, and I have feelings for him as a person.
At the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, he found himself in London with little chance of returning home on a civilian airline. He performed astounding feats to get on a plane to Eretz Yisrael, and upon arrival immediately joined his active military unit where soldiers had been killed. How can one explain it? It was the spark of Yiddishkeit in his soul that drove him to stand against a formidable enemy when he could have easily waited out the war in London.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are observant Jews whose souls are insensitive to the mystical attraction of the Holy Land. They are found in many lands of the galut, and many even fulfill religious functions in their communities.
I received two articles, one penned by a young man and the other by a young woman who claim to be orthodox .
They both share the almost terminal disease of galut, although there is a great difference in their outlooks. I do not condemn them, because I am not the “sheriff of this town”, and more so because they were exposed to rabbis and teachers who themselves are products of modern day miraglim.
The young lady writes:
“Within the Modern Orthodox community, the question is rarely one of loving Israel. Our allegiance is assumed, our reverence expected. Israeli flags in dorm rooms and teary eyes during the recital of Ha’Tikvah serve as confirmations. We dance on Yom HaAtzmaut and cry on Yom HaZikaron. We visit Israel for holidays and reminisce fondly about our seminary and yeshiva experiences, traipsing around the cobble-stoned streets of Jerusalem.
But who’s going back?
Those who answer deal breaker have chosen Israel. But for those of us who finagle around the question of aliyah, talking about jobs and family ties and war-zones, we’ve chosen America.
I don’t make light of these considerations. I don’t make light of the decision to stay in the United States. What I find interesting, however, is the way we acknowledge the decision we have made to stay in America. More oft than not, the challenge to verbalize the decision is accompanied by justifications, rationalizations, ambivalence, and even shame.
We justify: we’re here, yes. But our hearts are with Israel. We proudly display libi ba’mizrach(my heart is in the east) quotations on necklaces, rings and bracelets. We assiduously keep up with the news, visit when we can, and add the names of soldiers to our daily prayers. But are we going? Make no mistake: aliyah is not a passive choice. It is a dream that has to be prioritized. No choice is the tacit agreement to stay here.
When the aliyah question is addressed to me, my response is wrought with ambivalence. When I am posed with the question, I recall longingly the unique experience of being a Jew in Israel. I recall the chag sa’meach greeting signs on buses, the taxi driver who handed me a small book of tehillim and told me to recite after him, and the elementary school children at Shabbat tables who could recite entire sections of chumash by heart. I respond that aliyah is an ideal. A far off dream, perhaps – but a dream no less vivid.
However, the pronouncement of aliyah as an unequivocal ideal is quickly followed by a laundry list of buts. My career. The language. Money. The precarious way of life. The foreign culture. The school systems.
An ideal? Yes. Am I going? No. This is the response I give. It is also the response I have received, time and time again, in return.
I don’t usually let the contradiction and inconsistency of this reply bother me. The response has enabled me to affirm my unwavering allegiance to the dream of Israel while simultaneously excusing my decision to stay here. Though we usually strive to achieve ideals, somehow we are okay with leaving the dream of aliyah respectfully untouched. Israel has become more a statement of ideology than a plan of action.
But sometimes the disingenuousness does bother me.”
And the article continues.
Clearly, the writer acknowledges that aliya is the demand of the Torah but she cannot rise above her doubts and weaknesses.
The second article, a response to the above, is much more offensive to the mitzva of aliya, as follows.
“After coming across ‘My friend (her name)… Aliyah: A sacrifice too big?’ I immediately decided to respond to some of her assertions. Though her prose is well-crafted, she establishes an allegation about the Modern Orthodox Jewish establishment that I believe to be incorrect. She asserts that Aliyah is viewed as an ideal by most in America’s Modern Orthodox community, and that those who stay in America understand their decision through “justifications, rationalizations, ambivalence, and even shame.” For myself and many other American Orthodox Jews, I know this to be hardly the case. Our decision to remain in America rests on the fact that we identify ourselves firmly as Americans. We don’t view living in America as a timid compromising of ideals; we see it as an ideal in and of itself…
For me and many other American Orthodox Jews, we proudly see America as our homeland. We believe that American culture is our culture, and certainly Jewish culture has contributed to it. There isn’t anything shameful about being an American, quite the reverse is true.
To me and the overwhelming majority of America’s Jews, we have no reason to apologize for living in America. I am proud to be an American, and I don’t see Aliyah as that ‘unequivocal ideal’.”
The author of this article is truly focused on being a loyal son of the galut. However, he does not hear the echoes of the Jews in many lands who made similar statements, but retracted them while on their way to the pyres of Spain and Portugal, and to the death camps and crematoria of Eastern Europe.
In conclusion: Aliya is an exquisite mitzva whose fulfillment is conditional on being invited by HaShem to His holy palace.
We who have received the invitation by virtue of the “ru’ach acheret”, which we have been fortunate to acquire, must thank HaShem every moment that we are blessed to be in Eretz Yisrael, and pray for our brothers and sisters in the galut to awaken their souls and come home.
Shabbat Shalom
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5773/2013 Nachman Kahana

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ahmadinejad should lose 'the right to breathe'


By Alex Newman
JERUSALEM – Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin of the ruling Likud Party contends the Israeli strategy for dealing with Iran is “a mistake.”
In an interview with WND, he said the Iranian regime should be considered Israel’s problem – not the world’s – and must be dealt with as such.
Feiglin, who leads the Jewish Leadership (Manhigut Yehudit) faction of Likud, also argued that Iran’s nuclear program is not the biggest threat to Israel.
The larger threat, he said, is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his regime’s rabid anti-Zionist rhetoric, which is part of a plan to delegitimize the Jewish state.
Feiglin noted that when Ahmadinejad first proposed the destruction of the Jewish state, the world was expecting an immediate military reaction from the Israeli military.
“When it was not done, the result of it was that the delegitimization of the state of Israel all over the world rose up, because when you are not willing to pay a price to keep your existence, when you show dependence on others to do the job for you, you lose your legitimacy to exist,” he said. “It is true with every state, but much more than that with the state of the Jews.”
The delegitimization of Israel in the world is a bigger threat than any atomic bomb, he continued.
“We should learn from our own Holocaust 70 years ago,” the lawmaker said. “The Holocaust did not start in 1939; it started with the speeches in the Reichstag of the Third Reich in 1933 until the war. Those speeches led to delegitimization, to a question mark, to rise about the right of the Jew to exist.”
The same phenomenon is happening with the Iranian regime and its rhetoric, Feiglin said.
“Those speeches of Ahmadinejad led to the question mark above the right of the state of Israel to exist,” he explained. “You can see the connection between Ahmadinejad, the fact that Israel did not react, and this question mark above our legitimacy to exist, and you can see that it comes altogether; that’s the connection.”
When the Nazis in Germany were able to cast doubts on the right of the Jewish people to exist, the Holocaust became possible, the liberty-minded lawmaker said.
As such, he sees Ahmadinejad’s speeches – “the fact that the leader of a big country, a member of the U.N., speaking like that and not being punished by us right away” – as a greater threat to Israel than a nuclear weapon.
“Now, if you ask me how Israel should react – what Israel should do, should we bomb Iran, what kind of reaction we should have – I think the answer is that we should think outside of the box,” Feiglin said.
“We got used to the idea of soldiers and people paying the price for the cruelness of leaders, and this is the wrong way to look at it,” he continued.
“I think that when a leader is saying that Israel, the Jews, don’t have a right to breathe the air on the globe, he himself should lose that right.”
In essence, then, Feiglin does not believe Iran as a nation is not the problem. Even the nuclear reactors themselves are not the primary issue.
Instead, the deputy speaker said he thinks the real target should be the Iranian regime – its leaders and Ahmadinejad himself.
Still, Feiglin acknowledged that the nuclear problem would have to be handled.
“Obviously it’s going to be very hard and complicated to deal with that also, and it’s going to cost a big price in Israeli soldiers and pilots,” he said.
The key, however, is placing the blame where it belongs: On the regime itself.
“We should ask ourselves how many millions would not have lost their lives if the Western world would have understood that concept with Hitler and acted at the right time,” Feiglin said.
Meanwhile, the party responsible for dealing with the Iranian threat should be Israel, he continued.
“I think our prime minister is probably the most capable man to do what needs to be done, but I have a different point of view on the strategy that needs to be taken over here,” Feiglin told WND in his parliamentary office.
“It seems like today Israel is focusing on making the issue a problem of the whole world, not only Israel, and I think it’s a mistake,” he added. “I think we should do exactly the opposite. It should start and end for us as an Israeli issue that is our responsibility to solve.”
The army veteran-turned-activist-turned-political leader, who remains controversial but has developed a strong following in Israel, pointed out that the Jewish people are no longer spread around the world in the diaspora.
“We are a sovereign country,” Feiglin noted. “When somebody is threatening a new Holocaust on the state of Israel, it is very important to make it very clear that we are those who are taking responsibility for our own security, and we are those who are going to solve the problem by ourselves.
“It is a crucial message,” he added. “In the past Israel knew, but somewhere along the way we forgot it.”
While much of the political debate surrounding Iran in both Israel and the United States has focused on U.S. military support, Feiglin is not convinced that it is needed.
Indeed, the independent-minded statesman even questions the wisdom of American foreign aid to the Jewish state, especially as the U.S. economy continues to struggle so badly.
“I’m totally against this aid,” Feiglin said. “To get any kind of aid from America when, economically, we are in a much, much better position doesn’t look moral to me.”
On top of that, Feiglin argues that the U.S. government’s assistance does not help Israel economically or militarily.
“This aid serves psychological purposes, not anything else,” he explained.
Even considering all of the threats Israel faces from all sides, Feiglin also said he was more worried about the future of America than of the Jewish state.
“I know it sounds maybe a little bit crazy,” he said. “However, we are a nation of 3,300 years. We have our little ups and downs over our history, but it seems like physically we are stronger than ever.
“History shows that big empires fall, and it doesn’t look like America today is on the rise,” Feiglin said.
Plus, according to Feiglin and a growing segment of Israeli public opinion, the Obama administration is not helping much anyway.
“It was obvious in the first years of Obama diplomacy that the strategy was to throw your dice on the Muslim side – it was very obvious,” the deputy speaker told WND, adding that it was no longer clear whether there even is a real American strategy.
The U.S. government-backed “Arab Spring,” meanwhile, threatens to turn the entire Middle East into what Feiglin described “as one big Gaza all around us.”
“There will be no return address for the missiles that will fall here from Syria, or from Jordan, or Iraq, or from anywhere else,” he said. “It’s going to be exactly the same as Gaza.”
In Feiglin’s view, there are three potential forces that could step in to deal with the growing chaos in the region: The Iranian regime, the Turkish government or Israel.
“But the Israelis don’t have those kinds of ideas anywhere in the horizon of their mind … so we’re stuck with these two options,” he said.

Read more at 

Moshe Feiglin Calls on Chief of Staff to Back His Proposal for Volunteer Professional IDF

"I endorse Chief of Staff Benny Gantz for his statement today that "we need a small and smart army." I call upon him to take one more step and to add his weight to my proposal to transform the IDF into a professional volunteer army. This step will make the army more efficient, will save our country money and will solve - once and for all - the conflict raging between the Jews over drafting those people who are not interested in joining the army. On the 3rd of Tamuz (June 11th) the Knesset Caucus for a Professional Army, to be chaired by yours truly, will hold its first meeting. We will be examining the different aspects of adapting the army to a volunteer structure and the methods to advance this proposal."

  More on Moshe Feiglin's volunteer army proposal

Moshe Feiglin on His Dismissal from the Knesset Education and Culture Committee

"Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, the heart of Jerusalem and the Nation, is dearer to me than any Knesset position. As long as the Prime Minister chooses to continue to surrender to the directives of the Moslem wakf and does not allow me to implement my right as a citizen and as a Knesset Member to ascend to the Temple Mount, I will continue to see myself free of coalition discipline. I will be happy to do my part to assure the success of the coalition of which I am a member when the government of Israel will once again honor the sovereignty of the Knesset. If there is no sovereignty, the Knesset has no value."

Moshe Feiglin's Passionate Knesset Speech on Medical Cannabis and Rock Throwing in Judea and Samaria

Don't Miss this excellent "Day in the Life" video of Moshe Feiglin last Wednesday in the Knesset
With English subtitles. Be sure to turn on the captions option on the bottom bar.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Jewish Focus on Life

By Shmuel Sackett

18 Sivan, 5773
May 27, ‘13

I always try to be positive and full of optimism. I have decided that I would use my pen – actually, keyboard – to combat the horrible and bleak picture of Israel that is painted each day by the worldwide media. All you seem to read about is terror, war, violence, scandals and the newest media sensation; infighting between Jews. It’s a wonder we even make it through the day! 

I am not oblivious to these problems – and YES – they exist, but I choose to focus on the good. It's more than simply writing about the glass being half full. It is about recognizing the amazing miracles that Hashem performs for us each hour of the day.  After 2,000 years of exile, we have returned home! We have a Jewish army, have revived our ancient language, have a network of Yeshivot and Torah learning unprecedented in Jewish history, have built and settled the land promised to our Grandfather Avraham and much more! What's there to complain about? We are living the Torah! We are fulfilling the words of our Prophets! We are walking the streets of history and touching the same stones as King David, Rabbi Akiva, the Ramban and the Arizal. What could be bad?

These are the words I choose to write and speak about. It reminds me of something I once heard. When you are up to your head in laundry – thank Hashem for giving you so many clothes! When your teenager complains about doing dishes - thank Hashem for the fact that he/she is at home and not on the streets! When you have taxes to pay – thank Hashem for giving you a job! When you have a huge mess to clean up after a party – thank Hashem for surrounding you with friends! When you find a parking spot 3 blocks away from your destination – thank Hashem for blessing you with a car and a good pair of legs! When your clothes fit a bit snug – thank Hashem for giving you enough to eat! When your heating bill is high – thank Hashem for giving you warmth! When your lawn needs mowing and gutters need fixing – thank Hashem for giving you a house!  All this means three things to me.

One: A problem exists (tight clothes, broken gutters, messy house, complaining teenagers) 
Two: That problem needs to be addressed and fixed BUT IN THE MEANTIME – 
Three: That problem should not stop you from focusing on the real gift given to you by our Father in Heaven.

If this is true in our private life, how much more so is it true in our nationalistic life. When the IDF is not responding strongly enough to rock-throwing Arabs – that problem must be fixed – but thank Hashem for blessing us with an army of brothers as opposed to the Polish, Russian and German soldiers seen by our parents. When hotel prices in Jerusalem are ridiculously high – that problem must be fixed – but thank Hashem for bringing tourists to Israel and for building hotels in Netanya, the Galil, Ein Gedi, Mitzpe Ramon and Tzefat where prices are lower! When wonderful, heroic, young, Jewish families are evicted from their homes in the Shomron because not every document was properly signed – that problem must be fixed – but thank Hashem for giving the Jewish youth of today a fighting and pioneering spirit that will rebuild that home 10 times if necessary and bring life to areas in Israel that haven't seen a Jew in over 1,000 years!!!

This is where our head must be: Identify the problem, fix the problem and thank Hashem for the wonderful trust and faith He has in YOU in focusing on what is important in life and in getting the job done! Now get to work! 

B’Tselem: Champion of Human Rights?

By Tuvia Brodie

The Israel-based organization called B’Tselem declares on its website that it champions human rights. Its specific mission is human rights in what it calls Gaza and the West Bank. Their Homepage clearly suggests that B’Tselem seeks to protect Arab citizens from human rights abuse.
According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a disregard and contempt for human rights brings barbarism.  Therefore, Human Rights has two goals: first, to rid the world of such barbarism as torture and other acts of physical oppression; and second, to create a world where all citizens can enjoy freedom of speech and belief, and freedom from fear. In addition, human rights include: everyone has the right to a fair and impartial trial, all have the right to an education (and elementary education shall be compulsory), no one can be arbitrarily arrested, tortured or otherwise detained because of speech, belief or opinion; and marriage requires the full consent of both parties. There are other rights listed in the Declaration.
One who, like B’Tselem,  ‘champions’ these rights effectively declares that he doesn’t just talk about them, but defends them to the highest degree possible; indeed, as a champion, his efforts should be aggressive and unrelenting. That means that any violation of the rights listed above will be monitored, tracked and reported until changes are made.
But according to the organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW), there have been human rights abuses committed by Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank that may have been ignored by B’Tselem. As of early May 2013, B’Tselem’s only easily-accessible website reference to serious Arab-on-Arab human rights violations is an essay dated January, 2011 that discusses incidents from 2007-08 only—nothing more recent.
But serious Arab abuses have continued after 2008. According to HRW, during the latest year-of-record, 2012, Hamas in Gaza carried out six executions, including after unfair trials, and committed another seven extrajudicial executions in November, 2012 when armed men took detainees from a detention center and killed them. Hamas also executed a citizen after a Gazan appeals court raised his sentence from life imprisonment to death—a clear violation of Palestinian law.
Where was B’Tselem?  
HRW reported that Hamas officials frequently denied detainees access to their lawyers.
Where was B’Tselem?
As of October 31, 2012, HRW recorded 121 credible cases of torture or ill-treatment by police and the Hamas internal security agency.
Where does the average visitor to the B’Tselem website find reports on these Arab-on-Arab abuses?
In 2012, Hamas security forces assaulted, arbitrarily detained and allegedly tortured civil society activists and peaceful protesters who were calling for reconciliation between Hamas and its rival, Fatah.
Where is the B’Tselem report?  How many clicks on the website must one make before finding it? Is it  there?
During 2012, Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces also committed abuses. They beat peaceful demonstrators, detained and harassed journalists and online activists, and arbitrarily arrested hundreds, including waves of arrests in May and September alone. Credible allegations of torture by the PA increased.
Then there’s the HRW 2011 World Report. Here, HRW accused Hamas of executing in 2011 five people without due process, identified 132 credible cases of torture in the first eight months of 2011, and accused officials of harassing, detaining and torturing citizens for ‘morality’ offenses that included homosexuality and extramarital sex. PA officials, meanwhile, were accused of 106 credible cases of torture in the first nine months of 2011--and were accused of assaulting and detaining journalists, and for preventing peaceful demonstrations. 
B’Tselem’s own 2011 Report, however, was blind. Its Human Rights in the Occupied Territories 2011 report mentions virtually nothing about these Arab-on-Arab abuses.
Gaza and the West Bank citizens live in fear. How does B’Tselem, the champion of human rights, defend them?
 Perhaps, by using the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a guide, B’Tselem can begin with these questions:
-what is the Gazan and West Bank literacy rate?
-what is the incidence of rape, forced marriage and the honor-killing of women?
-Do citizens have the freedom to express their opinions safely?
-do authorities torture their citizens?
-do detainees receive a fair and impartial trial?
-are coerced confessions used in court as evidence of guilt?
Remember, B’Tselem champions human rights for these Arabs. But it ignores what amounts to persistent Arab barbarism. It does nothing to haul Hamas and PA authorities before the court of public opinion so they can be pressured to change.
It hauls Israel into the public eye. What about Gaza and the PA?
The average visitor to the B’Tselem Homepage finds it easy to read about alleged Israeli violations of Arab rights, detail-by-detail, page-after-page. But finding details about Arab-on-Arab abuse is difficult, time-consuming and hardly successful. Meanwhile, Arab citizens in Gaza and the West Bank are murdered. They do not have basic freedoms.  They lack human rights. They are not safe. They are tortured by their own police.
Does B’Tselem champion human rights for Arabs? 
Anyone else hear crickets?

Friday, May 24, 2013

The First Fruits

By Moshe Feiglin

Last Thursday, I practiced bringing the first fruits (bikurim) to the Beit Hamikdash.

Rabbi Baruch Kahane, who is a Kohen, wore the Kohen's garments that were woven at the Temple Institute, stood next to the replica of the altar and received from me - "the representative of the kingdom" the silver tray holding the Seven Species. It was all done facing the site of the Holy Temple. When I recited the relevant verses, I felt joy.

There were a few "crazy" people there - I had the privilege to be one of them. More important, there were a lot of children there. Those children will grow up with this authentic experience. They will know what they are missing as long as the Temple is not rebuilt.

The custom of bringing the first fruits was naturally celebrated by the kibbutz movement in its first years. Those pioneers, who strove to renew Hebrew culture, could not skip over this mitzvah, that gives power and meaning to the Hebrew connection to the Land of Israel.

Moshe Feiglin: Graffiti = Terror???

In a special Knesset deliberation on the deteriorating security situation in Judea and Samara, Moshe Feiglin made the following statement: The Minister of Internal Security defined graffiti as "a new kind of terror," and an entire country points an accusing finger at itself, adding more fuel to the flames of self-flagellation.

Let us talk about the real terror that is being perpetrated in Judea and Samaria. We have seen a total loss of control by the Israeli government and its armed forces on Yesha roads. Rock throwing and firebombs have become routine - even on the major 443 highway to Jerusalem. But who cares? Everybody is busy worrying about some graffiti in an Arab village.

Those who are incapable of dealing with rock-throwers are also incapable of dealing with nuclear weapons from Iran. We have lost our sense of justice. Those who turn their backs on the foundation of our existence in this land; on the source of all sources, on the Temple Mount - those who actually give sovereignty on the Temple Mount to the Arab enemy - are ultimately incapable of justifying their existence in any place in the Land.

Is there anybody here who doesn't understand that anybody can be next, whether with rocks or missiles, no matter where his house is?

Moshe Feiglin on Rocks, Missiles and the Nuclear Threat

A rock kills. Period. Whoever does not understand that should go to visit Adelle Chaya (bat Advah) Biton in the Schneider Children’s Hospital. 

I am not willing for my son, son-in-law or any Israeli soldier to endanger himself for politicians who are not willing to decide: Either the Land of Israel is ours and those who throw rocks at Israelis are an enemy who declares war – and must be shot. Or this Land is not ours: And then we must flee back to Warsaw and Morocco. 

If somebody thinks that we must flee Judea and Samaria to buy quiet, they had best remember Gush Katif and the Oslo Accords.

Those who have decided to give the heart of Jerusalem – the site of the holy Temple – to the Moslems, has decided that this Land is not ours. As a result, not only is he incapable of dealing with rock-throwers. He is incapable of dealing with missiles on Tel Aviv, not to mention Iran’s nuclear threat.

Who's Calling the Shots on the Temple Mount?

By Moshe Feiglin

15 Sivan, 5773
May 24, ‘13

Translated from the article in Makor Rishon

"This area is under Moslem sovereignty," the senior officer on the Temple Mount said to me. 

"I thought that we were in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” I answered and set out on a series of letter-writing and meetings with the Chief of Israel Police, the Attorney General and the Minister for Internal Security.

Ultimately, what the officer on the Temple Mount told me was endorsed by the Police Chief. For the first time, he admitted that the prohibitions on the Jews who visit the Temple Mount are not due to security considerations: They exist simply because the sovereignty over the Temple Mount was transferred to the Moslems and it is they who make the rules there.

Yes. In the dark, totally against the law, without any Knesset decision or public debate – the Temple Mount , the heart of our nation – was transferred to foreign rule. 

When all the public officials to whom I turned were painted into the indefensible legal corner, the Prime Minister shouldered the responsibility and two weeks ago, issued a direct order prohibiting me from visiting the Temple Mount. This completely contradicts the Jerusalem Basic Law, the Knesset Basic Law and the Honor and Liberty Basic Law. It revokes Israeli sovereignty in the heart of Jerusalem and tramples the authority of the Knesset. It crosses a clear, thick red line and rewrites the rules in a way that does not allow me to continue my political activities as if nothing has happened. I still remember well how, before the Expulsion from Gush Katif, I begged Likud ministers to resign their government positions in protest. “If we resign,” they answered, “the government will not fall – but we will not be able to influence its decisions or help.”

We all know what happened in the end. When a public figure does not know how to identify the red line and plays by the old rules in the new reality –all is lost. Always.

Throughout the years that we have ascended to the Temple Mount, we have gotten used to the disgraceful reality in which a member of the Moslem wakf, accompanied by an Israeli police officer, follows us and spies on our lips – to ensure that no Jew, heaven forbid, moves his lips in prayer at the site of his holy Temple. If a Jew dares to pray, the wakf representative will demand the arrest of the Jew - and the Israeli officer will quickly comply. This is an abominable prohibition, more severe than the prohibition that the Moslems imposed on Jewish prayer at the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. There, in pre-State Hebron, the Moslems allowed the Jews to approach the seventh step leading to the Cave and to pray there. But at the Temple Mount, under Israeli rule, so to speak, the prohibition is all-encompassing and strictly enforced. 

But we, the visitors to the Mount, got used to it. And habit erases every abomination. In the days of the Hasmoneans, we got used to the fact that before her wedding, every Jewish bride would first have to spend the night with the Greek ruler. Later in history, we got used to the initial decrees of the German conquerors. Today, we get used to the loss of our legitimacy, to the hypocritical Turkish demands that we apologize and to the Chinese spit in the face during the PM’s official visit there. We get used to it, and in the end, pay a much higher price. 

The same is true for us, the visitors to the Temple Mount. We were so anxious to serenely return the Jews to the Mount. We bit our lips, acquiesced to the abominable prohibition against prayer and over the years, we got used to the humiliating guard at our side.

Now we can see that that this abomination is not localized to the wakf representative facing the simple Jew visiting the Temple Mount. The abomination is an expression of the situation on the highest levels: the conduct of the Moslem leadership against the Israeli leadership. 

There in the upper echelons, instead of the wakf, the Israeli police officer and the Jew who wants to pray on the Mount, we have the king of Jordan, the Prime Minister of Israel and a Member of Knesset who wants to enter Judaism’s most holy site.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Morality, Dehumanization and the Arab Cause

By Tuvia Brodie

A cause that calls itself moral should be consistent. If one demands moral consideration, one should behave morally, if only to demonstrate that one understands what ‘moral’ means. But the Arab cause does not promote moral behaviour and its Arab citizens do not act morally.  Does that make their cause immoral?
 Think about how the Arab speaks about his cause. At the United Nations, on November 29, 2012, Mahmoud Abbas  told the world he wants his own state. He spoke of justice, ‘moral values’ and ‘moral duty’.
He connected statehood for ‘Palestine’ with morality. 
But Mahmoud Abbas and his fellow Arab leaders do not make this same association when speaking to their own people. They do not speak about morality. They don’t speak about peace. They speak of war-- against Israel; and the way they manipulate their people towards that war is anything but moral.
The Arab cause is the destruction of Israel. Read the Arab  Charters for PLO/Fatah, and Hamas. According to the Hamas Charter, the only solution for the ‘Palestinian problem’ is religious war, not political compromise.  According to the PLO/Fatah Charter, their cause is not peace-with-Israel, but the removal of the ‘Zionist entity’ from the Middle East.
To identify the destruction of a sovereign state as the reason for one’s existence is not moral behaviour.  To declare religious war against a homogeneous people (Jews in Israel) is not morality. It’s a call for ethnic cleansing.
Ethnic cleansing is not moral. It is connected to racial hatred. It is a crime against humanity.
It’s also the Arab battle-cry against Israel.
Arab leaders have one message: we will destroy Israel. Follow us, and the Zionist entity will disappear.
That’s not a moral cause. It’s racist hate.
Arab political and religious leaders are not shy about their hate. They love it so much they repeat it constantly: in speeches and publications, on TV and in the mosque. They will even hold up maps showing their Palestine in place of Israel, not beside it. They honour those who murder Jews. Their public heroes aren’t athletes or scientists; they’re killers.
When ethicists write about war, they often explore what makes war just or unjust. For these discussions, they identify a singular ‘smoking gun’ that presages unjust war: dehumanization of the enemy.
Dehumanization exists only for vicious intent. Arab characterizations of Jews and Israel dehumanize and demonize in ugly and repulsive terms. Arabs call Jews the enemy of god. They say Jews descend from apes and pigs. They say Jews engage in religious ritual to kill children for blood. They say Jews organize and control the world drug trade. Arabs call Israel a cancer.
Ethicists identify such tactics as immoral. These tactics are public manipulations designed for one purpose only: to remove psychological and moral barriers to killing. They are related to delegitimization, racism, moral exclusion and illegal violence—all characteristics of the Arab war against Israel.  Nazi dehumanization of the Jews as vermin—and similar Arab descriptions—make this point:  it might be tough to kill a fellow human; but killing vermin isn’t just acceptable—it’s socially desirable.  
For the ethicist, dehumanization is not just a way to prepare for killing. It is a particularly vicious and immoral behaviour directly linked to the worst kind of killing--genocide.  Dehumanization in both Nazi Germany and Rwanda telegraphed—and then led to--genocide.
Dehumanization is a communal preparation for genocide. Arab dehumanization prepares (and encourages) Arabs to slaughter Jews—often, for Islam (see the Hamas Charter and dozens of religious speeches recorded since the 1930’s).
Dehumanization, through manipulation and conditioning, encourages all ethical, moral and religious considerations to be thrown aside. Arabs have used dehumanization of the Jew for so long that slaughtering the Jew-pig has become the religious and social norm, not the exception.
Ethicists have observed that wherever you find public  dehumanization and demonization of another, you find unjust war.  The link between the two is that clear. We saw this in Gaza, in November, 2012. There, fighting against Israel, Arab warfare was purely unjust: they fired rockets from within civilian Arab populations; they fired into civilian Israeli populations; they used faked photographs and news reports to support their demonization of Israel.
To the ethicist, each of these examples illustrates what unjust war looks like. Each example is immoral; each is linked to the contemporaneous use of some form of dehumanization (including celebrating over dead Jews).
If the Arab cause is moral, why does he so embrace the immoral?
Actions speak louder than words. Arabs want you to accept them as moral people seeking justice (the 2012 Abbas UN speech).  But their actions are immoral; and their dependence upon dehumanization telegraphs their desire for the ultimate immoral horror called genocide.
Arab dehumanization of its enemy does not suggest a moral cause. Their cause is not moral. It is horribly, unacceptably and criminally immoral.

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Beha’alot’cha 5773

Parashat Beha’alot’cha 5773
The world has always been a complex place for thinking people. RamBam composed “Moreh Nevuchim” (Guide to the Perplexed) as an aid to Torah observers in filtering out the static in their lives and to permit them to focus on what is true, relevant and the essential will of HaShem for His chosen people.
In the 1000 years since the RamBam, the world has become progressively more complex conceptually and practically, to the extent that the well-intentioned Jew stands paralyzed and perplexed before the supermarket of rabbinic decisions and directives, not knowing where to turn. Things have reached such a point that one can know beforehand what a particular rabbi will decide, allowing the questioner to shop for the answer that best suits him. If you want to eat a certain brand of tuna fish, you know who to ask and who not to ask. If you need encouragement, support and reassurance to ignore the miracles of our generation and remain in the galut, ask almost any rabbi in the galut.
Every rabbi speaks with the self-assurance and authority of one who has received a message directly from the Almighty. Each sect claims to have a monopoly on the Torah’s truth, so that one who does not subscribe to his hashkafa (outlook) risks eternal damnation. Chabad has no use for Breslav and Breslav has little respect for Lithuanians, and no one is armored with Satmar. And in every case, if your hat or shtreimel is not cut in the style of my sect, the kashrut in your home is questionable. In certain quarters, if your son serves or has served in the army, the fear that your daughters will live out their lives in spinsterhood is very real.
Should one be a learner or an earner?
Should one stand when Hatikva is played, or continue walking as an Arab, in total disregard of the words “Hatikva shnot alpayim” – our hope of 2000 years?
Should one live in the tuma of Boro Park rather than in the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael? I saw a recent photo of 13th Avenue in Boro Park, and immediately recalled a similar photo I had seen, with the caption “Warsaw 1938″.
So the question is: What can a Jew of pure heart do in order to discover the real and authentic Jewish way?
The answer I believe lies in the seemingly simple song “Ain kelo-hainu” we sing at the conclusion of our prayers: “Ain Kelo-hainu, ain kadonainu, ain kemalkainu ain kemoshi’ainu” – There is none like our Elokim, there is non like our Adon (Master), there is none like our monarch, there is none like our savior .
I will explain, but first two questions:
1) The Gemara (Pesachim 119b) relates that in the future HaShem will cater a great feast for the righteous at the end of which a cup of wine will be passed to Avraham Avienu in order to recite the birkat ha-zeemun (invitation to recite grace after the meal). Avraham will refuse on the grounds that he is not worthy because he brought the evil Yishmael into the world. The cup will be passed to Yitzchak, who too will refuse because he begot the evil Eisav.
Yaakov will receive the cup; he too will refuse because he married two sisters, which was destined to be prohibited by the Torah.
The cup will then be passed to Moshe Rabbeinu who will declare that he does not merit the honor because he did not enter Eretz Yisrael.
It will then be passed to Yehoshua, who will decline because he did not merit to have a male offspring to whom he could convey the mesora (tradition) of the Torah.
Finally, the cup will be passed to King David, who will welcome it and declare that he is worthy of the mitzvah.
Now, the question is: Why was King David deserving of this preferential status? Did he in fact possess not one fault as did each of the others, but all the faults of his predecessors! Did he not have several children he could not have been proud of like Avshalom and Amnon? King David had a problematic relationship with a wife, as did Ya’akov, and for a period in time David was forced to live in galut (like Moshe and Aharon) over which he suffered as recorded in tractate Ketubot 110b. And yet David was the preferred personage at this momentous meal to lead all the righteous of Israel in blessing Hashem.
2) In the Amidah (Shmoneh Esrai prayer) the names: Avraham, Yitchak and Ya’akov are mentioned in their status as the fathers of the nation. However, of all the other great Bible personalities only one other man is mentioned; and indeed twice – King David. What did David do to deserve the special treatment that was accorded him at the great feast and in the prayer that we recite three times daily ?
Let’s return to the “Ain Ke’lokainu” poem. It is centered around four major words: Elo-hainu (our omnipotent God), Adonainu (Our Master), Malkainu (Our monarch) and Moshi’ainu (our savior).
I submit that the author intended that each word represent a major period in history. Elo-hainu stands for the 2000 years from creation until Avraham, when idolatry replaced monotheism, as we find the name “Elo-him” used in the Torah as the characteristic of the Almighty when creating the universe.
“Adonainu” (our Master) or the non-possessive form “Adon” (Master) was first discovered by Avraham when he realized that HaShem did not create the world and then abandon His creations, but rather He is the ongoing Master of all that transpires in all the worlds.
The Adon period continued throughout the lives of the patriarchs, the period of slavery, the 400 years of tribal loyalty from the time of Yehoshua until Shmuel the Prophet.
Shmuel was sent by HaShem to anoint David son of Yishai from Bet Lechem as King of Israel. And it is the monarchy of David who created the awareness that HaShem is the direct monarch of the Jewish nation, with His capitol Yerushalayim and His sanctuary the Bet Hamikdash on the Temple Mount.
And the final period in world history as represented by the word “Moshi’ainu” our savior which is the period we are now experiencing.
Indeed, the life of David which saw the 12 tribes united as one people with a central spiritual and political capital overshadowed the accomplishments of his predecessors. King David will be the deserving personality when HaShem once again reveals Himself to His people in Eretz Yisrael.
To return to the dilemma of discerning the correct hashkafa among the potpourri of hashkafot proposed by the many contemporary spiritual leaders.
I believe that the authentic hashkafa is the one which is represented by King David. The world view that the Jewish people is not a shteible of 10 Jews in Uman, or the bet midrash of Ger or the Mir. Am Yisrael is every Jew, whether he or she is close to the Torah or far away. We are a nation of HaShem’s children, and a parent cannot divorce a child. Any group of any size which is isolationist in its essence, claiming that the Torah and Yiddishkeit is its exclusive possession, is invalidated to speak in the name of Judaism.
The State of Israel is the central authority of the land and the world acknowledged spokesman for the Jewish nation, whether some people like it or not. It is not perfect; but when one compares our society with that of the Kings of Yisrael or Yehuda of biblical times, we are far ahead in the race towards perfection. The prophets castigated the leaders of those societies on the injustices they perpetrated to their own people, whereas today the desire to do justice and charity is an integral part of the Israeli establishment and our people.
And the most compelling fact – the people here love the Medina, and most would protect her with their lives.
Part B:
King Solomon laid down the principle for educators (Mishlai 22:6):
חנך לנער על פי דרכו
Educate the young in accordance (in harmony) to his way (disposition, inclination and temperament).
A child who has aggressive tendencies or shows an aptitude for creativeness, the educator must fashion the methods and goals pursuant to the individual child’s inclination. With King Shlomo’s directive in mind, it might be correct to conclude that Aisav turned out the way he did because he received the same education as his spiritually minded brother, Ya’akov.
As it goes with individuals, so too does it go with groups of people and even with nations.
The national characteristic of a people has to channel the leadership in its ways and means.
The Jewish nation was commanded to fulfill three mitzvot upon entering Eretz Yisrael: to appoint a king, to destroy Amalek and to construct the Bet HaMikdash on the Temple Mount.
It took 400 years before Shaul was appointed as Israel’s first King, because this was the time it took to prepare the hearts of the tribal orientated nation to see the need for a central authority.
At the time of the prophet Shmuel, 400 years after entering the Land with Yehoshua Bin Nun, the tribal representative requested of him to appoint a king.
HaShem appeared to Shmuel and affirmed the national desire by directing Shmuel to annoint Shaul , the son of Kish, from the tribe of Binyamin.
Shaul failed in his mission to destroy all of Amalek, and after his death, Shmuel was commanded by HaShem to anoint David, son of Yishai, as King.
David felt the pulse of the nation and was loved and admired (Book of Shmuel 1 29,5).
In his 40 years as King, David established Yerushalayim as the eternal capital of the Jewish nation, extended Jewish control over all the area designated by the Torah as Eretz Yisrael, laid the groundwork for the Bet Hamikdash, authored Tehillim and was a rabbinic posek (halachic judge).
David achieved greatness by being a man of the people. He sensed the needs and potential of the nation and saw the entire scope of the Jewish people. He did not retreat to a semi-hermitic life and let HaShem take care of matters. David was a great Talmid Chacham, the nation’s military leader, a pious Jew and initiator of the national agenda.
One hundred years ago, our spiritual leaders did not sense the flow of history which had gripped many peoples, as nationalism and love of country became the main issues of the day. Our nation was ready to a great degree to entertain the idea of returning en mass to Eretz Yisrael, and the leadership was taken over by secular Zionism.
Today in Eretz Yisrael the pulse of the nation is in protecting and building our great country.
The chareidi rabbinic leadership must acknowledge, what the religious Zionist rabbis have acknowledged, that the Medina is here to stay. The nation has gathered around the national leadership and loves the land.
Our rabbinic leaders will succeed in drawing the people to Torah not by being aloof and distant, but by acknowledging the reality of the Medina and being the nation’s leaders in all fields.
The most respected institution in Israel is Tzahal. By boycotting Tzahal the chareidi leadership has slipped away from the national consensus and driven away many potential people from clinging to the Torah.
The logic pruned from our history is:
חנך לנער על פי דרכו
Educate the young in accordance (in harmony) to his way (disposition, inclination and temperament).
The religious segment must enter all walks of life if we seriously desire a Torah state. We must fill the army with dati and chareidi soldiers and officers, as well as the industrial and managerial sectors.
It is up to the chareidi leadership to feel the pulse of the nation, like King David in his time, and to take part in the leadership process.
Shabbat Shalom
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5773/2013 Nachman Kahana