Thursday, October 31, 2013

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Toldot 5774

Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Parashat Toldot

Part A:
Midrash Yalkut Shimoni, Yechezkel 358:
שאלו לחכמה חוטא מהו ענשו א”ל חטאים תרדף רעה, שאלו לנבואה חוטא מהו ענשו, א”ל הנפש החוטאת היא תמות, שאלו לתורה חוטא מהו ענשו א”ל יביא אשם ויתכפר לו, שאלו להקב”ה חוטא מהו ענשו א”ל יעשה תשובה ויתכפר לו
They inquired of Wisdom, how should the wicked be punished in order for them to obtain forgiveness? And Wisdom replied (Mishlay 13,27) “Evil (misery) pursues the sinner”.
They asked Prophecy, how should the wicked be punished in order for them to obtain forgiveness? And Prophecy relied, “The one who sins is the one who will die”.
They asked the Torah, how should the wicked be punished in order for them to obtain forgiveness? And the Torah replied, “Let him bring a sin sacrifice and he will be atoned”.
They asked the Holy One Blessed Be He, how should the wicked be punished in order for them to obtain forgiveness? And He replied, “Let him repent and he will be atoned”.
The Holy One Blessed Be He created Wisdom, Prophecy and the Torah, with each one representing its own approach to sin and the sinner. Wisdom (logic) demands that the sinner who violated the Creator’s will shall suffer in order to attain his atonement.Prophecy lays down death as the prior condition for his atonement. And the Torahrequires the bringing of a sacrifice or any of the other punishments present in the Torah such as a monetary fine, flogging, or exile.

But the only one who has the authority to be compassionate to the sinner is the Holy One Blessed Be He.

It must be emphasized that the sacrifices and financial fines of the Torah and the compassion of HaShem who accepts teshuva relate only to the sons and daughters of HaShem’s chosen people. Leaving the gentile nations to deal with the “Misery” dictated by “Wisdom” and “Death” demanded by Prophecy.

Part B:
How should a young man in Israel or anywhere else in the world prepare for his or her future? High marks in high school are important. Being accepted into a major university is also an important factor, and even excelling in sports could make a difference.

But for an Arab in Israel, the rules are a bit different. If you come from a poor family and thus suffer from poor health and lack of education, simply take a kitchen knife and implant it in the back of a Jew, preferably a soldier. Causing a wound might not do the job, but murder will certainly get you far.

The perpetrator will be caught, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment or to many years of incarceration. While in prison, he will receive the best health care available. If his hearing is impaired, he will receive an expensive hearing aid. If he needs glasses, he will receive them. He will enjoy five meals a day and look better than he ever did on the “outside”. He will receive free schooling leading up to a BA, MA and Doctorate. His family will be free to visit him, that is if he can pull himself away from the color TV in his comfortable cell.

And all this with the knowledge that one day he will be freed.
He would never have gotten so far in life had he not stuck the knife in the back of a Jew.

Tonight the government freed 26 hardcore Arab murderers. They are healthy, happy and ready again to plan and use their pent-up hatred on the hand that fed them.

This is not the Jewish way!

As stated above, the leniencies of the Torah and of HaShem towards the sinner relate only to Am Yisrael, while the harsh treatment meted out by Wisdom and Prophecy are for the gentile sinner.

According to the historic ways of the Torah, a terrorist would never live to see a prison and certainly not to await his release and return to the comforts of his home.

When King Shaul had pity on the Amalekite King Agag, the prophet Shmuel killed Agag and informed Shaul that HaShem regretted having appointed him as King of Israel. HaShem then sent Shmuel to anoint David son of Yishai as the next monarch.

This is the same Shmuel the Prophet who judges Am Yisrael with compassion and piety.

The Book of Shmuel 2 chapter 8,2 relates that when the King of Moav killed David’s father and family, the Jewish King reacted:
ויך את מואב וימדדם בחבל השכב אותם ארצה וימדד שני חבלים להמית ומלא החבל להחיות ותהי מואב לדוד לעבדים נשאי מנחה:
David defeated the Moabites. He made them (all the males) lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subjugated to David and brought him tribute.
This is the same King David who authored the sacred Book of Tehillim and whose performance in bringing mishpat u’tzedaka (justice and charity) to Am Yisrael was more favorable in HaShem’s eyes than even the Bet HaMikdash (Talmud Yerushalmi, Shekalim end of chap. two).

The proper way to deal with terrorists is to: (1) negate any claim that they have human rights, (2) kill them on the spot, (3) expel their families – immediate and extended – from the land, and give all the family assets to the Jewish victims and (4) seize any Arab village or town whose citizens perpetrate a second terrorist attack, permitting only Jews to resettle it.

Part C:
Our government did not want to free Arab murderers. However, the United States administration and the European Union forced it upon us with implied or implicit threats of economic and political boycotts. The United States kills thousands of innocent civilians by use of their unmanned drones; but if an Israeli soldier pushes or insults an Arab, then the Security Council rushes into session. This is antisemitism and the world’s attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel and still maintain its hypocritical posture of civility and defense of human rights.

The situation can be prevented through the lessons learned from the following Yiddish story.
A melamed (teacher of young children) wished to change his profession by becoming a wagon driver. However, the wagon drivers’ guild objected and took the matter to the rabbi. 
The guild claimed that they were wagon drivers and sons of wagon drivers for generations. As experts in the field, they feared that their reputation would be soiled if this new inexperienced driver were allowed to join them. 
The rabbi then directed the guild to test the new man’s ability to be a wagon driver. 
The head of the guild asked the man what he would do if the wagon got stuck in 10 centimeters of mud? The man replied that he would place a board or stone under the wheel to get out of the mud. 
The next question related to mud of 20 centimeters and then to 30, and the new driver gave satisfactory answers to each situation. 
The head of the guild asked him a final question. What would he do if the wagon got stuck in a full meter of mud? The man thought for a long while and then admitted that he had no operative plan to solve this problem. 
At this point, the guild’s head turned to the rabbi and said, “You see rabbi, I told you that he was not competent to be a driver”. 
When the rabbi asked the guild’s head what he would do under those impossible circumstances, he replied: “A seasoned wagon driver would never get into such a situation”.
Part D:
When dealing with Aisav and Yishmael who became Aisav’s father-in-law in this week’s parasha, today’s Ya’akov (Medinat Yisrael) has to be wise and cautious never to be entrapped by the evils of our enemies and the stupidity of our friends.

Shabbat Shalom!
Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5774/2013 Nachman Kahana

'Aftermath' Dares to Unearth Terrible Secrets of Poland's Lost Jews

(ED. Note: From The Hollywood Reporter)

Aftermath Film Still High - H 2013
Maciej Stuhr, left, and Ireneusz Czop in 'Aftermath'

The most controversial film in the country's history lands stateside on Nov. 1.

On July 10, 1941, half the residents of Jedwabne, a Polish village 85 miles northeast of Warsaw, murdered the other half. The mob, led by the mayor, were Catholics; their 1,600 victims were Jewish, slaughtered over several nightmarish hours with bats, knives, rifles and other improvised weapons. Those who survived the massacre were then rounded up in a barn donated by a local farmer, which was then set ablaze. A plaque erected at the site blamed Nazis for the massacre, but, in fact, Nazis had only authorized it. Locals walked by the plaque for half a century, knowing the truth, but saying nothing.

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Jedwabne's terrible secrets were at last laid bare in Neighbors, an explosive account of the massacre by Princeton University historian Jan T. Gross. That 2001 book shattered carefully held myths, promulgated by Communist leaders, that Poles were only victims of World War II, not perpetrators. (Poles -- who unlike many European countries never officially collaborated with the Nazis -- lost close to 6 million citizens to the Nazis, or about 17 percent of the population. Just over half of those were Jewish.) Now, 12 years later, comes Aftermath -- premiering stateside Nov. 1.

It's a film inspired by Jedwabne that has forced the country to once again face certain unthinkable aspects of its past. Since its October 2012 premiere at the Warsaw Film Festival, the movie has been a lightning rod. Major news outlets have dismissed it as anti-Polish propaganda, its non-Jewish star Maciej Stuhr has been the target of vicious anti-Semitic attacks, and its producer says he has been blacklisted by the country's national film council.
That producer, Dariusz Jablonski, was first approached with the script in 2004 by Wladyslaw Pasikowski, an established director of action movies. Pasikowski's script takes place entirely in present-day Poland, and follows two brothers as they uncover what befell the Jews living in their small town, where anti-Jewish attitudes persist. Pasikowski, who is not Jewish, wrote the script after reading Neighbors, which left him feeling helpless, angry and like an unwitting accomplice to an institutionalized cover-up.

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"But a book is nothing compared to the power of a feature film," says Jablonski, who was instantly gripped by the power and efficiency of Pasikowski's storytelling. His first step was to bring the project to the Polish Film Institute, an office founded in 2005 and dedicated to nurturing films that celebrate Polish culture. The fund found the taboo project "anti-Polish," Jablonski says, not because the claims made in it were deemed untrue, but because it chose to overlook acts of Polish heroism and compassion shown toward Jews during the war. In other words, Aftermath was not a Polish Schindler's List. Jablonski adds that PFI also objected to the image of the present-day village, inhabited by anti-Jewish thugs and locals who conspired to keep the truth literally buried. "They said this wasn't the truth about Poland, but unfortunately, I didn't agree," Jablonski says. "I know these kind of villages; I know these kind of people."

(Jerzy Bart, the institute's deputy director for economic, organizational and legal issues, remembers it differently. Bart says PFI found the topic of the film "very important," and points to Pawel Pawlikowski's Ida, which this year has won awards at film festivals in Toronto, Warsaw and London, as another example of a difficult film about Poland during the Holocaust that was funded by the institute.)

Undaunted, the team spent the next seven years getting the script in the hands of anyone -- politicians, actors, producers, investors -- who might help them get it made. While opposition among nationalists mounted, the project found vocal support, too, most visibly within the centrist press. The groundswell eventually led the Polish Film Institute to reverse its decision. Jablonski then scoured Europe, securing backers in Russia, Slovakia and the Netherlands, each of whom contributed 10 percent of production costs. With the full budget finally in place, the call went out to an A-list production team of Polish nationals who had expressed interest over the years -- including production designer Allan Starski, an Oscar winner for Schindler's List, and cinematographer Pawel Edelman, who shot The Ghostwriter and The Pianist for Roman Polanski

STORY: Inside Roman Polanski's Controversial Visit to Polish Film Festival  

Stuhr, the son of famed Polish actor Jerzy Stuhr, was best-known for his comedic work prior to Aftermath. He'd been a fan of the project since first reading the script in 2004, and when filming began seven years later, he was the perfect age to play younger brother Jozef, who sets the plot in motion by retrieving Jewish gravestones used by villagers as paving stones and erecting a makeshift cemetery on his father's land. 
While he never seriously feared for his safety, Stuhr says the nationwide controversy that swirled around the film's premiere was a trying time for him. "They were calling for me to get a one-way ticket out of Poland immediately," Stuhr recalls. "The right-wing journalists were ruthless about me." Jablonski read the climate as far more threatening: "I realized then that he was in physical danger. So many web pages with our pictures, saying, 'These people need to be hanged.' " He says he was particularly disturbed by an issue of Wprost, a mainstream news magazine, which provocatively splayed Stuhr's photo on its cover along with anti-Semitic graffiti and the headline, "Lynched at his own request."  Inside, an editorial [8]entitled, "Stuhr, You Jew!" detailed the wave of racist backlash that the actor had faced. While it didn't endorse the anti-Semitic sentiments, the piece ultimately sided against the star: "He has become a symbol of simplicity and manipulating history for commercial gain," wrote its author, Magdalena Rigamonti.
"What was written inside the magazine was worse [than the cover], a load of lies," Stuhr says. "The reviewer wrote that it was the end of my career." Stuhr, whose work in Aftermath earned him the Polish Film Award for best actor, says Rigamonti's prediction hasn't yet come to pass: "I'm still very busy with work. The Polish film community has given me a lot of support, and I think I've scored plenty of points here."

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Jablonski, on the other hand, says he still feels the effects of the backlash, particularly from the Polish Film Institute, which he says is seeking a full repayment of their funds. PFI counters that Jablonski violated the terms of their agreement by attaching foreign producers without their approval, and has prohibited him from applying for further funding for the next three years. Both parties are in the process of settling their differences in court.

"The producer...broke the terms of the agreement for co-financing the production of the film...and has failed to account for the public funds received from the Polish Film Institute," Bart says. "This left the Polish Film Institute no choice but to withdraw from the agreement with Apple Film Production Ltd. and to submit the case to court." 
Presented by Menemsha Films, Aftermath premieres in New York on Nov. 1, and in Los Angeles on Nov. 15.

In Memory of Lou Reed

(Ed. note: from the National Review Online. Tom Gross' superb farewell to Lou Reed. Reed's album, "New York" was written at the height (or depth) of the Dinkins administration chaotic rule of City Hall and perfectly captures the goings-on in New York at that time before the Guiliani era restored order.)

Lou Reed’s Stand for Israel and against Anti-Semitism
By Tom Gross

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cowboy Logic—and Israel’s Leadership

By Tuvia Brodie

I have a friend. He’s a new Oleh. He’s from America. He was born and raised in Wyoming.
If you're Jewish and never heard of Wyoming, that’s okay. Most Israelis haven’t heard of it, either.  
Wyoming is in America’s far West. Jews don’t go there. For example, New York City has more than 1.7 million Jews. Wyoming has 1,150. Only South Dakota (345) and North Dakota (400) have fewer Jews.
Wyoming is practically empty. Look at the numbers. As of 2012, Wyoming has a total population of about 576,000. Those people are spread out over 97,814 square miles.  That creates a population density of less than 6 people per square mile.
By contrast, New York City has more than 8,300,000 people living within app 302 square miles. The population density of New York City is 27,550 people per square mile.
Compared to New York City, Wyoming is empty. In fact, compared to all the other states, Wyoming is empty—it’s population ranks 50th of 50. You could walk for days in Wyoming and not see another human being.
To a man born and raised in Wyoming, that emptiness means something. It means self-reliance. It means that when you go out on the range, you are alone. There are no cabbies or cops driving by every ten minutes. There are no bus stops every few blocks or subway entrances every 2,000 feet. If you are in Wyoming and you get into trouble, emergency response time won’t be 3 or 4 minutes (the average for New York City). Wyoming is empty.
My friend’s grandpa was a cowboy. He spent entire days riding his horse alone on the range. One day, when my friend was a child, he noticed his grandpa carried two guns, one in a holster on his hip, the other tucked into a sleeve attached to his horse’s saddle. He said, ‘Grandpa, why do you carry two guns?’
Grandpa replied, ‘The rifle in my saddle is a Winchester. It’s for four-legged animals. The pistol is a Colt .45. That’s for two-legged animals.’
Grandpa understood how to survive. He understood cowboy logic.
Cowboy logic is simple. You acknowledge the reality in front you. You don’t ignore it. You don’t play, ‘let’s make believe.’ You don’t play, ‘if only’. You make decisions based on what’s real, not desired.
Reality is not a game. Reality on the range does not reward stupid decisions.   
Cowboy logic means that if you have a dispute with someone, and that person is reasonable, you talk. But if that person is not reasonable—if, for example, he gets in your face and shouts he will kill you—then you defend yourself: that’s what guns are for.
In a way, cowboy logic is like the Jewish religion. It places a high value on correctly assessing reality.
In Israel today, Jewish leadership does not place high value on reality. For example, some suggest that we are in Israel today only because of European guilt over the Holocaust. That’s untrue.
Others say we are here only because the United Nations voted to create us. But that’s only superficially true. We are here today because of the Torah.
That’s our reality. For almost 2,000 years, our Torah and Torah-inspired prayers have reminded us that we are Destined to return to Israel.   
Without our Torah and without those prayers, we wouldn’t have been interested in lobbying for the Balfour agreement. We wouldn’t have worked for a reconstituted national Jewish homeland in Palestine.
For almost 2,000 years, we prayed for this return. Now, it’s our reality.
Current Jewish leadership, however, will not accept our heritage as our reality. They prefer Man-made politics; that’s why they release convicted terrorists as a ‘peace gesture.’  
How realistic is that? How will putting unrepentant killers back on the street advance peace?  
Our leaders won’t say. Instead, they talk of democracy. They reject their G-d. They prefer ‘the majority rules’.
 In the Middle East, the Arab is the majority. Therefore, if the Arab doesn’t want us, we don’t belong here.
That’s how our leaders appear to think.
But our reality is not written by the Arab--or by anyone else. We did not survive nearly 2,000 years of exile because we surrendered to our enemies—or rejected our Torah. We survived because we believed in the Torah and its promise of return. That promise is now reality.
Cowboy logic says, you don’t survive if you ignore reality. Our leaders ignore reality.
Cowboy logic says, you survive by defending what’s yours.  Our leaders do not defend what is ours.  
Cowboy logic says, two-legged animals can be dangerous. Our leaders say, the only dangerous two-legged animals are Jews in Judea-Samaria.  
Our leaders don’t like cowboys. Cowboys are too realistic. Cowboys defend themselves.  
Our leaders should visit Wyoming. They might learn something about surviving reality.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Chayei Sarah 5774

Parashat Chayai Sarah 5774

Rabbi Nachman Kahana

Parashat Chayai Sarah 5774

Part A:
The major theme of my 3-volume book “With All Your Might” is the centrality of Eretz Yisrael in every parasha of the Torah. The Torah was given to the Jewish people to be kept in an intimate one-to-one relationship with HaShem within a national framework headed by a king, kohen gadol, Sanhedrin and prophets – all within the confines of the borders of Hashem’s holy land.

There is a pasuk (verse) in our parasha which proclaims the eternal connection we have with Eretz Yisrael. When Eliezer asks Avraham regarding what he should do if no young woman from Avraham’s family agrees to come to Eretz Yisrael, Avraham answers emphatically (24,6):
ויאמר אליו אברהם השמר לך פן תשיב את בני שמה :
And Avraham said to him, “Be aware never to return my son there!”
Part B:
Several months ago, four men from the city of Atlit entered my bet knesset and began talking about the sanctity of Medinat Yisrael and Yerushalayim. They dressed and spoke like the average Israeli and were enthusiastic about their visit to the Old City and the fact that they were part of the kedusha of the Holy City, sitting no more than 100 meters from the place where the Bet Hamikdash once stood and will again stand.

For some unexplainable reason, I told them the following:
Eretz Yisrael has four recorded names in our sources:
1- Eretz Yisrael
2- Eretz Tzvi (beautiful)
3- Eretz Chemda (desired)
4- Eretz HaKodesh
The first letter of the four Hebrew names ישראל, צ בי, ח מדה, ק ודש
spells out the word יצחק

And Yitzchak never left Eretz Yisrael.

They got up, said goodbye and left the bet knesset. A moment later, one of the men returned and said: “I am discussing marriage with a Jewish woman who lives in New York, but her condition is we live in the United States. Because of what you told us today, I have decided to leave her but never to leave Eretz Yisrael – and my name is Yitzchak!”

Part C:
To understand what happened that instantaneously changed this man’s future, we must go to our parasha.

Lavan and his mother did not want the young and beautiful Rivka to leave because of family reasons and because they, being loyal idol worshipers, did not want her to become part of the new, revolutionary monotheistic movement headed by their relative Avraham. When Eliezer requested to take Rivka back to Eretz Yisrael, Lavan and the mother replied (24,57-58):
ויקראו לרבקה ויאמרו אליה התלכי עם האיש הזה ותאמר אלך:
Then they (Lavan and his mother) said, “We will call the young girl and ask her. So they called Rivka and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” And she replied, “I will go”.
They were totally confident that, based on the family’s beliefs and the education Rivka had received, she would never agree to travel 1000 kilometers with these strange people, to marry a man she never met before and to accept a life that was so foreign to her upbringing.

However, something happened within Rivka to awaken her soul. It broke out from the bubble of idolatry and sin which enveloped her family and her society, and an inner compulsion drove her to become a part of the God of Israel. Lavan and his mother were shocked by Rivka’s response, and they were incapable of understanding what was happening in this young girl’s soul.

The young man, Yitzchak with whom I spoke, was enveloped in his bubble of yetzer hara even considering leaving the holy land where he was born; but when he heard the message that his namesake, our father Yitzchak, had never left the holy land, it reverberated loud and clear in his holy neshama and he saw the truth of his life.

Part D:
Even if science were to solve all the mysteries of our universe, the Jewish soul would forever remain hidden and mysterious.
Why are some Jews impervious to any spiritual ideas, even willingly relinquishing and renouncing their 3500-year old Jewish tradition for a ham sandwich or a gentile wife or husband, while other Jews who were brought up far from Torah are attracted to HaShem’s revelations at Sinai.

Why do some religious Jews cling to the galut, totally detached from the destiny of their brothers and sisters struggling to revive Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael? The best Jews in the galut might visit Israel once every few years and even write a “conscience” check to some organization here. And then there are the worst of our brothers helping our enemies to destroy the Jewish homeland.

A recent survey of American Jewry reports that the intermarriage rate for non-Orthodox Jews is 71%, with two-thirds not belonging to a synagogue, one-fourth not believing in God and one-third erecting a Christmas tree in their home last year.

Nonetheless, there are holy Jewish souls in the galut who feel an inner compulsion to stake their future with the Jewish State, and like our mother Rivka uproot themselves and come home.

The call to Avraham of “lech lecha” – to leave his foreign home and come to Eretz Yisrael – is an ongoing cry, but only the souls of the very fortunate hear it.

It’s not the economy, as some people think, it’s the neshama.
What will awaken the Jews in the galut? Nothing short of a pending calamity or the realization that what they have been taught is a lie.

The galut is death for the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael is life!

Shabbat Shalom
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5774/2013 Nachman Kahana

In the Footsteps of Maimonides

By Shmuel Sackett
 This article appears in the Oct. 14, '13 edition the Queens Jewish Link.

Exactly 849 years ago, the Rambam (Maimonides) wrote a very important letter. That letter describes how he risked his life to come on a visit to Israel. It was during the time of the Crusades and life in Israel – for Jews – was indeed one of great danger. He arrived in Israel, in the port city of Akko on the 3rd of Sivan 4925 and was so excited that he arrived safely, after surviving many life-threatening storms at sea, that he wrote the following:

"On the third day of the month of Sivan, I left the ship in peace at the port of Akko, having been delivered from destruction and arrived in the land of Israel. I made a vow that this would henceforth be a day of joy and happiness, in which I would enjoy a festive meal and give charitable gifts to the poor, as would my household, until the end of time." 

The Rambam continues his letter by telling us what he did a few months later in the month of MarCheshvan. "On the fourth day of the month of MarCheshvan, in the year 4926 from the time of creation, I left Akko and set out for Jerusalem, encountering many dangers along the way. I entered the Great and Holy House (the area of the Bet Ha'Mikdash – the Temple Mount) and prayed there on the sixth of the month of MarCheshvan. On the ninth of the month, I left Jerusalem and set out for Hebron, to visit the graves of our Forefathers in the Cave of Machpelah. On that day I stood and prayed at the cave – may G-d be praised for everything! These two days, the sixth and ninth of MarCheshvan, I vowed will be for me like festival days, filled with prayer and happiness, food and drink… Just as I merited being able to pray in its (the Holy Temple's) ruins, may I soon see its comfort (rebuilding) speedily – amen!" 

In case you didn't grasp the magnitude of what the Rambam wrote, allow me to summarize one part of that letter: On the 6th of MarCheshvan 4926 the Rambam prayed on the Temple Mount. The language he used in his letter was "The Great and Holy House" which is the exact same wording we say every time in the Grace after Meals: "Have mercy, Hashem our G-d, on Israel Your people; on Jerusalem, Your city; on Zion, the resting place of Your Glory; on the monarchy of the house of David, Your anointed; and on the Great and Holy House upon which your Name is called…"

In celebration of that historic event, my wife and I made all the preparations necessary according to Jewish law and we walked in the footsteps of the great Rambam. What an honor to be able to do such a wonderful thing! We ascended the Temple Mount, under the Jewish law guidelines of the scholarly Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, known and the #1 worldwide expert on the Holy Temple, the Temple Mount and everything connected to that awesome experience. 

Rabbi Ariel is the founder of The Temple Institute (Machon Ha'Mikdash). In today's Jewish bookstores there are many books about the Holy Temple, many beautiful posters (you probably even had some hanging in your Sukkah) and even children's games and puzzles dealing with the Temple. All of these items – every single one of them – are the fruits of the labor of Rabbi Ariel. He was the initiator and the catalyst in reviving the Temple and bringing it back into Jewish consciousness. I remember when you could barely find a Jewish book dealing with the Bet Ha'Mikdash. At most, there were some books dealing with the Tabernacle, but the Holy Temple??? – Nothing could be found.

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel changed all that. He opened the Temple Institute and started building actual vessels for the 3rd Temple. Today, they have over 60 vessels ready for use. Let me repeat that in different words: Instead of just waiting or singing "Next Year in Jerusalem", a group of people led by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel have decided to do something about it. They opened a seminary of major Torah scholars who sit and learn all day about the Holy Temple. These scholars are dedicated to understanding the deep concepts of the Temple and they are applying them to our modern day. They have built vessels that are 100% kosher for use in the Temple including the Menorah, the Table and the Gold incense altar. After 11 years of exhaustive research they have designed and manufactured clothing for the Kohanim (priests) and the Kohel Gadol (High Priest) – complete with his breastplate and actual precious gems! They have made the "kiyor" (special sink for Kohanim to wash their hands and feet) plus the trumpets, measuring vessels, spoons and unique pitcher for the water libation. In addition to all these amazing vessels, they have published Mishnahs with accurate drawings and diagrams of the Mikdash, Haggadahs, Machzors (which focus on the holidays during the Temple period), detailed books with amazing commentaries, and a large collection of pictures and children's books, puzzles and games. 

Thanks to their lead, others have jumped into the game and have written similar books, including ArtScroll which just came out with a beautiful book on the Holy Temple. You will also find DVD's, informative websites and even a "virtual tour" online of our holiest site. As stated above, this is all thanks to the leadership and vision of Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, may he be blessed with long life.

On that great "Rambam Day" – the 6th of MarCheshvan – Rabbi Ariel went up to the Temple Mount and led a large group who were also following in the footsteps of the Rambam. It was a wonderful day and I thank G-d for the privilege to be able to enter His special place and walk in the permitted areas. May we soon see the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in all its glory and splendor! 

Do Not Take My Son There


A Torah Thought for 
Parashat Chayei Sarah
  By Rav Mordechai Rabinovitch

The Gemara (Yoma 28b) teaches that Avraham Avinu kept the entire Torah. Now, according to the Torah, a person is permitted to leave the Land of Israel in order to marry (Rambam, Hil. Melachim 6:9). Why then does Avraham refuse so adamantly to allow Eliezer to take Yitzchak abroad in order to marry (Bereishit 24:6-8)? After all, according to the halachah this should have been allowed?

However, if one considers the circumstances under which Avraham was acting, this might be understandable. The Torah (Bereishit 24:1) prefaces the entire episode with the words: And Avraham was old, well into [his] days. Ramban explains this to mean that Avraham, was feeling very old and sensed that his days might be numbered.

Let us imagine then what might have happened were Yitzchak to have gone off to Nachor together with Eliezer. In their absence, Avraham might have passed away, and not a single person to whom the Land of Israel was promised would reside inside the Land! Surely the ruling that a person may leave Israel in order to marry was not intended to undermine the entire existence of the Jewish community in Israel (see Horayot 3a; Sefer HaMitzvot ). Accordingly, in order to prevent such a scenario, Avraham steadfastly refused to allow Yitzchak to leave.

Moreover, had Yitzchak gone to Rivkah's hometown, even if he had eventually returned with her to the Land of Israel, her coming would be out of loyalty to her husband – not from a personal commitment to the Land of Israel and to the Abrahamic faith. But by insisting that she choose to travel to the unknown, Avraham's policy insured that Rivkah's decision would constitute a declaration of allegiance, similar to Avraham's own blind journey in obedience to the word of Hashem.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Moshe Feiglin: In Knesset Winter Session, I Will Advance Identity, Liberty, Meaning

19 Cheshvan, 5774Oct. 23, ‘13

Today the winter session of the Knesset begins. For the first week, I will be focusing on getting the medical marijuana law that I initiated passed. On Sunday, the legislation will be deliberated upon in the Ministerial Legislation Committee. The law says that when a doctor determines that his patient needs cannabis, the State must authorize the patient to use it. It's so simple that it is hard to believe that we need a law like that. Why, for example, can't hundreds of people suffering indescribable torture from shell shock get cannabis, which has been proven to significantly reduce their symptoms?
In addition, I plan to continue to advance all the issues that fall under the categories of identity, liberty and meaning that I began working on in the previous Knesset session.

Identity: Family, community, Land of Israel (and more)
Liberty: Free market, education of choice, volunteer army, human rights and more
Meaning: Jewish identity and the Temple Mount

I look forward to serving the Nation of Israel to the best of my ability!

Moshe Feiglin to Knesset: Support my Medical Cannabis Legislation


Last week, I took advantage of the "speak for one minute" option in the Knesset, dedicating my words to veterans of the Yom Kippur War (1973) suffering from Combat Stress Reaction, who were demonstrating outside the Knesset (pictured).
"Today we mark 40 years since the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War," I said. "Outside the Knesset, veterans of that war who suffer from Combat Stress Reaction are demonstrating. They do not receive the treatment that they need, suffering indescribable agony because the State of Israel makes it nearly impossible for them to be treated with medical cannabis. This is just one example of a plethora of cases of people suffering from a broad range of severe illnesses and pain, who are not able to take advantage of this natural plant to receive the simple treatment that they need. On Sunday, the Ministerial Legislative Committee will deliberate on my proposed law that simply says that when a doctor prescribes cannabis for a patient, the State should allow him to access the medicine that he needs. I call upon the ministers and MKs to support this proposal and to bring relief to the suffering of tens of thousands of Israelis."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Israel and The World Bank, Part II: How the World Bank uses Counterfactual Fantasy to attack Israel

By Tuvia Brodie

The World Bank’s Report, “West Bank Gaza Area C and the future of the Palestinian economy,” number AUS2922, October 2, 2013) accuses Israel of harming the Palestinian (PA) economy. It provoked world headlines to shout, ‘World Bank slams Israel.’
This Report makes a clear case: Israeli restrictions on travel, access and water in a place called Area C of the West Bank—Judea-Samaria—strangles PA efforts to survive. Those restrictions must be lifted.
There is no realistic basis for these assertions. The World Bank even acknowledges this—in the Report’s ‘Annex I: Methodological Notes’.
 This Annex reveals that the study—and its conclusions--are based on assumptions, not facts. For example, the study assumes that land in Area C could be cultivated (‘cultivable’). It assumes that more than half of the cultivable land in Area C is irrigable. It assumes that all irrigable land will generate income. It assumes that the total annual market value of agriculture produced from this land will be USD 1.209 billion dollars.
It assumes that whatever income Israeli and Jordanian businesses generate after decades of trial and error in Area C, PA Arabs would also generate. It assumes PA businessmen and farmers are competent enough to keep their enterprises alive. It assumes that a rare pricing calculation from Egypt can be applied to Area C.  It assumes that PA Arabs doing telecommunication maintenance-and-repair (for new cellular networks) in Area C would do that work cheaper and faster than Israeli companies. It assumes that potential tourist demand (for a new tourism industry) in a PA Area C corresponds to current tourist activity on the Israeli side.
It therefore assumes that, without those so-called Israeli restrictions, all new businesses in Area C would generate for the PA a total of USD 3.4 billion dollars a year. But the study also assumes that PA corruption and theft are irrelevant. That’s a factual mistake because a 2013 European study suggests that billions of recent donor aid to the PA has disappeared—and another 2013 report by the British shows 66 per cent of PA residents calling corruption in the PA a key concern.
Financial loss due to PA corruption is important here because, despite the Report’s unconditional optimism, the Annex’ reveals that some of the Report’s estimates could be reduced by almost half if assumptions aren’t borne out. Corruption could enhance this shortfall. Curiously, these very real—and troubling—facts (corruption and shortfall) failed to appear in the Press Release that accompanied the Report.
Newspapers repeated the World Bank’s anti-Israel assertions as unconditional fact. But again, the World Bank wasn’t using fact. It was using ‘imagination’.
Let’s be clear: facts—many of which were about Israeli (not Arab) businesses--were used to create assumptions. Then, those assumptions were used to ‘imagine’ a new future for the PA.
In order to do this study, the World Bank states that it had too few facts to build with. So it created a ‘counterfactual world’ (p 36).
Do you understand the term, ‘counterfactual world’? The literal meaning of the term is, ‘going against fact’. It means creating a world that avoids fact. It is a world of pure speculation.
It is, in other words, a world of fantasy. ‘Counterfactual’ means, put facts aside. Just use your imagination to think, ‘what if…’
In this Report, the counterfactual world imagined for the PA is ideal. Everything succeeds. Everyone is competent. Everyone is honest. Everything works as imagined.
But in its Press Release, the World Bank did not reveal that this report is only an ‘imagining’ exercise. It presented the report and its conclusion as ‘fact’: without Israeli restrictions, Area C would—without qualification or condition--generate annually USD 3.4 billion for the PA.
Everyone who read this statement came to the same conclusion. Israeli oppression harms the PA.
The World Bank did not disclose that counterfactual analysis has a soft underbelly  (which applies to the Arab-Israel conflict): the more complex, unpredictable or conflicted a situation, the more unreliable the results could be.
Moreover, the Annex (the ‘small print’ in the back) reveals that the World Bank’s harsh judgment of Israel comes with a 27-47 per cent margin of error  for the two industries (agriculture and mining) that represent half of that projected USD3.4 billion. That means that the Report’s annual income estimate for these center-piece sectors could be 27-47 per cent lower than stated.
A businessman knows that a persistent fifteen per cent shortfall can put him out of business. A 27-47 per cent annual shortfall isn’t just a statistical anomaly to be referenced in passing and then ignored. A potential annual shortfall that large is the kind of fact that could convince astute Arabs and investors to ignore Area C altogether. It is a margin of error so great that it suggests the World Bank’s fantasy here is as realistic as a plan to build castles in the air or of a peaceful nuclear Iran.
In the fantasy world of counterfactual imagining, anything is possible--because facts aren’t necessary. For this Report, the World Bank fantasizes that the PA is competent and Israel is oppressive. Detective Joe Friday ("Just the facts, Ma'am. Just the facts") would definitely not feel at home.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Moshe Feiglin: The Entire Land of Israel is Ours

        Moshe Feiglin's message to the Americans For a Safe Israel Conference

Israel and The World Bank, Part I: The World Bank blames Israel?

By Tuvia Brodie

The World Bank’s latest Report on the Palestinian Authority (PA) is entitled, ‘West Bank and Gaza Area C and the Future of the Palestinian economy’, (report AUS2922, October 2, 2013). With this Report, the World Bank ignores the central issues that threaten to torpedo the PA’s economic viability. Instead, it chooses to become a participant in the war against Israel.
David Singer writes that this Report reveals how PLO decision-making has been disastrous for the PA (“Op-ed: World Bank exposes PLO’s disastrous miscalculations,” Arutz Sheva, October 15, 2013). But while Mr Singer is absolutely correct in his analysis, we must not forget that the focus—and the conclusion—of this Report is to blame Israel for that disaster.
The Report discusses economic problems and opportunities for a place called Area C of the West Bank, which makes up 61 per cent of West Bank geography—the area we call Judea-Samaria.  Area C is known for three reasons: (1) It fell into Israel’s hands in the defensive 1967 six-day war—after Jordan attacked Israel; (2) in response to Arab attacks against Jews, Israel’s military maintains restrictions on Arabs in Area C; and (3) Arabs claim Area C belongs to them.
The Report blames Israel for the PA’s economic woes. It asserts that Area C is the key to saving PA’s economy. As if to validate this assertion, the Report presents an assumption: if Israeli restrictions there were lifted, economic activity in Area C would add 35 per cent to PA GDP. A World Bank press release suggests that lifting Israeli restrictions in Area C determines if the PA can survive.  
The World Bank sees agriculture in Area C taking stage-center for PA economic prosperity. But when highlighting this center-piece, the Report veers from objectivity to propaganda. It ignores Arab behaviour. It blames Israel for Area C’s farm-productivity and water problems.
In the Middle East, water is a life-or-death issue. Israel has developed solutions to its water problems. The PA has not. In fact, in areas controlled by the PA, reports circulate that up to half of all water used in the PA is classified as UFW—unaccounted-for water. That means that up to half the water ‘disappears’.
Israel is not responsible for this ‘disappearance’ because the problem is associated with Arabs, primarily inside PA-controlled land. Nevertheless, the World Bank ignores UFW. It blames Israel for Area C water shortage.
That’s absurd. In the Arab world, stealing water is epidemic. Thomas Friedman has exposed this. While he writes of Syria and Yemen (and not Area C), he demonstrates that the reason for serious Middle East water problems is not Israel, but incompetent and corrupt officials who, while tasked with preventing illegal wells from being dug, are themselves digging wells in their own back yards. 
Illegal wells plague the PA (and Gaza). It’s called Palestinian water piracy. Bedouins also steal water. This is affects water availability for commerce, agriculture and residents.  The World Bank Report does not highlight the role water piracy plays in Arab economic and agriculture problems in Area C. It simply blames Israel.
The World Bank wants us to believe that the only thing that keeps the PA from economic success is Israeli restriction. This is patently absurd. The PA has never done anything successful with its economy.  
What the PA does do successfully, however, is corruption. A recent European Union report suggests that much of 1.95 billion Euros transferred to the PA between 2008 and 2013 has been misappropriated. Monies desperately needed to keep the PA’s sinking economy afloat have either disappeared or been misused.  
Apparently, the Bank does not believe that massive Arab corruption (and the incompetence that corruption breeds) hurts the PA’s economy.  It prefers to blame Israel.
To bolster its case that Arab agriculture in Area C can be successful, the Report highlights Israeli agriculture successes. But it is fantasy—not economics--to assume that if Jews farm successfully on a large scale, so will Arabs.
There is already Arab agriculture in Area C. But between 1995-2011, Arab farm productivity in Area C plummeted. The fundamental problem causing that drop is not Israel. It’s Arab corruption, stolen water and a history of not addressing difficult problems with resources already available. 
If the World Bank wants to foster Arab prosperity, it cannot ignore Arab actions that hurt the PA’s economic potential. It cannot make unrealistic assumptions about Authority competence. It certainly cannot ignore cultural and communal problems that hold back Arab self-development: corruption, a pathological hatred of Jews that fosters violence instead of cooperation and a beggar mentality that promotes a sense of entitlement instead of ‘let’s work’.
For example, just weeks before the Report, Arabs forced an Israeli company to cancel a proposed economic opportunity—and jobs--for Arabs in Ramallah. Forget a 22 per cent PA unemployment rate: there will be no ‘normalization‘ with Israel!
This Report ignores Arab responsibility for his own problems. Instead, it claims states that, ”The key to Palestinian prosperity continues to lie in the removal of” Israeli restrictions in Area C [emphasis mine].
In the face of Arab corruption, Jew-hate, incompetence and piracy, the World Bank blames Israel for PA troubles? That's almost as credible as The White House blaming the massive rollout failure of ObamaCare on the Republicans and George Bush.