Tuesday, June 30, 2015

25 Years and Still Smiling

By Shmuel Sackett

This week I celebrated my 25th Aliyah anniversary... and I am still smiling!

I still break my teeth speaking Hebrew, have problems reading the Yediot Aharonot  newspaper (not such a loss) and can't figure out why I work on Sunday but - I am still  smiling! 

I pay close to $8.00 a gallon for gas (so stop complaining about gas prices in the USA),  check every Pesach product 12 times for Kitniyot and get headlights flashed at me from  the car behind me even though I am driving 20 miles over the speed limit (how fast is HE  going???) but - I am still smiling! 

I go to miluim (army reserves) every year even though they don't let me shoot anybody,  pay a ridiculous TV tax even though I don't have a TV and eat about 15 sufganiyot on  Chanukah even though 14 of them never have jelly but - I am still smiling!

Since I am one of those "crazy" people who had the nerve of opposing the Oslo "Peace  Process" (how dare did I do such a thing???) I had the honor of being beaten by Israeli  riot policemen, been arrested 10 times, convicted of sedition, sentenced to 12 months  in prison and fired from my job by Shulamit Aloni (remember her?) yet, through all of  it... I am still smiling!

Of course I do not smile when I think of this week's renewed rocket attacks in southern  Israel. I also do not smile when I remember my dear friends Binyamin and Talia Kahane  with whom I ate lunch four days before their tragic murder by terrorists who received  guns from Shimon Peres. I do not smile when I think of my close friend Hillel Lieberman  who I used to daven with in Kever Yosef and talk with at length about the holy city of  Shechem. Furthermore, I do not smile at the fact that at Hillel's funeral, I was shot at by  Arabs. Only a miracle guided those bullets away from my car. And finally, I do not smile  at the saddest day of my entire Aliyah - just 4 months after I arrived here - when I  joined 150,000 Jews in burying my holy and amazing Rebbe; HaRav Meir Kahane ztz"l.  On that sad day I waited in line to say some Tefillot by his newly dug grave and vowed to  do whatever I could to bring his dream of Israel as a strong and proud Jewish State to  fruition. Baruch Hashem, I have kept that neder as I work, night and day, to bring new  leadership to this country that follows his vision.

And so, even though not all of the 9,000+ days have been rosy, I am still smiling because I know that in the end we will emerge victorious. Good will defeat evil and  those that work to sanctify Hashem's Name will beat those who desecrate it. New  leaders who are beaming with Jewish pride will soon lead Israel and the once mighty IDF  will return to become the army of Hashem it was in 1967. 

The first 25 years are now over and I thank Hashem for being with me every step of the  way. My wife gave birth to two beautiful babies here in Israel (the littlest one went to  the army this week for her testing and physical exams!!) and they joined our four  American imports, Baruch Hashem. We built a house, walked four children down to  their chuppa and had our son's bar mitzvah catered by Kentucky Fried Chicken (try that in the States!!)  

What will the next 25 years bring? I pray that Hashem will guide me, my family and all of  Klal Yisrael in doing what needs to be done to end the pain and suffering of His people. I  beg that Hashem help us in sanctifying His great and holy Name and hope that the  shedding of Jewish blood is over forever. By the time I write my article for my 30th anniversary I pray that the Bet Ha'Mikdash will have been built and that all our brothers  and sisters - from the four corners of the earth - returned to our Promised Land. 

And I pray that I will still be smiling...

Want to Stop Future Terror Flotillas? Use an EMP

By: Yoel T. Israel

Unique terror attacks call for unique solutions. Previous terror flotillas have led to bloodshed and unearned international condemnation. The attacks resulted in Israeli soldiers naively boarding the flotilla as if they were not expecting the terrorists to try to kill them. As a result, nine terrorists were killed in self-defense. Only Israel could mishandle a terror attack knowing well in advance exactly when and how it was going to occur.

The goal of the western terrorists is the same, whether it is BDS, anti-Jewish lies on university campuses or the terror flotillas that breach Israeli waters - the goal is to delegitimize Israel and prevent the Jewish people from self-defense.

Israel consistently thinks it can reason with brain-washed ignoramuses who are hell-bent on the death of the Jewish people. When Israel is soft against terror and delegitimization, she is giving the impression that we are on the same moral level as those who seek to destroy us. That is why it is extremely important to stop rolling with the punches and go on the offensive. This does not always mean bloodshed is needed, but it does mean that Israel needs to use out-of-the-box ways of defending ourselves. This is why I propose in the future Israel should use an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) to stop future terror flotilla.

An EMP is a perfect weapon to use to defeat the flotillas. Without causing any damage to humans, the EMP will fry all the circuits on the boats. This includes the navigation, radar, internet and most importantly the terrorists’ live PR campaign, shutting everything off instantly. This has the ability to halt the awaiting terror on flotillas without having to board the boats or causing any physical harm to the people aboard.

Here is how I would propose Israel using an EMP to deal with the challenge of people trying to liberate Hamas terrorists in Gaza. First, like other time, we announce that they are entering Israeli waters, then give them a second warning stating that they will be stopped if they proceed. After a third warning Israel should fly a drone over the flotillas and use an Electromagnetic Pulse to neutralize all technologies and fry all circuits in the fleet. This will immediately stop their PR and social media campaign, navigation and most importantly stop the flotilla in its tracks. This will immediately change their vessels into large canoes. Everything will go dark, no harm will be caused to the terrorists on board, and Israeli soldiers will have no need to board. We can then tow them back to the country they came from. To top it off, we can drop “Made in Israel” food and water on the flotilla after they start to go hungry, let’s see them boycott that.

My solution to use an EMP will not just literally stop the terrorists, it will prevent any confrontation, let alone bloodshed. Most importantly, it will also send a very strong message to the other western terrorists who try to threaten Israel and strengthen Hamas in Gaza. I am fairly confident that this proposal has the ability to stop future terror flotillas and above all change the narrative without international headaches. Or we can toughen up and treat terrorists as terrorists, sinking the ships after a warning that they are entering Israeli territory.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Holy Temple: A World of Splendor

Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Dedicated in honor of Adina Chaya Ita daughter of Erika

When we read the Torah portions dealing with the construction of the Tabernacle, we receive a lesson in the Torah's approach to art, splendor, and beauty. We are made aware of the fact that the Torah demonstrates aesthetic appreciation of forms of art such as drawing and weaving. The priestly garments must be made with incredible perfection, right down to their buttons and flowers. The same goes for the Ark and the Cherubim thereupon.

The Torah portions dealing with the Tabernacle dispel the mistaken impression that the Torah instructs man to confine himself to an abstract spiritual world and that the entire goal of the Jew should be to occupy himself with the Torah and the commandments without entering into other exterior realms, without developing deep natural talents, like art, beauty, imagination, and aesthetics.

This, though, is not the case. To the contrary, the Torah tells us to deepen all of our natural facets, to develop all of our talents, not to relinquish even one capacity, but to adopt and perfect it. For only through all of the existing channels can a person serve God. "This is my God, and I will glorify Him." - "Adorn yourself before Him in Mitzvoth" (the Sages on Exodus 14:2).

Here, in the most holy of places, the location of the resting of the Divine Presence among Israel, in the Holy Temple's Holy of Holies, here is where the height of artistic talent must be employed in order to build the entire Temple and its vessels in all of their beauty and magnificence.

The Holy Temple is referred to as the "Splendor of the World." The Almighty is not satisfied with the general commandment to construct a beautiful Holy Temple, magnificent, and flawless, but gives a detailed plan of how to make each and every vessel, and how everything ought to appear together. The Holy Temple is supposed to possess lofty and Divine beauty. Everything in the Temple must be in accordance with what Moses was shown on Mount Sinai. "And see that you make according to the pattern which is being shown to you on the mountain" (Exodus 25:40); And you shall construct the Tabernacle in accordance with that which was shown to you on the mountain" (Ibid. 26:30).

From here one may conclude that when Moses ascended to the heights of Mount Sinai, the Almighty showed him the heavenly Holy Temple and commanded him to build a similar earthly Holy Temple. The beauty, perfection, splendor, and magnificence of the Holy Temple, then, stem from the greatest of heights.

"Yet," one might ask oneself, "Should not we be concerned that the emphasis upon superficial beauty will damage spiritual concepts and cause a person to take a shallow approach; instead of delving into the lofty significance of the Holy Temple in which the Divine Presence rests, one is liable to become caught up in superficial and external appearance; instead of discerning the face of the Divine in the Temple, one is liable to become caught up in the beautiful and impressive vessels.

Such questions arise only because we have become distanced from our land and from the days of the Holy Temple's glory, for when the Holy Temple stood and the Divine Presence rested therein, faith would fill the entire heart. The dwelling of the Divine Presence in the Temple was felt in all of the spiritual senses, and there was no conflict between a person's outer and inner senses, between the "lights" and the "vessels." Rather, there was perfect harmony between all of the spiritual facets, and it was impossible for it to be otherwise, for the greatness of the Divine Presence appeared in the complete magnificence of the vessels. Only after the Destruction, in the Exile, was a contradiction between the content and the vessels themselves born, and only then did a conflict between the external and the internal make itself felt. Such is the sick nature of exile. This is not the case, though, when the Holy Temple is standing and the nation is healthy.

This is what we are anxiously awaiting - the speedy reconstruction of the Temple, in which, and through which, all of the facets will unite in perfect harmony, such that the Divine Presence once again reveal itself in the House of God, the "Splendor of the World."

The Pseudo Prime Minister Waiting in the Wings

By Moshe Feiglin

A river of people flowed by on the sidewalks and beyond, searching for the “what’s happening” – searching for meaning that was conspicuously absent. I thought to myself, how odd that all those people who ran away to the big city from the outlying towns, so eagerly devote themselves to the content-masters of the municipality. They won’t be sleeping that night because that is what the Tel Aviv Municipality Culture Committee decided.
Many years ago, I observed the same phenomenon in New York. Then, it was the strange fashion to wear sneakers on the subway and to string one’s more respectable work shoes around one’s neck, putting them on only at the entrance to the office. Suddenly, everyone was dressing in this ridiculous fashion. Everywhere you looked, you would see tailored businessmen wearing sneakers, with shiny, respectable shoes dangling from their necks. After that came the next must-do fashion, followed by the next and the next – all observed with ritual meticulousness.
The urban space, purported to represent the height of individualism, is nothing more than a space void of meaning – a place that hungers for meaning.
A young Tel Aviv couple sits down opposite us. 28 years old, married a year. He is an engineer, she is a graphics artist. We got to talking.
“I don’t understand anything about politics,” he said.
“But you of course voted for Lapid,” I said.
He fidgeted uncomfortably in his chair, as if I had caught him doing something terribly wrong. “How did you know?”
“You understand,” he said, “I do my reserve duty in a combat unit. Every year we have reserve duty in Gaza. Every two years there is a war, friends are killed, how much of this can we take? I want something new that is not Left and not Right – something that will solve the problem.”
“What has that got to do with anything?” I thought to myself. He is trying to explain to me and himself why he voted for Lapid, and he gives me a reason that has absolutely nothing to do with the way he voted. Does Lapid have some mysterious peace plan? Will Lapid succeed in making peace where Peres, Rabin, Barak, Olmert and Sharon failed?
So why did he vote for Lapid? And how did I guess that so easily?
Because this young Israeli, similar to the throngs of people streaming by the café, is looking for meaning. And just like the Tel Aviv Municipality, Lapid provides it – but not really.
What meaning does Lapid give us? He is the Tel Aviv “White Night”, he is the sneakers with the business suit, he is the passing fashion that fuses with the search for meaning.
Intellectually, everybody can understand that he bears no meaning or new insight, nor any inherent ability to change something. But if there is no real vision, the “latest thing” affords us a fleeting illusion of meaning.
That is how I immediately understood that he voted for Lapid.
The problem is that right now, the illusion is taking hold. The pointlessness of the other political parties empowers it. In the end, Lapid may really become Prime Minister, and that would be a true catastrophe. Because Netanyahu is the world champion of making it look like he is striving toward some goal. And then nothing happens. Lapid, on the other hand, tells us that we have already achieved our goal.
Netanyahu has no answer for the ‘what’. He deals only with the ‘how’.
Lapid is much more dangerous. He has an answer for the ‘what’. His answer is ‘me’. According to Lapid, the meaning of our lives here is Israeliness, success, glitter, fun and Lapid.
Nothingness, wrapped in pseudo-meaning, is glittery and seductive. If you look good on the screen, then you must exist.
Lapid will stop at nothing to prove his theory. The destruction that he wrought as Finance Minister will be nothing compared to what he will do as prime minister. He will gallop between wild-eyed socialism and raging capitalism (depending upon what looks better on the screen at any given time), between insane Sharon-style disengagement to unnecessary wars, between the dismantling of every value still left here to empty words about Jewish identity.
And the sweet young man sitting opposite me voted for him. And if he does not find any true, alternative meaning, many more will join him – and Lapid will be Prime Minister.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hi-tech giants and investors defy media's misrepresentation of Israel

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

1. "Israelis are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average,” according to the OECD's (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) annual "Better Life Index.”  Only Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Finland ranked ahead of 5th place Israel, among the 34 OECD members, as well as Brazil and Russia.  The rating is based on 22 variables, such as education, health, life expectancy, average income, housing and general satisfaction. Israel's high ranking defies its geo-political neighborhood, but is a derivative of its inherent state of mind: optimism, patriotism, family and communal responsibility and attachment to roots (Israel 21st Century, June 10, 2015).

2. "Israel was rated by expats as the most dynamic country in the world,” according to "InterNations,” the largest network for people who work and live abroad (The Huffington Report, June 12, 2015).

3. The June 15, 2015 issue of the Economist Intelligence Unit praises Israel's economic performance, expecting a 3.4% growth in 2015 and rising in 2016, declining unemployment [currently at 5%], steady inflation (1.3%), an export surge in 2015, a narrowing 2015 trade deficit and a 2019 trade surplus, larger natural gas production/export, robust private consumption and expanding current account surplus (3% of GDP in 2014, 5.2% - 2015 and 7.4% -2019).

4. The London and China-based $3bn private equity fund, XIO, acquired Israel's bio-med company, Lumenis, for $510mn (Globes, June 19, 2015). The Chinese investment giant, Fuson Group – which recently acquired Israel's Alma Lazarus for $240mn - is acquiring a controlling interest (52%) in Israel's insurance and investment group, Phoenix, for $470mn (Globes, June 22). On June 23, the Economist Intelligence Unit reported that these acquisitions followed in the footsteps of China's Bright Foodacquiring Israel's Tnuva, the Shanghai International Port Group winning a tender to operate Haifa's new port, the China Harbor Engineering winning the tender to build Ashdod's new port, and a joint venture between the China Railway Group and Israel's Solel Boneh winning an $800mn contract to develop the first segment of Tel Aviv's light rail network. Also, the value of high tech start up financing rounds, involving Chinese investors, tripled to $302mn during 2012-2014 and reached $117mn during the first four month of 2015.

5. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, praised Israel's technological initiative and creativity, stating that the Jewish State is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to startups (Bloomberg, June 9). Schmidt participated through is private equity fund, Innovation Endeavors, in a $15mn private placement in Israel's Yotpo. He was joined by Bloomberg Capital, Vintage Investment Partners, etc. (Globes, June 24). The US venture capital fund, Formation 8, joined by Samsung's and Qualcomm's VC funds, invested $10mn in Israel's Mantis Vision (Globes, June 5).

6. US giant, Computer Associates' (CA) 12th Israeli acquisition: IdmLogic for $20mn (Globes, June 9). British giant, Johnson Matthey Investments acquired Israel's StePac for $27mn (Globes, June 5).

7. Israel's SolarEdge raised $126mn on Wall Street. The total raised by Israeli companies during the first quarter of 2015 was $1.5bn, compared to $3.9bn during all of 2014 (Globes, March 30). The Silicon Valley Khosla Ventures, Bloomberg Capital and NyCa Investment Partners participated in a $40mn round by Israel's FundBox (The Marker, March 30). KKR's first investment in Israel: leading a $35mn round by Israel's ClickTale, joined by Europe's Amadeus Capital, Goldrock and Viola Credit(Globes, January 29). Israel's BioLine raised $25mn on NASDAQ (Globes, March 9). Fidelity Growth Partners led a $20mn round by Israel's AppsFlyer (Globes, January 21).

8. Lockheed-Martin, EMC, IBM, Oracle, eBay and Deutsche Telekom (the latter teamed up with Ben Gurion University) operate in the newly established cyber technology park in Beer Sheba, Israel (Wall Street Journal, June 5). Israel accounted for 10% ($6bn) of global cyber tech sales in 2014. Eight cyber Israeli companies were acquired for $700mn in 2014. The number of Israeli cyber companies doubled during the past five years (i24 News, May 26).

9. Israel and Italy established joint R&D labs, in Israel, in the areas of neurology, solar, outer space, cyber, water treatment and health sciences (Globes, March 3).

10. Britain's Secretary of State for Business and Innovations, Sajid Javid stated: "The past few years have been a golden era for Anglo-Israel business… expecting bilateral trade, currently valued at $6.9bnm to continue growing…. (Algemeiner, June 9, 2015).”

“Cure” for Racism?

By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

In the wake of the horrific massacre of nine people – studying the Bible, no less – in the black church in Charleston, President Obama lamented that America is “not cured” yet of racism. He is right.

Indeed, there are many other maladies of which America and the world itself are not yet “cured.” We are not cured of Jew hatred, or bias against Christians or people of faith. We are not cured of homicide and theft, of robbery, burglary and assault. We are not cured of evil, hatred, slander or gossip. We are not cured of malice and impropriety, of adultery and immorality. We are not cured of foolish talk and self-destructive behavior. We are not cured of mental illness. All those maladies still exist but the good thing is, like racism, they exist in very small groups and sometimes just in demented or decadent individuals.

We are also not yet cured of demagogues who cannot lead or inspire but can incite – and proffer abundant platitudes disguised as wisdom. Is a cure possible for any of this? Of course not.

The answer is so simple that one wonders why such risible statements are uttered in the first place. The great conservative thinker Russell Kirk once wrote: “the perfection of society is impossible, all human beings being imperfect.” Of course America is not yet “cured” of racism; no country in the world, no civilization that has ever existed has been “cured” of any evil doctrine, deed or temptation. That is the essence of the human dilemma. Why the President should think otherwise is a mystery, unless he believes that – since he can slow the rise of the oceans and begin to heal the planet – he can also eliminate bad thoughts and evil behavior from the human race.

Only perfect people can create a perfect society, and since there are no perfect people, it stands to reason that there is no perfect society. To the liberal mind, that is unconscionable and unacceptable, and must be a source of great vexation. It is also responsible for a lack of perspective, an absence of deliberation and a foolish rush to judgment about American society.

Is America a racist society? Certainly not, although there are obviously a small number of people who hate blacks or Jews or Christians or whites or anyone else. The proof of the contrary is in the response of all Americans to these brutal homicides: universal condemnation of the murderer. I even heard rumors that he was denounced as an extremist by the skinheads and other white supremacist groups –and that is saying something. Everyone I have heard considers the murderer to be a monster, obviously deranged but not clinically so or he wouldn’t be responsible for his actions. But he can’t be normal. No normal person could think like him and certainly not act like him. The sooner he is executed, the quicker our society can be cleansed.

And the reaction of the church members was uplifting in its grace and nobility. Those who hastened to forgive were acting in accordance with Christian doctrine, but I hope that he is not forgiven enough that he escapes a speedy execution (or at least execution; nothing in the American judicial system is speedy).

The widespread denunciation of his heinous acts speaks well of American society but unsurprisingly so. Sure, slavery was the great evil of America’s founding, but the American people are also the only people in world history to fight a bloody civil war – still the bloodiest war in American history – in order to free slaves. That was unprecedented and unduplicated, and reports of the virtues of such a nation filtered to Eastern Europe in the last third of the 19th century and sparked the great immigration to the United States, especially of Jews. This is what they heard: brother fought against brother in a war whose primary cause and consequence was the abolition of slavery. Let that sink in. G-d liberated us from Egypt; the Egyptians didn’t fight each other so Jewish slaves could go free.
As a result, people flocked – and still do – to a country that guaranteed freedom and liberty, that attempted to share its values with the world, and that constantly wrestles with the morality of its actions. How many other countries are like that –that Obama should bemoan that America is not perfect?

There is something both odious and unctuous about the President’s remarks, as if his disappointment that America is not Utopia changes anything about human nature or solves any problem. Of course America is not Utopia. Only Utopia is Utopia, and Utopia doesn’t exist in reality.

What is truly remarkable is absence of racism in American society, notwithstanding the reprehensible homicides of a lone gunman and haters that exist here and there. It is a particularly hollow claim in a country in which wealthiest entertainers and athletes are black, and where the most powerful politicians are black – including a president elected twice by a nation who, in his words, has racism in its DNA. And this from a man who spent 20 years in the pews of a church in which he regularly heard sermons from a racist black preacher. Is there a racist politician today who can get elected to any office, even on a municipal level? But as Shelby Steele wrote, asserting the claim of ongoing racism furnishes an ongoing "entitlement to power."

Are there people who don’t like one ethnic group or another? Yes. There is not a country on earth that contains perfect people who love and appreciate everyone. That is not to say that hatred is built into the DNA of mankind – everyone has free choice to be loving and tolerant or spiteful and narrow-minded – but Obama might as well decry the continued existence of tornadoes and hurricanes in a nation that could put a man on the moon. He might as well lament the persistence of poverty in an affluent nation (wait; he does, hence his drive for redistribution of wealth).

It is a shame, but an unsurprising one, that Obama chose a moment in which he could have united Americans in shared grief and politicized it with complaints first about gun control (as if there are no laws already in place outlawing the murderer’s possession and use of that firearm; actually, had some of the churchgoers packed some legal heat that night – as is common in shuls in Israel – the event might have had a different ending) and then about racism (as if what happened reflected a societal flaw rather than the work of one evil loser). Obama’s error was underscored in last week’s sedra, the query of Moshe and Aharon to G-d: “Shall one man sin, and You will be angry at the entire congregation?” (Bamidbar 16:22)

The anguished search for and failure to find Utopia engenders an interesting conclusion noted here in the past and verified by a host of social scientists. Conservatives tend to be happier people than liberals. Because liberals expect perfection, they are irritated by the foibles of human nature. Nothing is ever good enough and the liberal is therefore pained by the deficiencies of mankind, but always pained, as mankind is always deficient in something. Conservatives are more realistic, more willing view the present as satisfactory, if not even satisfying, and less likely to live in a constant state of discontent.

That and more explain the tendencies and clumsy rhetoric of the man who currently occupies the Oval Office. But even his missteps should not distract us from the epic sadness in Charleston, and the crime that touched every person of faith. The refinement of the survivors and the victims’ families, and the support shown from every quarter of this country, shows the elementary decency of Americans of all backgrounds and all walks of life.

Even the disgruntled musings of the President in perpetual political mode cannot nullify that essential truth.

Friday, June 26, 2015

From Death to Eternity: The Red Heifer Connection

A Torah Thought for Parshat Chukat
By Moshe Feiglin
The commandment of the Red Heifer is one of those Divine directives that is beyond the scope of our understanding. Nevertheless, there are facets of this mitzvah that we can understand:
The ashes of the red heifer were a tool used to purify the highest degree of ritual impurity: death. Why would anyone have to purify himself after coming into contact with death? One simple reason: So that he may enter the Holy Temple.
The Creator is the source of life. He chose the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount as His dwelling place in this world. The source of ritual impurity is death. The closer we get to G-d’s Divine Presence, the more that we must distance ourselves from death and get closer to life; distance ourselves from ritual impurity and be pure. That is why first degree ritual impurity is death, followed by lesser degrees of ritual impurity that stem from the cutting off of life on one level or another.
Immersion in a mikveh, a ritual pool, purifies from ritual impurities but not from the impurity of death. To be purified from that first degree impurity, special ritual waters are needed. These waters contain the ashes of the red heifer. This is why it is permissible to enter the Temple Mount after ritual immersion, but it is forbidden to enter the area where the Temple once stood; we do not have the ashes of the red heifer with which to purify ourselves. (This does not include entering where the Temple once stood within the framework of conquest).
When we make all the required preparations, immerse according to Jewish law and soberly ascend to the Temple Mount with non-leather shoes, as directed by halacha – we are at the closest possible point to the source of life. We carefully encircle the place where the Holy Temple once stood, leaving a wide berth of extra space to ensure that we do not step into any forbidden areas – and reach the eastern point opposite the heichal (sanctuary) of the Temple: the heichal that was and the heichal that will be.
From this point, we can view both the place where the Temple stood and the place where the priest who burned the red heifer stood, on the Mount of Olives. The priest who burned the red heifer had to retain eye contact with the Holy of Holies, because that is the place of the Foundation Stone, upon which the world is founded. If you open a map and draw a straight line from the Foundation Stone in the Holy of Holies straight eastward, you can identify the place where the red heifer was burned. Today, that place is in the courtyard of the Greek Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives. In the courtyard lie the foundations of a mound upon which the priest stood and burned the red heifer.
The priest looked at the Shushan Gate (near today’s Gate of Rachamim) at the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. From there his gaze continued past the eastern gate of the Women’s Section that was wide open, and on to the Nikanor Gate. From there the priest continued to look on through the Israelite Section, where he saw the smoke from the sacrifices rising straight up from the altar, the priests in their service and the Levites singing their praises. From there his gaze entered the gates of the Sanctuary, itself. (All the gates were open and were in a straight line).
Inside the Sanctuary, the gaze of the priest went past the Altar of the Incense, past the Shewbread Table and the Menorah and reached the Parochetthat covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies.
With G-d’s help, we will speedily build our Temple – and return to life.
Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Sordid History of the Left in Israel

By Ted Belman

I was once complaining to a leftist that the left are unscrupulous in their efforts to win. She said in return that the right is too. She went on to identify how the right uses civil disobedience and other techniques to thwart the government and asked how is that any different than the tactics of the left.  In my gut I knew that she was wrong but wasn’t able to distinguish the difference at the time.
This conversation came to mind as I was reading more of Lone Wolf, Shmuel Katz’s biography of Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Throughout the twenties, Weizmann and Jabotinsky were at logger heads. They differed in a fundamental way on how to deal with violation of the Mandate by the British, i.e., whether to call them out and confront them or to go along to get along. Jabotinsky favoured the former and Weizmann the latter. They also differed on what the goal of Zionism should be, as strange as that may seem.  Jabotinsky would settle for nothing less than a Jewish State as envisaged by Herzl while Weizmann favoured something less.  In fact in the summer of 1930 he said:
“The Jewish State was never an end in itself, it was only a means to an end. Nothing is said about a Jewish State  in the Basle Programme, nor in the Balfour Declaration. The purpose of Zionism is to create in Palestine a number of significant bases, upon which an autonomous, self-sufficient and productive community can be established…Palestine could become a Jewish State if it were an uninhabited country. But it is not an uninhabited country…
“The essence of Zionism was not so much the Jewish State as the creation of material conditions for the establishment of an autonomous productive society…”
Herzl turned over in his grave.
Weizmann was supported by the bulk of the Actions Committee of the Zionist Organization and by Ben-Gurion. He was strongly opposed by the Revisionists led by Jabotinsky.
Another basic difference between them was that Weizmann wanted the Jewish Agency, then being formed, to include non-Zionists, thinking that such an agency would provide more money to the Yishuv. Jabotinsky was vehemently opposed and even suggested that it would not garner the Yishuv more money.  He wanted to remove non-Zionists from the Jewish Agency. He was proved right on both accounts.
At the 17th Zionist Congress in 1930 Weizmann said:
“I have no understanding and no sympathy with the demand of a Jewish majority in Palestine, Majority does not guarantee security, majority is not necessary for the development of Jewish civilization and culture. The world will construe the demand only in the sense that we want to acquire a majority in order to drive out the Arabs.”
Needless to say this did not go down well even among the Labor ranks.
It appeared that the position of the revisionists would win the vote so the Labor leadership resorted to fraud and deception to turn things in their favour.  They had a fraudulent telegram sent from Palestine, ostensibly from the Va’ad Leumi, urging caution accompanied by a dire warning of Arab violence. This was enough to defeat the Revisionists.
After the Congress, Labour leaders such as Katznelson, Ben Gurion and Golumb were not comfortable that they had abandoned the fight for a Jewish State.  Jabotinsky continued to rake them over the coals and they decided to crush the Revisionists resistance to the Labor Party hegemony in the economic field.
Jabotinsky was demanding a “special contract”, between workers and employers under which neutral labour exchanges would ensure equal opportunity for all workers.  Such a request completely negated the practice and purpose of the Histadrut policy. With the Histadrut in charge of the labour exchanges, it would only give jobs to workers of their political persuasion.  Revisionist were unable to get work.
To thwart Jabotinsky, the Labour leaders enlisted their newspaper Devar, to produce slanted and one-sided reports and attacks of the most violent character on Jabotinsky, the Revisionists and Betar.
Katz writes:
“Controlling the Histadrut as they did, and enjoying a near-monopoly of subsidies of Zionist funds, the Labour leaders had ready at hand the most effective weapon in their bid  for hegemony in the national economy: control of the right to work. That part of the dream of Boshevik-styled dictatorship and control of the workers lives, explicitly expounded by Ben-Gurion a decade earlier, was being realized. The use of violence by the Labor movement was not a product of local and immediate frustration.  It had its origin in Marxist ideology.”
For a decade the Histadrut, with the support of Labor leaders, had resorted to violence to secure a monopoly on the right to work and to force people to join the Labor Party in order to secure work.
“The Labor leaders were determined to eliminate Revisionism root and branch and the means for doing so were a relentless propaganda campaign of demonization and, where applicable, deliberate use of violence – accompanied by the dissemination of reports that it was the Revisionists and Betar victims who were in fact the perpetrators of the violence.”
Katznelson, to his credit, left the Labor Party because of its resort to violence.  Ben-Gurion, to his discredit, supported its use.
Jabotinsky received the brunt of the demonization, not for the first time.  He was called a fascist, a militarist and any other pejorative that came to mind.
Furthermore, the worker’s schools, run by the Labor Party, began to indoctrinate the students to hate Revisionists, Betar and Jabotinsky and to embrace the ideology of the Labor Party. The kibbutzim, where Devar reigned supreme, were hermetically sealed off from any outside influence. The same went for the socialist indoctrination in the towns.
“The chilling consequences of this indoctrination imbibed in the youth were lasting. The later history of the Jewish community in mandated Palestine, leading into the period of the State of Israel, was heavily flecked with that traditional hatred.”
In the forties, the Irgun issued a proclamation of war against the British much to the chagrin of the Yishuv leadership headed by Ben-Gurion. Their primary concern was to protect their leadership role. In 1944, Sneh and Golomb representing the Haganah, met with Begin and said as much..
Moshe Sneh said, inter alia: “To expand your activities requires control of the souls and the property of the public. And it is we who control the public. We do not intend to renounce that control, because it is we who have received a mandate from the Jewish people… If you continue your activities, a clash will result.”
Eliyahu Golomb was even blunter:
“We demand that you cease immediately [your activity against the British]… We do not want a civil war… but we will be ready for that as well. We will be forced to adopt our own measures to prevent your activities. The police, in our opinion, will not be able to liquidate you, but if the Yishuv rebels, it could come to that.“
Following the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo in late 1944 by Lehi fighters, the Jewish Agency executive declared war on the Irgun and Lehi and collaborated with the British to bring about the arrest of their fighters. As a result of this operation called the “Hunting Season”, the Haganah handed over to the British a list of names of persons suspected of being members of the Irgun and they kidnapped Irgun fighters.
Close to one thousand people were handed over to the British. Most of them were taken to the Latrun detention camp and several hundred were deported to detention camps in Africa (see “African Exile”) . In addition, dozens of suspects were kidnapped and detained in prison cells built especially for this purpose on various kibbutzim. They were interrogated by members of the Haganah Intelligznce Service and occasionally suffered torture.
This background is the context in which to view the sinking, in 1948, of the Altelena, which name was chosen as it was Jabotinsky’s pen name. The attack on this ship was ordered by Ben-Gurion and executed by Rabin. Many Revisionists were murdered by Rabin’s forces as they fled the doomed ship. The hatred was so great that it trumped any consideration for saving a shipload of much needed arms and munitions in the middle of the War for Independence.  These weapons would have enabled the Jews to conquer Jerusalem in that war. Ben-Gurion justified his order at the time saying: “What is happening endangers our war effort, and even more important, it endangers the very existence of the state because the state cannot exist until we have one army and control of that army. This is an attempt to kill the state.” Hardly.
The Irgun, led by Begin, had brought the ship to Israel. He was one of the last to abandon it. Though his men were being shot at, he ordered his men not to shoot back.  It was one of his cardinal principles to avoid a civil war in which Jews killed Jews. Not so for Ben-Gurion.
It took Begin 25 years before he became Prime Minister. It took another 20 years or so before PM Netanyahu tamed the Histadrut and began the process of making Israel a capitalist nation rather than a socialist one.
The left die hard.
Even today Leftists are doing everything they can to prevent Israel from being a Jewish State. Even though they are now in a minority they are thwarting the will of the majority at every turn. They are still in the indoctrination and demonization business. They are still anti-Zionist and anti-Judaism. They fight for the Arab cause and not the Jewish cause.
My leftist friend was wrong.  There is a difference.

Exile and Eretz Yisrael

By Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

"And Moshe sent messengers from Kadesh to the King of Edom, saying: 'This is what your brother Yisrael says – You know of all the hardships which befell us. Our fathers descended to Egypt... And the Egyptians were evil to us.'" [Bamidbar 20:14-15].

There are two questions we can ask about this. (1) Why did Moshe see fit to list the problems of the past to the King of Edom? (2) Moshe describes the nation as "your brother Yisrael." Why does he use the phrase "your brother" in this case?

Here is how the sages replied to these questions. "Moshe said, 'you know.' When G-d said to Avraham, 'You should know that your offspring will be strangers' [Bereishit 15:13], we were enslaved and you remained free. To what can this be compared? It is like two brothers, and when financial obligation appeared in their father's name one of the brothers paid it. Later, he began to make demands of his brother. He said, you know that we were both obligated for the debt but that I paid it. Therefore, do not refuse me when I come to you with requests." [Tanchuma].

Avraham was promised, "I have given the land to your offspring" [Bereishit 15:18], but exactly who is the favored offspring was not clear. Was it Yitzchak or Yishmael? Yaacov or Eisav? The answer is clear, since in the covenant with Avraham it is written, "Your offspring will be strangers in a land that is not theirs and they will be forced to work for them and they will be tortured. And the fourth generation will return here. And on that day G-d made a covenant with Avraham, saying, 'I have given this land to your offspring." [15:13-18]. And thus it is clear that the offspring who went through the melting pot of Egypt are the ones who are meant to receive a heritage in the land.

"And Eisav took his wives and his children... and he moved to a different land because of his brother Yaacov" [Bereishit 36:6]. Rashi notes, "See the Midrash Agadda: This is because of the obligation, 'your offspring will be strangers' which was relevant for the children of Yitzchak. Eisav said, I will go away from here, and I will have no part in the gift of the land which he received or in paying off the obligation."

The following is written at the end of the Torah portion of Vayishlach: "These are the chiefs of Edom, according to their dwelling places, in the lands of their heritage" [36:43]. And the next verse is the beginning of the portion of Vayeishev, "Yaacov settled in the land where his father lived." [37:1]. At this point, the saga of the descent to Egypt begins, and the decree of exile involved only Yaacov and not his brother. And that is why the promise, "I have given the land to your offspring," specifically refers only to Yaacov and not Eisav.

This explains why Moshe tells the King of Edom, "This is what your brother Yisrael says." Rashi explains that the two brothers might have been required to pay the debt of living in exile, but in the end your father – Edom – left and did not want to participate in the obligation. Therefore, "Let us pass through your land" [20:17]. You have no heritage in Eretz Yisrael, just as you did not take part in fulfilling the prior obligation.

Only the "melting pot" of suffering, enslavement, and the tribulations of exile can give a people the privilege to take possession of Eretz Yisrael. As the sages wrote, the Holy One, Blessed be He, gave Yisrael three precious gifts which are obtained only through suffering – the Torah, Eretz Yisrael, and the World to Come.

London Calling: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Chukat 5775

Parashat Chukat 5775 
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
The Torah records the tragic episode of the “Waters of Strife” (מי מריבה)  which caused Moshe and Aharon to forfeit the great merit of entering the Holy Land.
The Torah relates (20,7-13)
(ז) וידבר ה’ אל משה לאמר:
(ח) קח את המטה והקהל את העדה אתה ואהרן אחיך ודברתם אל הסלע לעיניהם ונתן מימיו והוצאת להם מים מן הסלע והשקית את העדה ואת בעירם:
(ט) ויקח משה את המטה מלפני ה’ כאשר צוהו:
(י) ויקהלו משה ואהרן את הקהל אל פני הסלע ויאמר להם שמעו נא המרים המן הסלע הזה נוציא לכם מים:
(יא) וירם משה את ידו ויך את הסלע במטהו פעמים ויצאו מים רבים ותשת העדה ובעירם:
(יב) ויאמר ה’ אל משה ואל אהרן יען לא האמנתם בי להקדישני לעיני בני ישראל לכן לא תביאו את הקהל הזה אל הארץ אשר נתתי להם:
7) The Lord said to Moses,  8) “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
9) So Moses took the staff as he was commanded by HaShem. 10) He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you disobedient uncompliant people, do you believe that we can bring you water out of this rock?” 11) Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the people and their livestock drank.
12) But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land I give them.”

The tragic episode as it is presented in these verses is problematic:
1- Why was the punishment for hitting the rock instead of speaking to it, the barring of Moshe and Aaron from Eretz Yisrael?
2- How would have HaShem’s glory been more enhanced had they spoken to the rock rather than hitting it?
3- The miracle of extracting water from a rock was performed once before by Moshe (Shemot chap. 17) when he was commanded by HaShem to hit the rock, so why in our parasha is it considered so sinful?
4- Previously Moshe alone was commanded to extract water from a rock; so why this time was Aaron included in the miracle and in the punishment?

In the light of these difficulties I would suggest the following:
Hitting rather than speaking to the rock was not the core issue here; this deviation from HaShem’s command would not have disparaged HaShem’s honor requiring such dire consequence for Moshe and Aaron.
The serious transgression of desecrating HaShem’s glory which brought about Moshe and Aaron’s exclusion from the Land was Moshe’s reproach of the people when he called them ” המרים” – disobedient, uncompliant, rebellious.
But even this is problematic.
The prophet Hoshea informs the northern tribes which comprised the majority of the Jewish nation at the time, that HaShem had informed him in prophecy (4,17):
חבור עצבים אפרים הנח לו:
Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him be

The northern tribes are so hopelessly joined to idolatry, both religiously, and ideologically that words of reproof, reprimand, ethics or morality no longer have an effect on them. Therefore, refrain from even attempting to improve them. They are totally lost.
Question: When Moshe called the Jewish people המרים – disobedient, uncompliant and rebellious, he and Aaron, who acknowledged Moshe’s assessment by his silence, were both severely punished. Why was Moshe’s assessment of his generation so different from that of the Creator Himself at the time of Hoshea? HaShem informed Hoshea that the majority of the Jewish nation was so far gone that there was no remedy for their iniquitous lives, and Moshe saw that the generation who owed so much to HaShem was ungrateful and uncommitted, and he felt his responsibility to tell them as much?
However there is a basic difference. Moshe by his desperate and hopeless expressions of failure so early in our history cast a tacit doubt on HaShem’s selection of the Jewish people as His chosen ones. This was a serious desecration of HaShem’s glory. It was also Moshe’s personal statement that the nation was beyond rectification, which necessitated the appointment of different leaders to guide the nation when they would enter Eretz Yisrael.
The situation at the time of Hoshea was very different. There was no doubt that HaShem had chosen well when He selected the Jewish people. Six hundred years had passed since the Exodus, and we had proven again and again that we were unique, spiritual and wished to be HaShem’s chosen ones. However, there are individual generations, as with the northern tribes at that time, which crossed the red-line of Jewish rationality and their future would become a slippery slope to oblivion.
It occurs when the community feels antipathy, dislike, distaste to the point of abhorrence when faced with things which are “too Jewish”; with the “coup de grace” being intermarriage.
There are Jewish communities in our present world which the words of the Hoshea:
 חבור עצבים אפרים הנח לו
Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him be
Could easily apply, for those communities are beyond correction.

In a “broad brush” generality, the prophet’s expressions of despair could be directed to the Jews who chose to remain in Europe after what the descendants of Aisav did to us and are not beyond repeating their murderous acts. One example is the London Jewish community.
On Shabbat of July 4th, Neo Nazis are planning to stage a rally in Golders Green, London, where they intend to publicly burn volumes of the Talmud and the Israeli flag. It is no coincidence that the Nazi rally is taking place on the 17th of Tammuz, a day of fasting that commemorates the day of publicly burning a Torah scroll by Apostomus.
Rabbi Jonny Roodyn is a rabbi in London and he wrote in reaction to this planned desecration: “These fast days are not times to get angry; they are times to focus inwardly and resolve to make a change for the better”.
Obviously, the antidote to anti-Semitism is to remain where you are and just “focus inwardly” and blame yourselves for the fires of Auschwitz.
Nothing short of a pending holocaust could move these people to consider coming home to Eretz Yisrael. Before coming on aliya they would first join their former chief rabbi, who after leaving his post chose to live in New York, the Jerusalem of the New World!
Would there be an authentic prophet among us today who would be espousing the return to our Holy Land in preparation for the final geula, HaShem would most likely command him regarding the Jews of London and many other places in the world, as He did to Hoshea, “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him be”.
Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5775/2015 Nachman Kahana