Thursday, April 28, 2016

The "Two State Solution": Irony and Truth

By Louis René Beres

  • "The establishment of such a [Palestinian] state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces into Judea and Samaria ... In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel's existence..." — Shimon Peres, Nobel Laureate and Former Prime Minister of Israel, in 1978.
  • The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964; three years beforethere were any "occupied territories." Exactly what, then was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
  • Both Fatah and Hamas have always considered, and still consider, Israel as simply part of "Palestine." On their current official maps, all of Israel is identified as "Occupied Palestine."
  • "You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian state. ... I have no use for Jews; they are and remain, Jews." — PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, January 30, 1996 (2.5 years after signing the Oslo Peace Accords).
  • In view of these repeatedly intolerant Arab views on Israel's existence, international law should not expect Palestinian compliance with any agreements, including those concerning use of armed force -- even if these agreements were to include explicit U.S. security guarantees to Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony on September 13, 1993. In 1996, Arafat publicly stated: "We Palestinians will take over everything ... You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian state. ... I have no use for Jews; they are and remain, Jews." (Image source: Vince Musi / The White House)
There is no lack of irony in the endless discussions of Israel and a Palestinian state.
One oddly neglected example is the complete turnaround of former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. Recognized today as perhaps the proudest Israeli champion of a "Two State Solution" -- sometimes also referred to as a "Road Map to Peace in the Middle East" -- Peres had originally considered Palestinian sovereignty to be an intolerable existential threat to Israel. More precisely, in his book, Tomorrow is Now (1978), Mr. Peres unambiguously warned:

Obama's Double Standard Toward Netanyahu

By Alan M. Dershowitz 

UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama take a question at a press conference, on whether it is appropriate for Obama to say whether or not the UK should remain in the European Union, April 22, 2015.
As President Obama winds up his farewell tour of Europe, it is appropriate to consider the broader implications of the brouhaha he created in Great Britain. At a joint press conference with Britain Prime Minister, David Cameron, President Obama defended his intrusion into British politics in taking sides on the controversial and divisive Brexit debate. In an op-ed, Obama came down squarely on the side of Britain remaining in the European Union -- a decision I tend to agree with on its merits. But he was much criticized by the British media and British politicians for intruding into a debate about the future of Europe and Britain's role in it.
Obama defended his actions by suggesting that in a democracy, friends should be able to speak their minds, even when they are visiting another country:

The Israel–Passover-USA linkage

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger


While Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” – partially based on the teachings of Moses, Judge Gideon and Prophet Samuel – cemented the 1776 American Revolution against the British crown, the Passover legacy cemented the Jewish Revolution (against the Egyptian crown), Jewish nationhood and the Jewish state. The Passover legacy contributed to the foundation of the culture, justice and liberty of the USA, and the special attitude by the American people towards the Jewish state.

According to the late Israeli philosopher/historian, Israel Eldad, the super-natural Passover legacy has accompanied the Jewish people for the last 3,400 years, since the transformation – against seemingly insurmountable odds - from slavery to deliverance and sovereignty via a series of super-natural events: the Ten Plagues, and especially the 10th Plague, which killed every Egyptian first-born, but passed-over (Passover) the Jewish first-born; the deliverance/Exodus from slavery in Egypt, a super-power; the parting and crossing of the sea; the reception of the Ten Commandments; rebounding from the crises of the Golden Calf and the Ten Spies; defiance of the 40-year military, social, economic, external and internal odds in the desert; and, finally settling the Land of Israel.


According to “realistic” assessments, Judaism and the Jewish people were expected to be extinct/fossils by 2016, but instead they have risen to new heights, contributing immensely to the well-being of humanity, while some of their formidable enemies have suffered major setback and some have become extinct/fossils. 

The sea of history has parted many times since the Biblical Exodus, featuring the Jewish people marching on relatively dry grounds (although soaked with much Jewish blood) to the Promised Land - in defiance of destruction, exile, expulsion, auto-da-fe’ (execution by burning), the Holocaust, pogroms, violent anti-Semitism, conventional warfare and terrorism – while their enemies drowned. 

For instance, in 1897, Theodor Herzl “crossed the sea” with very few true believers - chased by the chariots of skepticism, shaming, hostility and austerity – and convened the First Zionist Congress that led to the eventual reconstruction of the Jewish Commonwealth.  In 1947-49, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s Founding Father, “crossed the sea” with only 600,000 fellow Jews – chased by the chariots of a hostile British Empire, a US military embargo, invading Arab military forces and Arab terrorism from within - and re-established the Jewish State. In 1967, Prime Minister Eshkol “crossed the sea” – chased by the chariots of Western threats, a Soviet military alliance with the Arabs, UN hostility and the ready-to-invade Joint Arab Military Command – reunited Jerusalem and reclaimed Jewish control of Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. In 1981, Prime Minister Begin “crossed the sea” – chased by the chariots of brutal US and global pressure and overwhelming domestic opposition – destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor, and spared the US a nuclear war in 1991.

The ancient Jewish sage, Rabban Gamliel, who realized the permanent relevance of the Passover legacy to Jewish challenges, instructed: “each generation must consider itself as if it was liberated from Egypt.”


In fact, the Biblical liberation from Egypt inspired the 17th century early Pilgrims of the Mayflower (1620) and Arbella (1630), who considered themselves the people of the “modern day Exodus,” departing from “modern day Egypt,” crossing the “modern day Red Sea” and heading towards the “modern day Promised Land.” Hence, the abundance of sites in the US, bearing Biblical names (e.g., 18 Jerusalem). The Exodus also shaped the worldview of the 18th century Founding Fathers, who viewed themselves as the people of the “modern day Covenant,” and has impacted the American ethos until today.

For example, Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” referred to King George as “the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England.”  The second and third US presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and the relatively-secular Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, proposed the Parting of the Sea as the official US seal. The proposal was tabled, but the chosen seal features thirteen stars (colonies) in the shape of a Star of David. Ezra Stiles, the President of Yale University – which features on its shield “Urim and Thummim,” the power of the High Priest during the Exodus - stated on May 8, 1873: “Moses, the man of God, assembled three million people – the number of people in America in 1776.” “Go down Moses” and “Let my people go” became the pillar of fire for the Abolitionist Movement. Harriet Beecher Stow, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was motivated by the Passover legacy, in general, and the laws of Moses, which condemn slavery, in particular.  

Harriet Tubman, who risked her life smuggling slaves to Free States and Canada, was known as “Mama Moses.” Her biography is titled “The Moses of Her People.”  Tubman followed in the footsteps of Biblical Shifrah and Pou’ah, two Jewish midwives, who risked their lives, hiding the newly-born male Jewish babies, in violation of Pharaoh’s command (Numbers 1:15-19).  Women played a central role in the legacy of Passover, highlighting Yocheved, Moses’ mother, who hid Moses and then breastfed him at Pharaoh’s palace, posing as a nursemaid; Miriam, Moses’ sister, who was her younger brother’s keeper; Princess Batyah, the daughter of Pharaoh, who saved, adopted and raised Moses (Numbers 2:1-10); and Tziporah, Moses’ wife, who saved his life and set him back on the Jewish course (Numbers, 4:24-27). 

On December 11, 1964, upon accepting the Nobel Prize, Martin Luther King, Jr., who was referred to as the Moses of his age, said: “The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go!’”

In 2016, the bust of Moses faces the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and the statue of Moses, holding the Tablets, towers above the US Supreme Court Justices.

The deeply-rooted linkage between Passover, the US and Israel is accurately described by King Solomon’s momentous lesson (Ecclesiastes, 4:12): “A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Pesach, Part 2: The Fifth Son

Pesach 5776 Part 2
By Rabbi Nachman Kahana

The Fifth Son

While the taste of the Afikomen still lingers and the songs and words of Torah still resonate, I decided to take advantage of the moment and the memories to give vent to the thoughts which came to my mind when considering the “Four Sons”.

It occurred to me that there is a fifth son, who is far far different from his other siblings.

The four sons include the clever one, the evil son, the simpleton and the one who is totally ignorant of his Jewish environment. The fifth one, who like the other four exists in every generation, is such an embarrassment that the editors of the Hagada that they excluded him – while he too prefers not to be included. He is the son whose appellation is – the “Traitor”.

The first four, despite their fundamental differences still constitute a family. The father relates to each one in a manner and language suitable for that son and his spiritual level. The traitorous son turns his back on the family and feels degraded by any association with them.

He is the son who abandoned his unique heritage by renouncing the Jewish God. He wants no part of Jews or of our 3500-year history. The most significant mark of today’s traitor is his estrangement and disaffection with anything that rings of Medinat Yisrael.

The traitor son takes two forms.

1- He can be found in every Reform-Conservative temple led by “rabbis” of both sexes, and certainly among unaffiliated Jews. The unaffiliated and Reform-Conservatives will without a second thought marry out, and are not perturbed by the thought that they and their offspring will be erased from the collective memory of our people.

They are ideologically liberal, able and willing to understand and forgive every criminal and terrorist act, but condemn the loyal Jews who are struggling to renew our national life in the land that was given to us by HaShem. The Land that is being squatted on by enemies and strangers who have declared their intention to finish what Hitler began 77 years ago.

2- The second form of traitors include the seemingly observant Chassidic and other sects in the galut who condemn and degrade any mention of our holy Medina. They cringe at any of the many great successes of the Medina. If they would not press the trigger against the Medina, they would not prevent anyone else from doing so.

Both segments of the “traitor” son – the assimilationist and the Satmar et al Chareidi groups – would make amazing clients for psychiatrists specializing in the malady of denial. Why does the first segment turn its back on a 3500-year history of their own families who have contributed more to humanity than any other nation? And why does the second segment deny, misinterpret and misrepresent HaShem’s mastery over human events as they evolve in the Holy Land on a minute to minute basis, when the hand of HaShem is present right in front of their eyes even as they pray to HaShem daily. Why do they refuse to acknowledge the reality of our redemption?

Unless, of course, there is an on-going Godly agenda being implemented from behind the curtain that divides the spiritual and material worlds. It could be that it is not the two segments of the “traitor” son who have initiated their denial, but rather our Father-in-Heaven who has decided to deny these people the merit to participate in the redemption of His holy nation in the Holy Land!

The “Four sons” will be with us at sederim well into the future, because even the evil son wishes to remain part of the family. The “traitor” son, by actively harming the Jewish State through word or deed, has declared himself to become one with the enemies of HaShem and the Jewish nation will regurgitate him.

However, we believe in the power of Teshuva. A piece of Chametz can never return to a state of Matza, but a Jew who has strayed beyond the red line can return to be a “son” and daughter of the chosen nation.

Granted, it is difficult to save the two segments of the fifth “son” through education and musar. Nevertheless, what is beyond the abilities of the normative “Four Son” family to influence their renegade fifth brother, is in the power of the anti-Semite to bring these people to their Jewish senses.

Chag Samayach,

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5776/2016 Nachman Kahana

The Crucible and the Womb

By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

The Torah refers to the Egyptian experience in a number of ways. Some are literal – exile and house of bondage – and depict our alienation from the land of Israel and the nature of our sojourn in Egypt – and one is figurative: “I removed you from the iron crucible of Egypt” (Devarim 4:20). How was Egypt an “iron crucible”?

The Maharal (Gevurot Hashem 3) quotes the Midrash (Shocher Tov on Tehillim 116) that Chazal added another simile as well. In addition to Egypt being a crucible (“just like the goldsmith reaches in and extracts the refined gold from the furnace, so too G-d reached down and extracted Israel from Egypt”), the Maharal adds that the Exodus from Egypt was similar to a fetus still in the womb of the cow, for which the shepherd reaches in and extracts it. So too G-d delivered us from Egypt “removing one nation from another nation” (Devarim 4:34). What is the difference between these descriptions - the gold emerging from the crucible and the fetus emerging from the womb - and how do they reflect on the Exodus?

The Maharal explains that in the crucible, the gold is simply the tool of the goldsmith. The smith has all the power, control and authority. In Egypt, the Jewish people were dominated, oppressed, and defenseless, with no hope of any independent existence. The Egyptians were simply too strong, and we were too weak – so the master goldsmith took us out from the fire and created a nation.

But the second simile – the calf emerging from the womb - has a different emphasis than the first. There it is not the fearsome might of the enemy that kept us enslaved but rather the mindset, the mentality, and the dependencies of the victim. Like the calf in the womb, as long as we saw ourselves "as attached to Egypt and inferior to the Egyptians,” then we were still unworthy of any independent existence.

We were enslaved not only because of the power of Egypt, but especially because of the inherent weakness of our national body – as we were just an extension of the Egyptians, one of many foreign tribes they had enslaved.

As an “exile” or a “house of bondage,” Egypt was a punishment; as an “iron crucible” or as a womb, the Egyptian exile was not only a punishment for sin but also a necessary step in nation building. That is why the redemption was so painful, so wrenching, and so difficult for many Jews – it was like being refined in fire or passing through the birth canal. Spiritually we were adrift, sunk in the immorality of Egypt; culturally, we were assimilated into Egyptian society, having long since moved beyond Goshen; and nationally, we saw ourselves as Egyptians, so attenuated was our Jewish identity.

The redemption therefore had to account for two phenomena: the physical might of the Egyptians and the spiritual weakness of the Jews. Slowly, Moshe and Aharon, the 10 plagues, the mitzvot of Korban Pesach and the celebration of Pesach itself enervated the spirit of the Egyptians, and revitalized our national identity. The “strong hand” of G-d broke the Egyptians, and His “outstretched arm” inspired the Jews. That is why the redemption from Egypt was so momentous, and that is why it is the paradigm for the future redemption as well.

Spiritually and nationally, we are still a divided people, unable to agree even on basic issues – who is a Jew, what is a Jew, what do we represent, what do we want, and what is our destiny. Culturally, many Jews are Westernized and often unwittingly drawn to the most meretricious aspects of Western life. The enemy that surrounds us threatens the world as well, and the commitment to prevail against that enemy is tenuous at best.

Nevertheless, just like we did in ancient Egypt, we have to perceive the travails of our modern world – as painful as they are to endure – as refinement, as the crucible through which we pass in order to embrace our destiny. When a powerful and merciless enemy does not break us, we are emboldened and strengthened. And just like in Egypt, we have to perceive the troubles as the birth pangs of a nation and a new era – so we can distinguish between friends and allies, so we can detach ourselves and re-assert our own identity, and so we galvanize ourselves for the struggles ahead, so we can strengthen ourselves in Torah and Mitzvot, in love of Israel, and return in true faith to the traditions that have sustained us for millennia.

Just as in Egypt, where we looked not to others for our salvation but to G-d who revitalized us and gave us the tools and confidence to move forward, so too in the days ahead our mettle will be tested. We too will need the inner strength to follow G-d into an unsown land. We too will determine who can resist and who will succumb, who will despair and who will be resolute. We will yet see who emerges from the crucible of our era intact and emboldened.

To the faithful, Pesach is always “a night of protection” for all Jews who yearn for and anticipate redemption. And so may it be in our day as well.

To my brothers and sisters across the Jewish world, Chag Kasher v’sameach to all!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Wedding on the Temple Mount: From Servitude to Liberty

By Moshe Feiglin

I really envy the sweet Jewish couple who married last week in a surreptitious ceremony on the Temple Mount. I hear the cries of all the Temple Mountaphobes sitting behind the public broadcast microphones and in the name of the public rob my tax money in order to control the public’s consciousness.

I hear their genuine fear of the Temple Mount. And despite the fact that in just a few days we will be celebrating the Exodus from Egypt, the festival of our liberty, they are still stuck deep inside Purim. Not the end of the story of Purim, but its beginning.

Why was a total holocaust decreed upon Israel in the Purim story? Because when redemption didn’t seem to be coming following 70 years of exile after the destruction of the First Temple, ( according to Ahashverosh’s calculations),the enlightened king celebrated the ‘New World Order’; he celebrated the Pax Ahashveroshana.With no redemption for the Jews in the offing, all the nations celebrated, drank and generally gave free rein to their animalistic urges at Ahashverosh’s feast; at the capital of the pseudo-kind kingdom that ruled from India to Africa.

The king also invited the Jewish sages to his feast. Complete equality for all. All the chief rabbis attended: the Ashkenazic, Sephardic, ultra-orthodox and modern orthodox. They all came to drink at the feast. Not before they made sure that all the food would be strictly kosher, under the supervision of the most trusted kosher certification (I am not making this up. All of what I have written is taken from the sources on the Scroll of Esther) including a partition to separate between men and women according to the most strict stringencies of Jewish law…

After all, it is unthinkable to insult the king. We are responsible leaders. And then, Ahashverosh serves them the wine…in vessels stolen from the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem. And they drink…

At least if they had shed some tears into the wine served to them in the Temple vessels…But Rabbi Shimon Bar Yocahi explains that this holocaust was decreed upon Israel because not only did the newscasters of the time reject the whole Temple Mount idea, Israel’s message of human liberty under the wings of the One G-d – and exchanged it for the message of the liberty to enjoy lavish feasts under the servitude to man – but Israel’s leaders of the time also found their place in the New Order. They had funds for their yeshivot and Torah institutions. So everything was under control. They felt that they had overcome the extremists and that now, politics were in the hands of level-headed people. So they drank a little bit of wine, so what?

Enter Haman – the Amalekite. Amalek always shows up just before the redemption, when Israel gives up on its destiny and its message, preferring sweet servitude. That is what happened just before the Jews were supposed to enter the Land of Israel. All of them sobbed, just like the afraid-of-the-redemption newscasters.

Ultimately, they entered the Land. But not before the entire sobbing generation died in the desert.

The same thing happened throughout history, until the Balfour Declaration in the 1920s, when the British called upon our Nation to return to its Homeland (and even provided us with a foundation for a modern state). But the Nation of Israel did not show up. And once again, destruction was decreed upon that generation.

Yes, it is always the flight from our message that precipitates the next holocaust. Not a lack of ascent to the Mount, but estrangement from it.

And who saves the day?


“Have we gone mad?” cried the Shushan broadcasters. This crazy man is throwing a match into a barrel of dynamite. What was so bad about bowing before Haman? Let him keep his vision to himself and stop endangering all of us!!! Now we will all die because of one old man who insists on sticking himself right in front of the eyes of the world. And he angered Haman, who is always on the lookout for a way to bring us trouble…

And then, it really happens! The intifada breaks out because of Mordechai! Haman decides to annihilate all the Jews! And the broadcasters are proven right. Those whose world is narrow like the world of an ant, who are completely detached from the message of the Nation of Israel, those whose only concern is survival – to reach 12 o’ clock at night and to worry about tomorrow when the sun rises – cannot understand the situation differently.

For the covenant that safeguards our nation’s wondrous eternity has a terrible price. The Creator, Who made an eternal covenant with us, is willing to put up with our temporary weaknesses in fulfilling the commandments. But the King is not willing to give up on the vision and on Israel’s destiny.

If an elite force errs in navigation and misses the mark, it is generally hit hard by the enemy and lessons are learned. But when the elite force decides not to carry out the mission, it makes its existence superfluous. That is the time to bring in a new elite force.

Mordechai understands that in order to save Israel, they must cling to their purpose, cling to their destiny and not fall into servitude to Haman. They must refuse to become servants to the Pax Ahashveroshana. They must choose liberty.

Mordechai would not kneel or bow to Haman, the Third Intifada brokr out and the Nation of Israel was redeemed.

Ben Gurion also understood this principle. The ‘mad old man’ (as he was called at the time) insisted on declaring statehood, ‘provoking’ the Arab armies to finish Hitler’s work and annihilate the small and hopeless Jewish community in Israel.

And how much death ensued! 6,000 fatalities, fully 1% of the Jewish population in Israel, were killed in the War of Independence. And all of our newscasters and talk show hosts today praise this extremist, who understood – from a completely secular perspective – that flight from our destiny makes Jewish existence in the Land of Israel superfluous. It leaves us in the Pax Brittania and sends us back to the desert for another 2000 years.

I really love you, dear couple. You are so beautiful, so simple and dignified. Continue to safeguard your anonymity. It is good that you are not being interviewed. You entered the covenant of marriage in the place of the covenant of the Jewish People with our Father in Heaven. You safeguarded that covenant for us all.

The frightened leaders have forgotten that covenant. But you are the Nation.

You are the Nation, you are its soul – its lofty spirit.

In your modesty, you brought us out of the servitude of Shushan to the Festival of Liberty.

And who knows how many people you saved.

Moshe Feiglin Pesach Greeting of "Freedom" (english)

A Blessing when Things are Bad

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

"Whoever did not say these three things has not fulfilled his obligation: Pesach, matza, and maror." [Haggada]. 

Pesach and matza are a way of giving thanks for the redemption, but what about maror – bitter herbs? Is this also linked to our giving thanks?

The sages commented on the verse, "On that day G-d will be one and His name will be one" [Zecharya 14:9], that in the distant future we will bless about the bad just as we now recite a blessing for the good that happens. Some people have asked: Will there still be bad things in the distant future? The answer is that this refers to what we see today as being bad, for which we recite the blessing, "Dayan Ha'Emet." In the future the real picture will become clear and we will see that all the "bad" things are part of a good process. We will then retroactively recite the blessing recognizing the good that was done for us, "Hatov V'Hameitiv,"

A perfect example of this is the incident of the sale of Yosef. When this event took place everybody saw it as a bad act, and even Yaacov himself complained, "Why did you treat me badly?" ]Bereishit 43:6]. However, in the end, everybody gave thanks and blessed, "Hatov V'Hameitiv," as Yosef said: "And now, do not be sad and do not be upset that you sold me here, for G-d has sent me before you to provide a livelihood." [45:5].

There is a hint of this idea in the verse, "For it is a decree ('chok') for Yisrael, a law ('mishpat') for the G-d of Yaacov" [Tehillim 81:5]. What seems to Bnei Yisrael to be an unexplained decree is really judgement in the eyes of the G-d of Yaacov. Do you want proof? "See the testimony of Yehosef, when he went out into the Land of Egypt" [81:6]. Just look at what happened to Yosef in Egypt.

The Holy One, Blessed be He, gave good tidings to Avraham in the Covenant of the Pieces. Usually a covenant is a sign of friendship, but in order to create a chosen nation it was necessary to send the people through the melting pot of exile. And therefore the covenant includes a declaration that the nation will descend to Egypt.

"Everybody who expands the story of the Exodus from Egypt should be praised" [Haggada]. This refers not only to one who continues to discuss the story after midnight but also to one who broadens the story to include the descent to Egypt. Therefore, we begin the story with, "At first, our fathers were idol worshippers," in order to be able to tell about the exile which helped refine us.

In the Talmud Yerushalmi it is written that we redeem our firstborn for five Sela'im in order to atone for the sale of Rachel's firstborn, Yosef, for the same amount of money. But this seems problematic – if so, why should Yosef also pay for a firstborn, and to whom should he pay? Is it right that he should pay Levi, who instigated the sale in the first place? The answer is that in the end we owe a debt of gratitude to Levi for selling Yosef. If this had not happened, we might not have descended to Egypt, and perhaps we would not have become a chosen people.

It is written in the Talmud (Pesachim) that the lamb for the sacrifice was carried on the shoulders, as was the custom of the Yishmaelite merchants. Why should we remember the Yishmaelites on the night of the Seder? It must be that we are thankful not only for the redemption but also for the exile itself!

The commentators of the Rambam write that the eating of the "karpas" is a reminder of the "ketonet hapassim" – the striped shirt which Yaacov made for Yosef, which was part of the chain of events that led to Yosef being sold to Egypt. We dip this in salt water in memory of when the brothers "dipped the shirt in the blood" [Bereishit 37:31]. Rashi notes about the striped shirt that it was "fancy cloth, such as 'karpas' (white cotton) in Megilat Esther." All of this teaches us at the very beginning of the Seder that the descent to Egypt was part of a Divine plan, in order to bring the people out as a Kingdom of Priests. And we give thanks not only for the redemption from Egypt, "Pesach and matza," but also for the bitter "maror," for the exile itself.

Does Containment Include those who are Proud of their Abomination?

By HaRav Yisrael Rozen 
Dean of the Zomet Institute

"The Torah spoke of four sons: One who is wise, one who is evil, one who is simple, and one who does not know how to ask. What does the evil one say? What is this service to you – to you and not to him. And since he removed himself from the community he has rejected the essence. Dull his teeth... If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed." [From the Haggada of Pesach].

Family Containment

Homiletic experts from all the generations have delved into and analyzed the four sons: the essence of their questions, the suitability of the replies we give, and mainly the fact that they have all been invited to the same place – our Seder table. Speakers of the last generation have added a fifth chair, meant for a son who doesn't even make it to the Seder. Not only doesn't he know how to ask the questions, in fact he has no interest in asking, and he might well block his ears so as not to hear anything. And even so, our speakers tell us, and rightly so – we maintain a warm corner in our hearts for him. "For as I speak of him, I will yet remember him. Therefore my insides pine for him, I will have pity on him..." [Yirmiyahu 31:19]. Women speakers of the last generations, who are working hard to translate the Torah into a feminized format, will also present a group of four daughters, in an effort to maintain equality. (What do you call the bad daughter? Evil? A shrew?)

Sermons will be made, and I will make my own attempt to add my words to the issue which is called "containment" – that is, everything can be included, everything is treated in the same way. This word, which comes from the realm of psychology, is today used to denote acceptance of and compassion for the "other" – whether he or she is different, strange, and even a bit eccentric – just as they are, without any hint of rejection, without preaching to them, and without trying to make them change their behavior or their outlook. I can partially identify with this concept, but with one important limitation: The "other" must be aware that he or she is different and that his behavior is wrong as far as I am concerned. In this case, there is indeed room for friendship, a partnership, a combination, and a conversation. From my point of view I do not flatter him but act in accordance with the definition: "containment."

Let us return to the Seder table and to family containment. Many religious and Torah-true families find it difficult to accept sons and daughters who have strayed from the path, and who have removed the yoke of the mitzvot (partially or completely). However, the Seder table calls out to all of them and "contains" them, placing special emphasis on the "evil one" who sits on the sidelines. We must have only praise for the communities of the east, who during many generations have developed the techniques of "containing" those who stray from the path of Torah – people who come to the synagogue on Shabbat and then continue as on a weekday, but they still define themselves as "traditional." Reform Jews, on the other hand, who parted in anger from the Ashkenazi communities, do not exist in the eastern communities, and they are certainly not "contained" in the communities of Ashkenaz.

Community Containment?

I have in front of me a document with the title "Halacha and Containment," by the "rabbis of Beit Hillel and their wives," which was distributed in the synagogues on Shabbat Hagadol. (Since containment in Hebrew is "hachala," the Hebrew title is a play on words: " Hachala V'Halacha.") The rabbis of this modern-Orthodox enterprise produced a "position paper in the spirit of halacha," as they put it, which calls for opening the hearts and the gates of the communities to people with a homosexual orientation. If I understand correctly, this would even include same-sex "marriages" of either men or women. Well, the son might ask, but in this case the father totally rejects such "containment" using the building tool in his hand, as Shammai once did under other circumstances!

I am not opposed to some simple elements included in the document about the need and the positive effect of outreach to sinners and not to reject them, and about the positive halachic attitude towards those who sin because of an innate urge, and about such things as "spiritual rape," and more. However, I have sharp criticism about subjects that do not appear and as a result about the containment approach, which has evidently led to instability of the 14 rabbis (including some I know personally, and whom I do not understand) and the 7 women who signed the "ruling," as it is called. (I note in passing that the title "ruling" on a halachic position which is mainly based on a world outlook reminds me very much of the rulings of the "Conservative Rabbinical Court.")

Just what is missing in this document? As is noted in the Haggada, we should "remove from the community" all those who pride themselves in sporting a peacock's tail in order to make their sins into a banner for all to see . We cannot "contain" one who is proud of his or her sin and is a member of a sinful organization. The goal of such a declared organization is to draw other people into the circle of sin, and to provide legitimization of a forbidden pathway. Anybody who is part of such an ostentatious group cannot be accepted, and they should not be "contained" in any of our communities (the family or the Seder table is different, and this should be discussed separately). This absolute diagnosis is totally missing from the above "ruling," and it is clear from publicized material that the purpose of the document is to show appreciation for the progressive approach of Beit Hillel, which knows how to "contain" everybody!

Here is the main point in summary: It is not possible to "contain" institutionalized single-sex "families" within a community (and it is unclear whether this applies to a family grouping around a Seder table). "Chessed hu - It is a sinful act" [Vayikra 20:17]. "Tevel hu – it is an abomination" [18:23]. And it is also "hevel" – a vain approach. I wonder: Will these people react in the same way to men who marry Gentile women? Perhaps the answer is yes, who can know the spiritual depths of Beit Hillel? I want to note for the authors of this "ruling" that even among the abominations of Egypt, they never stooped to "writing a Ketuva for men" [Chulin 92b].

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Pesach 5776: A Poem for Pesach and A Tale of Two Cities

Pesach 5776
By Rabbi Nachman Kahana

Part 1) A Tale of Two Cities–Worlds Apart

Part 2) A Poem for Pesach

A Tale of Two Cities – Worlds Apart

Picture a frum (observant) family at the Seder night, living in any one of the great Torah centers in the galut – Flatbush, Boro Park, Lakewood, Los Angeles or southern Florida.

The home of Reb Sender and Mrs. Rayza is impeccable; the result of the great time and energy, not to speak of the huge outlay of money which the expeditious and skillful ba’alat ha’bayit (woman of the house) has devoted to it.

The sofas and arm chairs in the sitting room that look so inviting, were it not for the thick plastic covers which insure that the upholstery retains its “new” look.

The five-meter-long dining room table is covered with the finest Irish linen table cloth. In the middle of the table stands the imposing sterling silver candle sticks handed down from mother to daughter for generations. The china is the finest Rosenthal, with each plate delicately rounded off with a band of gold. The silverware has been put away in favor of goldware in honor of the great night.

On the table, under a hand embroidered silk cloth, lay the matzot. On the insistence of the two sons learning in the recently opened Yeshiva Taharas Ha’Torah (purity of Torah) in Las Vegas, in order to bring the voice of Torah even to the entrance of Gehennom, the matzot are from the first 18-minute batch, guaranteeing that no naughty piece of dough would be hiding in any of the rollers. The hand matzot were personally chosen by the rebbe of the shteibel (home synagogue) where the family now davens after leaving the central shul which was costing too much. The rebbe assured the boys that the matzot were bubble-free, with no overturned edges.

The wall-to-wall carpet is as deep as the grass in the beautiful garden. Above the table hangs the family’s pride and joy — a multi-faceted crystal chandelier, personally chosen by Rayza on the family’s last visit to Prague.

Reb Sender is wearing his new bekeshe (silk robe), the one with the swirls of blue, with a gold-buckled gartel (belt). Rayza has just said the shehechiyanu blessing (gratitude for seeing this day) over the $3000 dress imported from Paris. The boys are handsome in their wide-brimmed black hats and the two girls will make beautiful brides when the time comes, dressed in their very expensive imported from Paris dresses.

The seder goes better than expected. There are words of Torah, beginning with an invitation to the hungry to join with them in the meal, despite the fact that there is not a needy person within 50 miles. A lively discussion develops on the characters of the “four sons.” The main course of Turkey and cranberry sauce is served, in the finest American tradition of giving thanks to the Almighty for all His abundance. The afikomen (ritual dessert matza) is “stolen” by the youngest daughter who, for its return, has succeeded in extorting from Tattie a vacation in Hawaii.

Songs of thanks to HaShem for freeing the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt are recited. For it is a mitzva on this night for each person to undergo a deja vue experience as if he or she were slaves in Mitzrayim.

Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals) is said, as is the second part of Hallel. Chad Gadya puts the final touch on the mitzvot of the night. Now, just as HaShem destroys the “Angel of Death” in the song, father jumps up and gathering the family in a circle, they all break out in a frenzy of song — L’shana ha’ba’a Be’Yerushalayim — “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Again and again around the table L’shana ha’ba’a Be’Yerushalayim is sounded. Louder and louder until their song merges with the same melody resounding from the neighbors’ homes, cutting a path into the highest realms of heaven.

Suddenly Mama collapses into a chair, crying hysterically. The singing stops. Father runs over and asks why she is crying just at the apex of the beautiful sacred night?

“What do you mean next year in Yerushalayim? What about the table, the chandelier, the deep carpet, the Rosenthal china, the garden! How can we leave all this?”

Father approaches Mama and taking her hand while gently dabbing her tears away, in a voice full of compassion, says to his beloved Rayza, “Darling, don’t cry, IT’S ONLY A SONG!”

On the other side of the world…
Ten thousand kilometers to the east, in Eretz Yisrael, lives Reb Sender’s brother Kalman. Kalman moved to Eretz Yisrael many years ago, and was blessed with a beautiful family and an adequate apartment. His son, Yossi, will not be home for the Seder night, since he is doing his army service within the Hesder yeshiva system.

But the parents are not overly worried, because Yossi himself told them that he is in a safe place in the north and that next year they will all be together for the Seder.

At 12 noon, on the 14th of Nisan, erev Pesach (day before Pesach), Yossi and three other soldiers from the same yeshiva were called to the company commander’s room, where he informed them that they had been chosen to fill an assignment that evening, on the Seder night. They were to cross the border into Hezbollah territory in Southern Lebanon and man the outpost bunker on hill 432.

Yossi knew the hill well; he had been there several times in the past year. It was sarcastically called a “bunker,” but in reality it was nothing more than a foxhole large enough for four soldiers. Their assignment was to track terrorist movements and destroy them on contact. It was tolerable except when it rained, which caused the bottom of the hole to be soggy and muddy. But today, the four hoped that it would rain, even though chances were small since it was late in the season. On the 14th of every Hebrew month when the moon is full, crossing into enemy territory presents a greater danger; so rain would be a mixed blessing.

At 5:00 PM, they were given the necessary arms and ammunition. In addition, the army rabbinate provided them with 4 plastic containers – each holding 3 matzot and all the ingredients necessary for a Seder – as well as 4 plastic bottles of wine, sufficient for 4 cups, and of course four Haggadot (ritual text).

At 6:00 PM, they waited at the fence for the electricity to be turned off in order to cross into hostile territory. Yossi held a map of the minefield they would have to cross. “It was so strange,” Yossi thought. “This is the area assigned to the tribe of Naftali, and we have to enter it crawling on our stomachs.”

At 6:15 PM, the small aperture in the gate opened and they passed through. As they had hoped, it was raining and the thick fog was to their advantage.

At that moment, 10,000 kilometers to the west, it was 11:15 AM and Yossi’s two cousins in New York were just entering the warm soothing mikva (ritual bath) to prepare for the Pesach holiday.

The 4 soldiers reached hill 432 after walking double-time for 5 kilometers. They removed the camouflage and settled in, pulling the grassy cover over them.

Each soldier was assigned a direction. Talking was forbidden. If any murderers were sighted, a light tap on the shoulder would bring them all to the proper direction. After settling in, they prayed Ma’ariv and began the Seder. It was finished within a half hour, and they were happy that the 4 cups of “wine” had no detrimental effect on their senses.

At 6:00 PM in NY, the family returned from shul to begin their Seder. At 11:00 P.M. the family was dancing around the table singing the song of hope that they will be in Yerushalayim in the following year.

It was then 6:00 A.M. in Eretz Yisrael, and the 4 soldiers were waging a heroic battle against boredom and sleep. The minutes crawled by, and at the first approach of light, they exited their outpost and returned through the minefield and electric fence to the base. After reporting to the officer in charge, the four entered their tent and collapsed on their cots without removing clothing or shoes, because in an hour they would have to join the minyan for the Shacharit service.

That night, the angels of Yossi and of his friends were draped in flowing, golden robes while sharing the heavenly Seder with the righteous of all the generations.

A Poem for Pesach

by Mrs. Ariella Bracha, wife of Avraham Waldinger of Tzfat

Carrying Egypt Within: The Curse of Bondage

We carry Egypt within us through the doubts we feel,

Or by denying our greatness as Jews is real,

Or not believing that a spiritual life has true appeal,

Or forgetting that Shabbat is our covenantal seal!

We carry Egypt within us when we shove our Jewish values aside,

Or don’t feel our Jewish Pride,

Or Stay in Exile and hide,

Or refuse to take our Country’s side.

We carry Egypt within us when we forget our Jewish reason for being,

Don’t understand the things we are seeing,

Or strive for a life that isn’t spiritually freeing.

We carry Egypt within when we disconnect from our nation,

Don’t honor the rituals of Jewish celebration,

Or live our lives in spiritual stagnation.

But when we remove Egypt from our midst,

We can dance with our soul,

Become more whole,

Play our true role.

We can claim our Torah crown,

Become more renown,

Beat the enemy down,

And stop wearing a frown.

We can glitter like a star,

As we learn who we really are,

Give G-d True Glory,

By remembering the message of the Passover Story

Don’t carry Egypt within,

Cause you will never win.


Toda Geveret Ariella

Chag Pessach Kasher vesamayach,
לשנה הזאת בירושלים הבנויה

Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5776/2016 Nachman Kahana

Sunday, April 17, 2016

“Culture” Wars – Update

By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Only in the mind of the modern feminist can an orthodox Rabbi advocate for pre-marital sexual abstinence and be deemed a rape apologist. Such was the peculiar response in some precincts to my "A Novel Idea"

Arguing over statistics and studies is a futile exercise, as the studies conflict, methodologies differ and even definitions are often imprecise. For those intellectually capable of an open mind, I urge you to read the esteemed social scientist Heather Mac Donald's cover story in the Weekly Standard (November 2, 2015) subtitled "The Phony Campus Rape Crisis," which will function as a devastating rebuttal to the criticism that has been directed here, and written in a much stronger manner than was my essay although our objectives were different.

To mention but two “statistics”: one blogger presumed that 23% of my congregants have “likely personally experienced sexual assault.” But “sexual assault,” as some studies, including that of the Justice Department, define it, includes even an unwanted peck on the cheek, an execrable practice still seen in some liberal Orthodox precincts but hardly synonymous with rape except to a certain subset of fanatical activists. Or, “95%” of college rapes go unreported to the police, but they are, apparently, reported to researchers. 95%? And perhaps it is 395%, or 45%?  Perhaps some of these assaults are more akin to the circumstances I explored in my essay (as have others, see George F. Will’s column on a related subject).

To those who persist in citing the “1 in 5 women on campus raped” canard, I refer you to this new Prager University video released this week (as if to come to my rescue!) that debunks this datum. If nothing else, all of the above should allow for a calmer discussion of this matter.

What did I write in my essay, whose every word I stand by? Here’s a synopsis.  The reality is that rape is an abominable crime that is an unimaginable nightmare and deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. To be falsely accused of rape is also an abominable crime that is an unimaginable nightmare for which the lying complainant deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Both are life-altering events and in both cases the victims deserve our fullest support and the victimizers our unmitigated opprobrium. Obviously, instances of rape exceed false claims of rape, and as I noted, “even one is too many.”

That is the black (the former scenario) and the white (the latter scenario) of the matter. But the professional feminists see only the black. There is no white, no other side, the woman is always right, the man is always wrong. In that echo chamber, I am certain, that makes sense. In a world where truth, justice, decency and fairness matter, that contention is risible.

But I addressed both those scenarios only in passing. My focus was on the "gray" area, the "he said/she said" scenario, where the events are fueled by what I termed the culture of promiscuity and entitlement on campus, where the couple had a relationship and often a long term physical relationship, and where "feelings" - especially post facto feelings - matter more than legality or fairness. These are cases where the woman sometimes does not feel like a "victim" for weeks or months after the encounter (usually coincident with a breakup or a conversation with a feminist adviser who convinces her that she was assaulted without consent). These are cases in which there are no witnesses, no evidence, and no corroboration. They exist. They are troubling no matter who is right and who is wrong. But the feminist activists see no “gray.” The man is always guilty. Always.

Indeed, the “hookup culture” on campus has created a sense of male entitlement concomitant with some females’ pursuit of unlimited pleasure. It is in that culture that, invariably, women – who, as I noted, have a greater emotional investment in physical intimacy than do men – will over time feel used, abused, scorned and empty. And it is in that culture that, I submit, the problematic area of “he said/she said” is more likely to arise. It is for that scenario that I suggested a return to traditional moral practices, such that are already mandatory for Jews but would even benefit non-Jews. The bloggers who mock that suggestion are playing into the hands of lecherous young men and, ironically, endangering more women both physically and psychologically.

It was in this gray area that I urged a return to the virtues with which religious Jews are quite familiar - no affectionate physical contact between men and women outside the context of marriage. That won't stop the "black" cases of rape (forcible assault) nor the "white" cases (false accusations), for the most part. But it would stop much of the “gray,” in which consent is unclear or ambiguously given, because the assumption would be, since males are an aggressive breed, that the male assaulted the virtue of the female.

But for the professional feminists, there never is a “gray” area. Men are always predators, women are always saints, and rabbis, always, deserve special calumny if they don’t toe a particular line.

What is most troubling, and quite typical of this genre, is the sheer inability of the feminist activists to tolerate another viewpoint. "On this, there can be no debate! There is only one opinion!" Feminist orthodoxy brooks no dissent (as opposed to Jewish Orthodoxy, whose every tenet, they feel, is negotiable). So their goal is to ensure that only one side of an issue is ever heard. They do this by denouncing any opposition as immoral, shrieking that any dissenter is evil, and trying to intimidate that dissenter into silence, penance and universal obloquy. This is what passes for discourse - forget civil discourse, just discourse - in that pathetic echo chamber of the young and coddled. How sad.

Typically, as they see it, for expressing views with which they disagree, I should be fired from the rabbinate, kicked out of any rabbinic organization to which I belong, tossed from any institution in which I am active, and, for Heaven’s sake, even thrown out of AAA (to which I just renewed my membership, and so will not go down without a fight).

What is even sadder is that, to these activists, men are irredeemable brutes, end of story. My objective, on the other hand, is to preserve the honor of both men and women. Their eager embrace of the “hookup culture” – as long as there is consent – exacerbates the problem, cheapens the nobility of women and undermines the sanctity of marriage.  Their contempt for women, and not just women’s virtues, is breathtaking.

The Talmud (bottom of Sanhedrin 21a) teaches us that after Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, King David’s Sanhedrin decreed that an unmarried man and woman should not be secluded together (the prohibition of yichud). That was good advice then as it is now. It doesn’t mean that they “blamed” Tamar; rather that prudence and common sense dictate not putting oneself in a situation of potential danger. No one ever “deserves” to be raped, as some hideously perverted my words. But do not walk into a field clearly labeled “Danger: Mines!”  Even if the ones who planted the mines would be guilty of causing injury, surely the minefield pedestrian also bears some responsibility for his fate. The mature person takes responsibility for his own actions, a fundamental Jewish principle that I explored in my last book, “The Jewish Ethic of Personal Responsibility.”

Further irony: these critics are antagonized because they call me a “leader” who should not say these things that upset them;  yet, when I try to take the lead on this particular issue – elevating the moral level on campus so that no one, but especially our young people, is ensnared in that morass – they protest. It sounds like they want “leaders” whom they control and who just follow the script that they write. But those are not “leaders” but followers with a fancy title.

Heeding our moral laws can only benefit men, women, marriages, families and society itself. That was and is my point. The fruitless debate over statistics aside, I would hope that even the professional feminists can subscribe to that.

Europe: Suicide by Jihad

By Guy Millière

  • In the last two decades, Belgium has become the hub of jihad in Europe. The district of Molenbeek in Brussels is now a foreign Islamist territory in the heart of Belgium. It is not, however, a lawless zone: sharia law has effectively replaced Belgian law.
  • One of the organizers of the Paris bombings, Salah Abdeslam, was able to live peacefully in Molenbeek for four months until police decided to arrest him. Belgian police knew exactly where he was, but did nothing until French authorities asked them to. After his arrest, he was treated as a petty criminal. Police did not ask him anything about the jihadist networks with which he worked. Officers who interrogated him were ordered to be gentle. The people who hid him were not indicted.
  • Europe's leaders disseminated the idea that the West was guilty of oppressing Muslims. They therefore sowed the seeds of anti-Western resentment among Muslims in Europe.
  • Hoping to please followers of radical Islam and show them Europe could understand their "grievances," they placed pressure on Israel. When Europeans were attacked, they did not understand why. They had done their best to please the Muslims. They had not even harassed the jihadists.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud (left), one of the planners of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, was -- like many terrorists in Europe -- from Molenbeek, Belgium. Philippe Moureaux (right) was mayor of Molenbeek for 20 years, thanks to his alliance with radical Islamists.
The March 22 jihadist attacks in Brussels were predictable. What is surprising is that they did not take place sooner. What is also surprising is that more people were not killed. It seems that the authors of the attacks had larger projects in mind; they wanted to attack a nuclear power plant. Others may succeed in doing just that.
In the last two decades, Belgium has become the hub of jihad in Europe. The district of Molenbeek in Brussels is now a foreign Islamist territory in the heart of Belgium. It is not, however, a lawless zone: sharia law has effectively replaced Belgian law. Almost all the women wear veils or burqas; those who do not take risks. Drug trafficking and radical mosques are everyplace. The police stay outside and intervene only in cases of extreme emergency, using military-like commando operations. Other areas of Belgium, such as Shaerbeek and Anderlecht have the same status as Molenbeek.

Palestinians: We Will Not Accept a Jewish Israel

By Khaled Abu Toameh 

  • The obsession with settlements is certain to divert attention from core issues, such as Palestinian recognition of a Jewish Israel. Many Palestinians continue to regard Israel as one big settlement that needs to be removed from the Middle East.
  • Even those who say they have accepted the two-state solution are not prepared to recognize any Jewish link to or history in the land.
  • In the view of Al-Husseini, Palestinians refuse to acknowledge a Jewish state because they believe this would grant legitimacy to "Jews' rights to the land of Palestine" and undermine the Palestinian demand for the "right of return" for millions of refugees into Israel.
  • Israeli Arab leaders are betraying their constituencies by privileging the perceived interests of Palestinian Arabs, while Palestinian Arab leaders are betraying their constituencies by denying any link between Jews and the land. This stance makes peace a non-starter.
(Image source: Palestinian Media Watch)
Israel as a Jewish state remains anathema to the Palestinian community. This is a top-down attitude, communicated on a constant basis by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is based on the argument that such a move would mean giving up the "right of return" for millions of "refugees" into Israel. This refusal is also based on the continued denial of any historic Jewish connection to the land.
In recent weeks, the PA president has once again reiterated his strong opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.
The Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is one of the main obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Settlement construction complaints are nothing more than a Palestinian Authority smokescreen.

Protected-Christians in Muslim lands

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Bethlehem’s Christian Arab leaders lobbied Israel against transferring the city to the Palestinian Authority. Thus, in 1993, on the eve of signing the Oslo Accord, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem, Elias Freij, urged Israel’s Prime Minister Rabin to annex Bethlehem into Greater Jerusalem – as it was under the Ottoman, British and Jordanian rule of the area - predicting that “transferring Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority would relegate it to a town of many churches, but devoid of Christians.”  Before Oslo, the Christian mayor of Beit Jala - Bethlehem’s twin town - Farah al-Araj, told the NY Times syndicated columnist, William Safire: “The PLO will force a wave of Christian emigration, making Belize in Central America a home for more Beit Jala Christians then left in Beit Jala.” In 1967, shortly following the Six Day War, then Christian Mayor of Bethlehem, Elias Bandak, warned Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Dayan: “An Israeli failure to annex Bethlehem into Greater Jerusalem would doom the city’s Christian character.”

Since the 1993 establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the Christian majorities of Ramallah - Mahmoud Abbas’ headquarters - Bethlehem and Beit Jala have been transformed into insignificant minorities, due to physical, social, economic, legal and political intimidation. More Christian emigrants from these towns reside in Latin America than Christians remaining there.

The violent discrimination of Christians has been a systematic feature of the Muslim/Arab societies.  For instance, in Saudi Arabia, Christians were murdered, expelled or converted until the tenth century. Currently, non-Muslims cannot become Saudi citizens and Christians working in - or visiting – Saudi Arabia are not allowed to worship, or display Christian items (Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, etc.), openly.  While the Egyptian President, General Sisi, has attempted to minimize the traditional intimidation of Egypt’s Coptic Christian (10%) minority – which possesses ancient Pharaonic roots - the abduction of Coptic females has been routine and Copts face deep-seated discrimination in all walks of life.  Moreover, conversion to Christianity is prohibited under Islam. While physical assaults on Coptic communities were a daily occurrence during the brief rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, it has become a monthly event under General Sisi.

The persecution of Christians in Arab lands is based on the teachings of Muhammad, which dominates the social, political, cultural, judicial, military and educational aspects of the Muslim Middle East. Therefore, the political establishments in the Muslim/Arab countries are not secular in the Western sense. According to the Quran, Jews and Christians - “the people of the book” who rejected Islam – transgressed egregiously, were the enemies of God, were rejected by God, causing Judaism and Christianity to be replaced by – and subordinated to - Islam, the only legitimate and inherently supreme religion.  Islam commands Muslims to pursue the domination of the “House of Islam” over the “House of the infidel,” which includes Christians. Hence, the centrality of Jihad, the holy war.

A typical reference, by the Quran, to Christians and other “infidels,” appears in Surah (chapter) 5, verses 60 & 86: “God cursed and blustered those whom he transformed to apes [Jews] and pigs [Christians]…. The infidels shall inherit hell….” 

The submission of Christians and other “infidels” to Islam was further institutionalized under the seventh century “Pact of Omar,” which severely restrained and humiliated Christians - and later extended to other “infidels” - consistent with the Quran.

In fact, the legalized-persecution and scapegoating of Christians are in accordance with the Muslim concept of “Dhimmis,” who are the non-Muslim citizens in Muslim lands.  As stipulated by the Islamic code of law (the Sharia’) they are subordinated to, and protected by, Islam, as long as they accept Islamic supremacy. The attitude towards the Dhimmis is specified in the Quran, Surah 9, verse 29: “Fight the people who received the book [Jews and Christians] - who do not adhere to the truthful religion [Islam] - until they pay the Jizya [“infidel” tax], while they are humiliated.”  Non-Muslim citizens are faced with three choices: conversion to Islam, accepting Dhimmitude or death/execution.

Since the 1683 defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the gates of Vienna, Islam has declined dramatically, witnessing the rise to global domination by the “infidel, inferior and arrogant” Christian world, and alarmed by the penetration of “infidel” ideologies and values into the Abode of Islam. This perceived-humiliation has led to tectonic eruptions of Islamic rage and terrorism, aimed at regaining the, supposedly, inherently supreme, megalomaniacal status of Islam. 

Also, the Islamic religious and political establishments consider the “infidel” Christian/Western modernity and civil liberties clear, present and lethal threats, which fuel endemic domestic instability. Furthermore, the recent erosion of Western posture of deterrence, as well as the Western appeasement and retreats have provided a tailwind to the Islamic surge, fueling the anti-Christian/Western Islamic rage, in spite of the generally pro-Arab Christian/Western policy (including the US arms embargo during Israel’s War of Independence, while the British supplied arms to the Arabs; punishing Israel for destroying Iraq’s nuclear reactor; pressuring Israel to re-divide Jerusalem; President Obama’s courting of Muslim regimes and condemnation of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies).

While most of the Christian/Western world pressures Israel to accept Palestinian demands, a common battle cry in Palestinian Authority-inspired rallies is: "After Saturday comes Sunday," which communicates a Muslim warning to Christian minorities throughout the Arab World: Muslims will do away with Christians after they have dealt with the Jews!  

As befits the fate of Dhimmis, churches, convents, monasteries, Christian cemeteries, schools, homes, land and Christian women in the Palestinian Authority are subject to desecration, destruction, burning, confiscation, intimidation, rape and harassment. For example, in April-May, 2002, Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity – with its priests and nuns - was hijacked, looted and booby-trapped, for 39 days, by 200 Palestinian terrorists.  

The 1970-1982 PLO/Palestinian terror surge in Lebanon accelerated the flight of Lebanese Christians, reducing them from the ruling sector to a dwindling minority. Since 1993, the Palestinian Authority intimidation of Christians has intensified the flight of Christians.  However, the Vatican and most Christian/Western governments have – knowingly - sacrificed the religious and civil liberties of Christian minorities – and their very existence - on the altar of wishful-thinking, political-correctness and appeasement.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Israel’s Economic Miracle

A Torah Thought for Parashat Metzora
By Moshe Feiglin

“And Elisha said: Listen to the word of G-d, for so says G-d: At this time tomorrow a measure of fine flour will cost one shekel and two measures of barley will cost one shekel on the Shomron exchange. And the king’s captain, on whom he relied, answered the man of G-d and said: Will G-d make windows in heaven? Will this thing take place? And he answered: You will see it with your eyes but you will not eat from there."

(From this week’s Prophets portion, Kings II, 7:1-2)

Everyone was starving to death in Shomron, the capital of Israel’s kingdom. There was even cannibalism. The mighty army of Aram was deployed in siege mode in the valley, patiently waiting for the city to fall. Not only did they have an abundance of food, but also heaps of gold and silver. Why work hard and endanger themselves trying to climb up the treacherous slopes and menacing fortifications to Shomron? Soon, they were sure, the starving population would surrender their city for a few crumbs.

And the prophet? What does he have to say about this dire situation?

The prophet Elisha writes an economic forecast that seems to be taken from Globes. Does anybody really care how much grain will cost on the local exchange? Couldn’t he simply say that tomorrow morning there will be abundant food for all?

G-d’s hand is everywhere – but it is most revealed through the economy. Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand is really the Hand of the Creator. An economy based on capitalism and production, on faith in man’s ability to be like his Creator and to be creative (“In G-d we trust”) will always flourish. An economy based on socialism/communism, on allocations and on lack of faith (it is no coincidence that communism is bound up with atheism) will always fail.

The prophet Elisha (whose final resting place is just five minutes from my home, in the village called Nebi Elias) speaks the language of economy because economy is man’s interface with the will of the Creator. G-d wants us to be free so that we can choose Him (or not). He has angels who do His will in Heaven and He created a plethora of animals that have no freedom of choice here on earth. We were created to be free, to possess the right and obligation to make choices in order to make G-d King of His world.

The most basic way to attain this liberty is first and foremost through economy. That is why non-liberty economy distances us from the destiny for which we were created. It prevents us from being able to choose. That is why (for example) a Jew who does not own land (a means of production) in not considered a free man and is not obligated to ascend to the Temple on the three Festivals of Pilgrimage: only the King’s subjects are invited to his palace – not slaves to other kings. That is why we must return the land from the State of Israel to the Nation of Israel (and lower the cost of housing in the process).

But let us return to the besieged city of Shomron (just 15 minutes from my house, adjacent to today’s Shavei Shomron). The prophet Elisha understood the axis around which all the processes revolve and that is how he described reality. As soon as the Invisible Hand decides, the economy turns upside down. The starving drown in abundance and their enemies melt away. As the West distances itself from the economy of productivity and faith, the abundance evaporates. Western civilization is crumbling just as quickly as the army of Aram.

Our Sages predicted that prior to the final redemption, all the gold of the world will flow to the Land of Israel. The light that emanates from Zion will be advanced by great wealth so that Israel’s wisdom will not be the scorned wisdom of the downtrodden.

The gold is already beginning to flow. We have to remove all the obstacles, allow the Invisible Hand to work and make Israel the wealthiest of all the Nations.

Shabbat Shalom.

Moshe Feiglin on I24 TV: End the Occupation (english)

A Public Defense of MK Betzalel Smutrich and the Maternity Wards

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen 
Dean of the Zomet Institute

By the time you read this article, you may well have forgotten about this subject, so let me remind you: About a week and a half ago, all the men and their wives fell all over MK Betzalel Smutrich and his wife in reaction to their declaration that they prefer to have Jewish maternity wards and not be placed in mixed company with Arab women (the specific complaint about "partying" is a code for the fact that the cultures of the two peoples are foreign to each other). I am no expert about the working of the media, and just how they managed to get from the couple such a "juicy" quote in the interests of making a tumult. But it is clear that any journalist can immediately see the explosive potential which has been provided to him or her, including the massive cannonballs that will soon come into their grasp, engraved with such words as: "prejudice... Nazis... international damage... harm to our delicate relationships... yet another statement by the murderous rightists... He should quit! Fire him!..." And so on...

I am not an attorney for Betzalel and Revital Smutrich. If I were familiar with the original context and the platform on which this declaration was made, perhaps my reaction would be that we have a case of a lack of tact and even a possibly foolish remark on their part, since now there will be a rush to block off what the others claim is a breach of ethics. However, now that the subject has come up, I want to discuss the matter in principle, well above the level of the media and the knee-jerking political reactions that are being so skillfully staged.

"The Desire of a New Mother"

The Smutriches did not say a single word about the level of treatment and service that patients should receive. Nor have they said anything at all beyond the matter of separation of hospital beds in a maternity ward. But we all know that all the hospitals are in a never-ending search for women who are giving birth, since this is considered "good money," paid straight by the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi). There are hospitals which invest in accessories for greater comfort, others take a special interest in nutrition, and some hospitals arrange for close contact between the new baby and the family. Various hospitals have hired advisors to come up with ideas as to how to market the maternity wards to different sectors of the population and how to heap upon them and their families benefits that fit their specific desires. The main thing that they want is for the women to come back for additional births! I have only admiration for the one who identified the demand and raised the idea of offering separate rooms by mutual consent, as yet another attraction on the social or national level. Every Arab woman who gives birth and wants to be in a room where all the women speak the same language and every Jew who wants to be in a room that is exclusively Jewish will have their desires fulfilled. And anybody who does not make an explicit request will be put in a shared room.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out what is wrong with such a consensual arrangement. It does not have even a hint of any desire for racism. And there is no hint of any fear that the physicians and nurses will give a lower level of treatment to women who are not of their own nationality. In any case, the principle of mutuality is being conserved. And the entire arrangement is one of mutual consent.

I am not innocent, and I know what will be said by those who oppose my approach: "Where will all this end?" Why don't we begin to separate rooms based on religion/irreligion, sector, or political viewpoint (put them on the left or the right of the corridor...), as long as the women agree to such an arrangement? Well, I have two answers to this: (1) We cannot manage our entire lives constrained by the fear of a "slippery slope" and the claim, "Where will this lead?" We cannot cancel any and all actions that are reasonable in themselves just because "unrespectable people" will distort the matter. (2) And we can also look in greater detail at this imaginary fear: There is no way that maternity rooms will be divided up by consent on a basis of politics or sector. On the other hadnd, a separation based on religion or a lack of religion might be reasonable, but only on Shabbat. How pleasant it would be to know that mothers who have given birth would be able to join their families in singing Shabbat "zemirot" and not be disturbed by a radio or television on the holy day. However, I find it hard to believe that even such a separation can be organized in a fair way, and it is harder to believe that any such agreement can be achieved in a public hospital.