Friday, September 30, 2016

Rosh Hashanah: A National (not Personal) Holiday

By Moshe Feiglin

We are used to relating to Rosh Hashanah as a day of repentance and atonement; a day of judgment; the day when our fate for the coming year is determined. The Selichot prayers before and after Rosh Hashanah add to the sense of a personal day of judgment, which is obviously true.                             

But from a simple look at the prayers, we can see that the focal point of the day is in a completely different place. The main thing that we are supposed to be doing on Rosh Hashanah is crowning the Creator as King of the world. This is also the main reason for the central mitzvah of the day. The blowing of the shofar is first and foremost an announcement that the coronation is about to take place.                                                                                            

How did the focal point of Rosh Hashanah turn into something private? The answer is simple: "Due to our sins we have been exiled from our Land and we have become distant from our earth". Just as the entire Torah has transformed into a religion that hovers above reality, not really a part of it, so Rosh Hashanah no longer expresses our national aspirations. When we lost our sovereignty and we lost Jerusalem; when the royal palace on the Temple Mount was destroyed, the Nation of Israel also lost the possibility to actualize the purpose of its existence: to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven. From a national holiday, Rosh Hashanah morphed into a personal holiday, just as Judaism as a whole became a system of personal reminders outside of reality.                  

Even now, after we have returned to our Land and after we received the Temple Mount in the Six Days of Miracles, we continue with our private – not national – Rosh Hashanah ritual.       

We, however, who have declared our goal to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven and are working toward that goal politically- from within reality – can make the coronation of the King of the world a palpable event.                                                       

May we perceive G-d's rule over the entire world and may we merit a year in which we are favored and loyal tools to make that happen.  

Wishing you a sweet and blessed year,
Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why is Zehut vital for Israeli society?

24 Hours: See the Amazing Energies of Zehut in 4 Minutes

Shimon Peres and Zehut

By Moshe Feiglin, Chairman of Zehut

Two events, which on the surface are completely disconnected from each other, have wondrously come together at the same time.

The first looks like a watershed event; all the world’s leaders will honor it with their presence.

The second seems unimportant, out of the limelight, almost unknown.

The first event is the funeral of Shimon Peres. Nobody can miss it. Our entire country will be coming to a standstill. The second event is the distribution of the Zehut platform to our party members, which will be taking place this evening in Tel Aviv. This event will not be making any headlines and only those who plan to attend even know about it.

With my morning coffee, I watched, as usual, the first rays of sun rising over the mountains of the Shomron. I was trying to explain to myself why the funeral of Shimon Peres has turned into such a worldwide happening. My thoughts brought me to the two above events and I realized that there is a deep connection between the two. Death and birth, literally in the same time frame.

With all due respect to the deceased, the steady stream of heads of state arriving in Israel to attend his funeral is above and beyond the man himself. An entire country does not close down for no good reason and the leaders of the world do not trouble themselves to fly to Israel just to attend the funeral of a public figure – as respected and famous as he may be.

Shimon Peres symbolized something. The man created a language and mentality that have determined the mindset and behavior of the State of Israel and in great measure – the entire Western world - for the last 25 years.

Peres accomplished much in his life. But without the Oslo Accords, there would have been no difference between the honor given him upon his passing and the honor merited by any other deceased Israeli public figure of similar stature.

Nothing of what we are witnessing here would be taking place without the Oslo Accords. Oslo is the heritage of Shimon Peres.

Peres’ words from the Knesset podium prior to the ratification of the Oslo Accords still echo in my ears. He turned to Opposition Head Binyamin Netanyahu and asked him:

“And what is your alternative?”

Netanyahu (and the entire Right) did not have an answer.

This lack of alternative enshrined Oslo as the only language and mentality in Israel.

Even when Oslo exploded in our faces again and again and again, bombarding us with shocking images that we could have never dreamt up: buses blowing up, restaurants collapsing upon their customers, thousands of fatalities, tens of thousands of wounded, absolute deterioration of Israel’s international standing and right to exist as a Jewish state, an insufferable economic price and internal despair of any hope for change; even when our streets became filled with security guards, fences and cement block – even after all the dead-end “rounds” of fighting and the scores of fatalities in every “round”, the inner goal of which were to prevent Israel’s victory and perpetuate Oslo – even after it rained missiles on Israel’s cities after the Oslo architects promised that that would never happen – after all of this, Oslo has remained the only language that we can speak. Simply because the Right has never proposed a different language.

Today, upon Shimon Peres’ passing, the heart of an entire world that does not know any other language - a world that lives and breathes Osloese – skips a beat.

And exactly at the same time, on a narrow street in Tel Aviv, the new language will be revealed.

Rest in peace, Shimon. There is now an answer to your question.

The Nation of Israel has an alternative.

Enough Legalese when Confronting an Enemy!

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

“Do not judge Your slave strictly, for no human being can ever be considered righteous before You” [Tehilim 143:2].

“Do not judge us, for no human being can ever be considered righteous before You.”[Selichot Prayer, Ashkenazi tradition].

I am writing this close to the time of reciting the first Selichot prayers before the beginning of the new year, at the end of the Shabbat before the holiday (or one week earlier if, as happens this year, there are not at least three days between Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah). A refrain in the Selichot which is repeatedly recited is the one quoted above: “Do not judge us.” We beg G-d and ask to be released from judgement on this fateful day. Our request to be released from judgement and to have “what we skipped in the prayers be a source of love” is based on the sentiments of King David, also quoted above: “For no human being can ever be considered righteous before You.” We are not capable of standing up to the demands of strict law, and we can only survive if they are applied together with a measure of mercy.

David was the one who “established the standard of repentance.” (“The words of David Ben Yishai, and the words of the man who was chosen to be supreme” [Shmuel II 23:1] – “He established the standards for repentance” [Avoda Zara 5a].) He asked to close the accounts of his sins (including sending Uriyah, Batsheva’s husband, to his death) outside of the realms of the courts – that is, beyond a strict legal framework, and not within regular legal processes. David knew that within the confines of the legal system there was not much opportunity for mercy. In fact, not only were his chances for mercy low, we see in his words a general call against ruling according to strict legal principles whenever there is reason for special considerations: “No human being can ever be considered righteous before You.”

We have had Enough of Strict Legalese

The above words will serve as an introduction leading from the current time of the year, the season of judgement, on to current events within our land: The exacting legal process which is taking place now against Sergeant Elor Azaria. This combat medic from the Kefir Brigade was rushed to treat an IDF soldier who had been stabbed in Tel Romeda, in Chevron, where many terrorist attacks have taken place. Elor is accused of shooting the terrorist even though it would seem that he had already been neutralized. As it happens, this took place on Purim of this year, a date which is known for serious events in the area (such as the Goldstein killings).

I do not remember any other military trial that was conducted with such fanfare, including fundamental analysis of the purity of arms and setting the safety lock of weapons when confronted by an enemy, on the ability to make snap judgements about life and death under battle conditions, on the future influence on the moral stance of soldiers and officers who will from now on be afraid of being brought to trial, and on the need to maintain an appearance of wielding “swords of justice” as judged by hostile western nations who get their support from traitorous Israeli leftists. I simply cannot remember any such case in the past!

It is interesting to see (and for me it is very refreshing) that a strong lineup of military and security experts has come forward to “testify” in favor of Elor, based on military, security, and moral considerations. It seems to me that the only officers who followed the line of the Commander-in-Chief and appeared for the prosecution are currently still in uniform. (Can it be that they are driven by extraneous considerations, such as future promotions?) The clear conclusion from what has transpired so far is that this farcical affair must be brought to an end immediately, without trying to settle all the details of the ballistics or the pathology involved (exactly when did the terrorist die?). It is not relevant for us to try to determine if the soldier was experiencing a “shooter’s high” (for the very first time in his life?) or if he should have run a table of considerations through his head whether to shoot or not, and then to make a cool decision, taking into account doomsday feelings and the influence of lawyers.

As far as I am concerned, we have heard enough in the testimony brought before the learned military court in Yaffo. The curtain should be drawn on this show, and a conclusion should be reached – with complete agreement of all sides and behind closed doors – to give a minimal sentence, without a formal judgement. Any other alternative will cause harm to the IDF and/or to the State of Israel in international circles.

If He had been Religious and a Settler...

I want to make one more point: It is nothing short of a heavenly miracle that Elor Azaria does not wear a kippa, is not a settler, and doesn’t even sport a beard. I can just imagine the reactions of the media that we would have seen against our own people if he had appeared to be “one of us.” All that remains for us is to pray for all those refined souls who thirst for Azaria’s blood that their own sons will never find themselves in Chevron in a similar situation.

Do not judge us, for no human being can ever be considered righteous before You.”


By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

In this week’s Torah portion, we are told the following about “teshuva” - repentance: “It is not in heaven... and it is not across the sea... Rather, the matter is very close to you.” [Devarim 30:12-14]. Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook wrote as follows: “Repentance is on one hand the easiest thing to do, since even a hint of a thought to repent is already accepted as repentance. And on the other hand it is one of the most difficult tasks of all.”

Ramchal writes the following about the difficulty of repentance: “By strict law it would be appropriate for a sinner to be punished immediately, and that the punishment should show stark anger. For how can a human being mend what he has done? He has committed murder or adultery, how can he go back and fix the real world? However, due to the trait of mercy... rooting out the original desire is considered as if the act itself has been revoked.” [Messilat Yesharim 4].

In another place Ramchal writes that every mitzva and sin can be viewed in two different ways: (1) That the person is revolting against G-d, a matter of simple discipline; or (2) Engraving the essence of the evil action into the human soul.

The Natziv calls these two alternative viewpoints “A royal decree” and “A physician’s advice.” A royal decree refers to nothing more than a matter of discipline. One who revolts against a king is punished. A physician, on the other hand, does not mete out punishment to anybody who refuses to accept his advice. Rather, the person himself acts in a way to make the illness more serious. For example, one who eats forbidden food has caused himself spiritual damage, beyond the fact that he revolted in his actions, almost as if he had eaten poison. The Sages have written: “From the time that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said, ‘Behold, I have put before you today a blessing and a curse,’ [Devarim 11:26], He does not have to do anything else. Rather, the mitzvot accomplish their goal and the sins accomplish their goals.”

It is true that one part of repentance, removing the punishment, is a relatively easy thing to accomplish, but to eradicate the effect of a sin on the soul is very hard to do, since the damage has already been done! The Creator has been kind enough to us to cause repentance to be like a medical treatment, as is written, “And he will repent, and he will be cured” [Yeshayahu 6:10]. Repentance has the power to erase an effect which took place in the past.

In the terminology of the Tanach, these separate aspects of repentance are called “atonement” (kaparah) and “purification” (taharah). Atonement removes the punishment of the sinner, while purification erases the impurity of the soul which was caused by doing a sin.

And this can help us understand the difference between the mitzva of repentance all year round and the mitzva of repentance on Yom Kippur. Since we have been commanded all year long to repent, we might well ask what is special about Yom Kippur. The answer is that all year round, if a person who has a pile of evil deeds repents from one sin and does not touch the others, he is observing the mitzva of repentance. However, this is not true for Yom Kippur, when the command is, “You shall purify yourselves before G-d from all your sins” [Vayikra 16:30]. On this day the mitzva is purification, and this must include “all your sins.” One who immerses himself in a ritual bath but leaves a single hair out of the water does not become pure. The mitzva on Yom Kippur is for a sinner to repent all the sins. Purification must be all-inclusive.

Based on this reasoning, Rabbi Soloveitchik wrote that even according to the opinion of Rebbe – that “the essence of the day brings atonement” without a need for repentance – such a sinner will not be accepted the day after Yom Kippur as a proper witness. Yom Kippur leads to “atonement” but not to “purification.”

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Nitzavim: It is HaShem’s Prerogative to Choose

Parashat Nitzavim, last Shabbat of 5776

It is HaShem’s Prerogative to Choose

The fleeting moments just before Yom HaDin – the day of judgment, is our final opportunity of this year to make a reckoning of what we have or have not done properly in the eyes of HaShem.

Just as Hashem is infinite so too are the depths of understanding necessary in order to grasp His motives and actions; nevertheless, there are several basic concepts which can lead one along the path of understanding.

HaShem, the Creator, always was and will always be. We humans and all that exists are created objects, all of whom once never existed and at some future time will return to that state of non-existence – except for the eternal Jewish soul.

HaShem, as the Creator, not only determines what and who shall come into existence, He also determines the relative importance of His created entities. On Rosh Hashanah, when you take a teaspoon of honey to put on the challah or apple, remember that during its entire life a lowly honey bee produces no more than half a teaspoon of honey.  But it was created to radiate the message that HaShem determines the sweetness of life for those who are faithful to Him.

HaShem applies His “prerogative” or “entitlement” to choose, as in the case of a weed vis–à–vis a rose, a human being over a honey bee and the Jewish nation above all others. There is no equality in the created world, each thing and person has a number in the order of importance in HaShem’s grand scheme.

From Noach’s three sons, HaShem chose Shem over Cham and Yefet.

From Shem, Hashem chose Avraham while rejecting all the others of mankind. HaShem chose Yitzchak over Yishmael and Ya’akov over Aisav. He chose the tribe of Levi and the family of Amram, from whom He chose Aharon to serve as the Kohen Gadol and Moshe to be the conduit to receive the Torah for Am Yisrael.

HaShem chose Am Yisrael while rejecting all the others of humanity, which was in fact an act of retribution after humanity rejected HaShem.

That all men are created equal is a myth imposed by the majority of mankind who are born with inferior qualities of intellect, motivation, ambition and imagination upon the more gifted minority.

HaShem scrutinized the planet and chose Eretz Yisrael to be the seat of His sanctity. In Eretz Yisrael, He chose Yerushalayim, then Mount Moriah, the Bet HaMikdash and the Holy of Holies.

HaShem’s only promise to our forefathers

This year’s weekly messages were variations on one sole theme – the centrality of Eretz Yisrael to everything Jewish.

Eretz Yisrael is not just one more tool in the shed of a Torah true Jew; it is the shed itself. The holy land determines the quantity and quality of our mitzvot. There are quantitatively more mitzvot to be fulfilled here than in the galut, and the quality of a mitzva observed in the galut compared to its observance in Eretz Yisrael is like a weed to a rose.

Our land is the border crossing between this world and the next. And when we sinned HaShem exiled us to the brutal galut where our books and bodies were burned and our thoughts perverted.

Eretz Yisrael is the focal point of Judaism; the holy precinct which is directly under the kisei hakavod – the holy throne.

To practice Torah in the galut even to its fullest is no substitute for being in the holy land. Moshe Rabbeinu prayed to HaShem 515 times to enter the western side of the Jordan River because he knew that observing the Torah even in the tribal areas of Reuven, Gad and Menashe cannot equal its fulfillment as on the western side.

In last week’s parsha Ki Tavo, one who has fulfilled all his commitments regarding the various tithes comes to the Bet HaMikdash and declares that he has done so and then offers a prayer (Devarim 26,15):
השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים וברך את עמך את ישראל ואת האדמה אשר נתתה לנו כאשר נשבעת לאבתינו ארץ זבת חלב ודבש: ס
Gaze from Your holy abode from the heavens and bless Your people Yisrael and the land that You have given us, as You swore to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.

And in this week’s parsha Nitzavim, Moshe reiterated what was already common knowledge, that the covenant which HaShem entered into with our forefathers: Avraham Yitzchak and Ya’akov, were all centered around the holy land. Indeed, the only thing HaShem ever promised our forefathers was Eretz Yisrael.

5777 Forecast

In this coming year of 5777, the world will witness challenging situations. A resurgence of unabashed anti-Semitism; bitter international hostilities, antagonism between peoples within their own national boundaries and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of irrational uncontained nations and groups.

As Aisav and Yishmael struggle to destroy each other, Medinat Yisrael will continue to flourish amazingly. Our life here will demonstrate the miraculous “behind- the-scenes” guardianship of HaShem over His people in Eretz Yisrael. The daily events in the land will confirm and espouse the 3000-year covenant between the Creator and His nation Yisrael.

At the same time, we will continue to hear sounds of discord from certain religious leaders in the galut, who like King Menashe intentionally in public lectures pervert the true meanings of pesukim, as attested to in Yalkut Shimoni (Vayaitzai chap. 129), and lost his place in the world-to-come. We hear these leaders as they diminish the status of Eretz Yisrael in the life of a Jew, as they offer pseudo-halachic license to well-meaning, naive Jews to remain in the exile. They should be expelled from our midst.

Shana Tova!

With blessings from Zion and Yerushalayim to all who have read and encouraged me in these weekly writings. May we all merit to witness the final redemption of Am Yisrael, and walk together to the Temple Mount, to the dwelling place of the Creator in this world.

Shabbat Shalom & Shana Tova,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5776/2016 
Nachman Kahana

Meet the Western Charlatans Justifying Jihad

By Giulio Meotti

  • Why has the philosopher, Michel Onfray, become so popular among the French jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq? Journalist David Thomson, a specialist in jihadi movements, explained that "Onfray is translated into Arabic and shared on all pro-ISIS sites."
  • Onfray recognizes that we are at war. But this war, to him, was started by George W. Bush. He "forgets" that 3,000 Americans were killed on September 11, 2001. If you remind him that "ISIS kills innocent people", Onfray will reply: "We have also killed innocent people." It is the perfect moral equivalence between ISIS and the West. Barbarians against barbarians! With his moral relativism, Onfray opens the door to Islamist cutthroats.
  • The French intellectual Thomas Piketty, after the massacres in Paris, pointed at "inequality" as the root of ISIS's success. Another well-known German philosopher, Peter Sloterdijk, claimed that the September 11 attacks were attacks were just "small incidents".
  • Famous representatives of European culture also embraced Adolf Hitler's dream. Their heirs now justify jihad as the ultimate punishment for Western freedoms and democracy.
The German philosopher Martin Heidegger (left) was one of many European intellectuals and artists who embraced Adolf Hitler's dream. Today, French philosopher Michel Onfray (right) has become the darling of the jihadist group, Islamic State, with his view that, while Islamists kill and massacre, it is not their fault; he blames the victims, because "the West attacked first."
After September 11, 2001, the cream of European intellectuals immediately started to find justifications for jihad. They evidently were fascinated by the Kalashnikov assault rifle, "the weapon of the poor". For them, what we had seen in New York was a chimera, an illusion. The mass killings were supposedly the suicide of the capitalist democracy, and terrorism was the wrath of the unemployed, the desperate weapon of a lumpenproletariat offended by the arrogance of Western globalization.
These intellectuals have sown seeds of despair in a large Western echo-chamber. From 9/11 to the recent massacres on European soil, the murdered Westerners are portrayed as just collateral victims in a war between "the system" and the damned of the earth, who are only claiming a place at the table.

Leadership that does not Speak Oslo-Speak

By Moshe Feiglin, Chairman of Zehut

PM Netanyahu gave another virtuoso speech at the UN last week. Really, nobody does it better. But Netanyahu’s speeches are like a giant cream cake instead of a real meal; very satisfying to the palate, but the body remains un-nourished.
“There is one thing that I am not willing to discuss,” Netanyahu roared. “The fact that Israel is the state of the Jewish Nation.”
But who said that there is such a nation? Maybe we are nothing more than a fabrication?

As opposed to other politicians, Netanyahu understands where the front line is drawn today. The debate is not really over the 1967 borders. It is not even over the borders of the 1948 Partition Plan. The real debate is over the Balfour Declaration. That is the British document that recognizes the right of the Nation of Israel to a state of its own in the Land of Israel (on both sides of the Jordan River). Today, the Balfour Declaration is considered a historical error in the elite Western universities; the original sin that must be rectified. This is the drum that Abu Mazen keeps beating.

Over the years, Israel has metamorphosed from its pre-Oslo reality, in which it did not recognize the existence of a Palestinian nation and certainly did not recognize the ‘right’ of this ‘nation’ to the Land of Israel. The Oslo Gang (led by Shimon Peres) led us to the opposite reality: Israel recognizes the Palestinian nation and its right to the Land of Israel, while the Palestinian ‘nation’ does not recognize the existence of the Jewish Nation (it is just a religion) or its right to even one grain of sand in Tel Aviv and Haifa.

It is impossible to adopt the Oslo rationale, to hug Arafat and to talk about the two-state-solution while attempting to prevent the foregone conclusion: that they are the nation, while we are nothing more than an arm of Western colonialism.

So what really makes us a nation? The Torah tells us of the covenant between G-d and the Nation of Israel. Israel vows its loyalty to G-d and to the laws of the Torah. “On this day you have become a Nation.” It is this covenant that makes us a nation.

For the PM’s speeches to have meaning, to be a truly liberty based nation – for both believers and non-believers – we need leadership that is connected to its Jewish identity. We need leadership that safeguards our existence as a nation. We need leadership that conveys loyalty to the covenant between the Nation of Israel and G-d.

Leadership like that will no longer speak Oslo-speak. It will not discuss the two-state-solution for two nations and a state that has no identity. It will not propose a state that has no G-d, or in other words, a state of all its citizens.

When we have leadership motivated by its Jewish identity, we will speak of one state for one nation with One G-d. And nobody will question the right of the Jewish State to exist.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Optimism of Rosh Hashana

By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

On Rosh Hashana, the Day of Judgment, all individuals and nations “stand in judgment before the Creator of worlds.”  Naturally, we are usually more preoccupied with our individual judgments, even if the global judgments are equally, if not more, influential. We see all around us the rise of evil, and the unwillingness to confront it; we see the suffering of millions, and the indifference of billions; we hear of threats to the good and decent as the wicked and brazen intimidate and silence. We wonder about reward and punishment, and confront the challenging and comforting words of the Mishna (Avot 1:7) “Do not despair because of [seeming lack of] retribution.”

The simple explanation is that there is a Judge and judgment, and G-d’s justice may be more deliberate than ours would be, but it will come. So do not despair. It will come. But there is another explanation as well.

There is no more visceral sensation that pervades our being this time of year than the ultimate question that hovers around us: “who will live and who will die.” It’s the question that cannot be avoided. Each year, for all the blessings in our lives, death takes its toll and makes our world a little darker and a lot emptier. Death – even the specter of death – brings with it a sense of vulnerability and helplessness. Rav Soloveitchik wrote (in his “Halachic Man”) that death and holiness are contradictions. In the confrontation between man and nature, man always loses. Life itself is transient and fragile. And in a world at war, in a world where Jews feel increasingly exposed because the evildoers are shameless and emboldened and almost all others are feckless appeasers, it is that world in perpetual conflict that led the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes to look at man’s life as “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

Rosh Hashana teaches us the exact opposite. We are confronted with the obligations of repentance, which is a reflection of renewal. The Gemara says (Masechet Shabbat 106a) that if one from a social group dies, everyone in the group should worry. And not just worry, as Rambam (Laws of Mourning 13:12) elaborates: whoever doesn’t mourn properly, as our Sages commanded, is “cruel,” i.e., is living in denial. What should one do? He should be scared, anxious, examine his deeds, and repent.

It is interesting that the proper response to loss – like to the Day of Judgment - is repentance, which forces us to refocus, to reconnect with the Eternal One and His reality, to triumph over the lure of the frivolous and remember that, indeed, our time here is limited. And that is life-affirming, not depressing.

That is the great message of the Mishna: “do not lose faith in the coming retribution.” It is not only that we believe in reward and punishment, and that the wicked will soon receive their just retribution. It also means “do not despair because of the existence of evil,” of suffering, of problems. Do not despair. Do not think that life is over. Do not even think that the world is filled with evil. None of that is true.

Rav Kook wrote on the verse we recite every morning (Tehillim 30:6) that “G-d’s anger endures for a moment” but to live according to His will is life itself. All the problems in the world, in our lives, are just “a moment,” and that underscores that the abundance of good that is “a life according to His will.”

Rav Kook: “the goodness and kindness in life are the permanent and dominant foundation of existence. It is evil that is temporary and ephemeral.” Evil is the exception, something extraordinary, and comes only to deepen and expand our appreciation of the good. That we don’t always see it like that is the problem with which we have to wrestle.

A person who sees the world as filled with death, pain, suffering and evil is not only mistaken, and not only loses his desire for and enjoyment in life, and not only fills the world with hatred and despair. But such a person also is not paying close enough attention – to see the blessings of life, prosperity, of children and grandchildren, of food, clothing and shelter, of all the opportunities we have to do good for others.

Winston Churchill said, quite insightfully, that the pessimist sees the challenges in every opportunity, whereas the optimist sees the opportunities in every challenge. If the Day of Judgment fills us with awe and trepidation – as it should – it is only because we wish to choose life, not because the alternative is mysterious and terrifying but primarily because of the opportunities that we are afforded in this world.

Rav Saadia Gaon taught us that the shofar is sounded on Rosh Hashana not only to inspire our repentance, induce our trembling on the day of judgment, or even to remind us of the coming redemption and the resurrection of the dead – but rather, in its most basic purpose, as an act of coronation: to accept upon ourselves His kingship and the world of good He has favored us with.

If, on occasion, “at night we lie down in tears” (Tehillim 30:6) – tears shed because of the misery and fear and sorrow we witness, sadness because of personal loss – still “by morning there is joy and song,” the joy of rejuvenation, and the sound of redemption. That is the eternal faith of the Jew. So, never despair and always be optimistic.

May we all merit hearing the sounds of song and salvation in the tents of the righteous, and be inscribed and sealed for a year of life and goodness, of good health and prosperity, of peace and redemption, for us and all Israel.

Abbas to Arab Leaders: Go to Hell!

By Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Abbas and Fatah leaders in Ramallah claim that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (the "Arab Quartet") are using and promoting Abbas's rival, Mohamed Dahlan, in order to facilitate their mission of rapprochement with Israel.
  • Many Palestinians were surprised to see veteran Palestinian official Ahmed Qurei, a former Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister and one of the architects of the Oslo Accord, come out in favor of the Arab plan, which basically envisions ousting Abbas from power.
  • This, and not Israeli policy, is Abbas's true nightmare. After all, he knows that without Israel's presence in the West Bank, his regime would have long fallen into the hands of Hamas or even his political rivals in Fatah.
  • The "Arab Quartet" plan shows that some Arab countries are indeed fed up with Abbas's failure to lead his people towards a better life. These states, which have long been politically and financially supportive of the Palestinians, have had enough of Abbas's efforts to secure unending power -- at the direct cost of the well-being of his people.
When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UN General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2016, he did not share with world leaders that his Arab brothers are pressuring him to introduce major reforms in his Fatah faction, and allow some of its expelled leaders, including Abbas's rival Mohamed Dahlan (inset), to return.
In his speech last week before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas trotted out his usual charges against Israel, citing "collective punishment," "house demolitions," "extrajudicial executions" and "ethnic cleansing." However, Abbas's thoughts seem to be elsewhere these days. He is facing a new challenge from unexpected parties, namely several Arab countries that have come together to demand that he reform his ruling Fatah faction and pave the way for the emergence of a new Palestinian leadership.
Yet this was not included in the UN speech. Indeed, why would Abbas share with world leaders that his Arab brothers are pressuring him to introduce major reforms in Fatah and end a decade-long power struggle with Hamas that has resulted in the creation of two separate Palestinian entities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Parshat Nitzavim - Shedding Light on "Teshuva"

Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

By Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed (Summarized by students)
Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham Ben David

1. Repentance - Fact or Obligation?
2. Something Very Close to You
3. Levels of Teshuva
4. Intellectual Teshuva and Emotional Teshuva

Repentance - Fact or Obligation?
With regard to the section of the Torah dealing with Teshuva , or repentance, we ask ourselves, "Is the Torah describing for us a fact - that eventually we will return to God; or are we dealing here with a positive commandment, an obligation to return to Him through Teshuva.

On the verse, "This mandate that I am prescribing to you today is not too concealed or remote from you," Ramban (Nahmanides), in his classic Torah commentary, explains that we are dealing here with both a commandment and a promise. The Torah promises that the People of Israel will repent, in addition the Torah commands us to return to God through Teshuva.

Something Very Close to You
Regarding the commandment to return to God though Teshuva the Torah declares that it, "is not too concealed or remote from you... It is not in heaven... it is not over the sea." TheSefer HaIkkarim explains that this can be compared to a man who had a son who was severely sick. The father thought that for such a serious illness his son would certainly need special treatments and expensive medicines costing him, no doubt, a fortune. He took his son to a specialist who said that for this sickness there is no need for any expensive or hard-to-find medicine - "It is not remote from you." "Everybody," says the doctor, "can find it in his own back yard. You simply take certain herbs which grow in your yard, cook them up, and allow the sick boy to drink the broth. It won't cost you a thing - you can make it on your own." So, too, says the Torah with regard to Teshuva: It's simple to do, just: "Take with you words, and return, and return to God." (Hoshea 14:3)

In fact, Teshuva is so simple that it appears implausible. Everybody knows how serious sins are and how much damage they do. Everybody knows that when there a lot of sins they accumulate and become, "Like," in the words of Isaiah, "the ropes of a wagon." How is it possible that with such ease one can erase all that has been done. Do not the Scriptures themselves teach, "That which is crooked cannot be made straight"?! Why, every transgression which a person performs leaves a blemish on his soul and taints his moral capacities. How is it conceivable that through a person's doing Teshuva he instantly repairs all the damage which has been done?
Yet this is God's will, that man be allowed to return to Him through Teshuva. God forgives anybody who wholeheartedly repents.

Levels of Teshuva
True, there are different levels of Teshuva and of the spiritual elevation which Teshuva brings about, yet as far as casting off the sin is concerned it's enough that man regrets his actions and does not wish to repeat them. This, in itself, is Teshuva.

The Sages teach that even in a case where a man sinned his entire life and then, in his old age, sensing his day of judgement approaching, decided to do Teshuva, his repentance is accepted. The fact that there is no great difficulty in repenting at an old age, when the urge to sin has waned and there is no longer any attraction to the pleasures of the world, does not detract from a persons Teshuva - his sins are nonetheless forgiven.

There are, as we have said, levels in depth and in greatness of Teshuva. The supreme Teshuva is epitomized by the verse in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), "Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the onset of old age." When man is still at the height of his potency, his Teshuva is of a more complete nature. The famed Mishnaic Sage Rabbi Yehudah taught that perfect Teshuva is demonstrated in a case where a man finds himself in the same situation, in the same city, same place, and same woman, possessing the same desires and the same urges, yet does not repeat his sin. His standing the test proves that he is a true Ba'al Teshuva (master of repentance).

Who exactly is a Ba'al Teshuva? The Rambam (Maimonides) writes that the one who repents has "the 'Knower-of-Secrets' (i.e. God) testify to the fact that he will never return to his sin." Yet is not man's Teshuva dependent upon the one repenting and his personal decision, not upon the testimony or witness of God, the "Knower-of-Secrets". The commentators answer that man takes for himself God as witness to the fact that he will not repeat his sin. Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik explains that there are people who return to God through Teshuva saying, "I hope, from now on, never to repeat my transgression," "I'll try," or "I'll do my best." But that is not complete Teshuva, and the one repenting cannot be termed a Ba'al Teshuva. True Teshuva calls for a promise to the Almighty, that the 'Knower-of-Secrts' testify to the repenter's sincerity: "Now, God, you are my witness - that I won't repeat this transgression." A firm decision. Absolute. Final. "That's it, I've detached myself from that transgression."

Intellectual Teshuva and Emotional Teshuva
Teshuva is composed of two elements: rational intellectual understanding, and healthy instinct. Man may come to Teshuva as a result of the realization that what he did was wrong, while harboring a desire to do it again. From an intellectual-rational point of view he understands that it is wrong and therefore wishes to separate himself from the weakness, from the transgression he performed. Yet his desire has not yet abated and his craving is still strong. On the other hand, there is a sort of Teshuva where the sin simply disgusts the sinner. He is repulsed by the rut of desire in which he had once been stuck, by the environment of lust, competition, esteem-seeking, and impression-making. He simply can no longer stand it.

You might say that there is Teshuva which is characterized by a desire to flee from evil. "Sur MeRah ," in Hebrew. The repenter, in this case, doesn't even know where he wants to go - yet he knows where he doesn't want to go. Then, there is a Teshuva in which man is drawn to the good. "Aseh Tov." Complete and perfect Teshuva is composed, of course, of both of them together.

With the approaching New Year, let us merit a good "inscribing and sealing," all of us and all of the People of Israel, Amen.

From the Shamrak Report: America in Denial that it is at War with Islam!

America in Denial that it is at War with Islam!
(Compiled from FaceBook messages)

Bombs are exploding in NY and NJ. A stabbing in a Minnesota mall and no one can connect the dots...honestly! It saddens me that my fellow Americans will have to learn the hard way that they are at war with the same enemies Jews in Israel have been fighting. My condolences! The government and so-called free press do not WANT us to connect the dots: if you can't name your enemies, you cannot effectively fight war they wage against you.

Many Americans refuse to connect the dots. They think of it all as a "conspiracy theory", and some have already blamed Jews - that is just for starters. Their heads are in the sand - all the way. Some of them are saying “C’est la Vie” – I call it “Surrender”! When will they ever learn...?

The cover up and lies by the media anger and sicken me. The blissful ignorance of Western populations that are in danger of losing their lives and freedoms shocks me to the core. The dysfunctional Muslim world, that our children and grandchildren will face, terrifies me. If it takes them that long to conquer... with fools, like the brainless, narcissistic, incompetent Canadian Prime Minister and his merry band of thieves in charge, the transition may be just around the corner. Muslims are laughing at our blindness and self-destructive stupidity.

And our leaders and press dare to call it "not a terror action"! It doesn't matter who did it... Muslims, lefties or KKK - it's terror and nothing but terror, and Americans fear to face and react against hard reality, because of their idiotic political debate.

When I am told every generation had its war, or changes, I do not accept it. This is the worst! People should have learnt, and known better to allow this to happen. Wow in the United States of America? Under attack and nothing is being done about it - Who would have ever thought!

Food for Thought by Steven Shamrak

Quite often, I see a message like this: "What is wrong with American JEWS? How the hell can you vote for this evil, anti-Semitic, Israel hating Bitch" posted on FaceBook. Although, I agree with the idea behind the message, but it needs some clarifications. First of all, the US is a democracy and people have the right to vote for whoever they want to! In addition, nobody complains about the anti-Trump stand of Catholics, African Americans, gays, Latinos and non-Jewish white idiots who support Hillary - this is anti-Semitic, regardless who posted them! FYI – Jewish population of the United States is just 1.8%.

Why to Choose - One does not Exclude Another!

“Studying Judaism and excelling in it is more important to me than studying math and sciences,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said. Speaking at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the Tali Foundation, which funds Jewish enrichment studies in secular schools, Bennett said, “Even as a high-tech power that exports knowledge and innovations to the world, we must be a spiritual power and export spiritual knowledge to the world,” he said. “This is the next chapter in our Zionist vision. That’s how we’ll return to being a light unto the nations. From Zion shall come forth Torah and the word of God from Jerusalem.”

'Ugly Nazi' Dog is Barking at Israel Again!

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a scathing criticism of a recent video released by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu which decried the proposed removal of Jewish populations from Judea and Samaria as “ethnic cleansing”, slamming the comments and warning that the two-state solution is in danger. “This is unacceptable and outrageous. Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end.” (They never quote which law – Israel reclaimed Judea, Samaria and Gaza in a defensive war! The two-state solution is dead and buried long time ago! And the ‘Ugly Nothing’ seems totally unconcerned about real occupations – Tibet, Northern Cyprus, Western Sahara, Crimea. Only when Jews return to their ancient homeland is there a problem!)

Boycott of 'Ugly Nazi' is Long Overdue

Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman ordered the security establishment to cease all communication with Nikolay Maldenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. Several weeks ago, Maldenov claimed that all communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal according to international law.

Generous Gift to the Enemy

The Palestinian Authority will repay $130 million to Israel Electric Corporation immediately, but a further $130 million of the $530 million debt will be erased. The PA will agree to pay about 500 million shekels to the IEC immediately. In addition, it will commit to paying another billion shekels in installments spread over a long period of time. The remaining 500 million shekels will be erased, so the PA will never have to repay it. (Why not to cut the power off and let Egypt and Jordan to pick up electric tab of their ‘friend’? Or, take full amount from taxies Israel collecting for the PA!)

Trump Will not Push Israel

Donald Trump will not propose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if elected US president this November. David Friedman claims Trump is not ‘for or against per say a two-state solution,’ but will leave it up to the Israelis. But Trump will back Israel in any path it chooses, said David Friedman who advises Trump on Israel-American affairs. “What he’s for, is respecting the independence of the Israeli government and their democratically elected leadership to reach - without pressure from the United States - their own vision on how the Israelis and Palestinians should live side by side,” he said.

World's Oldest man had a Bar Mitzvah

The world's officially oldest man, Yisrael Kristal - who lives in Israel, is to finally have his bar mitzvah at the age of 113 - a century after he missed it due to the outbreak of World War One. Mr. Kristal was born in Poland in 1903 and survived being in the Auschwitz death camp during World War Two.

Quote of the Week:

“Soldiers cannot go out on a mission with an attorney attached to them. Which is why sometimes they make the right decision, sometimes they don’t. But we can’t have a situation whereby every soldier would be asking for legal advice before they go out on a mission.” - Avigdor Liberman, Israeli Defense Minister - Israel must stop the anti-Zionist, leftist-infested, legal system from terrorizing IDF personal and true Zionist!

US Congressmen Support Judea and Samaria

Members of the House of Representatives spoke to an Israeli delegation about congressional support for the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The Shomron Regional Council, which provides municipal services for 35 Jewish towns, visited Washington, DC, meeting with more than a dozen Republican and Democratic legislators.

“I want to say to all the people of Samaria that they are beloved by the American people, and we believe that Judea and Samaria are not the ‘West Bank’ but part of the state of Israel,” Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) told the delegation.

“There are people in the US Congress who, no matter what, will continue to work on behalf of Judea and Samaria, who will continue to do whatever they can to fight on behalf of Israel and ensure that you will never feel alone in this world,” Franks said.

The Council’s chairman, Yossi Dagan, urged Congress to pressure the Obama administration to stop demanding that Israel freeze Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.

“The pressure the American government is putting on the Israeli government to strangle settlement and block construction creates a situation where our children are forced to learn in caravans rather than normal buildings, like other children around the world,” Dagan said. (It is not the US government’s business what and where Israel is building on Jewish land!)

Recommend Reading:

Modern History of Palestine in Maps

The Palestinian Mandate - Legalised Robbery

Who are so-called Palestinians?

Arab-Israel Conflict - Forgotten Facts!

Why Israel is Suspicious of United Nations

The War on Terror - Containment Plan

The Sinai Option: Road to Permanent Peace!

Shamrak Report is independent weekly editorial letter.

It has been published for almost 15 years.

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The aim of this weekly editorial letter is to promote Jewish point of view on Arab-Israel conflict; motivate Jewish people and our true friends to uphold ideals and inspirations of traditional Zionism - Jewish National independence movement! The editorial is not sponsored by or affiliated with any government, political party or organization. Presented

The volcano of Islam-driven terrorism: 6-minute-video (part 2)

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Friday, September 23, 2016

Who’s Afraid of Israel? A Torah Thought for Parshat Ki Tavo

By Moshe Feiglin

And all the nations of the world will see that the Name of G-d is called upon you and they will fear you.” (From this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 23:10)

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, is the key to forging Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. It is a thorough and detailed description of how to build a Jewish kingdom in the Land of Israel such that all the nations of the world will immediately understand that the King of this nation is the Master of the Universe Himself – and their hearts will automatically fill with awe and admiration.

“And it will be when you come to the Land that Hashem your G-d is giving you for an inheritance and you shall inherit it and settle in it. And you shall take from the first fruits of the earth that you shall bring from your Land that Hashem your G-d gives you and you shall place them in the basket and you shall go to the place that Hashem will choose for His Name to dwell there.” (Deuteronomy 26:1-2)

The King of Kings, the Master of the Universe, dwells in your midst – in the royal palace; the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. And you, before you harvest the fruits of your economic success and close yourself off in your own world, are commanded to first ascend in joy to the royal courtyard; its gates are open for you. There, in the courtyard of G-d’s house, you will thank your King, remember and appreciate Him and internalize the loving kindness that He has bestowed upon you. You will coronate Him again as King over you, your family, your community, your nation and the entire world.

Afterwards, your daily routine will be informed by the guidance that you received at the Temple, in accordance with the holistic Torah that emanates from the place chosen by G-d. The Temple is really the only place from which the Torah can emanate in its pure, complete, unified and relevant form.
If a Jew does not live in the Land in this holistic way, he really has not yet entered the Land. Deep in his heart, he believes that he is merely a guest. The other nations of the world can protect their interests beyond their borders, but Israel dares not do so. Not because we are physically weak, but because we do not feel that this is our home. We have not come to the place chosen by G-d. True, we are the legal inheritor, the sons of the queen. But we have hurriedly passed the responsibility on to the son of the handmaiden. Israel does not ascend to the courtyards of G-d, but to the courtyards of Uncle Sam.

There is only one way to change direction. The face of the nation is its leadership. Israel urgently needs G-d fearing leadership.

And all the nations of the world will see that G-d’s Name is called upon you and they will fear you.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Islam Academic: Migrants Want Eurabia, Globalists Using Migrants to Destroy The West

By Virginia Hale, BREITBART

A highly regarded researcher and academic has warned that Muslims in Europe view migration as he start of the Islamisation of the continent. Prof. Abdessamad Belhaj also detailed how globalists are using Muslim migrants to turn Western countries into socially divided societies of easily-controlled consumers.

The scholar of Islam and social sciences warned that large numbers of migrants are “calamitous” for the European people, and that neoliberal elites see Islamic terrorism, and state bankruptcy and collapse as collateral damage in their pursuit of endless wealth.

In an interview with Hungary’s Institute for Migration Research, Professor Belhaj discussed what he calls the Islamic moral economy.

He summarised this economy as based around the belief that “if there is money, it is because of Islam, and if there is Islam it will bring money”.

The Moroccan academic, who works in countries across Europe, stated that Muslim migrants view “all property as ‘given’ and not ‘acquired’ by work”. Professor Belhaj revealed that Muslims, therefore, believe that by taking Europe’s land, Muslims will be granted wealth.

He contended: “In Islamic discourses, migration is seen as a beginning of the Islamisation of Europe, the rich land that will change the fate of Islam, from a religion of the poor to a religion of the rich.

“This is of course a paradox since the poor can only make Europe poorer. Furthermore, immigration is justified as victory to the community”, Professor Belhaj added, and labeled the Islamic moral economy “disastrous”.

The professor disclosed that “state law has no weight compared to the law of God”, for Muslims, and so they establish parallel societies in Europe.

This state of affairs is perfect for neoliberalism, Professor Belhaj argued, as Muslim zones in European states “disrupt social cohesion and peripheralise societies”.

Professor Belhaj said elites in Europe “encourage migration and accommodate Islam”, and described the harmony between Muslim migrants and neoliberalism as “structural, and not accidental”.

The academic commented: “Migration is useful for the neo-liberal model of the borderless, minimal, global society, but is calamitous for the European citizens as a whole.”

Professor Belhaj asserted that dignity, freedom of expression and the middle classes are “outdated” for neoliberalism. Neoliberals’ desire, he said, is for society to have “minimal cohesion”, no middle class, and a state which doles out a “minimal income that should be used for consumption”.

Belhaj, who has authored four books and had more than fifty studies published in international publications, cautioned that as a result of the globalist system, “sustained poverty … is going to be the fate of a considerable portion of people in the West”

The professor noted: “European citizens see every day how immigrants evolve in a parallel economy and who display ethics that do not meet European ethical standards and do not serve local interests.”

Calling European “panic” over the migrant wave “justified and legitimate”, Professor Belhaj said: “It is a moral panic of resistance to the neo-liberal order, and rejection of the peripheralisation of Europe”.

Ask the White House to define: What is “Palestinian Land”?

By David Bedein (Israel Behind The News)

President Obama delivered an address at the UN on September 20, 2016.
During that address. Obama asked Israel not to settle “Palestinian land”.
Today, we asked White House Press Spokespeople to define “Palestinian land”.
There are five possibilities.

1. Arab villages abandoned in 1948. 
Palestinians who live in 59 UNRWA facilities still lay to claim these villages as “Palestinian land”. The UNRWA school system , funded to a large part by the US, is based on promoting “right of return” to this ”Palestinian land”

2. Areas settled by Israel beyond the 1949 Rhodes Armistice Lines.
After the 1949 armistice, Israel settled its citizens in the Negev and Galilee, over US objections. The US has never removed these objections. Hence, the Bush letter of April 2004 to Arik Sharon invoked the 1949 lines as the basis for US government policy.

3. Areas purchased by Jews in Judea-Samaria/West Bank.
The US often claims: Jews have no human rights in areas acquired after 1967.

4. The Old City of Jerusalem.
The Old City is defined by the Arab world as “Palestinian land”. For that reason, no Jew was allowed entry into the Old City, 1949-1967 , despite US and UN assurances.

5. Neighborhoods built on no-man’s land in Jerusalem, post-1967.
The US often objects. The question remains: Do Ramot, Gilo,and Ramat Eshkol constitute “Palestinian land’ ?

We asked the White House to explain which definition applies.
We have asked this five-pronged question many times of the US government, with no response.
We do not expect to get a response today either.

Upholding the Torah

By Rabbi Mordechai Willig


"Cursed is the one who will not uphold the words of this Torah to perform them" (Devarim 27:26). They accepted the entire Torah upon themselves with a curse and with an oath (Rashi, ibid).

Ramban interprets this acceptance as follows: he acknowledges the mitzvos in his heart and they are true in his eyes. If he denies one of them, or if he thinks that even one of them is annulled ["b'taila le'olam"] at any future time, he is cursed. If, however, he sins because of lust, or omits amitzva because of laziness, he is not included in this curse. This is a curse [cherem] against rebels and deniers of the Torah and its eternity.

Ramban then quotes the Yerushalmi (Sotah 7:4) which explains that the one who "will not uphold" is one who learned, taught, observed and performed the Torah, but he was able to strengthen the observance of Torah [among others, hareshaim hamevaltin osah] and did not strengthen it, and he is included in the curse. Ramban concludes: This is close to our [first] explanation.

How are these two explanations (denying the eternity of Torah and one who did not capitalize on an opportunity to strengthen its observance) related? The Artscroll edition of the Ramban (fn. 43) connects them as follows: upholding does not refer to personal performance, but rather to affirming the obligatory nature of the Torah, either in belief (Ramban) or by enforcing it (Yerushalmi).

Perhaps there is a deeper connection between the two explanations. The Ramban excludes a lustful sinner from the curse, because such a sinner believes in the Torah and its eternity but does not control his desires. However, a person who does not sin, does control his desires (or has none), and performs mitzvos as a traditional Jew, but does not believe in the divinity or the eternity of the mitzvos, would presumably be considered by the Ramban to be a denier of the Torah and its eternity. Such a person, therefore, would be included in the curse.

The Yerushalmi goes a step further than the Ramban, as follows: one who believes passionately in the Torah wishes fervently that it be observed universally. If he has the ability to increase the number of Jews who observe the mitzvos but does not do so, his belief may lack certainty or passion. This is close to the Ramban's explanation, because both understand the curse to relate to one who lacks belief rather than one who lacks performance.


The Yerushalmi states that King Yoshiyahu ripped his garment [when the sefer Torah was discovered, Melachim II 22:11] and said "Alai l'hakim - It is upon me to uphold". Ramban explains that the king and the princes are able to uphold the Torah and to enforce its observance by those who presently ignore it [b'yad Hamevatlin Osah]. As such, if they do not do so, they are cursed. Yoshiyahu recognized this and ordered the destruction of all the idols throughout his kingdom (23:3-15), and an unprecedented observance of korban Pesach (23:21-25).

Enforcement of this type is, of course, impossible nowadays. Nonetheless, even as we lack power to forcibly spread Torah observance, we do not lack influence. This is the mandate to engage in kiruv, to bring the non-observant closer to Torah performance and belief.

Recently questions have been raised, even among some traditional Jews who observe mitzvos, about the eternity of the Torah. Others have questioned the morality or eternity of a Torah law which modern society regards as immoral or outdated. Some actually reject the concept of a divine, immutable Torah. These attitudes may be included in Ramban's understanding of "aror asher lo yakim", even if no laws that require or forbid specific actions are violated.

Here, too, we are powerless to enforce, but we are able, and therefore responsible, to influence others. We must unapologetically affirm our belief in the divinity, morality and immutability of Torah. If we cannot convince the deniers or doubters, we must at least strengthen the believers. As the Yerushalmi states, anyone who is able to strengthen the Torah and does not do so is one who "does not uphold" it. May each of us, like Yoshiyahu, recognize our responsibility and exclaim "Alai hakim - it is upon me to uphold."

The State of Israel should Observe Shabbat

By Zvulun Orlov

(Ed. note. Orlov is absolutely correct. This the right solution and religious observance would sky-rocket. Can you imagine what would happen with a "normal" weekend in Israel? All the poor working slobs kill themselves now for six days and only have one day (shabbat) for the kids, shopping, soccer games etc. Now you move the games to Sunday and treat Sunday like a weekend day? You'll be building new shuls in every neighborhood.  Feiglin has said this for years. Unfortunately, the last thing the powers that be/shadow government in Israel wants is more religious observance which is why this has been shot down before.  When real leadership takes over, this will be one of the first things on the agenda. Count on it.)

The issue of work performed on the Israel railroads on Shabbat has for the time being been removed from the public agenda, but Shabbat still bears the brunt of insult from the religious Zionists for their silence and for ignoring this issue, even though one of the main goals of religious Zionism is to establish the characteristics of the Jewish state. Railroad employees who work on Shabbat are only the tip of the iceberg among a broad breach of the Work and Rest Hours Law which has been going on unabated for years. About 40% of all the merchandise sales in this country are done on Shabbat, and tens of thousands of Jews are employed on the official day of rest. A broad segment of the population also comes to see mass sports and cultural events, which often involve desecration of the Shabbat.

Can we become reconciled to a shattering of the religious status-quo in the country with respect to Shabbat? Is it not our job to decrease the public desecration of the Shabbat in our land? Rabbi Rozen proposed in this column recently to utilize non-Jewish “gashashim” – Gentiles who will perform the labor on Shabbat. This halachic solution can replace only a small fraction of the number of people who currently have legal approval to work on Shabbat. There is no way that there will be enough non-Jews available to perform all the work in all the professions throughout the country.

Two Types of Law

About a decade ago, Rabbi Yisrael Rozen and I proposed an “out-of-the-box” solution as a way to decrease the mass desecration of Shabbat: To make a law establishing Sunday as a second weekly day of rest instead of Friday (as it now is). This could trigger a natural process in Israel similar to what has happened in much of the Western World. Shabbat will be set aside as a day of rest dedicated to the family, with no commerce and a great decrease in cultural and sporting events. These events will be moved to Sunday, so that Shabbat observers will also be able to participate fully.

Together we proposed two complementary laws to accomplish this purpose. One law would establish a new day of rest on Sunday. Work on Friday would stop at one o’clock, with the work hours on the rest of Friday to be distributed throughout the other days of the week, such that the total hours in the work week would not change. On Sunday there would be no limits on commercial activities, and all sports and cultural activities would also be moved to Sunday.

At the same time, with the initiative of Rabbi Rozen, we proposed another law (after consulting with prominent religious Zionist rabbis – such as Rabbi Sha’ar Yeshuv Cohen, who recently passed away, and Rabbis Yaacov Ariel, Tzefania Drori, Dov Lior, and Nachum Eliezer Rabinowitz). The new law would have formally established for the first time that “Shabbat is the national day of rest of the State of Israel.” It would completely forbid industry, commerce, work, and public services. As opposed to other previous proposals, this law would not contain any explicit exceptions which permit violations of Torah law. Rather, the law would ignore any other types of activity, so that it would not be necessary to make explicit compromises of the halacha.

The Power of the Religious Market

Establishing a second day of rest on Sunday would allow merchants and their customers to refrain from doing business on Shabbat, and these activities could then take place on Sunday, when the people have free time. The logic of these two interrelated proposals and the linkage between them is as follows: On one hand all commerce and industry will be closed on Shabbat, and many of the sports and cultural activities will be curtailed. On the other hand, on Sunday, which will remain open for these purposes, it can be assumed that the Shabbat-observing public, who make up about 30% of the population, will join the activities. Special projects, such as might be needed for maintenance of the train system, can be scheduled for Sunday.

These proposals should also help heal the rift between the religious and nonreligious sectors and set aside any disputes about Shabbat as a major point of contention among the people. This proposal about a Shabbat Law is based on the social agreement that was proposed by Prof. Ruth Gavison and Rabbi Yaacov Medan, but their agreement was based on mutual compromise. We must remember that all attempts to achieve “all or nothing” have failed in the past, and in fact the situation of Shabbat violations in the country is much closer to “nothing” than to anything else. These proposals are an attempt to save what can still be rescued.

Religious Zionism should do its utmost to use all legal means to rescue the national day of rest from oblivion. It is our task to do this!

Notes From The Haftorah: Darkness and Light

By Rabbi Oury Cherki
Machon Meir and Rabbi of Beit Yehuda Congregation, Jerusalem

The redemption of Yisrael has consequences not only for the nation of Yisrael, which returns to freedom and to its original identity, it is also important for all the nations of the world. And this is true not only in the political realm but also in the realm of theology. This is clear from this week’s Haftarah: “Rise up! Shine the light! (Note that this is a command.) For your light has come, and the glory of G-d shines on you.” [Yeshayahu 60:1]. Our return to our land is also the renewal of the spiritual influence of Yisrael on the world. This will lead to the removal of the influence which competes with Yisrael – Christianity, which bases its entire claim on the low status of our nation. When Theodore Herzl turned to the Pope for support in establishing a country for the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, the answer was: “You are asking for something that is opposed to everything I believe.”

The Talmud describes this spiritual tension:

“Rabbi Simlai explained a verse written by the prophet. ‘Woe to those who lust for the day of G-d, why do you consider it the day of G-d? For it is darkness and not light!’ [Amos 5:18]. This can be compared to a rooster and a bat that were waiting for dawn. The rooster says to the bat: I am waiting for light, because it is mine. But you, why do you want the light? And this is similar to what an apostate said to Rabbi Abahu: When will Mashiach come? He replied, He will come when you are all covered by darkness. The apostate asked, Are you trying to curse me? He said, there is a verse, a written text: ‘Behold, darkness will cover the earth and a fog will cover the nations, but G-d will shine over you and His glory will be seen through you!’ [Yeshayahu 60:2].” [Sanhedrin 98b; 99a].

Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook explains a similar idea. “As the world progresses and the spark of the sanctity of Yisrael appears in all its greatness, none of the outsiders will have any power to establish an institution that will overpower the light of Yisrael or to set up a mystical light which is called faith and will be able to exist outside of the reality of this nation, its glory, and the brilliance of its holiness.” [Orot, page 17].

This means that the greatest kindness that can be done for the other nations of the world is not to gloss over the great theological abyss that has opened up at their very feet as a result of the political awakening of the nation of Yisrael. Rather, it is necessary to reveal to them the Divine truth which has always existed within Yisrael. In this way they will be able to understand that what they wanted to receive from the Divine light through the Christian myth was in essence the light of the holy Shechina that exists in Yisrael. While this was mostly hidden during the exile it is clearly visible in the formation of the State of Israel.

And that is the great tidings that appear in the Haftarah: “And many nations will follow Your light, and kings will go after the shine of Your glow” [Yeshayahu 60:3]. Thus, the return to Zion obligates us not only to mend our own ways but also to spread the message of the word of G-d to the entire world. We must teach all of mankind to follow the path of G-d, in line with our daily request in the prayer of “Aleinu.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"An Aramean tries to destroy My Forefather"

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

"Arami oved avi" ("An Aramean tries to destroy my forefather"). (Devarim 26:5) Based on this verse, the authors of the Passover Haggadah formulated the text: "Go and learn what Lavan, the Aramean, wanted to do to Yaakov Avinu. Pharaoh decreed only against the males, whereas Lavan sought to uproot everything, as it says, 'Arami oved avi.'"

Why, of all the anti-Semites, did Chazal see fit to single out Lavan the Aramean? The Maharal, in his explanation of the Haggadah, addresses this (Gevurot Hashem, ch. 54):

In this passage, [Chazal] revealed very many things. Israel had adversaries, unlike other adversaries who came for some reason, but Israel had haters and enemies with no cause. The ones who opposed Israel most and without reason, were Lavan and Pharaoh ... The reason of Lavan was also without cause, because Yaakov did for him only great goodness, and [Lavan] chased after him ... Not so Esav who wanted to kill Yaakov - this was for a reason, because [Yaakov] took his birthright ... When you comprehend this, you will find the reason of hatred ... which is something very hidden.

Lavan is the classic example of anti-Semites throughout the ages, who hate Israel without reason.

Nonetheless, the question remains: Why do the nations of the world hate Israel for no reason?

The issue was already addressed at length (click here), and we will be brief here. "You are My witnesses, the word of Hashem, and I am G-d." (Yeshaya 43:12) Israel testify as to G-d's existence in the world. Chazal say: "When you are My witnesses, I am G-d, and when you are not My witnesses, it is as if I am not G-d." (Yalkut Shimoni) Knesset Yisrael "cloaks the Divinity that is revealed in the world at large." (Orot p. 149) Therefore, G-d is so bound with Am Yisrael, "That if the enemies cut off our name, "Your [trouble] is greater than ours,' for if we are not here, [it is as if He] is not here." (Ramban Shemot 29:46)

The war of nations of the world is focused on the war against G-d. However, it is not possible to fight Him, and therefore they fight against the one who represents him in the world. "Why do nations gather ... against Hashem and against his anointed." (Tehillim 2:1-2) The Rambam writes in Iggeret Teiman: "Because the Creator designated us with His mitzvot and His laws ... and our worth over others became apparent ... all the heathens were greatly jealous of us because of our religion ... and they want to fight against Hashem and to do battle with him, but He is G-d and who can fight against Him?" The Ramban similarly writes in Parshat Ha'azinu: "'We were killed on Your account all the day,' and therefore on account of their hatred of G-d they do all these evils to us. They are His opponents and enemies, and it is up to Him to take vengeance from them." This is what the Torah says, "'I shall return vengeance upon My enemies and upon those that hate Me shall I bring retribution.'" (Devarim 32:41)

"Idolatry recognized in Israel, in Judaism, its greatest enemy ... and great instinctive hatred to Israel arose from all the nations." (Orot Hatechiya ch. 2)

This is the intention of the Maharal when he writes that the hatred is for no reason, i.e., no apparent reason. The hatred is internal, subconscious, which is not understood externally, but simmers subconsciously.

Verification of this we experienced, unfortunately, in recent generations, in the words of Hitler, may Gd obliterate his name, the crazy German, who said about the Jews: "The Tablets of Mt. Sinai lost their value. Conscience is merely a Jewish innovation." "Fate sent me to be the great emancipator of mankind. I free people from the bonds of spirit, but the submitting tortures of false vision, called conscience and ethics." "There cannot be peace between these two forces." "See how we will succeed through the force of was alone to turn during a short time the concepts in the entire world, but this is just he beginning. The battle over control of the world is fought just between us; the war of the Germans against the Jews. Everything else is just a false mirage."

"For they take counsel together unanimously, they strike a covenant against you." (Tehillim 83:6)